Our home for the next seventeen days will be the Prinsendam from Holland America Cruise Lines. Small by cruise ship standards the Prinsendam accommodates just 835 passengers while most cruise ships carry anywhere from two to five thousand. The small size allowed our cruise ship to traverse the Kiel canal from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea saving Holland America Lines 250 nautical miles.

Our stateroom had a bedroom, bathroom and balcony - modest but comfortable.

The cruise began and ended at the port of Tibury which is located on the south bank of the Thames river near London

The following is a list of our various ports of call in order of visitation.
Tilbury, England. Copenhagen Denmark. Warnemunde, Germany, Berlin, Germany. Tallinn Estonia. St. Petersburg, Russia. Helsinki, Finland. Stockholm, Sweden. Kiel Canal, Germany. Hamburg, Germany and back to Tilbury.

Our first stop was Stockholm and the first thing encountered ashore was the 100 year old world-famous bronze statue of the Little Mermaid – known from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale.

Our new friends Glen and Myrna from Ladner BC. We lost their contact information so if you see them around please have them contact us.

The Rundet√•rn is a 17th century tower constructed as an astronomical observatory.  Pictured are a recent photo and period painting. Not much has changed over the years.

Instead of stairs a spiral ramp was constructed up the tower center so that a horse and wagon could transport books and materials to the observatory, Library and Bell Ringer's Loft.

The observation deck affords extensive views over the rooftops of old Copenhagen.

Copenhagen's waterfront and canals are lined by 17th and 18th century buildings which we view while on a boat tour.

Swimming and mooning the tourists is a favorite pastime for the neighborhood kids.

The ship docks in Warnemunde where we take private transportation into Berlin.

The Victory Column commemorating the Prussian victory in the Prusso-Danish war of 1864.

Completed in 1791 the Brandenburg Gate is a former city gate. Severely damage during WW2 the gate was patched up after the war and refurbished in 2000.

A chariot drawn by four horses driven by Eirene the goddess of peace sits atop the gate.

A poster depicting the fraternal kiss between Soviet Leader Brezhnev and East German President Honecker.

Tallinn, capital city of Estonia is the oldest capital city in northern Europe. The first traces of human settlement found in Tallinn are about 5000 years old.

Alexander Nevsky Orthodox cathedral was erected between 1894 and 1900. 

We take time to explore the old town.

The old Dominican monastery from the 14th century was destroyed during the reformation. Some walls remain, like this one covered with old tombstones.

We arrive at St. Petersburg.
Below is a 360 degree interactive view of St. Petersburg. Turn your speakers on for an added surprise. For a full view click the full screen button below this message. Click Ctrl on your keyboard to exit full screen

Aerial photo - www.saint-petersburg.com

Founded in 1703 by Catherine, wife of Peter the Great, St. Petersburg has also been known as Petrograd (1914 - 1924) and Stalingrad (1924 - 1991).

A primary attraction in St. Petersburg that makes this city great is -
The Palace of Catherine the Great.

Commissioned by Catherine the great in 1717 more than 225 pounds of gold were used to gild the facades, minarets and numerous statues erected on the roof.

Demonstrating the extravagance of Russia's Imperial rulers the palace is one of our must-see attractions.

During the the siege of Leningrad German forces used the building as a barracks and for target practice. When retreating in 1944 they intentionally destroyed the residence leaving only the hollow shell.

After many years the Soviet government ordered its reconstruction, a project that continues to this day. In 2003 it was publicly opened by President Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. 

The palace interior is filled with ornate rooms having inlaid floors and 18th century art.

The Amber Room is a chamber decorated with amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors. Created in the 18th century, it disappeared during World War II, and was recreated in 2003. The jewel-encrusted room, valued in today's money at about $385 million was created for Peter the Great in 1717 and was considered one of the world's greatest art treasures.

The palace is surrounded by a 1400-acre park complete with marble statues, waterfalls, pavilions and beautiful gardens.

Examples of French, English and Italian landscape gardening are present.

After visiting Catherine Palace we visit -
A museum of art and culture the Hermitage is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world. It was founded in 1764 by Catherin The Great and has been open to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display, comprise over three million items, including the largest collection of paintings in the world.

The amount of great art pieces is simply overwhelming. 
Cameras were not allowed in the rooms of art created by such notables as da Vinci and Van Gogh.

We did take pictures of other interesting places in St. Petersburg but Catherin's Palace and the Hermitage will always remain in our memories as our favorite places on our Baltic cruise.

Cathedrals and canals are common sights.

We enjoy a delicious farewell Russian lunch before returning to the ship and heading out for Helsinki.

Our cruise ship passes the island fortress of Suomenlinna located near the entrance to Helsinki harbor. 

Also near the Helsinki harbor entrance we see the submarine Vesikko which was launched in 1933 and attached to the Finish Navy. Left to rot on the beach after the war it was eventually purchased and restored by former crew members and is currently open to the public as a museum. Unfortunately we were unable to visit the boat which gives us an excuse to come back another day.
 file photo www.uboat.net.

The twin towers of Johanneksenkirkko Lutheran Church constructed in 1888 mark the city center.

Finnish Evangelical Lutheran cathedral on the left and the Eastern Orthodox cathedral on the right.

Finnish Evangelical Lutheran cathedral.

The Sibelius Monument is dedicated to the famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, composer of  the Finlandia symphony. In 1900 Finland was part of the Russian empire who for political reason censored the piece as it was considered the unofficial Finland National Anthem, consequently it was frequently presented under other names.

Built underground out of solid rock the Temppeliaukio Lutheran  church is completely below ground with natural light entering through the glazed dome.

The Swedish warship Vasa was launched in 1628 and being top heavy with insufficient ballast sank after sailing less than one nautical mile into her maiden voyage. She soon fell into obscurity but was discovered in a busy shipping lane just outside Stockholm harbor in the late 1950s. She was subsequently salvaged with her hull largely intact in 1961. She currently resides in Stockholm’s Vasa Museum and is Sweden’s most popular tourist attraction.. 

The distinctive twin towers of H√∂galidskyrkan. 

What we see here are Swedish high school students fueled by alcohol and plenty of youthful enthusiasm celebrating graduation. Hey, at least their parents know where they are.

The lock at the beginning of Kiel canal.

Photos of our cruise through the canal.

These folks knew we were coming and were ready with the appropriate flag.

This group of children also knew we were coming.

Its raining so we watch the canal go by on closed circuit television while enjoying the comfort of our stateroom.

The lock at the end of the canal.

Our next stop is Hamburg.

We found Hamburg to be a very impressive city, full of impressive architecture, both historical and contemporary.

When the question is asked, "what to do with all of those shipping containers?" Hamburg has the answer - build the cruise terminal out of them!

We were impressed with Hamburg's creative recycling.

After seventeen day we are back where we started. Time to head out for our next adventures; a family wedding, a driving tour of England and a week navigating a canal boat from England to Wales.

Please click on the picture below to be transported to our adventure home page.