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A Baltic Voyage to the 2018 World Cup
In summer 2018, soccer’s World Cup kicks off in St. Petersburg, and Azamara has tickets waiting for you. While the opportunity to see the world’s finest soccer players compete in the stunning Zenit Stadium designed by Kisho Kurokawa is a highlight of this 12-night Northern Europe itinerary, it’s only one of many.

After boarding in London, you’ll sail to Antwerp, where you’ll visit the well preserved medieval town of Ghent and sample Belgium’s famous chocolates. Amsterdam with its picturesque network of canals is your next stop, followed by the German port of Hamburg, one of that country’s most cosmopolitan cities. Your stop in Copenhagen will include an opportunity to see the royal landmarks that make Denmark’s capital arguably Scandinavia’s most elegant capital. In Tallinn, you’ll get an introduction to Estonia’s history and architecture, followed by three nights in St. Petersburg. There you’ll cheer on World Cup matches and also marvel at the Hermitage Museum and the former palaces of the tsars nearby. You’ll end your journey with calls at two other Scandinavian capitals, Helsinki and, last but certainly not least, Stockholm.
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    Day 1
    The first two nights of your cruise you’ll be docked in London at Tower Bridge. We suggest spending the first day in the capital’s historic heart, the City. On a visit to the Tower of London, literally right next to your ship, almost a thousand years of English history will come to life, including some of the most tragic episodes in the saga of the country’s monarchy. A more inspiring moment of resilience is celebrated in the 51 churches that Christopher Wren rebuilt following the Great Fire of London. The most majestic of them all is St. Paul’s Cathedral, with its dome soaring above the city skyline to this day.
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    Day 2
    London's West End
    Having seen London’s oldest neighborhoods on your first day, why not spend today exploring some of its most stylish ones. Hyde Park is the green lung of the western side of the city, with its manicured grounds and Serpentine Lake. Running along its eastern edge, Park Lane features many of the city’s most elegant hotels—ideal for lunch or afternoon tea. To the south of the park you’ll find Knightsbridge, long the prime shopping destination in London, counting the Harrods department store among its many shops. Harrods’ food hall alone makes this vast emporium a must-see in London.
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    Day 3
    You’ll arrive this morning in Antwerp, Belgium, noted for its elegant Flemish Renaissance buildings. On Azamara’s Panoramic Ghent by Canal Boat excursion, you’ll have a chance to visit one of the country’s medieval gems. You’ll start with a narrated stroll across St. Michaels Bridge, which crosses the river Lys and has views of the city’s Gothic towers. You’ll then explore the historic medieval quarter before boarding a boat for a cruise along the city’s canals, passing by landmarks like the Castle of the Counts, or Gravensteen, which was built at the end of the 12th century. You’ll also have some free time to explore the city center, stopping into shops and enjoying the city’s unique ambiance before returning to your ship.
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    Day 4
    Next up is Amsterdam, the Netherland’s largest city and one of the world’s most remarkable ports. UNESCO has recognized its entire canal district as a feat of urban planning. You can get a more personal look at life in the Netherlands on one of Azamara’s Cruise Global, Meet Local series excursions: At Home in Historic Edam. Just a half-hour from Amsterdam, Edam is another city whose wealth was built upon the country’s maritime trade in the 17th century. On your visit, you’ll be invited inside a late-16th-century house, where your host will explain its architecture, pointing out the collection of antique Delft tiles and painted ceiling. You’ll continue chatting with her over coffee and apple pie.

