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Norwegian Cruise Lines

12-Day Baltic Capitals to 7 Countries:
UK, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland, and Sweden

May 17 - May 29, 2008

Mom & Dad, Suzanna & Martha

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Contents

Information

Itinerary

Map

Currency

The Ship

Our Rooms

Dining

Temperatures

Shore Excursions

Journal

Thursday May 15  Fly Tulsa to Atlanta. Fly Atlanta to London

Cruise Day 1  Saturday May 17 London (Dover) - Depart 4:00 PM

Cruise Day 2 Sunday May 18  At Sea

Cruise Day 3 Monday May 19 Copenhagen  Arrive 9:00 AM Depart 7:30 PM

Cruise Day 4  Tuesday May 20 Berlin (Warnemuende)  Arrive 8:00 AM Depart 9:00 PM

Cruise Day 5  Wednesday May 21 At Sea

Cruise Day 6  Thursday May 22 Tallinn Arrive 8:00 AM Depart 5:30 PM

Cruise Day 7 Friday May 23 St. Petersburg Arrive 8:00 AM Overnight

Cruise Day 8 Saturday May 24 St. Petersburg Depart 7:00 PM

Cruise Day 9  Sunday May 25 Helsinki  8:00 AM Depart 5:30 PM

Cruise Day 10 Monday May 26  Stockholm  8:00 AM Depart 5:30 PM

Cruise Day 11 Tuesday May 27 At Sea

Cruise Day 12  Wednesday May 28 At Sea

Thursday May 29 London (Dover)  Fly home

Cost

Insurance

 

Tips:

Here are some links to Baltic Cruise sites by other people

http://www.hunterdouglaswttw.com/html/europe_cruise_todo.html

http://www.nwas.com/russia/07jrs.html

Norwegian Dream Cruise: 2003 Trip Report - Baltic Capitals - http://www.gagme.com/greg/vacation/2003/cruise/

Cruise Comparisons - I compared many many different cruise lines and cruises:

Crystal Cruises - 11 days  $6910  http://www.crystalcruises.com/cruise_itinerary.aspx?CID=8219

Royal Caribbean  http://www.royalcaribbean.com/

Holland America, only one dining area where you can dress casual, All Shore Excursions here: https://www.hollandamerica.com/HALWShorex/pdf/2007ScanRuss.pdf, http://www.hollandamerica.com/dest/itinerary.do?selectedItin=20080821:T828:ES8012&dest=E

Regent Seven Seas, Xpensive http://www.rssc.com/voyage/details.jsp?code=VOY070721

Celebrity Cruises, http://www.celebritycruises.com/

Norwegian Cruise Line - Free-style cruising  casual dress always, 10 choices of 12 and 13 days cruises Starting May 5 through Sept 4, Free-style cruising - casual dress always

 

Our Itinerary

Day

Ship Arrives

Description

Ship Departs

Sunrise / Sunset

Thurs 5/15

 

Flight to Atlanta then flight to London

Tulsa 10 am

Atlanta 5:30 pm

 

Fri 5/16

Arrive 7 am London Gatwick

 

 

 

Saturday 5/17
Cruise Day 1

 

 

Depart 4:30 4:00 pm

5:04am/8:38pm

Cloudy 50F

Sunday 5/18
Cruise Day 2

 

At Sea

 

4:50am/8:42pm

Sunny 58F

Monday 5/19
Cruise Day 3

Arrive 9:00 am

Copenhagen,
Denmark

MomDadSuz - 1:45 pm Royal Copenhagen - 3 hour bus tour

Martha 9:15 am? Canal Cruise & Tivoli Gardens

Depart 7:30 pm

4:55am/9:17pm

Partly Sunny 57F

Tuesday 5/20
Cruise Day 4

Arrive 8:00 am

Berlin (Warnemuende)

MomDad - 9:00 am Hanseatic Rostock - 3.5 hour tour

Suz - 8:00 am East meets West 12.5 hour train/bus tour

Martha - 8:30 am Guestrow 4.5 hour walking tour

Depart 9:00 10:00 pm

 

5:03am/913pm

Mostly Sunny 66F

Wednesday 5/21
Cruise Day 5

At Sea

Rest

Rest

5:42am/10:09pm

Partly Cloudy 57F

Thursday 5/22
Cruise Day 6

Arrive 8:00 am

Tallin, Estonia

MomDadSuz - 1:00 pm Highlights of Tallinn 3.5 hour bus tour

Martha -8:45 am Kradiorg Palace 4.5 hour tour

Depart 5:30 pm

 

4:36am/9:50pm

Partly Sunny 57F

Friday 5/23
Cruise Day 7

Arrive 8:00 am

St. Petersburg, Russia

MomDadSuz - 8:30 am Perterhof Palace - Russian Versailles - 4 hour tour of palace

Martha 8:30 am  -  Magnificent St. Petersburg 9 hours tour

 

5:09am/10:42pm

Sunny 54F

Saturday 5/24
Cruise Day 8

 

MomDadSuz - 9:00 am Hermitage Museum & Spilled Blood Church - 7.5 hour museum and bus tour

Depart 7:00 pm

5:07am/10:44pm

Sunny 56F

Sunday 5/25
Cruise Day 9

Arrive 8:00 am

Helsinki, Finland

Mom&Dad No tour planned yet

Suz - 1:15 pm Helsinki without walking  2 hour  tour

Martha 9:30 am Town&Country  4.5 hour tour

Depart 5:30 pm

4:24am/10:10pm

Sunny 62F

Monday 5/26
Cruise Day 10

Arrive 8:00 am

Stockholm, Sweden

MomDadSuz - 10:45 am - Best of Stockholm 3.5 hour bus tour

Martha - 9:00 am - Old town and Milesgarden 3 hour tour

Depart 5:30 4:00 pm

3:56am/9:32pm

Mostly Sunny 64F

Tuesday 5/27
Cruise Day 11

At Sea

Rest

 

4:16am/9:42pm

Sunny 64F

Wednesday 5/28
Cruise Day 12

At Sea

Rest

 

4:48am/8:57pm

Partly Sunny 72F

Thursday 5/29

Arrive 5:00 am London (Dover)

11 am Flight Home

 

 

 

Map

 

Currency

On 5/6/2008 these were the rates

 

 

 

1 Euro

1 USD

1 of theirs to 1 USD

 

GPB Pounds United Kingdom

.79

.51

1.97

 

DEM Deut Marks Germany

1.95

1.25

.794

 

EEK Kroni Estonia

15.65

10.07

.0992

 

RUB Rubles Russia

36.83

23.71

.042

 

FIM Markkan Finland

5.94

3.83

.26

 

SEK Kroner Sweden

9

5

.16

 

Urer Sweden

30

9

 

 

The Ship

The Norwegian Jewel has 14 decks - We were on Deck 8. 

Our Rooms

Mom and Dad had a Private Balcony Stateroom with two lower beds that convert to a queen bed; floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open up to a private balcony; a sitting area; and a private bathroom with shower. Each stateroom also includes a refrigerator, minisafe, television, music console, direct-dial telephone, and a hairdryer. About 167-sq.-ft. stateroom with 38-sq.-ft. balcony.

Martha and I had an Inside Stateroom a couple rooms down from Mom&Dads and across the hall.  It had two lower beds, as well as a sitting area, private bathroom with shower, refrigerator, minisafe, television, music console, direct-dial telephone, and a hairdryer.  About 138-sq.-ft. stateroom.  Our room also had a bunk bed that was folded up against the wall above Martha's bed and another pull-out bed under Martha's bed.  Maybe that's why she didn't want that bed.  At lunch before we went to the rooms I asked her if I could have the bed that was on the same side as the bathroom.  She got to the room before me and she chose that bed, but she graciously switched when I explained   ¦Since she will be getting up before me every morning, the light from the bathroom will shine directly on the other bed and I really really wanted the luxury of being able to sleep a little later.  Anyway, it worked out fine.  Our room sure did feel  a lot smaller than mom&dad's.  It was nice because it was so dark for sleeping.  I think I slept late one morning.   I think would try to get a balcony next time though.

I picked this cruise line because they have  Freestyle Cruising .  It's a  more relaxed, resort-style cruise product with complete flexibility and non-intrusive service of the highest standard. Hallmarks of this innovative onboard service concept include open seating and extended hours in the main restaurants, alternative dining facilities, "resort-casual" attire in the evening, increased crew-to-guest staffing, simplified tipping procedures, and a more leisurely disembarkation process.

Dining

Freestyle Dining allows guests to  eat whenever, wherever, and with whomever they wish.

The ship had ten different themed restaurants offer an array of international and regional cuisine, including French bistro fare, trattoria-style Italian dishes, Asian fusion, sushi, teppanyaki, and Spanish tapas. Vegetarian, low fat, low calorie, and children's menu items are available at all restaurants, and NCL's popular "chocoholic buffet" is offered on all voyages. Guests can also order from a 24-hour room service menu.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Casinos at Sea.  Smoky places that cost you even more money. No thank you.

NCL was one of the first cruise lines to feature big-name entertainers and Broadway-caliber productions. Continuing its tradition of entertainment excellence, NCL has teamed with the top theatrical producers in the world to produce a series of award-winning musical productions for its fleet.
In addition to top-notch productions, NCL offers a range of evening entertainment that includes cabaret singers, stand-up comics, and specialty acts such as jugglers, ventriloquists, magicians, and comedy hypnotists. A dazzling nightclub is available for dancing the night away, and an array of themed lounges feature live entertainment.

Free Dining:

Garden Cafe - Deck 12; accommodates 390. The Garden Cafe offers a family-friendly menu of omelets, pasta, soups, salads and ethnic specialties.   We ate here a lot.  I love buffets because you can eat a little of everything. We could server ourself at first, but when a virus broke out, they had to serve us.  They handed you a plate, utensils, coffee, everything.  We were only allow to touch our plate in the buffet area  -  nothing else. We ate breakfast, lunch, (and sometime dinner) here every day.

Azura Main Dining Room - Deck 6; accommodates 304. In the style of a modern boutique hotel, the lines are clean with combinations of blues and purples with a shot of orange for good measure. The daily menu includes a selection of light, healthy choices.  We ate here a couple times for dinner.  It had the same entree choices at Tsar's.

Blue Lagoon - Deck 8; accommodates 94. In honor of the midnight snack, we bring you Blue Lagoon open round the clock. Whether you're hankering for a burger or a fast-wok dish, you can enjoy a light bite in a family friendly atmosphere, day or night. 

Tsar's Palace Main Dining Room - Deck 6; accommodates 558. The interior is an inspiration of the grand palaces of St. Petersburg and the era of the great Tsars of Russia. A five-course, award-winning menu is the inspiration of our master chefs.  They led us to this restaurant for lunch as soon as we boarded the ship because our rooms weren't ready. The place was palatial and Mom was worried that they were taking us to somewhere that we would have to pay extra.  Nope.  The room was gorgeous and the food really good also.  I think Martha ate breakfast here many mornings  -  it's nice to be served sometimes. 

Tango's Tapas Latin Restaurant - Deck 8; accommodates 96. This modern Tapas bar brings the big flavors of Latin America out in a constantly changing assortment of hot and cold Tapas and Tex-Mex cuisine against the backdrop of huge, bold relief murals.  Great place for lunch.  One night we did dinner.  Dad and Martha got seafood tacos and mom and I got a great big hanging skewers of meat and vegetables. It was really good.

Sky High Bar -  Deck 13; accommodates 91.  Enjoy your grilled favorites like hot dogs, hamburgers and bratwurst at the casual Sky High Bar.  I ate here one night. The buffet was closed and I wanted something to eat.  It was cafeteria style.  At the end of the line they were cooking up a noodles and sauce with a very interesting name.  It looked good, and I always have to try something different, so I got some.  I think it had a lot of oil in it because I sure had the runs the next day  ¦.I took one pill and I was OK. Whew.  I sure didn't want to come down with that nasty virus going around  ¦.

 

Pay extra restaurants  -  we didn't go to any of these:

Mama's Italian Kitchen - Deck 12; accommodates 96. Traditional, tasty and molto italiano.

Teppanyaki Room - Deck 7; accommodates 32. Truly authentic Asian dining experience with large tables of 10

Cagney's Steakhouse - Deck 13; accommodates 176. Upscale, traditional steak house.

Chin Chin Asian Restaurant - Deck 7; accommodates 162. This elegant adventure into Japanese, Thai and Chinese cuisine.

Le Bistro French Restaurant - Deck 6; accommodates 129. Le Bistro is an ode to all things French..

Sushi and Sake Bar - Located on Deck 7; accommodates 10. The very best sushi and sake expertly prepared as you watch. Room Service - If you can't come to the restaurant we'll bring the restaurant to you. Room Service is available 24-hours a day. Free coffee and tea.

 

Temperatures

Copenhagen, Denmark Weather

Temperature (Fahrenheit)

         

                    Jan        Feb     Mar        Apr      May    Jun     Jul       Aug    Sep      Oct        Nov      Dec

High       37        36      41      49      60      66      69      69      61      53         44     39

Low         30      28      32      36      45      52      55      54      50      44         37     32

Precipitation

                    Jan        Feb     Mar        Apr      May    Jun     Jul       Aug    Sep      Oct        Nov      Dec

Inches      2         1         1      2         2      2     3      3         2        2      2         2

Humidity

                    Jan        Feb     Mar        Apr      May    Jun     Jul       Aug    Sep      Oct        Nov      Dec

Percent   89     89     89     84    76      76     78    82      86      87         87      88

 

St. Petersburg, Russia Weather

Temperature (Fahrenheit)

                    Jan        Feb     Mar        Apr      May    Jun     Jul       Aug    Sep      Oct        Nov      Dec

High      24      25      34      46      60      66      70      66      56      45         35         28

Low         15      16      24      33      44      52      56      54      45      37         28         20

Precipitation

                    Jan        Feb     Mar        Apr      May    Jun     Jul       Aug    Sep      Oct        Nov      Dec

Inches      1         1         1      1         2      2      3      3         2      2         2         1

Humidity

                    Jan        Feb     Mar        Apr      May    Jun     Jul       Aug    Sep      Oct        Nov      Dec

Percent   86      86      85      83      80      82      87      90      90      87         87         87

 

Stockholm, Sweden Weather

Temperature (Fahrenheit)

                    Jan        Feb     Mar        Apr      May    Jun     Jul       Aug    Sep      Oct        Nov      Dec

High      31      31      37      47      60      67      70      68      58  48         39         32

Low         22      20      26      31      41      49      54      53      45  38         31         23

Precipitation Days

                    Jan        Feb     Mar        Apr      May    Jun     Jul       Aug    Sep      Oct        Nov      Dec

Days      25      20      21      20      17      18      20      19      20  20         23         25

Humidity

                  Jan   Feb  Mar    Apr   May   Jun   Jul      Aug      Sep Oct     Nov   Dec

Percent   89      91      91      86      75      74      79      87      91  92         91 91

 

Shore Excursions

I am so glad that I booked them before the cruise on the ncl.com web site.  I could read all the descriptions and take my time to select the tours that we wanted. 

Other cruise line shore excursion descriptions were helpful also.  http://www.hollandamerica.com/cruise-destinations/northerneurope.

 

In June of 2007, I did all the research on the Shore Excursions.  I copied descriptions of all the tours from the http://www.ncl.com/nclweb/shorex.html site to a Word document.

One of main reasons that I selected this cruise is because of the FreeStyle atmosphere, and the Hermitage (before it open) shore excursion tour. I was very concerned about getting Mom & Dad on the Hermitage tour, so went ahead and signed us up for the Hermitage tour in 9/2/2007.  I signed us up for the rest of the tours on 9/11/07.  I am so glad I did that, because after November (?) the NCL Shore Excursion site didn't work any more.  The entire shore excursion part of web site was down and you couldn't even look at the available shore excursion or the descriptions.  And there was no way to sign up for the excursion before the cruise.  I guess they expected you to sign up for them on first day of the cruise or before you reached that harbor, or you could call their shore ex desk 866-234-7351..

Well, it turned out that the descriptions and activities of the tour changed by the time our cruise was ready to leave.   I was still very glad that reserved the spots on the excursion in advance. 

At least I already had the reservation and we could change them onboard if necessary.  Since you couldn't view the shore excursions online, the NCL work-around, was to mail us a 96 page brochure of all the shore excursion descriptions in  a packet. 

They rated their tours by three levels:

Three Levels of Tours:

Level 1 - Tours with this symbol involve walking over relatively level terrain, possibly some cobblestone, gravel or a few steps. Comfortable shoes are recommended. If it's a water activity, well, choice of shoes is up to you.

