Baltic Cruise on Celebrity Silhouette: Essential Tips, Port Guides & Review

A Baltic cruise is a stress-free way to visit some of Europe’s most beautiful cities over a short space of time in comfort and ease. But how should you go about planning a cruise on the Baltic Sea?

I did a Baltic Sea cruise from Southampton, England with Celebrity Cruises on their Solstice-class ship, Silhouette. This is one of the fleet’s large ships, accommodating 2,886 passengers. It is not a budget trip by any means, but if you bag a good fare it can represent a touch of affordable luxury travel.

exterior of cruise ship on baltic capitals cruise

To help you plan your cruise, here are my tips, Baltic cruise port guides and a review of my experience on Celebrity Silhouette.

My Top Baltic Cruise Tips

1. DON’T LET THE WEATHER DICTATE THE TIME OF YEAR YOU CRUISE THE BALTIC SEA 

The Baltic Sea cruising season is limited, running from late April to September.

June is considered to be one of the best times to visit Russia, with St Petersburg celebrating its ‘White Nights” in celebration of nearly 24-hour daylight. However, the downside of this is that if you want to see St Petersburg at night, you will need to be out at silly o’clock.

Travelling in the shoulder season (late April / May and late September) can mean lower fares and fewer people.

I travelled in late May which was a good balance between price and optimal cruising season. That said, all of the ports we visited were busy.

It is impossible to predict the weather in the Baltic capitals. Therefore, this should not determine which month you travel. Summer temperatures typically hover in the 60s and 70s, but it can also be cold and damp.

St. Petersburg’s reputation for having four seasons in one day is well deserved.

long fountain in fornt of peterhof palace near st petersburg
Peterhof, St Petersburg

As there are variations in itineraries, duration and type of ship, you will need to do a little homework to pick the Baltic Capitals cruise that is right for you.  Start by establishing the cruise lines that sail along the Baltic Sea and then examine their itineraries closely.

All of the big players – Celebrity, Costa, Cunard, Disney, Fred Olsen, Holland America, MSC, Norwegian, P&O, Princess, Royal Caribbean – offer Baltic Sea cruises. Smaller, high-end lines, such as Crystal and Regent Seven Seas, also sail there.

    I chose Celebrity for the following reasons:

    • Prior experience – I was impressed with them on a previous cruise to the Western Caribbean
    • Sailing out of Southampton – no flights required
    • Itinerary – included cities I wanted to visit and two nights in port in St Petersburg

    Most Baltic capitals cruises are for 9 – 14 nights and will include many of the following ports: Copenhagen, Tallinn, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki and Warnemunde (for Berlin). Increasingly, places like Riga, Hamburg, Bruges and Gdansk may appear on longer itineraries. 

    The embarkation port may also be a deciding factor. Common embarkation ports are Southampton, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Hamburg.

    Shorter, seven /eight-night cruises are also available. However, these may be one-way journeys, stopping at a limited number of ports.

    Mini-cruises from Stockholm are also available. It is well worth spending time checking out the itineraries offered by the cruise companies to decide which is the best fit for you.  

    baltic-capitals-cruise-itinerary-map
    Baltic Sea Cruise (Map Data @ 2019 Google)

    3. PACK SMARTLY

    Bearing in mind the unpredictability of the weather, pack for all seasons by bringing layers. Pack for the worst weather but hope for the best.

    For exploring the ports of call, t-shirts, jeans, jumpers, and a waterproof jacket. And ditch the stilettos for sensible walking shoes or trainers.

    In the spirit of optimism, also pack a few summer dresses and a pair of shorts. Don’t forget your glad rags for the more formal nights on board.  

    Other items to bring

    Camera – First and foremost, pack the best camera that you have. The Baltic capitals scream out for the finest camera lens that money will buy. 

    Binoculars – A small pair of binoculars will also come in handy. The views as you sail into Stockholm are sensational, and a set of bins will allow you to pick out details on land from afar.  

    cruise packing checklist cold climate

    The type of cabin that you book will depend largely on your budget and preferences. I always book a balcony cabin because I like to have fresh air wafting into my cabin and my own outside space.

    glass of red wine on table of cruise ship balcony cabin
    My balcony on Celebrity Silhouette

    However, booking a balcony cabin on a Baltic cruise is not essential. Unlike some cruises – for example, a cruise along the fjords of Norway – the main attractions of a Baltic Sea cruise are the destinations, not the scenery as you sail by. Having said that, some of the approaches to port were spectacular.

