Saga Pearl II Blog
Sep 1, 2014
Sep 2, 2014
Sep 4, 2014
Sep 5, 2014
Sep 7, 2014
Sep 8, 2014
Sep 9, 2014
Sep 10, 2014
Sep 12, 2014
Sep 13, 2014
Sep 14, 2014
Sep 17, 2014
Sep 18, 2014
Sep 1, 2014My day started quite early as we approached Copenhagen. To get there we had to pass the rather narrow and shallow Drogden Channel. It is well buoyed, and as you sail North you have a chance to see quite spectacular Øresund Bridge. It is the longest combined rail and road bridge in Europe and connects Sweden to Denmark through the towns of Copenhagen and Malmo. The Bridge is 26000 feet long - around 5 miles, and was opened in the year 2000. It appears to sink and disappear into an island. This is true because the Bridge actually descends into a tunnel as it approaches Copenhagen. The reason for this being the authorities did not wish to make a Bridge all the way across as it would have interfered with the planes approaching Copenhagen airport.
Copenhagen completely dominates Denmark, it is the seat of the entire nation’s institutions - political, financial and artistic - and provides the driving force for the country’s social reforms. Copenhagen is also Scandinavia’s most affordable capital and one of Europe’s most user-friendly cities: small and welcoming, it’s a place where people rather than cars set the pace, as evidenced by the multitude of pavement cafés and the number of thoroughfares that have been given over to pedestrians.
First excursions of the morning were very popular - the “City Tour and Harbour Cruise” where passengers embarked a canal boat and explored Copenhagen along the city waterways and through the harbour. “Copenhagen by Foot” was a walking tour along the waterfront as everyone enjoyed the highlights of the city, especially the Little Mermaid which has been a symbol of Copenhagen for decades. There was only one excursion in the afternoon and that was “Seaside Town of Dragoer” which was a scenic tour and a stroll around Dragoer, one of Denmark’s oldest and quaintest fishing villages set on Amager Island.
Evening entertainment started with a classical recital by The Solarek Ensemble including works by Schubert, Mozart, Gershwin and Massenet. Main Entertainment was the musical artistry of Kenny Martin, then for our late night cabaret, the lovely Helen Emslie, an Explosive vocalist, performed hits from Dancing Divas.
Sep 2, 2014This morning Saga Pearl II berthed in Wismar, Germany in the perfect conditions. This allowed me to dock the vessel in a relatively tight little harbour without the assistance of a tug. This part of my job I really enjoy, so was really excited about the successful manoeuvre.
It was a maiden call for Saga Pearl II, so I had the honour to meet some of the prominent members of the local community. Sadly without time to actually wander around, I promised to return here one day.
Wismar is a port and Hanseatic League town in northern Germany on the Baltic Sea. Its natural harbour, located in the Bay of Wismar is well-protected by a promontory. The centre of the old town is the huge Market Place, one of the largest in northern Germany (10,000 square metres), surrounded by elegant buildings with styles ranging from 14th-century North German Gothic to 19th-century Romanesque revival to Art Nouveau. The square’s focal point is the Wasserkunst, an elaborate wrought-iron fountain imported from Holland in 1602. The northern side of the square is occupied by the Town Hall, built in neoclassical style in 1817–1819.
Cassie and Cathy once again organised fantastic tours like “Schwerin & fairytale Castle” where guests went to the capital of the Pomerania region and visited the fairytale-style castle and other impressive architectural heritage and stunning scenery; “Mecklenburg, Molli & Minster”, driving through the beautiful countryside of former East Germany; and finally “Wismar and Sparkling Wine” where the highlight of the tour was the visit to the sparkling wine producer that are the most Northern winery in Germany.
On departure we received a fantastic send off, with canon salute and local band/choir to wave us good bye. Once again the conditions were perfect as we gracefully sailed from the harbour.
A wide variety of entertainment this evening starting with the Explosive Production’s “The Big Wheels of Motown” in an open-air show in the Verandah Deck then for the main show Steve Galler performs “The Old Bull and Bush” followed with the fun and classic game “Call My Bluff” starring Executive Chef George, Tours Manager Cassie and Cruise Director John, with Dr. Keith Pritchard as the Chairman.
Sep 4, 2014
SAGA Pearl II berthed at Ijmuiden at 8.00 this morning. It was a perfect setting for our arrival – as we sailed into the harbour the sun rose just ahead of us guiding us towards our berth.
