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Copyright © 1995-2003 
Linda Coffman


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

Spend THREE Entire Days in St. Petersburg

Church of the Spilled Blood

Most cruise ships spend two days in this fascinating port of call, but Silver Whisper is here for three. There's so much to see and do in the city of Peter the Great that the third day is as priceless as the city's treasures.

Silver Whisper celebrated her birthday the day of arrival and recently was the site of another celebration--the 300th anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg. For the festivities, Russia's President Putin hosted world leaders and other dignitaries on board Silver Whisper. President Putin even stayed in one of Silver Whisper's sumptuous Grand Suites.

On her bright sunny birthday, Silver Whisper made her way up the Neva River, passing other cruise ships along the way to her berth at English Embankment. Cruise Director, Ray Solaire pointed out sights of interest as we made our way to the pier in the central area of the city, only blocks from The Hermitage. After a speedy clearance, passengers were anxious to go ashore to begin exploring, either with ship's excursions or on private tours. Russian visas are required for those who wish to explore independently.

Catherine's Palace (Pushkin)

Silversea passengers have numerous shore excursions from which to choose... an introduction to the city, tours of Peterhof Palace and fountains, Catherine's Palace, Imperial residences, the numerous cathedrals, and even a home visit with a Russian host and a ride on the famous Metro, which boasts stations noted for their décor, including marble, bas-reliefs, and exquisite mosaics. Two evening experiences included a private tour of the Hermitage, which began after the official closing time and included a concert by the State Hermitage Orchestra, and an evening of ballet, Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. For those wishing to venture outside St. Petersburg, two trips to Moscow (a one-day or overnight excursion) proved to be popular options.

Activities on board Silver Whisper continued for guests not on tours... fitness classes, enrichment lectures, and games. Mandara Spa services were available and I took advantage of free time by relaxing in the steam room and sauna and booked a massage. Evening movies on the Large Screen were available and the 4th of July entertainment included jazz and late-night snacks in the Panorama Lounge and disco in The Bar.

Souvenir shopping in one of St. Petersburg's open air markets

Souvenir shopping opportunities abound in St. Petersburg and vendors can be found not only pier side, but at every tourist destination as well. Matryoshka or nesting dolls made of Linden wood, lacquered papier mache boxes, and amber jewelry are found everywhere. Quality and prices vary widely. I wanted a pin for my collection and a young vendor showed me a "military" hat full of pins. How much? Only $5.00, but that seemed like a lot until I discovered it not only included all the pins, but the hat as well!

While I have previously visited St. Petersburg, the city has changed a bit. It appears brighter and cleaner than in the past as a great deal of beautification work was done for the 300th anniversary celebrations. It didn't hurt that the weather was gorgeous, with only one light afternoon shower a thunderstorm before sailaway.

After an incredibly full three days and two nights, we bid farewell to St. Petersburg and sailed through the Neva River delta headed east to Tallinn, Estonia. Departure was delayed somewhat because of a late arriving tour, but Captain Corsaro assures us we won't be too far off schedule. For those guests who didn't find just the right souvenir ashore, the Boutique featured Faberge egg pendants and other Russian-made gifts. One of the delicate Silver Whisper eggs commissioned from Faberge was on display in Cruise Consultant Jennifer Butcher's office and also available for purchase. Jennifer is also the on board representative for the Venetian Society, Silversea Cruises' program that recognizes past guests and rewards them with savings on future voyages.

In keeping with a Venetian theme, which conveys Silversea Cruises' heritage, the Venetian Society Party was followed by a gala formal dinner dance in the Restaurant and the second elaborate production show in the Viennese Lounge. Before retiring for the night, we gained back an hour of precious time. The White Nights are truly amazing with sunsets at about 11:30pm and sunrises just a few short hours later, affording a view of many container ships in the Baltic. Quite a sight!

Next --> Tallinn, Estonia is a well-kept secret

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