    If you like a 100% dark room think twice about an exterior cabin. One of the advantages of cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea in summer is the long days. But the flip side is that the sun may be streaming through your window in the wee small hours.

    That said, early morning light does wake me up but this was not a problem in my balcony cabin on this cruise. I guess that the cabins on Celebrity Silhouette have excellent blackout curtains.

    A final cautionary note: not all cruise cabins are equal. If you don’t want to wake to the sound of chairs being dragged across the promenade deck or fall asleep to the hum of the laundry’s washing machines, research your cruise cabin before you book.

    5. CONSIDER HOW YOU WILL EXPLORE THE BALTIC PORTS OF CALL

    Except for St Petersburg, I did not book any shore excursions.

    Exploring the ports of call on this Baltic cruise was straightforward. Where the ship did not berth near the centre of town, easy public transport options were available.

    However, if you want to explore further afield and there is a risk that you may not be able to do this under your own steam, take a look at the shore excursions on offer. If you have your heart set on a particular trip, book before setting off to avoid disappointment.

    white houses with red roofs on forested shoreline of stockholm's archipelago
    The approach to Stockholm through its archipelago is spectacular

    6. Save money by eating on board

    Make no mistake. The Scandinavian ports of call – Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki – are very expensive. For this reason alone, visiting them on a Baltic Sea cruise makes perfect sense as this insulates you from these high costs.

    Therefore, fill your face with the food on board, which you have already paid for. Set yourself up for the day with a big breakfast and bring a few snacks to keep you going.

    This was less important in the other ports of call that I visited. Tallinn and Warnemunde were relatively inexpensive and lunch was provided on the St Petersburg excursions. 

    Celebrity Silhouette Baltic Sea Cruise Itinerary & Port Guides

    DAY ONE: LEAVING SOUTHAMPTON

    At 4 pm on a mild Sunday afternoon, Celebrity Silhouette let go of her mooring lines and we were underway.

    Passing Fawley oil refinery, the ship continued along the Solent following the eastern coastline of the Isle of Wight. She then took a sharp turn at Portsmouth to enter the Dover Strait.  

    DAY TWO: AT SEA

    Oil rig-dodging day. The Silhouette continued along the North Sea, edging towards Denmark and Norway  

    DAY THREE: COPENHAGEN, DENMARK

    Boasting cobbled streets, gabled townhouses splashed with more colour than a box of crayons, a cutting-edge design scene and effortlessly cool shops, Copenhagen was the first port of call on this Baltic Sea cruise.

    brightly coloured housesd along the waterfront with boats in nyhavn

    Celebrity Silhouette docked at Ocean Quay (Oceankaj) Cruise Terminal which is 6 km north of Copenhagen city centre. This is where most large ships park up but, if you are lucky, you may disembark at Langelinie Quay just north of the Little Mermaid.  

    As most of the main sights are grouped close together, it’s easy to get around Copenhagen on foot.

    • Take a Copenhagen Harbour Tour
    • Pay your respects to The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue)
    • Visit The Design Museum (Design Museum Danmark)
    • Explore Nyhavn, the poster child of Copenhagen
    • Visit Christianshavn and Freetown Christiana
    • Visit the Tivoli Gardens

      DAY FOUR: COPENHAGEN

      DAY FIVE: AT SEA

      DAY SIX: TALLINN, ESTONIA

      For good reasons, visitors swoon over Tallinn for its UNESCO-listed Old Town.  But cross its railway tracks to discover Telliskivi Creative City with its street art, craft beer and designer studios, and the iconic wooden buildings of Kalamaja.

      seagull perched on wall in front of church tower and red roofs of tallinn which is one of the ports of call on a baltic sea cruise

      Cruise ships berth at Tallinn’s Old City Harbour, less than 1 km from the edge of the Old Town. As its main sights are close to each other, Tallinn is very walkable. Wear sturdy shoes for those cobblestones.

