HAL in the Baltic: The Hermitage, pride of St. Petersburg

ABOARD THE EURODAM – On a 1974 Pan Am tour (remember them?) our group was taken to The State Hermitage Museum in what was then Leningrad. As a novice photographer at that time I much preferred being out shooting in the street rather than being stuck inside a musty museum. So when I was told there was no photography permitted in the museum I abruptly bolted for the door. Subsequently I learned that skipping the Hermitage was …

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St. Petersburg: Trinity of Cathedrals

ABOARD OCEANIA MARINA-Three of St. Petersburg’s Most Famous Churches Following lunch on the Oceania Marina, we’re off to visit three of St. Petersburg’s most prominent cathedrals. Russia is a land of paradoxes and nowhere is that more apparent than the country’s attitude toward religion in the last century . After the Russian Revolution of 1917 and atheism became the country’s official doctrine, churches were closed and stripped of their religious objects. Churches were converted into whatever the …

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St. Petersburg: Touring the State Hermitage Museum

ABOARD THE OCEANIA MARINA-State Hermitage Museum is a Former Palace The State Hermitage Museum is one of St. Petersburg’s must-see attractions, normally choked with as many as 35,000 tourists daily in summer. We appear to be the first ones entering the museum today. There’s a reason for this: cruise ship tour groups enjoy early admission to the Hermitage well in advance of the museum’s normal operating hours. And we’re on an Oceania Marina tour. The State Hermitage …

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St. Petersburg: Evading the Peterhof Curse

ABOARD THE OCEANIA MARINA: Finding The Tour Group: Time Runs Out (In case you’re coming in at the end of this three-part tale, it begins at the end of this post, continues in the last one, and concludes here.) Continuing to search for my Oceania Marina tour group, I leave Peterhof’s Lower Gardens and go to the one spot where we should meet at some point. The overlook above Peterhof’s famous Grand Cascade with its 64 different …

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St. Petersburg: The Curse at Peterhof Palace

ABOARD THE OCEANIA MARINA-One of Russia’s Most Popular Attractions It’s about a 45-minute drive from the Oceania Marina to the palaces and gardens at Peterhof, often called the “Russian Versailles.” It is a place I look forward to with anticipation and dread. (Note: See previous post) Our lively guide Marie briefs us on the past of St. Petersburg and Vladimir Putin. We pass through countryside that is green and eye-catching. There isn’t a single visible scar from …

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St. Petersburg: Oceania Marina Visits St. Petersburg, Russia

ABOARD THE OCEANIA MARINA- Probably the main reason we book the Viking Trails cruise is the Oceania Marina three-day visit in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the free tours offered for this port. Linda and I each schedule six Oceania St. Petersburg excursions two months before departure. Normally, the tour packages would cost close to $1,000 for each of us. Aboard the Marina, we meet frequent Oceania passengers who ignore the ship’s no charge tours in favor of …

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New Crystal “Boutique” excursion gives exclusive access to Faberge eggs, Dostoevsky, and royal Russian life

Today’s luxury travelers can step into Russia’s luxury world of the imperial past with Crystal Cruises’ latest Boutique Adventure – a shore excursion unavailable on any other cruise line and only available to a limited number of Crystal guests.  Offered with four Crystal Symphony Northern Europe cruises in summer 2014, the new outing affords rare, exclusive access to areas of St. Petersburg’s Fabergé Museum that are not open to the public, including Romanov family exhibits, former aristocratic …

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