Changing Tides of History: Cruising the Baltic Sea
Experience the cultural rebirth of the Baltic States and the imperial riches of St. Petersburg on this six-country cruise aboard Le Boréal featuring a presentation by the former president of Poland.
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What an incredible journey! The Baltic Sea in surrounding countries have a rich history few of us realize. My eyes have been opened to the experiences of the peoples of this region through Smithsonian.”
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Experience the cultural rebirth of the Baltic States and the magnificent imperial riches of St. Petersburg on this spectacular six-country Baltic Sea program. Enriching presentations about the course of the region’s history will be presented, by special arrangement, by former President of Poland Lech Walesa and guest speaker Sergei Khrushchev, son of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Senior Fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. Cruise for eight nights during the “White Nights of Summer,” with near-constant daylight, from Copenhagen to Stockholm. En route, discover the stunning architecture of Helsinki, revel in the medieval charms of Tallinn, a World Heritage site, and immerse yourself in the cultural renaissance of Gdansk. You’ll also explore Visby, a well-preserved walled city and World Heritage site evocative of the Viking Era. Spend two special days in regal St. Petersburg, featuring a visit to the world-acclaimed State Hermitage Museum and the Peter and Paul Fortress, and the World Heritage sites of Catherine the Great’s rococo palace at Pushkin and the gardens and palace of Petrodvorets. Optional extensions to Norway and Stockholm are also offered.
Day 1 & 2 — U.S. and Copenhagen, Denmark
Depart the U.S. Arrive in Copenhagen, Denmark, embark the deluxe M.S. Le Boréal and depart Copenhagen. Join the Captain for a special Welcome Reception and Dinner. (R,D)
Day 3 — Gdansk, Poland/Lech Walesa
The historic city of Gdansk features several examples of Poland’s finest medieval and Renaissance architecture. Walk past elegant patrician mansions featuring late Renaissance and Baroque façades in the Old Town and see the famous Neptune’s Fountain. Visit the 14th-century Artus Court, a meticulously restored Gothic guildhall that houses a fascinating collection of Polish art.
In 1980, workers led by Lech Walesa founded the Solidarity movement, the first independent trade union in Eastern Europe and the key factor in winning the Polish struggle against Communism. See the historic Lenin Shipyard and its Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers. By special arrangement, meet the leader of the Solidarity movement, former President of Poland and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa on board the ship this afternoon. Mr. Walesa will discuss his perspective on Solidarity, globalization and progress in the region. (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Day at Sea
Cruise the Baltic Sea and enjoy a series of enriching lectures. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Tallinn, Estonia
Having largely escaped the ravages of World War II, Tallinn’s Old Town, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, has remained virtually unchanged for the past 600 years. During the walking tour, see Toompea Castle, the landmark Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the 13th-century Church of St. Nicholas. Visit the medieval Town Hall, the only intact Gothic-style hall in Northern Europe. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — St. Petersburg, Russia
Peter the Great founded the majestic city of St. Petersburg in 1703 as his “Window on the West.” Explore the city’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site whose legendary landmarks are scattered across more than 100 islands linked by more than three times as many bridges. St. Petersburg’s main thoroughfare, Nevsky Prospekt, showcases exquisite examples of Russian Baroque and neoclassical architecture. See the beautiful Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood (Church of the Resurrection of Christ), built on the site of Emperor Alexander II’s assassination, and the 19th-century St. Isaac’s Cathedral, with a striking golden dome that is one of the glories of the city’s skyline. Visit St. Petersburg’s first building, the Peter and Paul Fortress, constructed to secure the country’s access to the sea. See the impressive Baroque Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul, containing the tombs of 32 czars, from Peter the Great to Nicholas II, the last of the Romanovs.
By hydrofoil, skim over the Gulf of Finland to visit the splendid parklands and palace of Petrodvorets, a UNESCO World Heritage site, commissioned by Peter the Great to rival Versailles. The grounds are elaborately landscaped and include formal gardens, fountains and cascades, as well as the extravagant Grand Palace.
The evening is at leisure. Optional opportunities are offered to attend a ballet performance held in the Hermitage or Palace Theater, or a Russian folklore show performed in the Nikolaevsky Art Centre. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — St. Petersburg
Visit the imperial compound of Pushkin and Catherine the Great’s elaborate rococo palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site, highlighted by a special visit to the extraordinary Amber Room.
See one of the world’s greatest art repositories on the tour of the incomparable State Hermitage Museum, former czarist palace of Catherine the Great and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The spectacular collection is rivaled only by the museum’s ornate interior. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki was named the 2012 World Design Capital for its use of innovative design as an effective tool for social, cultural and economic development in the city. On the morning tour of Finland’s dynamic capital, see the old fortifications of Suomenlinna, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the stately Senate Square, lively Market Square and the diplomatic quarter of Kaivopuisto. Visit the modernistic Temppeliaukio Church, or “Church of the Rock,” impressively hewn out of natural bedrock, and visit Sibelius Park, where Eila Hiltunen’s remarkable sculpture honors Finland’s most beloved composer, Jean Sibelius. Enjoy a private concert in the prestigious Sibelius Academy.
This evening, join your travel companions for the Farewell Reception on board the ship. (B,L,R,D)
Day 9 — Visby, Sweden
Call at the Baltic island of Gotland, one of Sweden’s richest historical regions with more than 100 medieval churches and numerous prehistoric sites. Walk through the pedestrianized Old Town in Visby, “city of roses and ruins.” This former Hanseatic city gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 1995 for the well-preserved 13th-century walls that fortify its perimeter, still interspersed with medieval gates and many of the original towers. See houses from the Middle Ages along the cobblestone streets, the iconic towers of the Cathedral of St. Mary (the only of Visby’s old churches still in use today) and the small but spectacular botanical gardens that have drawn garden enthusiasts since 1855. (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Stockholm/U.S.
Disembark the ship in Stockholm and continue on the Post-Cruise Option, or depart for the U.S. (B)