In July, Family Historian sponsored a cruise to the Baltic, organised by Unlock the Past Cruises. We asked Jane Taubman how it went:
“Back in the summer I took part in the 8th Unlock the Past cruise sailing the Baltic states, and including the stunning St Petersburg, with it’s golden palaces. Alongside all the standard cruise fair – excellent food, beautiful ship, superb service – this cruise also contained over 55 hours of Family History related lectures. Well there were more than that, but 55 was the maximum any one person could go to as some were run concurrently. The lectures covered everything from Family Historian (a 6 part series) to researching the Irish poor, 17th Century barber surgeons, and a series on writing up your Family History. There was something for everyone. The conference group consisted of UK, Australian, New Zealand and American citizens, and it made for a great selection of people to chat to both during the conference, or when relaxing around the ship.
I presented the Family Historian lectures to an enthusiastic group, who were up and ready on sea days by 9am. Admittedly quite a few had already attended the 8am lectures before coming on to mine, having climbed the 10 decks to go between the two venues. The Family Historian lectures covered everything from a general overview on the first sea day, to more advanced topics around customising reports and diagrams, and using queries.
As the conference was only on when the ship was at sea, it allowed everyone to make the most of all the ports we visited, and any ‘partners’ of the conference goers could make use of all the many shipboard activities rather that attend the lectures if they wanted to. My husband went to ship lectures on the Viking invasions of Britain, as well as several others, and watched the glass blowing demonstrations.
On port days my husband Stephen and I headed out to explore on our own, or with a couple of friends from the ship: Chris Paton (britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk) and Tony Beardshaw (www.my-history.co.uk). We explored the seaside resorts of Blankenburg where we saw the Queen of Belgium, and Warnemünde in Germany. We wandered through the ancient town of Tallin with it’s plain Lutheran, and ostentatious Russian Orthodox Churches.
The highlight of the trip was certainly St Petersburg, and due to the visa restrictions, all four of us were booked on a two day “highlights” trip around the city, with SPB Tours. It was a full on tour, with many golden palaces and churches to explore. It even included a short ride on the Metro with its Soviet decorations. The Hermitage Museum was not to be missed and I could have happily stayed there for several days. Apparently if you look at every exhibit for 30 seconds it would take 9 years to see everything. So 3 hours was not really enough time.
The next stops were the beautiful cities of Helsinki and Stockholm which we explored with Tony and Chris. We learnt a new word, “dandering”, which is apparently the Northern Irish for wandering about looking at stuff, with no real plan. For our last stop Chris had specific plans so he went off on his own, and Tony, Steve and I went dandering via the National Museum and a palace or two.
Anyone interested in learning more about the cruise can check out my book on Blurb, shown below, or Chris’s blog posts on the subject.”