On board the Azamara Quest, you’ll get…
Our journey begins in Sweden, where we’ll explore the fascinating city of Stockholm and the Vasa Museum, before embarking the beautiful Azamara Quest for an eight-night cruise across the Baltic Sea to Estonia, Russia and Finland. Our first port of call is Tallinn in Estonia, where we’ll discover its photogenic Old Town before making our way to St Petersburg. We’ll spend three wonderful days moored here, uncovering the city’s hidden gems and historic landmarks. We’ll enjoy a private performance by the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra and tour the Grand Palace and Lower Park at Peterhof.
After departing this magnificent city of glistening golden domes and impressive Orthodox works of art, we soon arrive in Finland. Here, we’ll discover the capital Helsinki, the historical Suomenlinna Fortress – now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Mariehamn on the sunny Åland archipelago. Our cruise concludes with a sea crossing back to Sweden where we disembark the ship and make our way home.
Arrive at the airport for your flight to Stockholm. On arrival we transfer by coach to the four-star Scandic Grand Central, where our two-night stay includes breakfast. Centrally located in a classic 1890s building, the hotel was formerly a theatre and reminders of its heritage feature heavily in the design, with spotlights over the reception and the stage still remaining.
With the rest of the day free, make your way to SoFo, the blocks south of Folkungagatan packed with artsy shops specialising in clothing, design, vintage and more. There are many restaurants and cafés to choose from for your first meal in this beautiful city.
Stockholm is a fascinating city tumbling across an idyllic archipelago on the shores of the Baltic Sea. During our included city tour this morning, history comes to life and you can appreciate its cultural and architectural highlights, as well as the sheer atmosphere. Spread across some small islands is Gamla Stan, the storybook old town complete with royal palace and some of the city’s oldest buildings.
We then enjoy a guided tour of the Vasa Museum, dedicated to the remarkable Vasa, the world’s only preserved 17th-century warship and an art treasure that’s one of a kind. Take a close look at the hundreds of sculptures carved into the vessel. Interestingly, Vasa met its end within minutes of setting off on its maiden voyage, sinking to the bottom of the bay along with its ill-fated passengers.
You have the morning free to explore Stockholm and perhaps visit the joy-inducing ABBA Museum – a must for fans – before we transfer to the Azamara Quest. Late this afternoon, our floating boutique hotel begins crossing the Baltic Sea, which some believe to harbour a sunken UFO while most experts agree it’s likely just a natural geological formation. Guests of Riviera Travel will also enjoy an exclusive wine pairing event on board, hosted by one of the ship’s own experts.
This morning we arrive in Tallinn, the ridiculously photogenic capital of Estonia. Together with our local guide we take an included tour that explores the old town, a warren of atmospheric streets and buildings nestled below a hilltop district. Among its many highlights are Toompea Castle and onion-domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Walk in the shadows of church steeples, turreted battlements and 50-foot city walls, and meander along winding lanes lined with colourful merchants’ houses and craft workshops.
In the late afternoon, the Azamara Quest begin its eastward journey through the Gulf of Finland towards Russia.
There’s nothing quite like awaking in Russia, a land of superlatives matched by its epic history, incredible culture and sweeping landscapes of immense beauty. UNESCO-listed St Petersburg has a history dating back 300 years and features historic canals, gilded domes and striking architecture. Founded by Peter the Great who moved the capital here from Moscow in 1712, Russia’s imperial capital has inspired countless artists, such as Pushkin, Dostoyevsky and Tchaikovsky.
We get to know St Petersburg on an included city tour. Marvel at the glistening golden domes of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral and the outstanding Winter Palace, former residence of the tsars. Crossing the River Neva, we see the Rostral Columns of the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island and the monumental Peter and Paul Fortress. Then we drive to the iconic Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood to admire its exquisitely colourful domes and head down Nevsky Prospekt, the city’s most famous street and one of Europe’s grandest boulevards flanked by majestic buildings, such as the Neoclassical Kazan Cathedral and salmon-pink Stroganov Palace.
We are in for a real treat this evening – a private performance by the world-renowned St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra at the opulent Mikhailovsky Theatre, one of Russia’s oldest opera and ballet houses. After a memorable first day we return to the ship to relax, with two more days to look forward to in this marvellous city.