Ijmuiden is the gateway to Amsterdam, the cosmopolitan capital of the Netherlands and one of Europe’s truly great cities, where elegant canals and waterways wind their way through its heart. Much of the city’s charm dates from the 17th century, and an abundance of attractive houses from this era line the narrow cobbled streets. The compact layout of the city ensures that many delights can be sampled in a short stay.
There were a variety of excursions today from the light and easy tour, Panoramic Amsterdam and the Canal Cruise where guests discovered Amsterdam from land on a coach tour and by water on a canal boat; then a little more active tour with the “Highlights of Amsterdam and Canal Cruise where guests did a little more, including visiting the house of Anne Frank ; and the other tour was “A Taste of Holland” where the guests visited the typical Dutch countryside and the cheese factory.
That night I, together with my officers, staff and crew, formally bid farewell to our lovely guests at the farewell cocktail party. I also awarded the employee of the month for the month of August which is from the Crew Stewarding Department, Mess Man, Romeo Adriano.
For our final main entertainment for this Baltic cruise, Explosive Productions presented their “Cool Britannia Show”, featuring Britain’s number one hit songs. For our late night cabaret, Piano Entertainer Dave Peterson did his farewell fling disco dancing as he will be going home for a holiday.
Tomorrow we return to our home port - Dover, where I hand over the command to Captain Kees Spekman. I hope you enjoyed the blog for the last few days. I certainly did enjoy being in command of this lovely vessel. Until the next time... Bye, bye...
Captain Krzysztof Majdzinski
Sep 5, 2014
As has been written in the earlier blogs Captain Krzysztof Majdzinki was in command for the last part of the last cruise, due to the expected birth of Captain Wesley Dunlop’s second child. As this was the day I was to take over command I was driving bright and early from my home in Worcestershire to Dover. It is magic coming over the hill and seeing the port and of course Saga Pearl II coming into view. It was wonderful to board the ship I know so well and see all those familiar faces of the crew and of course many of the passengers. It did take me a bit of time to make my way up to the Captain’s office to meet with Captain Majdzinski. As he would stay on board in the position of Staff Captain we had ample time to go through the hand over procedure, attend the usual meetings and get to meet the new persons and familiar fellow crew members.
The turnaround day went smoothly and very soon it was time for the safety drill for the newly embarked passengers, after which we left our berth at 4 pm. We had arranged for a surprise for our passengers. As soon as we were safely out of the port we were treated to an aerial display by a Spitfire flown by Joe Biggles. The show was witnessed and appreciated by many of our passengers and crew. After the air show we set course in a northerly direction following the white cliffs of Dover.
The evening started with cocktails followed by dinner. After dinner the Discovery Lounge hosted the first show, lecture and session of music for dancing, which was followed by late night music in the Shackleton’s with Clive Carrington at the piano.
To give you an idea of the staff on board. The senior officers are Chief Engineer Ciro D’Alessandro (he is standing in for Mark Cameron), Staff Captain Krzysztof Majdzinski, Hotel Director Dawn Cartwright and Cruise Director John Parton. John has the following in his cruise programme: Classical pianist Petra Casen and Variety Entertainer Bruce Thompson, The Gagliano Trio, Destinations lecturer Keith Pritchard, Viking Society lecturer Sir James Hodge, Historian Dr. Dan Jones, Bridge Instructor Viv Barton, two dance hosts, the ORCA team, The Explosive Productions Singers and Dancers, The Saga Orchestra and Resident Piano Entertainer Clive Carrington. So enough to keep our 412 passengers well entertained during this seven day cruise.
Captain Kees Spekman
Sep 7, 2014
After a relaxing and calm day at sea, during which the passengers had a chance to settle in and become familiar with the ship, we arrived at the pilot station this morning at the civilised hour of 7 am. The weather was a bit grey, but the scenery was still spectacular during our 90 minute sail through the inland waters to our berth in downtown Bergen, where we were alongside at 9 am. Bergen was the largest and most important town of medieval Norway and a regular residence of the country’s kings and queens. In the fourteenth century it was a Hanseatic League port, connected to other European and Baltic cities by vigorous trading links. It is set between seven hills, sheltered to the north, south and west by a series of straggling islands and fjords. Soon after the ship was berthed and the authorities had boarded the ship our passengers could proceed ashore. The tours today were: The popular Bergen City Panoramic tour, which drove the passengers through Sandviken or ‘Sandy Bay’ where they saw wooden buildings built in traditional Bergen style. Then a funicular ride to a height of 1,000 ft up Mt. Fløyen, one of the seven mountains that surround Bergen, for a bird’s eye view of the city below.
