Day 1: New Zealand – – Stockholm
Depart on your flight and travel to the capital of Sweden, Stockholm.
Day 2: Stockholm
Welcome to Sweden! Take a group transfer from the airport to the hotel for check in. Choose to relax in your hotel room following the long-haul flight or drop off your suitcase and acquaint yourself with the city’s streets by taking a leisurely wander.
For those purchasing the Tour Only option, your tour starts today. Please make your own way to the hotel.
Day 3: Stockholm – Turku (B)
Be introduced to the heritage and culture of Stockholm on a guided city tour. Some of the sights you can expect to see and admire on this excursion include the Royal Palace and Gamla stan (the Old Town). Meander past sandstone walls and picturesque houses around the beautiful cityscape and learn about the history of the Swedish capital – which also happens to span across 14 islands. In the evening you will board an overnight ferry for the journey to Turku. There are cafes, bars and shopping opportunities on-board.
Day 4: Turku – Petajavesi – Finnish Lakeland (B)
Wake up to find yourself having arrived in Turku, a former Finnish capital. The city is most famously home to its castle, which is among the best-preserved medieval buildings in Finland. As you drive out of Turku you will also pass its magnificent cathedral. Stop by the Petajavesi Old Church, a impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site that was built in 1763. Admire the beauty of the church from outside before continuing on to the region of Finnish Lapland where you will stay overnight.
Day 5: Finnish Lakeland – Rovaniemi – Finnish Lapland (B)
Visit the capital of Finnish Lapland, Rovaniemi. This modern city doubles as the ‘official’ home of Santa Claus and has a magical atmosphere. Christmas is the backbone of the city and festive music is played year-round! Before entering the Santa Claus village however, you get to tick off a bucket list experience: crossing the Arctic Circle. To commemorate the occasion, you will attend a polar circle baptism, which includes a toast with sparkling wine. It is then onto meeting Father Christmas and stopping off at the Post Office to send any Christmas mail back home to family and friends.
Day 6: Finnish Lapland – North Cape Peninsula (B)
The next destination for this adventure is the North Cape! Visit the North Cape Hall (also known as Nordkapphallen), stand on the edge of the North Cape Plateau, and fill up your camera storage or smartphone camera roll with photos of the Globe.
Day 7: North Cape Peninsula – Finnish Lapland (B)
Today sees you travel towards Alta, located at the head of its eponymous fjord and a magnet for travellers. Once in the city you will stop at the Northern Lights Cathedral to take in the sweeping views across the surrounding wilderness. Afterwards, continue in the direction of the Norway-Finland border and spend the night in the Finnish Lapland.
Day 8: Finnish Lapland – Lulea – Umea (B)
Cross over the border from Finland into Swedish Lapland, the landscape that inspired the works of Swedish screenplay writer, Astrid Lindgren. Reach the shores of the Gulf of Bothnia and follow the water to Luleå, the capital of Norrbotten County. This is the northernmost county in Sweden. While in Luleå you will visit Gammelstad Church Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to gain insight into what a traditional northern Scandinavia town once looked like. The tour moves along the coast onto Umeå, a city located on the Swedish High Coast, another of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You will spend the night in the city.
Day 9: Umea – Sundsvall – Uppsala/Stockholm (B)
Leave Umeå behind and make a scenic stop in Sundsvall, a pretty town with a picturesque market square. The last destination of the day is Uppsala, a university town known for its grand cathedral. You will spend the night in the Uppsala/Stockholm area.
Day 10: Uppsala/Stockholm – Skane (B)
Travel through the landscapes of Småland before visiting Moose Park where you’ll be able to capture pictures of these incredible animals in their natural habitat. Admire the spectacular surrounds and climb to one of the park’s viewing platforms to take in the scenery from above.
Day 11: Skane – Copenhagen – Baltics Cruise (B, D)
Cross the impressive Øresund Bridge on your way to Copenhagen. On arrival, set out on a guided tour of this beautiful city. Highlights you’ll see along the tour include Nynhavn and Amalienborg Palace, the residence of Denmark’s royal family. Then, it’s time to embark on your incredible voyage around the Baltic Sea! Your cruise departs at 6pm and you will be transferred as a group from your hotel to the cruise terminal.
Day 12: At Sea (B, L, D)
Today is your first day at sea! Your home whilst at sea will be the MSC Virtuosa. The MSC Virtuosa is a spectacular cruise ship that boasts all the bells and whistles. This state-of-the-art ship is home to swimming pools, boutiques and galleries, day spa, gym, theatres, and an incredible selection of restaurants, casual eateries and bars and lounges. Today is the perfect opportunity to begin discovering everything available to you on-board. Sign up to a salsa, cooking or language class, go for a round of mini golf, scale the rock-climbing wall, dip a toe into one of the swimming pools, move between menus at the excellent restaurants, or simply relax in your cabin.
Day 13: Helsinki (B, L, D)
The ship docks in Helsinki, the exciting capital of Finland, at 12pm. Take breakfast on-board the ship and then make the most of your day in the city. Helsinki sits on a peninsula in the Gulf of Finland and is home to a vibrant culture, social scenes and rich history. Visit the Suomenlinna Fortress or the open-air museum on Seurasaari Island. Peer inside the incredible Temppeliaukio Church, which was carved straight into solid rock; and head up the hill to admire the view from Helsinki Cathedral. The ship departs at 6pm.
Day 14: St Petersburg (B, L, D)
Greet the day to find the MSC Virtuosa docked in the glittering city of St Petersburg. This iconic Russian city has witnessed staggering change over the centuries, acting as an epicentre for history book-bound events, sweeping social reforms and fabled WWII sieges. Walk its streets to stroll past opulent facades, elaborate palaces and spectacular builds reminiscent of Tsarist Russia. Keen gallery-goers may make a beeline for the State Hermitage Museum, the second-largest art museum in the world and home to a collection of works displayed across 120 exhibits and rooms. Some of the museum occupies parts of the Winter Palace too. Be sure to be back on the MSC Virtuosa for a 9pm departure.
Day 15: Tallin (B, L, D)
Welcome to Estonia! MSC Virtuosa docks in Tallinn at 9am and you have an entire day to uncover the Estonian capital’s charms. Seek out the Old Town, an exemplary example of a preserved medieval city centre, or make for the palace and park established by Russian Tsar Peter the Great. The ship sets sail for Kiel, Germany at 7pm.
Day 16: At Sea (B, L, D)
Enjoy the day at sea on your deluxe ship as it makes its way to Germany. Use this cruising day to continue uncovering all the on-board opportunities offered by the MSC Virtuosa.
Day 17: Kiel (B, L, D)
Arrive in Kiel, Germany this morning. This port city was an important fixture in Imperial Germany, as its canal offered a passage between the Baltic and North Seas. Take a walk along the pier-front promenade to see how the port and canal operates today or make for the open-air Schleswig-Holsteinisches Freilichtmuseum in nearby Molfsee to take in the collection of 70 traditional buildings and displays of local village. Tonight is your final evening aboard the MSC Virtuosa.
Day 18: Copenhagen – – New Zealand (B)
The ship makes its final port of the Baltic Sea cruise in Copenhagen at 9am. Disembark and use the remainder of the day in Copenhagen to squeeze in any last-minute sightseeing. At the appropriate time, please make your own way to the airport to catch your return flight back to New Zealand.
For those purchasing the Tour Only option, at the appropriate time please make your own way from the cruise terminal to your next travel arrangements.
Day 19: New Zealand
Arrive back in New Zealand today.