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Circumnavigation of the Baltics
Le Ponant Cruise
Amsterdam (Netherlands) - Copenhagen (Denmark) - 14 nights aboard the National Geographic Explorer

May 11 - 25, 2013

The treasures of St. Petersburg and the great Scandinavian capitals of Stockholm and Copenhagen display only a fraction of this region’s storied past. Delve deeper into your understanding of the Baltics on this satisfying circumnavigation of the Baltic Sea and nine countries—encountering fascinating cultures and histories. We make dramatic water approaches to the larger cities and forays into lesser-known towns. Venture into the Old Towns of Lubeck, Riga, and Tallinn, designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. View one of the world’s greatest art collections at St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum. Explore the tiny islands along the Finnish and Swedish coasts by kayak or on nature walks. And by special arrangement, meet with former President Lech Walesa of Poland in his hometown of Gdansk.

Day-by-Day Itinerary

Day 1 - Amsterdam/Embark Ship
Arrive in Amsterdam and have an overview of the city’s canals and cafes before embarkation. (L,D)
Day 2 - At Sea/Kiel Canal
We have a relaxing day to settle in to shipboard life as we sail along the German coast this morning and transit the 63-mile-long Kiel Canal. Opened in 1895, the Kiel Canal passes south of Denmark, connecting the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. One of the busiest canals in the world, with more than 50,000 ships transiting a year, its banks are surrounded by pastoral lowlands. (B,L,D)
Day 3 - Lübeck, Germany
Our ship heads into the canals of Lübeck, the medieval capital of the Hanseatic League, and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. We have a splendid introduction to the Hanseatic and Renaissance architecture of Lübeck during a boat ride along the canals. After lunch, we have a different perspective, walking the lively streets on a guided tour of Old Town, with its superb examples of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. (B,L,D)
Day 4 - Christiansø & Bornholm Islands, Denmark
These small islands off southern Sweden have belonged to Denmark since 1522. Today we landby Zodiac at the small island of Christiansø for a morning of reflection and photography. Wander through an artists’ village that occupies the site of an 18th-century castle. Continue to the verdant island of Bornholm, rich in natural history. Starting at the picturesque fishing village, we head to the tip of the island to visit the ruins of an ancient fortress and castle, Denmark’s largest built around 1250. (B,L,D)
Day 5 - Gdánsk, Poland
Dock at the historic Gdansk shipyards, where Poland’s Solidarity movement was born. Visit the moving Solidarity Monument and a museum detailing the fall of communism in Poland. Stroll around Gdansk’s Old Town, seeing the old red-brick merchant’s houses and 15th-century Artus Court. Then, by special arrangement, meet with former President of Poland and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa. (B,L,D)
Day 6 - Klaipeda, Lithuania
Arrive in Klaipeda, the primary port of Lithuania. The city that grew up following a serious fire in 1854 is a delightful assemblage of red-roofed 19th-century and restored older buildings. We visit the remains of Old Town and stroll through the sculpture garden. Then travel to the seaside town of Palanga, visiting the lavish 19th-century estate of former Polish prince Tishkevich, which now houses the celebrated Amber Museum. (B,L,D)
Day 7 - Riga, Latvia
Riga is a beautiful Hanseatic city dating from 1201, with architectural gems in all styles and from all periods. The city is recognized as having the finest collection of art nouveau buildings in Europe. We explore the cobbled streets of Riga’s Old Town and the Great Guild Hall Square, venturing into 14th-century Riga Castle. (B,L,D)
Day 8 - Tallinn, Estonia
Enclosed by walls and turrets, Tallinn’s Hanseatic Old Town is one of the Baltics’ best preserved medieval cities. On a walking tour of this UNESCO World Heritage site, stroll past the bustling cafés and galleries of the Town Hall Square and visit the Church of St. Nicholas. From the top of Dome Hill, gaze at a skyline that bristles with pointed gables and spires. If you wish, have dinner ashore and explore the city by night. (B,L,D)
Day 9-10 - St. Petersburg
Founded by Peter the Great in 1703, St. Petersburg, Russia’s “window to the west,” is a city of grand buildings and monuments, canals, bridges and parks. Explore St. Petersburg’s imperial luxuries and artistic bounty. Visit the opulent summer palace of Catherine the First at Pushkin, gold-domed St. Isaac’s Cathedral, and the grandiose Peter and Paul Fortress, one of the oldest buildings in the city. A former political prison, some famous residents included Dostoevsky, Gorky, Trotsky and Peter’s own son, Alexy. And, we visit the legendary Hermitage Museum, one of the world’s great museums set in the magnificent winter palace of Catherine the Great. One of the highlights is the collection of outstanding Impressionist paintings. (B,L,D)
Day 11 - Exploring Coastal Finland
Today we explore the granite islands along the coastline, looking for idyllic places to take a Zodiac cruise, launch our kayaks, and go for a hike. (B,L,D)
Day 12 - Stockholm, Sweden
National Geographic Explorer arrives in Stockholm, the “city that floats on water.” Our explorations begin with a guided stroll though the cobbled streets of Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s pastel-hued Old Town. Continue with a visit to the Vasa Museum, with its famed 17th-century warship — the prize of King Gustavus Adolkphus’s navy that sank in the harbor on its maiden voyage in 1628—and was raised virtually intact in 1961. (B,L,D)
Day 13 - Visby, Gotland
Today we explore the walled city of Visby, a former Viking trading post. The narrow, winding streets evoke the Middle Ages, and the numerous gardens ablaze with flowers have earned Visby the nickname “the city of ruins and roses.” We visit the botanical gardens and see fascinating Viking artifacts at the Fornsal Museum, with its superb exhibits covering eight thousand years of history. (B,L,D)
Day 14 - Exploring Southern Sweden
Our plans are kept flexible today so we can enjoy the best of summer in southern Sweden. Take leisurely walks, get acquainted with Swedish coastal culture, and photograph everyday life in centuries-old seaside villages. (B,L,D)
Day 15 - Copenhagen, Denmark/Home
Disembark in Copenhagen and transfer to the airport for your return flight home. (B)




