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Stately St. Petersburg

Kerry Sabberton, Senior Retail Travel Sales Consultant at our Thorpe travel store in Norwich, went on a fantastic four-day cruise through the Baltic to St. Petersburg. Here are the highlights from her trip…

Destination: St. Petersburg
Operator/Host: Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
Accommodation
(Hotel names/Ship name): 
Balmoral
Airline: Polish Airlines
Duration: 4 Nights

Flights

The flights were OK for short haul, but more than a few hours and you would need a bit more leg room. Polish Airlines do advertise complimentary snacks on all of their flights, which consist of a warm cup of water and a polish wafer bar! The staff were efficient but did lack that personal touch at times.

Accommodation

Balmoral

Balmoral

I had a lovely SS grade on board the Balmoral. The beds and pillows were very comfortable, the bathroom was a good size with a shower rather than a bath and the cabin itself was very spacious with plenty of room, even with the beds in twin configuration. The balcony had two chairs, a table and a sun lounger – so it was rather roomy. The balcony doors open on to the next cabin, which was good for us as our group had four cabins next to each other on our deck. Our balcony was therefore the meeting point most mornings for coffee.

Excursions

We had a full day excursion, which started at around 8am and finished at 5:30. We spent the morning at St. Peterhof (the summer palace) and after lunch spent the afternoon at The Hermitage (the winter palace)  and the only extra we had to pay was to take photo’s/video in The Hermitage, which cost 5 Euros and was added to our onboard account. It is an amazing excursion and well worth paying for; both places are great to see and definitely something you should experience first-hand.

The next day, we had a morning excursion which took in the Waterways and St. Peter & Paul Fortress. The Waterways was interesting as you got to see a lot more of the buildings and architecture from the river. St. Peter & Paul Fortress has a lot of interesting history behind it; the coffins (if you can call them that) are beautiful and the decoration of the room is breath-taking.

Trip Highlights

I don’t think I can pick just one part for my favourite…I loved St. Peterhof – the rooms were amazing and all so different. My first ever day at sea was nothing like I expected and a good experience that I won’t forget! In short, the whole experience was fantastic!

Possible Improvements

There was just one thing that we all agreed wasn’t necessarily wrong, but might be something that should be looked at, and that was the lunch included on the full day tour. It was a set three-course menu, which was fine, but no one actually knew what it was we were eating as there was no menu.

When we asked the waiters, they told us they could e-mail the menu to us? It was interesting and probably very traditional, but they didn’t really cater for vegetarians and a few people were very unsure. The one thing that does go down very well with the three-course meal, though, is the large shot of vodka they encourage you to have with your starter!

Recommendations

Triumph Arch

Triumph Arch, St Petersburg

I would recommend, and have recommended, this trip to travellers. St. Petersburg is such an amazing place and spending two days there gives you a great opportunity to see most of the main attractions – and they are definitely worth seeing.

Balmoral is a nice sized ship and all the staff are amazing. The waiters remembered what people like to drink with their meals – we had three tables between us and all swapped to different seats and tables every night, they did a great job! The cabin staff were very friendly and couldn’t do enough to help and every member of crew you saw had a greeting for you. The food was lovely and the prices of drinks are very reasonable; I couldn’t fault a thing.

Additional Comments

I would like to thank Russell Cox from Fred Olsen Cruise Lines for being a great escort and a good sport, everyone on the educational as we had a great time and Paul and Steve for giving me the wonderful opportunity to see what everyone else raves about. It was my first ever experience of a cruise and I think I might have been bitten by the bug!

Must see? St. Peterhof
Must do? Relax on deck and watch the world go by
Must try? Chilled strawberry soup on ‘International’ night

cruise holiday to St. Petersburg is one of the best ways to see this part of the world in all its glory. We can help you plan a similar trip to Kerry’s aboard one of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ own ships. To talk to one of our cruise specialists, simply call into your nearest Fred. Olsen Travel store or fill out a contact form online.