The 2011 Ultimate Northern Discovery Cruise

The 29-Day Ultimate Northern Discovery Cruise, Holland America Eurodam

August 8-September 10, 2011

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert


The 29-Day Ultimate Northern Discovery Cruise (from Holland America)
The Holland America Eurodam (from Holland America)

This is the table of contents for the online version of our trip journal. Here are the chapters:

Part One – To London

Part Two – Dover, Copenhagen, Warnemunde

Part Three – Tallinn

Part Four – St. Petersburg

Part Five – St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Nynäshamn

Part Six – Dover, Amsterdam, Bruges

Part Seven – Dublin, Tórshavn

Part Eight – Greenland

Part Nine – St. John’s, Halifax

The 2011 Ultimate Northern Discovery Cruise, part 2 of 9

The 29-Day Ultimate Northern Discovery Cruise, Holland America Eurodam

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part Two

August 12 (Friday, Day 5, Boarding ms Eurodam in Dover, England) –

Suite, sweet suite

We woke up, packed what little we had in the roll-aboard and enjoyed our last full English breakfast. We took the tube to the coach station in order to take the coach (i.e. a Greyhound bus) to Dover for $14 per person. (Holland America’s charter bus was $70 per person.) During the 2.5-hour ride we went through various parts of London that had shops with boarded up windows from the riots. We also stopped in three towns, including Canterbury. Most of the people on the coach got off at Canterbury. The people left were going to the cruise ship. The coach was supposed to drop us off in “downtown” Dover, but the driver realized that all of the passengers were cruise ship passengers so he took us directly to the ship. That saved a cab ride and got us there faster. Due to all of the Holland America cruises we’ve taken, we are 4-star Mariners so we get priority embarkation. We zipped through the line and boarded the ship and by 12:15 we were in our category SS Superior Verandah Suite, 6068. (We didn’t get an upgrade.) Our cabin is 398 square feet with a verandah. The bathroom has two sinks, a full-size whirlpool tub/shower and a square stand-alone shower. The room has a king bed, 8-foot sofa, two armchairs and a desk chair. The verandah comfortably holds a round table with two chairs and also has two larger chairs, a footstool and a side table.

Our luggage wasn’t in the cabin yet so we decided to go to lunch. After lunch we took a self-guided tour of the ms Eurodam. It’s the biggest Holland America ship we’ve been on. It holds 2,100 guests, 800 crew and has 11 decks.

We returned to our cabin around 2 and our luggage was there. (Thanks a lot, Gary and Charlotte!) We were 99% unpacked by the time we had to attend the 4:15 safety drill.

We finished unpacking and enjoyed a little quiet time before dinner. This seemed like the first time that we had been able to totally relax since before we left KC. Dinner was at Pinnacle Grill. Pinnacle Grill is the $20 per person steakhouse but we got it free due to using a certain credit card to book our cruise. Filbert and Snookums have never had good experiences at Pinnacle Grill, but since it was free, we went. We were absolutely stunned by the great service and outstanding food. Filbert had the surf and turf and his two 6-inch prawns were huge. Snookums had the turkey and chicken kebob and it was good. The star of the night, though, was the homemade raspberry cheesecake. Snookums isn’t even a cheesecake fan but when she saw this at another table, she ordered it (along with her usual Pinnacle Grill order of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia baked Alaska). Both Snookums and Filbert thought it was outstanding and can’t wait for their next Pinnacle Grill dinner on September 4. (The September 4 dinner will be free, too, and will be explained in the September 4 entry.)

Dover, white cliffs of
Dover Castle on top of the cliffs

The ship’s captain is Captain Darin Bowland from Canada. He seems very personable and his great attitude seems to be permeating the staff and the entire ship. We’re very happy and have no complaints.

August 13 (Saturday, Day 6, Cruising the North Sea) –

Filbert set his alarm for 6 AM. He went to the gym and rode the bike and lifted some weights while Snookums slept until 10 AM. Snookums showered and then napped until lunch. After lunch she read her book and napped some more. Filbert did the same.

We ordered room service for an afternoon snack and enjoyed the shrimp cocktail and cheese plate. Dinner was formal since it was the welcome aboard event. The four of us wore our Holland America medals that we got several cruises ago for cruising 100 days. We figured that we have them so we might as well show them off! Dinner was in the Rembrandt restaurant and we met our other table-mates. We had a table for six and met Roger and Margaret and hit it right off. They live in Australia and Roger is British and Margaret was born in the Filbertippines and came to the U.S. when she was 12. She has an American passport and he has a British one. Their three grown children each have three passports!

We set our clocks forward and went to sleep. It wasn’t a tiring day, but we were very tired. Sea days are hard.

