Exploring Europe has been on my wish list for as long as I can remember, so I was thrilled to discover the amazing Baltic cruise itineraries with Norwegian Cruise Line. My journey was a breeze to plan thanks to so many NCL cruises embarking from Amsterdam, which meant I could fly direct SEA to AMS with Delta.
I opted for a 14-night sailing that would introduce me to ten countries including Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Stockholm, and even Russia. The roundtrip Amsterdam sailing meant I had plenty of time to explore Amsterdam and its neighboring towns, while only considering one airport to fly in and out of internationally. AMS was an easy to navigate experience, with smooth customs and security lines, and a banquet of eateries to choose from before and after my flights.
Norwegian offers a variety of Baltic cruises so you can customize according to your destination and ship interests. I sailed on a mid-size ship that offered a great variety of dining and entertainment venues, with the pool deck being a central focus for my sunshine filled vacation. My balcony suite was spacious and provided a great outdoor seating venue for watching sunrise while enjoying that first cup of coffee. I loved the stateroom layout, with a dedicated seating area, ample storage and closet space, and a luxurious bed that ensured I caught a great sleep every night. My stateroom steward, Louie, was attentive and friendly, and I soon discovered such hospitality extended throughout the ship.
On board, I never ran out of dining options and was grateful for the variety of tastes. On the complimentary side, I enjoyed the made-to-order selections of O’Sheehan’s pub where I sampled bangers & mash and fish & chips; I was a repeat customer at Lotus Garden since I fell in love with the steamed shrimp dumplings and Singapore noodles; and, in addition to two full service main dining rooms, I also frequented the Garden Café buffet where each day presented a new host of flavors to enjoy. For a few nights during my cruise, I enjoyed specialty dining options including the mouthwatering Brazilian flavors of Moderno, where I savored skewers of slow-roasted meats, along with authentic Japanese Hibachi at Teppanyaki where tableside food prep is entertaining and social.
As enjoyable as my time was on the ship, I spent most of my days exploring the ports featured on the itinerary. In Warnemünde, Germany, I wandered the beach and promenade of this seaside town, sampling ice cream and coffees at sidewalk cafes. In Gdynia, Poland, I took in the waterfront attractions including Dragona, a historic wooden ship open for tours, plus there’s a wonderful Emigration Museum alongside the port worth a tour. In Klaipėda, Lithuania, I had my first taste of Caffeine Roasters—a European coffee chain I came to love and frequent throughout my travels. I also explored the old town, Theater Square, and shops along the Danė River. In Russia, I enjoyed two full days in Saint Petersburg as our ship docked overnight. This provided ample time to explore historic buildings and cultural venues, while also shopping for souvenirs like incredible hand-painted Matryoshka dolls. Norwegian has a huge variety of excursions in Russia, from day-long cultural tours to guided walking tours. And, one of the coolest experiences to come across was the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden. This hour long procession was incredible to witness firsthand. After that, I also explored The Nobel Museum and the National Museum.
My 14-night sailing through the Baltics provided full days in each port, so I had plenty of time to explore historic streets and regional flavors. Then, each night I returned to the comfort of my stateroom and the familiar ‘home’ a cruise provides for ease of travel through new territory. I’d gladly take this same cruise again, while looking forward to exploring even more ports throughout Europe. You’ll find upcoming itineraries and deals at NCL.com.
Lori A. May is a Seattle-based travel writer.