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Circumnavigating the Baltic Sea

Baltic Sea Cruise

Summary : Explore eight countries united by the Baltic Sea, discover their intertwined histories, and encounter fascinating cultures. Delve deeper through dramatic water approaches, foray into character-filled villages and island stops for quiet walks. Wander along the medieval walled city of Visby, explore dazzling St. Petersburg over two days, dine on local specialties and enjoy private musical performances—or have a deck party in the tranquil Swedish Archipelago. Enjoy ample choices and avenues for exploration in each of the cities. And explore from a privileged vantage point—going by ship allows us to sail routes of the old Hanseatic League, in the paths of early traders and nobles, and it lets us enter the cities as they were meant to be—by sea.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Dedicated Solo Cabins

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Itinerary
Day 1
Copenhagen, Denmark

Arrive in Denmark’s capital. The fairy-tale feel of the city where Hans Christian Andersen wrote is the home of incredible stories and a long history. After lunch, have a water-level view of this old maritime city from a boat sailing on its charming canals, seeing the city’s landmarks, palaces, and of course, The Little Mermaid statue. Back on board enjoy your first taste of Danish pastries as you prepare to set sail. (L,D)

Day 2
Bornholm

Stop at the small fishing port of Gudhjem on Bornholm Island. Hike up to the cliff-top ruins of Hammershus fortress or explore the island’s round churches and white sandy beaches. Then do as the locals do with a taste of some of the island’s famous smoked herring accompanied by a cold local beer.

Day 3
Gda?sk, Poland

Arrive in Poland and take in Gda?sk’s art and architectural highlights including the Gothic-Renaissance Town Hall and the National Museum, featuring the Last Judgment triptych by Hans Memling. Or, learn about the significance of ship building and trade at the Maritime Museum. Zodiacs take you through the shipyards of Gda?sk, an important area for the organized resistance against the communist regime in 1980. Take a guided tour of the European Solidarity Center, commemorating the trade union that made Lech Walesa a household name.

History buffs may opt for a morning visit to the Westerplatte peninsula, where World War II began with the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, and the Polish Post Office Museum, still marked by signs of the attack. In order to maximize your time in Gda?sk, your guides have arranged an authentic Polish style lunch in town with open seating so you can arrive at your convenience.

Day 4
Klaip?da, Lithuania

Explore the wild barrier peninsula called the Curonian Spit, a UNESCO World Heritage site shared by Lithuania and Russia. Choose one of two options: Take a cultural tour to a seaside resort town to learn of folk tales at the Hill of Witches and see some of Europe’s tallest sand dunes. Or, spend the afternoon at the Vent? Cape Ornithological Station to explore the lighthouse and dunes while learning about migratory bird populations.

We’ve set up a cycling option, too, along the sea, down the wild Curonian Spit with its sand dunes, harbors and seaside wildlife.

Day 5
Visby, Gotland, Sweden

Spend the day exploring Visby, one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Scandinavia. Founded as a Viking settlement, the town became a center of the Hanseatic trade in the 12th to 14th centuries. Stroll the cobblestone streets of the enchanting old town and walk along its nearly two-mile-long, 13th-century wall. Ride a bike through town or along the many bike paths across the island of Gotland. This evening enjoy a special night on Gotland with a Swedish dinner and a private concert.

Extremely picturesque, Visby is perfect for a guided photo walk through medieval neighborhoods capped off with a visit to the Gotland Museum.

Day 6 – 7
Riga, Latvia

Explore the largest city in the Baltics on a walking tour through Riga’s UNESCO-recognized center, passing wooden houses, art nouveau architecture, and funky cafés, and climbing to the top of St. Peter’s Church tower for 360-degree views. Choose to bike across the Daugava River and explore the quiet island of Kipsala and its old fishermen’s houses, or take a boat ride through the canals of Riga with free time before sailing to Lithuania.

Explore with all your senses. Taste, see, and smell Latvian food specialties at the airy Central Market on an optional tour with your Orion chef and a local guide.

Day 8
Tallinn, Estonia

Cross the Gulf of Finland to Estonia arriving in Tallinn. Stroll the medieval streets of Town Hall Square on a guided walk through the walled, cobble-stoned old town with its Kiek in de Kök, a 15th-century defensive tower. Take in the view from Dome Hill of Tallinn’s picturesque spires and gables, and visit the grand Kadriorg Palace and grounds built in the Baroque style for Catherine I of Russia by Peter the Great.

Can music change history? Most people don’t think about music when they think revolution. But song was the weapon of choice when Estonians sought to free themselves from Soviet rule. Visit the singing grounds in person.

Day 9 – 10
St. Petersburg, Russia

Peter the Great established his city in 1703 as Russia’s “window to the west.” With grand palaces and residences and its planned streets, canals and parks, St. Petersburg is surely one of the most dazzling cities in Europe. Your days are spent exploring St. Petersburg’s imperial luxuries and artistic treasures: The Hermitage with its world-renowned art collections, the grandiose Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Peter the Great’s summer palace at Petrodvorets, known as the Russian Versailles, and the opulent royal palace and parks of Catherine the Great at Pushkin.

Day 11
Helsinki Region, Finland

It’s fitting that the waterfront of Helsinki, capital of a country tied to the sea, blends so graciously into the Baltic. The intricate coastline with numerous bays, inlets, and islands sprinkled off it make certain there’s no shortage of natural presence, which will make for fitting exploration.

Day 12
Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden

Anchor near the small island of Utö and explore its quiet coves by kayak. Or, take a Zodiac to the island to walk through Utö’s nature preserve. Keep your camera handy as you maneuver through the scenic Stockholm Archipelago to dock in the heart of Stockholm, the city built on 14 islands.

You’ll arrive in Stockholm like no one else: via Zodiac through the lush greenery of the Djurgarden Canal.

Day 13
Stockholm

The great Scandinavian maritime capital of Stockholm provides some favorite experiences: view the royal Vasa warship (which capsized in Stockholm harbor in 1628 and was salvaged and restored 350 years later). Take a walking tour of Old Town Gamla Stan, or learn about Sweden’s living history at the Skansen open-air museum. This afternoon enjoy time on your own or take a tasting tour of Swedish sweets in the Gamla Stan. Stay docked overnight so you can enjoy this magical Scandinavian city.

Take a rooftop walk across the Old Town. Yes, opt to buckle up in your safety harness and step along the narrow rooftop path for special access. You’ll be stunned by the fantastic views and the fascinating stories that your guide will narrate.

Day 14
Stockholm

Enjoy breakfast aboard before being transferred to the airport for your flight home. (B)

Notes

This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Reverse Itinerary (Stockholm to Copenhagen): 5/2/2017

Lindblad-National Geographic Certified Photo Instructor:
On all departures, a certified photo instructor will be at your side and at your service to inspire and assist you. Take advantage of talks, presentations, slideshows and “laptop gallery” sharing events. All skill and interest levels are welcome; the instructors can meet you wherever you are on your journey. All you need to participate is a camera— point-and-shoot, smartphone, DSLR, whatever—and a sense of adventure. And you’re sure to return home with amazing photos.

Included:
Accommodations aboard ship; meals aboard ship; most alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages aboard ship; excursions; special access permits; transfers to and from group flights; use of kayaks; services of expedition leader, National Geographic photographer, naturalist staff and expert guide; services of a ship physician; gratuities; port charges and service taxes. Subject to change without notice.
 

Not Included:
Air transportation; extensions; passport and visa fees; immigration fees; travel protection plan; items of a personal nature including internet, laundry, etc; fuel surcharge may apply.

Photo Credit: © Lindblad Expeditions

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