Cruising Northern Europe is a very rich experience. See breathtaking scenery; visit 1,000 year old cities; discover Viking history and Hanseatic ports; marvel at some of the world’s finest art and design as well as magnificent architecture. There are lots of active options too like hiking, kayaking and Nordic fitness walking, available on excursions from your ship. All this and more await you on your cruise to the fascinating ports of the Baltic and Norway.
Visitors to the Baltic States and Norway find the region easy to explore. English is widely spoken, cities are well organized and clean and it is a relatively safe area for setting out on your own.
There are some great finds for shoppers too. Baltic amber, Norwegian pewter and knitwear, Estonian linens, Russian crafts and Danish design stores will keep you busy. The local markets are always a good bet for bargains but watch out for replica amber. The best place to buy the real thing is at jewellers’ shops in Poland, the largest producer of amber in the world.
The Norwegian Fjords – Often voted the most beautiful cruising area in the world, Norway’s fjords are breathtaking. Geiranger Fjord is the most spectacular as you sail by steep mountainsides with magnificent waterfalls plunging to the sea. Ships call at the town of Geiranger at the head of the fjord. Go ashore for a variety of excursions including kayaking and mountain drives. Walk to the lookout for the perfect photo of your ship in the fjord which has become the most famous of Norwegian travel shots.
North Cape – Across the Arctic Circle, at the top of Norway sits North Cape, the most northerly point of land in Europe. A Mecca for adventure travellers, it is the ideal spot to observe the Midnight Sun in June/July when Norway’s Arctic has continual daylight. The visitors centre sits atop the 307 meter high cliff and contains a number of interesting displays about the region’s history and geography. Toast your adventure at the lounge cut into the cliff face which offers a commanding view across the Barents Sea. The port of call is Honningsvag from where you take a 45minute drive across the beautiful Arctic tundra to North Cape.
St. Petersburg – This city is the jewel in the crown of the Baltic Sea ports. Specially planned by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703, the result is an architectural masterpiece with magnificent palaces, theatres, churches and government buildings at every turn.
The list of “must see” places is lengthy so the more days your ship stays here the better. Many ships call for two or three days and offer a wide range of full and half day excursions so you can see the main sights including the world famous Hermitage Museum, take in the art and architecture, attend the ballet or a concert and learn about the city’s tumultuous history.
You don’t need to worry about getting a visa if you are taking an organized tour from your ship or through a Russian tour company. However, if you want to go ashore alone, you will need to apply for a Russian visa which involves a lot of paperwork, takes time and is quite costly.