Discover the historic & idyllic
Explore nine countries united by the Baltic Sea, discover their intertwined histories, and encounter fascinating cultures. Delve deeper through dramatic water approaches, foray into character-filled villages and island stops for quiet walks. Wander along the medieval walled city of Visby, explore dazzling St. Petersburg over two days, and dine on local specialties—or have a deck party in the tranquil Swedish Archipelago. Enjoy ample choices and avenues for exploration in each of the cities. And explore from a privileged vantage point—cruising the Baltic Sea by ship allows us to sail routes of the old Hanseatic League, in the paths of early traders and nobles, and it lets us enter the cities as they were meant to be—by sea.
Encounter a kaleidoscope of history and cultures
Though the countries we explore are linked by the Baltic Sea, each is distinctly unique. Fascinating Gdańsk in Poland, the mysterious Hill of Witches in Klaipeda, Lithuania and the finest collection of art nouveau buildings in beautiful Latvia. Turbulent histories come alive and the painstaking restoration efforts after WWII become all the more meaningful. The heritage found here is astounding and you will encounter many examples for the memory books.
It’s your expedition, you choose how to explore
How you spend your expedition time is vital to us. We want to bring you the best of these Baltic nations in the most engaging ways possible. Every day you can join naturalist or historian-guided hikes; or experiment with camera settings on a leisurely photo-focused walk. Meet the lively characters who make up the contemporary scene in towns along the way. Or simply enjoy the open decks and glorious views from National Geographic Explorer.
Travel with some of the best and brightest
The encyclopedic knowledge of our historians adds insight, depth, and clarity to each geography. Our naturalists will describe the geology of these rich coastlines, sharing their knowledge daily. If improving your travel photos is a passion, than we recommend you spend time with the National Geographic photographer and the National Geographic certified photo instructor aboard ship and on walks ashore.
Today we arrive in Denmark’s capital. The fairytale feel of the city where Hans Christian Andersen wrote is the home of incredible stories and a long history. After lunch, have a water-level view of this old maritime city from a boat sailing on its charming canals, seeing the city’s landmarks, palaces, and of course, The Little Mermaid statue. Back on board enjoy your first taste of Danish pastries as we prepare to set sail. (L,D)
Stop at the small fishing port of Gudhjem on Bornholm Island. Hike up to the cliff-top ruins of Hammershus fortress or explore the island’s round churches and white sandy beaches. (B,L,D)
Arrive in Poland and take in Gdańsk’s art and architectural highlights including the Gothic-Renaissance Town Hall and the National Museum, featuring the Last Judgment triptych by Hans Memling. Or, learn about the significance of ship building and trade at the Maritime Museum. Zodiacs take us through the shipyards of Gdańsk, an important area for the organized resistance against the communist regime in 1980. We take a guided tour of the European Solidarity Center, commemorating the trade union that made Lech Walesa a household name.
History buffs may opt for a morning visit to the Westerplatte peninsula, where World War II began with the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. In order to maximize your time in Gdańsk, we’ve arranged an authentic Polish style lunch in town with open seating so you can arrive at your convenience. (B,L,D)
Explore the wild barrier peninsula called the Curonian Spit, a UNESCO World Heritage site shared by Lithuania and Russia. Choose one of two options: Take a cultural tour to a seaside resort town to learn of folk tales at the Hill of Witches and see some of Europe’s tallest sand dunes. Or, spend the morning at the Ventė Cape Ornithological Station to explore the lighthouse and dunes while learning about migratory bird populations.
Spend the morning exploring Visby, one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Scandinavia. Founded as a Viking settlement, the town became a center of the Hanseatic trade in the 12th to 14th centuries. Stroll the cobblestone streets of the enchanting old town and see its nearly two-mile-long, 13th-century wall. Extremely picturesque, Visby is perfect for a guided photo walk through medieval neighborhoods capped off with a visit to the Gotland Museum. Alternatively, you may opt for a guided bike excursion that heads north into quiet Gotland island countryside.
Explore the largest city in the Baltics on a walking tour through Riga’s UNESCO-recognized center, passing wooden houses, art nouveau architecture, and funky cafés. Choose to bike across the Daugava River and explore the quiet island of Kipsala and its old fishermen’s houses, or take a boat ride through the canals of Riga with free time before sailing to Estonia.
