Back in May we took a cruise to Stockholm, Sweden. The last time was I had been on a leisurely cruise was over 10 years ago, and an average Finn goes to either Stockholm or Tallinn 2-5 times a year. I was on more than one cruise some 7 years ago when the Icelandic volcano erupted and I had to make my way to England to take an exam… What a nightmare that was. This time, however we had so much fun and I can’t wait to go on a cruise again.
There are plenty of cruise lines, that operate from Finland, but we chose Tallink Silja and their ship called Silja Symphony. The cruise left 5pm in the evening, arrived to Stockholm 9am the next morning and departed again at 5pm. 8 hours is right about perfect amount of time to have in Stockholm for the day. Any shorter wouldn’t have been enough, but any longer would have been too much.
Champagne and views
Once we we on board and had brought our luggage to our cabin, we headed to the promenade to one of the bars and ordered two glasses of champagne. We took our glasses of fizz and went outside to take in the incredible views. The coastline of Finland (and Sweden for that matter) consist of thousands of island and you get to see a good number of them while on the cruise. The ship navigates between the islands, some with the most adorable red wooden cottages, and some with grand estates that just leaves you breathless. Every now and again the ship goes so close to the island that you start to question your safety, but not to worry, the waterways are perfectly safe. Let’s be honest, this is a cruise to Stockholm, not a climb to Mount Everest.
One we had enjoyed the views, we headed inside to see what sort of entertainment there was on offer that night and there was plenty: live music, acrobatic shows, dance shows, bingo and many more for children and adults. Salvo was particularly pleased with the casino and the blackjack tables.
A Cruise to Stockholm is not complete without a treat to your tastebuds. We had made dinner reservations for the buffet beforehand. It is best to book in advance, because firstly it get’s very very busy and once you have reservations, you don’t need to queue and you are escorted to your table straight away. The buffet is ridiculously big. I don’t think I have seen anything like that in my life. Luckily we were super hungry and I couldn’t wait to try all the food.
I skipped the meat sections and headed straight to the fish. Seafood is what this buffet is famous for. There were different types of caviar, herring, prawns, crayfish, mussels, salmon, oysters all prepared in 101 different ways. Obviously there are plenty of other options to choose from, but you kind of have to choose one or two unless you have a bottomless stomach.
When you think you can’t possibly eat anymore, you have to try a dessert, or two. There were abundance of cakes, tarts, brownies, jellies, biscuits, fruit salads and cheeses to choose from. Although I wanted to try everything, I only managed to try a mango mousse and chocolate mousse and I can tell you, they were amazing.
BINGO and shopping
After dinner we played a very unsuccessful round of bingo at the Atlantis nightclub. The winner got a nice little cash price and the runner ups got vouchers and chocolate. We, however, left empty handed. After the bingo we went to the tax free shop to buy some cosmetics and souvenirs. Another thing one must do when on a cruise to Stockholm, is to SHOP until you drop! I found all my favourite Finnish products on board. You can find more about my favourite products here
The tax free is like a little super market filled with everything possible from sweets to cigars. Salvo loved going through the whiskey and cigars isles and he was impressed by the selection they had.
The next morning
We had a good night sleep and we had an early breakfast watching the incredible island views before arriving to Stockholm. After breakfast we headed to the deck with our cameras ready.
Once we had arrived, we took the metro straight to the old town, called Gamla Stan. The streets of the old town are narrow and full of shops and cafes. I would have wanted to stop in every cafe and every shop, but we had a tight schedule.
The Royal Palace
First on our list was the Royal Palace, which I had only seen from the outside before. The palace is by the sea and before we got in, we wondered around soaking in the beauty of the place.
The palace itself was delightful. Very grand but a little cosier than say Buckingham Palace or The Versailles. The entry fee was reasonable and there were plenty or rooms to see and the admission fee included two museum, which we unfortunately didn’t have time for.
There weren’t too many tourists so you could really take your time and enjoy it, rather than having to move along briskly for the sake of others. We managed somehow to miss the state apartments and had to ask the staff to let us back in and they were very kind and helped us get back to where we had taken a wrong turn.
We had lunch at lovely small bistro called Tradition, which came highly recommended and it did not disappoint. Then we headed out of gates of the old town to Drottninggatan, which is the main shopping street in Stockholm.
We walked all the way to Kungstradgarden, which is lovely park where people gather together. We were lucky enough visit when the cherry blossoms in bloom and it was gorgeous.
A walk by the water
We had a lovely walk along the coast and we started to make our way back to the harbour. It is super easy to get around in Stockholm and it definitely city worth visiting. I am already planning a next trip.
Back at the ship
Back at the cruise ship, we decided to go to the spa and watch Stockholm disappearing into the horizon from a jacuzzi. Our legs needed a rest after a long day and nothing felt better than a sauna.
In the evening, we had difficulty choosing a restaurant, as all the menus looked so good, but we decided on El Capitan. Which was a great choice not just because the food was great but a show started on the promenade just after we had been seated and we got a frontline view. We were exhausted by the end of the night and we woke up rested in Helsinki the next morning.
Well, that became a lengthy post… Congratulations if you made it this far. Next week we have post on our visit to Seurasaari in Helsinki, you might have already seen a peek of what is to come, if you follow us on Instagram. A video on our Stockholm trip will be on YouTube soon and meanwhile feel free to comment and give us feedback.
Speak to you soon!