    In the evening, take advantage of another signature Azamara program, the Cruise Global, Nights Local series, on a Twilight Canal Cruise. The beautiful waterside townhouses appear to glow under the sky at dusk and you’ll pass by many famous churches and other sites, like the Anne Frank House.
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    Photo By Tony Webster
    Day 5
    Today you can either sail along one of the great engineering wonders, the Kiel Canal that connects the North and Baltic Seas, or you can disembark at the locks at Brunsbuttel and head to Hamburg to explore this fascinating German city. Once you arrive in the city, the Hamburg, A City to Explore with Herring Tasting excursion starts at St. Michael’s Church and proceeds to the Town Hall Square, the Alster Arcaden shopping arcade, and the beautiful Outer Alster Lake, its shores lined with mansions. After dinner at a brewery that includes sampling local pickled herring, you’ll meet up with your ship at Kiel-Holtenau, at the eastern end of the canal, after passing through the Reeperbahn, Hamburg’s famous red-light district.
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    Photo By Kim Wyon
    Day 6
    Like Amsterdam, much of Denmark’s capital is built on canals, though while the Dutch city is most famous for the houses of its merchants, Copenhagen’s canals are also graced with grand palaces. You’ll visit three of them on Azamara’s Royal City of Copenhagen excursion. At Rosenborg Castle, an exquisite example of 17th-century Danish Renaissance architecture, you’ll see antique porcelain, silver items, and art, as well as the crown jewels. Next, Christiansborg Castle is now home to the Danish Parliament. You’ll tour the lavish Royal Reception Rooms and Knights Hall here. The last palace stop will be Amalienborg, the current home of the royal family, and then you’ll wrap up with a visit to a much more humble resident, the Little Mermaid whose statue sits on the edge of the harbor.

    If, instead, you want to sample the flavors of Denmark, join the ship’s executive chef for the Cruise Global, Savor Local: Danish Dinner and Beer Tasting program. It begins with a visit to the chef to Copenhagen’s Market Halls where you’ll taste a number of Danish delicacies and ingredients—just leave room to try a classic Danish cake at your next stop, a bakery. Continue on to BrewPub, where you’ll enjoy four Danish beers. On dinner aboard the ship, you’ll get to enjoy typical Danish dishes prepared by the chef using the ingredients purchased at the market in the morning.
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    Day 7
    A Day at Sea
    A day at sea is a welcome opportunity to recharge and enjoy the amenities aboard Azamara ships. You might indulge in a treatment at the Sanctum Spa, a lecture by a featured speaker, or a leisurely meal that incorporates the local flavors of the regions you are visiting—a key element of Azamara’s Destination Immersion program. With only 690 guests aboard each Azamara ship, you won’t face long lines however you choose to spend your day. But perhaps you’d rather bask in the comfort of the ships’ staterooms, all of which have been redesigned to offer guests a boutique hotel experience. We won’t judge if you spend the morning in a plush robe with a book or taking advantage of the upgraded onboard WiFi.
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    Photo By TausP.
    Day 8
    In recent years, Tallinn, Estonia’s capital, has emerged as one of Eastern Europe’s most exciting cities led by a new generation of entrepreneurs. In a way, that’s not surprising considering that Tallinn’s roots as a trading center date back centuries.

    You’ll delve into its medieval history on the Tallinn’s Old Town and Estonian Parliament House excursion. The tour begins with a stroll to Palace Square and a visit to the 13th-century Toompea Castle, which today is home to the Estonian Parliament. You’ll visit its grand apartments and the Parliament Chamber. Next you’ll stop at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which glows with icons and mosaics. Then you’ll traipse down the cobblestoned streets to visit several churches and the Lower Old Town, finally concluding at the Town Hall and its square.

    If your interests are more culinary than historical, then you may prefer to book the Cruise Global, Meet Local: Chocolaterie Workshop. A stroll throgh Old Town’s medieval streets leads to Chocolaterie de Pierre, a café famous for its rich cakes and truffles. You’ll get a hands-on lesson with the master pastry chef who has 20 years’ experience creating chocolate treats.
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    Day 9
    St. Petersburg, Day 1
    Peter the Great, the visionary tsar who established St. Petersburg, was inspired by the design of Amsterdam, where he lived for a period as a young man. St. Petersburg’s canals are, however, lined with neoclassical palaces, once the homes of tsars and leading nobles. One of those palaces has been transformed into the Hermitage Museum, the world’s largest art collection.

