Northern Europe Cruise and Baltic Cruise
Exploring the summertime Baltic is like taking two voyages for the price of one; a modern, state of the art floating hotel, replete with creature comforts and fine cuisine becomes your personal magic carpet on a voyage back into an area where the past is, quite literally, all around you.
Whether in the shape of incredible squares, town halls and cathedrals that hark back to the prosperous hanseatic era, or in the tree lined streets and imperious boulevards of Saint Petersburg that nurtured the revolution of 1917, Northern Europe displays its history and heritage like some ageless, fantastic, open air theme park, silhouetted against the almost permanent 'white nights' of a summer Baltic sky.
Yet there is fun on offer everywhere, too. Friendly, boisterous Copenhagen welcomes you with the whimsical Little Mermaid and shimmering Tivoli Gardens, a twenty- three acre wonderland of lakes, restaurants and fairground rides in a fairytale setting. Green copper spires splinter its simple, splendid skyline. The approach to Stockholm is a visual appetiser for the city that lies beyond as you thread your way through a fantastic conga line of dense, pine clad islands that gradually clear to reveal one of the most stately and dignified cities in all of Europe.
Helsinki shimmers in the endless nights of summer, with its bustling fish market and monument to the composer, Sibelius, while the white Lutheran cathedral on Senate Square is a masterpiece of cool, ordered beauty.
Recovering from years of Soviet occupation, the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania come replete with castles and cathedrals straight from the pages of a Brothers Grimm fable. From Germany's stylish beach resort of Warnemunde, it is possible to see Berlin, with its restored Reichstag, classically elegant Brandenburg Gate and the simple, statuesque Victory Column that still dominates the city skyline.
And Saint Petersburg is an enigma all on its own. Still just over three hundred years old, it has witnessed revolution, tyranny, siege and starvation, all played out on one of the most epic stages in the world. Most ships stay in this legendary city for two or three nights, allowing ample time to see the glut of artistic largesse in the fabled Hermitage, the soaring gold cupola of St. Isaac's cathedral and the diminutive cruiser Aurora, which fired the first shot of the revolution of October 1917.
Outside of the city, Peter the Great's extraordinary palace at Petrodeverts was designed to rival Versailles in scale and magnificence. Parquet floors presage entrance into a series of stunning chambers adorned with vast, gilded mirrors and priceless paintings. Statuary everywhere is a riot of marble and gold leaf, while enormous chandeliers hold sway over the opulence below. Outside, serried formal gardens and ornate fountains march down to the sea, creating a spectacular visual tour de force quite unlike anything else in Europe.
From ballet in Russia to bargains on the bustling shopping streets of Copenhagen's Stroget, Northern Europe combines a turbulent past with an ageless charm, and folds in a wealth of attractions to make a voyage through these warm, welcoming waters into a unique, constantly unfolding adventure that never fails to enchant and amaze.