This morning we drive past more historic landmarks on our way to Peterhof, Peter the Great’s extraordinary collection of sumptuous palaces, ornate gardens and cascading fountains. It’s often called the ‘Russian Versailles’ although some feel the comparison does a disservice to the scale and grandeur of this spectacular estate.
Here we have a guided tour of its crowning glory, the lavish Grand Palace, whose highlights include the dazzlingly gilded Ballroom, the mint-and-white Throne Room and the chinoiserie-style Drawing Room with fine silk hangings. Our guide then takes us on a stroll through the Lower Park to see its splendid fountains, picturesque canals and walkways lined with statues.
We bid farewell to the summer home of the Russian tsars and board a comfortable hydrofoil for our return ride to St Petersburg. Have your camera at the ready to capture sensational views of the Grand Palace as we glide across the Gulf of Finland.
Our third and final day in St Petersburg is at your leisure. Why not book an excursion to return to the sights that caught your eye during our city tour? Head to the State Hermitage Museum, where you could spend days perusing its mind-boggling collection and still have more to discover. Perhaps visit the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, built in memory of Tsar Alexander II on the site of his assassination in 1881. Its candy-coloured onion domes are a sight to behold, but the interior is even more impressive: every inch is beautifully decorated with stunning frescoes and detailed mosaic work. Or admire the world’s largest collection of works by Carl Faberge – including the beautifully decorated eggs – at the Faberge Museum.
You could also choose to remain on the Azamara Quest to make the most of the superb facilities. Indulge in a treatment at the Sanctum Spa, rejuvenate yourself with a class at the fitness centre or lounge on the pool deck. If you wish to relax in your room, there’s entertainment on demand and live TV. Evenings aboard are just as enjoyable, with thrilling shows at the Cabaret Lounge and intimate performances in the Living Room.
Early this evening, our ship begins cruising once again across the Gulf of Finland.
This morning we find ourselves in Helsinki, which sits on the tip of a peninsula across 315 islands. Many of its grand Neoclassical buildings were designed by German architect Carl Ludvig Engel, who was commissioned by Tsar Alexander I to redevelop the city in the early 1800s. The Russian influence is striking in the capital’s architecture, so much so that during the Cold War it was used by filmmakers for the Soviet locations in films such as The Kremlin Letter. These days, Finland’s dynamic capital is renowned for its electrifying design and architectural innovations, thanks to creative visionaries like Alvar and Aino Aalto.
Our morning guided tour takes us around many of Helsinki’s highlights. Marvel at the capital’s striking Art Nouveau railway station and the Sibelius Monument, an abstract work comprising more than 600 steel ‘organ pipes’ and a large bust of the celebrated Finnish composer.
The rest of the day is free and the ship remains moored overnight, so there’s plenty of time to explore Helsinki. Perhaps visit the Ateneum, Finland’s leading art gallery for an introduction to the nation’s art, or walk through Kaisaniemi, the city’s botanic gardens featuring fascinating flora mainly from the same longitude as Finland, from Mediterranean scented forests to the lush rainforests of South Africa.
Today we are transported back in time as we take a short ferry ride to Suomenlinna Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site spread across a cluster of car-free islands all connected by bridges. Despite a tumultuous history from the mid-1700s under Swedish, Russian and Finnish command, the fortress is now a tranquil location that provides a superb snapshot of the past.
Our expert guide will bring the spectacular fort’s history to life as we explore its four bastions and a wealth of other attractions within its walls, including connecting tunnels, a turquoise-domed church that doubles as a lighthouse, Finland’s only surviving Second World War-era submarine, lakes, gardens and even a beach. Outside the walls we meander through cobbled streets, across connecting bridges and past wooden buildings now home to quaint restaurants and artists’ workshops.
After the tour there’s free time to further explore Suomenlinna at your own pace. It’s home to no fewer than six museums, including a double-storey museum detailing the history of the fortress, the former home of Augustin Ehrensvärd who designed the fortress, and a toy museum with a delightful collection of dolls and teddy bears.
