We just returned from a fabulous cruise in the northern Baltic. We were guests of Windstar Cruises and sailed on the Wind Surf, our first introduction to luxury small ship cruising. Our cruise started in Stockholm then sailed to St. Petersburg where we spent three days, then on to Helsinki, Finland then to Tallin, Estonia and back to Stockholm. All four cities were beautiful, but St. Petersburg was exceptional. We booked a three day Shore Excursion through ShoreTrips. The maximum number of guests on this particular tour was 12 and lucky for us we were a group of 9. Our guide was a young Russian named Michael. His knowledge of the places we visited was amazing. We spent time at the
Hermitage Gallery where they house over 3 million pieces of art including several Rembrandts, Picasso’s and Da Vinci’s. It was incredible! We also went to the summer house of Catherine the Great. This was another huge venue with dynamic dance halls, gardens and fountains. We went to see the Church of the Spilt Blood, the church built on the spot where Peter the Second was killed.
St. Petersburg felt very European to us. It has very modern freeways, a series of cannels designed by the Russian Czar Peter the first who wanted to build the Venice of the North. He was and is still much beloved by Russians.
St. Petersburg is the cultural center of Russia while Moscow is the political capital.
We in no way felt unsafe or threatened during our three day visit to St. Petersburg. I was surprisingly emotional as we sailed away from this beautiful city. We hope to be back.
We have become big fans of cruising over the past few years. As mentioned this was our first
experience on a Luxury Small ship. A huge plus is the fact that a small ship can get that much closer into the city center ports. For us this was wonderful in St. Petersburg as we were docked for three nights close to the Hermitage. A highlight for sure!
Barb Crowe and Brian Taylor
Ixtapa Travel Owners
Ixtapa Travel Staff