Thursday, September 12, 2013

Silver Cloud Baltic Cruise and visit to Berlin - London Four Seasons Park Lane

Hi all...

I have been remiss in not sending this out sooner but the memories are still very vivid in my mind!

Cruising into London
Bill and I were Voyager Club hosts on the Silver Cloud that sailed from Copenhagen through the Baltic and ended up in London at the Tower Bridge! It was a spectacular cruise with a wonderful itinerary. We departed Copenhagen on July 5 then cruised to Tallin Estonia, St. Petersburg (two nights), Helsinki, Stockholm, Visby,  Rostock (East German port three hours from Berlin), Transit Kiel Canal and ended up at the Tower Bridge in  London on July 17. I still have goose bumps thinking about sailing under the Tower Bridge with hoards of Brits cheering and singing Hale Britannia. No doubt there were probably some Americans in the group as well.

Voyager Club lunch Helsinki
It was a delight to be on the Silver Cloud with only 250 passengers with exceptional crew and accommodations. We became easily familiar with the ship and acquainted with many of the passengers. Our Voyager Club group was only 16 and most enjoyable. There were two Dartmouth graduates in the group so Bill was in his element. We dined with them many nights and thoroughly enjoyed their company.  The best feature was to be able to go to any of the three dining rooms and a reservation was not always necessary. We especially loved sitting at the pool deck in the evening and dining at the "Hot Rocks" venue where you cook your own food on a hot lava rock. We had fantastic weather the whole time..even in Russia where they told us it usually rains every other day and is much was sunny and 70s most of the time.

Our onboard lecturer Corey Sandler made the whole cruise experience that much better. We attended lectures each day preparing us for the next port and informing us of all the history and special places to visit. Corey is a frequent lecturer for Silversea and many passengers go just to hear him. By the way, I was amazed that most of the passengers I spoke with were on their 5th and 6th Silversea cruise..some as many as 20.

When the shore excursions were available to book, I immediately signed up for the full day (12 hours) tour to Berlin. I was encouraged to do so by Barbara and my German friend. Bill was very reticent but decided to go along. It was an excellent program and well worth the time. The bus ride went very quickly as we were given presentations on a TV about the history of Berlin. It was amazing how Berlin has been completely rebuilt after being destroyed in WWII. My best description for Berlin..
is BIG and MIND BOGGLING!        

All of our shore programs were well run and the groups were not too large. As a Voyager Club hostess I was the escort for the tour in Helsinki that Virtuoso offers. We were a small group of 14 and every single person came to me at the end and thanked me and said how much they enjoyed the day. It is a definite perk for Virtuoso members.

When we disembarked in London I arranged to be picked up by our on site and taken to Four Seasons. I was happy that I had done that as it would have been difficult to get a taxi and manage..of course we had four bags plus hand luggage!

Looking down from the London Eye
I had been to Four Seasons about 15 years ago and was overwhelmed with its transformation. We were stunned when we were shown to our suite which I had arranged with Susannah Lurie. It pays to be a Preferred Partner and with the Travel Exchange! The closet was as big as most bedrooms in London. The best part was Bill could watch the British Open on the TV in the bathroom mirror! The room and bathroom had every possible amenity plus we had a lovely outside verandah big enough for a party. The problem was that it was unusually hot in London in the 90s! Bill and I spent two days with relatives in London revisiting the sights and riding the London Eye. One evening we stepped out for dinner and doorman offered the Rolls to take us to our restaurant! Why not?!? When we pulled up to the small restaurant in Covent Garden everyone was looking in to see who we were.. what a disappointment... but I gave them the Royal wave.

View from the London Eye
Thus far our trip had been unfolding like a dream! Our last day in London I had planned to meet some older relatives out in the country. Then we were driving to Heathrow to spend our last night at the airport. So I had decided we would have to rent a car and take all our bags. I went to the Hertz place not far from the hotel (the Rolls took me) and then the problems started. I could not take the car back to the hotel as it is in the restricted area of London and you need to pay a fee...etc...etc.. I had requested a GPS but they told me there was a $50 drop off for the GPS at the airport...are you kidding me!? Auto Europe forgot to tell me but I negotiated it down to $20.

Then the fun began driving out of London on the wrong side of the street. My husband was ready to kill me but after ending up back in the same place three times we made it to the M4. It was a breeze from there with the GPS about two hours total. We had lunch at a lovely place in the Costwolds..Calcot Manor in Tetbury. (It is represented by Rebecca Slater).

Our last lap was driving back to Heathrow which was not bad until I tried to find the drop off for the Hertz car..but of course I had to fill up with gas first. The London Heathrow Hilton is a perfect hotel for anyone departing on Delta. You can actually walk through a tunnel with your bags or they will take you on their cart. It made it so easy for check in the next morning at 8am and our flight back to Florida via Atlanta. Generally speaking I was pleased with Delta. We paid for Economy plus seating but it was a bad choice going over as that seat was next to an exit row and the freezing wind blasted us all night.

I would be delighted to hear from any of you with comments or questions. I would recommend you consider doing a Voyager Club cruise but pick a small ship!

More pictures:

Pam VR Long
Virtuoso Travel Consultant
Travel Exchange
PO box 559
Palm City, FL 34991
860 930 5007 cell
772 781 8099 fax/phone