With our eyes on the horizon, Justin and I cruised our way through Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltic States earlier this month. We wanted survey the region before the Littlest Global Heartbeat arrives, and we booked a 10-day cruise with Royal Caribbean as part of our “Babymoon” adventure.
We had a fantastic trip that turned our much better than we ever anticipated. In using a cruise ship as our transportation to new destinations, we could strike a balance between all-out touring, exploration and activity with plenty of time for quiet rest, the perfect combination for a memorable holiday. Because we strongly feel that cruising the Baltic Sea was a trip-of-a-lifetime-type vacation that many others would enjoy, I want to share the highlights of our experience with you today. Perhaps you will be inspired to go for a float soon!
A HOLIDAY AT SEA
We had the pleasure of sailing on the Serenade of the Seas, certainly not the largest ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, but definitely the biggest boat I’ve ever been on!
In general, I really liked this ship and felt comfortable on board. In fact, as the days wore on, I started referring to the Serenade of the Seas as “home” while we were out exploring our ports of call. I mean, I’ve never really been shy about using that word, but it’s not like I have turn down service in real life. If only…
Out of all the ship’s amenities, which there are aplenty, the most important piece to our aquatic vacation puzzle was just a foot away from my pillow: our bedroom balcony. As I mentioned in my last Postcard from Hailey, investing in a room with a balcony was THE most critical decision to our amazing cruise experience. We couldn’t get enough time out there!
From sunrises to snowflakes, wind turbines and forested islands, the scenery captivated our hearts. (So much so that I even wrote a poem!) To be able to enjoy the spectacular views from the privacy of our own balcony made our cruise that much sweeter and precious.
Although we are not “cruise people,” we believe that going on this particular cruise was the right choice for our Babymoon, as it afforded us great comfort and easy access to several intriguing destinations.
CRUISING TO REMARKABLE CITIES
We chose to cruise with Royal Caribbean because they had the itinerary that matched our travel destination desires (and our budget). While the downside to cruising is that you never feel like you have enough time in your ports of call, I am so glad to have had a taste of these beautiful places!
With a lovely town center and flamboyant Art Nouveau district, Riga is a delightful city to explore at one’s leisure. Riga gave us a warm welcome to the region!
A top contender for “Best European City Ever,” Tallinn is dripping with romantic whimsy and Old World charm. With its cheery colors, fanciful turrets, and hidden lanes, every corner of the historic city will make you Ooooo and Aaahhhh.
St. Petersburg, Russia
Our cruise directors were not shy in saying how St. Petersburg is the focal point of the itinerary and the gem of this particular trip. With two days in Russia’s second largest city, we could only take in a small measure of its imperial majesty and royal splendor. Truly, St. Petersburg is a beautiful city! You can read more about our time there in my next post: The Wonders of St. Petersburg.
A city that emulates the Finnish flare for modern design, Helsinki is a great destination for shopping and dining. Of its attractions, three churches showcase a varied approach to faith and architecture, while the 18th century Swedish fortress, Suomenlinna, gives visitors an encounter with its military history.
Out of all the capital cities in Scandinavia, Stockholm is my absolute favorite. As I’ve shared on Global Heartbeat before, the Vasa Museum is a must-see and sitting down for fika will give you a taste of cultural values.
Cruising through the Stockholm Archipelago is a major highlight and advantage of visiting the city by ship. Again, this is where a balcony room is a major bonus… and inspires poetry!
With centuries under German, Prussian, and Russian rule, this port town has played an important role in European maritime history, and therefore, has been subject to almost complete destruction once or twice. But what the city lacks in historic gestures, it holds the key to one of the most treasured jewels of the Baltic Sea: the Curonian Spit.
The Curonian Spit is a naturally formed peninsula of white sand dunes that stretches out from Russia’s Kaliningrad coastline in a 98-kilometer arch up towards Klaipeda. The National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage sight and encourages bikers to peddle through its natural beauty.
We met and said farewell to the Serenade of the Seas on the edge of the Danish capital. Since Justin and I were in Copenhagen last year, we didn’t spend an extra night in the city on this trip. However, we made time for a morning at the Torvehallerne, where we sought out a pour-over brew from The Coffee Collective and some tasty breakfast bites. And it was with those flavors of Scandinavia still on our tongues that we concluded our our journey around the Baltic Sea.
A TRIP OF A LIFETIME
With new destinations to discover and plenty of time for unplugged rest, taking the 10-day Royal Caribbean cruise through the Baltic Sea was the right travel experience for our Babymoon. If you want to take a vacation that includes a carefree avenue to explore some beautiful European cities, then this cruise (or one like it) may need to go on your Bucket List. Cheers to dreaming big!
Ahoy there! Have you ever taken a cruise before? What do you find are the advantages and disadvantages to cruising? Have you ever visited this part of Europe? Is the term “Babymoon” a new concept to you?
Disclaimer: Royal Caribbean did not support Global Heartbeat on this journey. I wish they would have though…