Hurtigruten’s 11-day “Pearls of the Baltic Sea” immerses guests in history and culture as it cruises to some of the most captivating destinations in the Baltic, from bustling Copenhagen and Helsinki, filled with breathtaking architecture, to the smaller Gudhjem, a charming fishing town in Bornholm.  Optional excursions in each of the stops – including a classical music performance in a Cathedral in Helsinki, a canal cruise in St. Petersburg and a bike tour of Bornholm – start at only $36 and allow guests to personalize their cruising experience.  Early-booking prices for the April 25, 2011 voyage range from $2,890 to $5,047 per person, double, and must be booked by Dec. 31; prices after this date range from $3,612 to $6,309.

Hurtigruten’s explorer ship MS Fram sails roundtrip from Oslo – home to the Fram Museum, where the original Fram is located – to Copenhagen, an eclectic mix of old and new, known as much for its historic sites and museums as for its vibrant cafes and excellent shopping.  The cruise stops in Helsinki, a fusion of architectural styles – from Art Nouveau structures and neoclassical cathedrals to 19th century railway stations – before sailing on to St. Petersburg, hailed for its incredible beauty as well as its rich historical value.  Visits to Estonia’s capital city of Tallin, comprised of medieval streets and picturesque houses, and the fishing village of Gudhjem, Bornholm, allow passengers fascinating insight into the area’s history before the cruise returns to Oslo.

The optional excursions in each port provide wonderful opportunities to delve deeper into the areas visited by the cruise, returning with a greater understanding of the histories and current attractions.  Offerings include a harbor cruise and tour of Christiansborg Castle in Copenhagen; a city tour of Helsinki with a classical musical performance in a cathedral designed by Carl Ludvig Engel; the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, including a visit to the recently opened Gold Room; and bicycle tours in Gudhjem and Bornholm, which allow guests to tour the city in a unique way.