Discover the enchanting countries of the Baltic, known as the great highway of northern Europe, as you explore the cobblestone lanes and medieval walls of Riga, Latvia, and Tallinn, Estonia. On this voyage, you’ll discover Hanseatic port cities and villages that shelter a wealth of history, and stroll the winding streets of charming ancient towns, including storybook Visby, a World Heritage Site. You’ll also enjoy two full days exploring St. Petersburg, Russia, the Venice of the North, then navigate along verdant islands and rock outcroppings of Finland’s Turku Archipelago.
Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.
Days 1-2, Jul 14-15, 2017
Depart USA / London, England
Board your independent overnight flight to London, arriving the next day. Transfer to the Paddington Hilton and gather Saturday evening for a welcome dinner and briefing.
Day 3, Jul 16, 2017
London / Embark Island Sky
Join a half-day tour with lunch at a local restaurant. Board the Island Sky this afternoon and sail in the wake of kings and conquerers as you cruise down the legendary Thames River to the North Sea.
Day 4, Jul 17, 2017
As you transit the North Sea, attend lectures preparing you for the exciting cultural and historical encounters ahead.
Day 5, Jul 18, 2017
Sylt Island, Germany
The beautiful, windswept, 24-mile-long island of Sylt (pronounced “zoolt”) is the northernmost point of Germany and part of the Frisian archipelago that stretches between Denmark and The Netherlands. Unique to the region is the architecture of the houses found in island villages, their thick reed roofs slope all the way down to the ground and blend with the surrounding vegetation. After lunch, ashore go for an optional bicycle tour from the village of Kampen, join a birding tour, or enjoy free time to explore Westerland, the charming capital of Sylt.
Day 6, Jul 19, 2017
Kiel Canal Transit
Early this morning, begin your transit of the historic 61-mile-long Kiel Canal and sail from the North Sea into the Baltic. Kaiser Wilhelm I set the first foundation stone in place on June 3, 1887, in Brunsbuttel and the final stone was laid by Kaiser Wilhelm II on June 21, 1895, in Holtenau. Today the Kiel Canal is one of the busiest man-made waterways in the world.
Day 7, Jul 20, 2017
Bornholm Island, Denmark
After breakfast, step ashore on serene Bornholm Island, endowed with white-sand beaches, dramatic cliffs, thick forests, and heather-clad hills. Visit the ruins of Hammershus Castle, Scandinavia’s largest medieval fortress; the unique, round 12th-century churches of Osterlars and Nylars; and the charming half-timbered fishing hamlet of Gudhjem. You may also choose to visit art studios renowned for their glass blowing and pottery.
Day 8, Jul 21, 2017
Enjoy a full day in this city whose history spans nearly 1,000 years. Stop at the Solidarity Monument, in front of the Gdansk shipyard, then view the exhibition, “Roads to Freedom,” a fascinating audio-visual portrayal of those important, world-changing events. A walking tour through lively Old Town reveals a magnificent collection of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque buildings and monuments. Pass through the Golden Gate and walk down Long Street to the 15th-century Palace of Artus, where Neptune’s Fountain commemorates Gdansk’s Hanseatic past. Also visit medieval St. Mary’s Church, the world’s largest brick church. After lunch onboard, there is time at leisure for further exploration.
Day 9, Jul 22, 2017
Today you drive to the amber center of Palanga. A stroll through the Botanical Park, with its 500 varieties of trees and bushes, takes you to the Amber Museum, housed in a 19th-century neo-Renaissance-style mansion. Afterward drive to the Old Town for a walking tour. From beautiful Theater Square, explore the narrow streets that meander between the charming half-timbered houses and shops.
Day 10, Jul 23, 2017
Visby, Gotland Island, Sweden / Disembark / Stockholm
Disembark this morning at Gotland Island, the largest island in the Baltic. The splendid city of Visby, a World Heritage Site, is famous for its intact medieval architecture, especially the 44 guard towers built as part of the city walls in the 11th and 12th centuries. Drive to Almedalen, a green oasis in the city center, then walk past lovely medieval granaries and the city’s oldest building, the Powder Tower. Visit the Botanical Garden, known for its exotic plant collection, and take a ride up to a splendid panoramic viewpoint of the city and its spires. Continue your tour on foot along charming cobblestone streets to visit the impressive St. Mary’s Cathedral and the Gotland Museum with its excellent medieval collections. Transfer to the airport for your short flight to Stockholm.
Day 11, Jul 24, 2017
Your day in Latvia showcases the riches of this 800-year-old Hanseatic river port. A walking tour takes you to multiple landmarks, including the Blackheads House, one of the oldest buildings in Riga; St. Peter’s Church, a superb Gothic masterpiece; the 15th-century Three Brothers merchant houses; and both St. Jacob and St. John churches. Also visit the 13th-century Dome Cathedral, whose organ concerts are legendary. Continue your exploration by motorcoach, driving past lovely parks along the City Canal lined with the stunning Art Nouveau architecture built in 1899 during the Jugendstil movement. There is free time this afternoon to explore Riga on your own.
Day 12, Jul 25, 2017
Today set out for Old Town Tallinn, a visual feast of soaring spires, towers, and turrets. After a renaissance in restoration and reconstruction, Tallinn proudly proclaims itself the finest preserved city in the Baltic. In the upper Old Town, visit Palace Square and the magnificent cupola-crowned Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. In the lower Old Town, visit the Town Hall Square, once a medieval marketplace; one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe, founded in 1422; and stroll along St. Catherine’s Passage in the Latin Quarter. You will also visit Kadriorg Palace and Park, built by Peter the Great as a summer residence.
Days 13-14, Jul 26-27, 2017
St. Petersburg, Russia
Arrive in splendid St. Petersburg in the late morning and enjoy two days of exploration. Visit St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the Winter Palace, which houses Catherine the Great’s incomparable Hermitage Museum. Enjoy an advanced entry and special guided tour that includes the Gold Room—a dazzling display of jewelry, as well as the famous Scythian and Greek gold. Drive across the Neva River to the burial place of the tsars, Peter and Paul Cathedral; its 18th-century spire dominates the skyline. Visit the spectacular Church of the Resurrection and drive along Russia’s most famous street, the Nevsky Prospect, lined with magnificent palaces, churches, and theaters. A scenic drive takes you to the palace and gardens of Peterhof, a grand summertime residence built by Peter the Great.
Day 15, Jul 28, 2017
The capital of Finland since 1812, Helsinki is a cosmopolitan city with a small-town feel. A city tour reveals the beautiful neoclassical architecture of Senate Square and allows you the opportunity to stroll through picturesque Market Square, where numerous vendors offer a variety of Finnish foods and souvenirs. Or choose to tour Suomenlinna Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built by Sweden in 1748 to protect Helsinki’s harbor.
Day 16, Jul 29, 2017
Today visit Turku, the oldest city in Finland and its onetime capital. Your tour includes the 13th-century castle and cathedral, the handicrafts museum, and lively market. Conditions permitting, board Zodiacs to cruise among verdant islands and rocky outcroppings of the scenic Turku archipelago.
Day 17, Jul 30, 2017
Stockholm, Sweden / Disembark / USA
Arrive in Stockholm and disembark the Island Sky. Transfer to the airport for your independent homeward flight, arriving in the USA the same day.