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Join the inaugural sailing season of the Ocean Explorer for this culture-rich voyage into the beguiling Baltic. Embark Vantage's brand-new luxury small ship and call on captivating ports in seven nations, from beloved cultural capitals such as Helsinki and St. Petersburg to smaller ports that only small ships like ours can reach — like the medieval port of Visby and charming Rønne, gateway to the seldom-visited “Gourmet Island” of Bornholm. Your Northern European sojourn is bookended by land stays in Stockholm and Copenhagen, two of Scandinavia’s most celebrated cities. It’s a thrilling Baltic journey you won’t want to miss!
Along the way, our Cultural Discoveries pull back the curtains on centuries of history that span the ages. View the Viking ship Vasa at Stockholm’s renowned museum. During intriguing onboard lectures with our onboard Resident Lecturer, learn about the powerful Hanseatic League that once ruled the seas, the liberation of Poland, and the region’s inspiring “Singing Revolution.” Experience — and taste! — the food cultures of Bornholm Island and Copenhagen firsthand during exclusive market visits.
In all, 23 included features and Cultural Discoveries bring you into the heart of Northern Europe. Join our dedicated onboard Cruise Director and Concierge during revealing tours along the Solidarity Route of Gdańsk, among the art nouveau treasures of Riga, and into the remarkably preserved Old Town of Tallinn. And two full days in St. Petersburg give you ample time to take in the gilded wonders of Peter the Great’s splendid capital.
When you’re not exploring the beauty of the Baltics, indulge in the numerous amenities of the Ocean Explorer. Treat yourself to a massage or a soak at the onboard spa, relax in the infinity pool, get energized in the gym, or sip a cocktail on the panoramic sun deck. Our small passenger-to-crew ratio ensures optimum service, and if you want to explore more on your own, our complimentary onboard Concierge can help you customize your Baltic adventure.
From its start around 1000 AD as a Viking trading hub and its heyday as a Northern Renaissance maritime power, to its current position as Sweden’s cultural and political capital, beautiful Stockholm is the place to go for anyone wishing to understand Scandinavia. It’s also a clean, safe, modern and delightful haven that is easy to explore, thanks to its design-forward infrastructure, cosmopolitan cuisine, and friendly people. Your centrally located hotel is the perfect base from which to explore this beautiful capital built on 14 small islands filled with parks, medieval squares, picturesque footbridges, and more. An included Swedish cultural tour and a food tour give you a jump-start on getting oriented to the Nordic world. Then, you’ll have ample time to explore on your own. This is the perfect way to enhance your Baltic experience, and a tremendous value in a region known to be costly to visit.
Board an overnight flight to Copenhagen
Today you’ll board an overnight flight to Denmark. Or, depart earlier for your pre-extension to Copenhagen.
Please note: If you're taking advantage of the pre-trip extension to Copenhagen, you will follow the pre-trip itinerary until Day 4, when you'll board the Ocean Explorer and join your fellow base travelers for the rest of the journey. All activities and inclusions will be covered; please see the pre-trip extension itinerary for details.
Welcome to Copenhagen, Denmark’s cosmopolitan capital. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a representative will meet you at the airport and assist with the transfer to your hotel. Enjoy free time at leisure to acclimate before an evening Welcome Briefing. Tonight, enjoy a cocktail and Welcome Dinner with your fellow travelers at the hotel.
Panoramic tour of Copenhagen
Get acquainted with this charming city on an included panoramic tour. View the famed Little Mermaid statue on her watery perch, visit the Nyhavn canal district, swing by towered and turreted Rosenborg Castle, and contrast that with the more-dignified Amalienborg Castle where Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II resides today. We've planned your arrival at the royal residence to coincide with the Changing of the Guard, and your tour also includes a scenic canal boat ride so you can take in this lovely cityscape from the water.
Next, visit the Torvehallerne food market to taste the freshest local fare and interact with the people who live here and grow produce, flowers, and more. Peruse among the more than 60 stalls for a delicious lunch on your own before enjoying the rest of the afternoon at leisure. Dinner is on your own tonight, and from renowned Noma restaurant to an up-cropping of other Michelin-starred gems, food has become Copenhagen’s main attraction!
Exploring Copenhagen on your own, embark the Ocean Explorer
You have today to uncover the delights of Copenhagen on your own. Perhaps you’ll explore the Nyhavn district with its colorful lines of buildings and umbrella-fronted cafés. You may also want to stroll the city’s famed Strøget, one of the longest pedestrian streets in the world. To get around more quickly, perhaps rent a bicycle and join the many locals who use two wheels to get around.
Afterwards, you'll embark the Ocean Explorer. Get settled in your cabin and take a walk through the ship, stop by the Concierge to make spa arrangements, then gather for a port talk to hear about tomorrow’s exciting destination. In the elegant dining room tonight, you'll savor a special Captain’s Welcome Dinner, just a mere preview to the curated gourmet dining you'll experience during your journey. The ship departs this evening for Bornholm.
