We awoke the first morning of the cruise to the rocking and manoeuvring of the ship into port, opening the curtains to discover the lovely German town of Warnemunde outside.
With no organised tours booked, we disembarked to catch the local train to Rostock, where we enjoyed wandering (and avoiding the showers) for a few hours. The town had a very distinctive style and there was lots happening due to the cruise ships being in port. Returning to Warnemunde, we were appreciative of our winter weather clothing as the wind was strong and cool; we enjoyed seeing the beach which would probably be busy in summer, but we weren’t too sure how warm the Baltic would be even then for swimming.
This was the stop many of our fellow cruisers trained to Berlin for the day – a very long (and expensive) excursion so we didn’t leave until later in the evening, to a loud and colourful fireworks show from the port area.
Our next day was a sea day; we needed to find things to occupy us (other than the buffet!) for the day. The weather was kind enough that we could wander the decks, getting some outdoor exercise in. Chris and I frequented the gym as well, trying to work off the stodge. Chris absolutely hates using a cycling machine in a gym, but as there was no alternative, away he went spending over an hour some days, staring out to sea, pedalling himself silly. We also managed to move cabins, to what I thought I’d paid for rather than what was left once all the full fare passengers had been allocated theirs…
It was a relief the next morning to arrive in Tallinn, Estonia and be allowed off the ship, regardless of the rain that seemed to be following us. Armed with umbrellas, jackets, and advice from a friend who had done this cruise a couple of months earlier, we walked into this pretty medieval town along with thousands of others; there were 4 ships in port that day. Of course, our first stop had to be for coffee; again prices were high and the coffee lukewarm… lovely shop though and the cakes on display did tempt us! And some simply stunning shoes…
Tallinn lent itself to a rainy day; the architecture was a bit foreboding, the cobbled streets and mullioned windows were quite atmospheric.
From St Petersburg, (which demands its own blog post – coming soon….) we sailed to Helsinki in Finland. Once again, we had determined to do it ourselves, booking a hop on-hop off bus tour which met us at the port saving both time and money. We took an entire circuit before hopping off to see the Sibelius monument, the Rock church, the main square, to then wander through the town for lunch and hopefully avoid the threatening rain.
We were looking forward to seeing Stockholm and, in particular, the Vasa Viking ship museum the next day, expecting to awaken once again to the sound of docking, but it sadly was not to be. Forecast strong winds and bad weather led to the decision not to dock but to continue onwards – which meant two full sea days to endure before our return to Copenhagen. Because of the winds (? hmmm, have they ever crossed Cook Strait?), the outside decks were closed meaning we couldn’t even stroll around the decks to avoid cabin fever. Sadly (luckily?) Chris had been contacted by a client with some work to do, so he hid away in the library with his trusty laptop and researched and tapped out a response. I enjoyed a quiz session, a spa workshop (in reality, marketing of their products), read one of my downloaded books, and generally wasted a lot of time waiting for the next meal time…
It was a disappointing end to our cruise and an anticlimax – but the weather is one aspect that we have no control over. I read that the next cruise after us spent an extra day in Copenhagen due to the weather and only made the Tallinn, St Petersburg and Helsinki stops so we shouldn’t complain.
It was an interesting cruise to parts of the world we wouldn’t have got to otherwise. We discovered how expensive these countries are to live and visit but enjoyed the sights and different cultural aspects.