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Janie1229

Best time of year for Baltic: Copenhagan, Russia?

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Hello,

My husband and I are looking at cruises to the Baltic area, specifically an itinerary on Royal's Brilliance of the Seas that leaves out of Copenhagen for 11 nights and has stops in St. Petersburg, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and back to Copenhagan. 

 

Looking for recommendations on best time of year weather-wise? Royal has an itinerary in May, July and August. The May itinerary is the least expensive but possibly b/c it will be much colder? 

 

Thanks so much!

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3 minutes ago, Janie1229 said:

Looking for recommendations on best time of year weather-wise? Royal has an itinerary in May, July and August. The May itinerary is the least expensive but possibly b/c it will be much colder? 

It may be cooler in May but the benefit is that the tourist venues as not as crowded as they are in July & August. Saint Petersburg is a zoo during the height of the tourist season & gets more crowded each year - we prefer to visit during the shoulder seasons as we do not like the extreme crowding that one finds during the summer months (for example, the Hermitage, Catherine Palace, Peterhof Grand Palace & such venues are densely packed during these months). If your desire is to visit some of the more esoteric sights that most first time visitors seldom visit then the summer months would be fine.

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Thanks dogs4fun! I may book the May date as I don't mind cooler temps and DEFINITELY don't like crowds. Now I am wondering if the fall would be even better for few people. 

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2 minutes ago, Janie1229 said:

Now I am wondering if the fall would be even better for few people. 

If you are cruising, the smallest crowds will usually be found in early/mid May and the entire month of October. June through August sees the largest influx of visitors to St. Petersburg (the crown jewel in Baltic cruises) - even September is becoming quite busy in the city.

Of course, December through February is the least crowded but there are no cruise ships entering the frozen port at this time. 😉

We pack layers & have no problems visiting Europe in the late fall (we also prefer cooler temps) - last year, we experienced wonderful weather in Budapest in mid November and, bonus, no huge crowds or long queues!

 

Just a note: make certain that your ship docks in Stockholm and not Nynashamn. You definitely want to sail through the archipelago - it is gorgeous.

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54 minutes ago, dogs4fun said:

If you are cruising, the smallest crowds will usually be found in early/mid May and the entire month of October. June through August sees the largest influx of visitors to St. Petersburg (the crown jewel in Baltic cruises) - even September is becoming quite busy in the city.

Of course, December through February is the least crowded but there are no cruise ships entering the frozen port at this time. 😉

We pack layers & have no problems visiting Europe in the late fall (we also prefer cooler temps) - last year, we experienced wonderful weather in Budapest in mid November and, bonus, no huge crowds or long queues!

 

Just a note: make certain that your ship docks in Stockholm and not Nynashamn. You definitely want to sail through the archipelago - it is gorgeous.

What cruise line did you go on? 

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40 minutes ago, Janie1229 said:

What cruise line did you go on? 

I've been to Russia multiple times (most recently just this spring) - we usually fly into Pulkovo & DIY for an extended stay (we have received our new 3 year multi entrance visas - our expired visas were also 3 year visas). After I visit Germany & Italy this year, I plan on visiting my friends in Moscow - mid November. It is much easier to fly to Russia from Europe than from the USA so I always plan my trips to Russia when we've planned a trip to Europe.

However, we've been on 4 Baltic cruises and have another planned for 2020 (Celebrity Reflection). Our cruises included:

Oceania Marina

Oceania Nautica

Celebrity

NCL

Honestly, we have enjoyed all of our european cruises - it is the itinerary and the time spent in each port of call that is most important to us. We actually spend very little time aboard the ship (with sea days being the only exception) so the onboard amenities are not very important to us.

We love Stockholm - it is beautiful. Our favorite Russian city is Saint Petersburg - also unbelievably beautiful and interesting. 

I recommend getting a copy of Rick Steves Northern European Cruise Ports - it covers all the ports you will visit on your cruise. He offers some great tips on DIY in most of your ports of call.

Also, check out Toms Port Guides - he visited St. Petersburg in 2019 and his free PDF guide contains a wealth of information:

https://www.tomsportguides.com/uploads/5/8/5/4/58547429/st-petersburg-russia-port-guide.pdf

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Thank you so much - what a wealth of information! I appreciate it - my husband and I are avid scuba divers and have been focusing on dive trips the last few years, but as I get older, I really want to explore other places than the ocean lol and the Baltic has been high on my list. 

 

Will definitely look at your suggestions - thanks again!!

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We can only travel in July and August (I'm a teacher), so we have had to learn to plan around crowds -- and it is possible.

 

For example, we were just on a Baltic cruise this past August.

