Our summer holidays have come to an end, kids have just started kindy, and I will, after being a stay-a-home-Mum for 3 years, soon go back to work. All this means unfortunately no big travel plans in the immediate future. A perfect time to reminisce all the things we’ve done as a family, though, starting from the first trip abroad with our first born. Our daughter was less than 3 months when we went on a cruise to St Petersburg, Russia.
In hindsight I think it was a great choice for the first trip as new parents! It was very easy to just roll a pram on board the ship. As we only went for a day in St Petersburg (I believe a Finn could back then obtain a day visa for free, my kiwi husband had to pay some but was also able to buy the visa on the spot. However, the visa rules for Russia seem to change every few months, so I don’t know what the current situation is), we did not have a lot of luggage, and what we had we could fit on the pram. Our travel pram was small and swift, fitted well in the cabin and we used the hard lift-off bassinet as a baby bed. All cabins have an en suite bathroom, which made nappy chances etc easy with a baby. Also, cabins on these cruises are not pricy.
I can not remember St Peterline having any specific facilities for babies but with the cabin at hand I did not miss anything either. Also, I was only breast feeding (=easy on trips), so we did not check if their were micros for families to use.
In St Petersburg the infrastructure was not adjusted for prams or wheel chairs, there were a lot of cobblestones, steps and stairs without ramps. But our pram was light and easy to lift up and down, and the wobble on cobblestones only served to put our baby daughter to sleep, so I did not find this problematic. The Hermitage was the only place were we found that wheel chairs and strollers had been considered, and there was also a good baby change room.
St Petersburg has so much history that it definitively is a place to go to. It is pretty… hmm… Soviet (?)… to see all the concrete shores when striding in by boat. But it is amazing to see some of the great old buildings that have been maintained, but I also recommend to go a little outside of the tourist centre to see the buildings that have not been maintained. And to see a couple of suburbs where people live. The contrasts in the city are huge.
In the restaurants nobody seemed to care nor mind that we had a baby and a pram with us. Our baby did not get the attention kids got in Thailand but if we needed something they obliged without a flicker in their faces. Also, young men were quite happy to rush to my help those few moments my husband was not their to help me with my pram. So it was all good.
The only iffy moment I remember was, when catching the mini bus back to the cruise ship it looked for a while like our pram would not fit in. Later we have learnt, that when travelling with kids, life is less stressful if one allows a bit of extra time for every transfer, so in hindsight we were foolish to take the last possible bus back to the ship. But we got the pram along and made it to the boat on time, so all good.
All in all, an easy way to get going with travelling with kids. I believe the more you travel with kids, the more options you find possible and enjoyable even with a bigger entourage! However, if you want to read another experience of St Petersburg, this time without a baby, you may want to read this.
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I am suddenly feeling a little jealous as I have only just realised you are day-tripping-by-ferry distance from St Petersburg.
Huh. Wow. It sounds like a great trip.
Yeah, even from Finland n the far corner of Europe, we can do some day trips abroad without flying :). But it really was a good way to realise that it is not so difficult to get around with a baby. As for distances, a train from Helsinki to St Petersburg would only takes a few hours, the boat was just more fun.