Cruise through Northern Europe and around the Baltic with Costa Cruises

Crociera del nord crociera del mar baltico (15)Cruise through Northern Europe and around the Baltic with Costa Cruises

Cruise through Northern Europe and around the Baltic. It’s so true that when you come to the end of a cruise with Costa Cruises, you honestly don’t know how to get back to your normal routine back on land. The amazing experience, entertainment, sense of being part of a big family, the magical sea and its incredible sunsets, the food (varied and delicious) at all hours, the chance to get to know new countries and cities… it’s marvellous, ladies!!

Cruise through Northern Europe and around the Baltic with Costa Cruises: Saint Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm and Tallinn

Let’s start at the beginning. It was my very first cruise: so I’d never tried it and I was a bit sceptical of this kind of trip. What if we get bored? What if we don’t have time to explore all the cities that we visit? But now, sitting in front of my laptop back in Florence, let me tell you this: you feel SO weird being back on solid ground after a week of walking around on a moving vessel! The Costa Luminosa, the beautiful Costa Cruises ship that was our home for a week, is incredibly elegant, and designed in the Italian style (you can see all the photos of our suit below!). On board there is a huge spa with a pool, sauna, Turkish baths, and all kinds of spa treatments, plus 4 restaurants and 11 bars, where there is an infinite choice of food and drink. You can go from the buffet to the focacceria, pizzeria, formal restaurant (where there are also themed dinners by the chef Bruno Barbieri or gala dinners) to the Samsara restaurants (asian fusion, our favourite!) and the Club Luminosa (on the top floor of the ship, with an incredible view of the sunset!. Costa is also very entertaining: there’s a disco, a cinema, a theatre on 3 floors, a casino, shops, indoor and outdoor swimming pools with hydromassage, a gym and an outdoor running track. The ship is beautiful and very welcoming (and also organised to make sure everything runs smoothly and you have a stress-free holiday), with friendly and personal staff who are happy to help (like Alex, our cabin manager and Carlos, our waiter), who organise everything so that when you arrive at a new port for excursions (you can choose to go in a group or stay on the ship), and it’s almost a shame to leave them onboard…

(Continued below…)


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The journey of our Costa Luminosa, the cruise we just on around Northern Europe and the Baltic, was so fabulous that I have to say every single moment during the week was really enjoyable! Here’s the full itinerary in more detail:

Cruise around Northern Europe and the Baltic: FINLAND – HELSINKI

After a full day of sailing that allowed us to really enjoy all the facilities onboard the ship and the amazing views of the Stockholm fjord (which has more than 20,000 islands), the next morning we arrived in Helsinki, the capital of Finland! With it’s fresh water and shallow sea, which is completely iced over in winter, Helsinki is made up of lots of little islands, around 300 of them, that are spread over 130km. We set off on our group tour of the city (“The Best of Helsinki”) in a little boat that took us on an hour’s trip round the islands so we could get to know the layout.

I’d recommend that you try the famous salty liquorice, cinnamon bread, seafood and the amazing fish washed down with a local beer. In terms of shopping, look out for the Mirna Parikka shoes, the Samuji clothing line and the design pieces by Artek (amazing!!). The unmissable sights in the city? Did you know that over 1/3 of Helsinki is made up of parks and green spaces, which are beautifully tended, and so you can be totally immersed in nature. Don’t miss the Seurasaari island where you can eat amongst all the squirrels, and have a picnic in the sun in one of the millions of parks, or go for a bike ride on the islands of Lonna o Vallisaari (there are more than 1,200km of bike paths!).

Make sure you see:
– The Russian wooden mountains from 1951
– The Helsinki Cathedral and the Senate square
– The old market
– The momument to Sibelius
– The observation tower with panoramic views over Linmanmaki
– The church carved into the rock at Temppeliaukio
– The panoramic wheel called the Finnair Skywheel.