Level 2 - Tours with this symbol involve a considerable amount of physical activity such as substantial walking over uneven or cobblestone streets, climbing stairs or steep terrain. They are not recommended for guests with walking difficulties. Comfortable, sturdy shoes are recommended. (Unless, of course, you're swimming.)

Level 3 - Tours with this symbol involve physical exertion for extended periods of time. The terrain may be uneven or steep. This designation can also indicate the need for swimming in a light current, bicycle riding or horseback riding. They are recommended only for the physically fit and adventurous traveler.

All shore excursions and all transfers are in the reservation at http://edocs.ncl.com/edocs/  NCL # 866-625-1163 or 1167, Pre-cruise 866-234-0292

Thursday May 15  Fly Tulsa to Atlanta. Fly Atlanta to London.

DELTA

Day Date      Flight            City         Time 

--- -------- ------ ----- ---------------- ------

Thu 15MAY DELTA 47934588*      LV TULSA         101510:01A

                        AR ATLANTA    10812:51P

            *Operated by ATLANTIC SOUTHEAST

Thu 15MAY DELTA 12            LV ATLANTA         530P

                        AR LONDON-GATWI     700A

 

 

Mom&Dad drove to Tulsa the night before and stayed in a hotel where they could leave their car for the duration of the trip.  They departed Tulsa on Delta Air Lines at 10:15 am, and arrived in Atlanta, GA 1:08 pm . So far so good.

At noon, I drove to Georgia Power where Martha works.  She got a pass so I could park my car in their garage (next to hers).  They had a shuttle to Marta, which I took to the airport where I met Mom&Dad.  We got some lunch at the big food court in the International Concourse E.  We waited in gate and Martha finally got there.  We're off!  Depart Atlanta on Delta Air Lines Flight 12  at 5:30 pm.  We arrive in London Gatwick at 7:00am the next day.  Non-stop flight time is 8hrs 30min.  Round trip cost of airline ticket was $887 per person

I had a whole bunch of research and printouts with me of other flights  -  it's my just in case information. Flights from Tulsa, OK (TUL) to Atlanta, GA (ATL) on Thu, May 15 and 16. Flights from  ATL to LGW (London Gatwick) on May 15, 16, and 17.  Flights from LGW to ATL May 29, 30 and 31. From Atlanta, GA (ATL) to Tulsa, OK (TUL) on Fri, May 30, 31. Etc etc .  I didn't need any of that information.  It's a good trip when you don't need just-in-case information.

At the airport in London, Martha got her suitcase first and she went out to find our transport to the hotel.  We waited and waited and waited.  Finally Mom and Dad eventually got their luggage.   The carousel stopped turning. We waited and waited some more.  Carousel started turning again, and my suitcase still didn't show up.  It stopped turning, we waited and waited.  I had a direct flight from Atlanta so I was sure hoping that my bag made it.  I had enough to last me 3 days in my carry-on bag, but I didn't want to have to do that.  Standing there looking and waiting for my luggage, I had memories of Scotland waiting for luggage.  Thank goodness I stayed with Martha and her Dad while they waited on their luggage.  We waited an hour and half and they ended up filing a missing luggage report.  Then there was New Zealand - Martha and I left the arrival area and we waited forever and Gwen never came out of the luggage area.  Gwen was off somewhere filing a missing luggage report.  We finally got back to together, but it was a little frustrating not knowing what was going on.  Anyway.  Maybe better for everyone in the group to stay together because it was looking like my suitcase was AWOL in London.      Well, finally, the carousel started turning again, and finally I saw my black bag. Yeah!

We found Martha who had been waiting with the transportation guy and his  Morse  sign.  We wheeled our bags to his van and loaded up.  It was a very long, long, drive to the hotel.  Seems like it took about an hour and a half.  Ed had arranged the transfers from the airport to the hotel, so the cost was covered, but I still tipped him.

We were staying at the same hotel that NCL uses: Holiday Inn Kensington is at 97  Cromwell Rd London FW74ER   or 100 CROMWELL RD , LONDON, SW7 4ER ENGLAND http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/h/d/hi/1/en/hotel/LONKE/welcome   Hotel Front Desk: 44-20-73732222 | Hotel Fax: 44-20-73730559.  This is from their web site:

The Holiday Inn Kensington is located in the heart of London, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The hotel has its own private landscaped garden providing a quiet, tranquil and relaxing atmosphere in the heart of London.

The Gloucester Road underground station is 2min. walk from the hotel. For the leisure traveller Holiday Inn offers easy accessibility to all the major London attractions including High Street Kensington, Natural History Museum, London Eye, Albert Hall and Harrods. The hotel also offers a direct link to Heathrow airport via the Piccadilly line and the M4 and A4 are easily accessible.

Check-In Time: 2:00 PM , Check-Out Time: 1:00 PM

Transportation to and from Hotel

London Gatwick  (LGW) - Distance: 35 MI  /  56.33 KM North West  to Hotel

Taxi Charge (one way):    £90.00  (GBP) , Train Charge (one way):    £15.00  (GBP) , Time by train:  45 minutes

Train

Station Name:  Victoria , Distance: 2 MI  /  3.22 KM South West  to Hotel , Taxi Fee From Train Station:    £10.00  (GBP)

Subway Station Name:  Gloucester Rd  Distance: 0.1 MI  /  0.16 KM South  to Hotel - Turn left outside the station, walk to the main set of traffic lights and you will see the Hotel across the street, on the left hand side.

Attractions

Hyde Park (0.5 MI )

Kensington Palace (0.9 MI   )

Earl's Court Exhibition Centre (0.8 MI )

Buckingham Palace (2.6 MI  )

Harrods (1 MI  )

Royal Albert Hall (0.8 MI )

Olympia Exhibition Centre (0.8 MI  )

Natural History Museum (0.6 MI )

Science Museum (0.6 MI )

Big Ben / Parliament (3 MI )

Tower of London (4 MI )

London Eye (3.5 MI  )

Madame Tussauds / Planetarium (3 MI   )

 

This map shows a green arrow where the airport is located.  The circle near London is the hotel, and Dover is where the boat departs.

 

Our rooms were not ready when we got to the hotel. So we put our luggage in storage and ventured out for a bit to eat. We ended up at Burger King, of all places. I actually love their flame broiled burgers. (Editorial interjection: Christmas 2008 Burger King is selling Flame-broiled scented cologne for men for $3.99  -  that's going a little too far!)  On my Spain tour, when we were in Gibraltar, everyone else went to an English fish & chips restaurant and I walked across to the Burger King.  It was the same flavor.  Anyway, that is's what we got in London. 

We went back to the hotel and waited in the lobby.  Dad was busy chatting up the NCL ladies at the information desk.  Martha's and my room was ready first so we all went up to relax in the room.  Dad tipped the cleaning ladies, and their room was ready soon after that.  We decided to take a nap, and then venture out later.  Mom and Dad napped, and then they opened their suitcases and found some very damp things near the top edge.  Their bags were left out in the rain on the tarmac somewhere.  Yeow.  I bought that luggage for them before our trip to Italy.  It was cheap luggage, but it was fine for the Italy trip.  I found some info that it is probably 600-denier polyester.  It's what some places might call  trunk  luggage for car trips, not  over-seas  luggage.  Sorry Mom& Dad.  They had stuff strewn everywhere to dry things out and the blow dryer in the room came in handy.

We finally got organized enough to venture out.  The hotel seemed like walking distance to Hyde park, but as we walked, it seemed further away.  Mom&Dad turned around and went back to the hotel and Martha and I went on to the park.  Hotel is the red star:

 

We were walking up Gloucester Road so we entered Kensington Gardens at the beginning of Flower Walk.  There was one huge stand of many colors, and various other bursts of color along the way.  We walked over to Hyde Park, then we saw Royal Albert Hall.  Wow.  Beautiful round building and statues all around the memorial in front of the building.  Then we went up to the lake and walked around the entire lake, and finally back through Flower Walk and back to the hotel.  It was getting pretty chilly.

 

 

Cruise Day 1  Saturday May 17 London (Dover)  - Depart 4:00 PM

 

Get up and wait in the lobby of our hotel.  Buses were arriving to transport us to the ship in Dover.  Dad was being sociable with NCL ladies so he got us on the first bus.  Yeah.  We're on our way.  We needed to be on the boat by 4pm on Saturday, May 17.  I think we got there around 11-ish?  Our luggage had our room tags so they will be delivered ( and left in the hallway in front of the room) We were  processed  and received our very important room key card.  Finally ready to board.  As soon as we got on the ship, we were informed that our rooms were not ready, so we were immediately escorted to a restaurant: Tsar's.  Wow!  What a fancy place.  The restaurant was palatial and Mom was worried that they had taken us to somewhere that we would have to pay extra.  Nope.  We were seated at a table with another nice couple.   The room was gorgeous and the food really good also.   If that's what was available for the rest of trip, then this was going to pretty nice.

Finally off to find our rooms.  Walk, walk, walk, walk, follow the sign and keep walking. This is big boat!!!  Tsar's is in the back of the ship and our rooms were in the front. When the ship wasn't moving it was difficult to tell which way you are walking.  About the third day we noticed that the fish in the carpet design were swimming toward the front of the ship.  That helped. 

As we were unpacking, the ship was moving.  I actually started feeling queasy in our little inside room.  I had to get out and get some air.  Mom & Dad's room was great. A nice sliding glass door to the private balcony. 

At 3:30 we went to the mandatory boat drill.  I sure wish I had brought my camera to that.  We had to meet in the Theater.  Every seat was full and everyone was wearing their life vest.

Every day we had a  Freestyle Daily  paper.  Four pages of stories and events of what is going on around the ship.

At 6 pm there was a Single Social and Dinner Sign-Up.  Martha and I went and signed up.  That is a really good idea - I recognized singles for the rest of the cruise.  I wanted to remain a single though  -  I relished the opportunity to eat alone and enjoy the moment.  OK, so it was also nice to know that I didn't have to eat alone if I didn't want to.

At 8 pm we went to the Stardust Theater for the show. Welcome Aboard Showtime with Comedian Ross Bennett.

 

Cruise Day 2 Sunday May 18  At Sea

Lazy day.  I tried to sleep late.  Martha opened the door of our room to leave and she gasped  -  in excitement.  There was an entire birthday cake (minus one piece) discarded in the hallway. She grabbed it and put it in our room.  Oh boy,  I hadn't had a dessert for a month and I was going to try to be so good on this trip.  I might have to eat one piece  -  later.

I think I finally made my way up to the Garden Cafe buffet for breakfast before they closed at 10:30 am. They close for an hour between each meal to change the food.

At 3 pm  I got Mom&Dad to come out of the room and go to the Spinnaker Lounge (top Deck 13) for what the newsletter said was  Free Card Frenzy Bingo .  Well, the Rumba dance class was still going on, so we watched that for about 40 minutes.  Finally, bingo started.  This was all very new to me and very old-hat run-of-mill for many of the people that were there.  They seemed to make a lot of assumptions that everyone knew what was going on.  The three of us and absolutely no idea what was going on and it wasn't fun.  I convinced Mom&Dad to stay until we figured it out.  Well, it turns out that bingo is very expensive!  They rent you little machines and sell you tickets.  The lady in front of us spent $70 dollars!  The newsletter said  Free  so we stayed.  We had also brought with us our one little lonely bingo card that they had left on the bed in Mom&Dads room.  So the first game is played.  It's all computerized.  Someone claims to win, they read out their little rented computer number, the big computer up front verifies it and declares a winner.  Duhhh  ¦  Knowing computers and programming the way that I do completely ruined the entire bingo thrill for me.  The guy up front finally mentioned that the third game was going to be the  free  one.  OK, so we stayed so we could play our one little card.  Now wasn't that fun.  NOT. At least it was something, and it got Mom&Dad out of the room.  

This afternoon we cut into the birthday cake.  I brought a couple pieces to Mom&Dad. It tasted OK  -  not really worth the calories  ¦.

For dinner we all went to Tango's Tapas Latin Restaurant.  Both Dad and Martha got lobster tacos.  Dad does seem to opt for seafood when it's available.  I've been eating a lot more seafood that meat lately also.  Anyway.  For dinner, I shared a big dish with Mom  -  II Polo. It was a big, no huge skewer that they placed in the middle of the table.  It was a perfect dinner because it had a little of everything  -  2 pieces each of chicken, beef, peppers, mushrooms.  Yum, yum, and yum.  Mom and I got dessert, which wasn't worth the calories. I have to keep reminding myself of that. 

At 8 pm we went to the Stardust Theater for the show. Spotlight Showtime: Band on the Run. It was a tribute and flashback to the music and dance of the 70's.

 

Cruise Day 3 Monday May 19  Copenhagen  Arrive 9:00 AM Depart 7:30 PM

What a day!  What an absolutely perfect day!  Martha had an early tour of Tivoli Gardens. It's actually an amusement park, not  gardens  as the title suggests.  Tina, Paul and I visited Tivoli in 1979. I can remember seeing it at night with the rides going and all the beautiful lights outlining the rides. I would have loved to see it again, but I tried to sign up for all afternoon tours. The Tivoli tour was in the morning when the park wasn't even open.  Anyway..

At 10 am  I met Mom & Dad for breakfast

At 1:30 we met in the Stardust Theater for our tour.  When they called our tour, we exit the theater and got our number stuck to our jacket.  As we are trying to exit the ship, there are people returning from the morning tours.  It was beautiful weather this morning. The Daily forecast for May 19 said  Partly Sunny .

BTW: It also said Sunrise at 4:54 am.  EXCEEUSE ME!!!  Sunrise at 5 AM!  I don't think so.  Yeah inside stateroom that is pitch BLACK so I have absolutely no idea when sunrise occurs.  One plus of not getting an outside room with a balcony.  Hmmm. There are tradeoffs.   Sunset was 9:17 pm.  The days are getting longer  ¦..

So we were waiting around the elevator.  Totally soaked and drenched people are boarding the boat returning from the morning tours.  The sky broke open and dumped a deluge of water.  There was a very long line of people waiting to get back on the boat. They were stuck in line and dressed in  partly sunny  attire.  They were NOT happy that their morning tours got dumped on.  Someone made a comment to us that we were crazy to go out in that weather.  Well, we were prepared.  Rain coat with hood and umbrella for each of us (Mom, Dad and me).  Turns out that we didn't need any of it.  The deluge turned to a sprinkle and the sprinkle had stopped when we (finally) exited the boat.  We found our bus and took seats across from each other.  Dad took photos on one side and I took photos on the other side.  It worked out great for the whole trip, except for the fact that Dad's camera was a lot better and he took a lot better photos that me. 

After the trip, Dad gave me a copy all of his photos.  We took a lot of photos of the same thing, so did a little culling. I was going through comparing photos and I think there was once, maybe twice that I choose to keep my photo and delete his.  I really need to upgrade my camera, or better borrow his for my next trip to Tibet, Nepal and Taj Mahal. 

About our Copenhagen shore excursion

Our tour guide said were going to Rosenburg, city tour, mermaid Longline pier.

A 170 square meter apartment rents for $5 million USD.

There are 400 islands and 80 are inhabited.

20 Krona, or $5 USD, or 3 Euro

All castles are owned by the state.  Sweden is 10 miles from here.

Cost of a car is 50,000 minimum and the cost of a driver license is 2,000.

 

I signed us up for the Royal Copenhagen Tour.  This is the description of the tour on 9/11/2007 when I signed up for the tour:

$59 in June 2007, we paid $64.  Approximate Duration: 3 hours

Begin with a drive through some of Copenhagen's oldest neighborhoods. You'll visit Christiansborg Palace, a massive 12th century fortress surrounded by canals on three sides. Your guided tour will include a visit to the Royal Reception Chambers used by the Danish Queen when entertaining VIP visitors and heads of state. Continue on for more sightseeing, making a stop for a brief photo opportunity at the Little Mermaid statue.

From beautiful Langeline with the Little Mermaid to the Old Quarters of inner Copenhagen, discover this fascinating city on this panoramic excursion that introduces you to all the delights of this 850-year-old capital. You'll see Christiansborg Palace, twice destroyed by fire and rebuilt after 1903, and the seat of Denmark's government since 1918. You'll drive past City Hall, the Stock Exchange with the stunning spire of entwining Dragon tails, and Nyhavn, the one-time maritime district that is now quite chic. There will be a brief stop outside beautiful Amalienborg Palace before continuing on past Tivoli Gardens. You'll also see Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid statue and pass the Glyptotek Art Museum and the Round Tower, another of Christian IV's achievements. Note: This tour does not include inside visits. There will be photo stops only.