August 14 (Sunday, Day 7, Copenhagen, Denmark; 1 DKK = $0.19; $1 = 5.21 DKK) –

The Little Mermaid

Snookums woke up early and attended the 7:30 AM Total Body Conditioning class. It was 30 minutes of hard work and she sweat a lot and was pooped. It was the hardest shipboard workout class she had ever had. She commented that she was disappointed that there weren’t any free classes on August 13 since they weren’t listed in the daily program (but were listed in the fitness class schedule that she picked up at the gym the first day) and the instructor told her to go by the fitness class schedule and not what’s in the daily program. After a leisurely breakfast of oatmeal and Holland America’s delicious raisin rolls, it was time to get ready since we were meeting Gary and Charlotte at 10 AM.

It was around 63 degrees and the day looked like it was going to rain so we packed Snookums’s backpack accordingly. We were warned that a major triathlon was happening in Copenhagen and that some of the streets would be closed. We decided to do the hop-on/hop-off bus anyway and bought a combination ticket for the bus routes and a canal cruise ($33 per person for the combo ticket). It took about 40 minutes for the bus to actually leave and when it did, the narration didn’t match the sights at all since the driver had to drive on different streets. Then the bus stopped and we thought it was just a normal stop. After about 10 minutes the driver announced that everyone had to get off and walk two blocks to board the other bus. We didn’t understand it, but we all got off. The other bus was fully packed (just like the one we got off) and Filbert and Snookums decided to just walk around. Gary and Charlotte boarded another bus and headed back to the ship. Filbert and Snookums went to the Info Center and found out where the canal cruises boarded and also found the location of a grocery store.

As the day went on, the weather improved and the day turned into a sunny, beautiful day. We walked to the canal cruise and in the process saw some sights, like Tivoli Gardens, the 100-year old amusement park. We also walked the entire length of Stroget, the pedestrian-only shopping street. Since it was Sunday not all of the stores were open. The cheap stores were open, but the fancy ones were not. And, the cheap stores were on one end and the ritzy stores were on the other end.


We got to the canal cruise place and got on a boat. 10 minutes later Gary showed up and joined us! We all enjoyed the hour-long canal cruise and saw a lot of the triathletes. We think we saw the male leader two different times while he was running and we think we saw the female leader one time. Each one had a police escort while the other participants did not.

Canal boat, departing

After the canal cruise we walked back to the ship and stopped in the grocery store. Filbert bought $5 1.5 liter bottles of Coke Zero and three different cans of $2.00 Dansk beer. Denmark is ridiculously expensive. We also stopped in a bakery and Filbert told Snookums that she had to buy a Danish but we didn’t see anything that looked like our idea of a Danish. We bought a $5 flat round roll with melted cheese on it, similar to what all of the German bakeries sell for $1.50.

We continued walking back to the ship and saw the famous statue, “The Little Mermaid”. As soon as we boarded the ship, we went for lunch since it was 2 PM or so. The triathletes were running right by the ship so that was neat to watch while eating lunch.

More reading and afternoon napping occurred before having dinner with the gang.

August 15 (Monday, Day 8, Warnemunde, Germany; €1 = $1.43; $1 = €0.70) –


Snookums woke up first and showered and had breakfast. She came back to the room and Filbert had just woken up. He showered but didn’t eat breakfast and we walked around Warnemunde. It is a resort town and is known for its seaside beaches. Many fishing boats were moored in the Alte Strom. We were there too late to see any of the fresh catch being sold, but the many fish restaurants were doing brisk business selling the various fish that each restaurant smoked.

Snookums had to go to the bathroom and used one of the €0.50 units near the beach. It was clean and had a sink and a hand dryer, but it was small. Much to Snookums’s chagrin, Europeans charge for toilets and don’t serve tap water. But she knows this and deals with it (sort of).

We walked to the grocery store and bought liter bottles of Coke Zero for $1.30 and wanted to buy cans of beer, but the grocery store only sold bottles. Snookums visited two different bakeries and bought a $1.90 cherry “Danish” at one of them. Filbert bought a $2.85 Rostock bratwurst on a hard roll and enjoyed it. It was very mild, though. It’s interesting how every German town/area has its own wurst or mustard and they really are all different. Our favorite remains the Nuremberg sausages that we had in June.

On the way back to the ship we stopped at the souvenir store by the train station since it had cans of German beer. Filbert bought seven ½ liter cans for $15.

After lunch on the ship, from our balcony we watched the Indonesian crew members participate in potato sack races and other games in honor of Indonesia’s independence day (officially on August 17). After that naps were in order so as to prepare for the evening’s festivities. The local brass band played for at least two hours next to the Lido pool and the kitchen staff transformed the pool deck into a beer garden. Three different wursts, various German mustards (including the famous sweet Regensburg mustard that we had in June on our Danube River cruise) and other German foods were served buffet style. There was roast pig, too, and at least two of them were consumed during the evening since we saw one of the chefs bring a new one out midway through the night. We stayed from 7 PM until the mosquitoes started biting around 9 PM. Filbert enjoyed drinking his own German beer while other cruisers bought the ship’s German beer.