And then if, during your time on the wheel, you see Finish people washing their carpets in the sea, it’s totally normal: here it’s traditional to wash your carpet in the sea…! In Finland there are more than 3 million saunas: here going to the sauna is a proper ritual that lasts a couple of hours, and then people swim in iced water or go for a dip in the sea to stimulate circulation. Saunas are separated for men and women, and are only mixed for children and families. It’s an amazing experience to try!

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Cruise through Northern Europe and around the Baltic: SAINT PETERSBURG – RUSSIA

After a night of sailing we arrived in Saint Petersburg, where we anchored for 2 days. A city full of art, history, museums (over 150!!), theatres and steeped in culture that will captivate you from the very moment you set foot there. For us, it was easily the best and most memorable stop of the entire cruise. We were lucky enough to explore the city in great depth, thanks to our wonderful private guide who was with us for 20 hours over 2 days, and showed us every sight in the city. Here’s what I’d advise you to go and see:

  • Caterina’s summer palace: don’t miss the inside of the residence too! The grand ballroom covered in gold and mirrors plus the amber room (where photos are forbidden), will leave you literally gobsmacked and speechless. You must also go for a walk round the gardens: the views of the blue palace are incredible.
  • Peterhof’s summer residence: you MUST see the gardens. Luxurious and absolutely enormous, with incredible fountains, statues and water features. Allow at least one hour to explore.
  • A typical Russian lunch: enjoy some of the gastronomic specialities of Russia. From pancakes with caviar and sour cream, to Russian salad (never called Russian, we call it French!), to turnip soup with rye bread and hard-boiled eggs.
  • The Church of the Savior on Blood, with it’s colourful domes and towers and very particular architecture. Make sure you go inside too, it’s covered in mosaics!
  • A boat trip on the canals: the Tsar wanted to create a city that combined the characteristics of Venice, Amsterdam and Paris. So Saint Petersburg is also considered the Venice of the north (it’s made up of more than 300 islands!). Seeing the city from a boat is a must!
  • The Hermitage Museum: one of the most beautiful and most vast museums in the world. Did you know that in order to see the entire museum you’d need months, if not years (I’m not joking!)? I’d recommend that before you go in, work out how long you have and make a plan for which bits you’re going to go and see. I’d recommend the Italian (of course!) and French art for the richness and plentitude of the works on show.

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Cruise through Northern Europe and around the Baltic: TALLINN – ESTONIA

After two days in Russia and a night of sailing, here we are in Tallinn, in Estonia! I didn’t know what to expect of this city: not in the sense that I doubted it would be beautiful, but because it’s not a particularly well-known city for tourists, and so I didn’t really know what it would be like. It’s actually an incredibly interesting city! Like Helsinki, it’s a very green city with lots of parks where it’s freezing in winter and hot in summer, so from May to September is the best time to visit and explore the old city with it’s narrow streets, pointy roofs, colourful houses and medieval atmosphere (in the old town you can also find areas that have been restored to look like the original medieval design!). We went on the Premium Group Tour of Tallinn (and then spent the afternoon wandering round by ourselves).

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Cruise through Northern Europe and around the Baltic: STOCKHOLM – SWEDEN

The final leg of our cruise before going home was Stockholm. Here we enjoyed a wonderful morning’s private tour with a guide organised by Costa to discover the city. The city is spotlessly clean, well-organised, calm and with an atmosphere of precision and order: we visited the Gamla Stan with it’s famous views of the city, the Royal Palace and saw the changing of the guard and the centre of the old town with it’s narrow cobbled streets and colourful buildings, and finally we ended up in the covered market where we tried delicious salmon!

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I hope you liked seeing all the photos from our trip and that they’ve given you and idea of all the amazing things we saw! Let me know what you thought and if you want me to recommend things to visit :)

A big thank you to Costa Cruises for such a fantastic adventure with our cruise of Northern Europe and around the Baltic

If you want to read more…

Click HERE to see all my travels

My trip to Manila, Philippines

My trip to Costa Rica!