Sightseeing around the beautiful Hardanger was the next popular excursion. The highlight of this tour was walking behind the curtain of water without getting wet and of course the famous coffee with apple cake, made with locally grown apples.
The more active passengers joined the Mount Floyen Hike. For the passengers who did not go on an organised tour, there was a shuttle bus service which ran to and from the Tourist Office in the town centre near the fish market. This was a perfect point from which to explore the town or take the funicular up the mountain.
All on board was 3.30 pm and at 4 pm we sailed from our berth for a good 2 hour sail through the beautiful inland waters. Soon after departure it was time for the Sunday service, which was opened by our Filipino Choir and where I was assisted by Sir James Hodge, who did the reading. Cocktail time offered a choice of Clive Carrington, the King of the Keys, in the Shackleton’s bar or a pre dinner piano recital by Petra Casen in the Discovery Lounge. The special drink today was a traditional Margarita. After dinner the Discovery lounge hosted a show by the Explosive Production with Jersey Meets Mersey, celebrating the music of the sixties legendary bands Frankie Valli, the Four Seasons and the Beatles. This was followed by Late Night Live in Shackleton’s with Clive Carrington.
Captain Kees Spekman
Sep 8, 2014This morning we arrived at the pilot station at the very early hour of 3.30 am for our 76 mile cruise through beautiful and flat calm inland waters to Andalsnes, where we berthed at 8 am. Andalsnes is a small town in Norway’s fjord country and the gateway to the rugged wilderness of the Romsdafjord. Known as the ‘village between the mountains and the fjords’. With its setting on a promontory lined by Alps and set at the mouth of the Ruama River it typifies Norway’s striking beauty. The town itself is tucked under the lofty mountain peaks, backed by lush, green scenery. Nearby is the impressive Trollveggen, or ‘Troll Wall’, which at 6,000 feet is the Europe’s highest vertical cliff face and is often topped by cloud. The precipice is said to be the ultimate trial for rock climbers, who regularly flock here to accept the challenge. The town is also the terminus of the famous Ruama Railway, which runs 70-miles alongside the emerald-green Ruama river and through some of Norway’s spectacular scenery to Dombås (2,160 feet above sea level), where it connects to the main Oslo to Trondheim line.
Shortly after berthing the ship was cleared for passengers to go ashore. The most popular excursion today was the “Rauma Railway” which ran from morning till mid afternoon and was a nice mixture of sightseeing by coach and train. The “Scenic Trollstigen” trip offered a relaxing trip through stunning country side. The “Moose Safari” excursion was the longest tour where the guests went to the Fokstumyra Nature Reserve for moose spotting and lunch at a mountain lodge. For passengers who wanted to explore the town independently it was only a short stroll as we were berthed down town.
Due to the short distance from Andalsness to our next port of call Molde, I decided to stay in port till 5 am the next morning so all the passengers could be treated to a local show featuring the Rauma Fiddlers and Dancers providing a local flavour. This was followed by Dance Under the Stars, which the good weather contributed to making a great success, enjoyed by many passengers.
Captain Kees Spekman
Sep 9, 2014
As mentioned in my yesterday’s blog we had stayed overnight in Andalsnes. Bright and early this morning we departed the berth at 5 am to travel the 28 miles through the fjord to our berth in Molde, where we were berthed at 8 am.
Molde is a city and municipality in Romsdal in Møre og Romsdal county, Molde, Norway. Located on the northern shore of the Romsdalsfjord, the city is nicknamed The Town of Roses. As soon as the ship had been cleared passengers could proceed ashore. The tours today were:
Haholmen Island, during which the passengers went to a former fishing hamlet that consisted of 20 beautiful weather beaten islands.
“The Town Of Roses”, during which the passengers visited the Romsdal Open Air Museaum, one of the largest provincial museums in Norway, where after the tour they were entertained by the folk dancing group in colourful national costume.
Last, but not least the “Atlantic Ocean Road” which was a scenic excursion that took the guests along the route, passing an array of beautiful scenery alongside Hustadvika, a stretch of sea dotted with skerries and islets.
All on board was 1.30 pm. Soon we were swinging the ship in front of the berth and cruising 54 miles through beautiful fjords and inland waters to open sea. Once outside we set a southerly course for our next port of call Haugesund. We reached open sea just in time for me to do a quick uniform change in order to be at the entrance of the Discovery lounge at 6.30 pm to greet 140 Britannia club members attending their party. After dinner the Discovery lounge hosted a performance by Celebrated Concert Pianist Petra Casen, who played music by Scandinavian’s musical giants: Edward Grieg, Jean Sibelius and Carl Nielsen. This was followed by The Pearl II Jazz Club in the Shackleton’s bar featuring the Saga Orchestra till the wee hours.
