Want to take a cruise in July 2014 to see Norway, Sweden, Finland and St. Petersburg (other destinations are secondary, and don't want to go in and out of London or Amsterdam). So far, found only Princess Cruises that even offers all 4 of these "must" places. Rec'd an e-mail today that 2014 cruises are finally available for booking with Princess (I had been checking once or twice a week for several months)and now find that most of the balcony inventory is already gone. Needless to say, I'm turned off to them. Any other possible recommendations out there?
I've booked several cruises through Vacationstogo.com and never had a problem, so I'll likely keep using them. It's an online travel agent that does mostly cruises. I use it primarily for their search engine, which is by far the best I've found. I've compared their prices with other online agents and find they are all similar - usually all much better than booking directly through the line. The only difference I've found is some TA's don't show the full cost of the trip - by the time they add taxes and fees they offer the same price as everyone else. I completely agree on skipping a ship out of London or Amsterdam. That makes the cruise longer without adding extra time at your destinations. We chose Princess out of Copenhagen for several reasons. I could get a direct flight from Dulles (near my home) to Copenhagen. Princess also had the cruise that offered Oslo (as well as the other capitals) but didn't stop at Warnemunde (Berlin). We've been to Germany many times and Warnemunde isn't close to Berlin (which isn't really a day trip city anyway). The Princess cruise we booked also offered Gdansk, which allowed us to see both the center and Malbork Castle (by hiring a taxi for the day). In a quick look I see only a couple of choices that include Gdansk.
Check out options for catching a cruise out of different ports. A lot of the Baltic cruises let you board (or depart) during the cruise at different stops. For example, you could visit Berlin before your cruise, then board at Warnemunde. I'd highly recommend a cruise with two nights in St. Petersburg. There is too much to see for one day. We toured with Alla tours (strenous tour for ten in a 12 passenger van with a driver and guide) which was a good choice for us. Everywhere else a guide isn't necessary to get around. We chose to cruise the area at the end of July, start of August. It's the time of year with the most reliable weather.
I cruised the Baltic with Celebrity, roundtrip from Amsterdam, stopping in Stockholm (2 days), Helsinki, St. Petersburg (2 days), Tallinn, and Copenhagen. I saw that they've changed the route, stopping in Germany (ostensibly for Berlin) and cutting a day from Stockholm. There was so much to see in Stockholm, even 2 days wasn't enough. Helsinki was just okay, though we docked there on a holiday, so a lot was closed. Tallinn is really lovely, not to be missed. Maybe you could find a 2-3 day cruise to the Norwegian fjords to supplement the Baltic cruise? I haven't been to Oslo, but I did cruise the fjords for 3 days last summer as part of a longer trip and they were wonderful.
Thanks, everyone! I registered with Vacations to Go, and also fired off an e-mail to AAA agent I used in the past. If not able to do all 4 Scandinavian capitals + St. Petersburg, it's a great idea to consider going over to Oslo and doing a short cruise along the fiords.