      • Take a walking tour of Tallinn’s Old Town
      • Visit Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
      • Buy a love potion at Europe’s oldest operational pharmacy
      • Treat yourself to lunch at one of Tallinn’s great restaurants, washed down with a craft beer
      • Cross the railway tracks to visit Kalamaja and Telliskivi

        DAY SEVEN: ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

        Due to the ongoing geopolitical situation, travel to Russia is not currently recommended and Baltic cruise ships are not stopping there. For current travel advice, check the advice of the UK FCO here.

        Closely associated with the lives and fate of the Romanovs, Russia’s Imperial Family, St. Petersburg is a city that makes you think in exclamation marks. Built on a network of islands, crisscrossed by 65 rivers and canals, its beauty is equalled only by its rich history.

        Church of Our Saviour on the Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg
        Church of Our Saviour on the Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg

        Celebrity Silhouette berthed at the Marine Façade Complex, 5 km northwest of the city centre. As most visitors to St Petersburg on a cruise will be taking an organised tour, you will not need to find your way around the city.

        St. Petersburg’s attractions are numerous but two days there will allow you to take in some of these highlights:

        • The Hermitage
        • Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
        • St Peter & St Paul Fortress
        • St Isaac’s Cathedral
        • St Petersburg canal cruise
        • Riding St Petersburg’s metro
        • Catherine Palace
        • Peterhof Palace & Gardens

        If you have booked a shore excursion with an operator approved by the Russian authorities, you will not need a visa to visit St Petersburg on a cruise. However, if you choose to visit St Petersburg independently from a cruise, most visitors will need to apply for a visa before leaving on their cruise.  

        DAY EIGHT: ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

        DAY NINE: HELSINKI, FINLAND

        Also called “Daughter of the Baltic”, Helsinki occupies a peninsula and a fringe of several small islands. It is known for not only its stunning natural environment but also its architecture, sauna culture, design scene and its unique gastronomy.

        helsinki lutheran cathedral
        Lutheran Cathedral, Helsinki

        Most larger cruise ships, including Celebrity Silhouette, berth at Hernesaari cruise terminal, which is around 3 km from the centre of Helsinki. If you are lucky, your ship may berth at South Harbour, which is within easy walking distance of the market square.  

        Most of Helsinki’s main attractions are scattered over a relatively compact, and therefore walkable, area.

        • Go souvenir shopping in Kuappatori (market square)
        • Visit Uspenskin Katedraali (Russian Orthodox Cathedral)
        • Visit the neoclassical Tuomiokirkko (Lutheran Cathedral)
        • Visit one of the world’s most beautiful railway stations
        • Explore an extraordinary church hewn out of rock (Temppeliaukio)
        • Take a boat to Suomenlinna fortress

        I defy any visitor to Stockholm to not be seduced by its setting and its medieval old town. And with its Baltic Sea archipelago, Sweden’s capital boasts the most spectacular approach of any port that I have visited on a cruise.

        people walking along narrow street with church steeple in distance
        Gamla Stan, Stockholm

        Stockholm has two major cruise terminals: Frihamnen (where Celebrity Silhouette berthed) and the more central Stadsgården. However, if you are unlucky, your ship may park up at Nynashamn, 36 miles south of Stockholm.  

        Many of the main tourist sights are clustered around Gamla Stan and therefore easily walkable. For sights further out, use Stockholm’s excellent integrated public transport system.

        • Visit the temple to Abba (Abba Museum)
        • Walk around Gamla Stan (Stockholm Old Town)
        • Visit the Royal palace (Kungliga Slottet)
        • Explore Sweden’s past at the Vasa Museum
        • Admire Stockholm’s metro stations

        DAY ELEVEN: AT SEA

        DAY TWELVE: WARNEMÜNDE, GERMANY

        Although the cruise port of Warnemünde is marketed as Berlin, I say skip the long day trip to the German capital. Instead, spend your time on-shore here and in neighbouring Rostock. Warnemünde has a spectacular beach and laid-back vibe, and Rostock has an almost palpable historic charm.

        boardwlak leading to warnemunde beach through sand dunes
        Warnemünde beach

        Warnemünde’s town centre and its train station are an easy 10 – 15 minutes walk from the cruise terminal. Neighbouring Rostock is a 20-minute train journey away.  

