Category List

Tag List

Tag Cloud


White Nights, Grand Designs and Russian Delights

Aug 15, 2014

little mermaid.jpg


Many a grand journey has begun by setting foot across the threshold of your own front door. And this was certainly the case with the 13 night Scandinavian Capitals and Baltic cruise on Fred Olsen’s Black Watch, departing from Rosyth.


As the pre-arranged transfer arrived and the luggage was placed in the boot for me all I had to worry about were small worries such as have I got all the addresses for my postcards and enough film or batteries for the camera?


Arriving at the terminal after check-in you part company with your luggage and are re-united with it again in your cabin.


Classed as a small ship, travelling on Fred. Olsen’s fleet is rather like a home from home as you can quickly locate all your home comforts. Your accommodation can range from a luxurious suite  on one of the higher decks to an inside or outside cabin on various levels of the ship.  Where you are on the ship depends largely on your budget and how much time you feel you will spend in your cabin. Having a window, balcony or porthole is certainly enjoyable when you arrive into port and can check out your new surroundings.


The cruise left Rosyth on 10 August 2014 and the itinerary travels to Oslo, followed by Copenhagen, Helsinki, St. Petersburg and finally Stockholm before returning back to Rosyth.


In some ports you have the luxury of an overnight stay such as St. Petersburg and Stockholm while in others the ship docks for most of the day and guests are able to leave the ship from around 8am returning around 5pm.


Certainly the ports of Copenhagen and Oslo are extremely close to the town centre and are within easy walking distance of the ship. But there’s also the option of cruise excursions, which can be pre-booked with Connoisseur or visiting the Holiday Essentials section of the website, often with a saving. You can also book excursions direct with Fred Olsen or explore under your own steam walking or taking one of the many Hop on Hop off buses, which are usually readily available at the port.

 from the deck.jpg

Arriving in a port and taking a tour really gives a taster of what it’s like to live like a local and some of the most important sights of the locality. On the trips I have taken so far on the voyage with Cruising Excursions I've found they really make an effort to talk about what it was like to live in the country and how much people paid for housing, utilities and what they do in their spare time. It's made for a very enjoyable understanding of the places visited and often fostered a great desire to explore these places more in future on either a city break or another cruise.


Arriving in Oslo, after crossing the North Sea, the weather was much like it was in Scotland when we set off. It was drizzling a little but there was a promise of some sunshine, which indeed did make an appearance between showers. But the weather added to the ambience of the place instead of detracting from it.


As the Captain announced we’d arrived in port our representative and the coach met us as we stepped off the ship and the time taken to get into the city centre was minimal. Much development is going on at the moment in Oslo with major infrastructure improvements to rail and roads and building of new offices and suburb districts for housing. You get a real feel of a thriving city on the up.


Typical stops for tours with Cruising Excursions and Fred Olsen include the Sculpture Park - depicting the Circle of Life with many lifelike and thought provoking statues, the City Hall - where the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony takes places with dignitaries across the world and the Winter Olympics Ski Jump famously used by Eddie the Eagle Edwards. It is still used regularly in winter months. This incredible jump also has panoramic views across the city.


More recent developments in the city culturally have included the Opera House. Located overlooking the harbour this lunar style building is visible from the ship and is now a city hub for arts as well as day to day activity. Locals and tourists walk upon and use it's unique roof design to meet for lunch and chat.


 royal residences.jpg


Arriving in Copenhagen it’s surrounded by islands and looks larger than it actually is. But this compact city crams a lot in.  Close to where the ship docks stands the slightly forlorn statue of the Little Mermaid. An eternal crowd pleaser. And within the city centre proper you have the numerous grand buildings making up the Royal residences. A dedicated tour of these takes several hours if this is of interest to you or a city sightseeing tour will take you to the main square where the changing of the guard takes place and you can glimpse the majestic exteriors of the buildings. For many, glimpses of the city’s Police Headquarters were just as thrilling as regular tourist attractions after being hooked on popular crime dramas now airing featuring Copenhagen.


 Tivoli Gardens 1.jpg

One of the main highlights for many visiting Copenhagen is the famous Tivoli Gardens. There’s so much on site you would be forgiven for thinking they stretched over a much larger area. Attractive both in the day when bustling with families, couples, tour groups and by night when its lit with a myriad of aesthetically pleasing colourful lights this pleasure gardens still has a special charisma.


There are many eateries providing choices from fine dining restaurants to take away booths and cafes to watch the world go by. The gardens are at their peak in August with stunning country cottage and formal flower beds. Navigation even for the most map shy is easy by orientating yourself by the lake, pavilion or open air theatre. And if you are feeling brave there’s many stomach wrenching theme park rides to get the adrenalin pumping.


The architecture in Copenhagen, like Oslo, is very functional but there are quirky additions which catch your eye like the barometer set high on a tower near the Tivoli Gardens. The girl setting out on the bike means sunny weather and indeed our weather was certainly that. What a difference a day makes. Another day another port… that’s the attraction of cruising.



Next stop Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Stockholm…

Check back to see this blog shortly and see the next update on the voyage and life on-board.

 See our pinterest board for the cruise with places of interest



Category: Ocean Cruises