Last summer I went on a family vacation that surpassed all my high expectations. My “frequently cruising” family announced that our next trip would be a Baltic Cruise by Celebrity, and prepared for sun, good food, and amazing sights. Always big on sharing our adventures, my parents invited my best friend’s family to join us. Our party soon included my grandparent’s and hers – a total of eleven people! We booked our rooms months in advance using Celebrity’s website.
Our chosen ship: the Eclipse, and the length: a whooping twenty-three days! Our travel itinerary was as follows: Arrivedin London, England and spet three days. Drove to Southampton, England to board the Celebrity Eclipse and stopped in Zeebrugge, Belgium; Warnemunde, German and Helsinki, Finland. Enjoyed St. Petersburg, Russia; toured Tallinn, Estonia; Stockholm, Sweden; and Copenhagen, Denmark. The ship returned to Southampton, England, and then my family flew to Madrid, Spain in order to see my cousins for five days.
Every day not spent at a port was a “Sea Day,” and the ship provided ample entertainment. The three teenagers spent these days – and most of the afternoons after excursions – hanging out with new friends at the “X-Club,” the Eclipse’s teen club. In order to protect their privacy, I have not posted any “X-club” photos; but, I can promise that we had a blast. My favorite teen club memory was when five teens were hypnotized by a guest performer and had no memory of what they did!
The time we spent exploring on shore was amazing. The three days in London filled me with awe, and I hungrily read every plaque as I soaked in the history of kingdom that colonized America. At every stop, I marveled at the dates of the monuments, and realized just how young the USA is compared to the world. My favorite “tourist-type” stop was St. Petersburg. All the adults constantly exclaimed, “We are in Russia! We are in the former USSR!” and the teens repeated, “Look at how much gold is on every single castle wall!” It was amazing to see extravagant rooms, once inhabited by Peter the Great and Anastasia, made of priceless amber and shining gold leaf. The most beautiful location was Tallinn, Estonia, a city right out of a fairy-tale; little shops and alleyways that lead to picturesque views of the entire city! Another highlight was the magnificent changing of the guard in Stockholm, Sweden, complete with a marching band that played Abba at the end! The most pictures were taken in Copenhagen, Denmark due to the “Save the Asian Elephant” Project that created hundreds of statues of baby elephants throughout the city and decorated them in different ways.
The best part of the trip, however, was being able to spend time with my family – especially my grandparents, who live in a different country, and my cousins in Spain. My little cousins are completely adorable and look just like my sister and I did when we were little. Those last few days in Spain opened my eyes to a simple fact: I am blessed, blessed that I have a family who loves me and blessed that I am able to travel and learn about the world. On this trip I heard languages I barely knew existed, ate food I had never seen, and marveled at sights that are testaments to the ingenuity of the human race.
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