        Like many cruise operators, Celebrity markets Warnemünde as Berlin (Warnemünde). However, with a six-hour return journey, visiting Berlin from Warnemünde is a very long and expensive day trip.

        This is what I recommend instead:

        • Explore Rostock’s Hanseatic past
        • Stroll along Warnemündes’s spectacular sandy beach
        • Pick up a portion of delicious and cheap fresh seafood from Warnemünde’s vendors

        DAY 13 & DAY 14: AT SEA

        Waving goodbye to Germany, Celebrity Silhouette retraced her tracks through the gas and oil fields of the North Sea into the busy Dover Strait, reaching the Solent waters in the early hours of Sunday morning. During the cruise, the Silhouette travelled a total distance of 3398 nautical miles.

        My Experience Onboard Celebrity Silhouette: Ship Review

        A Baltic Sea cruise on Celebrity Silhouette is a premium, large-ship traditional cruising experience with a contemporary twist. Although the ship felt a little tired in places – the old girl had a well-deserved rest and spruce up in dry dock in 2020 – the Silhouette is still a gorgeous, modern cruise ship.  

        SHIP DESIGN

        Celebrity Silhouette is a beautifully designed vessel.

        From its thoughtfully curated modern art collection – check out the video installation of caged birds next to the World Class Bar – to its sleekly styled public areas, it is a pleasure to stroll her decks. The ship boasts some tasteful indoor areas for those days at sea.

        Curl up with a good book on one of the library’s chairs.

        people sitting in library on the celebrity silhouette cruise ship

        Or chill out with a coffee in a wicker cocoon in the Hideaway on deck 7.

        people sitting in a cruise ship atrium with a tree in the centre
        Hideaway on Celebrity Silhouette

        CABINS ON CELEBRITY SILHOUETTE

        Celebrity Silhouette has 25 different classes of cabins (staterooms), 85% of which have balconies. These range from interior and ocean-view cabins for the budget-conscious to veranda (balcony) cabins and suites.

        Size-wise, these start at 177 sq feet and go all the way up to a whopping 1,291 square feet.

        I had a balcony cabin, which was spacious at 194 sq feet, excluding the balcony, and was decorated in tasteful neutral tones. The queen-sized bed was comfortable, the pillows plump and the linen of good quality. The cabin also featured a fixed desk with a chair, a sofa bed, a small coffee table and a wardrobe.

        cruise cabin stateroom with double bed and balcony door
        Veranda stateroom, Celebrity Silhouette

        As a solo traveller, I found that storage space was adequate.

        There were three deep desk drawers and two cubbies above the bed. Weirdly, there were no drawers in the wardrobe. Those travelling as a couple reported that they struggled with the cabins’ storage capacity.

        The large wall-mounted TV had a limited choice of channels.

        Nine of these were Celebrity’s own channels – shopping channels, future cruises, views from the bridge and dining. The remaining 15 channels are the usual suspects; news channels and sports channels. There were also nine free on-demand movies, and a further extensive selection available for just under 15 USD per view.

        There was a decent-sized fridge, plus a kettle and tea and coffee supplies, which were replenished each day.  Note that tea and coffee facilities are available only on cruises departing the UK. We Brits love our cuppa in the morning!

        There were just two US flat-pin sockets and one European round-pin socket. There were no three-pin (British) sockets. All of these sockets were by the desk, none at the bedside.

        The small bathroom was modern-looking and well-designed, with ample storage options. No nasty nylon shower curtains here. Instead, you get a shower stall with curved sliding doors.

        bathroom in cruise cabin

        The ‘Replenish’ brand of shampoo, conditioner and body lotion were provided. These were not worthy of adding to the contents of your suitcase on disembarkation at Southampton. Oddly, shower gel is provided only to those travelling in Concierge Class or above.

        Many of the towels had seen better days.

        A small 1200-watt hairdryer was also provided, but if you want something with more oomph I recommend that you bring your own. A waffle bathrobe was provided but no slippers.