Captain Kees Spekman
Sep 10, 2014
This morning we arrived at the pilot station under blue skies, but due to the northerly wind it was rather fresh weather at 7 am. Soon we were berthed in down town Haugesund.
Haugesund was founded in 1855, when it was divided from Torvastad. In its early years the coastal waters surrounding Haugesund were a huge source of herring and the town grew accordingly. Despite being a fairly young town the areas around Haugesund were lands of power during the Viking Age. Harald Fairhair, the first king of Norway, had his home at Avaldsnes, very close to the city.
There were a number of tours on offer today. The 8 hour long “The Best of Norway” during which passengers visited numerous churches, mountains and enjoyed a short boat cruise in the fjords, visited waterfalls and had a nice lunch ashore.
“An Introduction to Haugesund”, during which the passengers explored the heart of Haugesund. “Reflections of the Occupation”, a very interesting tour during which the passengers visited the museum that retells the dramatic history of five dark years of occupation during WWII. “Scenic Skudeneshavn” took our passengers through the older and more affluent part of the city where the rich ship owners lived in the 1800’s, before the coach crossed the Haugesund Bridge to the island of Karmoy.
The last tour was for our more active passengers, as “Steinsfjellet Hiking Tour”, took one across the hill top of Steinsfjellet.
For the passengers wanting to explore independently there was a bus into town, which was only a few minutes away.
All aboard was 5:30pm. As soon as we had left the port I did a quick uniform change to formal in order to receive passengers for the Farewell Party in the Discovery Lounge. There we were treated to a surprise performance by the Singing Waiters, who did a very good job similar to the three tenors. After dinner the Discovery Lounge hosted a performance by Bruce Thompson during which he entertained the passengers once more with his magnificent blend of music and humour. This was followed by Late Night Live in the Shackleton’s bar with Clive Carrington at the piano till the wee hours.
Captain Kees Spekman
Sep 12, 2014
Yesterday was a relaxing day at sea during which the passengers had time to digest the experiences of the cruise, attend several lectures, be instructed in dancing or bridge and entertained by the activities organised and hosted by the Cruise Staff. The evening offered a pre-dinner Classical Concert by the Gagliano Ensemble and cocktails in the Shackleton’s bar. After dinner the Discovery lounge hosted a performance by the Explosive Productions presenting their show “Let’s Swing”, a high energy song and dance extravaganza, featuring all those classic tracks from the memorable days of Big Band and Swing. This was followed by Clive’s Farewell Fling Dance Party in the Shackleton’s till the wee hours.
This morning we arrived at 6:15am at the pilot station to be berthed at 7:15am. This early arrival gave us some extra time to carry out all those tasks necessary on a turn around day. All went well and at 4:30pm we held the safety drill for the newly embarked passengers, before departing from our berth at 5:00pm. The weather was glorious, so a beautiful sail away with the back ground of the bright White Cliffs of Dover. The line up this cruise includes Cruise Director Jo Boase, who joined us today, and her team, Master Mariorette Artists John Chrisholm and Josef Probst, Magician Peter Mehtab, Violinist Michael Bacala, Guest Vocalist Elaine Delmar, the Cantara Quartet, Explosive Production Singers and Dancers, The Saga Orchestra, Pianist Clive Carrington, BBC Foreign Correspondent Martin Sixsmith, Former Director General of MI5 Dame Stella Rimington, Historian Gill Bennett, former employee of Bletchley Park Ruth Bourne, destinations lecturer Jeff Roberts, bridge instructor Valerie Jackson and dance instructors Ron and Elaine Stilwell. As you can see our passengers will be spoiled for choice.
Tonight after cocktails and dinner the Discovery Lounge hosted the first show of the Explosive Singers and Dancers. This was followed with the first Late Night Live in Shackleton’s with Clive Carrington at the piano till the wee hours.
Captain Cornelis Spekman
Sep 13, 2014
After a relaxing morning at sea, during which the passengers had a chance to relax, get to know the ship and have a first taste of the guest speakers, instructors and activities organised by the cruise staff, we arrived at the Elbe River pilot station at 3:00pm. After boarding the pilot it was a three hour run to the entrance of the Kiel Canal. We arrived at 6:00pm at the entrance of the Canal and were allowed to enter the first lock.
