After the snow melts, northern Europe blossoms. When the sun doesn’t set in the high north, the glittering cities of the Baltic show off their hidden jewels, and tall Nordic citizens come out to play.
This is a lovely place to cruise: Baltic sailings connect port cities in Scandinavia, Russia, the Baltic states, and Germany, which all seem to pop from the pages of Grimms’ fairy tales. There are red-roofed castles, metal-spired churches, and mazes of alleyways leading to open squares ringed with cafes and serenaded by street performers. Your cruise offers an introductory narrative to a region where thousand-year-old fishing villages were gutted by war, then rebuilt and polished to a high sheen, to eventually become elegant modern capitals.
The urban landscapes are wonders: Czarist wedding cake palaces sit side by side with Soviet architecture along the winding waterways of St. Petersburg. Where a colossal wall once stood in Berlin, a young city of artists now thrives. Bicyclists of Copenhagen are considered the happiest people on earth. The ornate port cities bordering the Baltic are the birthplace of modern architecture, as well as much of our global pop culture, including Ikea and the Beatles.
While the cities are easy and clean, your Baltic cruise might also glide by some of the most astounding scenery in Europe, accessible only by ship. The rough beauty of the Norwegian fjords is a raw summer paradise that’s home to more reindeer than residents. Your ship’s approach to Stockholm reveals enchanting antique seascapes with remote gingerbread cottages.
Ports in the Baltic combine all the best of European itineraries — food, art, museums, music, nightlife, and history — without the crowds of popular southern routes. For those who want to walk in the footsteps of Vikings or follow the revolutions of the proletariat and the fall of communism, or eat a fresh-foraged meal by a world-changing chef, a Baltic cruise will not fail to amaze.