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Monday, August 27, 2012

CRUISING THE BALTICS AND SCANDANAVIA

I had never considered guest posts before, but I get some wonderful emails, and it is time to open up Third Age Traveler to others who love to see the world.  I find more people email me than use the comment link at the bottom of each post, and there is so much to share. 

This cruise sounds fabulous to me.  So does her next one!  Sharon's advice is well worth considering, and PLEASE note what she says about dealing in the different currencies.  We were beginning to see that off and on during our last trip to Europe, and as the idea of a credit card chip becomes more and more prevalent, our U.S. banks will have to adjust.

Thanks, Sharon, for sharing your trip with all of us.

Please tell me what you think of the guest post idea.

If you would like to be a guest poster, please send me your post.

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Wendy
My sister & I sailed on Royal Caribbean "Jewel of the Seas" departing Harwich, England on July 26.  We flew from Miami on British Air and it was a pleasure.  British Air is a great airline which great service and can you believe really good food.  We were a little concerned having to fly into and out of Heathrow because of the Olympics and the intended strike by immigration personnel due to begin the day we were to arrive, but the strike was cancelled and going through immigration and customs was a piece of cake.

We have sailed on the Jewel of the Seas before.  We had a balcony cabin in the front of the ship but the seas were like glass all the way and the Captain said it was the best Baltic cruise so far this season.  We did notice a change in RCCL over when we were on one of their ships last summer to Alaska.  No lobster and pot roast???  We could see a cut in quality, I am very sorry to say.  My sister and I are both Emerald Status with RCCL so we have sailed with them a lot.  The entertainment was good and the theater big enough to hold the crowd.  But there was only one Production Show with the RCCL singers and dancers.  It was called City of Dreams and was spectacular.  We had seen it before and it was just as good the second time around.  The singers and dancers were a new group to this ship having boarded at our first port in Copenhagen so I don't know if that had anything to do with the reduced number of production shows or not.

The activities on the ship during the day were pretty poor to say the least.  But to be fair, once we left England we had only one day cruising and then a port, one day cruising and a port and then 4 ports right in a row so there weren't many sea days.

This was a 12 day cruise and our ports were Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; St. Petersburg, Russia for 2 days; Tallinn, Estonia; Gothenburg, Sweden and back to Harwich.  We have never been to the Baltics before and really enjoyed the ports.  We have done a river cruise of Russia starting in Moscow and ending in St. Petersburg but one never gets tired of St. Petersburg.  All of the counties were beautiful, clean and full of history and architecture.  Sailing into Stockholm through the archipelago with its 24,000 islands and islets was breathtaking.

We toured many of the castles and mid-evil forts in different ports and they were all wonderful.  We visited a 100 year old non-working Vodka distillery and had a taste testing of 5 different Vodkas while we were in Estonia.  I was very surprised to find out that Estonian and Finnish Vodka is as good as good Russia Vodka.  Another fact that I learned is that Absolute Vodka is made in Sweden and Smirnoff is actually made in the US even though it is marketed as Russia Vodka and of the 5 we tasted, Smirnoff was the absolute worst.

One word of caution, on this cruise we dealt with US Dollars, English Pound Sterling, Euros, Swedish Kronor and Estonia Kroon.  Visa or MasterCard is accepted BUT most places only will accept a credit card with a chip embedded in it with a pin number that you must than enter into their credit card machine.  US banks do not yet have this system/technology and therefore US credit cards do not have the chip and many establishments will not accept US cards as they can't process them with the new machines they have.  If you intent to use your credit card, ask if the establishment will accept it before you buy that meal or glass of wine.

We are home for about 3 weeks and then are off on another cruise.  This one is on Princess, a transatlantic, and sails out of Copenhagen to Oslo, Norway; Kristiansand, Norway; Glasgow, Scotland; Dublin, Ireland; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Reykjavik, Iceland; Qaqortoq, Greenland and ending up in NYC.

Sharon


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