Stockholm – known as the Venice of the North, and today, weather-wise, we could have been in the Mediterranean. I must say, our guests efforts in providing us with good weather are improving – by midday it was 20C. (As many of you may know – at the start of the cruise I absolved myself of all responsibility for anything to do with the weather and left it to the passengers best efforts – well done.)
Actually it wasn’t looking like that at 4am as we approached the pilot station in foggy conditions. But fortunately, as soon as we approached the first island of the archipelago, Sandham, miraculously the fog dissipated and we enjoyed a clear view of the weaving route towards our berth.
A little background on Stockholm - it is the capital and largest city in Sweden and home to the official residence of the Swedish monarch. Stockholm is known for its beauty, its buildings and architecture ,and this morning, looking as I did from the Bridge, we could not wish for a finer day to enjoy them.
A visit to Stockholm does not begin with our arrival, but with our approach. Sailing through the archipelago is truly a thing of beauty and guests were up and out on deck to watch the sunrise as we sailed through the many small islands. We berthed by 8am and by 8.15am the first tours were due to depart.
Today’s first excursion took guests to visit the City Hall, where the Nobel Prize banquet is held, and later, onto the Vasa Museum. The Vasa is the name of a ship, which has a fascinating story behind it - it is warship that was built in Stockholm in the 15th century. It was in 1628 that it was launched and sank on her maiden voyage. The whole event was documented; as it set sail, so it was caught by a gust of wind, the canons and guns onboard were too heavy and so the boat began to list. It continued to list until she sank just a few hundred yards from where she was launched.
After more than 300 years the ship was re-discovered in a remarkable state of preservation due to the unique nature of the mud in which she lay – it is made up from freshwater sediment, from Lake Malaren which meets with the (saltsjon) waters of the Baltic. The ship was raised and pieced together and now sits proudly in her own purpose built museum. It really is a ‘must see’ for any visitor to Stockholm.
This afternoon, many guests chose to explore the waterways of Stockholm in the sunshine on our aptly titled, ‘Waterways of Stockholm Tour’. There are some 24,000 outlying islands surrounding Stockholm and one of the best ways to appreciate the city is by boat.
Today we made ready to sail at 4pm and the view as we left Stockholm and re-traced our steps through the archipelago was keenly watched from the open decks as passengers enjoyed a sail-away drink with our Cruise Staff, the sun still very warm.
Tonight the range of entertainment catered for all tastes. At 9pm in the Discovery Lounge there was a special ‘Nostalgia Night Quiz’, hosted by John Parton and accompanied on the piano by David Taylor. It certainly brought back some memories for us all – we were taken back to ‘Sunday Night At The Palladium’, ‘Billy Cotton and his Band Show’ and ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ to name a few – it has certainly sparked some dinner conversations for the next few nights – seems like yesterday.
At 9.45pm Daphne, Jenny, Muriel and Yoko – the four charming ladies that make up our Classical Quartet, ‘The Eberle Quartet’ - gave a first class recital in the Discovery Lounge, whilst at 10.00pm, our very own Fernando gave an equally excellent light cabaret, enhanced by his friends and colleagues to a full audience in our Shackleton’s Bar.
As the entertainment progressed so did the marvellous views surrounding us from all of our public rooms – the sunset was particularly good tonight and the red sky is a good sign for the morning.
Until then – thank you.