Cliff-top castles and Danish gastronomy of Bornholm
This morning you'll explore Bornholm Island, where the open fields and granite headlands get more days of sunshine than anywhere else in Denmark, drawing summer tourists to the sandy beaches. On your island tour, you’ll stop for photos at the dramatic cliff-top ruins of Hammershus, a medieval castle. Stop in the quaint fishing village of Svaneke, one of the best-preserved market towns on the island, and visit a fascinating 12th-century round church to admire its circular plan.
During your visit, you'll sample firsthand the island’s burgeoning reputation as a food destination. Not only is its climate ideal for growing a common fig known as the Bornholm Diamond, but the island also embraces the products grown on its many farms. You'll stop for tastings at the Garden, a food and cultural house that showcases Bornholm’s exciting flavors before returning to the ship for lunch.
Relax this evening with a lecture on the region, then savor dinner and attend a port talk to learn about tomorrow’s explorations.
The Solidarity Route through historic Gdansk, Poland
The Ocean Explorer arrives to Gdansk this morning. Gdansk was a powerful member of the Hanseatic League, the maritime organization that controlled much of medieval trade in the area. Today, the legacy of its prosperity has been lovingly restored. On a morning tour, set out to explore this great maritime city whose great shipyards served as the incubator for the legendary Solidarity movement of 1980, the first crack in what would ultimately be the crumbling of the entire Soviet Union. You’ll follow the Solidarity Route through this historic seaport, including the charming Old Town and massive St. Mary’s Church, one of the largest brick churches in the world. A visit to the European Solidarity Centre reveals the Solidarity story in impressive detail; you will follow an English-language audio tour through the captivating exhibits.
Return to the ship for lunch, then utilize the shuttle service from the ship back to Gdansk's Old Town. Stroll down Long Street, also known as the Royal Route for the kingly processions it once hosted, to witness reconstructions of its beautiful 17th-century buildings.
Learn about the liberation of Poland during a captivating lecture, then enjoy another gourmet dinner and a port talk about your next remarkable city.
The Hanseatic gem of Visby, Sweden
Enjoy breakfast this morning as the ship arrives in Visby. This charming seaside treasure is located on the large Swedish island of Gotland. Rightfully declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the extraordinary preservation of its medieval port area, Visby was a key link in the powerful Hanseatic League. On your walking tour of the Old Town’s winding streets, you’ll see Almedalen Park, the Powder Tower, Fish Alley, and Visby Cathedral, then return to the ship for lunch.
Leisure time in the afternoon allows you more time to return to favorite spots on your own; perhaps you will duck into the cathedral to admire its lovely stained glass and ornate altarpiece. Or, enjoy the ship's amenities — maybe you'll reserve a massage, hit the gym, or even pick up some items in the boutique. Before dinner, hear another fascinating lecture, followed by a port talk on tomorrow's adventures.
Savor dinner this evening as you cruise to your next destination, cosmopolitan Riga, the Russian-flavored capital of Latvia.
Enjoy the cobbled streets of Riga with an included organ concert and a special inaugural dinner
When you awake this morning, you’ll be sailing in the Gulf of Riga, headed for the Latvian capital of the same name. After lunch on board, set out into the largest city of the Baltic States for a rewarding tour by coach and by foot. Begin on the eastern bank of the Daugava River, where Vecriga, or Old Riga, is punctuated by the three spires of St. Peter’s, the Dome Cathedral and St. Jacob’s. These streets are dripping with charm and beauty, much of it embodied in graceful art nouveau architecture. After exploring, pause at St. John’s Church for an included concert on the church’s splendid organ that’s sure to inspire.
Tonight's dinner is a special one and takes you off the ship. Head to a celebrated local restaurant for a special inaugural dinner where you'll get a taste of traditional Latvian foods and watch a festive performance of traditional Rigan organ music and dancing.
You will overnight on board in Riga. Take some time to attend this evening’s port talk to learn how you may further explore this charming city tomorrow.
Riga at leisure
Today is free for you to explore as you please, and you can take advantage of complimentary shuttle service between the ship and Riga’s Old Town for your convenience. After, participate in an insightful lecture on the Singing Revolution of the Baltic states. Our port talk previews our next exciting destination before another delicious dinner on board as the ship begins its overnight sail to Estonia.
Medieval splendors in Tallinn
Tallinn, one of the Hanseatic League’s trading centers, has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its remarkable preservation. After breakfast, attend a lecture that will offer some insight into your explorations of Tallinn today.
After an early lunch on board, embark on a panoramic tour of the city. The two-level Tallinn has an enchantment all its own, which you’ll discover from the winding streets of the Lower Town to the fortified Upper Town on Toompea Hill, where you can take in the amazing view from the Patkuli viewing platform. You’ll also see the Dome Church and the Opera House before heading to the Song Festival Grounds to see the spot where locals raised their singing voices in protest to eject the Soviets in a “Singing Revolution.”
