21520
Northern Europe
Seaside Capitals of the Baltic
Discover great cities of the Baltic, diving deep into the region’s history as you explore ancient neighborhoods, modern museums, grand architecture and World Heritage Sites.
Rating (4.88)
Program No. 21520RJ
Length
16 days
Starts at
5,395
Flights start at
1,250
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16 days
15 nights
40 meals
14 B 12 L 14 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Copenhagen, Check-in, Orientation
Copenhagen
D
Copenhagen Strand Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: If you arrive before rooms are available, you may leave your luggage with the concierge and go out for a walk or relax in the hotel. After checking in to the hotel and getting your room, take some time to freshen up and relax before our Orientation session at 5:00 PM in the breakfast meeting room of the hotel. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This program is staffed with a Study Leader who will lecture and lead field trips and who will also serve as Group Leader dealing with logistics. Ground transportation will be via private motorcoach unless noted otherwise. In addition to lectures and field trips exclusively for our Road Scholar group, you are invited to take advantage of the many activities and events aboard ship that are separate from the Road Scholar program. “Free Time” and “At Leisure” indicate when you can choose to do what you like and make your experience as personally meaningful, rewarding, and memorable as possible. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: After orientation, enjoy a three-course welcome dinner at a local restaurant with water, tea, or coffee and a glass of wine.

Evening: At leisure. Continuing getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Copenhagen Field Trip, Free Time
Copenhagen
B,D
Copenhagen Strand Hotel

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile; some cobblestone surfaces, one short, steep, slope to ascend/descend.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Founded circa 1160, Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark — the seat of the Royal Residence, the National Parliament and Supreme Court — and the largest city in Scandinavia. It is also a capital of culture and the arts, its rich heritage visible in historic structures from many different periods. And it has the distinction of the oldest and longest pedestrian street in the world. We’ll depart the hotel via motorcoach with a local expert on a field trip to see some of the city’s highlights. We’ll see City Hall, Tivoli Gardens, the old Stock Exchange, Nyhavn harbor, fairy-tale Rosenborg Castle where the Danish crown jewels are kept, Christiansborg Palace, and the Danish Parliament Building. Our local expert will provide commentary as we drive. We’ll stop at Amalienborg, winter home of the royal family, with its four identical palaces in rococo style that form an octagon rather than a square — one of the most beautiful palace complexes in Europe. We’ll also explore the lovely area around Kastellet, the old Citadel, built in 1626. The surrounding area is now a popular public park with the Gefion Fountain, the Museum of Danish Resistance (1940-1945), St. Alban’s Anglican Church, and the iconic symbol of Copenhagen, the bronze figure of the Little Mermaid, inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: We'll enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check out and transfer tomorrow with embarkation on the MS Zuiderdam in the afternoon.

DAY
4
Helsingør, Louisiana Museum, Embark MS Zuiderdam
At Sea
B,L,D
M/S Zuiderdam

Activity note: Walking 700 yards from motorcoach to park; uneven, cobblestone surfaces. In the castle, several steep, spiral stairs to ascend/descend; no elevators.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll travel with our local expert to Helsingør (Elsinore) for a view of the exterior of Kronborg Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the setting for Shakespeare's “Hamlet.” The UNESCO inscription states, “Located on a strategically important site commanding the Sund, the stretch of water between Denmark and Sweden, the Royal castle of Kronborg at Helsingør (Elsinore) is of immense symbolic value to the Danish people and played a key role in the history of northern Europe in the 16th-18th centuries.” Next, we’ll ride to Humlebaek and explore the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art with an expert. The building was constructed as a nobleman’s house in 1855 and opened as a museum in 1958. The collection of more than 3,500 works covers the period from 1945 to the present with an emphasis on painting and sculpture as well as architecture, design, photography, and film, as well as cultural and ethnographic exhibitions. Why is it called Louisiana? The aristocratic builder was married three times, to women all named Louise.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We’ll transfer to the port in Copenhagen and embark on the MS Zuiderdam. Upon completion of check-in, you will receive a ship identification card. It will serve as your identification for security procedures when embarking and disembarking the ship, and for making purchases on board. It is also your access card to your cabin. Take some time to freshen up and relax. Then, along with everyone else on board, we will participate in the mandatory ship’s safety drill when announced.

