Thursday, May 31, 2012

St. Petersburg, Russia

From June 10-11 we will dock in St. Petersburg, Russia.  The following information on St. Petersburg can be found on Princess Cruises website. 

St. Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg has provided a historic stage since the day Peter the Great ordained its construction on the banks of the Neva. In its relatively short history - the city is younger than New York - St. Petersburg has witnessed the rise and fall of Imperial Russia, three shattering revolutions, and civil war. The city survived a long and tragic siege during World War II - indeed St. Petersburg became a symbol of Russian resistance to Nazi invasion.

Russia's "Window on the West," St. Petersburg remains one of the world's most beautiful metropolises. Perched on the banks of the Neva, the city is crisscrossed by canals. Two great architects helped bring Peter the Great's vision of St. Petersburg to life: Rastrelli and Carlo Rossi. The rich architecture that resulted features a mixture of styles from ornate Russian Baroque churches to neo-classical palaces. St. Petersburg has also been the cultural soul of Russia, a repository of priceless art and a home to poets, musicians and composers ranging from Pushkin to Shostakovich.

Peter the Great instilled his near-mania for architecture and building in his successors, making the then capital of Imperial Russia one of the architectural treasures of the world.

Hermitage Museum
With an art collection to rival the Louvre, the Tsar's former Winter Palace and four other buildings is home over three million artworks, including paintings by Da Vinci, Monet, Rembrandt and Renoir.

Peterhof Palace
Known as the 'Russian Versailles', the ornate palace overlooks the Gulf of Finland. The Grand Cascade fountain features Samson prying open a lion's jaws as water cascades down terraced steps.

Catherine Palace
Designed by Rastrelli, the opulent baroque Palace features a gold dome crown and is set in 1,400 acres of spectacular gardens and parklands. Visitors enjoy the gilded beauty of the Throne Room.

The spectacular State Ballet and Opera Theatre of St. Petersburg Conservatoire was built in 1896 to house the arts school founded in 1864, by the talented pianist and composer Rubinstein.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Riga, Latvia and Tallinn, Estonia

On June 8 we will dock in Riga, Latvia and on June 9 we will visit Tallinn, Estonia.  We look forward to experincing the great history and culture of these two Baltic countries.  Here is some information from Princess Cruises website on each of these ports. 

Riga, Latvia
Capital of Latvia and the largest city of the Baltic Republics, Riga has long been a center of commerce and culture. Founded in the 13th century, the city rose to prominence as a member of the Hanseatic League, the great German-Baltic trading consortium that dominated Northern Europe during the Middle Ages. In the long struggle for Latvian independence, Riga has been ruled by Germans, Swedes and Russians. Today this "Little Paris of the Baltic" is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its architecture including one of the finest collections of Art Nouveau buildings in Northern Europe.

The city's German heritage contributed to the city's rich architecture. Riga's Art Nouveau buildings are outstanding examples of the German style known as Jugendstil.


More information about Riga, Latvia can be found here.

Tallinn, Estonia
Like Latvia and Lithuania, the Baltic republic of Estonia has survived a turbulent history. The small nation was conquered and ruled by the likes of Teutonic Knights, Polish princes and Russian Tsars. For 51 years, Estonia remained a pawn in the Soviet empire, until the burgeoning freedom movement led to independence for the Baltic Republics in 1991. Like its sister republics, Estonia maintained its ties to the Western tradition, retaining the Latin alphabet and Catholic and Protestant faiths. Once a member of the historic Hanseatic League, Tallinn is the political, commercial and cultural center of Estonia.

More information about Tallinn, Estonia can be found here and here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

What time is the midnight buffet?

We leave for our cruise in less than a week!  The last minute details regarding packing usually come with questions about what clothing will be required for the dining room.  As you may have heard, dining on cruise ships is quite the adventure.

Yes, apparently that is a question often asked to cruise ship staff!  Most cruise lines don’t actually have a midnight buffet any longer, but there are many opportunities to experience food carving, ice sculpture and champagne waterfalls during a cruise.  With room service and the regular buffet open 24 hours a day, and formal and specialty restaurants, pubs and snack bars open from early morning to late at night, there aren’t many people who feel hungry while they are on a cruise! 

Dining options on the Ocean Princess can be found at this link.  Ocean Princess Dining
According to internet cruise bloggers,  there are “unwritten” rules about food etiquette on board, such as a limit of 2 lobster that a person should order in the dining room.  Only 2 lobsters on lobster night in the restaurant?  Surely they must be joking! Enjoy some photos of cruise line food presentation at its finest! 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Klaipeda, Lithuania

Klaipeda will be one of the highlights of our trip!

