While numerous luxury cruise lines offer excursions to the Baltic region, few can boast the luxurious accommodations, amenities and ambience of the Regent Seven Seas Navigator. Perhaps the most significant single feature about this vessel is its size – with only 490 cabins (of which 90% have balconies), it is one of the smallest luxury vessels sailing the Baltic. As such, it makes an ideal home base for destination-intensive exploration. Everything onboard feels close at hand. The small size also lets the staff raise the bar on service levels, whether it’s promptly refilling your wineglass or delivering scones to your suite when you miss them at afternoon tea.
My husband and I had the privilege of sailing the Baltic on this magnificent vessel. What follows is a diary of our memorable trip – hopefully you will share many of these same experiences on a future Regent cruise!
The Baltic Diary – Regent Seven Seas Navigator
Why a Baltic Cruise?
We made a list of the places we want to see and this destination was in the top 5. Exploring this region, Medieval Towns, Churches, History, Fairy Tales and towns where time has stopped would surely be surreal – and so it proved to be.
Day 1- Thursday evening departure, arrive Copenhagen 2 pm Friday Afternoon
We flew on Scandinavian Air Service (SAS) from Chicago (10pm departure, 1 pm arrival, 9 hour flight) non-stop to Copenhagen, arriving at an unusual airport with all- wood floors. It appeared to be Brazilian Teak throughout the entire airport. Copenhagen is s a very pretty port city. The economy here looks thriving (our driver confirmed there was virtually no unemployment) and the city is packed with natives and tourists. The streets are filled with small cars and twenty and thirty-something’s riding bicycles. We checked into Hotel D’Angeleterre, Kongens, Nytorv 34 in the middle of the downtown square. The hotel is more than likely on a historical register, lively and lovely, with gorgeous paintings, exquisite flowers (orchids & roses everywhere) Old World charm and plenty of unusual characters milling around on the street and in the hotel. The beds and pillows are heavenly and quite European. Electricity only works here in your room if you have your key card inserted, a nice way to conserve energy. Other guests here have included former Presidents (Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower) and entertainers (Cher, Mariah Carey, Bon Jovi), plus many more.
After some rest and a shower, we had a late breakfast at the little café which is part of the hotel on the street. After partaking of an absolutely delicious roast beef hash with Eggs Benedict meal, it was time to see Copenhagen! We took a historical harbor tour on a little tourist boat and it was lovely. Canals with sailboats, both old and new, apartments overlooking the canals and restaurants everywhere. Also, some historical sights including a red fort (used only once to protect the city) and the Little Mermaid, a famous harbor statue known to all citizens of Copenhagen. The mermaid’s creator was also a resident of the city – we saw Hans Christian Anderson’s residence for nine years of his life. And, since it was Friday night all of the restaurants are filled with fun, beer and people. The shops are packed, quaint stores everywhere in addition to LaPearla, LaCosta and the same high-end types form the USA. Charming narrow alleys filled with them and many shoppers and buyers.
It’s evening, and everyone has recommended we see the Tivoli Gardens, the carnival that inspired Walt Disney to make Disneyland. It is a very unusual place, a massive garden with an entry fee of $20 U.S. Basically a flower field, the Gardens are well-cared for and surrounded by countless restaurants with a few carnival types of rides as well. The floating ponds and water lilies were the most beautiful. Afterwards, we ended up at a bar / restaurant (élan) near our hotel and had an impressive red wine with pate’ and cheeses for dinner (though note that Copenhagen can be an expensive place to dine.)
Both our hotel concierge and taxi driver told us that if you had only one day in Copenhagen, the things to see were the Tivoli Garden and the harbor (cruise).
Day 2 – Saturday – Playing in Copenhagen and on to board the Beautiful Regent Seven Seas Navigator
Saturday afternoon – after a refreshing walk thru the city and a swim at the hotel, time to depart for the ship – what an interesting drive thru the city: 5-story apartments, little outdoor café’s, tons of little shops and within 20 minutes we are at the Pier. The embarkation was perhaps the easiest we have ever encountered. A little tent under the sun with 5 Regent employees earnestly waiting to check us in. 10 stairs to the ship and we are on board a most stunning vessel. Our cabin is impressive from the marble tub to the 200 square feet deck overlooking the harbor. Of course the ship offers lunch but we decide to wait. 6pm cocktails and then on to dinner. Beef Wellington, lobster – almost anything you could ask for including an extensive spa menu.
Day 3 – Sunday – Little town called Visby, on an island (Gotland) off the coast of Sweden
We awoke just in time for lunch. We’re not normally keen on pool buffets, but who can resist- jumbo grilled prawns and salmon, bratwurst, potato salad and other delicacies from the sea. After a lovely lunch on the aft deck off the Portofino Grill, we left to check out the village. And encountered…winding, hilly, narrow cobblestone streets…the ruins of a 12th Century medieval church (St. Catherines, whose ceiling had been lost centuries ago and now opens up to the blue sky), and a street bazaar with treasures like woolen slippers (we bought three pair for our children).
After this wonderful sojourn around the city, we were ready for massages upon our return to the ship. The spa’s variation on a Swedish massage had the masseuses actually straddling our backs while they (blissfully) dug their fingers into our torsos. One of the best massages we ever experienced.
And then, off to another sumptuous dinner which included lobster and soft shell crabs, followed by a chocolate soufflé. Surely this is what the Italians had in mind when they coined the phrase “La Dolce Vita” (the Beautiful Life.)
As I couldn’t sleep I lingered in the Internet Café till 3 am and then gave our 24 hour cabin service (with the tablecloth and waiter) a run for their money. The pizza I had was exceptional.
Day 4 – Monday – Tallinn, the “Danish City” in the little country of Estonia
There were so many tours to choose from, such as: bike riding around the countryside with a tour guide, visiting a farm where lunch was served by the owners, and viewing palaces and concerts everywhere. We elected to simply sightsee by walking the quaint cobblestone streets found everywhere in the city. Aside from some souvenir purchases, we entered an old church (St. Nicholas’) where my husband took a couple of photos before being told that picture-taking was forbidden in the church. We also found a charming café with local delicacies and locally-brewed beer. To our surprise, this centuries-old café boasted Wi-Fi Internet connectivity in addition to first-rate hospitality. It appears that the old meets the new in the charming city of Tallinn.
Be sure to read part 2 of this wonderful cruise here.