Terms and Conditions:

Basis of Rates:
All prices are based on two persons sharing a cabin, or a single where noted. Shared accommodations are available on certain ships and categories. For more information, please refer to our Share Guarantee Program section of our Terms and Conditions, or call us for details. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars.

Costs Include: 
All accommodations aboard ships or in hotels per itinerary or similar, all meals and nonalcoholic beverages aboard ship, meals on land as indicated, air transportation where indicated as included, shore excursions, sightseeing and entrance fees, special access permits, transfers to and from group flights, use of snorkeling equipment and wet suits, use of kayaks (where available), gratuities (except to ship’s crew), taxes and service charges, services of a ship physician on most voyages, and services of our expedition staff.

Not Included:
Air transportation (except where shown as included), extensions, passport, visa, immigration fees, scuba diving (where available), meals not indicated, travel protection plan, items of a personal nature, such as alcoholic beverages, internet access, and laundry. Gratuities to ship's crew are at your discretion.

For all programs, airfare is an additional cost unless otherwise indicated. Sample airfares are subject to change. We will gladly assist in making your air arrangements for a $50 per person service fee.

To reserve your place, an advance payment for the program is required at the time of reservation. The per person advance payment amount varies by program, and is outlined in our brochures, as well as on our website. Holiday departure dates and certain longer voyages may carry additional advance deposit requirements due to high demand for these voyages. Payment is accepted by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover or check.

Receipt of your initial payment indicates your acceptance of our complete Terms and Conditions.

We require written notice at the time of reservation for any physical condition, diet, or treatment requiring special attention.

Smoking Policy:
Smoking is allowed only in designated outdoor areas.

Share Guarantee Program:

If you are a solo guest willing to share accommodations, we will be happy to make arrangements to match you with another solo guest, so you may travel at the double occupancy rate. If you are willing to share, and we are unable to make shared arrangements for you, we will guarantee you the per person double occupancy rate, and you will not incur the solo rate. This program is subject to availability, and limited to certain ships and categories.

Medical Information:
It is essential that guests with medical conditions and/or special dietary restrictions, make them known to us in sufficient time for us to accommodate their request.