Oktoberfest at sea

When we got back to the cabin we realized that live Premier League soccer was on ESPN. Snookums called Gary and Roger’s cabins to tell them since they are both soccer buffs. We saw Manchester City beat Swansea 4-0.

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The 2011 Ultimate Northern Discovery Cruise, part 1 of 9

The 29-Day Ultimate Northern Discovery Cruise (from Holland America)
The Holland America Eurodam (from Holland America)

The 29-Day Ultimate Northern Discovery Cruise, Holland America Eurodam

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part One

(Remember to click “read more” if you’re looking at this from the main page to get the whole article!)

August 8 (Monday, Day 1, Flying to London, England) –

We arrived at KCI just fine and found out that the flight to Chicago was delayed. We went to the American Airlines lounge and enjoyed the free sodas and chips. The receptionist made an announcement that the flight was boarding so the lounge emptied out but the gate agent then said that O’Hare was in a ground stop so we wouldn’t board for another 30 minutes. Back to the lounge we went. We weren’t worried since we had a 2-hour layover in Chicago. We finally boarded the flight and landed in Chicago and enjoyed 20 minutes at the O’Hare Admirals Lounge – just long enough to use nice bathrooms and get a quick snack. We boarded the 9:45 PM flight to London’s Heathrow and settled in for the 7 hour and 40 minute flight. Since we’ve traveled so much internationally, we didn’t even think this duration as being a long. And, since we knew that dinner and breakfast were going to be served, we weren’t sure there would even be time for a nap!

August 9 (Tuesday, Day 2, London, England; £1 = $1.63; $1 = £0.61) –

Dinner was served and Snookums watched a movie while Filbert read his book. At some point we both slept and woke up about one hour before breakfast was served. We got off the flight, collected our luggage and around noon we found the tube station.

We took the underground the whole way for £2.70 ($4.50) each. What a bargain. We were lugging two large rolling suitcases, a roll-aboard and a duffel bag and Filbert had his camera bag and backpack but we made it just fine and dandy. There was a high-speed train we could have taken, but it was around $30 per person and still required one transfer. The tube took about an hour.

Our hotel, Andaz (part of the Hyatt chain), was located next to the Liverpool Street Station. We were given a room right away and were told that we could upgrade for our last two nights if we wanted to. When we got to our room (which would have cost $382 using the cheapest rate we could find, but it was free due to using Hyatt points), we immediately decided to take them up on the free upgrade for our last two nights in London. The room was nice, but quite small.

The Andaz is known for its eclectic/boutique hotel design. It also gives everyone free internet, free local calls and free healthy mini bar snacks. These consisted of organic local juices (apple and pear), Coke and Diet Coke (in cute little glass bottles with lids that required openers), honey roasted peanuts, sugar cookies and chocolate covered nougat. Snookums wasn’t sure how any of the food items could be considered healthy, but she emptied the mini bar of them and enjoyed them and left a note for the housekeeper to restock with more of them!

We unpacked a little bit and decided to walk around since we didn’t want to sleep. We left the hotel at 3 PM and walked to Spitalfields Market. We each had a jerk chicken dinner ($105.0 each) from one of the various outside kiosks and it was very tasty and quite spicy. We got back to our hotel around 6 and went to the lobby a little while later to get the free wine and canapés that are available each night. Snookums called Gary and arranged our meeting place for tomorrow. We met Gary and his wife, Charlotte, on our 2008 67-day Asia/Australia cruise and have cruised with them several times since. This current cruise was their idea, too. They took Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 from New York to Hamburg, Germany in early August rather than flying to London like we did. Anyway, we arranged our scheduled with them for Wednesday and watched BBC on TV about the London riots (not close to us).

Anarchy in the UK

Somehow we managed to stay awake until 10 PM and both slept through the night.

August 10 (Wednesday, Day 3, London, England) –

Westminster Palace

Filbert and Snookums enjoyed the $36 full English breakfast for free due to Snookums’s Hyatt Diamond status. The English bacon was very salty like country ham. Neither of us had the baked beans, but the broiled tomatoes and mushrooms were good.

We took the tube to meet Gary and Charlotte at 9 AM by Speakers’ Corner. We noticed that the Lamborghini showroom was empty since the cars were removed in case the riots came to central London. We had decided to spend Wednesday on the hop on/hop off bus. We rode it until 2 PM. The traffic really started getting bad around noon and we were going to get off at an upcoming stop. However that stop never seemed to come so we just jumped off when we couldn’t stand it any more. We found a little restaurant/pub and all ordered fish and chips for lunch. Then we walked to the River Thames boarding point (Tower Pier) for the river cruise.

