Scandinavia and Baltics
- Currency - Finland, Latvia and Estonia are the only countries in the region that use the euro, so depending on your itinerary you could be dealing with multiple currencies. International credit cards are the preferred option at many establishments, or you can withdraw the local currency at ATMs.
- Population - Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway are the most populated countries in the region (excluding Russia). Approximately 26 million people live in Scandinavia, compared to 6.2 million in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
- Language - the region predominantly uses a combination of the related North Germanic languages of Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. Fluency in English is generally high, especially in port areas.
- Time Zone - Iceland uses Universal Coordinated Time (UTC), which is the same as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden and Norway use Central European Time (CET), which is 1 hour ahead (UTC+1). Finland and the Baltic states use Eastern European Time (EET), which is 2 hours ahead (UTC+2).
- Weather - Scandinavia's climate is cold for most of the year, with a warm to mild summer lasting from May to August. Baltic coastal regions and southerly states enjoy warmer temperatures than inland and northerly areas.
Did you know..?
Finland's nickname – 'the Land of a Thousand Lakes' – is a major understatement; the country is actually home to more than 180,000 lakes. The Lakeland is a popular cruise destination in the summer months, after the winter ice melts.
Who goes there?
Princess Cruises, Oceania, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn and other major cruise lines offer a selection of itineraries for touring the Baltic capitals and other cities during peak season, with Regent Seven Seas offering an extended stay in Saint Petersburg. P&O International operates limited cruises in December.
Best time to go?
Most cruises only operate in the summer between May and August, with some cruise lines offering tours in September and fewer in October. The winter season is generally too cold for cruises, with many inland waterways freezing, though specialist cruises operate in December for tours of Christmas markets and Lapland in northern Finland.
- Copenhagen - the first port of call on many Scandinavian cruises, and a popular destination in its own right, Copenhagen is home to world-class museums, galleries and endless historic architecture. Track down the major sights of Christiansborg Palace, Rosenborg Castle and the Little Mermaid statue, and wander through the 20-acre Tivoli Gardens to experience the best of the Danish capital.
- Stockholm - called the 'Venice of the North' for the many bridges that connect its 14 islands, Sweden's bustling capital strikes a fine balance between historical and contemporary. To see Stockholm from a different vantage point take a hot air balloon ride over the city and its green surroundings, or head to the rooftops for a memorable walking tour of the Old Town supported by a safety harness.
- Helsinki - after landing in the Finnish capital it won't be long before you're boarding another boat for the short trip to the World Heritage-listed Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, Helsinki’s premier cultural district. If you're travelling with kids don't miss out on a trip to Lapland; cruise up the Kemijoki River and enter Santa Claus Village to see the region’s native reindeer in their natural habitat.