Dinner: Each evening aboard ship, Road Scholar participants are invited to have dinner together with the Study Leader at the early seating in the main dining room, where we will have reserved tables. There are tasty choices for each of the five (5) a la carte courses to order from the menu. Included beverages are coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. For other meals, you can choose the Lido Restaurant or one of the several specialty restaurants. The specialty restaurants include an upscale option at extra cost. Free round-the-clock room service is also available. There are bars in several different locations.

Evening: At leisure. Each evening you will be free to enjoy what you like onboard. A copy of the next day’s shipboard schedule — listing activities and events outside the Road Scholar program — will be placed in cabins each evening of the voyage.

DAY
5
Kiel-Germany, Hamburg, Free Time
Hamburg (Kiel)
B,L,D
M/S Zuiderdam

Activity note: Walking approximately 2 miles on cobblestones; some uneven ground.

Breakfast: The Lido Restaurant is cafeteria style for breakfast and offers dishes such as cooked-to-order omelettes, pancakes, fresh fruits, cereals, yogurts, fresh-squeezed orange juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: At leisure. We are scheduled to arrive in Kiel at 11:00 am.

Lunch: Have an early lunch on board before we disembark for our day in Kiel.

Afternoon: We’ll set out with a local expert on a field trip to explore the vibrant city of Hamburg, the second largest in Germany with the country’s second largest port, though it lies 65 miles inland from the North Sea. We’ll explore by motorcoach and on foot to see some of its many waterways and canals, and learn why Hamburg has been called the "Venice of the North." It actually has more bridges over its rivers than Venice and Amsterdam combined. Afterwards, take some time to see and do what interests you most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. All aboard is 8:00 p.m.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
At Sea, Road Scholar Exclusive Lectures
At Sea
B,L,D
M/S Zuiderdam

Activity note: N/A

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We’ll meet with our Study Leader for an onboard presentation on topics related to the program theme.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We’ll gather again with our Study Leader for another fascinating presentation providing insights and perspectives on our voyage. Afterwards, enjoy a gathering with your group of Road Scholars for an exclusive cocktail party before dinner.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Tallinn-Estonia
Tallinn
B,L,D
M/S Zuiderdam

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking about 2 miles; uneven, cobblestone surfaces; steep hills, long flights of steps.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: From the UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription: “The origins of Tallinn date back to the 13th century, when a castle was built there by the crusading knights of the Teutonic Order. It developed as a major centre of the Hanseatic League, and its wealth is demonstrated by the opulence of the public buildings (the churches in particular) and the domestic architecture of the merchants' houses, which have survived to a remarkable degree despite the ravages of fire and war in the intervening centuries.” We’ll depart the ship and take a motorcoach to begin a walking field trip led by a local expert that will feature some of the city’s most historically and culturally significant sites. Among the highlights we’ll see in the Upper Town are Toompea Castle, imposing Pikk Hermann tower (c. 1360); the Parliament building; and the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevski Cathedral. We’ll also walk to a vantage point with a beautiful view over the Lower Old Town. Tallinn was once Europe's greatest fortified city. Today, we can still see some of these treasures of history and medieval architecture. The Old Town is characterized by narrow, winding streets and many structures that have survived from the Middle Ages. We’ll see the Church of the Holy Spirit; the Great Guild Hall building, headquarters of Hanseatic League merchants; and Town Hall Square. The Town Hall has remained virtually unchanged since it was built in 1404. Local tradition says the world’s first Christmas tree made its public appearance here in 1441.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration in Tallinn. You are welcome to stay aboard ship and enjoy its activities and amenities or just relax.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
St. Petersburg-Russia, Catherine Palace, Hermitage
St Petersburg
B,L,D
M/S Zuiderdam

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. At the Hermitage, walking about 1/2 mile indoors, about 1.5 miles outdoors; flights of stairs, crowded conditions. At the Hermitage, walking through 5 buildings, approximately 2.5 hours.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We’ll begin our full day field trip with a drive outside St. Petersburg to the town of Pushkin, formerly Tsarskoe Selo — the Tsar’s Village. It was renamed to honor one of Russia’s most celebrated poets, Alexander Pushkin. Led by an expert, we’ll explore the vast Catherine Palace, named for Catherine I, wife of Peter the Great. The original structure was demolished and replaced by their daughter, the Empress Elizabeth I, and used as her summer residence. The façade is 1,066 feet (325 meters) long, painted in turquoise blue and white with gilding that took more than 220 pounds (100 kilograms) of gold. The interiors were the most elaborate in Europe, eclipsing even Versailles. We’ll walk through a series of magnificent rooms including the famous Great Hall and the Amber Room. The original Amber Room consisted of nearly 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms) of amber decorated with gold, gems, art works, and mirrors. It was looted by the Nazis and disappeared from history. What we see today is a meticulous reconstruction that took 24 years to complete, reopened in 2003.