We return to the ship with time to relax before our late-afternoon departure from this intriguing city.
Overnight we have cruised to the sunny Åland archipelago, an autonomous region of Finland with Swedish-speaking inhabitants and a flag that very much resembles Sweden’s. We’re moored in its capital, Mariehamn, whose linden-lined boulevards echo its Russian heritage – the town was founded by Tsar Alexander II and named after his empress consort, Maria.
The day is free for you to explore this charming town. Discover Mariehamn’s seafaring history and see the world’s only four-masted sailing ship in its original state at the Åland Maritime Museum, wander through the lovely park on the little islet of Lilla Holmen or take a leisurely walk around the Maritime Quarter filled with old fishermen’s houses, wooden boats and workshops. Perhaps take the opportunity to pick up some souvenirs in town or watch the world go by over a cup of coffee from a cosy café.
Early this evening the ship departs Mariehamn for our sea crossing back to Sweden.
After a final breakfast on board the Azamara Quest, we disembark in Stockholm and transfer to the airport for our flight home.
The price of this holiday is per person based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement. The price includes:
Your boutique hotel at sea, the Azamara Quest has an intimate deck plan, but it never feels crowded. It boasts everything that modern voyagers seek, with some unexpected extras.
The staterooms have modern amenities and furnishings and a luxurious atmosphere is created by the plush cotton robes and slippers, French bath products, fresh flowers, and 24-hour room service. A large number of staterooms and suites have balconies... what better way to start the day that with the fresh sea air and stunning views?
Add to all of that the world-class dining options, spa experiences to refresh and relax, and all new entertainment services, the experience on-board is matched only by the immersive cultural encounters that await you on shore.
Take your pick from a range of beauty and restorative health treatments in the new Sanctum Spa; anything from an ocean-front massage to a quick manicure, a new hairstyle, or even acupuncture. Beyond the spa, there’s an on-board gym for you to work out at your own pace and complimentary fitness classes.
The main dining options include everything from elegant a la carte to nightly themed buffets, with the possibility to visit the ship’s speciality restaurants. We’ve included a visit to one of these speciality restaurants in the cost of your holiday. On-board entertainment takes in signature shows and guest performers, as well as live music every night.
Across the Azamara fleet, authentic service goes beyond the expectations of even the most well-travelled cruisers. Friendly and approachable, staff are attentive and happy to offer everything from poolside service to on-shore exploration recommendations.
Your cabin number will be allocated by Azamara and will be confirmed on your travel documents. If you have a specific request please call and speak to one of our experts.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
Russian visas are included while you’re enjoying our exclusive excursions or excursions operated by the ship, but customers who wish to explore St Petersburg independently will need to apply for a visa.
In order to apply for a visa, applicants will require an invitation letter (also known as the ‘tourist voucher’) from the shipping company which will be sent to you, from Riviera Travel, approximately ten weeks prior to departure. Please do not apply for your visa before receiving this voucher from us.
Please ensure you have at least two empty pages in your passport, and that it is valid for a minimum of six months after the visa’s expiration.
Complete the application forms electronically at http://ru.vfsglobal.co.uk and print and sign accordingly. All applications must then be made in person at the Application Centres in London, Manchester or Edinburgh, where biometric data (fingerprints) will be collected. This is a simple five to ten-minute process. You will need one recent passport photo and the tourist vouchers from the shipping company. You will be required to leave your passport at the centre while your visa is processed.
Visa costs are from £63 plus a service charge of £38.40. with the option to return by post at a cost of £13.80. All payments made towards visa fees and service charges are non-refundable and do not guarantee the issuance of a visa should your application be declined.
Should you require additional help through an agency please contact us for a recommendation.
Whilst care has been taken to ensure that the information provided relating to visa requirements is true and correct at time of publication, changes in requirements after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information. Therefore, whilst we strive to provide the most up-to-date information, we strongly suggest that you re-confirm requirements with the relevant embassy prior to application.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Arrival airport||First hotel location||Transfer time||Final ship location||Departure airport||Transfer time|
|Stockholm Arlanda Airport||Stockholm||35 mins||Stockholm||Stockholm Arlanda Airport||1 hr|