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4.6 out of 5 stars29
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 30 June 2014
We were looking for a guidebook that included information on how to get into town from where a ship docks so that we could then be completely independent when we did a Baltic cruise. This was the perfect book - as well as having bus/train/tram information for getting to the local town for all the places we visited (Warnemunde/Rostock, Tallinn, Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen - we used a local tour company in St Petersburg due to the visa restrictions), Rick included walking tours with detailed information on all the important sights, places to shop and places to eat and little gems such as visiting the Kungstradgarden T-bahn station in Stockholm for the most amazing art on show, and a sightseeing tour by no. 2/3 tram in Helsinki ! And written in a very easy to understand way ! This is the must-have book for the independent cruiser to the Baltic !
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on 19 February 2014
As a first time cruiser I needed information on 5 ports in the Baltic that our ship would be visiting. This book told me in quite close detail (like how to get from vessel to various "popular" locations ashore without using expensive tour companies) what I wanted to know. It would have been five stars had it not been for the fact that one port I was to visit had not been included - not entirely the fault of the book of course! An excellent book - mine of information.
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on 13 May 2015
What an excellent book. Worth the wait in delivery. We have cruised before and many of the suggestions we already implement, but we required the information about this area. We go on the cruise next week, so could give a more comprehensive appraisal in a few weeks time. But looking much better with the book than without. Cruise lines are usually very poor at offering simple transfers or information of how close the cities are to the port and transport links. They want the passenger to pay for their (usually) extremely inflated prices for even a bus ride into the town or city. Our cruise, for example, is charging over £110 for a return bus ride to Berlin, no tour. Over £200 for a four hour tour, each. You can get a flight and a two day stay for two for less than £400 !!! Always be aware of the alternatives. It is a shame that the cruise tours are so expensive, but the cruise lines bank on lazy or ill informed passengers. On an upbeat note, the cruises can be great fun and offer a moving hotel room to some great destinations.
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on 23 August 2015
This is the most useful travel book I have ever purchased. Written by 2 Americans for an American audience (but equally useful for anyone) it saved me a fortune on needless shore excursions on a recent Baltic cruise. At the first stop Zeebrugge it directed me to the local tram stop to Blankenberge and a one stop train journey from there to Bruges where the tram ticket I purchased covered all the buses from the station to the town centre. We just missed the hourly train but still had ample time in Bruges and a bonus 50 minute look round Blankenberge. We saved 2/3 the cost of the equivalent shore excursion and had a load more fun and adventure.

The experience warned us to check timetables on the internet at the next stop Warnemunde. We opted for a trip on the narrow gauge Molli steam railway rather than 12+ hours visiting Berlin. The book only mentions this in passing but told us enough about buying tickets for us to be on the 33 train to Rostock to transfer to the 06 Wismar bound train to Bad Doberan (8 Euros for all day ticket). The narrow gauge steam train leaves a few minutes after arrival (13.5 Euros round trip). The total cost of 21.50 Euros compared with £61 for the equivalent shore excursion.

At Tallinn we followed the book's self guided walking tour (after a short walk from the ship) and did the same thing in Copenhagen after establishing that we were docking at a nearby berth rather than a more distant one.

The book is not perfect. You can not buy an all day Helsinki tram pass (8 Euros) in the newspaper kiosk at the dock as indicated but you can buy one from the driver (which the book says you can't). We bought ours at a ticket machine. The book is spot on recommending the #9 tram into town and the #2/3 tram that follows a figure of 8 route past most of the big sights.

Similar guidance is available for all the other ports of call including St Petersburg where the option is getting a visa months in advance, booking local travel people privately (they get the visa) or shore excursions (visa also dealt with). We found the shore excursion to St Catherine's palace got us in before normal opening time with massive queues when we left.

The book sets out how to decide on the best option for your own needs at each port including the pros and cons of DIY v organised excursion. The great thing about the book is that it enables you to make an informed choice and contains the information you need if you decide to save a fortune by going it alone (with other readers of the book!)
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on 9 March 2014
We are going on a cruise to the Baltic ports this summer and this book has proved to be very well written and informative about cruising and the places we will be visiting. There are lots of useful tips about boarding, what to expect on ship, what clothes needed, disembarking, avoiding spending a fortune over and above basic price of the cruise, where to find ATMs in ports, what to see and how long is needed to see it properly, how to work out your own trips in ports by walking, using buses or trains and which ports are better seen with organised trips from the ship (such as St Petersburg).
Rick Steve suggests that you rip out the sections you want for each destination rather than taking the whole book everywhere and says the book is designed to be taken apart. Admittedly, there are many other ports such as Amsterdam and Oslo which we will not be going to on this cruise but I am pretty averse to dismantling a book, especially as we might visit other places in the future. The book isn't amazingly bulky or heavy (20cms x 11cms x 3cms approx.) but this feature would appeal to some travellers.
The only downside to this book is that it is written from the perspective of an American traveller, which can be irritating occasionally. For instance: "When deciding where to eat be aware that table service in Europe is slow - sometimes painfully so - by American standards. Don't expect to dine and dash but you can try explaining to the waitstaff that you're in a hurry."
However, overall I would definitely recommend this book...I will update my review after the cruise!
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on 19 May 2015
I had seen reference to this book when looking at Cruise Critic for information on ports that I will be visiting later this year and it did not disappoint. Includes everything and more about each port covered, including public, walks, maps and must see sights.
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on 1 May 2014
Rick gives a really good insight to each port, and directions very clear.
I bought the kindle version of this book, and the Maps are difficult to read on the kindle with no option to zoom in on the maps.
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on 11 August 2014
Extremely helpful. I just wish I had bought it a bit earlier than the day before embarkation. Paid for itself many time s over and made the trip more enjoyable.
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on 31 August 2015
Comprehensive, clear and informative. Full of practical advice that makes getting round easy, especially useful if visiting countries where little E nglish spoken or understood..Also an introduction to cruising that demystified this type of holiday. Particularly helps if you want to avoid heavy expenditure on the cruise ship's excursions
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on 13 March 2016
Bought this book on Kindle but it found it hard to find the appropriate part of the book for each port, so bought the book again in paperback. This made my next cruise a lot easier. Rick Steves knows his stuff and makes finding your way around so much easier. Will be using it again this year on my latest cruise around the Mediterranean.
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