    You can choose to book the St. Petersburg 3-Day Adventure, an itinerary for your entire stay in the city, or one-off excursions offered here by Azamara. Day one of the St. Petersburg 3-Day Adventure starts with a visit the Hermitage, followed by a cruise along the city’s famous waterways and a visit to the iconic onion-domed Church of the Savior on Blood. On your second day, you’ll tour the grand Catherine Palace in nearby Pushkin, and the Yusupov Palace, famous as the site of the assassination of the mystic Rasputin. On the final day you’ll travel to Peterhof, home of Peter the Great’s Grand Palace, with its lavish interiors and its gardens with elaborate fountains overlooking the Gulf of Finland.

    If you prefer to book individual excursions, you’d still do well to make the Hermitage your introduction to St. Petersburg. During the Hermitage Museum with Gold Room excursion, you’ll admire the Throne Room, Great Throne Hall, and Armorial Hall as well as art by great masters including da Vinci, Raphael, and Rembrandt. A highlight is the collection of Scythian and Greek pieces in gold.

    This evening the Cruise Global, Nights Local series features a variety show of folk dances and songs—along with plenty of vodkas and traditional snacks—at Troika restaurant, a local institution famous for its elaborate interiors.
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    Day 10
    St. Petersburg, Day 2
    If you aren’t opting to join the St. Petersburg 3-Day Adventure, then you can set out on the Yusupov Palace and St. Petersburg Canal Cruise excursion. In addition to being the site of the assassination of Rasputin, who had become the feared spiritual advisor to the Romanovs, the palace is a remarkable example of the gilded luxury that characterized the life of Russian nobility in the years before the Russian Revolution. From its marble staircase purchased in Italy to an elaborate theater, no expense was spared in the construction of the house.

    On the canal cruise that follows, you’ll be able to relax as you float by many of the city’s most famous sights: St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Stroganov Palace, various museums, and grand estates.
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    Day 11
    St. Petersburg, Day 3
    On your final day in St. Petersburg, you can visit the city’s grandest thoroughfare on the self-guided Nevsky Prospect Exploration. The city’s counterpart to London’s Regent Street or Paris’s Champs-Elysees, Nevksy Prospect has been the main commercial artery of the city since the 18th century. The shopping is concentrated around the Gostiny Dvor Arcade and Passage, but the street is also home to a number of architectural and historical highlights: the Moscow Railway Station, the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, many theaters and stunning churches as well.

    Tickets to two World Cup matches will be included as part of your stay in St. Petersburg, with more details to follow as the event approaches.
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    Day 12
    Helsinki, Finland, is a famous center of design—the home of architect Alvar Aalto and the textile firm Marimekko, among many others who have shaped the tastes of the world. It’s also a city that embraces the outdoors, whatever the weather. The combination creates a singularly stylish and appealing place to visit.

    One of the most enjoyable ways to explore Helsinki is the way many Finns do, on a bicycle. The guided Helsinki by Bike excursion takes advantage of the city’s flat terrain, making this an easy ride even for novices. On your Finnish Jopo bike, you’ll head to one of the city’s beaches and Sibelius Park, with its monument to the composer Jean Sibelius. Continue on to charming neighborhoods along Toolo Bay with views of the city. Next you’ll pedal along the eastern harborfront with views of Katajanook Island, the icebreaker fleet, and the golden domes of Uspenski Cathedral. Before you return to the ship, you’ll stop at Market Square to take in the scene.
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    Day 13
    On the final day of your cruise, you’ll arrive in Stockholm, Sweden’s capital, built atop more than a dozen islands. You’ll likely want to see the city’s most visited site, the Vasa Museum. The enormous Vasa warship was constructed in 1628, and then promptly sank on its maiden voyage. The ship was located in 1961, preserved in the cold waters of Stockholm’s harbor. The museum covers the history of the ship, but also Sweden’s history as a maritime power and the challenges of preserving this enormous artifact. Afterwards perhaps head to Gamla Stan, the city’s atmospheric historic heart, and site of the Royal Palace and the Nobel Museum. Nearby, Stockholm’s City Hall is one of the most distinguished examples of the national romantic school of architecture and also the site of the annual Nobel Prize Banquet.

    One day in Stockholm is insufficient to cover all of its sites, and we recommend adding on additional nights. Azamara can assist with post-cruise extensions so you’ll have more time to explore the city in depth.