Lunch: At a local dining venue.

Afternoon: Our next field trip stop is the fabulous Hermitage Museum, the largest art museum in Russia and one of the most prestigious in the world. It originated in 1764 with the Empress Catherine the Great. Situated in the historic center of St. Petersburg, the main museum complex comprises the Winter Palace, the Small Hermitage, the Old Hermitage, the New Hermitage, and the Hermitage Theatre. A local expert will lead our exploration. We’ll then return to the ship.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Peterhof, Peter & Paul Fortress & Cathedral
St Petersburg
B,L,D
M/S Zuiderdam

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. The drive to Peterhof is about 12.5 miles (20.5 kilometers), approximately 1 hour. Walking at Peterhof about 1.5 miles; flights of stairs up/down, few places to sit. At Peter and Paul Fortress, uneven, cobblestone surfaces.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We’ll begin another full day with a transfer to Peterhof (Petrodvorets) on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland for an expert led field trip. This royal estate of palaces, fountains, and parks was created by Peter the Great to rival Versailles. Left incomplete at the time of his death, it was finished in even grander style by his daughter, the Empress Elizabeth I. The Grand Palace is the most brilliant of all the summer residences of the Russian Tsars. The layout of the 300-acre park and spectacular fountains were designed by Peter himself. The Grand Cascade consists of three waterfalls, an avenue of 64 fountains, and 37 gilded statues. The lavish interiors were almost completely reconstructed after being destroyed by the Nazis in World War II.

Lunch: Returning to St. Petersburg, we’ll have lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll visit the Vasilievsky Island, originally intended by Peter the Great as the center of his new city, for its impressive views. We’ll then ride to the Peter and Paul Fortress for an expert led exploration. Another of Peter the Great’s creations, it served as a defensive bastion. The first building constructed within the walls of the fortress was the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, the oldest church in the city. Until the erection of the television tower, it was also the tallest thanks to its slender steeple that is one of the city’s landmarks. All but two of Russia’s monarchs since Peter the Great and members of their families are buried here. The interior is extravagantly decorated with carvings and paintings, frescoes, chandeliers, and an elaborate iconostasis. En route back to the ship, we’ll drive along the Neva embankment and Nevsky Prospect.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Helsinki-Finland
Helsinki
B,L,D
M/S Zuiderdam

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; walking a few hundred yards.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We’ll have another full day field trip beginning with an expert led exploration of Helsinki, founded in 1550. Over the centuries, as ownership changed from Sweden to Russia to Finland, it grew into a cosmopolitan city. Helsinki hosted the 1952 Summer Olympics, was named a European Capital of Culture in 2000, and the World Design Capital for 2012. Among the highlights we’ll see are the historic center, Finlandia Hall, and the Opera House. We’ll also see some of the icebreaker fleet, Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, Parliament Building, and Market Square.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a light lunch.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll travel by motorcoach outside of the city to the scenic shores of Lake Tuusula. We’ll visit Villa Kokkonen the home and atelier (studio) of renowned architect Alvar Aalto, who integrated his love of architecture, design, nature, visual arts, and music into this home. We’ll explore the villa with the resident hosts who are accomplished musicians, then enjoy a performance of music by Jean Sibelius (1865-1957), regarded as Finland’s greatest composer. Returning to the ship, we’ll have time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Stockholm-Sweden, Fjällgatan, Free Time
Stockholm
B,L,D
M/S Zuiderdam

