Swedish icon, the painted red horse
August 9 Our view from the ship’s cabin was dotted with little cottages and small boats as we docked in Stockholm. Another city based on water trade, Stockholm is home to many fishermen and the downtown doesn’t disappoint.
Vasa ship, Stockholm
Tall ships, frigates and numerous cruise lines all make a stop in Stockholm. We disembarked and bought a ticket on a water ferry over to see the VASA ship, a Swedish fighting ship that sank just a mile from shore on its maiden voyage. As our guide said, “it was a very important sinking. Much learning about ship building came about from the failure.” I like to think that statement can be applied to all of life.
Following the museum tour, we headed to old town, Gamla Stan, where we queued up for the Royal Changing of the Guards. This was a long show but we got to hear a marching band and watch soldiers exchange duties in perfect formation.
The highlight for several in our group was the excursion to the Absolut Ice Bar in downtown Stockholm. Imagine drinking delicious cocktails in ice glasses while you’re surrounded by carved ice sculptures not to mention the mittens, heavy cloaks and hoods that we wore to keep us toasty while sitting in the ice bar.
Lindsey and Lilly try to stay warm in Ice Bar
Everything in the bar is made from ice, including the stools to sit on. Lindsey and Lauren wore flip flops and they instantly felt the cold. The kids were served non-alcoholic drinks and the adults had the opportunity to try unusual concoctions with names like Sleigh Ride.
August 8 Day at Sea, Kiel to Stockholm
It’s party time, MSC cruise
We returned to the ship in fine form after our day of sightseeing in Kiel and got dressed for dinner. We had 2 tables in the L’Hibiscus dining room, a table of 8 and a table of 4. This proved a bit of a challenge because we had 7 adults and 5 children. We decided to rotate who sat at the “little table” with Tim drawing the lucky spot for night number 1. Our servers, Adriana and Lucas, kept us entertained with incredible food and magic tricks throughout the evening. Since MSC is an Italian-owned ship, each evening featured dishes from different regions through Italy. I have to admit, they all started to taste somewhat the same by day 4 but we still enjoyed the opportunity to choose from the menu up to 6 courses, with dessert always being a highlight.
Will organizes family golf
taking the plunge
Our day at sea was absolutely perfect. Lots of sunshine (even on the Baltic Sea), warm temps, refreshing pools and a rousing game of mini-golf on the top deck. Will and Troy spent hours preparing an “Olympic games” competition for our time on the cruise which was great fun until we discovered that supplies for events (like ping pong and suffleboard) were a bit limited. Not to fear…as the sun began to set, all of us were a bit weary from the day’s tiring schedule of sunbathing and drinking tropical drinks. Following dinner each night, the entertainment crew put on a gala spectacular in the ship’s theater. It reminded me a bit of Vegas, a little opera, death-defying acrobatics and even an appearance by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
The king of pop! Michael Jackson entertained us
Rosenberg Palace, Copenhagen
Day 1: Leaving Copenhagen aboard MSC Orchestra Our last morning in Copenhagen was spent touring Rosenberg Palace, the favorite home and place of death for King Christian IV. It is an intimate castle with every room used and designed for comfort. It seems King Christian was a bit of a jokester–he had a chair built that made fart noises and wet the person’s pants when they sat down and he had a room completely covered in mirrors (including the floor) in order to see up women’s skirts. I was most impressed by the King’s throne which was made out of narwhal tusks (first thought to be unicorn horns)…it absolutely glimmers in the light. The Palace is also home to the royal treasury so the kids enjoyed getting an up close view of tiaras, crowns and massive pearl and diamond necklaces.
Following the Palace tour we drove over to visit the Little Mermaid. Lindsey conveniently cued up the Disney song on her laptop as we drove by. The kids and I hopped out to get up close and true to Lauren’s nature, she fell in the water to be super close with her kindred spirit. Surprise to us…the Little Mermaid is actually quite little.
Our cruise ship was docked fairly close to the Mermaid so Tim dropped us off with our luggage and went to find the parking garage for the cruise terminal. This turned out to be about a mile away; sounds close when you’re driving there but then you have to walk that same distance back to the ship. Tim made it in record time and we proceeded to check in to our cabins, find the rest of our party and hit the buffet.