July 15, 2013
July 23, 2013

My family and I just returned from a long awaited 2 ½ week trip through Eastern Europe. We took an amazing cruise on the Star Flyer, part of the Star Clippers fleet of tall sailing vessels. Our cruise left out of Sweden, so we landed a few days early to take in all that Stockholm had to offer. My mother is of Swedish heritage, so seeing the city was important to our family.

We arrived during Midsummer (the Summer Solstice) and the city was quiet. Both Midsummer Eve and Day are a public holiday for the Swedes and a special time in the country, as it is the most celebrated holiday other than Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Most locals in Stockholm were vacationing out on the archipelago.

At this time of year, the sun sets around 10:30 p.m. and it begins to be light again around 3:30 a.m. We walked all over Stockholm and squeezed every possible thing we could do into those three days. Although it was a bit quiet for the first few days, this didn’t limit what we were able to do.

We were all excited when we boarded the Star Flyer, a large 4-mast sail boat housing up to 170 passengers and 72 crew members bound for Finland, Russia and Estonia. These ships rely on sail power while at sea unless the conditions require the assistance of engine power. While I have cruised  before on larger cruise ships, the Star Flyer was a completely different experience.  Activities weren’t chock-a-block throughout the day and I loved sitting with my book up on deck- breathing in the sea air while the crew raised the masts. The food on board was amazing and the service top notch. Our cabins were small, but quaint, with the perfect amount of storage. All announcements were given in English, followed by French and German.

Excursions off the boat were educational and allowed us to really gain a sense of the culture and history of whatever country we were visiting. My favorite off-board experiences were the excursions we took during our two day stay in St. Petersburg. We saw The  Hermitage, Catherine’s Palace, Peterhof and took an evening cruise along the waterways throughout the city.

My itinerary:

June 25            Depart Stockholm, Sweden

June 26            Visby, Sweden

June 27            At Sea

June 28            Saaremaa, Estonia

June 29            Tallinn, Estonia

June 30            At Sea

July 1-2            St. Petersburg, Russia

July 3               Helsinki, Finland

July 4               Hanko, Finland

July 5               Mariehamn, Finland

July 6               Arrived back in Stockholm, Sweden


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