Mike and Renée
Cruise the Baltic
On Crown Princess
May 30 - June 9, 2008

THIS PAGE covers pre-cruise in Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki.

PAGE TWO covers the highlight of the cruise, Saint Petersburg.

PAGE THREE covers Talinn, Gdansk, and Oslo.

This cruise had been a dream for a long time. It was very exciting to finally embark on it. Of course two days in St Petersburg is the highlight.

We had cruised previously on the slightly older sisters of Crown Princess so we knew we were cruising on a magnificent ship. This review will touch on some of the special features of the ship but will mostly focus on the wonderful ports.

We had an easy flight via the polar route to Copenhagen, arriving about noon the day before embarkation.

The cruise begins in Copenhagen. We took a taxi from the airport to Hotel 27, a wonderful Danish Modern hotel located just a block and a half from City Hall, and two blocks from Tivoli Gardens. There we met our friends and traveling companions Pam and Nancy who had arrived earlier in the day.

After checking in (and carrying our own luggage as the hotel has no porters), we walked across the courtyard to our first adventure, the Absolut Icebar! We donned parkas and gloves and entered the bar which is at 23 degrees F. Everything in the bar is made of ice, from the bar itself to the actual glasses! The drink of choice is vodka, of course. I had a "Copenhagen cocktail", vodka with watermelon liqueur and champagne. Renée enjoyed a berry liqueur in her vodka. We had a great time, sitting on the wolfskin seat covers of the ice benches and relishing the cold (for a few minutes!!)

After that we enjoyed the complimentary buffet snacks at the hotel for dinner, and then went to Tivoli Gardens, where we explored the beautiful setting, listened to the bands, had ice cream, and some even rode the carousel. The next morning we had complimentary buffet breakfast at the hotel and then took the HOHO bus and canal boat tour of the city.

Click on any of the following thumbnails to see more of Copenhagen.

Hotel 27 room

Hans Christian
Andersen statue

Tivoli Gardens

Ice Cream at Tivoli

Carousel at Tivoli

HOHO bus

canal boat

Of course we did not miss the most famous icon of Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid. I did not realize that she actually sits at the edge of the harbor, not in the middle of it. It is possible to get quite close, and even touch her.

Following the tour we took a taxi to the port, really quite easy. Then we boarded the beautiful Crown Princess and started to relax!

The cruise begins with a relaxing day at sea. We had a special get together for the members of the CruiseCritic.com message boards, courtesy of the Special Services department of Princess. It was fun to see all the faces and match them to the screen names of people from our roll call.

The weather was very nice for most of the trip, partly cloudy skies but a bit breezy and cool. We enjoyed all the activities of the ship, and relaxed in the marvelous Thermal Suite. For dinner on formal night, we dressed up and then stood on the balcony to enjoy the light (?) breeze. This first night we went to Sabatini's which is always an outstanding experience on Princess ships of this class.

Sailing into Stockholm the next morning was beautiful. The ship winds its way through the archipelago for quite some time and it is pleasant to view the passing scenery from the balcony.

In Stockholm, we walked off the boat and at the tourist office on the pier bought tickets for the HOHO boat tour of the harbor. This was a very nice tour, passing the old part of the city, the Vasa museum, and the local amusement park as well as some nice scenery. We enjoyed the tour.

However, I do have to say that I don't recommend it, due to mass confusion, disorganization, and disinformation between the shore office, the crew aboard, and the port security facilities. A total lack of communication created some problems.

The ports come fast and furious on this itinerary. Next day was Helsinki. We had the ship's Cuisine excursion, which began with a bus tour of this beautiful city, and then drove to one of the islands to the famous restaurant SAVU, which means "smoked". This is a marvelous reproduction of an old time inn with wooden beams and a fine coffee pot on the fire.

Here the chef presented us with an array of Finnish delicacies. We sampled smoked sardines, smoked herring, smoked cheese, smoked reindeer, and herring in mustard sauce, with new potatoes. Then we had tea with strawberry, pear, and local berry jams to finish up. It was all very delicious and was a lot of fun to be introduced to local cuisine.

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