This is the description of our Copenhagen tour

Approximate Duration: 3 hours, Price: $64

This excursion will take you to one of the most famous Castles in Copenhagen, Rosenborg Castle. You'll pass the National Art Gallery and the old Naval District of Nyboder on the way to Rosenborg Castle, home of the Danish Crown Jewels. During your visit, you'll see its grand collection of antiques and royal memorabilia. In a specially designed cellar, you can view the Crown Jewels. Photographs of the Crown Jewels are not allowed. You'll stop for a photo at the "Little Mermaid," symbol of Copenhagen en route back to the ship.

From Wikipedia: Rosenborg Castle is a small castle situated at the centre of the Danish capital, Copenhagen. The castle was originally built as a country summerhouse in 1606 and is an example of Christian IV's many architectural projects. It was built in the Dutch Renaissance style, typical of Danish buildings during this period, and has been expanded several times, finally evolving into its present condition by the year 1624. Architects Bertel Lange and Hans van Steenwinckel are associated with the structural planning of the castle.

The castle was used by Danish regents as a royal residence until around 1710. After the reign of Frederik IV, Rosenborg was used as a royal residence only twice, and both these times were during emergencies. The first time was after Christiansborg Palace burned down in 1794, and the second time was during the British attack on Copenhagen in 1801.

The castle is open to the public for tours and houses a museum exhibiting the Royal Collections, artifacts spanning a breadth of royal Danish culture, from the late 16th century of Christian IV to the 19th century. Some of these articles once belonged to the nobility and the aristocracy. The castle, now state property, was opened to the public in 1838.

The castle is popular with tourists to the capital as it is conveniently and centrally located, easily reached by both public bus routes and commercial tour buses. It attracts an estimated 200.000 visitors every year.

Of special interest to tourists is an exhibition of the Crown Jewels and the Danish Crown Regalia located in the castle. A Coronation Carpet is also stored there. In the summer time, flowers bloom in front of the castle in the castle garden.

The castle is situated in Kongens Have ("The King's Garden"), also known as "Rosenborg Castle Garden". The Rosenborg Castle Garden is the country's oldest royal garden and was embellished in the Renaissance style by Christian IV shortly before the construction of the main castle. Today, the gardens are a popular retreat in the centre of Copenhagen, and attract an estimated 2.5 million visitors every year. Next to the castle are barracks where the Danish Royal Life Guards, Den Kongelige Livgarde, perform exercises.

 

Martha's Tour- It was an Evening Canal Cruise & Tivoli Gardens when she signed up for it in September.  NCL changed it to be a morning departure.

Tivoli Gardens & Harbor Cruise Level 2 Price $79 June 2007 $88 May 2008   Duration: 4 hours 

Visit Tivoli Gardens, the fairy tale gardens, which opened its gates in 1843. Stroll through the park admiring the pavilions, flowers and the vivid life of the Danes. Continue on foot to Gammel Strand, formerly the Old Fish Market, where you'll board a canal boat for a leisurely cruise before stopping at the Little Mermaid.

The tour begins by coach and takes you through the city passing places of interest such as the Royal Theatre, Amalienborg Palace and Town Hall Square. You'll stop at Tivoli Gardens, the fairy tale gardens, which opened its gates in 1843. Stroll through the park admiring the pavilions, flowers and the vivid life of the Danes. You'll continue on foot to Gammel Strand, formerly the Old Fish Market, where you'll board a canal boat. The leisurely cruise takes you through the canals of Christianshavn with its picturesque old buildings and Our Savior's Church with its green and gold steeple and other landmarks before stopping at the Little Mermaid. You'll then return to the pier.

These are the other tours that were available:

Copenhagen Walking Tour  $49 June 2007 $52 May 2008   Duration:3 hours 

Take a walking tour from the pier to the Little Mermaid and continue past the modern, but elegant Amaliehaven Square, with the queen's Palace, Amalienborg. Continue to the Nyhavn canals, previously the sailors' quarter, and converted into a fashionable promenade with restaurants and cafes, then cross the New King's square where the Royal Theatre is located. Proceed into medieval Copenhagen to the cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses and narrow courtyards, pass the Christianborg Castle, housing the Danish Government and end at the shopping and pedestrian area of Stroget.

Another description: Copenhagen Walking Tour $52, Duration: 4 hours

Taking your lead from the waterline, follow its path past the Little Mermaid, by the Langeline Pier to Churchill Park, the Resistance Museum and the Gefion Fountain. You and the waterline continue on for a lovely city tour.

Another description: Copenhagen Walking Tour $139, 3 hours

Start your refreshing walk by stopping at the Little Mermaid statue, which has over decades become the landmark of Copenhagen. Continue through the green area surrounding the Langeline Pier to the Churchill Park and then still following the waterline, head down to Amalie Garden and the Amalienborg Palaces - the Royal residence. Enjoy a stroll through the colorful canal area of Nyhavn which leads you down to central Copenhagen.

Another description: Charming Copenhagen Walk & Cruise  - :$59, Duration: 4 hours 

Take a walking tour of this beautiful city, taking in the sites of Langelinie Marina, the world-famous 'Little Mermaid', and the modern, but elegant Amaliehaven Square, with the Queen's Palace, Amalienborg right behind the square. Arrive to the Nyhavn Canlas, an area previously known as the sailors' quarter but which is today a fashionable promenade with bars and restaurants. Proceed into medieval Copenhagen with its cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses and narrow courtyards, then pass the Christiansborg Castle, housing the Danish Government. At Gammel Strand, board a local canal boat for a leisurely cruise through the canals of Christianshavn.

Highlights Of Copenhagen  -  $59, Duration: 3 hours 

Beautiful and scenic Copenhagen is a city of bridge-spanned canals, copper roofed buildings and manicured parks. You'll see the famous bronze statue of the Little Mermaid and pass the City Hall, the Old Stock Exchange and then see Nyhavn, the colorful harbor along a 300-year old canal, where traders brought goods into the heart of the city. Today it is lined with restaurants and cafes. Explore the exterior of the royal residence of Amalienborg Palace and then pass the Christiansborg Castle, which is the seat of the Danish Parliament.

Beautiful and scenic Copenhagen is a city of bridge-spanned canals, copper roofed buildings and manicured parks. After leaving the pier, you'll see the famous bronze statue of the Little Mermaid. A photo stop will be made for you to capture this fairytale figure on film. You'll pass the City Hall and the Old Stock Exchange and then see Nyhavn, the colorful harbor along a 300-year old canal, where traders brought goods into the heart of the city. Today it is lined with restaurants and cafes. A stop will be made to explore the exterior of the Amalienborg Palace. It comprises four identical mansions that have formed the royal residence since 1794. The tour will then pass the Christiansborg Castle, which is the seat of the Danish Parliament and is the administrative base for the whole government. En route back to the pier, you'll pass Tivoli Gardens and the Glypotek Museum.

Wonderful Copenhagen $52, Duration: 3 hours

From beautiful Langeline with the Little Mermaid to the Old Quarters of inner Copenhagen, discover this fascinating city on this panoramic excursion that introduces you to all the delights of this 850-year-old capital. You'll see Christiansborg Palace and drive past City Hall, the Stock Exchange with the stunning spire of entwining Dragon tails, and Nyhavn, the one-time maritime district that is now quite chic. You'll also see Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid statue.

Royal Copenhagen $59, Duration: 3 hours

Begin with a drive through some of Copenhagen's oldest neighborhoods. You'll visit Christiansborg Palace, a massive 12th century fortress surrounded by canals on three sides. Your guided tour will include a visit to the Royal Reception Chambers used by the Danish Queen when entertaining VIP visitors and heads of state. Continue on for more sightseeing, making a stop for a brief photo opportunity at the Little Mermaid statue.

From beautiful Langeline with the Little Mermaid to the Old Quarters of inner Copenhagen, discover this fascinating city on this panoramic excursion that introduces you to all the delights of this 850-year-old capital. You'll see Christiansborg Palace, twice destroyed by fire and rebuilt after 1903, and the seat of Denmark's government since 1918. You'll drive past City Hall, the Stock Exchange with the stunning spire of entwining Dragon tails, and Nyhavn, the one-time maritime district that is now quite chic. There will be a brief stop outside beautiful Amalienborg Palace before continuing on past Tivoli Gardens. You'll also see Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid statue and pass the Glyptotek Art Museum and the Round Tower, another of Christian IV's achievements. Note: This tour does not include inside visits. There will be photo stops only.

Panoramic Copenhagen & Canal Cruise

Board a canal boat in Gammel Strand for a mini-cruise through the harbor and the picturesque canals of old Christianshavn. Your cruise ends at the old Fish Market at Gammel Strand, from where you will take a drive through Copenhagen. $69, Duration:3 hours 

Panoramic Copenhagen & Ice Bar at Hotel 27, Little Mermaid, City Hall and Stock Exchange, Nyhavn, the colorful harbor,  Amalienborg Gardens,. You'll be fitted with a coat and gloves and will be served a Vodka drink in an ice glass. $95, Duration:3 hours 

Copenhagen By Bike -  Say hello to The Little Mermaid before you start off. Palaces, the Nyhavn Canals, city buildings, and the Royal theater are among the many sites you'll see. $105, Duration:3 hours 

Copenhagen Carlsborg Brewery Tour Vesterbro brewery, and Bryghus, a brewery makes its own Belgian white beer, dark New York lager (brewed as it was before prohibition), Bombay Pale Ale and a malt, sweet, English-style stout with a 7.5% alcohol content as well as many others. $125, Duration:4 1/2 hours  

Glassworks Tour & Gavno Castle:$125, Duration: 5 hours 

Castles of North Zealand: Kronborg and Frederiksborg. Fredensborg Palace:$175, Duration: 7 hours 

Drive from Denmark to Malmo and Lund, Sweden  Price:$190, Duration: 7 hours

To Roskilde, the former capital of Denmark and home of the spectacular Viking Ship Museum. $1799, Duration: 8 hours 

 Island of Funen and Odense, the hometown of Hans Christian Andersen-  $1849, Duration: 8 hours

 

For dinner tonight, Mom&Dad ate at the buffet.  At 6 pm we went to the show in the Stardust Theater  -  Folkloric Showtime: Hans Christian Anderson Parade. It was cute.

After the show Martha and I had dinner.  She didn't have a good experience in the buffet so we ate at Tsar's.  We asked for a  share table  which means that they could seat another couple with us.  We met a very nice couple  -  not married, friends Victor and Emily.  Both widowers.  She is Victors sister in law. Long story.

We did not go to the 8 pm Stardust Theater show. They had a tribute to Celine Dion but it was sung by an  award winning vocalist . No thank you. 

FYI  -  what I learned later is that the Copenhagen walking tour NEVER DEPARTED.  They stayed in the theater waiting for their tour to be called for almost 2 hours.  Since it had been raining hard in the morning, they ended up cancelling the walking tour!      The lady I spoke with was smart enough to know that the ship was parked very close to the mermaid statue so she walked to the statue in the sunny afternoon.  It's a shame that the  tour was cancelled.

 

Cruise Day 4  Tuesday May 20 Berlin (Warnemuende)  Arrive 8:00 AM Depart 9:00 PM

What a day!  I picked the perfect tour to do and see what I wanted to do and see.  This was the earliest tour departure of the trip for me.  It was the one day when I thought I would be waking up before Martha in the morning.  Well, that was not the case after all.  She wanted to get up 30 minutes before the time that I wanted to get up.  So it all worked out after all.

So I'm in the theater at 8 am ready for my tour to leave.  The call the  East meets West  tour and I'm off.  After we exit the ship, we had a brisk walk to the train waiting to take us Berlin. 

I found a seat on the train, and rest is history.  I met the most wonderful, fun, friendly people.  And now I really wish that I hadn't waited so long to write this, because I can only remember Bill (from Auburn) and Bob.  There was another very nice couple,  Bob and Peggy, that made the long train ride into Berlin truly a fabulous experience. 

I have very scattered notes from my Berlin tour  ¦.

They gave us a  snack  on the train.  I think I remember yogurt and fruit. 

East Side Gallery

Bridge  Oberbomberger  red brick.  We are on the East Berlin side.

Run Lola Run  -  movie.

There is so much more color in East Berlin.

8/20 East sector,  12/20 West sector, 6 American British, 2 Soviel.

Museum Island in East Berlin.  Fridericus near the museum with nefrotiti.

Kathe Kollwitz Museum.   I took a picture of Mother with dead son, and a picture of the Old Royal Library being restored.

7/4/08 New American Embassy will open.

Photo stop of the  Ricestag  or rather, the  Reichstag  It is much cleaner now!

Drive by  Jimmy Carter's smile .  The building looks a little different.

3.5 km or 5.3 mile long Kurf   shopping street. Tom Wolfe  Kurfsterdam is the longest coffee house in Europe .

Lunch was included in the tour.  We ate at the Swiss Hotel.   It was very nice.

I block from the lunch hotel was the bombed church.

Funny - The Smart Car is roller skates for elephants.

The Allied Museum opened June 1998.  Airlift lasted 2 years 1948-1949. Airplane every 2 minutes non-stop. 280,000 flights.  There were 3 air corridors into and out of Berlin.

There were two Checkpoint Charlie booths  -  the one outside was the second booth, the one inside was the first Charlie booth.

We spent about 30 minutes at the Allied Museum.  Left at 4 pm.

Templehof is in the American sector.  The Templehof airort in closing in October, 2008.  I took a picture of the memorial and the airport building.  There are 7 floors below this building.  They stored airplanes below the ground here.
Took a picture of the neighborhood of restored houses.

10 percent of the subway is elevated.

First car arrived in 1902.

Picture of the Jewish Museum  -  square blocks that you get lost walking around them.  There are 2711 concrete blocks, all different heights.

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie Checkpoint.

We saw a 3 block length of the original Berlin wall.  Well peckers  are kept back by a fence.

Took a picture of East German cars  -  the front license plate is the type of car.

We got stuck in traffic because of a fire!   We could see smoke billowing out of the roof and at least 10 firefighters on the roof.  Here's the article: 

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/05/20/europe/21berlin.php

Musicians Rush to Save Instruments as Berlin Philharmonic Goes Up in Flames 

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,356755,00.html   Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Berlin Philharmonic fire stops the music      May 20, 2008

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/05/20/berlin.fire/#cnnSTCText

 CNN) -- A fire broke out Tuesday on the roof of the Berlin Philharmonic's concert hall, causing thick smoke to pour from the modern building, police said. Firefighters were battling a blaze at the Berlin Philharmonic's concert hall on Tuesday.   The fire began shortly after 2pm, police said, adding that the cause was not immediately known. It was still burning more than two hours later, a witness said. No one was injured.

A concert was scheduled to take place Tuesday afternoon, the Philharmonic's Web site said. The concert hall is in central Berlin, close to the Potsdam Platz, an area of new high-rise buildings. The modern building was built in the early 1960s and has become well-known in the city.

When the wall was up, if you went from  West to East Berlin, you were required to exchange 25 West Marks to 25 East Marks. And you must spend a East Marks in East Berlin. If you didn't spend it, you must leave it at the gate in an account.  The next time you go to East Berlin, they give you the money, but you must also exchange 25 more marks.  Some accounts had a lot of money. They eventually gave the money back to the families.

Our last stop of the tour was at the Brandenburg gate.  I got lots of good pictures.  I also realized that the Reichstag was one block away!  So close.  That was our first photo stop this morning, but the they drove the bus on a route where we could not see the big Gate.  Anyway, I walked from the Gate to Reichstag, and I found the white memorial crosses!  I wrote down this URL:  http://www.gustav-rust.de/  I can't read German, but it looked like his recording of history.

I was the last person on the bus.  They told us that had 30 minutes so I had until 6:15 and that is exactly when I got on the bus.  People were a little anxious because we had to drive to the train terminal and we did not want to miss that train back to the boat.  There was a little traffic, but we make it in plenty of time.  We boarded the train at 6:40 pm. 

The train this morning that brought us to Berlin left the dock at 9 am and we arrived around noon.  The train was supposed to leave a 7 pm from Berlin, but it left at 7:03.

I was so tired at the end of the tour.  When I got on the train, I sat in the first seat that I saw. I got a great seat where I could stretch my feet. Bob and Bill passed by, but the train car was totally full so they kept on walking.  I am so glad that I brought my frosted mini wheat cereal to eat. I was starving! 

I was so so very very tired. I did not have to talk to anyone (if I didn't want to).   I really wanted to chill out and relax, I actually got a chance to catch a little nap.   We got another  snack  on the train and I bought an entire bottle of wine for 12 Euro.  I bought it on the train because I didn't want to buy a bottle on the ship.  So then I find out that I can't bring the bottle back on board the ship.  I really didn't know about that.  The NCL girl said they would keep the bottle until the left the ship at the end of the cruise. That's fine because we'll need it for our last night in London.   So when I was going through the x-ray, I told them that I had the bottle of wine and they could keep it if necessary.  Well, it paid to be honest  -  they let me keep the bottle!  Cool.

