A Travellerspoint blog

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Day 11

St Petersburg

IMG_0338.jpgIMG_0356.jpgIMG_0374.jpgIMG_0379.jpgWe learned that in Tallinn yesterday that several people had wallets and passports pickpocketed. Fortunately we were not among those affected.
We woke to grey skies and light rain in St. Petersburg. It rained lightly on and off through the day. Our shore excursion was not till after lunch so we spent the morning on a largely empty ship. After lunch we disembarked and visited the duty free store on the wharf. They had one litre bottles of vodka for 9 euros. We’re taking orders if you are quick enough .
After passing through immigration we found more stores. We made a note to return later after the trip. Our excursion had an English Teacher on summer vacation as our guide. She was really good. The tour took us through the city past historical buildings to a canal where we boarded a boat for a one hour canal tour, The commentary was provided by the same lady. It drizzled on and off but we managed to get some good photos. There are far too many to post on the blog. We can show you when we get back.
After the canal tour we visited a souvenir store downtown and bought a few things. No, we’re not telling if we got you something or not. Amongst their offerings were free samples of various vodkas. Darlene tried them all. The bus then took us to a Russian Orthodox Church made in the style of St Basils in Moscow. They refer to it by several names including the church of the spilled blood. It was built in 1907. We returned to the dock and visited the shops purchasing a few more goodies. Then it was back on board with our bottle of French red wine . The lovely Elisa, our cabin steward provided the corkscrew we needed.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 00:35 Comments (0)

Day 12

St Petersburg

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The wake up call got me out of bed at the second attempt. We had to be at the meeting point to start our tour at 7.30am. So after a quick breakfast we headed off the ship with our group for the tour to be greeted by cool conditions and overcast skies. At least it wasn’t raining. St Petersburg day 2 shore excursion was a bus tour of the city, stopping at several places for photo opportunities, and the mandatory shopping experience, together with free vodka samples (as always).
It stayed dry all morning except for one brief shower. Our guide was very knowledgeable. I didn’t ask what she does in the off season but got the impression she was a full time tour guide in the summer cruise season. Car manufacturing, engineering, ship building and tourism are the main activities here. The city is home to about 5 million and the river and canals freeze in the long winter. Before they built all the bridges people used to walk across the frozen waterways in the winter. At this time of year twilight fades for a brief while and then it is dawn. At high summer the sun does set briefly but it doesn’t get dark. We are a long way north here.
We enjoyed the tour and returned dockside just after 11am. We went to the internet café and bought some time to catch up on email and news. An hour slipped by and we returned to the ship via the duty free store.
We had lunch upstairs and headed to the wheelhouse bar for some board games to fill in time ahead of the Sudoku challenge. Mercifully it was easy, and I won against a small field of 5 or 6. All the clever folk were clearly still on shore.
Later that afternoon Darlene dozed while I watched the port information show for tomorrow’s destination – Helsinki.
After dinner we saw two shows. The first was in the Princess Theatre at the front of the ship. It was a singing and dancing show called Colours of the World. Then it was a mad scramble to the Vista Lounge to try and get seats for the East Coast Boys show. We made it. Both shows were standing room only and very entertaining.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 05:25 Comments (0)

Day 13

Helsinki

IMG_0514.jpgIMG_0535.jpgIMG_0543.jpgWe woke as we were docking in Helsinki under partly cloudy skies. Our forecast was for a mix of sun and cloud and showers. They were spot on. It wasn’t cold, around 16 degrees and only a light breeze. We had breakfast in a crowded buffet and then made our way off the ship to join our city highlights tour. We had a good commentary as we were shown the city. We stopped first in a square beside an old church for photos and then twice more at a statue/monument to a Finnish composer and then at an underground church hollowed out of rock. We were dropped off downtown for some free time to wander around. We checked out a department store and had a bite to eat over the road at the Helsinki Hard Rock Café. From there we walked a while and found our way to the shuttle bus for the trip back to the ship. We browsed the souvenirs on the dock and reboarded the ship.
Tonight was a formal night. We had some formal photos taken pre dinner then joined two other couples at a dinner table. One couple was from NZ and the other was a couple of newlyweds from North Carolina. Dinner was pleasant but oh so slow. We were in the restaurant for 2 hours. Service is not as good on this ship as others we have been on. I wonder if it is too big or if they are just not well organised.
After dinner we went to a game show – the Marriage Game. There were many funny moments. The winners were a couple married 25 years. Our newlyweds from dinner came second.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 07:38 Comments (0)

Day 14

Stockholm

IMG_0578.jpgIMG_0618.jpgIMG_0636.jpgIMG_0651.jpgWe are not docking at a port today. We need to use the “Tenders” to go ashore. The ship is too large to dock at any of the ports near Stockholm. So we are anchored offshore from Nynashamn (pronounced Neenas han). It is a port about an hour by road from Stockholm. The Tender ride to shore took about 10 minutes. They have 5 Tenders in constant use, each with capacity of 200 people. They need them with around 3500 passengers on board.
Once ashore we joined our bus for the Abba tour. They take us into the city and we stop at a few scenic spots for photos and then on to the Abba Museum. We enjoyed the visit. They have interactive exhibits and lots of interesting information. We added our voices to Dancing Queen and recorded the outcome. Beware in case we play it back to you. We will be able to access it from the web site when we return. 90 minutes passes quickly and we are on our way to the heart of the old part of town.
Our bus drops us opposite the old palace. This is a district that dates back to the early 1600s and has rich history. The district is filled with old buildings and beautifully maintained. We get a guided walking tour over uneven cobblestones. The guide leaves us in a nearby square bordered by eateries to get ourselves some lunch. After lunch we wander the old, narrow streets and browse a few shops and take a peek inside the parts of the Palace open to the public. No photos were permitted but it was beautiful. We then return to the bus. The trip through the countryside back to the port is along a highway bordered by forests. We have the obligatory shower but it quickly passes. The weather has been great today, sunny and mild all day until that shower came along. We have been in T shirts all day.
They pack us all into a Tender and before long we are back on board. After dinner we catch the back end of a trivia session then go to the TV studio (Princess Live) for a tribute to the pioneers of Rock and Roll. We have seen this band at some stage every day of the cruise and they never disappoint. We were still wanting more when they finished up. They play just under an hour as they have a repeat performance later.
Later in the evening we catch a show where passengers are pitted against entertainment crew members in a trivia quiz. The passengers win .

Posted by IanDarleneUK 01:15 Comments (0)

Day 15

At Sea

IMG_0663.jpgIMG_0665.jpgToday is our last full day on the ship. We dock early tomorrow morning in Copenhagen and most of us will be getting off. It has been unusual in our experience that at each port they have had some passengers board and some disembark. Normally, you all get on and get off at the same port.
Today we slept in. Sunny skies greeted us first up and the seas are sooo smooth. Darlene is grateful and I am longing for some waves. We shared a breakfast table with a couple from California who migrated there from South Korea.
After breakfast Darlene went shopping at a “sale” in one of the restaurants where they were liquidating old merchandise. I lined up for about 40 minutes just to pay for the stuff. It was that crowded.
Then we returned to the cabin and I packed my cases ready for the departure. Darlene packed hers after lunch. It clouded over in the middle of the day and through the early afternoon and we kept our 100% rain days record intact. As I write this the sun is shining in the window and it is in the high teens.
Tonight we will have dinner, see a game show, and watch a show. I don’t have any wonderful photos today but have one I took at maximum zoom on the camera of a cabin cruiser in the middle of the Baltic Sea, many miles from any land. We assume they know what they’re doing. The seas are so calm they are in no imminent danger.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 09:18 Comments (0)

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