        At 54 sq feet, the balcony was roomy and accommodated two reclining chairs and a small table. The room was serviced twice a day.  

        FOOD AND DRINK ON CELEBRITY SILHOUETTE

        This is where Celebrity excels; it is considered to lead the pack when it comes to dining afloat.

        Its strength lies in its innovative approach and its focus on freshly cooked food. Unlike some other ships, food will not have been hanging around waiting to be claimed.

        Food in the Grand Cuvée, the Silhouette’s main dining room (MDR), was consistently excellent with service to match. This double-height dining room is a stunning space, featuring a central room-filling chandelier and a wine tower occupied by 2,500 bottles.

        The Oceanview Café on deck 14 is Sillhouetts’s buffet restaurant. Breakfast here was great with a broad selection of food, including freshly cooked eggs served with a smile. There was a similarly extensive selection at lunch and at many stations; you could ask for fresh food to order.

        man walking in buffet restaurant on baltic sea cruise ship

        However, the Oceanview Café was blighted by insufficient capacity for a fully occupied cruise. At peak times, it was a challenge to find a seat. The often inclement weather didn’t help as this meant that outdoor seating was out of bounds.

        Celebrity Silhouette’s six speciality dining venues, which incur an additional cover charge, are an alternative to the buffet and MDR. These range from Murano (fancy French food) to Tuscan Grille (fine Italian fare) to Sushi on Five.

        As the food in the MDR was so good, I didn’t feel the need to try out these venues. However, they have an excellent reputation.

        There are bars-a-plenty on Celebrity Silhouette with 11 to choose from, each with its own selling point. Sadly, many of the bars had a disappointing lack of atmosphere and the Ensemble Bar and Cellar Masters were downright gloomy. My favourite bars were Celebrity’s signature ice-topped Martini Bar and the Sky Lounge at the front of the ship on deck 14.

        In the MDR, the evening dress code on Celebrity Silhouette was either Smart Casual or Evening Chic. Except for swimwear, baseball caps, flip flops and bare feet, anything goes in the buffet restaurant.

        Celebrity has given the Formal Night a modern reboot. Replaced by Evening Chic, tuxedos and evening gowns are no longer necessary. We had three Evening Chic nights on this 14-night cruise. 

         

        POOLS & RECREATION

        As it wasn’t exactly sun lounger weather on this Baltic Sea cruise, it was a challenge to bag a sheltered outdoors spot on sea days. 

        Adjacent to the main pool, the adults-only Solarium was a peaceful, covered area featuring a pool, hot tubs, a fountain and comfortable loungers. Pool towels were available.

        people relaxing around swimming pool of the cruise ship celebrity silhouette as she cruises along the baltic sea

        Two decks up, there is a jogging track and on deck 14 you will find the Solstice class’s signature Lawn Club. This grass-topped recreational area is a lovely spot. Sadly, the gusts of wind from the Baltic Sea did not favour its use.

        The Silhouette’s spacious gym is well-equipped, although the air-con could have been a bit more vigorous.  

        ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES

        Daytime activities are structured around the Celebrity Life programme. These include culinary activities, enrichment events, trivia & games and wellness.

        The main entertainment space is the two-level Silhouette Theatre which has ample seating and good sightlines. The programme was underwhelming and was largely a modern take on traditional song & dance revue-style shows with the ship’s own company & guest artists. Don’t expect the Broadway-style or Cirque du Soleil shows you may find on other cruise lines.

        At night, the Sky Lounge hosts music and dance parties.

        entertainers singing and dancing on te cruise ship celebrity silhouette

        Movies were shown each day in Celebrity Central, a smaller theatre space.  

        LAUNDRY FACILITIES ON CELEBRITY SILHOUETTE

        There is no self-service laundry onboard Celebrity Silhouette. A bag of laundry will cost you just under 50 USD. Wait for the special offer mid-way into the cruise. Otherwise, you will be paying a hefty per-item charge.

        Note that if you are an Elite Member of Celebrity’s Captain’s Club, you will get a complimentary bag of laundry.  

        CELEBRITY’S CUSTOMER SERVICE

        This is where Celebrity truly excels and the main reason why I would book another cruise with them. Service was consistently excellent and you get the impression that the Silhouette is a happy ship.