We have not needed our passport at all. They said we'd need it for immigration. Not so (so far). 

So here's my ticket and excursion description from the NCL web site:

 

Suzanna Tour WAR002: Berlin  -  East meets West - Departs 5/20 at 8:00 am  .In June 2007 the cost was $319. On the ship the cost was $389.  I paid $335  .  Duration: 12.5 hours

After a train journey through the Mecklenburg countryside, arrive at the ever-changing Berlin. Take photos at the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie. See the East Side Gallery, view the wall remains and the Allied Museum.

Berlin, the new 'old German' capital, has seen incredible changes since the fall of the wall and reunification. This is an opportunity to see some of the city's fascinating sights and to experience the turbulent history of this impressive European capital. The day will be long, but at the end, you will know it was worth it.

Upon arrival in Berlin, your guide will walk you to your coach. From this point, you will begin your coach tour through the highlights of the capital, which include photo stops at the Brandenburg Gate - Berlin's most poignant symbol - and Checkpoint Charlie, the famous border crossing point. You will also see the famous East Side Gallery - the last remnants of the wall, and the War Memorial for the victims of war and dictatorship. Of course you won't miss the Tempelhof Airlift Memorial, where the names of the pilots who died during the Airlift are on display. Lunch will be served at a deluxe hotel in the center of Berlin. Another highlight will be the Schoeneberg Town Hall, where John F. Kennedy made his famous 'Ich bin ein Berliner' speech. Continue for an inside visit of the Allied Museum, which focuses on the Allied occupation of Berlin from 1945 until 1994.

Some of the highlights include details of the historic Berlin Airlift, the original sentry box from Checkpoint Charlie, and a border watchtower. Before returning to the train, you will have a chance to sample the wonderful atmosphere on the famous Kurfurstendamm, where you can just stroll or do some shopping. Return to your ship with a new understanding of this amazing city. Note: Guests must be able to walk approximately 0.75 miles at the various sites, over mostly even surfaces with 10 to 15 steps and slight inclines.

Berlin - East Meets West, includes meals $385, Duration: 12 1/2 hours

Another description:   Berlin - East Meets West, includes meals $319, Duration: 12 1/2 hours

Cultural Treasures, The Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site holds much to offer. Start with the Pergamon Museum's collection of architectural antiquities and the fabulous Ishtar Gate of Babylon. Continue to the famous Opernpalais an old Prussian Palais for a deluxe three-course lunch followed by a boat ride along the river Spree.

Your train ride to Berlin will be in a specially reserved carriage and your group will be smaller than the regular Berlin tours, which will allow you a more personalized experience. This tour provides a deeper insight into one of the city's cultural delights - the Museum Island. There is also a lunch inside an Old Prussian Palais, and of course the tour covers the main sightseeing highlights. Start with a visit to the famous Pergamon Museum, Europe's most impressive museum. Its collection of architectural antiquities is outstanding and includes works of Greek, Assyrian, Islamic and Far Eastern art. A 60-minute self-guided acoustic tour will show the Pergamon altar and the fabulous Ishtar gate of Babylon. After a short walking tour of the Museum Island you will continue to the famous Opernpalais an old Prussian Palais for a deluxe three-course lunch. The next highlight is a boat ride along the river Spree. The route passes the beautiful museum island, the Berlin Cathedral, the Reichstag building and the amazing government quarter including the impressive Chancellery. The sightseeing part of the tour will include photo stops at the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, and Charlotteburg Palace and pass bys at the East Side Gallery and Checkpoint Charlie. Note: This tour is not available on Mondays. Guests must be able to walk approximately one mile over mostly even surfaces with 12 to 18 steps and slight inclines.

Tempelhof Airlift Memorial (Luftbrucke?)

A piece of history is Tempelhof airport: the stern, monumental architecture already witnesses the Third Reich's style, whose biggest accomplished construction project the airport is. The large building is the fifth biggest in the world. When the Soviet Union blocked every access in 1948/9 to famish the city, Tempelhof became West Berlin's vital connection. The airlift memorial reminds of the "candy bombers" by which Americans and British supplied the city for months by air. Still, smaller machines take off and land on the close-to-centre airport. The elegant entrance hall stands out against the modern standard architecture of most other airports.

Schoeneberg Town Hall

In nearby Rathaus Sch neberg town hall) John F. Kennedy delivered his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech to isolated West Berliners in 1963.

Rathaus Schneberg Town Hall) From 1948 to 1991 Rathaus Schneberg was the seat of West Berlin's regional parliament and government. The bell tower houses the famous Freedom Bell, a gift from the American people to mark the end of the Soviet blockade of West Berlin. The Town Hall also contains the permanent exhibition "Fighting for Freedom" -Willy Brandt 1913 -1992"

exhibition daily, 10am -6pm, guided tours Th, Sa and Su 2pm, -4pm

Allied Museum http://www.alliiertenmuseum.de/en/1.php

Large Objects  - The British Hastings TG 503 aircraft, a railroad car from the French military train and the last guardhouse from Checkpoint Charlie tell their own stories of the varied history of the Allied presence in Berlin. see the exhibits from the inside.

Large military objects that the Allied Museum has received from the Western forces include a British "Hastings" airplane, a railroad car from the French military train, and the guardhouse of Checkpoint Charlie on Friedrichstrasse. They are exhibited in the Museum's permanent collection and impressively illustrate the Western allies' commitment to Berlin

So that was my tour.  Mom & Dad went on a different (shorter) tour:

WAR022: Hanseatic Rostock - Departs 5/20 at 9:00 am $69 June 2007 $92 May 2008, 3 1/2 hours

See the old and the new Rostock where dukes and bishops once walked. Medieval history is everywhere. Touch the ancient rock wall; visit the Holy Cross Monastery, the 15-century university. End with a beer from the "best" brewery.

See the old and the new Rostock, walk on the path of dukes and bishops, and taste a gift from Mother Nature. All these things together will make your visit to Rostock a long-lasting memory. The tour starts right in the heart of medieval history, after a short bus ride through parts of beautiful old Warnemuende, near the Kroeplin Gate, the major entrance for trade and exchange from the 16th century. From here on, elements of the past will capture you, and your way will lead to the old town wall once protecting Rostock against its enemies. Step inside the gardens of the Holy Cross Monastery and encounter the oldest university in Northern Europe, dating from 1419. The climax of the historical part of the tour is St. Mary's Church, located on the new market square of Rostock. A visit inside gives you a chance to see some of the historical treasures gathered over the centuries. See the astronomical clock, built in 1472 and still predicting half and full moons on exact dates and times. Listen to the stories of the lives of kings and queens buried underneath these floors and hold your breath when you realize the dimensions of this monument of architecture. Then, you will have some time to discover the area on your own or just to shop or relax. Having satisfied your thirst for information, you will enjoy the pride of the coast - a fresh draft from the Brewery of Rostock. Your guide will take you through the impressive "Radeberger" brewery complex including an inside visit of the newly built halls of the bottling plant to explain how only the best ingredients are combined to produce the 'Best beer in Germany', awarded as such in 1999. Afterwards, you will return to your ship with a taste of the northern culture of Germany. Note: Guests must be able to walk approximately 1.2 miles between the various sites, over mostly even surfaces with 20 (beer cellar) to 40 (view platform) steps (both optional) and slight inclines. The bottling plant does not operate on weekends. To avoid congestion order of sights may vary.

Martha's tour:  Guestrow City Of Ancient Nobility.  -  $75 June 2007, $90 May 2008,  1/2 hours

Upon arrival in Guestrow you will first walk through the Renaissance castle gardens, remodeled on pictures from old engravings. The next highlight is the inside visit of the romantic schlosse which was built in 1589 as a residence for the dukes of Mecklenburg. Afterwards you will stroll past the close-by Cathedral.

Guestrow was first mentioned in 1228. It is said to have been founded by a grandson of Henry the Lion. The town later became a summer residence of the dukes of Mecklenburg. Start with a short bus drive through the lovely countryside. Upon arrival in Guestrow you will first walk through the Renaissance castle gardens, remodeled on pictures from old engravings. The next highlight is an inside visit of the romantic castle which was built in 1589 as a residence for the dukes of Mecklenburg and is used today as a museum of Northern Art, hunting weapons and also of contemporary art. Afterwards you will stroll past the close-by Cathedral, an example of Brick Gothic architecture built between 1226 and 1335. Inside you can see the famous Schwebende Engel ("Hovering Angel"), the most famous work of the expressionist sculptor Ernst Barlack, created in 1926 as a tribute to the victims of World War I. Afterwards you will have some free time for shopping in and around the old marketplace. Then on the way to the ship you'll stop for a rustic barbeque of grilled German sausages. Note: The Cathedral is closed on Sundays due to services.

MORE BERLIN TOURS:

Discover Berlin  Approximate - $319, 12 1/2 hours

If you're the type of person that doesn't like prearranged tours, but would like an overview of what there is to see before exploring Berlin by yourself, this is the tour for you. Your day will be split into a 3-hour coach tour, which will take you past Berlin's major attractions, then you may use the other half of your time in Berlin as you please. Upon arrival in Berlin the guided part of your outing begins. Once on your coach, it will take you to various notable sights of the city. You'll see all major highlights Berlin has to offer: the East Side Gallery, the longest still standing piece of the Berlin Wall, the Tiergarten Park with the Victory Column, as well as the Gendarmenmarkt Square. Further stops will be made at the Checkpoint Charlie, the American border crossing during the time of division, the Reichstag, the seat of the unified German government and the Brandenburg Gate, the true symbol of the city. The Kurfurstendamm will be the stop where the independent exploration will begin. Berlin's most popular shopping and entertainment street allows you plenty of possibilities to discover Berlin on your own. Public transportation can be easily reached, countless high-class department stores, numerous cafes to relax, an exchange office as well as souvenir shops are to be found within walking distance. At the conclusion of your day, your coach will meet you back at the designated place and pick up time.

Discover Berlin Berlin $319, Duration: 12 1/2 hours

Your day will be split into a 3-hour coach tour, which will take you past Berlin's major attractions, then you may use the other half of your time in Berlin as you please.

If you're the type of person that doesn't like prearranged tours, but would like an overview of what there is to see before exploring Berlin by yourself, this is the tour for you. Your day will be split into a 3-hour coach tour, which will take you past Berlin's major attractions, then you may use the other half of your time in Berlin as you please. Upon arrival in Berlin the guided part of your outing begins. Once on your coach, it will take you to various notable sights of the city. You'll see all major highlights Berlin has to offer: the East Side Gallery, the longest still standing piece of the Berlin Wall, the Tiergarten Park with the Victory Column, as well as the Gendarmenmarkt Square. Further stops will be made at the Checkpoint Charlie, the American border crossing during the time of division, the Reichstag, the seat of the unified German government and the Brandenburg Gate, the true symbol of the city. The Kurfurstendamm will be the stop where the independent exploration will begin. Berlin's most popular shopping and entertainment street allows you plenty of possibilities to discover Berlin on your own. Public transportation can be easily reached, countless high-class department stores, numerous cafes to relax, an exchange office as well as souvenir shops are to be found within walking distance. At the conclusion of your day, your coach will meet you back at the designated place and pick up time. 

Warnemude In Depth  -  $52 June 2007, $68 May 2008, Duration: 2 1/2 hours

This popular fishing village is a must see. Walk the banks of the estuary onward to the market square. Listen to an organ concert at the Gothic church and then take the famous mini Choo Choo train, the best way to see the sites.

Countryside & The Molli Train -$79 June 2007 $105 May 2008, Duration: 4 1/2 hours

Take a country drive to the monastery town of Bad Doberan. Inside the 700-year old red brick Minster don't miss the 14th and 15th century treasures. Ride the "Molli" train, a narrow gauge railway with wagons pulled by an old steam engine.  

City Of Dukes - SchwerinBerlin (Warnemuende) $92 June 2007, $109 May 2008, Duration: 6 hours

A countryside bus ride delivers you to Schwerin where you board a boat for a lake cruise. The city's skyline will charm you before disembarking in front of Schwerin Castle. Explore rooms of magnificence before continuing your tour to the city.  

Lubeck & Wismar Berlin (Warnemuende) $139 June 2007 $170 May 2008, Duration: 8 hours

Your first visit is to Lubeck, the most important trading town in the Baltic at the beginning of the 15th century. The impressive Wismar skyline of churches gives you, from a distance, an idea of the highlights that await you. The tour ends at the Wasserkunst next to the classical city hall before you return to the ship.  

Cold War & Countryside -$199, 3 1/2 hours

At the Troposphere Bunker 302, you'll learn about the secret operations of the former East German government. The bunker was put into operation in 1986 and was useless after the Wall came down. But after two years of thorough restoration efforts, the bunker is now open to the public and comes alive with light and sound effects and gives the impression that the old crew is still working within these halls.

Start your tour by passing half-timbered farmhouses with thatched roofs and receive an impression of the former East German way of living. Upon arrival at the Troposphere Bunker 302 the owner welcomes you at the iron entrance gateway. Your guide leads you over the labyrinthine grounds until you finally access the Bunker. You'll learn about the secret operations of the former East German government. The bunker was put into operation in 1986 and was useless after the Wall came down. Being flooded for over 10 years, it had almost fallen into oblivion. After two years of thorough restoration efforts, the bunker is now open to the public. It comes alive with light and sound effects and gives the impression that the old crew is still working within these halls. You can see the authentic electronic devices and learn about the mysterious significance of this defensive fortification. After experiencing the inside of the bunker enjoy a "bunker snack and drink" from a characteristic field kitchen on the original bunker grounds before boarding your coach to return to the ship.

Berlin On Your Own By Bus:$199, Duration: 12 1/2 hours

Explore Berlin just the way you want. We provide the bus trip to fascinating Berlin, a host to give you maps and answer your questions and a return trip at a designated time when you are done. Exchange money onboard your ship before leaving.

If you have either been to Berlin before or have specific venues you want to visit that are not included in our other tour programs, we do offer basic transportation to this fascinating city. The tour will begin with a 3-hour bus ride to Berlin. During this journey, hosts will hand out breakfast snacks, coffee, and general informational material (emergency telephone numbers, etc.) to prepare you for your day in the city. A guide will also be on the bus to assist with any questions you may have. Upon arrival in Berlin, the drop off point is Potsdam Square in the center of the modern heart of Berlin with easy access into all directions. Here, you will also be informed by your guide of the designated meeting time and place for the return journey to your ship. The tour does not include any entrance fees or lunch, but you will have a snack on the bus during the return to your ship. You will have approximately 5 -6 hours of independent time to explore. As local currency will be required for entrance to the attractions, local transportation, and lunch, you should plan to exchange your money on board your ship or at a currency exchange once in Berlin.

Another description:  If you have either been to Berlin before or have specific venues you want to visit that are not included in our other tour programs, we do offer basic transportation to this fascinating city. The tour will begin with a 2 1/2-hour train ride to Berlin. During this journey, hosts will hand out breakfast snacks, coffee, and general informational material (emergency telephone numbers, etc.) to prepare you for your day in the city. A guide will also be on the train to assist with any questions you may have. Upon arrival in Berlin, you will be transported to the heart of downtown East Berlin, where you will have access to local buses, the subway, or taxis and where you will be informed by your guide of the designated meeting time and place for the return journey to your ship. The drop off point is the Hilton Hotel. The tour does not include any entrance fees or lunch, but you will have a snack on the train during the return to your ship. You will have approximately 5 1/2 - 6 hours of independent time to explore. As local currency will be required for entrance to the attractions, local transportation, and lunch, you should plan to exchange your money on board your ship or at a currency exchange once in Berlin. Note: This tour does not include lunch or entrance fees. A guide will be on the train to and from Warnemunde. If you should miss the return coach, transportation back to your ship will be your own responsibility and at your own expense. The amount of walking is at each guest's discretion. 

Note: This tour does not include lunch or entrance fees. A guide will be on the bus to and from Warnemunde. If you should miss the return bus, transportation back to your ship will be your own responsibility and at your own expense. The amount of walking is at each guest's discretion.

Berlin From All Sides  -  includes meals $319 June 2007, $385 May 2008, Duration: 12 1/2 hours

More bridges than Venice! Cruise Berlin's canals and Spree River for a different city perspective. This bus/boat combo includes sights from the river as well as a coach passing of the Berlin Cathedral, the Reichstag Building and other landmarks.

