Looking forward to this cruise since last year when I booked the brand new Norwegian Cruise Line Prima! Due to delays at the shipyard, the ship was delayed and subsequently canceled cruises in August of 2022, but luckily we ended up being on the inaugural paid cruise from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Copenhagen, Denmark. After 3 itinerary changes we ended up going to places like Kiel, Germany; Warnemunde (Berlin), Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; Helsinki, Finland; Visby, Sweden; and Stockholm, Sweden. The modified itinerary had dropped the originally planned 2 days in St. Petersburg, Russia due to the Ukraine War.
Nonetheless, the main point of this cruise was this fabulous ship and most of these ports of call were repeats for me. We left Amsterdam in the next early morning hours of about 3am for a day a sea before we arrived in the evening at Kiel. I think this was due to some locks traffic in the Netherlands and of course, almost everything was closed in Kiel by the time we arrived. A stroll around the downtown area and a German Bier were about all we could accomplish. Kiel’s history goes back to the 13th century and it became a naval shipbuilding city, today it is still considered a very important part of this industry for Germany. Famous for the Kiel Sailing week, it brings in lots of sailboat enthusiasts during this event each year.
But onward we go to the nearby port of Warnemunde, Germany our gateway access via train to Berlin, Germany. An early arrival allowed us to catch an 830am DB fast train and in 2 1/2 hours, we arrive at the main train station in Berlin, quite a beautiful facility that houses not only trains but their subway system as well. Our walk outside connects us with a Hop on Hop off bus tour operator and we were on our way around this amazing city. With stops at all the main sites, we could allow ourselves time to stroll around a bit and be back to the train station for our 530pm departure back to catch the ship departure scheduled for 930pm. Berlin is the largest city in unified Germany by population and land, it has a unique history dating back to the 13th century as a crossing point of 2 historical trade routes. After WWII the city was split in half with East Berlin being the capital of East Germany and Bonn the capital of West Germany. But in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it became the capital of all of Germany. Now a high-tech, university city it brings lots of cultures, education, and history together.
We spent some time at the last remaining part of the Berlin Wall (only about 100 meters from what used to be 150 kilometers) as they had created a timeline below the wall of what had happened before, during, and after WWII. I noticed lots of student groups were there as well, I imagine it would be a big part of their studies of the tragic history associated with the Berlin Wall.
After our long day in Berlin, we enjoy the next day at sea before we take on the city of Helsinki, Finland! Since I had been to Helsinki before, I knew my game plan and the Hop On Hop Off bus was the best option for us to go around and see the sights on a beautiful sunny day. My last time was a rainy dreary day, so this was much more pleasurable. Helsinki, Finland the capital city of Finland was founded in 1550 and has origins back to 5000BC and later the Vikings in the 12th century. Helsinki is at the tip of a peninsula and atop 315 islands, making the 11,000 ship berths a common sight in the city. Famous for its port with ferries and cruise ships always visible, but sites like the Helsinki Cathedral, Helsinki City Hall, the Presidential Palace, and the famous Rock Church highlight the tourist attractions.
We continue on with our cruise to Tallinn, Estonia. This independent nation designates Tallinn as its capital to a population of over 400,000 people dating back to its founding in 1248. A part of Tallinn is the famous Tallinn Old Town and is a UNESCO world heritage site, unfortunately, many parts of which were destroyed during WWII, but rebuilt and is shown now as it was before the war.
Our next port of call is the city of Visby, Gotland, Sweden located on a large island off the coast of Sweden. Visby also features a walled city dating back to the 12th century with a perilous history of a Pirate Island and it fought long and hard to rid itself of this image. Today it is a very popular summer location for Scanadvians to take their vacations and is known as rose city with lots of roses all around. Within the walled city portion, there were around 12 churches that did not survive the big fire. Today, only one of them was ever rebuilt, the Visby Cathedral.
A quick overnight cruise put us in Stockholm, Sweden for the day. We had pre-booked the hop-on hop-off bus again for the best overview of the city and since we were docked in Nynashamn, Sweden about 1.25 hours north of Stockholm, they included transportation to the city. Our highlights included the first stop near the Swedish Palace to watch the changing of the guards at 12pm. Then we stopped for lunch and visited the famous Vasa Museum where a Viking ship found in the harbor had been reconstructed.
We spend a day at sea for the long way back to the final destination of our 10-day cruise to Copenhagen, Denmark, where we will spend another day exploring this great city. We disembark around 9am and get the long line to get a taxi to the hotel Skt. Anne we booked near the Nyhavn area of Copenhagen. Off to start exploring and we get the hop on hop off bus and boat package for the next 2 days. Lots of sights to see as we drive around and take advantage of the stops at The Little Mermaid and Trivoli Gardens for lunch. Copenhagen is another capital city, this time Denmark with a rich history dating back to the 10th century as a fishing village. Located on 2 islands, it is the home to over 2 million people now and has become a very cultural city with several beautiful theaters. Denmark the country, boasts that by 2030 they will have reduced carbon emmisions by 70% and become net zero by 2050! This is quite evident in the numerous electric vehicles (most taxis), bicycles, and excellent public transportation system. I thoroughly enjoy this city and it was a nice place close our 2 weeks cruise and travels to northern Europe in 2022.