Q – Several friends at church are pressuring us to join them on a cruise that would go to Scandinavia. The cruises we have looked at, on Celebrity and Silversea, all seem to include St. Petersburg. I have no interest in giving Putin money at this time so I am looking to see if there is a Baltic Cruise available that avoids stops in Russia. I am sure that a lot of people feel the way that I do.
A – Actually, when you spend three days in St. Petersburg it is unlikely you will actually see Putin or face the need to give him money. You will, instead, see a magnificent city filled with historic treasures and you will be free to form your own opinions about what you see and do. But it is easy to avoid going to Russia if you so choose. The problem is the nomenclature. A Baltic Cruise almost always departs and ends in a Scandinavian port with two or three days in St. Petersburg in the middle. This is one of the hottest selling cruise itineraries in the world and the luxury traveler has, as you will see on our database of sailings, a wide variety of cruise line options. Since this is a northern European sailing, the season tends to run from June through the end of September.
Given your concerns, we are not sure we should make a recommendation since you might be happiest hiding under your bed until Putin goes away. But we do want you to be happy – so let us point out that you don’t want a Baltic Cruise. What you really want is a Norwegian Fjords itinerary. These sailings do not call on Russia, instead traveling up and down the beautiful coastline of Norway. The sailing season is quite limited to a 90-day window from the beginning of June to the end of August. The scenery on these cruises is magnificent – it is one of our favorite itineraries. The down side is that the major lux lines only offer it once or twice per year so you need to make early reservations.