When you think of Berlin, you do not necessarily think immediately of a 'cruise'. But the fact is that the city is crisscrossed with the River Spree and lots of canals. Berlin actually has more bridges than Venice! This is an opportunity to experience Berlin from a different perspective, combined with a shopping stop. The Berlin From All Sides Tour has it all! The tour will begin with a 2 1/2-hour train ride through the lovely Mecklenburg countryside to Berlin. During this journey, hosts will hand out breakfast snacks, coffee and informational material. Upon arrival in Berlin, your guide will walk you to your coach and you will start your bus/boat tour through Berlin. Sightseeing will include highlights of the capital, with photo stops at the Brandenburg Gate, Gendarmenmarkt and the Charlottenburg Palace. Other sites that will be passed are the famous East Side Gallery, the Tiergarten Park and the Victory Column. A special highlight is the boat ride along the River Spree, taking in the sights and sounds of the capital from the water. The route passes through the inner city, with sights such as the beautiful museum island, the Berlin Cathedral, the Reichstag Building, and the amazing new government quarter, including the impressive Chancellery. You will stop for lunch in a traditional restaurant, either in a '20s style or brewery style. You will also have ample time for shopping on the pulsating Kurfurstendamm.

Note: Guests must be able to walk approximately one mile at the various sites, over mostly even surfaces with 10 to 12 steps and slight inclines.

Adventures In Art $3099, Duration: 12 1/2 hours

Visit the most impressive spots of Berlin which focus on the exclusive art collections of the Old National Gallery and the Berlin Guggenheim. Your guide takes you through the beautiful Mecklenburg Countryside in your own private vehicle. You'll also visit Berlin's most poignant symbol of the city: the Brandenburg Gate.     

Berlin's Jewish History , Include meals, $319 June 2007, $349 May 2008, Duration: 12 1/2 hours

Travel to Berlin where your guided tour of Jewish history begins, both highs and lows. Visit East Berlin, Opera Square and the East Side Gallery. Walk the Jewish Museum, Brandenburg Gate and much more.     

Interesting information: a multimedia guide to the Berlin Wall, including Checkpoint Charlie:
Guide helps tourist track down remains of Berlin Wall
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20080425/ap_tr_ge/travel_brief_germany_berlin_wall_gps_guide

Current news: Big Crack Emerges in Berlin's Brandenburg Gate   12/8/2008

Berliners are worried about their Brandenburg Gate after a four-meter high crack appeared in its north wing. It looks as if an earthquake has struck, but the city has given its assurance that the treasured landmark, which has survived two world wars, won't fall down.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/country_profiles/1166502.stm

 

I'm not sure where we ate dinner, or if I ate dinner today.  But I did write this in my journal

So it's Tuesday. 9 more day of this  ¦.. The first day on board, I got a delicious banana soup (appetizer) for dessert. The next night I got the mango soup (appetizer) for dessert, and the next night, the fruit plate for dessert.  Other dessert offerings included chocolate mousse, apple bread pudding and ice cream. Whew.  Yeah, I guess I could do that, but I know I'd like myself more if I stick with the deelishous fruit soups for dessert.

 

At 10 pm, was the  German Biergarten Sailaway  to bid Auf wiedersehen to Germany.  We went up Deck 12 on top to watch the fireworks the NCL shot off from the shore as we pulled away from the dock.  It was quite impressive.

 

Cruise Day 5  Wednesday May 21 At Sea

I think I tried to sleep in and have a leisurely morning.

At 3:30 there was a event in the Theater that I definitely wanted to see: NCL  U   -  St. Petersburg: Form Communism to Democracy  with Linda. 

There were many of these  University ?  sessions geared toward telling people about the city they were about to visit so we could appreciate what we were going to see.  Well, I had to go to this session because of my term paper- the first one that I ever wrote  -  the title was  Our Right to Democracy Impedes on Their Right to Communism .  I sure wish I could find a copy of that paper now.  I think I wrote it in 9th grade in 1974.  Dad would remember because he typed it.  Odd how the problem (pushing Democracy on other countries) is bigger than ever now (invading Afghanistan and Iraq) But I digress.

So the presentation in the Theater was horrible.  There were two ladies hired by the cruise line to present this information.  They had never been there, and they were reading from a script.  I sat there not believing that they were getting paid to do that!  Now that would be a job for me!  I could have done a much better job. That's something to think about. No way would I or could I be a tour guide/leader, but educating people about places  -  that is something that I would really enjoy.  Anyway.  Here's my notes:

Linda Carlson and Marilyn Felix.

1.3 million population.  1991 breakup of Soviet Union.

Las Vegas  -  Hermitage extension. Largest collection in the world.
Smolny Cathedral and Catherine's Palace are Blue and white.

70 years of communism

After it was over, Dad went up front to ask Linda a question, and that's when she admitted that she had never been there (yet). NCL allows one employee maximum to join shore excursions. No wonder NCL people have never seen these cities,  I guess there is a lot of competition between the employee to get on the excursion.  We left the theater very disappointed.  I left with a wonderful new idea in my head about how to get people excited about seeing places.

For dinner tonight, Martha and I got an invitation to the singles dinner at Tsar's.  I went up to the Vantage desk and explained that I would like to invite Bill and Bob to the dinner.  I know she probably was not supposed to give me their room numbers, but given the event, and knowing Bill and Bob  -  they got an invitation.  I'm really glad that I went to the dinner. I recognized other singles for the rest of the cruise.

I can't remember what I did after  -  maybe had a martini and went to watch Nintendo Wii.  That is quite entertaining when there are people who have been drinking.

The show tonight was a singer and the same comedian as the first show on the ship. The comedy was OK, lots of jokes for the English, so Mom&Dad did not go to the show tonight.  I went to the 10 pm show and the comedian was great. 

After the show, I went up to the top Deck 12 where a food buffet is open until 11:30.  They had something called  Spitzel .  Of course I have to try something new and different.  It was a noodle with sauce dish.  Tasted OK.

 

Cruise Day 6  Thursday May 22 Tallinn  Arrive 8:00 AM Depart 5:30 PM

 

We had a 1 pm meeting time so I tried to sleep in.  To no avail.  I had to run to the bathroom a couple times that morning.  I sure as heck hoped I wasn't getting sick.  Crap, I mean Shit. I did not pack my Imodium because I knew there would be a doctor on board so I could get it on the ship.  But they were charging $72 for a visit to the doctor.  I just ate a bunch of pepto bismals and hoped for the best.  [Turns out, that everything was OK  -  it was just my body's reaction to getting all the Spitzel out of me as fast as possible.   Too much oil! ]

We did the Highlights of Tallinn tour today. Departs 5/22 at 1:00 pm,  Approximate Duration:  3.5 hours      Activity Level 2, Price is $44 in June 2007,  Price is $50 in May 2008, we paid $46,  Duration:3 1/2 hours

 

My Notes:

Estonia is the size of Delaware. Population 1.5 million (1 million Estonians and half a million Russians).

1632 the first university was here (4 years before Harvard)

You must pass the language test to vote here.  There are 1000 words.  50,000 Russians can't vote.

In 1991 communism rule broke down.

It's a 1.5 hour boat ride to Finland.

Concrete walls in hotel or  microcrete  because the walls contain so many microphones.

We finally ran into a little traffic, that doesn't happen very often here.

In June on the midsummer night it does not get dark at all.  In Winter there are 4 hours of daylight.

Our first stop was a park.  All of the original statues in the park were moved to Peterhov so they are making duplicate statues to put here.

We saw the palace of Peter the Great.  He came here to study ship building.  The smaller house beside the palace is where Peter lived when the palace was being built.

The singing revolution - There was a 400 mile chain of people singing throughout the Baltics. 400,000 people singing (half of the population)

9.? = $1 USD

15 crowns = I Euro

We had a 10 minutes stop at the song grounds.

They call it the  Soviet  time, not the  Russian  time or the  Communist  time during the occupation  They like the Russians so she says  Soviet .

Convent of St. Bridget  -  has been a convent for almost 200 years.

For the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the sailing event was here in Tallin.  It was the first time that foreigners were allowed in the country. 

Estonians need a visa to swim in the sea.  Soviets were worried that they would swim 60 miles to Finland.

People continued to go to church in the Soviet era.  They were very lucky.  But you may loose a month of pay if you go to church.

1918 Estonia declared independence.

30% inflation a year here.  Gas is $10 USD a gallon!.  $900 USD a month is the average salary in Tallinn.

Retired people worked under the Soviet system. So now the Estonian government must find money to pay them.

1267 Church was built. It had the tallest tower in Europe for 40 years. 

We started our walking tour here at 3:30 pm. 

Picture of the parliament building is up high in the picture.  101 members of parliament.  The average age is 35 years old.

June 1941, the  Enemies of the state  were loaded onto trains or shot. Thousands dies. WWII started two weeks later.  One third of the population went to Siberia. Only 10 % were allowed to come back, but they put 4 families in 3 rooms. The soviets did not destroy anything, but they did not make repairs either.

Picture of Town Hall building in the square. There is a ring on the pillars for women who gossip. 

If you have a white facade on your building, then your taxes are higher.

They are having a baby boom now.  There are not enough kindergartens and schools.

Our guide has a 5 month old.

The Peppersach Restaurant http://www.peppersack.ee/  is a typical building  -  2 rooms on bottom  and the 2 and 3 floor for storage.

4:40 and we are back in the bus.

 

Activity Details from the NCL site::

As you approach the Old Town, you'll get fascinating views of the medieval city wall with its fairy-tale turrets. Then enjoy a walking tour which begins at the Nun's Gate in the Lower Town and continues through the old streets. Arrive at beautiful Kadriorg Park and continue to the Song Festival Ground where national song festivals are held and where up to 30,000 singers participate.

A drive from the harbor takes you through the city center and along the main street passing Estonia's modern and elegant 19th-century buildings.  As you approach the Old Town, you'll get fascinating views of the medieval city wall with its fairy-tale turrets. The walking portion of your tour begins at the Nun's Gate in the Lower Town. Strolling through the old streets, you'll see the beautiful medieval guild houses, the Gothic Town Hall and the charming 15th-century Apothecary. Continue to beautiful Kadriorg Park which was commissioned by Peter the Great. Admire the architecture of the Baroque Palace and enjoy the lovely restored gardens, a small replica of Versailles. The tour continues to the Song Festival Ground where national song festivals are held. Up to 30,000 singers participate. Following a brief visit to the interesting ruins of the 15th century St. Brigit's Convent, you'll drive back to the city, past the famous Estonian Russalka monument and the summer residence of Count Orlov.

Martha's Tour : Upper Town & Kradiorg Palace Level 2 Price: $50  Duration: 4 1/2 hours

Journey inside the ancient walls of Tallinn's Old Town, then a bit further to Tall Hermann Tower that leads to Palace Square. Visit Nevski Cathedral and see other medieval landmarks along the way. Continue on to impressive Kadriorg Palace built by Peter the Great in 1723.

Depart from the pier for a short drive to Tallinn's Old Town, where ancient walls and tower gateways can be seen. At Tall Herman Tower, walk the short distance up Toompea Hill to Palace Square. Visit the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which dominates the city skyline, and inside which are numerous gold icons and mosaics. Continue along Tallinn's medieval cobbled streets and you might see the Gothic Dome Church, also known as St. Mary's Cathedral. Proceed to the scenic viewpoint over the Lower Town rooftops, before rejoining your bus. Continue the tour to Kadriorg Palace, built in 1723 by Peter the Great in honor of his empress wife Catherine I. Its magnificent scale is enhanced by its setting on several levels, with upper and lower gardens in contrasting styles. The Swan Pond in the Lower Garden is a visual delight. Kadriorg means Catherine's valley' in Estonian, although the palace was seldom visited by the Tsarina. Since the Russian revolution, the ornate palace rooms have been used as an art museum, and following closure in recent years, Kadriorg has reopened in its former glory. After viewing highlights of the European art on display, stroll through the Lower Garden back to your coach for the return to your ship.

 

OTHER TOURS:

Panoramic Tallinn - Level 1 Guests with Disabilities Price: $42  Duration:3 hours

Stay comfy in a coach while seeing the medieval sites of Tallinn. Along the way, view Kadriorg Park and the Olympic Yachting Complex, which leads to Old Town, the Great Coast Gate and Upper Town including the Tall Hermann Tower.

Your tour begins with a scenic drive through the cultural heart of Tallinn. View the Tall Herman Tower, one of the three remaining towers of the Knights of the Sword Castle. From the base of the nearby cannon tower, enjoy a wonderful view of the churches and towers of Tallinn's Upper Town. Continue through Kadriorg Park, a true highlight with its charming Baroque ensemble that was designed as a summer residence for Peter the Great. Visit the Song Festival Ground, a natural amphitheater that hosts Estonia's national song festivals. Drive through a beautiful residential area drowned in greenery to the popular Pirita beach. As you return to the harbor, you'll drive past the summer residence of count Orlov and the delightful statue of Russalka, Estonia's mermaid, on the sea coast.

Tallinn & Old Town - Level 2 Price: $49  Duration:3 1/4 hours

Crafts abound for treasure seekers. Visit the workshops of Catherine's Passage a short walk from Tallinn's Medieval Lower Town. Keep walking to Town Hall Square and a little beyond, Viru Gates. Both have Estonian handicrafts to offer.

Gothic Treasures Of Tallinn Level 2 Price: $50  Duration:4 hours

Medieval to the core, walk Upper Town's cobblestone streets; view the Toompea Castle, the Cathedral and the Palace Square. Steeples rise above the red-tiled roofs of the Lower Town skyline where you will see the Holy Ghost Church and Gothic Town Hall.

The Best Of Medieval Tallinn Level 3 include meals.Price: $110 June 2007 $110 May 2008  Duration:6 hours

Visit the Song Festival Ground, then continue to (Pirita) to see the beachside location of the yachting complex built for the 1980 Olympic Games, and the 16th century ruins of St. Bridget's Covent. A short drive follows to Tallinn's Upper Town. From here you'll visit Palace Square, the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and the Gothic Dome Church, known as St. Mary's Cathedral. Proceed to the scenic viewpoint over the Lower Town rooftops, then descend to the Lower Town. A special visit to the historic Dominican Monastery is accompanied by a concert of medieval music in the courtyard.

 

For dinner tonight we ate in the Azura restaurant.  When we got to the restaurant, it wasn't open yet, and there was a little line.  We made to a table for the first seating.  Martha and I got the Veal dinner.  Yum and yum.

I opted not to go to the  Country Gold   show in the theater. Dad said it was  OK .

 

Cruise Day 7 Friday May 23 St. Petersburg  Arrive 8:00 AM Overnight

 

We arrive in Russia today!  The highlight of the tour, in my opinion.  I have such great memories of St. Petersburg when I was here in 1998.  I was really excited about showing it off to Mom&Dad.  Thank goodness, the city lived up to my expectations  -  it was spectacular and our tours were perfect.

We had an early meeting time so breakfast was a hurried buffet.  I've been getting oatmeal, coffee and milk.  That's enough to hold me.  Then I grab a roll to nibble on later.  It's only a 4 hour tour today.

The bus departed at 9:15.  The tour guide passed a signup list around the bus to buy photo permits. A photo permit is 4 Euro or 6 USD, video is 6 Euro or 10.50 USD.  Both Dad and I got a photo permit.  Seems like it was long bus ride to Peterhof. 

One third of the population (1 million people) died in 3 years during the occupation. The city was  Leningrad  until 1991,then it became  St. Petersburg.

They weren't kidding about the traffic in St. Petersburg.  When we arrived I was so pleased that the tour guide was bringing us into the rear entrance.  It was a very nice leisurely walk through gardens and pools of water.  The building looked beautiful in the back, but not as beautiful as the front.  When you enter the front, you are already distracted by the front gardens and gold fountain.  We saw that at the end of our tour.  Seems like a lot better way to the house. 

We did the tour, then at 12:10 pm we were back on the bus headed back to the ship.  That is a nice day.

I took a picture of big yellow house where Peter lived while Peterhof was being built.   Putin also uses the house.

This is the ticket for tour that we did:

 

Peterhof - Russian Versailles http://www.ncl.com/nclweb/shorexDetails.html?groupId=LED_66  Activity Level 2, Duration: 4 hours  Price: $99 (we paid $85 and the price in 12/2008 is $103

Activity Details:

Walk where royalty has walked before. Peter the Great built Peterhof to rival Versailles. The Grand Palace is the most brilliant of all the summer residences of the Russian Tsars. Soak up its immense grandeur.

