Helsinki, Finland

St. Petersburg, Day 1

St. Petersburg, Day 2

St. Petersburg, Night 2

St. Petersburg, Day 3 - Peterhof

St. Petersburg, Day 3 - Cathedrals

Tallinn, Estonia

Riga, Latvia

Visby, Sweden

Gdansk, Poland (downtown)

Gdansk, Poland (St. Mary's Cathedral)

Warnemünde, Germany

Baltic Cruise aboard the Regent Seven Seas Voyager

August 2010

In August of 2010, Kathy and I went on a 10-day cruise to the Baltic Sea. The cruise began in Stockholm, Sweden and ended in Copenhagen, Denmark. It went to Helsinki (Finland), St. Petersburg (Russia), Tallinn (Estonia), Riga (Latvia), Visby (Sweden), Gdansk (Poland), and Warnemünde (Germany).

This was our first experience on an all inclusive, upper end cruise line; and we liked it. Some days in the afternoon between 5 and 6 we would go up to the forward lounge, listen to the piano player and have a cocktail (which didn't cost extra no matter what you ordered).

Kathy in the Forward Lounge Regent Seven Seas Voyager

Here are some pictures of our suite. Our room was very nice. You could separate the bedroom from the living room with heavy drapes. By doing this I could read at night without disturbing Kathy's sleep. The room was not quite as large as the one we had on the Panama Canal Cruise, but it was better in that the room stewardess kept a bottle of good bourbon in the refrigerator for me.

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After arriving in Stockholm, we had a bus tour of the city. When we stopped at the port to take pictures, I saw an artist selling panoramic pictures of the area that he had painted. That gave me the idea to take a series of photos and make a panorama from them. The result is the picture below.

Stockholm Port Area

In the evening, the ship left the dock and headed for Helsinki. For the next three hours we sailed through the islands of the Stockholm archipelago. There were large homes on the islands close to the city and summer cottages on the more remote islands.
Stockholm archipelago Stockholm archipelago Stockholm archipelago

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In Helsinki, we saw the elegant Lutheran Cathedral with its steep steps where Warren Beatty shot scenes for his film "Reds" (substituting Helsinki for St. Petersburg). We stopped at the stadium that hosted the 1952 Olympics. We took pictures of the statue of Paavo Nurmi, the great Finnish runner. I especially liked our stop at Sibelius Park where we took photos of the stainless steel tube monument to the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. In the afternoon we walked to an open air market near the ship where there was some interesting food for sale. Here are some of the Helsinki pictures.

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We spent the next 3 days in St. Petersburg. The first day we took a city tour to see the main sights, including unreadable street signs, vendors selling Russian nesting dolls, and churches with interesting domes. We saw several wedding parties having their pictures taken; we went into the Cathedral of Peter and Paul to see the baroque decor and Romanof tombs. The pictures from the first day are here. In the evening we went up above the pool deck to look at the lights.
Lights around the pool Lights on the water Lights on the water

The next morning we toured the Hermitage and Winter Palace (they run together). Both the interiors of the buildings and the art housed there were magnificent. See the pictures here.

In the evening we went to a live performance of Russian songs and dances. I especially liked the balalaika player and the very athletic dances that the men did. Also, some of the girls were very cute. The pictures are here.

On the third morning in Russia I went to Peterhof, Peter's grand palace outside of St. Petersburg on the Gulf of Finland. From the front porch the view was down a canal out to the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic. Here are the photos.

In the afternoon, we toured inside the cathedrals that we had driven by on the first day. St. Isaac's Cathedral is the large one with the gold dome. At 43,000 square feet, it is one of the largest in the world. The pictures of the saints are mosaics. Malachite and lapis lazuli columns frame the mosaics.

The Church on Spilled Blood was built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated on March 1, 1881. The domes are covered in gold and glazed ceramic. Inside, more than 20 types of minerals were used to produce the colorful mosaics. The pictures of both cathedrals are here.

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In Tallinn, the old town still has the original medieval cobble stone streets and 20 of the 46 original towers that were built in the Middle Ages. The building facades are well maintained and give a festive look to the pedestrian areas. We visited both the Roman Orthodox Nevsky Cathedral and the gothic Dome Church, St. Mary's Cathedral (Lutheran). Here are pictures of the town and the churches.

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In Riga, we headed out into the countryside rather than tour the city. We visited the Sigulda area where they have skiing and bobsledding in the winter. We went to the historical Gutmanis Cave and we toured the sculpture gardens on the grounds of the 13th century Turaida Castle. Here are a few pictures.

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We visited the town of Visby on the Swedish vacation island of Gotland. The town still has a 1.5 mile section of its 13th-century city wall intact. We visited the impressive Cathedral of St. Mary's, the medieval wall and towers and the botanical gardens. Here are the pictures.

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Gdansk, Poland was quite a surprise to me. Like the other former Soviet controlled cities that we had visited, Gdansk was clean, colorful, cheerful and prosperous. The building facades were well maintained. The pedestrian shopping areas had well stocked shops and interesting street performers. Downtown was nothing like the ship building and industrial areas that we saw on television back when Solidarity was striking. All of these former Soviet areas have come a long way in just a few years. Here are some pictures from the downtown area.

Gothic St. Mary's in Gdansk is the largest brick church in the world, accommodating 25,000 worshippers. A few months before our trip, a plane crash in Russia killed the president of Poland, his wife and several government ministers. The president's tomb is here in St. Mary's Church. Here are a few pictures from the church.

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Like the other towns that had been controlled by the Soviets, Warnemünde, Germany (formerly East Germany) is a clean, colorful, welcoming town. It is mainly a tourist or resort town with very nice beaches on the Baltic. The photo below shows one of the beaches. Here are some pictures that we took a we wandered around town and did some shopping.

Warnemünde beach

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In addition to enjoying all of the ports that we visited, we enjoyed many great sunsets.

Sunset at Sea


C. Brandon Jones
email: Brandon "at" cbjones.info
updated December 5th, 2010