 

We started in Stockholm. Anything I could book in advance (like the Icebar), I did. Anything I couldn't book in advance that might be crowded, we visited early or late. For example, we hit the Vasa Museum at opening. (And then we spent midday at Skansen, which is spread out and outdoors and therefore absorbs crowds easily.) There's so many options in Stockholm: even just riding the subway can be an adventure. (Google search "Stockholm subway art tour.")

 

We then visited Helsinki and got out of the city: we booked a nature hike in Nuuksio National Park with Feel the Nature. We picked (and ate) wild berries, fed lichen to the reindeer . . . and experienced the exact opposite of crowds. We could have also taken the ferry to Suomenlinna in the morning (which, like Skansen, absorbs crowds well) and then booked a sauna appointment at Loyly. Or gone to Porvoo or etc. 

 

We were most worried about crowds in St. Petersburg, but we'd booked a private tour with Red Sun Tours and walked *around* the lines and crowds wherever we went. And some of our favourite experiences were off the beaten track anyway -- like visiting the Soviet Arcade Museum (and getting to play the games with vintage 15 kopek coins!).

 

In Tallinn, we'd booked a walking + bike tour with Traveller Tours. We met them first thing in the morning and saw the Old Town while it was pretty much empty, and when it started to get crowded, we hopped on bikes and went around the outlying districts (seeing Telliskivi street art, etc.). And in the afternoon, we went to a chocolate truffle making workshop at the Kalev shop that I'd set up with others on our Roll Call.

 

I could keep going for the other ports (e.g. the Seal Encounter at the Marine Research Center in Rostock was one of my favourite experiences), but you get the idea: planning can get you away from the crowds, and often the most memorable experiences are away from the designated "highlights" anyway. If you just want to wander and be spontaneous, yes, definitely travel in May or October. If you don't mind planning (and I'll be honest: I had to do a lot of it), you're probably okay in any season.

 

The plus side of travelling when we did: we had 2 1/2 weeks with no rain and mostly 21C/70F temperatures.

Edited by trosebery

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2 hours ago, Janie1229 said:

Thanks dogs4fun! I may book the May date as I don't mind cooler temps and DEFINITELY don't like crowds. Now I am wondering if the fall would be even better for few people. 

One thing to keep in mind, is the number of hours of daylight.  In the fall, the days are shorter.  Some people love this, some don't.

 

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We like going in May the best for weather and fewer crowds . In the Summer many places like The Hermitage or Catherine's Palace can get quite stuffy with the crowds and no air conditioning .

 

Our thread has a lot of photos and tips and you can tell by some of the photos and the crowds if it's May or Summer .

 

 

 

Edited by scubacruiserx2

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4 minutes ago, scubacruiserx2 said:

In the Summer many places like The Hermitage or Catherine's Palace can get quite stuffy with the crowds and no air conditioning .

Yes, very stuffy with no air conditioning. Same is true for the Grand Palace at Peterhof. 

 

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When we were in SPB in June this year there was a lot more traffic then we remember in May . Here's a photo that we took when we went to The Hermitage in May .

 

IMG_9563_zpsts06rx2s.jpg

 

When we went in June 2015 same room .

 

IMG_0604_zpszubsnwyu.jpg

 

The line in May

 

 

90025407-ef94-413d-b987-4c74a434db1f_zps0p6i8q32.jpg

 

And in June

 

 

IMG_0695_zpsluopx15e.jpg

 

Edited by scubacruiserx2

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35 minutes ago, scubacruiserx2 said:

When we were in SPB in June this year there was a lot more traffic then we remember in May . Here's a photo that we took when we went to The Hermitage in May .

 

IMG_9563_zpsts06rx2s.jpg

 

When we went in June 2015 same room .

 

IMG_0604_zpszubsnwyu.jpg

 

The line in May

 

 

90025407-ef94-413d-b987-4c74a434db1f_zps0p6i8q32.jpg

 

And in June

 

 

IMG_0695_zpsluopx15e.jpg

 

Oh my what a huge difference! I will definitely go in May if it is that much better with the crowds. I never thought I'd like cruises as I detest crowds, but found that it is very itinerary dependent. As long as I'm off the ship all day, I don't mind the dining and theater, shows on the ship. It is the sea days I'm least found of, and even those aren't too bad as I'll find a quiet area to sit and read, and I do like to people watch 🙂 

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26 minutes ago, Janie1229 said:

Oh my what a huge difference! I will definitely go in May if it is that much better with the crowds. I never thought I'd like cruises as I detest crowds, but found that it is very itinerary dependent. As long as I'm off the ship all day, I don't mind the dining and theater, shows on the ship. It is the sea days I'm least found of, and even those aren't too bad as I'll find a quiet area to sit and read, and I do like to people watch 🙂 

 

Have you checked to see which other ships are in port when you are ? We like SPB so much that we wanted to go back in the off season and see things at a slower pace so we got a Visa and stayed in an apartment . We would recommend a Visa or private guide or small group tour. You might be able to get an early entrance of about and hour . Find out which things you want to see the most and get there before the crowds catch you . Another thing we liked about the private guide was we could go where we wanted to and change plans like we did when we got gridlocked . We just went back later when the traffic was gone . 