Tallinn boasts a thriving high-tech economy, too, which has earned it a reputation as Europe’s Silicon Valley. The young, entrepreneurial population supports a lively cultural and dining scene.
Back on board this evening, enjoy another sumptuous dinner as we sail toward Russia.
Glittering St. Petersburg and Peterhof
Enjoy breakfast this morning as the ship arrives to St. Petersburg. Peter the Great broke ground for his gilded capital city in 1703, intending to emulate and surpass the best of Western Europe. He came close to succeeding, because no matter how often you’ve been, you simply cannot get enough of this magnificent city.
Today’s full day of exploring takes you first on a panoramic tour to see the palaces, canals, and churches in the heart of the city. Then, following lunch in a local restaurant, you'll travel to Peterhof, the spectacular “Russian Versailles” that Peter designed and built on the shores of the Gulf of Finland. The gardens and Grand Cascade of fountains are a marvel in themselves.
After tonight's sumptuous dinner on the ship, Russian entertainers join you on board for a lively performance that showcases a rich and colorful tradition of music and dance. You'll overnight in St. Petersburg, hearing about tomorrow’s discoveries during a port talk.
The magnificent art of the Hermitage
This morning, enjoy an early “pre-rush” visit to what is widely considered the world’s most comprehensive collection of Western European art. The amazing Hermitage Museum was started by Catherine the Great, expanded under subsequent tsars, then grew exponentially as the Soviets seized scores of private collections. You’ll arrive early so you can immerse yourself in the masterpieces in a more relaxed setting. Admire the cream of the collection as you wind through the spectacular exhibition halls of the gilded Winter Palace.
After a lunch of local specialties at a nearby restaurant, tour the magnificent St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Completed in 1858 as a Russian Orthodox church, today the cathedral operates as a fascinating museum.
The ship departs for Helsinki later this afternoon. Enjoy another lecture in the lounge; then, a port talk will fill you in on all that awaits in Finland.
Helsinki’s grand squares and sacred Cathedral
This morning the ship arrives to Helsinki as you're enjoying a breakfast that will power you up for walking and panoramic tours of the city today. Whether you’re viewing Helsinki’s 1852 cathedral, crossing one of its many parks or squares, or seeing yourself reflected in the glass of a brand-new building, you'll find that there’s an appealing orderliness and grace to this northern capital. Your panoramic city tour includes the bustling waterside Market Square (known locally as the Kauppatori) and Old Market Hall.
As you admire the stately government buildings of Senate Square, the impressive green domes of the Helsinki Cathedral watch over your progress. This neoclassical wonder — completed in 1852 as a tribute to Czar Nicholas I of Russia, the Grand Duke of Finland at the time — crowns the cityscape like a jewel. Today, it is the worship house for the city’s Evangelical Lutherans. Its high perch and its rooftop statues of the Twelve Apostles remind the devout of Helsinki that their God is ever-present.
You'll also pass the Sibelius Monument, sculpted in tribute to the famed Finnish composer, and the remarkable Temppeliaukio Church, built into solid rock. Return for lunch on board; later, the ship sets off for Stockholm.
Disembark the Ocean Explorer, then panoramic city tour of Stockholm, including Vasa Museum
Arrive this morning in Stockholm, Sweden’s sophisticated capital, and say goodbye to the ship after breakfast. We hope you enjoyed your time on the Ocean Explorer, Vantage's first small ship ocean cruising vessel!
Get acquainted with Stockholm's irresistible charms and remarkable history, spread across 14 islands knit together by some 57 bridges. On your cultural tour of this “Venice of the North,” you’ll walk through the narrow streets of the delightful Gamla Stan, or Old Town, and enjoy views of Stockholm City Hall and the city’s equally attractive newer sections. On an included tour, visit the Vasa Museum, where you’ll see the amazing “ghost ship” of the same name — the world’s only fully intact 17th-century warship. The massive vessel sank just offshore on its maiden voyage in 1628. It lay preserved in the mud for three centuries, before being recovered and displayed in its full glory.
Later, check into your Stockholm hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Lunch and dinner are both on your own.
Explore Stockholm on your own
You'll have the entire day to take in the sophisticated pleasures of Stockholm today. Maybe you’ll start your day with a lussekatt (a saffron bun), then set out to stroll the endless waterways of the archipelago on which the strikingly beautiful and compact city is built. Return to the cobbled lanes of the Gamla Stan, the Old Town, or visit the renowned Skansen Museum, an open-air recreation of history’s traditional Swedish houses.
Celebrate your Baltic journey this evening with a Farewell Drink and Dinner alongside your fellow travelers.
After breakfast, transfer to the Stockholm airport for your return flight home, or stay in Stockholm for your post-trip extension.
Please note: Arrive to your destination rested and refreshed! Convenient gateway city stopover options mean you can break up longer flights easily — just ask our Flight Experts for assistance.
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Cruise Director or regional expert.