My trip to the Dominican Republic

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P.S. I’m still on Instagram @ireneCCloset (for beautiful live photos, and where I will always respond to your comments and questions!) and on Facebook Irene’s Closet , where we can chat all day long about new trends ;)


Inoltre vi consiglio di leggere...

42 thoughts on “Cruise through Northern Europe and around the Baltic with Costa Cruises

  1. Ciao Irene, partirò per la tua stessa ceociera questo sabato. Stavo cercando informazioni su qualunque forum e invece le ho trovate questa mattina leggendo il tuo blog :D Sto preparando i vestiti in questi giorni e mi hanno consigliato tutti un abbigliamento a cipolla, ma come sono effettivamente le temperature? E a bordo quali serate ci sono state? Due di gala e una in bianco? O anche altri eventi? Tipo serata italiana e simili… È la mia terza crociera, ma l’ultima è stata due anni fa. Grazie per l’aiuto, sono in piena crisi valigia :p

    1. Ciao Cristina, noi siamo stati molto fortunati con le temperature perchè faceva molto caldo e quindi aspettati delle temperature variabili, io ti consiglio di portare un piumino light in maniera tale che non ti ingombri troppo ma che ti protegga dal freddo, e una sciarpa assolutamente perchè spesso in questi paesi tira vento!

      Per le serate a bordo confermo due serate di gale una serata in bianco, per le altre serate sempre sull’elegante ma niente di eccessivo!

      Buon viaggio cara! Bacioni

  2. Aspettavo questo post Irene :D, ti ho seguita sempre su instagram. La crociera ti rimane nel cuore, noi l’abbiamo fatta l’anno scorso, siamo partiti da Savona e siamo arrivati in Danimarca, un giro stupendo per l’Europa. San Pietroburgo è semplicemente stupenda, da mozzare il fiato.

  3. Anche se non avevo IG, ho sbirciato le tue foto dal PC e devo dire che ero molto curiosa di vedere tutte le foto! Pensavo che una crociera potesse essere noiosa e invece sembra davvero una cosa da fare (almeno una volta!). Gran bel recap!

    I jeans per la Primavera
    lblc style blog

  4. Ciao Irene!
    Bell’articolo e grazie delle dritte riguardo alle cose da vedere!!
    Vorrei sapere una cosa: a San Pietroburgo si può scendere senza visto ottenuto dal consolato russo? Perché noi non ce l’abbiamo quindi deduco che dobbiamo acquistare le escursioni Costa per vedere l’hermitage e la città…consigli?
    Grazie mille ancora!

    1. Ciao Christian, noi siamo scesi con una guida che non potevamo perdere d’occhio nemmeno un secondo proprio per il problema del visto, si, c’è bisogno di farlo o altrimenti appunto, se riuscite a prendere una guida, questa diventa il vostro VISTO umano :D

      Comunque vi consiglio vivamente di informarvi meglio! E buona visita, San Pietroburgo è una città spettacolare!

      L’hermitage non potete perderverlo!

      Buona vacanza :)

      1. Grazie per la risposta Irene!
        Abbiamo chiamato la Costa e purtroppo siamo obbligati a fare le escursioni per avere appunto il “Visto Umano”…ci avevano offerto anche di un Visto, provveduto da Costa, al costo di 200€ che non possiamo farlo più perché è scaduto il termine per la richiesta!
        Noi partiamo questo fine settimana, quando torneremo ti faremo sapere come è andata se ti fa piacere!!
        Ciao e grazie ancora per la disponibilità!


  5. Ho fatto una crociera Costa anni fa e de k dire che la Royal Caribbean é decisamente meglio per i servizi che offre inclusi nel prezzo. Ma bisogna provare per capire e fare un paragone ?inolte, Tallin é una delle più famose e più turistiche (sicuramente più di Riga e Vilnius) ma é gettonata proprio perché attaccano le crociere che come giro fanno le capitali nordiche.

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