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36 minutes ago, Janie1229 said:

Oh my what a huge difference! I will definitely go in May if it is that much better with the crowds. I never thought I'd like cruises as I detest crowds, but found that it is very itinerary dependent. As long as I'm off the ship all day, I don't mind the dining and theater, shows on the ship. It is the sea days I'm least found of, and even those aren't too bad as I'll find a quiet area to sit and read, and I do like to people watch 🙂 

 

If you're least fond of sea days, look for an itinerary that starts in one port and ends in another -- not only does that allow you to spend more time in two destinations, but obviously you're not having to back-track. I didn't think about this when I booked our first Baltic cruise, but for our next one, we booked a cruise that was 15 days with only one sea day. (Starting in Stockholm, ending in Southampton.)

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We did a Baltic Cruise last May and we enjoyed it! It wasn't crowded and we were able to appreciate all the places we visited during the shore excursions. I'd say May is a great time to visit. You'll get a cheaper rate during May plus you get to visit without the huge crowd. 

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Another vote for visiting the Baltic in May. This month definitely has its advantages bearing in mind less crowds in museums and theaters, mild temperatures in a daytime and blooming city's parks. As mentioned above, I also suggest bringing layers and checking the weather forecast before your cruise. As long as you're prepared and you know what to wear when it rains, you can still have a great time on your trip. Good luck!

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I prefer late May as it is still cool and the lack of air conditioning helps in Russia (inside museums, etc...).

 

I have also been in July and some of the places were really hot.

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If I could choose I would go in May. Less "tourists" and the weather is not so hot. The bulk of the tourists come by cruise ships and there are schedules  on internet that can tell you which cruise lines are in port. 

When we took our last Baltic cruise we booked all of our tours with a local tour agent, Anastasia travel. This way we could go as fast or slow as we wanted and our guide took us pass the lines which also saved us some time and agony. (my husband hates waiting in line). I am not sure how long you will be in St. Petersburg, but a minimum of 2 days will be the best. So much to see. 

We also booked a tour in stockholm and in Warnemunde (not sure if you are going there) through them. Got a little discount for booking several tours.

I also recommend staying a few days in Copenhagen before or after your cruise. It is such a nice place. You will truly enjoy this cruise with whatever cruise line you will decide to book.

 

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59 minutes ago, angie7911922 said:

The bulk of the tourists come by cruise ships and there are schedules  on internet that can tell you which cruise lines are in port. 

If you check the port of Saint Petersburg sometime after the first of the year you can see exactly how many ships will be docking in Saint Petersburg on your days in port. Of course, this will not include the ships (river cruises and smaller ships) that dock on the Neva and it will not include the largest influx of tourists that arrive by land/air (the Chinese are the largest middle class worldwide and they, along with other groups, arrive at the St. Petersburg attractions by the bus load)

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I was going to recommend early June (for the long days and as to beat the crowds in July-August), but if there are no cruises for this month, May will be my second choice.

Definitely a private tour for 2 days with one of the best rated companies, like Alla, SBJ, etc.

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We were there late June, and the weather turned out to be just perfect. As for the crowds, of course there was, but bearable. We love the Baltic countries! Hope it won't be too cold and rainy! You will have so much fun!

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I vote for May and September. If I have choice I always prefer very beginning of the season and very end as well.   We’ve just returned from our Med cruise and first part of October was just perfect for Italy and  Greece. I believe that October could be too cold for Baltic but September is obviously good.

Jess 🙂

 

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I'm doing the last Baltic cruise this year on the Sky Princess, Aug. 24th and I'm not concerned about the weather as there are no guarantees.  I always pack layers, never assume it will be hot or cold because a previous one found the weather to be a certain way.

 

I took the Regal in 2016 for a Transatlantic, then Baltic cruise in May.  It was warmer than expected, actually upper 70's in Saint Petersburg.  Only port where it was damp and rainy was Oslo, but still not bad.

 

I always go to Time and Date, it has a weather section, look for the average temperatures, knowing on any given day there could be a 5-10 degree difference.

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