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking about 2 miles at Gamla Stan; steep hills, cobblestone streets; those who wish may remain on the motorcoach.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We'll depart the pier for Fjällgatan. From there, you will have a splendid panoramic view over the capital of Sweden – Stockholm was built on 14 islands beginning more than a thousand years ago. Gamla Stan, where the first Stockholmers settled, is situated between the Baltic Sea on the east and Lake Mälaren on the west. We'll cross Lake Mälaren on Västerbron, one of the major bridges in Stockholm. We'll leave the island of Södermalm and enter the island of Kungsholmen. Our next stop will be the historic island of Riddarholmen, where you'll have a stunning view over Lake Mälaren and the City Hall. We'll continue our exploration with a narrated walking tour of Gamla Stan, strolling the narrow, cobbled streets. You will witness buildings from medieval times and hear of the people who long ago lived in this part of Stockholm, which today is considered a very modern place. Now, the Vasa Museum awaits us. It was specifically built to house the oldest fully preserved ship in the world. The warship Vasa was the pride of the ancient Sweden’s navy, but was too thin and too tall and sailed for less than 30 minutes on her maiden trip on August 10th, 1628. The wind caught her sails and toppled the ship, which sank almost immediately and settled in the mud of the Stockholm harbor for 333 years before being raised in 1961. After a guided tour of the museum, we'll have time to explore the museum’s other exhibits and displays of historic items. Over 12,000 artifacts were recovered together with the ship.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity to explore Stockholm independently. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure to relax aboard the ship or explore Stockholm. The ship docks in Stockholm overnight.

DAY
12
Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm
B,L,D
M/S Zuiderdam

Activity note: N/A

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We'll begin our second day in Stockholm with a discovery of Drottningholm Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage list. It is the most well-preserved royal castle built in the 1600s in Sweden and is representative of all European architecture for the period. The combination of the exotic Chinese Pavilion pleasure palace, the palace theatre and the magnificent palace gardens make a visit to Drottningholm a unique experience. Influenced by French prototype, the palace was built by architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder by commission of Queen Hedvig Eleonora. A number of royal personages have since then left their mark on the palace. The Palace is Their Majesties the King and Queens permanent home residence. The rooms in the southern wing of the palace are reserved for this purpose. The rest of the palace and grounds are open to the public year round. After the palace we'll stop by Stockholm's City Hall, one of Sweden’s most famous buildings, famous for its grand ceremonial halls and unique art pieces and the venue of the Nobel Prize banquet held on the 10th of December each year. It also houses the offices for 200 people including the Municipal Council.

Lunch: Aboard ship or independently if you choose to stay on in Stockholm.

Afternoon: Free Time. See and do what interests you most. You may also remain aboard ship and take advantage of the various activities and amenities or just relax. All aboard is 3:00 p.m.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
At Sea
At Sea
B,L,D
M/S Zuiderdam

Activity note: N/A

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We’ll meet with our Study Leader for an informative presentation.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We’ll have another expert presentation by our Study Leader.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Rostock-Germany, Free Time
Warnemuende
B,L,D
M/S Zuiderdam

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles, mostly even paved surfaces; short section with uneven, cobblestone surfaces and a few steps.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We’ll begin our field trip with a narrated drive to Rostock, Germany’s gateway to Scandinavia, where we’ll explore via motorcoach and on foot. This was one of the most important cities in the Hanseatic League — an historic confederation of trading cities and towns that dominated commerce for two centuries — when Rostock grew wealthy. We’ll see the architectural legacy of this era in a number of medieval structures among churches, mansions, and monuments from later eras including one of the four remaining out of 22 original city gates. We’ll also see the University of Rostock, founded in 1419, and Kroepeliner Strasse, lined with many gabled houses from the 17th and 19th centuries, now a popular pedestrian boulevard. The “Joy of Life” fountain from 1980, once considered controversial, provides a cheerful contrast with its ensemble of bronze sculptures.

Lunch: Aboard ship or independently if you choose to stay on in Rostock.

Afternoon: Free Time. See and do what interests you most, whether aboard ship or ashore. The ship will be docked near the seaside resort of Warnemünde, a walk of from 500-700 yards away. There is an underpass, with two flights of steps, under a railway. The beach is about 1/4 mile from the town center. All aboard is 7:00 p.m.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
Copenhagen-Denmark, Road Scholar Lecture, Free Time
Copenhagen
B,L,D
M/S Zuiderdam

Activity note: N/A

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We’ll meet with our Study Leader to gain more in depth insights into the history and culture of Copenhagen. The ship is scheduled to arrive in Copenhagen at 11:00 AM.

Lunch: Aboard ship or independently if you go into Copenhagen.

Afternoon: Free Time: Explore Copenhagen on your own to see and do what interests you most. The Study Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: Aboard ship. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for disembarkation and departure in the morning.

DAY
16
Disembark, Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Disembarkation will begin at 8:00 a.m. This usually takes approximately an hour, followed by airport transfers for those on Road Scholar group flights. If you are an independent traveler (POP status), see “Ground Transportation from Last Location.”

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We will disembark and proceed with onward travel plans. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!