 Klaipeda, Lithuania

Formerly known as Memel, Klaipeda is a unique historic city with its roots that go back to the days of German knights - and it's a gloriously royal city, too, as Klaipeda was once the capital of Prussian Kingdom. Today Klaipeda is a modern city, known for its creative, innovative design and architecture and, even more for its friendly and welcome people. Being the third largest town in Lithuania, this relatively small town is well known for its grand annual events including the Jazz festival and Sea festival. The cultural scene offers everything from the internationally-known music concerts to sizzling jazz clubs, bars and countless museums and galleries.  (From Princess Cruises Website)

Old Town Klaipeda
Famed for its magnificent theatre building, this Old Town features narrow cobblestone walkways, charming buildings and small, unique sculptures that are hidden throughout its narrow streets.

Amber Museum
Housed in an elegant 19th-century palace with a botanical garden, this museum features thousands of amber pieces (many with insect inclusions) as well as one of Europe's largest pieces, the Amber Sun.

Klaipeda Castle
The remains of this centuries-old fortress are perhaps the most telling exhibit within the popular tower museum, which reveals the history of Klaipeda Castle through a range of artifacts.

Curonian Spit
According to legend, a giantess created this drifting sand-dune spit. The national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site extends down into Russia and separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea.

Interesting links for Klaipeda...  (This site is for kids!)

Photos from Al and Dianna's visit to Klaipeda a few years ago...


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Copenhagen, Denmark

On June 5 we will be visiting Copenhagen.  Here are the highlights of Copenhagen on the Princess Cruises website. 

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen was founded during the 12th century. The city owes much of its charm to the buildings erected by Denmark's monarchs, and boasts a treasure trove of late-Renaissance and Rococo architecture.

Copenhagen deserves its accolade as the Venice of the North. Founded on a series of islands and islets, the city today is laced with graceful canals and boasts some of the most delightful architecture in Northern Europe. See the fabled statue of Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid, a symbol of the city. Stroll along the old harbor of Nyhavn, lined with caf├ęs, restaurants and 500-year-old gabled houses. Browse the superb shops on the world-famous Stroget or view the Rococo palaces lining Amalienborg Square. Best of all, savor the taste of local delicacies while wandering the paths of Tivoli Gardens, one of Europe's most celebrated pleasure gardens.

The weather forecast for Copenhagen on June 5 predicts a mostly cloudy day with a low of 11 degrees and a high of 18 degrees celsius.  Hopefully it will be a great day for sightseeing! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Port of Dover

For the next few days we'll take a look at some of the countries and ports that we'll be visiting on our cruise.  We'll board our ship in the beautiful town of Dover.  The following information is taken from Princess Cruises website.  Ports of Call - Dover

London (Dover), England

Visible for miles from sea, the White Cliffs of Dover are an instantly recognizable symbol of England. Modern highways make Dover the doorstep to London - Britain's ever-fascinating capital. Visitors to this great city have a wealth of pleasures to choose from. Explore the notorious Tower of London and view the Crown Jewels. Visit Windsor Castle or see Westminster Abbey. The choices are fascinating and endless. Dover is also your gateway to Kent's green countryside, dotted with old medieval towns and castles.

Dover has played a major role in world history since the days of the Norman invasion. Today 13th century Dover Castle dominates a harbor filled with cross-channel ferries and merchant and passenger shipping.

Click here to view the guide for the  Dover Cruise Port Terminal

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We have a new travelling companion....

"Hello!  My name is Flat Stanley Lambchop.  My best friend is Nolan who is in the grade 2 class at Springbank Public School in Woodstock, Ontario.  I am very excited that Nolan is sending me on a trip with Sig and Pat Bruvelaitis (Pat is my grandma's friend) which will be a plane ride to London, England, a drive to Dover (of the White Cliffs) and then a cruise of the Baltic Sea where we will visit 10 countries in two weeks.  You see, I was flattened by a bulletin board so I can be mailed or carried anywhere in the world!  I have had so many adventures and I can't wait to tell you about this one! More to come on this blog."  (ref: " Flat Stanley" by Jeff Brown)

Those of you with children or grandchildren might be familiar with the Flat Stanley series of books by Jeff Brown.  Al and Dianna's grandchildren have loved them and followed Flat Stanley on many adventures all over the world.  Click here to check out the Flat Stanley Project!
And by the way, I hope someone told Flat Stanley that there are three formal nights on the cruise and he better bring along a dinner jacket and tie! 
Posted by Lisa (Al and Dianna's daughter and keeper of the blog!)

Monday, May 21, 2012

2 weeks to go!

We leave in less than 2 weeks!  Our cabin numbers on the ship are:  Al and Dianna #6067 Sig and Pat # 6065 and Jim and Elaine #7111.  Click here for Cabin Layout for 6065

Click here for a cabin virtual tour.