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Baltic Exploration (Dharma Trip)

September 4, 2022 - September 13, 2022

Baltic Sea Region Dharma Trip


Bring your dharma to the road, or in this case, the water!  Join Doug and Catherine Sensei for a cruise of the Baltic Sea Region, from Stockholm to Amsterdam in September 2022.

*This trip is now postponed.

OverviewAbout Dharma Trips

Baltic Sea Region Dharma Trip

A Dharma Voyage, from Stockholm to Amsterdam  


Bring your dharma to the road, or in this case, the water!  Join Doug and Catherine Sensei for a twelve day cruise of the Baltic Sea Region, in September 2022. 

Dharma trips provide an opportunity to spend precious time with your teachers and sangha outside of more familiar contexts. On Dharma trips, you are constantly moving, seeing and experiencing new things. This takes us outside of our comfort zone, and provides a rich environment for growth. You might even discover things about yourself you never knew, and find new ways of being and communicating.  

Where will we visit on this trip?

Including our departure and destination ports, there are stops in 10 cities on this trip. They include:

Stockholm (Sweden), Helsinki (Finland), St Petersberg (Russia) (2 nights), Tallin (Estonia), Riga (Latvia), Copenhagen (Denmark), Berlin (Germany), Malmo (Sweden), Oslo (Norway), Amsterdam (Netherlands).  Enjoy some photos of these destinations below:

Baltic Sea Region Dharma Trip 2022


Q1: What kind of dharma voyage is this?
This is a cruise around the perimeter of the Baltic Sea, beginning in Stockholm and ending in Amsterdam. It’s called “Castles to Cobblestones.” See the webpage for this cruise: Oceania Cruises.
Q2: Where does it stop?
Including our departure and destination ports, there are stops in 10 cities:
Stockholm, Sweden
Helsinki, Finland,
St Petersberg, Russia (2 nights)
Tallin, Estonia
Riga, Latvia
Copenhagen, Denmark
Berlin, Germany
Malmo, Sweden
Oslo, Noway
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Q3: What are the dates?

Sept 8-20, 2021

Q5: How much does the trip cost?
Fares begin at C$ 3,899 / approx USD 2970 / approx EUR 2510 per person (using approx. exchange rates from 11 Oct 2020).
See the Oceania webpage for this cruise to see the costs in your local currency here.
The fare increases depending on:
  • cabin type (see the webpage to choose your cabin type);
  • whether or not you also purchase round trip air fare from your origin country as part of the cruise package;
  • how many and what kind of tours you choose to go on in each port
  • whether or not you purchase medical and travel insurance from Oceania.
Q4: How many days of sightseeing will there be?
Including Stockholm and Amsterdam (our departure and destination ports), there are 11 days of sightseeing. Two days will consist of traveling at sea.
Q6: When do I have to book? Will the fares go down if I wait?
Whenever you like. Oceania’s better deals are further in advance.
They will hold a reservation for one week, at which time they need a minimum US$750 deposit per person. The balance is due before June 10 (confirm at time of booking).
Note that as of the first week of October 2020, 300 of the boat’s 630 cabins were already reserved.
Q7: How do I book a cabin?
You can contact Oceania directly (see contact details below), or you can have your travel agent book for you. The fare will be the same, either way. Please email Andrea at [email protected] to let her know you’ve booked, so she can keep a list of dharma voyage participants. 
Q8: What currency do I have to pay in?
They accept various currencies. When you make a reservation you can lock in that day’s exchange rate – contact your local Oceania office (see below) for more information.
Q9: Are Doug and Cata Senseis definitely going?

They have made reservations and paid deposits. They’re planning to go unless it’s impossible to travel or the cruises are not sailing (i.e., due to covid).

Q10: Will the boat sail, with covid?

That remains to be seen. At present, all cruises have been suspended until November. Oceania is now developing a plan with major health organizations so their passengers can sail safely.

Q11: Can I cancel and get a free refund?

A: Yes. The date until which you can get a full refund depends on when you pay your deposit. For a deposit made on Oct 7, a full refund is available until May 10.
After that, you can cancel and receive a full credit for any sailing through 2022 up to 15 days before the cruise departs (Aug 23, 2021). Confirm at time of booking.

Q12: Is the air fare package with Oceania a good deal?
We found the fare they quoted competitive. Please check with Oceania and compare for yourself.
Q13: What kind of boat is it?
The Marina is one of Oceania’s newer boats. It is considered relatively small, with 630 rooms, accommodating 1250 people. Most of Oceania’s boats sail at full capacity, though they sail even when they are not.
Q14: Are meals included?
All meals on the boat are included, with two central dining rooms and four specialized restaraunts. The food is considered a highlight. Meals do not include alcohol, unless you choose that as your OLife amenities package with Oceania.
In port, meals may or may not be included in each tour – ones with meals included are indicated with a fork and knife symbol on the pdf describing all the tours.
Q15: What do we do in port?

There are many different tours available in each port for you to choose from, for an extra fee (some tours may be included as part of your OLife amenities package, depending on the one you choose). 

Q16: Can we explore on our own without a tour / what tours are available?
Yes, except in Russia, where we are required to do the Oceania tours. See attached pdf of tours that are available: Stockholm to Amsterdam tours (USD version).
Please contact Oceania for tour prices in your currency.
Q17: If we’d like to explore on our own, are there concierge services available on the cruise ship?

You’re welcome to ask staff for recommendations. If any arrangements need to be made, that falls under customized travel arrangements. Oceania can help you with this based on your requests 180 days prior to sailing. Oceania can procure tickets, services, and provide pricing, etc.

Q18: How big are the tour group sizes?
The standard tour sizes are around 30 people, with a maximum of 40. There is one guide. Headsets are generally not used.   
Premium tours are available with group sizes of 10-16. 
Q19: When do I need to decide which tour excursions I’m going on?
You can decide up until 10 days before the tour departs, but many fill up before then. 
Q20: Do I need visas for each country?
Americans and Canadians don’t need visas except a visa for Russia (which Oceania will take care of). Other nationalities need to inquire in advance about visas at their local Oceania office.
Q23: How can I find out more?

 See the Oceania webpage for this tour here.

See the Oceania FAQ here.
In Canada and the U.S, contact Carl @ Oceania  at 1-305-514-2300, x 42138, Mon-Th 9:30-6:00 ET.
In the UK, Oceania can be reached at 0345 505 1920
From Germany, Austria and Switzerland, call +49 69 2222 33 00. Click here for the Oceania website in German.
Find your nearest Oceania office on their Contact Us webpage.
Q24: Are there prerequisites to attend?

This trip is open to existing Dharma students, or those who have attended classes/courses with us before.

Q25: Dāna / Generosity Practice?

This trip is offered on the basis of dāna (generosity).

Dāna is a Sanskrit term meaning “generosity”, and is the traditional way in which Buddhist teachings are offered.  With dāna, we give as a mutual exchange of generosity. You may have come across this in the form of “pay from the heart”. It’s our joy to offer this opportunity to practice your Dharma ‘on the road’, and we trust you’ll match our time, energy, and passion by giving an amount of money that feels good and healthy to both you and us.

For more information on dāna click here.

Q26: How do I register?

Contact Andrea Netscher if you’re interested in coming on the cruise with us. Andrea will let Doug and Catherine Sensei know. Her email is: [email protected]

Wongkur table

About Dharma Trips

Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat

How is a Dharma Trip different than a holiday?

It’s easy to mistake a dharma trip for a holiday somewhere exciting. However, dharma trips are not really about what you might see or do. Sure, sightseeing is great (and we will do a bunch of that), but dharma trips are really about bringing your growth and unfoldment to the road and to new environments. These trips are an opportunity to spend precious time with your dharma teachers and community in a new environment. It might be exciting, challenging, joyful and exhausting – all in one day, but whatever happens, we have an opportunity to practice and grow more conscious.

What are some ways to approach the trip?

  • The trip is an opportunity to practice Meditation on the Fly
  • Stay focused on the teachers, as they teach 24/7.
  • Practice being in conscious community with sangha, as they are indispensable mirrors for our unfoldment. You might say that we can learn from ‘group guru’.
  • An open mind and heart, and a spirit of adventure are excellent things to bring.  It’s human to have some apprehensions about doing something new, meeting new people, or going to a new place. Particularly when all three happen together.
  • Attention to details and schedules – always arrive early, 10 minutes before the teachers to keep the group moving as planned.
  • Arrive with a spirit of generosity and a constant state of question – how can I grow? How can I support and engage with my Teachers and community as a bodhisattva in training?


Past Dharma Trips Photo Gallery

Doug and Catherine Sensei have travelled widely with students over the past 20 years. Trips destinations have included Mongolia, Peru and Galapagos, Jordan and Egypt, South Africa (twice), Cambodia and Burma, Laos and Bhutan, India and Ladakh, Costa Rica and Guatemala, Antartica and Argentina, Brazil, Ireland and Scotland, Greece and Israel, Mexico, Grand Canyon USA, Germany and Japan…

Here are a selection of  photos from 2019’s trip to Mexico (courtesy of Ava MacLean) and 2008’s trip to Bhutan (courtesy of Sarah Brayer):

And, it is a tradition…

Namgyal Rinpoche

Namgyal Rinpoche’s Dharma Trips

Venerable Namgyal Rinpoche spent a great deal of time travelling with students, often on ships (usually freighters).  They would sail from port to port, on an unpredictable schedule. The ship provided retreat-like conditions – a contained environment with nowhere to run (!), alongside opportunities to see new and interesting countries.

Doug Duncan Sensei speaks fondly of the many travel experiences he had with Namgyal Rinpoche:

I was on many of Namgyal Rinpoche’s freighter trips, at least 5 or 6  – the freighter’s job was to deliver goods, so you weren’t going to Paris, you went to unusual, obscure places in Africa, India, remote islands…  While on the boat, there wasn’t a lot of distractions. Your meals and housekeeping were taken care of by the boat crew. There was no entertainment.  There was no internet. You were there to do your dharma work, to study and meditate. 

When we arrived at port we’d get off and do a tour or some exploration for a few days or a week, depending on how long the ship needed to be there unloading.  The contained environment with no more than 15 students made for an intense ongoing day in day out experience. Everyone who had that experience came away more awakened than when they got on the boat.

Rinpoche later graduated from freighter style transport – he got involved with more exotic places and ways to travel.  He took dive trips off the coast of Thailand and the South Pacific, he was on one of the first commercial trips via the North West Passage to the North Pole, he visited Antarctica.  This was all by way of getting students away from their home country and typical engagements, getting them meditative, quiet, exploring and discovering. 

–Doug Duncan Sensei, November 4, 2020


Meet the Teachers

Catherine Pawasarat
Catherine Pawasarat
Doug Duncan
Doug Duncan
Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat are Dharma and meditation teachers who founded Clear Sky Meditation Centre, BC, Canada. Achariya Doug Duncan received lay ordination from Namgyal Rinpoche in 1978, and is a lineage holder in that teaching. Known for his direct, humourous and compassionate engagement with students, Doug embraces various traditions, contemporary psychology, and science, to mentor all beings to a more awakened state. Catherine Pawasarat has trained daily with Acariya Doug Duncan since 1998 in an intensive spiritual apprenticeship that is rare in the modern West. She received lay ordination from Namgyal Rinpoche in 2003. In addition to Buddhist philosophy and its applications to daily life, Catherine also draws on generative living and the arts. With Doug she is co-founder of Clear Sky Retreat Center in the BC Rockies.
baltic sea trip

What Do Previous Dharma Trip Travellers Say?

On Dharma Trips, you are out of your comfort zone, you’re not held down by habitual patterns and you get the joy of receiving training when you are more open and vulnerable. I love the stimulation of seeing and learning new things, tasting new food, speaking new languages.  It is exploration and dharma training combined.

Karen McAllister, Canada/Ireland

The Mindful Money Coach

I have been on several dharma trips – to Burma, Cambodia, Costa Rica and Bhutan. I saw how Lama-mind can change course to respond with compassion, that might be outside expectations or ‘the written plan’. There are many liberating moments between Lamas and students. Being part of a group lets one witness many teachings on the spot, and have time to integrate and absorb them together.

Sarah Brayer, Kyoto/USA

Artist, Sarah Brayer Studios

Dharma trips are an incredible way to deepen connection with the Teachers, teachings and sangha, while simultaneously experiencing new people, places and adventures. A rare and precious opportunity indeed.
Ava MacLean, BC Canada

Sex & Relationship Coach, Kootenay Somatics


September 4, 2022
September 13, 2022
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