Next week, I’m off on an eleven-night Scandinavia and Russia cruise on board the Regal Princess. It was a relatively last-minute decision based on an offer I couldn’t refuse. The woman on the customer service line at Princess said the Regal is among the best in their fleet, describing her as a “floating five star hotel.”
The email came from Princess touting fare sales. No big deal, I thought. Then I clicked, and clicked again and clicked some more. With the sales, discounts for past sailers and a complimentary upgrade, I ended up with a deluxe balcony stateroom and $200 in onboard credit for less than the normal cost of an inside cabin.
As usual, the itinerary offered by Princess is impressive: roundtrip from Copenhagen, Denmark with ports including Oslo, Norway; Aarhus, Denmark; Warnemunde, Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; and an overnight in St. Petersburg, Russia. Plus the Princess tag line promises, “Escape Completely.”
Between the time when I first contemplated the cruise and decided to book, the airfare had gone up almost $400. I ended up using American Express membership rewards toward the airline ticket. I called Delta today, and a nice woman on the line put me in an exit row bulkhead window seat on both long legs of my trip–from Detroit to Amsterdam on the way there and Amsterdam to Detroit on the way back–at no extra charge. This makes the trip so much more enjoyable, allowing me to comfortably sleep and arrive relatively refreshed.
Shore excursions are quite ambitious and fairly pricey. A two-day tour of St. Petersburg with all of the highlights, including the palaces, cathedrals, the Hermitage Museum, a canal cruise; and a private evening at the Catherine Palace, followed by dinner and a folkloric show in Pushkin, Russia came to $629.95. The side trip to Berlin from Warnemunde includes a three-hour train ride each way, a solemn visit to a Concentration Camp Memorial, lunch at a five-star Berlin Hotel, and a tour of all the highlights of the city and costs $329.95. Needless to say, the $200 shipboard credit doesn’t go very far.
To capture myself in front of the famous sites, I ordered a selfie stick from Amazon. While I debated extensively on whether or not to risk looking like a total tourist buffoon, I ended up deciding to order it. Mostly because it’s a a pain to find people and ask them to take your photo. What’s worse is that I inevitably find someone who is either a terrible photographer or doesn’t know how to use an iPad or iPhone to take the photo. I figured with the selfie stick, I can capture my own pictures and share them with my blog followers more easily, and the Minisuit Selfie Stick Pro got rave reviews.
I had originally planned to take this cruise in 2017, given that I have already cruised this year–in January to South America–and have a Grand Asia cruise booked for 2016, but the email with the sale got to me. Call me a sucker, but you only live once, and I’d like to see as much of the world as possible while I’m here.