Baltic Cruise on Holland America Line's ms Eurodam

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Baltic Cruise on Holland America Line's ms Eurodam

Baltic Cruise on Holland America Line's ms Eurodam We departed on the 12 day Baltic Adventure cruise from Dover on 20 May 2011.

The Eurodam is a beautiful ship and we settled in quickly as it is very much like the Amsterdam when we went to Alaska, but on a much larger scale. We felt like we were home from the very start of the cruise. We were in a balcony cabin on the Navigation deck and so had a beautiful view of everything from that lofty height. The cabin was very comfortable and we spent many hours on the balcony viewing the constant passing parade of vessels. We booked all of our shore excursions for every port through Holland America before leaving Australia so we would be confirmed for what we wanted to see. Also, we didn't have the responsibility of getting ourselves back to the ship in time for sailing. It was peace of mind on both counts. We booked several drinks packages beforehand and they were all waiting when we checked into our cabin.

The forecast for leaving Dover was for 90 miles per hour gales, but they didn't eventuate. We had the help of a tugboat when leaving Dover as the wind was very strong. The sea was a bit rough but we didn't feel it in the ship and we had a lovely and comfortable ride for the whole cruise. The first day was at sea and that gave us a good opportunity to explore the ship.

We visited Copenhagen as our first port of call and it is a lovely and picturesque city. Apparently Sydney in Australia has more people than the whole of Denmark. We visited the Royal palace and saw the changing of the guard outside Frederick and Mary's home. The flag was flying so they were in residence but we didn't see them. We visited the Little Mermaid and the charming Nyhavn waterfront area. There was also the visit to Tivoli Gardens and it is easy to see why Walt Disney used it as his basis for Disneyland. There was lightening and the rumble of thunder just as we got back to the ship. The rain wasn't very heavy so wasn't like a storm back home in Australia.

The train trip to Berlin from Warnemunde was great as we travelled through some very pretty country. Berlin was full of highlights such as the canal cruise, Berlin wall and Checkpoint Charlie, afternoon tea at the Reichstag(Parliament House) and the Holocaust memorial, to name a few. We needed the two hour train trip on the way back to the ship to relax after a very full day's sightseeing.

Tallinn in Estonia is very clean and tidy with many medieval sites and ruins. We particularly enjoyed the trip through the green countryside to visit the 800 year old Rakvere Castle. The vodka tasting afterwards is to be recommended. It was comforting seeing the Eurodam from the slightly damp heights of the old town area of Tallinn and knowing that we would soon be enjoying the warmth and pleasures of our ship.

St Petersburg was in a world of its own as far as opulence and high living of the Tsars and their families were concerned. It is easy to understand why there was a revolution as the peasants were starving while their rulers lived the high life. Our first breathtaking stop was St Catherine's Palace with its gold, marble and amber rooms, and paintings on the ceilings. The gold spires were magnificent glinting in the sun, and the gardens were immaculate and colourful as the tulips were in full bloom. We cruised by hydrofoil to Peterhof, which had similar gold spires and sparkling gold statues set amongst gravity fed fountains and waterfalls. The sight of all the gold statues shimmering in the sun and water spray is something I will never forget. The Heritage Museum is full of masterpieces and has over 3 million items. It would take between two and three years to see everything.

Helsinki was very wet when we arrived early in the morning, but the afternoon was fine and sunny. Our main focus was the Ice Bar and we weren't disappointed. It may have been 10am with surroundings of snow and ice, but the glass of vodka was very enjoyable. Even the glass was made from ice. Our dog sled ride was a bit hairy (pun intended) as the dogs love to run. I was amazed by the size of the icebreakers tied up for the summer in the harbour. We had a large escort of seagulls when we left the dock. We viewed the departure from the outside Lido deck and, at times, they would almost land on your hands.

The weather was perfect when we visited Stockholm - sunny and hot. The way into Stockholm for large ships is very slow and winding so the Eurodam anchored about an hour south of the city at Nynashamn and we were tendered to shore and then bussed through some very pretty countryside to Stockholm.

We visited the Milles Sculpture Garden which has a lovely outlook over the inlet from the sea. The Vasa museum was an eye-opener. The warship sank over 300 years ago on its maiden voyage and was preserved by silt and brackish water in Stockholm harbour. It was found and raised in 1961.

After passing Copenhagen on the way back to Dover, a helicopter from the local rescue service practiced around the stern of the ship. It provided some good photos and entertainment and was interesting to watch, especially as we had to drop off a sick passenger by tender at Copenhagen. It could so easily have been by helicopter in a more urgent case. I was surprised as to how close large ships pass by the oil and gas rigs in the North Sea.

Our last shore excursion was to Canterbury Cathedral, where Thomas Becket was murdered 800 years ago. We used that excursion to lessen our time at Heathrow Airport as our flight to Australia was still many hours away.

Overall the trip was magnificent. We enjoyed all of our many shore excursions and would recommend that intending travellers book them in advance as it is certainly peace of mind and eliminates hassles when on the cruise. The shore excursion highlights were many and varied, but the main highlights were: Tivoli gardens in Copenhagen, train trip to and from Berlin, riverboat tour in Berlin, 800 year old castle in Estonia, Catherine's and Peterhof Palaces in St Petersburg, Heritage Museum in St Petersburg, ice bar in Helsinki, and Vasa museum (including skeletons of dead sailors) in Stockholm. All the crew members were as friendly and helpful as on our previous trip on the Amsterdam. Our cabin stewards were wonderful and any request was fulfilled immediately. Their skills in forming towels into animal shapes each night was very enjoyable.

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