A Baltic Cruise has two separate aspects.
Number one: The ship.
The Crown Princess has a varied list of activities. Eating around the clock was foremost. Huge breakfasts followed by hearty lunches followed by mammoth suppers was a daily occurrence. Snacks of pizza, knockwurst and bratwurst were always available.
Art auctions, first run movies, gambling to wee hours, trivia contests, dance contests and formal suppers (with tuxedos), shuffleboard and shopping keep the guys and gals busy while on the high seas.
Number two: The ports of call.
Copenhagen, Denmark - the green patina of the nude maiden sitting on a rock is a photographic must. "The Little Mermaid" sits perched waiting to be included in a snapshot. There is great shopping at Royal Copenhagen, George Jensen and smart boutiques in the market area. The beautiful, blonde Danish women are an added attraction for girls watchers.
Stockholm, Sweden - The Vasa Ship Museum is a tribute to a failed voyage that lasted ten minutes in the 16th century. The ship was over-built and overloaded and sank in Stockholm harbor 500 years ago. It was recently refloated and it makes one reflect on the Titanic voyage of 1917. The tour of City Hall showed us where the Nobel Prizes are awarded.
Helsinki, Finland - The Sibelius monument and a lunch in a small town Poorvo were the highlights here. Everything was neat and orderly in this country of dour people who love to tango.
Tallinn, Estonia - An unexpected treat. This proud Baltic Republic has just been released from Russian domination. Unlike Latvia and Lithuania, the Estonians are Lutheran. They are extremely hard-working and independent in thought and action.
Gdansk, Poland - The entire afternoon was spent buying amber from local shopkeepers. Amber is a yellowish, translucent, fossilized resin from extinct trees. The clever jewelry fashioned in conjunction with pieces of amber was amazing. A buying frenzy ensued because of the reasonable prices. The Gdansk shipyards are closed but we did drive past Lech Walensa's home.
Warnemunde, Germany - Because Lorraine and I were in Berlin recently, we didn't take the two and a half hour road trip to Germany's capital. Instead, we toured a beer factory (Becks Rostock Brand Beer) and drank a brew, too, at 10:30 a.m., much earlier than Lorraine usually likes her beer. We had a delicious lunch at a Baltic Seaside cafe after a cute ride on a narrow gauge railroad, Molli.
It was like taking two separate vacations.
1. The luxurious one on board the Crown Princess.
2. The frantic tourist shopping, sightseeing one in port. It was all done in conjunction with a charitable cause. The Jeri Feinsilver Cancer Foundation of North Shore Hospital.
Let me also acknowledge my shipmates, from the Hamlet who added: Rhonda and Seymour Garfinkel, Alan and Addie Rotta, Roberta and Gurt Burd, Alice and Mort Steinberg, Nat and Marcia Frankel and Seymour and Pat Rosmon.