Peterhof, the town of palaces, fountains and parks, was built by Peter the Great to rival Versailles. It lies on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland, 22 miles west of St. Petersburg. Built in the beginning of the 18th century, Peterhof is known as the most brilliant of all the summer residences of the Russian Tsars. The estate construction spanned two centuries, and upon its completion it encompassed seven parks and more than 20 smaller palaces and pavilions. Peter himself designed the layout of the 300-acre park and spectacular fountains. During World War II, the estate was occupied and all the buildings and fountains were completely demolished. Peterhof is also a monument to Soviet reconstruction, as the place was looted and practically razed to the ground by Nazi troops. For many years the Palace and the Grand Cascade were under extensive restoration. Now all guests of the city can enjoy the spectacular view of the fountains and the palace. Note: Peterhof is not wheelchair accessible and is not recommended for persons with walking or climbing difficulties. There are stairs, no elevators, gardens with gravel paths and long walking distances. Visit to inside of Peterhof Palace is approximately 1 hour. Although you might get a glimpse of the upper fountains, this tour is of the Palace interior.

There is a lot of information about Peterhof on the Internet:  http://www.peterhof.org/english/museums/grpal/

 

Martha's Tour:  Tour Magnificent St. Petersburg  - Departs at 8:30 am  Approximate Duration: 9 hours   Price: $199

Take a short drive to the city center while your guide introduces you to the history of St. Petersburg. You will stop on the Spit of Vasilievsky Island for an opportunity to take in the views of the Neva River, the Rostral Columns, the Winter Palace and other buildings of the Hermitage Museum, as well as St. Peter and Paul Fortress, situated right across the river. The tour continues with a drive along many of the city's famous landmarks. The tour will then take you to St. Isaac's Cathedral for another photo opportunity and a tour of this remarkable building, one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. The interior of the cathedral is richly decorated with different kinds of marble, malachite and other semiprecious stones. After lunch, your tour takes you outside of the city to the historical town of Pushkin, driving through Moscow Prospect then on the Kiev highway to the Egyptian gates, the entrance to Tsar's Village. Catherine's Palace inside Tsar's Village ranks as one of the masterpieces of world art. From the time the palace was built until the time of the last Russian Tsar, Pushkin was used as the summer residence of the Royal Family. The palace tour takes you through a series of magnificent rooms, including the famous Picture Gallery, the Great Hall and the Amber Room. The parks of the estate add to the splendor of the palace, and several of them are embellished with a number of charming pavilions. The town of Pushkin is famous not only for its remarkable palace and parks, but the man it was named after, Alexander Pushkin, the most celebrated poet in the country and a resident of this town at the beginning of the 19th century. Note: Expect congestion and waiting at attractions.

We ate lunch at Blue Lagoon at 2:30.  I had a yummy Tuna sandwich.

For dinner we ate at Tsars' at 5:30. It's a beautiful dinning room just like some of the rooms we had just seen in Peterhof.   I had Thai noodles.

The evening entertainment was Sing along with the Sound of Music.  Uuugh.  It really was the Sound of Music movie in English. When they sang in the movie, sub-titles appeared.  It was cute for awhile,  Mom&Dad lasted about 30 minutes.  I lasted about 15 more minutes before I had to leave.   Watching a movie is one thing.  Hearing dopey comments and audience singing is another. Cute idea, but I'll pass.

Cruise Day 8  Saturday May 24 St. Petersburg Depart 7:00 PM

 

Another absolutely incredibly perfect day.  Another morning departure and an 8 hours tour today.  Today is the day for the entire reason for going on this cruise.  The Hermitage is just the most incredibly spectacular museum in the world!  It left an indelible impression on me when I was there in 1998.

From all my research on cruises, NCL was the only one that entered the museum before it opens to the general public: 

 Before the crowds arrive, tour the prestigious Hermitage Museum, Russia's largest.

That line in the tour description sold me on this cruise (and the fact that you didn't have to dress for dinner). 

On Sept 2, 2007, I made a reservation for all four of us to do this tour, but Martha was interested in another tour.  It's easy to change tours once you get on the boat.  

So we start our second day in St. Petersburg. Getting to the museum was another long drive.  It was great to be a passenger and just sit back and enjoy the ride.  I can never imagine seeing a city like this on my own.  As long as there is a tour going to a place that I want to see, I'm on the tour. After a lot of driving in a lot of traffic, we stopped in St. Isaac Square.  This was obviously a must see square, but we weren't getting off the bus.  The tour leader used this time to distribute the  whisperers  and collect money.  4 Euro or $6 USD for the Hermitage photo permit.

So, we had to take photos from the bus windows.  Dad and I were sitting on opposite sides of the bus so could get pictures on both sides.  I got a good picture of the monument to Nicholas I and dad got a good photo of the building.

10:15 am and we were in line to enter the Hermitage.  It opens at 10:30.  It's a no-coat, but need a sweater temperature day.  In the Hermitage, we saw (almost) everything that I was expecting and wanting to see.  It was good tour and the leader moved us around at a good pace so we saw a lot.  Overall, a very impressive place.

There are over 1000 rooms in the Hermitage.

Pictures of the gold gilded hall.  It is real gold, thinner than a hair.

In the gallery there are 332 portraits of Russian generals.

Pavilion Hall  -  peacock clock in the North wing. Mosaic floor is a copy of the floor discovered in 1780 in ancient Rome.  The mosaic executed 1817-1851.  Dad saw I was writing all this information so he took a picture of the sign.  There is also so much in formation on the Internet, I didn't feel compelled to write much.

So we turn the corner into a room with a staircase going down, walk past the staircase and there it is.  The same painting that I took a photo of in 1998. The Prodigal Son in the Rembrandt room.  I accidently used a flash so the photo in my 1998 album has a big light spot.  Dad got a great photo.

Next the Italian collection. Dad took a pix of 5 icons in a row. His last pix is a small Madonna with no expression -  Simon Martina. Da Vinci copied this expression in his painting.

In the  Field Marshall Hall  Dad took a pix of the da Vinci Madonna and child  The Litta Madonna  and  The Benois Madonna   -  with the expression like the Martina Madonna.   Only 10 da Vinci originals exist and 2 of them are in this room. Very ornate doors on this hall.

Now going to the new Hermitage to see Raphael paintings.  We had to walk through Raphael's' Loggia, or  Raphael's Bible .  I was awestruck when I saw this hallway ten years ago.   Paintings  on a Biblical motif .  It's replica of the same famous gallery in the Vatican.

Raphael painting  Madonna and Beardless Joseph  .  And we saw the only Michael Angelo statue in Russia  Crouching Boy

Beautiful Malachite vases with 5 mm pieces of green stone.

Now the Italian collections, and finally the Spanish collections.  150 paintings. Diego Velasquez  Luncheon  1599-1660 c. 1617 acquired before 1774 only 3 people (not 5) are in the painting.

We visited the Southern pavilion of the Winter Palace.  And the French collection on the third level.

Saw Renoir  -  the little girl, Monet  Lady in the Garden  painting, Cezanne  -  man with a bottle, Van Gogh  -  people with a red umbrella, Gauguin  -  picnic painting, Matisse  -  fruit on a table, bright  the red room . Picasso  -  the absent drinker, cubist blue period.

The Hermitage museum tour took over 2 hours.  12:15 an we are on the bus.

After the Hermitage, we rode over to the Church on Spilled Blood (Alexander II or  Resurrection Cathedral )  There were buses everywhere.  In 1998 we had to park a block away and walk up to the beautiful building.  It was a nightmare of traffic that the cars and buses had to negotiate.  Our bus driver was lucky and found a close spot. 

It took 25 years to build the church and 27 years to restore it. They only had black and white photos of how the mosaics looked. The church reopened in August 1997. I saw it in 1998.  Sure seems like they have done a lot more work on it in the past 10 years.  Very beautiful inside.  There are now over 7000 square meter of mosaics!  The walls are all iconostasis.  .There are 9 domes. There are no benches. No choir.  Only Easter and Christmas are the only services here  so you may be standing up to 5 hours for the service.

4 pm and we're leaving the church.  I can't believe the tight squeeze between buses to get our bus moving on the street in front of the church. There is a lot of traffic.

We drove by communal apartments. 4-5 rooms where 4 families live in one apartment.

Dad took a picture of the bell tower of St. Nicholas Cathedral. And another pix of a small gold dome, then a green and white building.  The yellow building is where Usepiv Palace where Rasputin died.

There are only 4 ships in the harbor now.  In June/July there are usually 8 ships. I can't imagine twice as many tourists here. Yeow.

This is the ticket for tour that we did:

 

Our tour today: The Hermitage & Spilled Blood St. Petersburg, Activity Level 2, These tours include meals. Price: $209.  We paid $185.  Duration: 7 1/2 hours

Before the crowds arrive, tour the prestigious Hermitage Museum, Russia's largest. It occupies the Winter Palace also open to your exploration. Next, this tour takes you to the famous Church on Spilled Blood, a menagerie of 15th, 16th, 17th elements.

Especially for you and other NCL guests we have arranged for a special early opening of the museum, so you can enjoy the world-famous collections one hour before the regular opening time and before the crowds of visitors fill up the rooms of this magnificent building. The Hermitage Museum ranks among the most prestigious museums in the world, containing about three million objects of unparalleled importance. The route takes you through the State Rooms of the Winter Palace and several unrivaled art collections.

The tour of the Hermitage ends at the Palace Square where you can take memorable pictures. Palace Square is the main square in St. Petersburg, with a 155-foot high Alexander Column put up in honor of Alexander I, who defeated Napoleon in 1812. There is another landmark on Palace Square dedicated to his memory  the Arch of the General Headquarters. From the Hermitage, your coach proceeds to drive along the main thoroughfare of the city, Nevsky Prospect, towards one of the main landmarks of St. Petersburg  the Church on Spilled Blood.

This exquisitely decorated cathedral was built on the spot were Tsar Alexander II had been fatally wounded by a member of the People's Will revolutionary terrorist organization. Combining the artistic styles of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, the cathedral is a kaleidoscope of decorative elements, with an extensive collection of mosaics that cover over 8,400 square yards and five domes that are covered with more than 1,000 square yards of jeweler's enamel. Right next to the Church on the Spilled Blood you will find one of the most popular souvenir markets, where you can browse the aisles and bargain for the best deals on colorful Russian souvenirs. Note:  Expect congestion and waiting at attractions.

 

OTHER TOURS IN ST PETERSBURG

Panoramic St. Petersburg Level 1 close. Guests with Disabilities Price: $55  Duration:3 hours

Breathe easy on this coach tour of the city's highlights. Take photos of the Rostral Columns and the Neva River from the Spit of Vasilievsky Island at the city center. Snap the Winter Palace and Nevsky Prospect and other sites as you go along.

Afternoon Neva River Cruise Level 1 This tour is great for families. Price: $67  Duration:2 1/2 hours

From ship to boat pier in the center of the city to The Bronze Horsemen, otherwise known as Peter the Great, you see it all from the Neva River. This cruise exposes beautiful hidden spots. Enjoy with a glass of champagne and gypsy performance.

St. Petersburg Through The Eyes Of The Russian People Level 2 Price: $74  Duration:3   ½,  Moderate Activity level 2, $65, 3 1/2 hours

Go where Russians go. Travel the metro stations intended by Stalin to be palaces for the people. The walls are made of marble, granite and limestone. Visit the markets and food stores, even a restaurant where you can sample vodkas.

Spectacular St. Petersburg Level 2 Price: $75  Duration:4 hours, Moderate Activity level 2,

Toes will tap as the city's local folk groups entertain you. And your eyes will stay wide open during the tour of important landmarks like the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, Spit of Vasilievsky Island and St. Isaac's Cathedral to name a few.

Russian Folklore Extravaganza Level 1  Guests with Disabilities Price: $76  Duration:3 hours

St. Petersburg. An enlightening night. All the republics of the former Soviet Union are represented as groups perform songs and dances in the St. Petersburg Concert Hall. Raise a glass to the special performance of the outstanding St. Petersburg Group.

Peterhof Gardens & Fountains Level 2Price: $84  Duration:3 hours also Moderate Activity level 2, $79, 3 hours

For those of you whose main interest in Peterhof is the beauty of its magnificent gardens and fountains, you will find this to be the perfect tour as they will be the sole focus of this outing. A hydrofoil will arrive at the pier located in the Low Park to whisk you to the city.

For those of you whose main interest in Peterhof is the beauty of its magnificent gardens and fountains, you will find this to be the perfect tour as they will be the sole focus of this outing.  A hydrofoil will arrive at the pier located in the Low Park to whisk you to the city.

Cathedral On Spilled Blood & Waterways Level 1Price: $85  Duration:4 hours, Moderate Activity level 2, $69  4 hours

Canals and rivers act as your road to the city's sites. Known as the "Venice of the North", St. Petersburg's monuments and palaces are surrounded by water. Disembark at the Cathedral on Spilled Blood. Its mosaic work is phenomenal.

Wonders Of St. Petersburg - Day2 Moderate Activity level 2, includes meals, $185, 7 hours

See the city differently from its waterways. Disembark near Yusupov Palace steeped in intrigue and mystery. Learn about Rasputin here and about the Palace history as remarkable as its beauty. Just as rich in drama is your next stop, the Cathedral on Spilled Blood.

A Night Of Music At Sheremetyev Palace Level 2 Price: $86  Duration:3 hours

St. Petersburg. After many upheavals, the Baroque Sheremtyev Palace is again a center of music. Cavaliers and ladies-in-waiting greet you as exquisite music plays. Then float through a tour of the palace and enjoy a cocktail reception and opera performance. A perfect night of culture.

Catherine's Estate In Tsar's Village Level 2Price: $87  Duration:4 hours, Moderate Activity level 2, also$79  4 hours

One of the masterpieces of the world, Catherine's Palace was a gift from Peter the Great to his wife. Built in the town of Pushkin, it became the summer residence of the Royal Family. Venture through its famous galleries and splendid grounds.

Russian Military Legacy Level 1 Price: $459  Duration:5 hours

Get an insight into Russia's military history when you visit the Artillery, Engineers and Signals Museum. Then proceed to the State Museum of Russian Political History in the former mansion of Matilda Kshsinskaya, prima ballerina of the Mariinsky Theater. Finally, you'll visit the exhibition of 'The Memorial Halls of Lenin.'

The Hermitage Museum Level 2 Price: $87  Also $75, Duration:3 1/2 hours, Moderate Activity level 2,, 3 1/2 hours

Ranking among the world's most prestigious museums, the Hermitage boasts a Western European art collection second to none. It has evolved from a private court museum into a three million object place of wonder. Use your time wisely, there's a lot to see.

The Hermitage Museum is the largest art museum in Russia, and ranks among the most prestigious and fabulous museums in the world, with its collection of Western European art being second to none. Originally founded by Catherine the Great in 1764 as a private court museum, it evolved into the most remarkable collection, containing nearly three million objects of unparalleled importance. The route takes you through the State Rooms of the Winter Palace, the collection of Western European art, with works by masters of the Italian, Dutch and Flemish Schools. You will find a collection of Spanish art surpassed in importance only by Madrid's Prado. The collection of French art is the largest outside France. Note: Expect congestion and waiting at attractions.

A Night Of Russian Ballet Level 2  This tour is great for families. Price: $94  Duration:3 1/2 hours

Originally named Alexandrinsky Theatre for Tsar Nicolai's wife Alexandra and now known as the honorable National Theatre, this magnificent building was designed by architecture Carlo Rossi to impress royalty. Rejoice as you watch a remarkable classical ballet performance.

City Highlights & St. Peter & Paul Fortress Level 1 Price: $99  Duration:4 hours Also St Peter & Paul Fortress With City Highlights - Day 1 Mild Activity level 1, $52  4 hours

The Rostral Columns view from the Spit of Vasilievsky Island gives you a heads up to the beauty of your tour. Take photos of the Winter Palace, the St. Peter and Paul Fortress and Smolny Convent among other city highlights.

Grand St. Petersburg - Day 1 Moderate Activity level 2, includes meals, $175, 8 hours

Start at The Spit of Vasilievsky Island, and let the Neva River guide you to historical landmarks including Peter the Great's log cabin and The Church on Spilled Blood. The coach adventures deeper to visit the fabulous Hermitage Museum.

St Petersburg Panoramic Drive - Day 1 Mild Activity level 1, wheelchair access $49, 3 hours

Breathe easy on this coach tour of the city's highlights. Take photos of the Rostral Columns and the Neva River from the Spit of Vasilievsky Island at the city center. Snap the Winter Palace and Nevsky Prospect and other sites as you go along.

Hermitage Connoisseur Level 2 Price: $122  Duration:5 1/2 hours Moderate Activity level 2, $107  5 hours

Art enthusiasts this is for you. See the exclusive Gold Rooms antique collections at the world famous Hermitage Museum. Housed in the Winter Palace, see world famous art, tour the Palace and finish at the Palace Square and the Alexander Column.  

