The itinerary of the cruise was excellent. The ship was well maintained, our cabin (with veranda) was immaculate and the stewards were friendly and accommodating. The food, whether in the dining room or the self-service area was very good to excellent. The food service was uniformly excellent.
We attended the classical music performances in the evening, and these were very good. Otherwise, we did not make much use of the activities on the boat, other than to relax in some of the common lounges or the lido deck during cruising days.
We walked into the old city from the cruise dock. The old city is rather well preserved having escaped major damage during WWII. We followed the walking tour outlined in Rick Steves guide, and included a visit to the Museum of Estonian History in the old Guild Hall. If you know nothing about Estonia this is a place to stop. The exhibits use a lot of interactive visual presentations. Very well done for this type of museum.
The city has remarkable sights spanning several hundred years of history and holds one of the world's greatest art collections. We booked an independent guide for two days, which we found to be an excellent way to see the main attractions in a short time.
Took city water boat from cruise dock to the Vasa Museum, which was very interesting and worth seeing. Then walked to Gamla Stan (old town), which is about a 20 minute walk along the water. Visited the Royal Palace, which was certainly not worth the time and expense, particularly if you have just visited St. Petersburg.
Ship was in port for 18 hours, so arranged independent travel to Berlin. Cruise tours to Berlin were very expensive and mostly involved riding a bus around Berlin, but it is easy to book train accommodations from Deutche Bahn online. The Warnemunde train station is adjacent to the cruise port so you can just walk from the boat to the station. The trip requires changing trains in Rostock, which is a 20-minute ride from the port via a regional train (which runs about every 15 minutes). In Berlin visited the Pergammon Museum (a must!), but you need to book entry time in advance to avoid two-hour lines, also the Neues Museum (stunning antiquities), which is next door. Took city bus on Unter den Linden to Brandenburg Gate (driver sells tickets and gives change), then visited the moving Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (sometimes called the Berlin Holocaust museum). A short walk to the Reichstag where you need to book in advance for a (free) timed entry to visit the glass dome, which provides stunning views of the city and an audio guide describing the landmarks visible to you as you ascend the spiral ramp on the inside of the dome. It is a 10-minute walk from the Reichstag back to the main train station. The entire outing cost us about $100 for two adults for the day, which included 1st class train seats in an air conditioned compartment (which we had to ourselves). Normally I would ride 2nd class in Europe, but those cars do not have AC and given the extreme temperatures in Germany this summer it seemed worthwhile to spend a little extra to ensure a comfortable five hours during that part of the day.
Took train from Kiel station (about 1 mile from cruise port) to Lubeck, which is a very pretty medieval town. The train trip takes about 1:10 to 1;30 depending on the train. The old city is about a 20-minute walk from the train station, so given the short port time, you have about 3 hours available in the town. This is enough time to walk around, peek into the small upscale design stores that occupy many of the street level shops, and sit down at a cafe for a coffee and something to eat. And don't forget to get some marzipan, if that is something you like. BTW, Kiel and Lubeck are both in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. You can purchase a day card from Deutsche Bahn for unlimited rail travel in any one state beginning at 9AM. A second person can be added for an additional 3 euro. So our total rail costs for the day were less than $40 for two people.
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