Tallinn, Estonia’s capital on the Baltic Sea, is the country’s cultural hub. It retains its walled, cobblestoned Old Town, home to cafes and shops, as well as Kiek in de Kök, a 15th-century defensive tower. Its Gothic Town Hall, built in the 13th century and with a 64m-high tower, sits in historic Tallinn’s main square. St. Nicholas Church is a 13th-century landmark exhibiting ecclesiastical art.
Tallinn is a proud European capital with an allure all of its own. It is lively yet peaceful, absurdly photogenic and bursting with wonderful sights including ancient churches, medieval streetscapes and noble merchants’ houses. Throw in delightful food and vibrant modern culture and it’s no wonder Tallinn seems in danger of being loved to death, especially after a few cruise ships dock. But it’s one of those blessed places that seems to cope with all the attention.
Despite the boom of 21st-century development, Tallinn safeguards the fairy-tale charms of its Unesco-listed Old Town – one of Europe’s most complete walled cities. The city clearly realises it’s better to be classy than brassy. Hence the blossoming of first-rate restaurants, atmospheric hotels and a well-oiled tourist machine that makes visiting a breeze.
Afternoon tea has many traditions and romantic associations, plus particular etiquette that is expected during tea time. While tea drinking has been recorded for thousands of years in various cultures, afternoon tea is specifically tied to British heritage in origin and fulfilment. Afternoon tea was introduced in early Victorian times when most households ate only two meals per day – one in the morning and the other in the early evening. According to history, the Duchess of Bedford would feel fatigue around 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon and would request sandwiches, cookies or a muffin to hold her over until dinner. Soon after, invitations to her aristocrat friends were sent and the trend was quickly set.
Today there are many cruise lines that take their on-board afternoon tea very seriously. Afternoon tea is an institution that harks right back to the earliest beginnings of cruise holidays, when luxury voyages were little more than straightforward ocean crossings from one port to another. The tradition of afternoon tea followed the upper classes aboard ocean liners, and even after these crossings had grown into the cruises we know today, the tradition for afternoon tea endured as a passenger favourite.
It is more than just a great British Tradition, it is has also become a cruise ship tradition and is very popular, especially on sea days. Expect a mixture of finger sandwiches and filled rolls, followed by tarts, cakes, cookies and excellent scones, warm and crumbly, with jam and individual pots of clotted cream.
If you’ve ever been to Norway then chances are you’ve seen a troll or maybe a dozen. Travellers visiting Norway might have noticed various Norwegian trolls in their wanderings be it by references, imagery or names. The Trollstigen mountain pass, the Trolltunga rock formation and the Trold-Tindterne peaks are all natural sites in Norway named after their strange national creature. But legends of trolls have been told in Norway for centuries, and some of the stories are wonderfully interesting which is why we all love them so much.
One tale tells of Askeladden, the youngest son of a farmer who needed wood from the forest to pay off his debts. When his first two sons went into the forest and returned empty handed – having been scared away by the troll – Askeladden went into the forest with a piece of cheese to keep him from starving.
When he encountered the angry troll, Askeladden pulled out the piece of cheese and, pretending it was a rock, squeezed it until the whey came out. Thus, the troll was fooled and, fearing his great strength, offered to help the boy with his wood cutting.
After working hard, the troll invited the boy back to his home for a meal. As he was tending the fire, he pointed to two huge buckets and asked the boy to fetch water. The boy realised that he couldn’t carry such massive buckets, let alone filled with water, so he claimed they were too small and that he would simply bring the whole spring instead.
The troll obviously didn’t want a whole spring in his house and so they exchanged chores. The boy tended the fire while the troll went to get water to make porridge. Once it was ready the boy suggested they have an eating contest. They ate as much as they could, however the boy had placed his knapsack under his shirt and was filling it with the porridge, without the troll noticing. Once it was full he slashed a hole in it and continued to eat.
Once the troll was full and could eat no more, the boy suggested that the troll cut a hole in his stomach, like they boy appeared to have done, so that he could eat as much as he liked. The troll, being rather stupid, did so and promptly died. Thus, the boy took all of his gold and silver and the farmer could pay off his debts.
