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Stephanie Serino

New York, New York Travel Agent

Small Ship Cruising in the Baltic with Seabourn

I’ve cruised the Baltic twice now; once on a larger ship and most recently on the Seabourn Sojourn, a small ship with under 500 passengers. Being on a smaller ship is a huge advantage because you can visit smaller ports that the large ships cannot and often, dock right in the center of the cities.

In St. Petersburg for example, large cruise ships dock in an ugly area with container ships; on Seabourn, we were able to dock right in the city center, practically across the street from the State Hermitage Museum. That is something that sets Seabourn apart. It made for some amazing pictures, and it was very special to be right in the heart of the city in that way. I hired a private guide who met me at the ship, and we walked everywhere. 

One of the highlights of our visit was an after-hours tour of Catherine Palace arranged exclusively for Seabourn passengers. We arrived in the evening as the sun was setting. They handed us each a glass of champagne and escorted us into a ballroom where a string quartet was playing. Our hosts were dressed in period costume, and the scene was magical. 

Best of all, we were free to explore the Palace—with no crowds because we had it all to ourselves. They even allowed us to take pictures in the Amber Room, where photography is usually forbidden. It felt like an amazing privilege to be able to sip champagne and take a selfie with my husband in that room.

The itinerary gave us three days in St. Petersburg, so we had two nights where we could just walk off the ship and explore the city. On our second night, we went to the Mariinsky Theatre and were lucky to see Viktoria Tereshkina, a famous prima ballerina, perform Swan Lake.

We also visited Tallinn, Estonia and Helsinki, Finland, and bookended the trip with stays in Copenhagen, where the cruise began, and Stockholm, our final port. It was amazing how much we saw in seven days. Visiting them one after the other, you realize how intertwined their histories are and how their cuisines and cultures overlap yet are distinct from each other. It’s especially wonderful to be able to include St. Petersburg in the mix.  

The ship itself added a lot to the experience. There’s a Thomas Keller restaurant onboard, and we enjoyed all the premium dining and entertainment during our time at sea. 

This is a ship and an itinerary I have since recommended to many clients.

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