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You definitely do not need tours at Tallinn, Stockholm or Copenhagen as there is a shuttle bus for each to take you into town. My advice for Copenhagen is to do this and then walk back to the ship past the fishing harbour, take in the royal palace and then along the seaside to the ship - its a couple of miles but a really nice walk. For Tallinn the best thing is to simply walk around the town and it is very charming with good architecture, cafes and shops. Stockholm is far busier and one can go and see the royal palace, the shops or the outstanding Vasa Museum - the latter can be reached by bus or boat or one can opt for an organised trip if one is unsure of going it alone. Helsinki I always find to be a very disappointing city and one again can go in by shuttle or take an organised trip to see the countryside outside like Porvoo... I now stay on the ship when we get to Helsinki and enjoy the facilities without any crowds but that is a bit extreme ! The absolute gem of the tour is St Petersburg which has so many attractions one cannot see them all in one trip and probably one would need at least a week to scratch the surface. You have to take organised trips but have a choice of those organised by the ship or to book a private tour company ( this site has details of those). The other major thing you have to decide at St Petersburg is how busy you want to be as there are trips that are 12 hours long for both days one is there but some people find these very tiring, whilst others want to pack as much as they can in a day. The choice is yours !! There are fantastic sights in the city itself including the Hermitage art museum, the Peter and Paul fortess and the two cathedrals. There is also the royal palaces which are about 20 miles outside the city. If you want to do as much as you can have one day in the city and one at the palaces .... if you want to go at a more leisurely pace (which I always do) I would recommend a morning tour of the main sites of the city with many photo stops including external visits to the cathedrals ... then have a rest in the afternoon ... and if you are able to afford it treat yourself to the most fabulous ships tour I have ever been on. This comprised an evening visit to the Hermitage, which was only for the cruise trips and then a ballet performance in the Winter palace .... expensive but worth every penny as a memory one will never forget. The other difference was that people who go to the Hermitage during the day have to contend with huge crowds which is understandable as it is an amazing museum. The next day take a trip to the palaces or alternatively a river trip around St Petersburg which includes the Peter and Paul fortress where the Russian royal family are buried and which is very beautiful inside. Hope this helps and there some are some very good web sites to surf on St Petersburg if you are interested because it is a very special place and is undoubtedly the must see place on your cruise.... enjoy.
Thank you so much for your very informative answer to my question which has given us much food for thought especially regarding the visit to St Petersburg. It is so nice when well travelled people take the time and effort to respond indepth. As aside, I dont suppose you have completed any legs of a world tour and if so what countries would you say should/should not be visited/missed as we are planning the 2010 QM2 world cruise, obviously cost has to be taken into account and we cannot possibly visit all locations.
Hi Ann, I have been on about twenty cruises but unfortunately not the world cruise and thus I cannot give an informed view on the best countries to be visited. You are however going on my favourite ship the QM2 which I believe is a world apart from any other, as it is the only genuine liner in the world... as opposed to cruise ships.
Have a great time on both this and the Baltic cruise.... one other thing to say about the Baltic cruise is that it is wonderful for actual cruising as the actual sails out of St Petersburg, Copenhagen and Stockholm are spectacular and a great delight, especially if you have booked a balcony cabin. You can sit and watch wonderful scenery pass before your eyes. Best regards Steve .
Hi Steve, i would like to echo Ann's comments and thank you for the information, we have booked the same cruise - but in August. My youngest son who is 15 is somewhat concerned that he may be the only teenager on board, were there many children of his age on board when you travelled?
QM2 is our favourite ship as well - we use this as a bench mark against other ships - none can compare.
When we went there were some teenagers but nothing like say RCCI or P&O. Nevertheless as you will know there is still a lot to do aboard Cunard ships for all ages and there are a lot of countries to visit. I hope you all have a great time ...... we have two cruises booked for 2009 ... one on the QM2 around Great Britain in October and one on the new Celebrity Solstice in May around the Eastern Med. which we like as an area because of the wonderful historic islands.
In defence of Helsinki - it is an attractive city, easy to get around, with wonderful shops. Try to get to Stockmanns - think Macy's but less 'in your face'. In Russia be prepared to queue for everything and you won't be disappointed! Try to get into Tallin early as it is really pretty and the photos look better without crowds everywhere. The Vasa museum is a must in Stockholm, there is a nice park adjacent to it if the weather is kind. Everything is do-able independently, except Russia, unless you are fluent in the language. Have a good time.