Tower of London
Tower Bridge

The boat had a 25-minute stop in Greenwich and Gary said that we needed to get off and see the Painted Hall at the Royal Naval College so we did. The Royal Naval College is no longer used but is a lovely set of old buildings open free to the public. The Painted Hall and the Chapel were very pretty and the Painted Hall was set up to host some kind of military dinner that night.

Greenwich Observatory
The Painted Hall

Gary and Charlotte rode the river cruise back the whole way but Filbert and Snookums got off at Tower Pier and walked back to the hotel. Snookums also found a British penny on the ground to continue her trend of finding local currency in foreign countries. We got to our upgraded room around 7:30 PM and really unpacked this time around.

We were tired so we went to the pub across the street and sat down. After a few minutes the waitress came and said that the chef was on his 30-minute break in order to break his Ramadan fast. We didn’t want to wait that long so we went to the next pub down the block. (Snookums had never heard that excuse in the U.S. before about a 30-minute break for Ramadan!!) We found the next one and followed the sign upstairs that said “Food” and the waiter came and said that we could order but we would need to eat our food on a lower level since the top floor closed at 9 PM. We went to a lower level to place our order but since no bartender ever showed up, we decided to try a third pub. The third time was a charm! We ordered and paid at the bar (Snookums ordered a hamburger and Filbert ordered the steak & ale pie) and sat upstairs overlooking the bar. We enjoyed the people watching a lot. Snookums noticed that when people went to the bar to buy a pint, exact change was returned by the bartender and there didn’t appear to be any tipping.

Our food arrived and we dug into it with gusto. Snookums’s hamburger was well done and a coarser grind than what we have in the U.S. Filbert said that the quality of beef was not as good as what U.S. hamburger is made from. Snookums thought it was one of the best hamburgers she ever had!! It did come dripping with mayonnaise so she asked for a new bottom bun since the menu only specified aged cheddar and bacon. (The bacon was smokier than the breakfast bacon and tasted more like U.S. bacon.) Filbert enjoyed his steak & ale pie along with two pints of beer. When we were done we didn’t know whether we should tip or not since we had paid at the counter. We asked two Brits enjoying burgers next to us and were told “No, it’s not necessary.” You don’t tip at pubs where you order and pay for the food at the bar. Although the food is delivered to you, you don’t tip. Snookums’s hamburger was $10.50 and Filbert’s steak & ale pie was $15. London is not cheap, but we knew that.

August 11 (Thursday, Day 4, London, England) –

After another filling (and free) hotel breakfast, we met Gary at 10:30 at Waterstone’s Piccadilly bookstore. Filbert and Gary are into bookstores and Snookums tagged along. Filbert had a list of three of them to visit. Charlotte planned to enjoy her day at Victoria & Albert Museum. While Snookums was sitting and reading her paperback, Filbert and Gary made various purchases at Waterstone’s. According to the sign on the wall, Waterstone’s is Europe’s largest bookstore. Then we walked to Chinatown and ate at a dim sum restaurant. Gary loves dim sum and manages to go to Chinatown in every city he visits. He was happy with his dim sum lunch and Snookums enjoyed her hot and sour soup and Filbert had a spicy beef entree.

Then we walked to Blackwell’s Bookstore. It was primarily a technical bookstore and no one bought anything. The third and final bookstore, Foyle’s Charing Cross Road, was another two blocks away. Snookums found a comfy chair and read her library paperback and Gary and Filbert shopped. Gary was thrilled to find the third book of a maritime artist’s series and he thought this was the best bookstore of the three. According to its sign, Foyle’s won “Best bookstore in London 2010”.

We went our separate ways at the tube station and Filbert and Snookums hit the grocery store right by the Andaz to get various British beers for the cruise. Then we packed most of our things since Gary and Charlotte were willing to let us put our luggage with theirs since they were taking the Holland America charter bus to the Eurodam at Dover and luggage portage was included. That meant that we had to get our big bags to their hotel. We took our two large rolling suitcases and our duffel (now mostly filled with cans of British beer) to their hotel and had to transfer one time (during rush hour!). Unfortunately, most of London’s tube stations do not have elevators/escalators so we had to navigate up and down stairs multiple times. Filbert didn’t seem too happy about this, but we succeeded. We also noticed that the Lamborghini showroom was full of cars again since the riots weren’t impacting central London. Needless to say, the walk and tube rides back from their hotel seemed a whole lot shorter.

We were tired and hungry and bought dinner to-go at M&S Simply Food., across from the hotel This is a Marks & Spencer chain that sells all sorts of ready-to-eat packaged Marks & Spencer foods. We bought sandwiches, salads and beverages and returned to our hotel around 6:30PM, just in time for the free wine in the lobby.