Other ways of driving out trolls
If you can’t get the better of a troll in an eating contest, then the best way is to ring church bells. As un-Christian beings, trolls are said to go crazy when they hear the bells and run far away. Trolls are also repelled by lightning, which kills them. Some legends attest that trolls turn to stone when exposed to sunlight and that this is the source of the huge stony crags in places such as Trold-Tindterne (Troll Peaks) in Norway.
No matter what type of troll you encounter, you now know that all you need to do is keep your wits about you, keep a knapsack full of cheese, and hope there’s some church bells around!
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Out On Deck
The most awarded ship in the world is stealing the spotlight again as the newly Amplified Allure of the Seas®
This Oasis Class favourite is bringing adventure to soaring new heights. Discover new thrills on every deck of the Amplified Allure of the Seas®, from new slides and rides to totally reimagined spaces for kids and teens. Get down after dark with more bars than any ship out there and savour a world of possibilities right on-board. Recognised for its dazzling on-board entertainment, thrilling attractions and wanderlust-fuelled itineraries, this ship has already been named Best Large Cruise Ship, Best for Entertainment and Best Individual Ship – and it’s just getting started.
THERE’S MORE TO SEA DAYS
Forget same-old poolside lounging – the Amplified Allure of the Seas® takes sea days to thrilling new levels with all new adventures. Like the tallest slide at sea, Ultimate Abyss℠ and The Perfect Storm℠ waterslide trio. Totally reimagined spaces for kids at Adventure Ocean® and hangouts exclusively for teens. And much more.
SUN AND SERENITY
Slip away to an adults-only retreat. The Solarium is your slice of paradise, with soothing whirlpools, warm sunshine and a refreshing water mist.
IN A STREET FOOD MOOD
When it comes to sharing a little leisure time with family and friends, there’s no better place than Café Promenade. Simply pick a table with a view, get a cup of coffee, grab a little something to eat, then sit back and relax. Whether you’re in search of snacks, pastries or sandwiches throughout the day and into the night – or just looking to quench your thirst with a great selection of drinks – you’ll find it at Café Promenade.
DELI DELIGHTS & BITES
For casual deli eateries that knock it out of the park, head to the Park Café. You’ll find quick bites to please every palate, from made-to-order salads to fresh-pressed paninis and sandwiches. Not to mention the “Kummelweck” roast beef sandwich – it’s a guest favourite.
SIP AND SHAKA
Surf’s up. Bottoms up. After hanging 10 on the FlowRider® surf simulator, hang out at Wipe Out Bar with a refreshing cocktail, or sip a cool tropical concoction while you soak up the sun.
HEIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
Embark on a mystical adventure under the sea as the ancient underwater civilisation of Oceanaria comes to life at the AquaTheater in this original Royal Caribbean production.
Aerialists and acrobats spring into action with fountains dipping and playing along to a mesmerising soundtrack.
SWIM IT TO WIN IT
The pool deck is the place to be. And each Royal Caribbean ship has several to choose from. Bask in the sun or relax in the shade and enjoy the complimentary loungers and live music.
GO FOR A SPIN
Colourful and full of charm, this hand-carved Carousel treasure brings your favourite childhood memories to sea. A highlight of the Boardwalk® neighbourhood, the horses, zebra, bunny and other friends invite you to hop on and go for a spin
ENJOY SOME BUBBLY
Discover a different type of hot spot. Each Royal Caribbean® ship has multiple whirlpools. Find the warm and bubbly whirlpool that’s calling your name.
Ocean View Cabins
Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin (or stateroom) and all cabins are en-suite. Cabins fall into different types or “categories,” and some cruise lines will present as many as 20 or more categories per ship.