Explore with all your senses. Taste, see, and smell Latvian food specialties at the airy Central Market on an optional tour with your Orion chef and a local guide. (B,L,D)
Cross the Gulf of Finland to Estonia arriving in Tallinn. Stroll the medieval streets of Town Hall Square on a guided walk through the walled, cobblestoned old town with its Kiek in de Kök, a 15th-century defensive tower. Take in the view from Dome Hill of Tallinn’s picturesque spires and gables, and visit the grand Kadriorg Palace and grounds built in the Baroque style for Catherine I of Russia by Peter the Great.
Can music change history? Most people don’t think about music when they think revolution. But song was the weapon of choice when Estonians sought to free themselves from Soviet rule. Visit the singing grounds in person. (B,L,D)
Peter the Great established his city in 1703 as Russia’s “window to the west.” With grand palaces and residences and its planned streets, canals and parks, St. Petersburg is surely one of the most dazzling cities in Europe. Our days are spent exploring St. Petersburg’s imperial luxuries and artistic treasures: The Hermitage with its world-renowned art collections, the grandiose Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, and the opulent royal palace and parks of Catherine the Great at Pushkin. (B,L,D)
Discover Finland's intricate coastline with numerous bays, inlets, and islands rich with natural history and ripe for exploration by kayak and Zodiac. (B,L,D)
Cruise the Stockholm Archipelago on your way from coastal Finland to Sweden's beautiful capital. Keep your camera handy as we maneuver through the scenic archipelago to arrive in Stockholm, the city built on 14 islands.
The great Scandinavian maritime capital of Stockholm provides some favorite experiences: view the royal Vasa warship (which capsized in Stockholm harbor in 1628 and was salvaged and restored 350 years later). Take a walking tour of Old Town Gamla Stan, and visit the Royal Armoury. This afternoon enjoy time on your own or take a tasting tour of Swedish sweets in the Old Town. We stay docked overnight so you can enjoy this magical Scandinavian city.
Take a rooftop walk across the Old Town. Yes, opt to buckle up in your safety harness and step along the narrow rooftop path that only we will follow. You’ll be stunned by the fantastic views and the fascinating stories that your guide will narrate. (B,L,D)
Enjoy breakfast aboard before being transferred to the airport for your flight home. (B)
All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.
Main Deck with one or two Portholes #301-308
Main Deck with Window #317-320, 335-336
Main Deck with Window #313-316, 321-328, 337-340, 342, 344, 346, 348, 350 Triples: Main Deck with WIndow #341, 343
Upper and Veranda Decks with Window #103-104, 107-108, 201-202, 204-207, 210, 212, 217, 226, 228
Solo A Main Deck with Window #309-312, 329-334
Solo B Upper and Veranda Decks with Window #105-106, 203, 208
Upper Deck with Balcony #209, 211, 214, 216, 218, 220-222, 224
Veranda Deck–Suite #101-102; Upper Deck-Suite with Balcony #213 Triples: #101-102
Upper Deck–Suite with Balcony #215, 219, 230 All cabins are available as triples.
National Geographic Explorer
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition
Length: 108 meters
Passenger Capacity: 148 (single & twin cabins)
Built / Refurbished: 1982 / 2008
National Geographic Explorer is a state-of-the-art expedition ship. It is a fully stabilized, ice-class vessel, enabling it to navigate polar passages while providing exceptional comfort. It carries kayaks and a fleet of Zodiac landing craft. An Undersea Specialist operates a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and sophisticated video equipment, extending access to the underwater world.
Public areas: Bistro Bar; Chart Room; Restaurant; Global Gallery; Library, Lounge with full service bar and state-of-the-art facilities for films, slideshows and presentations; Mud Room with lockers for expedition gear, and Observation Lounge. Our “Open Bridge” provides guests an opportunity to meet our Officers and Captain and learn about navigation.
Meals: Served in single seatings with unassigned tables for an informal atmosphere and easy mingling. Menu is international with local flair.
Cabins: All cabins face outside with windows or portholes, private facilities and climate controls.
Expedition Equipment: Zodiac landing craft, kayaks, Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), hydrophone, SplashCam, underwater video camera, Crow’s Nest remote controlled camera, video microscope, snorkeling gear.
Special Features: A full-time doctor, Undersea Specialist, LEX Photo Specialist and Video Chronicler, Internet Cafe and laundry.
Wellness: The vessel is staffed by two Wellness Specialists and features a glass enclosed Fitness Center, outdoor stretching area, two LEXspa treatment rooms and Sauna.