        3 people posing for a photo
        Service with a smile

        Celebrity is an American company, but the guests on board were an international mix. Unsurprisingly, as we were sailing from Southampton, there was a generous proportion of Brits but my fellow passengers included those from the US, Canada, Australia and other European countries.

        The age range was broad – cruising is no longer the preserve of older people – and passengers seemed to be a mixture of couples and groups of friends. I did not come across any other solo travellers.

        As one week of this two-week Baltic cruise would have been in term-time, children were few. Although Celebrity is not as kiddie-friendly as some of the other cruise lines, there are kids’ clubs and activities on board. 

        What Is It Like To Be a Solo Traveller on Celebrity Cruises?

        This Baltic Capitals cruise on Celebrity Silhouette was an excellent solo traveller experience and I would recommend it if you are travelling alone for the first time.

        Taking a cruise alone can be a wonderful experience.

        Cruises are very social environments and present multiple opportunities to meet people. I met great people with whom I dined, drank, talked and danced. Solo travel loneliness never had an opportunity to bite.

        All of the ports of call felt safe, and where public transport was needed this was good.

        However, cruises for solo travellers are often not budget-friendly. Solo cabins are hard to come by and are often smaller spaces in less desirable locations. The premium for solo occupancy can be hefty.

        But the tide is slowly changing. For example, Celebrity Edge was the first in the fleet to introduce single staterooms. It is reported that this trend will continue with the company’s new ships in the pipeline. 

        main atrium on cruise ship with sweeping staircase

        Why I Loved My Baltic Sea Cruise on Celebrity Silhouette

        Cruising the Baltic Sea to St Petersburg on Celebrity Silhouette is a premium traditional cruising experience with a modern, upbeat twist. It is a beautifully designed ship with consistently high standards of dining and customer service.

        This is a destination-rich itinerary. The ports of call represent a rich spectrum of cultures, history and traditions, and cruising is a time-efficient way of visiting these cities.

        A minor downside is that for most of the ports of call visited, the ship does not berth near the centre of town. This means that, unless you wish to purchase an excursion, you need to do a little homework to identify your transport options. However, once you do this, getting to and from the ports is straightforward.

        Including gratuities, I paid just over £4,400 for sole occupancy of a balcony cabin on this 14-day Baltic capitals cruise with Celebrity Silhouette. This included a complimentary alcoholic drinks package, wi-fi and onboard credit.

        Although this is not cheap, other than the shore excursion in St Petersburg, I had minimal additional travel expenses. It is also worth noting that Denmark, Finland and Sweden would be expensive countries to visit in their own right.

         


        Ready to cruise the Baltic Sea?

        This was one of my favourite solo cruises and a cost-effective way of experiencing famously expensive European cities.

        If you have found this article helpful, take a deeper dive into the stops on this cruise:

        Happy sailing!

        bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

        About Bridget

        Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

        Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

        To get in touch, email her at hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.

        4 thoughts on “Baltic Cruise on Celebrity Silhouette: Essential Tips, Port Guides & Review

        1. Patricia Landry says:

          I Sailed celebrity silhouette in August, 2015 as a guest of a client who had a comp cruise from Park West.
          I happened to be my 70th birthday and we sailed the British Isles for 14 days. I felt like and was treated like a queen.
          I will never forget the service and friendliness of the staff, the outstanding food and presentation, and the ship itself.
          I would definitely sail her again and recommend Celebrity to all.

          • Bridget says:

            Lucky you!
            I couldn’t agree more. They are a great cruise operator and their customer service is stellar.
            I wish I could say the same about MSC who I travelled with in October! Next time, Celebrity.
            Bridget

            • Carole says:

              We will be doing a staycation cruise on Silhouette in the summer so I hope it goes well. If you are doing any staycation cruises with any cruiseline please post me..I know it won’t be the norm but we are so desperate to do a cruise we’re up for anything at the moment.

              • Bridget says:

                I think that’s a great option. Those cruises around the British coastline look very interesting and the Silhouette is a lovely ship. Have a wonderful time. I don’y have a staycaito cruise planned but you never know …

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