Back to the Baltic on Balmoral

//Back to the Baltic on Balmoral

balmoralstern.jpgThe sea is calling me again and for the second time this year I’m taking a cruise to the Baltic.
In May I sailed from Southampton on board P&O’s newest ship; this time I’m leaving Dover on the biggest ship in Fred Olsen’s fleet. The 116,000-ton Azura, launched in April, accommodates 3,092, plus more than 1,200 crew; Balmoral is 22 years old and at 45,500 tons, takes 1,340 guests and 470 crew.
Two very different ships, but with a great deal in common. Both cater almost exclusively for the British market and if I’m lucky enough to be able to spend a warm afternoon lazing by the pool, it’s unlikely I’ll be disturbed by a raucous party ship belly-flop competition.
One advantage of the smaller vessel is that it can travel along the Kiel Canal, taking a 61-mile shortcut through the green fields of northern Germany instead of sailing 600 miles round the Jutland peninsula and the tip of Denmark.
So we’ll be docking in Warnemunde on Saturday, and catching the train into Rostock, an important maritime city since the 14th-century Hanseatic League, and now an attractive modern town with impressive medieval remains.
Then it’s on to the Danish island of Bornholm, the Polish port of Gdansk – birthplace of the Solidarity movement – and then St Petersburg, where even with a two-day stay stop there will only be time to see a fraction of the former Russian capitals palaces, cathedrals and treasures.
The return journey will be via Tallinn, the photogenic capital of Estonia, and bustling Copenhagen, where a return visit to the attractions of Tivoli gardens might be in order.
In between, I know I will be well fed in Balmoral’s Spey restaurant, added when Fred Olsen refurbished the ship in 2007; I’ll sip a gin and tonic while savouring the view from the Observatory Lounge at the bow or the Lido Bar at the stern (pictured above when I sailed out of Brindisi in Italy in 2008); and if the internet connection allows, I’ll keep you up to date with my progress.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:22+00:00 9 September 2010|Cruise Destinations|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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