FOR THE most part, these European cruises have been about either major or historical cities and towns along our route. After spending nearly 20 years engaged almost exclusively in outdoor, nature and landscape photography, the switch to travel and “cityscape” shooting has been interesting, and enjoyable. As I have mentioned here on other occasions, the elements of the latter type of shooting are often very different. Likewise, the equipment (often shooting with wider, smaller lenses, and shooting handheld). As discussed often, it has also involved a reducing and lightening of my gear, to make travel more convenient and shooting more fun. So “landscape” wasn’t really on my mind as I planned this trip. After all, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Helsinki, and Copenhagen are pretty major European cities, with lots of buildings, seaports, and people. My mindset was directed accordingly. Only after I was on board and listening to others’ description of some of the cruise, did it occur to me that I might have a couple major “landscape” opportunities en route.
“landscape” [photography] wasn’t really on my mind as I planned this trip
CONSEQUENTLY, I completely missed one of these opportunities. I was just unprepared (my bad) for the passageway out of Amsterdam to the big water. For 2 hours, there was agricultural, industrial, and undeveloped landscape which could be seen from our high vantage point on the ship. By the time I realized what I was missing, it was really too late for me to switch gears and shoot. I had become involved socially with some new friends, and it would just have been rude to drop everything and go get my camera set up. But you can be sure that, given another chance at this, I will be prepared and have set some of that time aside.
BUT WHAT I also learned was that the cruise into Stockholm (and back out) would present another possibly great opportunity for landscape shooting. The passageway from the Baltic into the Port of Stockholm is some 40 miles, much of it picturesque countryside and shoreline. I would spend most of the morning on the way in from just after sunrise until we docked, up on the deck, shooting. And then, as a result of an unscheduled early departure, I was able to spend the next morning shooting on our way back out to the Baltic. I have talked before here about the unique perspective provided by the high platform of a cruise ship’s upper decks. In addition, there is often good visibility for composition because of lack of sometimes undesirable foreground objects. This was certainly the case, here. And in some cases, the waterfront views provided some reflection opportunities.
THE PASSAGE held views of what appear to be small communities which were probably vacation homes in many cases, as well as decently sized tracts of agricultural land. There were many pleasure craft moored and at docks along the way, and much of the housing looked to be that of well-to-do owners. I also noted with some interest, that (much like I pointed out in Warnemunde), there were car ferry crossings at several points along the passage, underscoring that there are no other means to cross from one side to the other.
ANOTHER INTERESTING sight was the cruise ship traffic in the passage. There are two passenger lines which operate “overnight” cruises between Stockholm, Helsinki, and Tallin: Viking and Tallink. Tallink operates their own “Tallink” ships as well as a separate line called “Silja.” I had some fun chasing these ships with my camera as they both followed us and at some point passed us going the opposite direction. They are fairly large and colorful ships, making them photogenic.
S WE neared the port, things changed from more of a rural setting to more commercial and industrial setting surrounding Stockholm, which is a fairly large city both in terms of population and geographically.
THIS WAS, in many ways, the least well-planned cruise we have taken over the years. I think it was a combination of things. It was the last in a line of “tries,” which cruise by cruise, got cancelled in the midst of the Covid Pandemic. World events conspired to change the complexion of the cruise in a big way, with Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. Following this, it is my best guess that 40-50% of the booked passengers cancelled their end of the cruise. It was much more difficult than pre-covid to find excursions and to find persons to join or who were looking for others to join them on excursions. We read that because of the cancellations during the Pandemic, many passengers elected to use substantial on-board credits with the cruise line on cruise-sponsored shore excursions. There was a lot of “unknowns.” But in the end, we just didn’t really have much planned. Stockholm was one of those cases. It is a pretty immense city, with very large, impressive buildings.
THERE IS an old city – Gamla Stan – which is reputed to have great cache’. But while we were there, it was overcrowded, and very touristy. Most of the narrow old streets were populated with tourist trinket shops. In spite of that, I was able to make a few images of some of the less populated side streets. Like Amsterdam, Helsinki, and Copenhagen, Stockholm is a city with numerous canals.
THERE ARE, of course many other spots, and things to do in Stockholm. There are some major museums, as well as government buildings and churches. I spent some time at the Riddarholmen Cathedral, which is on its own little island, just across one of the canals from Gamla Stan, and near the city center. It is a pretty impressive church.
OLLOWING THE decision to cut out St. Petersburg as an overnight stop on this cruise, the Stockholm stop was converted from one day to an overnight. I know there are a lot of logistics that go into these decisions, including port availability, port fees, travel times between stops, and the like. I cannot fault Celebrity for its choices. If I were in charge and could have things my way, I probably would have rather seen our last stop: Copenhagen be the overnight stop. I would love to have been able to do some nighttime shooting in Copenhagen. We had made plans to join our friends, Mike and Elaine on a tour of the ABBA (1970-80’s rock group) museum the next morning. But as luck would have it, when we returned to the ship after spending a few hours on shore, the Captain announced that a severe weather system was approaching Stockholm and that if we stayed on as planned, we would probably be confined to the port for at least another day, as navigating the twists and turns of the passage can be challenging on any day, and nearly impossible in high winds. So, we lost our “second” day in Stockholm, and left the port about 4:00 a.m. the following morning. I did make several more images of Stockholm while we were on shore and you can see more of the city and the passage on my website, here. We would be at sea for most of the next two days, as we made our way down and over to Copenhagen.