Grand St. Petersburg Level 2 these tours include meals Price: $192  Duration:8 hours

Start at The Spit of Vasilievsky Island, and let the Neva River guide you to historical landmarks including Peter the Great's log cabin and The Church on Spilled Blood. The coach adventures deeper to visit the fabulous Hermitage Museum.

Wonders Of St. Petersburg Level 2 - these tours include meals.Price: $197  Duration:7 hours

This special tour is designed for guests who would like to look at the city from a different perspective, learn about the tragic death of one of the most mysterious figures in Russian history  Grigory Rasputin, witness one of St. Petersburg's masterpieces, and visit the amazing Cathedral of Our Savior on Spilled Blood.

Magnificent St. Petersburg Level 2 these tours include meals.Price: $199  Duration:9 hours      Also Magnificent St. Petersburg - Day 1 Moderate Activity level 2, includes meals, $175 9 hours

Wisely, this multi-faceted tour begins at the city's center. All main historical attractions of this remarkable city are tapped. Start passing by St. Peter and Paul Fortress and end with a visit to Catherine's Palace and the parks of Pushkin.

Pushkin & The Hermitage Level 2 - these tours include meals.Price: $218  Duration:8 hours

Travel through the Egyptian gates to the Tsar's Village in Pushkin. Catherine's Palace ranks as one of the masterpieces of world art. Tour this magnificent palace then enjoy a lunch that is fit for royalty. A Hermitage Museum tour follows.

Glorious St Petersburg - Day 1 Moderate Activity level 2, includes meals, $185, 8 hours 

Travel through the Egyptian gates to the Tsar's Village in Pushkin. Catherine's Palace ranks as one of the masterpieces of world art. Tour this magnificent palace then enjoy a lunch that is fit for royalty. A Hermitage Museum tour follows.

Imperial St. Petersburg Level 2 - these tours include meals.Price: $218  Duration:9 hours

St. Petersburg Made for Royalty, the town of Peterhof boasts the Grand Palace and is resplendent with fountains and gardens. A hydrofoil transfer lands you in St. Petersburg where you explore famous churches and museums of grandeur.

Imperial St Petersburg - Day 2  #109 Moderate Activity level 2, includes meals, $197, 9 hours

Made for Royalty, the town of Peterhof boasts the Grand Palace and is resplendent with fountains and gardens. A hydrofoil transfer lands you in St. Petersburg where you explore famous churches and museums of grandeur.  

Peterhof, the town of palaces, fountains and parks, was built by Peter the Great to rival Versailles. It lies on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland and its construction spanned two centuries. The layout of the 300-acre park and spectacular fountains were designed by Peter himself. The Grand Cascade, considered the chief delight of the grounds, consists of three waterfalls, an avenue of 64 fountains and 37 gilded statues. Samson, the main attraction, is located at the base. During World War II, all the buildings and fountains were completely demolished. For many years, the palace and the Grand Cascade were under extensive restoration and now, guests of the city can enjoy the spectacular views.  After touring the Grand Palace, you will proceed to the magnificent gardens of the Low Park to admire the numerous fountains and statues of the Grand Cascade. As part of your tour experience, we have arranged a special hydrofoil boat transfer back to the city, which will take you on a 30-minute ride across the Gulf of Finland. After a brief stop at St. Isaac's Square, you will be taken to the Spit of Vasilievsky Island, to take in views of the city, including the Hermitage Museum and St. Peter and Paul Fortress, which you will tour next. As your coach approaches the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, you will enjoy a specially arranged concert of bell music performed by one of the best bell musicians of St. Petersburg. Once inside the Cathedral, you will be surrounded by marble columns, glittering chandeliers and painted decor, combined with carved and gilded iconostasis to create a magnificent setting for the tombs of the Romanov monarchs.  The tour continues along the Neva embankment, past other famous landmarks and drives along the main thoroughfare of the city, Nevsky Prospect, towards your ship. Note: This tour is not recommended for persons with walking or climbing difficulties. There are long walking distances. The Grand Palace is not wheelchair accessible due to narrow staircases and no elevators.  

Everyday Life & Visit To Vodka Factory Level 1Price: $449  Duration:5 hours

Visit the Russian Standard Distillery Plant, one of the first privately-owned companies in post-communist Russia. Then, head to the nearest metro station for a metro ride and to see the interior of the metro station, famous for its Soviet Era pompous interior style. The tour ends at the food market of St. Petersburg where you can taste traditional Russian food and products.

 

I've waited too long to type up this journal, so I can't remember where we ate dinner. I think the four of us went to Tsar's and sat at a square table to the right of the entrance.

We went to the 8 pm show that night.  It was Joel Leder, a ventriloquist.

 

Cruise Day 9  Sunday May 25 Helsinki  8:00 AM Depart 5:30 PM

Sunrise at 4:24 am this morning so I'm sure Mom&Dad were up early in their room with the big window.  Sunset is at 10:10 pm so only 6 hours of darkness this far North!

 

In the book that NCL mailed us, the Helsinki by Bike Tour was  not listed.  I knew to ask about it because I found it on the http://www.ncl.com/nclweb/ shore excursions site.  I printed out the description on  5/6/2008 I brought that page with me.  On the first day of the cruise I stood in line for a long time (45 min), finally got to the front so I could ask about this tour.  Yes!  I could sign up for it.  I knew that Copenhagen had a bike tour, but that was the first city that we visited and I wanted to do that tour with Mom & Dad.  I also had a bunch of pictures I needed to take in Copenhagen. That was not the case in Helsinki.  I figure Mom & Dad would be fine on  Tour without walking  and I would do this bike tour. 

I had an early meeting time for my bike tour this morning.  I remember waiting in Mom & Dad's room before I went to the Theater. They had just left for the tour. I ran down and exited the ship.  They had one bike left and it was perfect.  It was great weather also. 

We learning that they have a wife-carrying race here.  And the sauna world championships.

We stopped in front of the Finnish ice breaking fleet  -  2 ships. The Kontig and another ship. They keep the shipping lanes open for ferry and cargo ship.  They can provide a portable bridge for cars.   Ice only 20 cm thick can carry a car. You can drive from Helsinki to Sweden over the ice in the winter. He said it's very scary driving on the ice when its dark.

Upenski cathedral is Russian orthodox.

Presidential Palace  -  white building with columns. You can see the main cathedral dome above the palace.

There is a 1.5 hour ferry ride to get to Tallin.

This is NCL information on the tour that I did:

Helsinki By Jopo Bike Level 3  From $85.      I paid $91 because I signed up for this tour on the first day of the cruise  -  everything is more expensive then.   Duration 3 hours  These tours have specific height requirements.

Explore Helsinki by Jopo, the famous Finnish-designed bike, created in the 1960's and designed as a simple, practical transportation.   Explore the Finnish Capital, which being relatively flat, is a wonderful city to explore by bike. Your biking guide will meet you at the ship and introduce you to your Jopo bike.

After making adjustments and listening to a safety briefing, you'll be ready to head off into the Finnish Capital, which being relatively flat, is a wonderful city to explore by bike. You'll pass along cycling paths, past city parks, waterfronts, residential and commercial areas, experiencing unique views of the city. Departing from your ship you'll leave the industrial pier area and glide past a marina and a residential area before peddling along the scenic traffic-free waterfront area that leads to Helsinki's main city beach, Hietaranta. You'll continue along the waterfront to Sibelius Park where you'll visit the monument dedicated to Finland's world-famous composer, Jean Sibelius. Back on your bike, your guide will lead you through the residential district of Toolo to the waterfront of Toolo Bay. Here enjoy a great view of Helsinki city as well as seeing close at hand the new Opera House and the decorative wooden villas dating from the 19th century. You will also see in the distance Finlandia Hall, the National Museum and the Parliament as you continue to the eastern side of the city passing more waterfront parks and mixed residential areas. Arriving at the eastern harbor you'll make a stop for a photo opportunity of Katajanokka Island, summer home to the Finnish Icebreaker fleet and location of the Orthodox Uspenski Cathedral, with its 13 golden onion domes. Arriving at the Market Square you'll dismount and walk your bikes to allow you to safely enjoy the colorful sights and sounds of one of the most popular tourist attractions of the city.

As you head away from the Old City Harbor stop briefly to capture the varying architectural skyline of this part of this city with the Lutheran Cathedral, the City Hall, the Presidential Palace and the bustling harbor and market in the foreground. The exclusive waterfront properties, home to many Diplomats and Embassies and the popular Kaivopuisto Park await next with wonderful scenic views across to the impressive Suomenlinna Island Fortress. A final stop will be made to view one of the city's venues for the traditional spring time custom of carpet washing. Occasionally you may, however, find locals washing their carpets at any time of the year. Back on your bike, pass the well-known local small boat marina of Merisatama and arrive back at your ship having completed a full circular loop and a great introduction to this beautiful Baltic capital. Note: Order of tour may vary.

Guests should be competent cyclists and confident on a bicycle. Excursion recommended for guests who are physically fit. Distance covered is approximately 10 miles over mostly flat paved and gravel cycle paths. Some mild undulations and one gentle hill will be encountered. Protective headgear will be provided and must be worn. Jopos are unisex bikes without gears and using pedal brakes. There is a height restriction of 4'9" feet tall. A bottle of water and holder will be included. Guests are recommended to wear walking or sports shoes and dress in layered clothing. Guests should also bring raingear in case of inclement weather and carry this in a back-pack. Inclement weather will not affect the operation of this tour.

 

Mom & Dad did this tour:

Helsinki Without Walking - Level 1 Guests with Disabilities $44 in June 2007 and $52 May 2008, 2 hours

Enjoy the sights from the comfort of your coach. Travel along the coastal road, then to neoclassical Senate Square, Lutheran Cathedral, down Mannerheim Street with more landmarks. Check out the church blasted into solid rock with a copper top.

From the comfort of your motor coach, enjoy the main sights of Helsinki, also referred to as The Daughter of the Baltic or the White City of the North. Your tour begins with a drive along a coastal road on your way to see the great variety of Helsinki's architecture. In Senate Square you will see several buildings attributed to the neoclassic architect Carl Ludwig Engel. Enjoy a photo stop at the famous Lutheran Cathedral and continue on to Mannerheim Street, Helsinki's main thoroughfare. You will see the Parliament House, the National Museum and also Finlandia Hall, designed by the famous architect Alvar Aalto. Pass the new Opera House on your way to the Olympic Stadium where the 1952 Olympic Games were held. Then it's on to Sibelius Park, where you can photograph a monument completed of 527 steel pipes honoring the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. You'll pass the unique Temppeliaukio Rock Church, a house of worship blasted into solid rock and topped by a copper dome. Finally, you'll enjoy a view of Embassy Park and the colorful open-air market on your drive back to the pier. Note: Order of sights may vary. No sites will be visited on this tour; though some photo stops are included.

Martha did this one:

Town & Country Level 2 Price: $89 in June 2007 and $99 May 2008   Duration:4 1/2 hours

Simply lovely, that describes the scenic drive to Porvoo, a favorite of poets and artists. A Middle Ages trading hub, it's Finland's second oldest city. Walk along the cobblestones; eat at the Savijarvi Mansion and venture around its farmlands.

Begin with a scenic drive along the coastal road to Porvoo, the second-oldest town in Finland and a favorite of poets and artists. Porvoo was an important trading center as early as the Middle Ages. Enjoy a walking tour along its cobblestone streets, lined with 16th-century wooden houses. You will have free time to browse in the handicraft shops, before you continue to Savijarvi Mansion, a private home where the family shows visitors around and treats each one as a personal guest. Your hosts will serve coffee and cakes along with an assortment of Finnish berries of the season and traditional delicacies. You will be invited to sit on the terrace or indoors, depending on the weather, and you will be able to see the riding horses and breeding farm. On the return trip to Helsinki, you'll stop briefly in Sipoo for a visit to its 14th-century church. Note: Order of sights may vary. Tour participation is limited. Guides are not allowed to escort large groups through church while service is in progress. In this instance the guide will describe the church from the outside. Sipoo Old Church is closed on Sundays. Please be advised that a recent fire has disabled the Medieval Cathedral in Porvoo and visits to the grounds may not be an option.

Other Helsinki tours:

Discover Helsinki Level 1 Price: $47 in June 2007 and $56 May 2008,  Duration:3 hours

Venture to the "White City of the North", known for its brilliant gold onion domes. Take the coastal road to sites like Embassy Park, the Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral, the open-air market, more. The 1952 Olympic Stadium is a must-see.

This guided tour takes you to many points of interest in the White City of the North', where you will see the great variety of architecture that makes Helsinki so stunning. Along the coastal road, you'll pass Embassy Park and Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral with its brilliant gold onion domes. Continue on to Senate Square, where you will see several important buildings attributed to the neoclassic architect Carl Ludwig Engel, including the famous Lutheran Cathedral. You'll pass the colorful open-air market on your way to the Olympic Stadium, where the 1952 Olympic Games were held. Then it's on to Sibelius Park, where you can photograph a monument constructed of 527 steel pipes honoring the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. Pass by the Opera House completed in 1993, and then stop to see the Temppeliaukio Rock Church, a unique house of worship blasted into solid rock and topped by a copper dome. On Mannerheim Street, Helsinki's main thoroughfare, you will see the Parliament House, the National Museum and also Finlandia Hall, designed by the famous architect Alvar Aalto. Note: Order of sights may vary. Guides are not allowed to escort large groups through church while a service is in progress. In this instance the guide will describe the church from the outside. We cannot guarantee entry if services are being held.

Helsinki Walking Tour Level 3 Price: $62  Duration:4 1/2 hours

Start from Senate Square with its neo-classical atmosphere and take a guided walking tour to take in the wonderful sights of Helsinki. Continue by bus through the downtown area, where you will have the option of staying on your own, or returning to the pier by coach.

Start from Senate Square with its neo-classical atmosphere. It is surrounded by the Main Lutheran Church, the Senate Building, and the University. Walk by the central railway station of Eliel Saarinen and see the National Theater and Sanoma Talo. Pass remarkable buildings such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Finlandia Congress Hall, the National Museum and Parliament House. A flavorful cup of coffee or tea will be served with a pastry at a waterfront cafe. Walk to the Toolo residential area, through the Hesperia Park. See the famous Rock Church built of bedrock and quarried stone. Continue by bus through the downtown area, where you will have the option of staying on your own, or returning to the pier by coach. Should you decide to remain in the city, you'll be responsible for your own return to the pier. 

Helsinki By Sea Level 1 Price: $61 in June 2007 and $71 May 2008, Duration: 2 1/2 hours

Beautiful Suomenlinna, a string of islands near Helsinki and home to the "Gibraltar of the North" fortress create an impressive view as you tour by sea. Other points of interest are the waterfront saunas and old villas and not to be missed, the Helsinki Zoo.

Traditional History & City Highlights Level 2, $61 in June 2007 and $73 May 2008 , Duration: 4 hours

Blend city with history; visit Helsinki's main sites -- elegant official city buildings and the colorful market. Then explore the island of the Seurasaari Open-air Museum. The past 400 years are portrayed in cottages, farmsteads and manors.

This tour combines the main sights of Helsinki and a visit to the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum. Drive by the colorful open-air market and stop at the Senate Square with the elegant Lutheran Cathedral for a photo opportunity. Continue past the Uspenski Cathedral and the Icebreakers docked for the summer season. Then on to Mannerheim Street, the main street through the city, and home to the Parliament House, the National Museum and Finlandia Hall. You will also pass the new Contemporary Art museum, Kiasma, designed by the American architect Steven Holl; the Olympic Stadium, venue for The Olympic Games of 1952 and the new Opera House, completed in 1993. Your drive continues to the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, located on a beautiful green island just a few miles from the heart of Helsinki. The island is a tranquil oasis in the midst of the city and here, the traditional Finnish way of life is portrayed in the cottages, farmsteads and manors of the past four centuries that have been relocated from around the different provinces of Finland. The oldest building on the island is a 1686 wooden church from Karuna, near Turku. The guided walking tour is a fast way of getting to know traditional Finnish life and architecture while enjoying the beautiful natural setting. You will be treated to coffee and traditional pastries in this country setting. Then it's on to the unique Temppeliaukio Rock Church, blasted into solid rock, before driving back to the pier and your ship. Note: Order of sights might vary. Guides are not allowed to escort large groups through churches while service is in progress. In this instance, the guide will describe the church from the outside. We cannot guarantee entry if services are being held.

Suomenlinna Island Fortress Level 2 Price: $62 in June 2007 and $74 May 2008   Duration:3 1/2 hours

Impressive, this fortress is reputed to be the world's largest. Nicknamed "Gibraltar of the North", Sweden, Russia and Finland have all lade claim to be its ruler. Visit the museum and take in its remarkable views.

