so I went on a cruise...

cruising into Stockholm (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

So I went on a cruise, perhaps a surprising admission from a hotel specialist who loves nothing better than stepping out the front door of a luxury hotel into the heart of a wonderful city. Claire and I are back from our 11-day, 10-night Windstar cruise from Copenhagen to Stockholm with stops in places like Gdansk, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, and Helsinki. What's my take-away?

1. Pack and unpack one time is indeed the selling point of cruising. We enjoyed the hospitality of our little home at sea for 10 days as our ship took us every evening to a new and interesting port.

2. A ship's cabin will never be the equal of a top five-star luxury hotel room. Our cabin was 277 square feet. While large for a cruise ship, this is postage-stamp sized for hotels. However, the cabin made efficient use of space and was perfectly adequate. If you upsell to a larger Suite, you'll be very happy.

3. The food was pretty good, and everything we consumed (including in-between meal snacks, espresso drinks, soft drinks, and bottled water) was included in one quite reasonable fare.

4. It's about the itinerary, not the cruise itself. We took this cruise because we fell in love with the itinerary. There was no other way we could have visited seven new countries in ten short days.

5. Shore excursions can be very good if you get a great guide. Our guides in Bornholm and Klaipeda were fabulous, but our guide in Tallinn was boring and disinterested. (Each of these was an excursion sold by the cruise company itself). You can always book private guides through Virtuoso onsites, Shore Trips, or Viator; we enjoyed some excellent experiences this way.

6. Small, boutique ships are the way to go for most luxury hotel aficionados. Four Seasons fans should be happy on a ship with around 200 cabins. On the other hand, I can't imagine myself on a mega-ship, equivalent to a Vegas mega-hotel but bobbing up and down in the middle of the ocean.

We truly enjoyed our experience on Windstar's Star Pride and will sail again when we find an itinerary that's calling our name. In the meantime, there are some great values out there... including up to a $1000 shipboard credit on 2019, 2020, and 2021 voyages if you book before September 30th. 

copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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