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Arrive: Thu 18 August 2022 / Depart: Thu 18 August 2022 at 19:00
Instantly loveable, Helsinki is remarkably different from the other Scandinavian capitals, and closer both in mood and appearance to the major cities of Northern Europe. Today, cruisers will find a youthful buzz on the streets, where the boulevards, outdoor cafés and trendyrestaurants are crowded with Finns taking full advantage of the short summer. Following a devastating fire in 1808, and the city’s designation as Finland’s capital in 1812, Helsinki was totally rebuilt in a style befitting its new status: a grid of wide streetsand Neoclassical brick buildings modelled on the then Russian capital, St Petersburg. Esplanadi, a wide, tree-lined boulevard across a mishmash of tramlines from the harbour, where your MSC cruise ship awaits your return, is Helsinki at its most charming. At its eastern end, the City Museum at Sofiankatu 4 offers a record of 450 years of Helsinki life in an impressive permanent exhibition called “Helsinki Horizons”. To the north is Senate Square (Senattintori), dominated by the exquisite form of the Tuomiokirkko (Cathedral). After the elegance of the exterior, the spartan Lutheran interior comes as a disappointment; more impressive is the gloomily atmospheric crypt, now often used for exhibitions. About 50km east of Helsinki, Porvoo, one of the oldest towns on the south coast and one of Finland’s most charming, is just waiting to be discovered on an MSC Northern Europe excursion. Its narrow cobbled streets, lined by small colourful wooden buildings, give a sense of Finnish life before the capital’s bold squares and Neoclassical geometry. The old town is built around the hill on the other side of Mannerheimkatu, crowned by the fifteenth-century Tuomiokirkko, where Alexander I proclaimed Finland a Russian Grand Duchy and convened the first Finnish Diet.
Arrive: Fri 19 August 2022 at 08:30 / Depart: Fri 19 August 2022 at 19:00
Without a doubt Stockholm is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and a vacation in Sweden with an MSC cruise will prove it. Built on no fewer than fourteen islands, where the fresh water of Lake Mälaren meets the brackish Baltic Sea, clean air and open space are in plentiful supply here. An MSC cruise of Northern Europe will give you the opportunity to appreciate its port front, reach the Baltic Sea and experience the atmospheres with a tour of the town where broad boulevards lined with elegant buildings are reflected in the deep blue water, and rows of painted wooden houseboats bob gently alongside the cobbled waterfront. But Stockholm is also a hi-tech metropolis, as you will find out on your excursion on land during your cruise, with futuristic skyscrapers and a bustling commercial heart. The old town, Gamla Stan, is a district with cobbled streets and narrow alleyways huddled together on a triangular-shaped island. Today the area is an atmospheric mixture of buildings surrounded on all sides by a latticework of medieval lanes and alleyways. The district of Norrmalm swaps tradition for a thoroughly contemporary feel: this is downtown Stockholm where you’ll find shopping malls, huge department stores and conspicuous, showy wealth. In the green island of Djurgården you can see an extraordinary 17th century warship, the Vasa, rescued and preserved after sinking in Stockholm harbour. Cross Norrbron or Riksbron from the Riksdagshuset and up rears the most distinctive monumental building in Stockholm, Kungliga Slottet – a low, square, yellowy-brown construction, with two arms that stretch down towards the water. It’s uniform and sombre outside, but with a magnificent Rococo interior that’s a swirl of staterooms and museums. Itssheer size is quite overwhelming: you should not miss the Royal Apartments and the Treasure Room. The former are used for royal receptions and the second keeps a collection of crowns studded with precious stones.
Arrive: Sun 21 August 2022 / Depart: Sun 21 August 2022
Arriving on your MSC Cruise of Northern Europe, you will have the chance to visit Kiel, an expanding urban centre on the shores of the Baltic Sea. Kiel became the Imperial military port of Germany in 1871 and, when its canal was opened to connect the Baltic and the North Seas in 1895, the town began to control the largest artificial waterway in the world. Kiel is the ideal location for a relaxing vacation in Germany with an MSC cruise: it is simple and quiet, even during the Kieler Woche international regatta, an event not to be missed by sailing enthusiasts. The few city museums can be visited in one morning, however, if you want to get acquainted with Kiel you cannot ignore its waterways, to which the town is indissolubly bound: they can be visited by taking the Kiellinie footpath or taking a cruise along the Kieler Förde and along the canal. A spacious promenade along the pier will give you the chance to admire a variety of vessels of all sorts, amongst which the dinghies of the sailing school and, from the wet dock in front, the best view one can get of Kiel. 6 km south-west of the centre, in Molfsee, where we find the Schleswig-Holsteinisches Freilichtmuseum. This open air museum shows about seventy traditional buildings taken from the Lande and assembled in miniature villages: the colonial houses still maintain the original furniture – outstanding beds sleeping the entire family in order to keep warm in the freezing winters. While on vacation in Kiel with your MSC Cruise, an excursion will take you to Lubecca, one of the few towns on the northern coasts of Europe that has kept its Medieval glory. For more than two centuries it has been one of the wealthiest and most powerful European cities. The wealth deriving from trade is best expressed through its architecture: from the oldest Rathaus in Germany to the churches with the tallest bell towers and the merchants’ mansions.
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