Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Cruise to the Baltics

After spending a couple of days in India to see the Taj Mahal, we flew back to Europe for a cruise! Cruising is one of our favorite vacations, because you get to see so many different places and get a taste of them to see if you want to return later for a full experience. There is also no stress because meals are paid for and you don't have to go out finding restaurants. There's a ton of activities to do on board and you can be as busy or as lazy as you want. It's such a nice break!! I highly recommend cruising if you've never tried it.  We've done four together...two in the Caribbean, one in Alaska, and this one in the Baltics.  We were really anticipating this part of the trip!! India felt like a "check it off the list and say we've seen it" kind of journey, but the cruise was going to be really special.

We arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Friday night, then spent Saturday exploring the city. Copenhagen was a lot of fun, but as we would we could come to find out was true of all Baltic regions, expensive! :)

Castle tour with a viewing of the Crown Jewels!

Hotdogs are huge up north...and so much better than home for some reason!

We climbed to the top!

Such a cute part of town

Little Mermaid statue (she is tiny!!)

Tivoli Gardens (Amusement Park)...2nd Oldest in the world

Inside Tivoli

After exploring Copenhagen, we had a leisurely Sunday morning and boarded the ship a little after noon. This was our first cruise booking a balcony cabin and it was AMAZING! We probably wouldn't have done it, except the price was only like $100 different than an interior cabin. I loved having an outside space that was our own! I enjoy just watching the water go by, and it was nice to have a place to be near the room, but not in the room, as you'll see later.

Our first stop was Oslo, Norway. Tyler wasn't feeling great (he started feeling feverish Sunday night after going to sleep), so we didn't do a ton here. Just saw a few of the major sites and took enough pictures to prove we'd been there. It was a holiday that day, so most things were shut down anyway.

Then Tyler slept. And slept. And slept some more. 

Our next stop was near Berlin, Germany. Tyler was feeling really crappy by this point so we stayed on board. We didn't care so much about getting out to see Germany since we live here. ;) I read books and enjoyed yummy food and sat in the sun on our balcony while Tyler slept.

View of Germany from our balcony
 Then, things got worse... ;) Tyler's fever was not going breaking and he wasn't keeping down any food or drink. So, we went to see the ship doctor. He ended up on an IV drip because he was so dehydrated, and the doctor said it was probably just a really nasty gastrointestinal bug that would go away within a few hours (since he'd been sick for so long already).

Sunset from our balcony

Tug leading us out of the German harbor
 Tyler was still feeling awful for our first formal night, so I got all dressed up and went to dinner by myself.

Poor hubs!

The first formal night also happened to be our anniversary ;) Not much fun for T...
 Our third stop was Tallinn, Estonia. Tyler had not started feeling better, and the ship doctor drew blood to test for many different diseases. He called ashore to a hospital in Tallinn to have them run the tests, but they didn't have the equipment necessary, so the doctor said we'd wait and do the tests in St. Petersburg. In the mean time, Tyler got daily IV drips with nausea meds to combat the dehydration as he still wasn't eating or drinking. At this point, the doctor put him on "room arrest" and he was not allowed to step foot out in the ship let alone on land. We were both disappointed because Tallinn was one of our most anticipated stops! I'd read so much about the different places to see and food to try there! We asked if they would allow him to just get off the ship long enough to take a quick picture and say that we'd been to Estonia, but they wouldn't budge.

Estonia from our balcony
 Our next stop was St. Petersburg, Russia. We had two days here, and had booked a tour to see all the famous sights. Tyler was feeling a little better by this point, and his fever was down and he was eating a little, but he was not well enough to be out all day on a tour. The doctor took more blood to send ashore, but when he called the hospital in St. Petersburg, they basically said, if you send that blood ashore to be tested for all the diseases you have listed, you will cause in international incident and require the entire ship to be quarantined and no one will be allowed on land here. So, we waited again for testing. ;) The second day of St. Petersburg we finally got the go-ahead from the doctor and Tyler was feeling up for it, so we went on our tour!

It was some sort of Russian holiday and they had a parade with lots of military

Canal cruise of  "the Venice of the North"

Old KGB headquarters

I was really hoping to see this was toured by our group on the first day, but we got to cruise by the outside anyway!

Rasputin was assassinated here

St. Isaac's Cathedral 

Our next stop was Helsinki, Finland. We didn't have a ton that we wanted to see or do here, but we ventured out to see the cathedral and the basilica. The doctor was finally able to send Tyler's blood to a hospital here for testing.

We had our second formal night this evening and Tyler was able to get dressed up and join me this time! 

Poor hubby looks so thin and gaunt :(

Our tablemates! Such a fun group!

Our last stop was Stockholm, Sweden. We dropped anchor in a little harbor called "Nynashamn" and took a train up to Stockholm.

We toured a palace and saw the changing of the guard. It was really cold (and snowing!). 

Royal carriage

Dress...check out those hips!

Snoooowwwww.....on the water ;)

Moonlight over the ocean

Overall, it was not the trip we envisioned, but we were able to make the most of it. I think a lot of it is a blur for Tyler ;) But he had fun too, once he was feeling better. After we returned home, we did finally get the results from Tyler's blood tests. They tested him for Hepatitis A and B, Dengue Fever, West Nile, Malaria, Influenza A and B, and Zika Virus, but they all came up negative. So, it turned out that we really don't know what he had, but some sort of virus that caused fever for 6 days and nausea and fatigue. We're pretty sure he picked it up in India while we were there, given the timing of symptom onset.  He has fully recovered now, and if you ever find yourself ill aboard a Princess ship, I can highly recommend the medical staff. The doctor was very knowledgeable and caring, and made sure Tyler felt the best he could under the circumstances. Oh, and I would absolutely do another Baltic Sea cruise to revisit every place we went :)