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karli_ratte

Baltic ports with young child

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After a few years of absence from cruising because of our baby's birth we are back in the cruising "business" and planning our Baltic Cruise with Celebrity this upcoming summer. I've done lots of research on these forums already and we're about to make a booking with Best Guides for our 2 days in St. Petersburg. Our girl will be a bit over 2,5 years old then and I hope she'll still be a good traveller (made it from Europe to Australia and back without crying once on multiple flights).

We're considering making another booking with the same agency for one or two of the other ports as well (maybe Tallin or Helsinki). I was wondering if anybody could tell me about their experience with a small child on a similar route, with this agency in specific and if there are any recommendations on what to do and see with a 2,5 year old on this cruise. 

 

Thank you so much in advance, Petra

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We used Anastasia's Travel, so I can't help with your group, but I can say there is plenty to do for your daughter, in all 3 ports you listed. My kids were 3 and 6, and we had no problems with the 3 year old. He was just in awe of everything he saw. It was a lot for him to take in because everything (especially St. Petersburg) was so elaborate compared to home. 

Using a travel guide was one of the best things they did (we did a private tour) because when one of the kids needed a break, they knew just where to go and what to do. Many times, it was just a simple, they needed a 15 minute break, and then we were off to the next activity. When you are planning your tour with your guide, make sure you let them know you have a young child, and they will plan that into your tours. It's well worth it!

 

 

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Thanks! You‘re confirming what we thought. Ours is a private tour too. I hope it’s worth the extra money to have our own guide and driver. Glad to hear that your younger kid enjoyed the tours! 

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That looks very interesting and we can walk there from one of the Hop on Hop off Bus stops. Thanks!! 

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Posted (edited)

My son was 3 when we took him on a Baltic cruise, which he absolutely loved.  The private tour in st. Petersburg was an absolute necessity, since he was able to control the itinerary and stay longer at exhibits he enjoyed and skip through lesser attractions like the middle rooms in Catherine's palace.  We were able to visit absolutely everything we wanted to see on our cruise, including all the major highlights in St. Petersburg.  The review in my signature line explains all of our private tours (we easily toured everywhere independently except for St Petersburg).  Since I only booked the trip 6 weeks in advance there were a few things I missed so I'd recommend also looking into:

 

Reindeer tour outside of Helsinki

winter world in helsinki

grand market  train museum in st. Petersburg

 

This tour company is highly regarded for its tours geared towards children:  https://www.bestguides-spb.com/children-page.html

 

This is a wonderful trip with kids, and I'm sure your child will love it!

 

Oh, and as you read my review please note that it is from 2014, and at least one thing has changed - there are no longer single ride tickets offered by the sightseeing boats in Stockholm, so given the excellent public transportation options you might want to choose to travel a different way there.  

 

 

 

Edited by kitkat343

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Thank you so much for pointing me towards your review! That has already given me so many ideas and I will take a few more notes as I continue my planning. I actually liked your day in Tallin, heading up the hill and then slowly making your way back towards the ship. 

Thanks for pointing out the issue regarding getting off the ship in St. Petersburg on the first day. Our tour is supposed to start at 8:30, but I assume the first program point (drive around the city) can be shortened or cut completely, if we don't make it off the ship in time. We are Elite members, so I hope that might gain us a bit of extra time off the ship. 

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2 hours ago, karli_ratte said:

Thank you so much for pointing me towards your review! That has already given me so many ideas and I will take a few more notes as I continue my planning. I actually liked your day in Tallin, heading up the hill and then slowly making your way back towards the ship. 

Thanks for pointing out the issue regarding getting off the ship in St. Petersburg on the first day. Our tour is supposed to start at 8:30, but I assume the first program point (drive around the city) can be shortened or cut completely, if we don't make it off the ship in time. We are Elite members, so I hope that might gain us a bit of extra time off the ship. 

we did Baltics cruise on NCL Breakaway in 2018 with the new system whereby ships tours get priority disembarkation in St Petersburg

private tours are not allowed to enter cruise port until an hour after ships tours so elite status makes no difference

NCL set up a system whereby those not on ships tours booked a letter A-G for disembarkation

had to go via theatre-no way to get round

unfortunately there was no enforcement of letters and many people with later letters just joined the queue anyway with the result it took over 30 minutes to be processed through the theatre

then another 30 minutes to get through Russian immigration-made worse by a large family group in front spreading across several lines then gathering them all into the line they thought was going quickest-ours!

  

after 10am and for second day there was no processing through theatre so much quicker

I would recommend starting your tour after 10 to allow the hoardes to get off and arrange a later return to ship

after all you will have 2 days and this will be much less stressful with young children

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oh my... well, we'll be prepared and will try and take it easy. I'll see if we can push different items on our schedule around a bit. 

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Posted (edited)

Fab40something is completely correct about the new rules for disembarking in St. Petersburg (sorry I forgot to mention that).  Prior to the change, The tours usually started later on day 2, so it is possible to start later on day 1 and earlier on day 2 without losing any time overall in St. Petersburg.   But the issue of how the cruise lines are handling elite passengers is still up for discussion, and you might want to post here and on the celebrity board in June to see if they are letting elite passengers have priority disembarkation next season.  You also want to contact your tour provider close to sailing to get a sense of what conditions are like on the ground.  There were also some issues with huge lines outside of Catherine’s palace, which is another reason for a private tour as they have in the past let smaller tours in immediately while holding larger tours in line to prevent overcrowding (at least one private tour company stopped visiting Catherine’s palace due to the immense lines).  Also, some people have gotten through the immense lines to disembark much faster than others, and this has held up larger private tours when a couple of members of your group are late and everyone else needs to wait for them.  Best of luck to you.  

Edited by kitkat343

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Thank you so much again for all the helpful information. I keep adding things to our list and have to say that I have gotten so much more excited about this trip since posting here, mainly due to all the helpful and positive replies I have received. Our booked tour has the addendum "relaxed" to the title, so I assume that we'll have leeway with regards to day one of our program, but will check with the agency closer to departure. 

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We were in St. Petersburg, Tallinn (Old Town, Pirita and Kadriorg by minivan) and Helsinki (walking tour) with Best Guides. They gave us a good discount for booking in three different cities.
We are a family of 4 with 2 boys of 9 and 10. Initially we planned to book a special child friendly tour with Best Guides but such tours could be booked only as private which was too expensive for us.

 

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Thanks! We've finalised our booking with Best Guides for SPB. They do indeed give good discounts. 

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