Highlights & Architecture Level 2 Price: $82  Duration:4 hours

This tour takes in many of the highlights of the city with the opportunity to also admire and appreciate its magnificent architecture. You'll see the Senate Square with the elegant Lutheran Cathedral, the Uspenski Cathedral, Parliament House, the National Museum and Finlandia Hall. Visit the unique Temppeliaukio Rock Church blasted into solid rock and continue towards Hvittrask, the former home of the famous Finnish architects Eliel Saarinen, Armas Lindgen and Herman Gesellius, and much more.

Start your tour by passing the shipyard along the coastal road, then the Embassy Park and the colorful open-air market. Continue on and make a stop at Senate Square with the elegant Lutheran Cathedral. En route you will see the Uspenski Cathedral and the icebreaker fleet docked for the summer season. Then it's on to Mannerheim Street, the main street through the city, you'll see the Parliament House, the National Museum and Finlandia Hall, the concert and convention center designed by the famous architect Alvar Aalto. You will also pass the new Contemporary Art Museum, Kiasma, designed by the American architect Steven Holl. Continuing on, you will pass the new Opera House completed in 1993 and also the Olympic Stadium, venue for the Olympic Games in Helsinki in 1952. Then visit the unique Temppeliaukio Rock Church blasted into solid rock. Continue towards Hvittrask, the former home of the famous Finnish architects Eliel Saarinen, Armas Lindgen and Herman Gesellius. Built in 1902, Hvittrask is famous for its architecture with buildings of natural stone and logs. Hvittrask is also the birth place of Eliel's son, Eero Saarinen. He worked in his father's architectural office until Eliel's death in 1950. His best known architectural projects are the TWA terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport, the Arch of St. Louis and Washington Dulles Airport. Situated on a forested hill overlooking a lake, Hvittrask is now an exhibition center for Finnish arts and crafts. You'll have time to explore the grounds and a guide will escort you through the magnificent home of Eliel Saarinen. Afterward, you will return to the ship. Note: Order of tour may vary. Entry to the Rock Church cannot be guaranteed due to religious services.

Helsinki Nordic Walking

On this excursion get an introduction to a Finnish born activity and to Finland's capital, Helsinki. Nordic Walking is one of the fastest growing recreational fitness sports in the world. Developed in Finland by off-season Cross Country Skiers, Nordic Walking is fitness walking with specially designed Nordic Walker poles that engage the upper body during walking giving a total body workout without a change in perceived exertion or having to walk faster.

Level 3 These tours have specific age requirements. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. These tours have specific height requirements. Price: $85  Duration:2 1/2 hours

Porvoo & Highlights -: $165  Duration:6 1/2 hours

Ride along the scenic coastal road for a photo stop at the Old Bridge and view Porvoo's Old Quarter, which dates back from 1346. Continue to Helsinki; take landmarks like the Temppeliaukio Rock Church and Senate Square.  

 

12:15 I wrote a note to Martha that I was going to the cafe for a sandwich, then maybe reading on Deck 12.  I ended up hanging out with Bill/Bob by the pool. Fun.

For dinner tonight, I think we went to Azura.

At 8 pm we went to the show in the Theater : Yasha from Russia. It was an incredible performance by Violin Virtuoso, Yasha Konviser.  Very good entertainment.  After that show, I wanted to go to the 9 pm Second City  Scriptless & Unplugged   comedy show in the Spinnaker Lounge.  Dad actually came with me.  It was also very very good. Those people are very talented.

 

Cruise Day 10 Monday May 26  Stockholm  8:00 AM Depart 5:30 PM

Sunrise at 3:56 am today and Sunset at 9:32 pm. Only 5.5 hours of darkness. 

We had a late morning tour.  These are my notes:

There is a 255 sales tax here.  64 year old and they get senior citizen pension.

The city was built on 14 islands.

Population is 1.9 million in Stockholm and 9 million in Sweden.

In 1628 Aug 10, the Vaasa ship set sail.  4 of the 10 sails were up. Within 10 minutes, it sank in 110 meters deep of water.  25 skeletons were found when they raised the Vaasa.

There is 510 foot tall observation tower in the amusement park.

Picture of City Hall  -  red brick. Big gold crown and 3 crowns. Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) has 300 patented inventions.  City Hall is where the Nobel prize is announced.  Dec 10 of every year is when the prize is presented in Concert Hall.  The  Peace Prize  is given out in Oslo.

Picture of Mom&Dad by the door to the City Hall.  It will be 100 year sold in 2023.   Care Larrson  was carved into a column in City Hall. Dad got a pix of my pix.

Dad pix of the Parliament building  -  a big round circular building.

It costs 11 Kroner ($2 USD) to mail a post card!

McDonalds and Berger King are here.

Men get maternity leave here for up to one year!  The highest paid spouse works and the other one gets maternity leave.

There is a new law here that a dog cannot be alone for more than 6 hours.

Passed by Kingsgaten. Pix of an interesting house on King Street.  Dad pix of red American Ambassadors building, and Gagnon's  Diana  statue.  It's naked lady with an animal with horns.  In the winter they put a hat on her head to keep her warm.

The American embassy has white fence in front. It's on Nobel gaten (Nobel Street).

More pictures of the Nordic museum, and jewel with a yacht in front of it.

Skensen  -  the largest outdoor museum in the world? (not sure). Picture of opera house with horse statue, National Museum with Gustaf Statue.

It's 70 degrees F (19 C) here.

 

Here is the description of our tour:

Tour ST0032: The Best of Stockholm- Departs 5/26 at 10:45 am

The Best Of Stockholm Level 2 Price: $67 June 2007 $79 May 2008  Duration:3 1/2 hours

From its roots as a fortress in the mid-13 century where Lake Malaren meets the Baltic Sea, Stockholm now boasts many landmarks. Two standouts you'll visit are the imposing City Hall with its remarkable courtyards and the Vaasa Museum built around the famous 17th century war ship.

Martha did this tour:

Old Town & Milesgarden Level 2 Price: $49 June 2007 $59 May 2008  Duration:3 hours

Imagine living in the 13th century. Visit that life in Gamla Stan. Its cobblestone alleys and houses surround the Royal Palace and mansions. Next, explore the island of Lidingo, where Carl Milles' estate and art collection will astound you.

OTHER TOURS

Stockholm Without Walking Level 1 Price: $49  Duration:2 hours

See Stockholm the easy way; enjoy traveling through five city districts without lifting a foot. See the medieval old town of Gamla Stan, the Royal Opera, the Parliament building and snap photos as you go, especially at Fjallgatan's viewpoint.

Waterways Of Stockholm Level 1 Price: $49 June 2007 $56 May 2008  Duration: 2 hours

Ever present in Stockholm life, the waterways provide a fascinating perspective for touring. Board a motor launch and as you cruise, notice the city's serene beauty, its architectural styles apparent in its parks, boulevards and playgrounds.

Panoramic Stockholm & The Vaasa Museum Level 1 Price: $49 June 2007 $59 May 2008  Duration: 3 hours

Be swept away by a viewpoint stop of the city at Fjallgatan. More photo opts ahead, see sights like Gamla Stan and the Royal Dramatic Theater en route to Djurgarden Island and the Vasa Museum -- built around a 17th century warship.

City Hall, Royal Palace & Old Town Stockholm Level 2 Price: $67 June 2007 $76 May 2008  Duration: 4 hours

Stockholm's City Hall marks your first stop. Here, the Nobel Prize banquet is housed. Next, off to Gamla Stan where you explore the richly decorated Baroque Royal Palace. Finally, poke around 15th and 16th century houses for something new.

Ice Bar & Old Town Level 2 Price: $79 June 2007 $92 May 2008  Duration: 2 1/2 hours

Stockholm Adventure to the old town of Gamla Stan where The Royal Palace, the Old Stock Exchange and the Great Square stand out amidst medieval houses. The Nordic Hotel, the world's first permanent ice bar, is chilly at below zero degrees Celsius.

Rooftop Walk Level 3 These tours have specific weight requirements. Price: $199  Duration: 4 hours

Stockholm Try something sensational and unique to Stockholm  a guided walk conducted along the roofs of the city. You'll be stunned by the fantastic views and the fascinating stories that your guide will narrate. Then, continue to the Old Town for a walk on ground in Stockholm's oldest and coziest quarter, Gamla Stan.

Art & Sculpture Tour Level 1 Price: $999  Duration: 4 hours

 Millesgarden, the garden and villa of Sweden's most famous sculptor, Carl Milles, and a work of art in its own right. You'll continue to the Museum of Modern Art, located on the isle of Skeppsholmen and housing one of Europe's best collections of 20th-century art. Then proceed to Waldemarsudde, originally the home of Prince Eugen and now one of Sweden's most popular art galleries.

 

6 pm dinner reservations to eat at Tango's again.  The fajitas were good before and the Chicken wings are also good (after you soak them in Tobasco  -  I finally got something spicy. 

At 8 pm we went to the show in the Theater.  It was a comedian named Doug and it was not good (for Americans).  He seemed to gear his jokes more towards the English and then he would try to explain it so the Americans in the audience could understand the joke.  I sure know how that goes  -  I remember the Sri Lanka tour sitting in a circle with others in the tour.  They went around the circle telling stories and I didn't understand most of them because I was an American.  Anyway, I'm sure the English liked the show.

 

Cruise Day 11 Tuesday May 27 At Sea

 

10:30 am today I went to a  Departure briefing   It's quite an event to get everyone and their luggage off this ship and get the ship ready for the next week of cruising.  Soozy (the cruise director) is quite funny.

Lunch today we ate at Tsar's I had a really good Moussaka.

At 3:30 I went to an NCL  U  meeting of  Margarita Madness  at the Tango's Bar. I invited Martha, but she didn't show up.   That was really amazing to see how many good drinks you could make with tequila!  The bartender and other people were a lot of fun too.

NCL emptied the water out of the swimming pools days ago.  I guess this virus going around is transferred in the water.  I wonder how many people are sick. A visit to the medical bay is free if you are diagnosed with the gastro problem on board.

For dinner we went to the Azura Dining Room. I remember getting a really good eggplant parmesan for my entree and a banana soup for dessert.

The show tonight was Cirque Bijou. I did not go.  I don't think Mom& Dad went either.

I did go to the  White Hot Party  at 11 pm in the Spinnaker.  Bill and Bob were there.  It was fun to get up and dance the night away.

Cruise Day 12  Wednesday May 28 At Sea

So today I tried to get away from everything to find some of my own  Suzanna time .  I have a difficult time being accountable 24/7  -  That's why I had a hard time with working the Avon 3-day walkathon and the mission trip to Greece. There was no opportunity for time on my own.  Well, on the ship I found a spot at an empty table with all empty tables around it.  I sat down to enjoy the view and try to write.  That's when I realized that it is impossible to be anywhere and be alone on this ship.  The room is only place. Anyway.  Was sitting in my spot outside the cafe trying to write (and nap) and a man sat down at the table next to me and he started to  chat me up .  There goes my private moment.  He asks me how I like the show last night. I couldn't remember what show I saw last. Then I remembered The English comedian. Thank goodness I remembered and I put 2+2 together and realized that the man talking to me was the English comedian. So,,, I said that I really enjoyed the show. I also took the opportunity to tell him that he really did need to explain some of the jokes to Americans.

We had lunch at Tango's. I announced that sometimes it's appropriate to not tell the whole truth and proceeded to tell my  trying to get away from it all  story.  The II Popo skewers were OK this time.  The meat was very chewy and difficult to cut.  I guess they are running out of good food by end of the cruise. Dad's fajita meat was good though.

At 8 pm the show in the Theater was a  Farewell Variety Show  with the Violinist and the English comedian.  Mom and Dad were not interested, so we had a little later dinner. We went back to Tsar's at 6.  I left a message for Bill and Bob to join us if possible, but they didn't make it.

We were seated at a table to the left of the entrance. We had a great view with big window. We watched the Swedish Archipelagos go by as we cruise out of the port .  We had the same server girl as the last time we ate here!  She convinced us to get the escargot appetizer.  That was really yum!  Dad and I got some really awesome snapper. It was a very big thick filet  -  pecan crusted with rice.  Mom and Martha got Turkey scaloppini or tetrazzini. I can't remember.  I had great appetizer of cold cherry soup for dessert.  Martha topped off her last meal with three yummy desserts.   Mom and Dad didn't stay because they wanted to get their seats for the 9 pm show  Star Seeker Guest Talent Show .  Guests and NCL staff performed. It was actually quite good.

I ended up going to the end of the 10 pm show in the Theater where I saw the comedian again.  He was right on target for the Americans in this routine. I was laughing out loud! 

 

Thursday May 29 London (Dover)  Fly home

Boat arrives in London at 5 am and our plane leaves at 11 am so we needed to be in the first group off the ship.  The day before we left on the cruise, Dad got a voice message from NCL that we would be arriving at 7:45 am because of the tides. So we would miss our 11 am flight out of Gatwick.  Yeah right.  T panicked and said we should change our flights to a later time. Yeah right. The next day was the only option. OK. So she found a hotel next to Gatwick where we could stay and I made a reservation.

Ramada Plaza London Gatwick  44-844-8159032, 1-800-272-6232

Tinsley Lane South Three Bridges/Crawley/W. Sussex RH10 8XH UK

Well, the boat arrived at the scheduled 5 am time after all. 

So here we are on the last day of the cruise.  I hardly slept at all.  I got up at 4:30 (sh--) and had a leisurely breakfast in the cafe.  Oatmeal one last time.  Put the color-coded suitcases out in the hall.

There was only one bus going to Gatwick so we had to do the 6:25 departure from the ship.   The luggage was neatly lined up in groups.  We found our bags, rolled them out to the long line of waiting buses.  Our bus was the first one up front.  All the other busses are headed to the other airport.  So 7:50 am and we are on the bus headed to Gatwick.  We might have got there around 9 am.   We went up to the Delta ticket counter and they let us change all three tickets back from tomorrow to today at 11 am as originally planned.  I called the hotel to cancel the room.  So much for panicking  -  when traveling I have found that it's better to just go with the flow sometimes, but I can see T's point that we should be prepared, esp with Mom&Dad. Whatever.  So were flying from London to Atlanta on Thursday.

Delta Air Lines Flight 59 departed London Gatwik at 11:00am. Arrive in Atlanta, GA at 3:40pm. Non-stop flight time is 9hrs 40min

 

DELTA

Day Date      Flight         City         Time   Cabin

--- ----- --------------- ------ ----- ---------------- ------ ------ ------

Thu 29MAY DELTA 59            LV LONDON-GATWICK  1100A         27G      COACH

                        AR ATLANTA            340P        

Thu 29MAY DELTA 4211*      LV ATLANTA            700P      6D

                        AR TULSA            804P      COACH

            *Operated by ATLANTIC SOUTHEAST

I could have easily staying in London another day, but I could tell that Mom&Dad were ready to start the long trek home. They had the long flight to Atlanta, then to Tulsa overnight, then home finally.   They have been cooped up in the cabin for 12 nights. I have to admit that I am ready for a good night's sleep in my own bed too.

 

Cost

Per person for Mom & Dad

$2925 = 2042 (Cruise) + 399 (taxes, fees) + 295 (port charges, etc) + 189 (NCL insurance)

Per person for Martha and Suz

$2087 = 1269 Cruise + 399 taxes + 295 port charges etc + 124 insurance

 

We used a travel agent: Cruise Planners -  Independently owned and operated by Edward  Ward  Diamond (Franchise Owner) (321) 214-5956 or (888) 850-3072.  EDiamond@cruiseplanner.com, www.WardsCruiseCorner.com, 1078 Crystal Bowl Circle, Casselberry, FL 32707. 

Ed was very good, but  ¦. I think because of the mix-up with NCL warning us that we were going to miss our return flight home, I would use the cruise line to book the trip next time  ¦

Also check prices at  NCL, VacationstoGo.com, Cruises.com 800-288-6006, and Cruises411.com 800-553-7090. Make sure you get quotes for base price, port charges, taxes and fees, and insurance.

 

Insurance

When I bought the airline tickets, I also bought the Airline insurance: AccessAmerica   www.accessamerica.com.

Purchase on the Delta web site. 1-800-419-8016 or e-mail delta@accessamerica.com.

If You Need to Contact Us: Concierge Services include pre-trip information, restaurant referrals and reservations, and event ticketing. Call 1-800-284-8300 to access this benefit.  If you need help while traveling, call 1-800-654-1908 from the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin  Islands or collect to 1-519-741-5549 from all other countries. To file a claim, call 1-800-334-7525 or visit our web site.

 

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