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Baltic area - cruise or land, tour or solo

Baltic area - cruise or land, tour or solo

Old Jan 9th, 2002, 04:58 PM
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Baltic area - cruise or land, tour or solo

A brochure from an alumni group details a cruise in the Baltic which touches on Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Riga, Gdansk, Rostock, Lubeck and Copenhagen. Sounds wonderful, but I think very pricey. Thirteen days for $5600-$5900 per person, plus about $1500 for the "optional" tours of almost anything of interest. Is this way out of line, or to be expected for pretty good accomodations? Is it possible to see these areas by car, on our own? The most adventurous trip we have had is three weeks in Italy, itinerary guided by Forum friends, which was wonderful, wonderful. Driving was more fun than scary. Suggested hotels super. Food and drink divine. Any help would be greatly appreciated
Old Jan 9th, 2002, 05:23 PM
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We did a similar cruise in 1986....Start in Hamburg then Gdansk, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm and then to Copenhagen on our own.

My only comment: We had a very good time on the trip and the cruise ship was the best way to see this area. Your trip is much longer than the 9 days we did, but if you can afford it I would recommend doing this area by boat.
Old Jan 10th, 2002, 06:32 AM
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Marge, we did a cruise through the Baltic last year on Orient Lines. It was a bit shorter than your trip (11 days) with a couple of different cities but much less expensive. Since you are hitting so many different countries, I don't think it wouldn't really be feasible to do it on your own. And St. Petersburg, which I thought was the highlight of the trip, is a little more difficult to tour on your own-you have to get a visa if you are touring on your own but with the cruise you are not required to do so if you stick with the shore excursions or hire a private guide that doesn't require a visa.

You could probably even arrange for the same or very similar cruise that the alumni group is taking at a lower cost. All of the major cruise lines have a Baltic itinerary, we picked Orient Lines because they spent a little more time in Copenhagen and Stockholm than the other ships and less time at sea. A hotel stay was included in Copenhagen and we overnighted on the boat in Stockholm and St. Petersburg.

All of the ports we hit were doable on your own (Tallinn, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki and St. Petersburg) so we did not have any additional shore excursion expense. In St. Petersburg, we hired a private guide for one of the days and toured on our own for the second but I'm not sure I would recommend that for a novice traveler.
Old Jan 10th, 2002, 06:52 AM
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The price you cite is EXTREME...and I think that is understating it. I am assuming you are quoting a per person price, based on double occupancy, and if you take approx. half the optional tours, it comes out to $500 per person per day. Think of it..you could stay in nice hotels for $200 per room, eat for maybe $50 per person per day, and spend a few hundred dollars for transportaion. Also, if you want to do much sightseeing..and certainly some of your stops warrant it, the cruise stops will be for too short of a time. If I were you, I'd visit maybe 3 or 4 of the places, staying in each for 3 or 4 days. You can easily get around by ferry and train.
Old Jan 10th, 2002, 09:08 AM
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That price is a bit high. We sailed on NCL Dream's Baltic Capitals cruise last year out of Dover, with an outside stateroom for less than $900pp for a 12 night cruise and had a wonderful time. I'd shop around, you can do much better for a lot less.
Old Jan 10th, 2002, 09:29 AM
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Hi Marge,
I really don't know much about the Baltic cruises...but I am an American living in Riga. So if you have any questions about Riga or Tallinn...I can help you there. I have been to Helsinki as well...people from Riga (at least the ex-pat community) often drive to Tallinn and take the short boat ride from Tallinn to Helsinki. Might want to travel with a tour because of the language barrier here in the Baltics...hardly anyone speaks English here...just Latvian, Estonian, Russian, and German. However you will find in the Scandinavian countries that English is widely spoken. Sorry I really can't be of that much help regarding cruises, but if you have any other questions about the Baltics...feel free to ask away! Regarding hotels in Riga and Tallinn...there are surprisingly loads of good hotels in boths cities...check out Riga in Your Pocket and Tallinn in Your Pocket as well as Helsinki in Your Pocket at www.inyourpocket.com We ex-pats over here live by those guides! The Riga in your Pocket was my bible when I first moved here! They list the hotel info and other helpful stuff in English. Did you say when you are travelling? I hope it is in June when there is almost 22 hours of daylight and warmth! Very cold and dark here now!
Old Jan 10th, 2002, 09:35 AM
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P.S. Be prepared to go into shock when compare the amount of money you spend on food and booze in Helsinki/Scandinavia versus the Baltics! A beer in Riga is about .60 US cents and a good meal in Riga is about $5 USD...be prepared to pay Chicago or New York prices in Helsinki! I went into financial shock when I went back to the States over Christmas...blew my mind to pay $3 for a beer and $15 for a meal! I am used to these wonderful Latvian prices!
Old Jan 10th, 2002, 04:01 PM
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You don't mention the size of the cruise ship. My husband and I did an almost identical trip with Clipper this past June. It was equally expensive(or more) than what you quote. Big plus: the ship was small (122 passengers); excellent food , crew, etc. Very pleasant experience. but then, we are a little older now and appreciate our comforts.~ Twenty years ago we drove from Copenhagen to Stockholm, overnite cruise to Helsinki (Silja Line) flew to St. Petersburg.... If you're young and energetic that would be my choice. BUT, if you wwant to have a relaxing vacation, in the company of friends and see some very interesting spots.. the cruise might be it.

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