Tallinn is a vibrant town with a fine natural harbour.Its medieval walls and spires can be seen far out at sea. The old town is within ten minutes' walk of the quay.
Unlike many other Baltic ports, where several different harbours are used by cruise ships, all of Tallinn's cruise berths are in the Old City Harbour. It is just a kilometre (half a mile) from the Old Town.
Almost all cruise ships in Tallinn are on their way to, or coming back from, St Petersburg, but tiny Tallinn has history, charm and a much more human scale.
The cruise ship berths are behind Terminal A, used for ferry services. Cruise passengers do not exit through the terminal itself - the cruise area has its own gate - but the terminal building is a convenient place to pick up provisions and brochures or change money.
Taxis often wait in the cruise area, but taxis are not an ideal way to see the Old Town because some of the best parts of it are closed to cars. If walking is out of the question, a bicycle taxi may be the answer.
There is a public toilet in the cruise area, spartan but clean. There is also sometimes a mobile shop selling chocolate and other candy. Tourist information is available in the small cruise gate building.
Just outside the gate, turn left and enter Sadama (meaning Harbour) street. If you don't need to change money or buy anything, turn right and walk up the street towards the church spires and the town.
To go to the Terminal A building, make a small detour left here. The terminal is open from 6:00 to midnight, in other words, all the time cruise ships are in port, although not all its shops keep the same hours.
Terminal A also has a bar for coffee or sandwiches. Of course there are plenty of places for refreshment in the Old Town but most of them are at the far end from the gate where you will be entering.
There is a free toilet and a kiosk where you can buy a smartcard to use the trams and buses. The kiosk also sells stamps if you have postcards to mail.
Halfway up the street, opposite the tacky aluminium mermaids of the new Spa and Conference Hotel, is a smallish shopping mall. It aims to intercept Finnish ferry passengers, so it's not very refined, but it is somewhere to pick up a last-minute souvenir on the way back.
At the top of the street is a rather busy highway but there are pedestrian crossings to get you over to the Great Coastal Gate (Suur Rannavärav) of the Old Town.