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Copyright © 1995-2003 
Linda Coffman


Cruise Diva's CRUISE DIARY
~ Copenhagen to Stockholm ~
"A Taste of the Baltic"

Cruise the Baltic Sea

Few mornings begin as pleasantly as those at sea. Sunrise seemed to come almost too quickly after sunset and with good reason. Even though Monday's official sunset was at approximately 8:00pm, the sky wasn't completely dark until much later and the sun was shining brightly at 4:15am Tuesday. Silver Whisper is sailing northeast into the White Nights of the Baltic region.

What bliss... being awakened by room service with breakfast, a steaming pot of coffee, and the digest from The New York Times. Although it was a bit too chilly to savor it on the balcony, nonetheless I enjoyed the seascape from the sitting area of my 345 square foot Veranda Suite.

Our guest lecturer is Ambassador Richard Tallboys, former British Ambassador to Vietnam from 1985 to 1987. Based upon his personal experience, Ambassador Tallboys' discussions on the theme of "International Misunderstanding" proved to be insightful.

A late morning treat was Head Sommelier Gabriele Chiappini's wine tasting of three wine selections offered to Silver Whisper guests at lunch and dinner. Far from being connoisseur, I found his presentation instructional, particularly regarding the blending of grapes to acquire the desired taste and the reasons behind the pairing of certain wines with food. I was delighted to find one of my favorite California wines as a selection at lunch, although guests are free to request alternative selections from Silver Whisper's extensive "cellar."

Amber and its historic appeal was the topic of an informative afternoon talk by the boutique manager. An organic gemstone, Baltic amber has been highly prized for its reported spiritual powers. It was so appealing to Catherine the Great that she had the Amber Room installed in her summer palace and Silver Whisper passengers will have the opportunity to view it during our three day port call in St. Petersburg. Also appealing was the opportunity to win a gorgeous bracelet at the conclusion of the seminar... I didn't win, but gained a greater appreciation for my amber jewelry.

Captain Angelo Corsaro, the most senior employee on board Silversea Cruises' fleet, hosted the traditional Welcome Aboard Reception before dinner. We're in capable hands and the Captain's entire crew and staff reflect his attention to detail.

Headlining the evening's entertainment in the Viennese Lounge was "Sussurro," featuring the talented singers and dancers of The Jean Ann Ryan Production Company. This particular company of entertainers is possibly one of the best at sea.

After a full sea day, a stunning (late) sunset precluded twilight, which glimmered until past midnight. Approaching Finland, daylight came early... the sky began to brighten long before sunrise at 4:00am.

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki is, without a doubt, one of Europe's most charming and tourist-friendly cities with a cadre of young guides positioned throughout the city center and Senate Square, all offering advice and maps and available to answer questions. Silver Whisper offered several interesting tours of the city and surrounding area, including an excursion to Lapland and the Santa Claus village. However, it's very simple to walk to the market and then into the heart of the city and Senate Square (photo right) from the cruise ship pier.

The morning ashore called for "layering." The day began sunny and warm, grew cloudy and chilly, and then bright blue skies appeared once again in the afternoon. Slacks with a light sweater or long sleeved shirt over a knit shirt were perfect choices. 

Helsinki's excellent trams pass through the city center and it's possible to see much of the city by using public transportation. The tram drivers even pass out maps as tourists alight and relevant nearby sights are posted on an electronic signboard before each stop. With a Helsinki Card tourists have unlimited travel on public transportation and free admission to sights and museums. A double decker "hop-on & hop-off" bus is another alternative.

We chose to wander through the central city, browsing through the market and shopping district, and walking on to Senate Square, then past the Upensky Cathedral (photo left) and along the waterfront.

Before returning to Silver Whisper we stopped for refreshments in an outdoor cafe and enjoyed a street performer's trained poodle and cats. Yes, cats! Doing tricks!! Finnish felines are obviously more talented and cooperative than mine.

Back on board, it was time for a late luncheon in the Terrace Cafe. Bathed in afternoon sunshine, guests took advantage of the pool. My veranda was a quiet retreat to read a book from the library and watch playful sea birds swooping around the ship until time to sail and prepare for the "informal" evening ahead. 

There are about two dozen extremely well-behaved children on our cruise and, although there are no specific youth programs designed for them, they seem to be having a wonderful time, particularly when Cruise Director Ray Solaire is around. Solaire is an accomplished puppeteer and with the ladies of the Jean Ann Ryan production team, his after-dinner show was an enormous hit with youngsters and parents alike.

It doesn't seem like bedtime with sunset at 10:45pm and the sky still bright until much later, but arrival in St. Petersburg tomorrow is early and promises to be a highlight as Silver Whisper sails up the Neva River to dock near the Hermitage. I don't want to miss what promises to be a grand entrance!

Next --> Spend THREE Entire Days in St. Petersburg!

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