Before you get overwhelmed, it’s helpful to remember that there are essentially only four types of cabins on any cruise vessel:
- Inside or Interior: the smallest-sized room, with no window to the outside
- Outside or Ocean View: a room with a window or porthole (a round window) with a view to the outside, often similarly sized to an inside cabin or a bit larger; also known as ocean view
- Balcony: a room featuring a verandah that allows you to step outside and enjoy your own private space
- Suite: a larger cabin, sometimes with separate living and sleeping areas, and a wide variety of extra amenities and perks
On many ships, inside and outside cabins are usually the same size, the difference being that one has a porthole or picture window to let in natural light. Balcony cabins can also be the same size as standard insides and outsides, with the addition of the outdoor space on the verandah; sometimes the interior space is larger. A basic cabin, regardless of category, is referred to as a “standard” unless there is something about it that makes it different (such as physical layout, being handicapped accessible or a designated family cabin). With mini-suites and above, you get bigger and bigger indoor and outdoor spaces.
For many travellers, the decision on what type of cabin to get is directly related to price. Who wouldn’t go for the huge suite if price were no obstacle? Yet it can be tricky to decide whether a balcony is worth the upgrade from a standard outside, or which suite to choose. Here are a few size-related considerations to take into account.
Do you need a balcony? Cruise travellers who spend all their time in the public areas — sun decks, lounges, restaurants — or on shore may be perfectly happy with standard-size cabins and no private outdoor space. Those who love to lounge quietly on their own veranda or have private room-service meals outdoors will surely want balconies. Don’t forget to take your itinerary into account; on a chilly-weather cruise, you might not be spending too much time outside, so depending on how much space and light you need, a balcony might not be worth the splurge.
Cruise Ship Dining: What is the Difference Between Traditional and Open Seating?
Cruise ship dining has always been part of leisure cruising’s storied past. From an ocean liner’s elegant dining rooms complete with dazzling chandeliers to the more relaxed buffet-style restaurants on Lido decks, it is well-known that you can always eat, and eat well, on a cruise vacation.
Until recently, dining on a cruise was fairly predictable. You had your classic first (5:30-6pm) and second (8-8:30pm) seatings, along with a more casual dining venue available.
But, fortunately, cruise lines are constantly transforming, bringing their fresh and exciting innovations to the cruise industry. The focus shifted to cruise ship dining and now your static, traditional first and second seatings are suddenly out of date – with ‘open’ seatings, speciality restaurants, and spa-like eateries taking over.
Typically, when you confirm your cruise reservation you select the traditional early (6pm) or late (8-8:30pm) dining time based upon personal preference. You dine in the main dining room at the same time each evening, at the same assigned table, with the same table mates and server.
A traditional dining time has many advantages in addition to its rich history:
- Your meal time is not up in the air. You do not need to remember to make a reservation or discuss what time to eat dinner each day. You just know what time to be ready to go and enjoy.
- Your server is good, very good, and will remember if you like to have exactly 1 ½ Diet Cokes before you even order your meal. You can bet there will be exactly 1 ½ Diet Cokes waiting for you at your seat for the duration of the cruise.
- You are assigned to a particular table with other passengers, with table sizes ranging from 4-10 guests. This, also, is a classic piece of cruise history. Cruising is a very social vacation; it allows you the opportunity to meet life-long friends. Many of those friendships made at sea have started at the dinner table.
While the traditional seating options are popular with many, one of the biggest revolutions to cruise ship dining was Open Seating.
If you choose open seating for your cruise ship dining, this simply means you have an open dining time.
- You are able to visit the Main Dining Room whenever you’d like, usually between the hours of 5:45pm-9:30pm.
- Similar to restaurant-style seating, you approach the dining room and ask for a table for 2, or however large your party may be. You are able to dine alone, or be seated with other guests.
- This style of seating provides wonderful flexibility. If you’d like to stay in port a little longer, take a nap, or have a little extra time at the pool – so be it. You don’t have to be anywhere.
- With the flexibility, you lose a little familiarity. Your server will change each evening (unless you make a specific request for the same person, there might be a wait) and you will not be sitting with the same guests.
- There may be a short wait at popular dinner times, but you are able to call down and make a reservation each evening if you have an idea of when you would like to have dinner.
Depending on your cruise ship, along with your choices in the Main Dining Room you can have upwards of 10-15 alternative dining venues including options that are included in the cruise fare and those that are an additional fee.
And don’t forget about the 24 hour room service!
Whatever you’re craving, whatever time you’re craving it, you’re sure to find it on your next cruise vacation.
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