Baltic cruises in 2023 NO LONGER INCLUDE a stop in RUSSIA, for obvious reasons.
WHAT A TOTAL BUMMER. We are utterly devasted for all of the wonderful tour providers we met in St. Petersburg, and everyone else suffering because of this senseless conflict.
However, cruises to other LOVELY and HISTORIC towns in the Baltic region are still going out, and people in those ports WOULD LOVE TO HAVE YOUR SUPPORT with your tourism dollar.
Please consider taking a BALTIC cruise so LIFE CAN GO ON for everyone despite Mr. Horrible P in Russia.
So put your cabin on hold today!
Note, that cruises scheduled for 2023 are still showing St. Petersberg on their itineraries. But of course, no one knows for sure.
Need a cabin for 5 on a Baltic cruise?
There are very few of those and they sell out fast. Here are the few ships which have some cabins for five:
Costa: Pacifica and Magica have ocean view and balcony cabins for five.
MSC: Meraviglia has a few very expensive balcony options only. Poesia – no cabins for 5!
Norwegian: Getaway, Escape and Pearl (only the O1 family ocean view (not on the Pearl) and very expensive Haven 2-bedroom villa) No cabins for 5 on the Spirit.
Royal Caribbean: Brilliance, Explorer, and Serenade only have a couple of categories which hold 5 (FO and PFocean views and D1 balconies only),
Holland: On the Nieuw Statendam, there are a few category FA and FB family ocean views. All of the rest – no.
Princess: The Pacific, Sea, and Regal Princess have no cabins for 5. The Sapphire Princess has the S8 expensive suites.
Disney: The Disney Magic has multiple cabins for 5 in different categories that are expensive.
Celebrity: The Reflection and Silhouette do have some cabins for 5. There are only FV Family Verandahs on the Reflection, but the Magic has options in multiple categories.
Will the prices of Baltic cruises come down if I wait?
No! This is the most popular cruise itinerary in Europe with the shortest cruising season, so these cruises usually sell out and the prices go up the closer you get to the departure date.
So DO NOT WAIT to book a Baltic or Norwegian Fjord cruise!
(We’re going to leave this info here, in case cruising to Russia ever does come back. )
What is the most important thing you need to know to prepare for a cruise to St. Petersburg?
- Book a shore excursion for St. Petersburg. Unless you have a Russian Visa, which takes a long time to get, you cannot get off the cruise ship unless you are booked on a shore excursion, which covers you through their visa. Most tour operators have this. And all tours booked through the ship do. (We recommend the tour company below.)
- Buy a local sim card to use in your phone while in St. Petersburg. (Those are available at newsstands and convenience stores in St. Petersburg.) If your phone is ON while in Russia, even if you only use it to take pictures, you will include large roaming charges – like, up to $75 per day.
- TAKE YOUR PASSPORT and your tour ticket and get off the ship as soon as possible, as the passport check lines can be very long, and could take up to 2 hours to get through if you are at the end of a slow line!
The other stops on a Baltic / Russia cruise – Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Tallinn, Riga, Klaipeda, Gdynia, etc – do not require you to have a shore excursion booked to get off the ship.
What are the most interesting things to see in St. Petersburg?
If you have two days in St. Petersburg, you will have time to see many of the most interesting sites. If you only have one day, you’ll have to make some hard choices.
While of course, you may have your own opinions, here’s advice from our agents who’ve cruised to St. Petersburg.
1. The outside of the Church of Spilled Blood.
2. The inside of St. Isaac’s Cathedral.
3. The massive Hermitage Museum.
These three places are very close to one another, so it will be easy to fit them all in.
4. Catherine’s Summer Palace
5. Peterhof’s Lower Garden
The inside of Catherine’s and Peterhof’s ‘summer palaces’ are both amazing, but they are similar enough that if you are short on time, only visit one or the other. And between those two, I would choose Catherine’s Palace. The interiors of both are very similar.
We found an amazing place for lunch, with great food, right across the river from the Hermitage, so the view is fantastic. It’s called Koryushka – just Google it to see location, menu and pictures.
The metro stations are very interesting, as they were built by Stalin, and intended to be very grand and opulent, as a way of celebrating communal transportation.
Can we recommend a tour company?
YES! We used a private company called Dancing Bear, and while it was not inexpensive, it was the best decision we could have made.
We booked a private tour with them, which came with a private car, English-speaking guide, and driver.
We never waited in line, and the car and driver were waiting curbside whenever we were done and zipped us around the city to the next site. It was amazing! I mean, St. Petersburg is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And there’s so much to see, we wanted to be sure that we got the most out of it. Not to mention, we got to skip all the lines with our tour guide!
Book any private tour with them and mention Military Cruise Deals and get 5% off the price AND a free souvenir!
The owner of Dancing Bear is named Julia, and her number is +7921-324-46-40.
Are kids free on Baltic cruises?
The only cruise line which USED TO OFFER kids free on Baltic cruises is MSC. But they recently told us they are ‘phasing that out’.
What cruise companies have learned is that Baltic / Russia cruises are so popular, that they don’t need to offer kids free deals in order to completely sell out.
In fact, most cabins for 3, 4 and 5 are usually sold out 6 months in advance.
Let’s go see what cruise companies are doing today for kid pricing.
1. Royal Caribbean, July 17 departure from Stockholm, kids are about $400 each, taxes are $114, so it’ll cost you an extra $513 per kid. This is for an inside cabin for 4. Cabins for five are almost non-existent, so they cost a lot more! Cabin total just under $2500. This price will go up soon, I imagine.
