Few people realize that Stockholm is the only capital city in Europe located on numerous islands surrounded by an archipelago stretching for tens of thousands of islands. Naturally this makes it one of Europe’s most spectacular cruising destinations for groups, whether you’re booking an 8-hour day trip or 8-day itinerary to St. Petersburg, Russia. And the experience is more accessible than ever for national U.S. groups, because Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is launching direct service six times weekly from San Francisco to Copenhagen on April 8, 2013. This is the first direct flight to Scandinavia from the West Coast, and SAS operates many quick flights from Copenhagen to Stockholm and the rest of the region. Presently, direct flights depart from Newark, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
We spoke with Pauline Risbecker Kim from Risbecker International DMC to learn more about group cruise opportunities in Sweden and beyond.
PREVUE: Can you tell us about cruise programs you organize for U.S. meeting and incentive planners?
Pauline Risbecker Kim: Even though the archipelago includes 30,000 islands, it doesn’t take that long to see a lot of things. We can do overnight cruises or a shorter cruise during the day. What I would suggest is to go to one of the abandoned fortresses on a steam ship. They have midsummer celebrations and the [Stockholm] Summer Games, one of the largest holidays in Sweden during the 3rd weekend in June. It’s a true experience of the Swedish culture…. The maximum amount of people per group would be about 100 overnight and 300 for a day trip.
Where do groups visit for the overnight cruise?
Sandhamn is an island in the archipelago towards Finland. It translates as “Sand Harbor.” There are very nice hotels on the island with fantastic views of the archipelago and the marina.
Do you host a significant amount of groups with U.S. attendees?
Yes, we host many U.S. groups. The nature experience is very unique in this area. That’s what they like the most because of the beautiful landscape and the different wildlife and animals they see while on the cruise…. For Stockholm, they say that it’s a beautiful, safe city that is easy to get around and partake in many activities involving nature. They want to live here! You get the best of the both worlds in Stockholm. It’s a great cultural experience with wonderful restaurants and high quality accommodations, but you can also enjoy the wildlife of Sweden.
Where do the longer cruises go?
You start in Stockholm and then travel out through the archipelago and end up at Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Riga and Tallinn. That’s the most popular trip for U.S. groups because it gives them a true impression of Scandinavia. The cruise would be about seven nights…. April to September is the best time for locals and visitors. It would be a little chilly during other times during the year. Not freezing, but still cold.
What is it that groups like about the cruise?
When they return, the feedback is always positive. They are always blown away by the many things that they see in St. Petersburg. They are always impressed with everything they see because it’s new and exciting. People appreciate the cultural experience that they get when they visit, and also, they are no longer required to get a visa.
Is there anything new and trendy in Stockholm that we should know about?
In May, the ABBA Museum will open, and it’s going to be really interactive. For instance, there is a red phone inside the museum that only the original members of ABBA have the phone number to. That way, if it rings, you can talk to a band member! It’s going to be really cool.
How can a planner get a band member to call while the group is there?
Ask them to contact me.
Contact Pauline at: