The Baltic Region: Cruise or Land Tour?

Dec 6th, 2018, 12:31 PM
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The Baltic Region: Cruise or Land Tour?

Would love to visit the Baltic Region, but not sure of the best way to do this. We have explored using a cruise line (Tauck, Seabourn) as friends have enjoyed this experience. We would also like to consider a land tour. We do want to spend some time in St. Petersburg. We are an older couple who enjoys architecture, culture, scenery, and good food and wine. We have done a small group land tour to Croatia and one cruise on the Danube via Tauck otherwise have traveled independently. Your advise would be most appreciated.
Wm is offline  
Dec 6th, 2018, 12:43 PM
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Some cruises spend 2 nights / 3 days in St. Petersburg so that might be enough. I know visas can be an issue. You can get a lot more info on this option over on Cruise Critic - there is a ports section where there will be much discussion and information. I've done independent travel and cruises - I like both. Cruises do let you cover more ground IMO when distances are not close for the sights you want to see.
suec1 is offline  
Dec 6th, 2018, 01:48 PM
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Thanks suec1 for your quick reply. Have you cruised the Baltic area? If so, which cruise line did you use?
Wm is offline  
Dec 6th, 2018, 02:28 PM
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Easy enough to travel in the Baltics without a tour at all, although if I had to pick cruise or a land tour I would pick land as I would expect to get longer at each stop.

Back in 2004 I traveled to Vilnius, St. Petersburg, Novgorod and Moscow by train as part of a longer trip. I arranged train tickets and home stays ahead of time through an agency in Australia, if I were doing it today I would consult for information on the trains and book hotels through the usual sites. In 2011 I visited Helsinki, Tallinn and Riga independently, see: The "B" Trip, Part One, Baltics
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 6th, 2018, 03:23 PM
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We did a Celebrity cruise several years ago - in addition to the 2 nights in St. Petersburg we also went to Tallin, then Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, a port on the German coast where you could take a long excursion into Berlin. Cruise started and ended in Amsterdam. We contracted with a private tour company in St. Petersburg and had a very full 2 days of sightseeing. I liked cruising for seeing this part of the world - I've gotten where packing and unpacking on a land tour is a pain, also I thought the food on the ship would probably be better than local cuisine. There are other places where I would prefer a land trip, but to see a variety of Baltic countries, this worked for me.
suec1 is offline  
Dec 6th, 2018, 03:39 PM
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I've seen on cruise critic that there are several Baltic cruises that terminate in Saint Petersburg, and they seem to be cheaper than the rest of them. I think it's a perfect opportunity to spend additional time in SPB - or maybe take a tour to Moscow or Kazan. You will,.of course, need a visa in that case.
napoxoguk is online now  
Dec 6th, 2018, 04:01 PM
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I had the opportunity to travel to the Baltic region last summer on a Viking Ocean cruise, which worked well for me. The 15-day cruise started in Stockholm and ended in Bergen, Norway with overnight stays Stockholm, St. Petersburg and Bergen. I was traveling with a group of friends, so we hired a private guide in St Petersburg, well worth the cost. The tour companies also provide the Visa. In addition to the cruise we went were in Denmark and Sweden for about one week prior to the cruise, along with several days post-cruise in Bergen and Oslo. Train from Bergen to Oslo (6+ hours) included spectacular scenery. Regardless, if you take a land tour or a cruise, the Baltic region has so much to offer from museums, architecture, parks and garden....
BAGTraveler is offline  
Dec 6th, 2018, 04:30 PM
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Like Suec1, we did a Baltic cruise, ours on Princess. Out of and into Copenhagen. Scandinavian capitals. Warnemund for a tour of Berlin. Tallinn and 2 nights in Saint Petersburg. No cruise excursions, went with SPB tour group all the way.

No problems, no visas. Recommend.
rncheryl is online now  
Dec 6th, 2018, 05:00 PM
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Like thursdaysd, I found it easy to travel to these areas independently -- and I went to Russia in 1994! It really depends on one's priorities, but FWIW, I wish I'd had more than the 6 days I gave St. Petersburg, and I don't think any tour gives you that much time.
kja is offline  
Dec 7th, 2018, 07:03 AM
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If you are interested in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as St. Petersburg, I would definitely do a land based trip so you can see more than the port cities. For example, Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is a 3 hour or so drive from Klaipėda, the port. The connection to St Petersburg by air is very easy from any of the Baltic countries. We flew from Vilnius to St Petersburg. Getting a visa for Russia is a nuisance but I think it’s the best option. You can see the city at your own pace. You don’t need a guide if you’re willing to do a little advance planning.
Marija is offline  
Dec 15th, 2018, 01:27 AM
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We traveled the Baltic area on a cruise (Royal Caribbean), and it was one of my best trips! The advantage of cruising is that it is easy, and you can see a lot of places. It is also great that you can go to Russia and see St Petersburg without the trouble of getting a visa. All the other Scandinavian capitals are nice and beautiful, and a cruise gives you a good feeling of them. The disadvantage of this style of traveling is limited time (one day for each city, 2 days for St Petersburg), and you feel there is much more that was left behind the scene. So I am planning to come back overland and stay longer next time. Anyway, for a first visit a cruise is a good idea.
sleepycat is offline  
Dec 16th, 2018, 07:52 AM
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Thank you to all of you for your thoughtful responses. We need to further explore options as we really want to spend more time in St. Petersburg than organized tours afford.
Wm is offline  
Dec 17th, 2018, 01:07 AM
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Most of tour operators can customize an individual tour for you for as long as you want. For intance, you can take half-day tours to the places that are not easy to reach or navigate (Catherine's Palace, Pavlovsk, the Hermitage...) and spend the rest of the day wandering around on your own. However, in this case you will probably need a land tour, not a cruise. Overland you can allow about a week, and maybe take a day trip to Moscow or Novgorod. With a cruise you only have 2-3 days, which is definitely too short.
asgard is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2018, 11:47 AM
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Thank you all so much for your feedback. We have decided to do a Tauck Cruise for this trip. There are fewer ports of call with Tauck, but more time in each city. There are three full days in St. Petersburg which we find very appealing. We like the all inclusive feature of Tauck Tours. Happy travels to all!
Wm is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2019, 12:17 AM
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I lived half of year in Vilnius in 2013. In that time I traveled a lot around Baltic states. I usually use Simple Express buses for travel from city to city. They drive from Warsaw - Vilnius - Riga - Tallinn - St. Petersburg. Maybe you can use these buses for your travel. I hope I help you. Greetings from Slovenija.
mps23 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2019, 07:21 AM
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Thank you for the feedback MPS23. We LOVE Slovenija--one of the loveliest places we've ever been. Many friends have traveled to your country on our recommendation.
Wm is offline  
Jan 24th, 2019, 09:35 AM
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I can completely agree with you. You are always welcome here in Slovenija.
mps23 is offline  
Feb 20th, 2019, 06:45 AM
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Maybe consider a tour starting or ending in St Petersburg. That way you could arrive early/stay on and explore the city after the tour. I worked on such a river cruise of Baltic Russia which ended in St Petersburg and many families decided to do exactly that.

You seem to be looking for something that goes through multiple Baltic countries, so this specific tour may not be for you, but consider finding something that starts or ends in St Petersburg. This way you could spend extra time in this city before or after the river cruise.
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