2. MSC Preziosa, departing from Kiel on July 3, Free ocean view to balcony upgrade price, kids are $208 each, plus $129 in tax, for a cabin total for 4 of $2760!
3. 9-day on the NCL Getaway, July 29, cheapest rate now includes all 4 perks, cabin total for 4 an inside cabin $4642, but that includes beverage and dining package gratuities – so drinks are included! Kids in this cabin clock in at about $832 each.
So, kids are NOT free on Baltic/Russia cruises!
There are very few cabins for five on Norwegian and Costa, so call us ASAP if that’s what you need, as often most cabins for five are not revealed online.
Not finding what you’re looking for? We’re experts who have cruised to Russia! contact us for assistance!
Thinking of doing a BALTIC/RUSSIA cruise?
Many of you will be considering the 9-day option on Norwegian.
Here is an outstanding list of tips from US Army Lieutenant Colonel, Ranj Danaraj, who did this cruise when she was stationed in Germany last year.
Thank you both so much, Military Cruise Deals! We had a blast.
Seriously if people can’t have fun on the Norwegian Breakaway, they probably aren’t fun.
Very friendly staff, great food (dining upgrade is a must!), fantastic entertainment/amenities, and for being sold out, I didn’t find the crowds excessive, the boat is big enough that people spread out.
Below are my tips and advice for others taking this cruise
By Port – excursions
You get way better value and often smaller groups, booking excursions external to the cruise line; viator.com is a great aggregator for doing so
Always schedule tours early in the day; fewer crowds and heat.
Rent a bike or go for a hike! there is a very pleasant trail (compact dirt and gravel, some portions paved) that runs along the water and through the forest west out of Warnemünde
We rented simple and comfortable touring bikes from a shop on Mühlenstraße, open from 0930 – 1800
Find the trail at the end of the strand, heading west; in the beginning, there are a couple of short, sandy spots you have to walk your bike through but it’s very manageable and that doesn’t characterize the entire trail.
We did the “Tallinn Walking Tour with Free Time and Port Transfers” by SPB Tours (booked through Viator); it is a good 3-hour overview, but the city was quite crowded since the historic center is the place to see.
The disembarkation process takes patience; this is all Russia, not NCL, but the tour companies get it and will accommodate the tour timeline accordingly – they won’t leave without you
Definitely book an excursion external to NCL, because all of the separately booked tours disembark first
You also have to SCHEDULE your departure from the ship (how NCL controls the flow of passengers off the boat); do this early (48-72 hours out) so you can be in the first group, it is the difference between waiting 1 hour or 2+
The other reason for booking external to NCL, your tour group can be smaller which means you wait for less people to get through immigration
The cruise terminal has a kiosk that offers cheap WiFi (3euro for 30min) if you get through the lines quickly and you have to wait on the other side
Your recommendation, Dancing Bear Tours, did not disappoint; the guide did a great job covering the high points, answering my mom’s incessant historical questions, and providing an interesting insight into Russian culture (nobody likes Putin)
Book early! The tour we wanted was already booked but Julia (the owner) put together some add-ons to make another tour work for us, including ballet tickets with a transfer back to the boat
Remind me to tell you about when Julia came out and guided us for a while (she remembers both of you, “Hope is very beautiful”)
Our cruise terminal was about 2 miles from the City center, but you could walk off the boat and get on an easy NCL shuttle that dropped you off at the main market ($15/person; no need to pre-book)
We did the “Small Group Helsinki Sightseeing Tour by Bicycle” through Hassu tours (booked through Viator); the start point is about a 20min walk from the shuttle drop-off point
We heard Helsinki was small but by bicycle, our guide took us to so many off-the-beaten-path places and local markets where she gave us time to look around; it was a great overview of the city and an enjoyable ride (note: there are some small hills and the bikes are not as nice as in Germany, but very manageable)
We booked the “hop on hop off bus” through NCL because we didn’t come into port in downtown Stockholm, we docked at Nynäshamn, which is about 45min-1hr from downtown Stockholm; NCL organizes for the red busses to pick you up at the port and bring you to the hop on hop off route
We got off the boat right at 0730 to jump on the first bus (maximized our time downtown at ~6 hours)
This also included the water tour; very fun to see the city from the water
Highly recommend getting off at the thing you want to see/do the most first (eg Abba Museum, Vasa museum, etc), since lines do get long
We did the boat ride first, all the way around plus two stops, and then got off at the Vasa museum, (the daunting line moved quickly); the Museum offers free 25min guided tours on the half-hour and has really intuitive displays otherwise
The Vasa, is a Swedish warship that sailed in 1628. It was supposed to be the pride of the Swedish Navy but it sunk in the harbor on its inaugural voyage. They salvaged it in the early 70s to find it was pretty well preserved. Very cool!
Pay for the airport transfer organized by NCL – very inexpensive compared to taxis and highly efficient
The cruise will offer spa, duty-free, and art specials for the last 48-72 hours if you can wait to get a good deal
Upgrade your meals!! The specialty restaurants were exceptional; we ate at Cagney’s, Ocean Blue, and Tepanyaki
Make reservations for the shows before the cruise, as they do get booked up; both Rock of Ages and Burn the Floor were very good
Highly recommend “Howl at the Moon,” it’s a very entertaining, all-request, dueling piano show; I thought it the best entertainment on the boat (we closed it down several times)
The room was very nice; a cabin forward on the boat is ideal as that is where we always disembarked from
The ocean view was plenty sufficient; we weren’t in the room long enough to take advantage of a balcony