When I got home from this trip I was exhausted; it wasn't jetlag, it was the kind of exhilarating exhaustion you experience when you've achieved something significant. This cruise was incredibly port-intensive, but unlike many cruises with lots of port stops, every one of the destinations offers so much that you can't just blow it off, take a pass. It's hardly “oh, another beach, another island.” This itinerary requires you to go, go, go all the time and even then you wish you had had more time to go, go, go.
As I contemplated the two weeks I had spent on Regatta I wondered if I would have done anything differently and I decided that no, the entire experience was as close to perfect as it could have been. I loved being on Regatta for many reasons, not least of which is that it's a relaxing ship, designed for port-intensive itineraries. I didn't get back onboard after a long day ashore and feel as though I were missing something by not joining megaphone-announced activities, because there are none.
My decision to stick with ship-based tours instead of joining outside organizations in St. Petersburg was spot on; I took advantage of the Premium Collection which costs $30 more per tour than the regular price but limits participation to between 10 and 16 people. It's kind of a cross between a private tour and a shore excursion; you can choose to do it on a half-day St. Petersburg tour or a full-day tour, and then on tours to The Hermitage, Peterhof and Catherine's Palace. I took the half-day tour and the Peterhof and Hermitage tours using that option but not the one to Catherine's Palace because I also did the Imperial Evening of the Tzars, which is Oceania's private night at the palace and probably the most extraordinary shore excursion I have ever done.
Russian Folk Dance
Was it my favorite? No, as spectacular as it was. That honor belongs to the evening before, the night of Russian music and dance. It was a toss-up between that one and the Russian ballet for me but in the end, my choice could not have been better. It was the most thrilling, foot-stomping, hand-clapping pure enjoyment I had experienced in a long time and had it been offered again I might have gone again.
Except for the weather at the beginning of the trip and the transportation issues in Stockholm, everything was perfect. My biggest regret is that it was too cold to enjoy walking around Copenhagen so I ended up going back to Regatta earlier than I would have liked. And, I do wish that I had had some Estonian kroon when I found that restaurant, Kompressor, in Tallinn.
No, I wouldn't do anything differently; not only that, but if I have the opportunity again, I would do the exact same trip on the exact same ship.
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Hotels in Stockholm
Hotels in London
Hotels in Dover
Jay Brentjes' Walking Tours (incredible site, same journey!)
Durant Imboden's Stockholm for Visitors