First Posted: 4/27/2012 10:10:02 AM | Last Updated: 4/27/2012 10:10:02 AM
Our cruise continued from Berlin on to Stockholm, Sweden, after a day at sea. These sea days (we had one before Berlin as well), are life-savers on a longer cruise such as this one. The days in port are strenuous because you want to see everything possible, so sea days are a time to relax, meet your fellow passengers, or maybe even take a nap so that you can dance till dawn in the ship’s disco if that’s what suits your fancy. There are numerous ways to pass the time if you’re looking for something to do. You can use the indoor pool, or have a spa day. There are lectures on the upcoming ports, and classes on various subjects if that interests you. You can always take in an on-board art auction, or a game of Bingo, go to the ship’s library, take dance lessons or exercise classes, catch a movie, have a drink at one of the half dozen or so bars aboard, drop a few bucks in the casino, play group games, listen to live music, or just relax. All of these activities are punctuated by any number of meals, snacks, coffee breaks and teas throughout the day. (My personal favorite was the ice cream bar with toppings).
The evenings, too, are filled with sumptuous dinners, followed by live shows, sing-alongs, karaoke, passenger talent shows, games, shopping, wine tastings, contests, and even more late-night food.
I’m getting hungry just remembering. Anyway, on to Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. We were told by friends we met on the ship that the scenery on the way into the port of Stockholm was not to be missed, so we were up and on deck by 7 A.M., as the ship was scheduled to dock at 9. The views were fabulous, as the harbor opens onto an archipelago of 24,000 islands and islets, which is how your ship approaches the port. Scenic Stockholm is comprised of 14 islands connected by over 50 bridges.
We opted to take a City Tour here, but there were literally dozens of tours available, or you could just get in a cab and do-it-yourself. Sites on our tour included the Cathedral, the Royal Palace, the old section of the city featuring narrow cobblestone streets lined with old buildings housing shops, restaurants, cafes, etc., and what I found to be the highlight, the Vasa Museum. The Vasa houses the Flagship Wasa, which sank in the harbor on its maiden voyage in 1628 and was raised and restored in the 1960’s. This is mind-blowing!!
The next day found us in Helsinki, Finland where we again opted for a short city tour so we could get an overview of the sites then have a little time left for shopping and exploring on our own. One of the highlights here was the Sibelius Monument, in homage to the great Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius. The monument ismade up of a series of hollow steel pipes welded together into a modern sculpture, and also includes a large metal bust of the composer himself. The tour also included the Lutheran Cathedral, Senate Square, the Rock Church (which was closed for repair at the time), and various other city sites.
Both Stockholm and Helsinki were lovely, with friendly people and charming sites, but I was really looking forward to our next stop, St. Petersburg, Russia. See you there next time.