Holland America Line’s Baltic Cruise
Of all the cruise destinations, the Baltic cruise is my absolute favorite! Each port of call offers a truly unique experience that families will treasure in years to come. With ports in Russia, Germany, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway, this Holland America 12 day cruise gives families the opportunity to visit many cities they might never consider visiting otherwise. I have such fond memories of our Baltic adventure that I recommend it to everyone. Families should definitely consider this cruise when planning a family vacation!
Families Should Know:
- For St. Petersburg, Russia there are special visa requirements for Americans “If you wish to go ashore during port calls you may do so without visas, provided that you are with an organized tour at all times and accompanied by a tour operator who has been duly licensed by Russian authorities”, US State Department. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to explore on your own in St. Petersburg, so definitely book a shore excursion.
- This cruise is only available in the summer months because of the harsh winters. Although it is the summer, the temperature is still cold so pack your sweaters and jackets. We even wore gloves and hats in Helsinki! Dress in layers and be prepared for rain and wind.
- Before traveling, try and learn basic phrases in the different languages. In some cities, English is known by the locals, but it’s always best to at least attempt a few words in the native language.
- If you are traveling with a toddler, I would recommend bringing a stroller because you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Most of the streets and sidewalks are stroller friendly except for Tallinn, Estonia, where you’ll find cobblestone walkways.
- Although it’s summer, you probably won’t be able to enjoy the ship’s pools and outside areas. The sea air is cold and windy so swimming and relaxing outdoors might not be an option. The indoor pool is also cold, but the kids may not mind.
- In Russia, the tours offered may not seem particularly kid-friendly. Young kids may get bored and tire easily, but go anyway. This is a once in a life time experience that should not be missed. My toddler and I toured Catherine’s Palace, and the majestic Hermitage Museum. He was fussy at times and slept through the museum, but I’m still glad we went.
The kids will love Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. The world’s 2nd oldest amusement park is “a playground for all ages”. Featuring rides, music and entertainment, this park makes for a fun day. There is also a Hard Rock Cafe in the park that kids always enjoy.
In St. Petersburg, the ship is docked overnight. After a day of sightseeing, hire a baby sitter available on the ship and go out in the evening to a Russian ballet, opera or other evening excursion offered by the ship.
Make your way to town center in Tallinn, Estonia and stroll through the old streets and explore this quaint town by foot. Enjoy a meal at one of the many cafes, sit outdoors and people watch. You’ll be entertained by street performers in elaborate costumes.
A fun tour for kids in Stockholm is the land and water tour. You’ll board a small boat and cruise around the city. Afterward, you’ll stroll around the medieval old town, the Gamla Stan and Royal Palace. Take notice of the H&M stores on every corner – really every corner!
Warnemünde, Germany is a seaside resort town that is fun to explore on foot and experience the German culture. Kids can also run around on the rocky beach area (it will probably be chilly and windy). You can also take a 2 1/2 hour train ride to Berlin if your kids are up for it.