Cruising to Scandinavia and St. Petersburg

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Enjoying the sparkling lights of Copenhagens enchanting Tivoli Gardens, exploring the cobbled streets of Stockholms Gamla Stan or old city and seeing the fabulous treasures of St. Petersburgs Hermitage and Winter Palace are only a few of the highlights on the Alumni Associations cruise to Scandinavia and St. Petersburg next summer.

The 12-day cruise aboard the Crown Odyssey will be hosted by UVics Swedish-born Nels Granewall and his wife Carolyn and will depart on July 26. Leaving from Dover, the ship will call at Hamburg/Lubeck before cruising the Baltic and Gulf of Finland for an overnight stay in St. Petersburg. Other ports of call include Helsinki and Stockholm, and in Copenhagen the ship will again serve as hotel for an overnight stay in that vibrant city. The final port of call is Oslo, Norway, before the Crown Odyssey cruises the North Sea back to Dover on August 8.

Nels and Carolyn Granewall are seasoned Scandinavian travelers, and Nels is fluent in Scandinavian languages. Nels is presently special advisor on alumni relations at UVic but is known to many alumni as chief marshall of UVics Convocation ceremonies and as the director of student financial aid at UVic for the past 28 years. The Granewalls have acquired a wealth of experience, knowledge, and anecdotes on their Scandinavian travels which they look forward to sharing.

Sailing away from the white cliffs of Dover across the North Sea, the Crown Odyssey transits the 61-mile Kiel Canal, which cuts through the pastoral Schleswig-Holstein region of northwest Germany. The first port of call is Hamburg/ Lubeck. Lubeck is a city of lofty spires and medieval architecture and was capital of the Hanseatic League (a powerful 13-17th-century trade alliance of city states).

The ship cruises on to St. Petersburg. Few cities can claim the harmony of scale, and elegance of design of St. Petersburg, built on the wide Neva River in the early 1700s by Tsar Peter the Great. The centrepiece is the Winter Palace and Hermitage. This ornate and beautiful series of buildings displays fabulous collections of works of art. An evening in St. Petersburg gives the opportunity to enjoy a cultural performance of music or ballet for which the city is famous.

Next port of call is Helsinki, the white city of the north. Along the curve of the waterfront, a thriving open-air market spills out of ancient buildings. Leading from the market is the Esplanadi where shops display the distinctive Finnish flair for design. The following morning the Crown Odyssey docks in Stockholm, a city built on 14 islands connected by more than 40 bridges. The city is a fascinating blend of modern buildings and the unique medieval architecture of Gamla Stan, Stockholms 700-year-old section where tiny shops cluster on narrow cobblestone streets.

The ship stays overnight in Copenhagen allowing time to enjoy the Tivoli Gardens at night, a 145-year-old fantasyland ablaze with shining lights and lively with music and people, theatres, casinos, fountains and gardens. Next morning theres the Stroget to exploreone of the worlds longest pedestrian shopping streets. The charming bistros along the Nyhavn Canal or the canal boat tours provide a change of pace, and, as Nels and Carolyn point out, the Tivoli gardens have a whole new daytime personality.

In Oslo the Crown Odyssey docks next to Akeshus Castle which towers over the harbour. A ferry will quickly carry you to the Bygdoy peninsula where the Viking ships shouldnt be missed, says Nels.

For more information on this cruise to Scandinavia & St. Petersburg come to Cruise Night at the Faculty Club on Wednesday, November 1 at 7:30 p.m. or call Edith Knott at (604) 477-8633.

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