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Best Baltic cruise lines

Cruise through the Baltic Sea to Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and beyond.

Updated

Aerial view of Riga, Latvia city and river

While the Mediterranean remains the most popular cruising destination around Europe, those looking for something slightly more low-key should consider heading further north. Nine countries surround the Baltic Sea, all of which make an appearance on one of these major cruise liners’ itineraries.

Best cruises to the Baltics

Beckoning every type of traveler, the Baltics offers cruises suitable for curious families, loved-up explorers, adventurous seniors and more.

Best for flexible packages: Costa

With endless packages to choose from, including the bare basics to an all-inclusive beverage package, a cruise with Costa can be as expensive or low-cost as you want it to be. Costa tends to be much more affordable than its competitors, especially for cruises in Europe.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for young families: MSC

MSC has thought of everything when it comes to families cruising with children as young as one year old. From a daycare service to give mom and dad a break to a special laundry facility where baby’s clothes are washed separately with gentle detergent, everything is covered.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for an older crowd: Holland America

With a fleet of smaller ships decked out with high-end facilities, Holland America tends to draw cruisers aged 50 and above. Entertainment is low-key with regular live jazz nights, bingo games and cultural enrichment lectures.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for local experiences: Princess

Established in 1965, Princess Cruises has built up countless relationships with local tour guides around the world. So whether you’re looking to get a local’s perspective on Latvia’s history, discover Copenhagen’s hidden streets or learn how to cook a traditional Russian dish, Princess’s shore excursions can help you do exactly that.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card, JCB
Price ($-$$$):

Best for couples: Viking Ocean Cruises

If the historic streets of Saint Petersburg and the many bridges of Stockholm don't conjure up romantic thoughts, Viking’s couples packages might have you going weak at the knees. Opt for the Explorer Suite to enjoy alfresco dining on your private balcony, a glass of bubbly on arrival and the outrageously comfortable his and hers bathrobes.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover Card, Cheque
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for small ships: Fred Olsen

This company’s fleet of smaller ships allows you to delve further into the heart of the Baltics and dock at inner-city ports. You’ll pay a premium for the advantage, but you’ll get to go where no larger boats can.
  • No free room service
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Diners, Debit

How we picked the best cruises

With so much to explore in this corner of the world, our team singled out cruises with well-paced routes that stop off at key ports around the Baltics. We also made sure that enough time was allowed at each stop so passengers had sufficient opportunity to experience the best of these northern cities.

Onboard, we assessed the variety of dining options offered, the types of cabins and suites available, and the quality of entertainment provided on the ship before comparing this to the company’s price point to make sure you’re getting value for your money.

When is the best time to go to the Baltics?

Cruising season in the Baltics begins in May and lasts until mid-September. With temperatures averaging between 60℉ and 70˚F these months offer the most comfortable conditions for cruising — but you’ll still need to pack a sweater for the evenings.

The waterways are at their busiest during July and August when European school holidays are in full swing, so consider a trip during the shoulder months of May or September for cheaper prices and fewer crowds.

What are the must-do cruise excursions in the Baltics?

From the streets of Copenhagen to the canals of Saint Petersburg, there are plenty of ways to explore the port cities of the Baltic Sea.

  • Tallinn, Estonia. The fairy-tale capital of the Baltics and the official capital of Estonia, Tallinn’s cobbled streets, historic castles and spindly church spires will feel otherworldly.
  • Riga, Latvia. There are more UNESCO World Heritage sites to explore in Riga than you’d expect, including the streets of the pedestrian-only Old Town and Art Nouveau district.
  • Klaipėda, Lithuania. A gateway to the magnificent Curonian Spit, a 98-km sandy island filled with untouched wilderness and fascinating wildlife.
  • Saint Petersburg, Russia. With 72-hour, visa-free access for all cruise ship passengers, opt to stay overnight here for a chance to explore every single one of the State Hermitage Museum’s 365 rooms.

Bottom line

If you’re intrigued by this fascinating corner of the world, with its unique architecture and lesser-visited port towns, check here for cruise deals can be found around the Baltics.

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