After passing through this lock we started the 55 nautical miles (or for land lubbers 63 land miles) transit. The canal is practically a single lane waterway with passing bays, so just after the entrance lock we had to wait about 50 minutes before we could continue. Although we had some more short stops we reached the exit lock just after 3:00am on 14th September. After passing this lock it was another hour to the pilot station, when we then set course for Stockholm. While the Staff Captain and I were on the bridge the passengers enjoyed their cocktails, had dinner, attended the after dinner Classical recital and a performance by Master Magician Peter Mehtab. Those passengers who still had the wish and the energy made their way to Shackleton’s to enjoy Late Night Live with Clive at the piano till the wee hours.
Captain Cornelis Spekman
Sep 14, 2014
Yesterday a day at sea in preparation for nine consecutive ports. After breakfast I had the pleasure of leading the interdenominational Sunday service at 9:30am. This was opened by our Filipino choir. The retiring collection today was for the RNLI. We are very proud to say that the passengers very generously donated £ 375.00 pounds. The rest of the day the passengers could attend lectures, have instruction in dance and bridge, and join in the activities organised and hosted by the Cruise Staff or just relax with a book or magazine.
The evening started with the Welcome on Board Party, during which I welcomed the passengers at the entrance of the lounge and during my little speech. After dinner the Discovery Lounge hosted a performance by the fabulous Master Marionette Artists John Chisholm and Josef Probst. This was followed by the now familiar Late Night Live in Shackleton’s with the very entertaining and talented Clive Carrington at the piano.
This morning we arrived at the pilot station at the very civilised time of 10:00am. From here we cruised the 44 nautical miles through the picturesque archipelago, under blue skies and on calm seas, to our berth in downtown Stockholm, the Baltic's largest seaport, where we were berthed at 2:00pm. Overnight in this magic port. Bliss.
Stockholm, on the eastern coast of the country where Lake Malaren enters the Baltic Sea, is the capital of Sweden. It is also Sweden's largest city and is spread out over 14 islands which are connected by 40 bridges. Surrounded by clear waters and unspoilt countryside, it is one of the most beautiful capitals in the world. The city’s rich and fascinating history is reflected in the ornate architecture of its churches, castles, bridges and elegant open squares.After the authorities had boarded the ship it was cleared for passengers to go ashore. As we were here overnight there was lots of opportunity to go on a tour, explore the town independently or just have a relaxing time on board and enjoy the beautiful views from the ship. On the first day the tours were;
“City Hall and the Vasa Museum”, on which the passengers visited the redbrick City Hall in the Old Town, which is renowned for its architecture, mosaics and for housing the Nobel Prize Banquet. Next the Vasa Museum on the waterfront, where one could see the amazing restoration of the magnificent Vasa Warship, which sank in Stockholm harbour after being launched for her maiden trip in 1628. The other tour was the “Waterways of Stockholm”, a boat ride along the many waterways, enjoying the “city that floats on water” from a different perspective.
The evening started with cocktails and dinner after which there were two choices of entertainment. The Sundowners deck offered a deck party Dance Under The Stars till late, while the Discovery Lounge hosted a Classical Recital by the Cantara Quartet performing works by Chopin, Monti and Rachmaninov.
The next day the tours were:
The “Drottningholm Palace”, which was the first Swedish site to be placed on the World Heritage List. It is one of Europe’s most enchanting royal residences.
“Modern and Historic Stockholm” visited old buildings, churches, museums and the city centre with its modern features. Last tour was the light and easy “Stockholm Panoramic Tour”, a comfortable coach ride around the city. All on board was 1.30 pm. As soon as all were on board we left our berth, with the Saga Orchestra playing on the Veranda Deck, for a delightful and panoramic cruise through the archpaligo to the pilot station where we arrived at 5.30. Here we disembarked the pilot and set course for our next port, Helsinki. Again the evening began with cocktails and dinner but then the Discovery Lounge hosted The Explosive Singers and Dancers performing their second show “Love Me Tender”, an electrifying tribute to the music of the King of Rock. This was followed by Late Night Live in the Shackleton’s with Clive Carrington at the piano till late.
Captain Cornelis Spekman
Sep 17, 2014This morning we arrived at the pilot station at 7 am. The weather was glorious and the sail in spectacular. The port is in the city, so we were surrounded by charming islands and beautiful old buildings. The ship was berthed by 8 am.
Finland’s capital grew up around its harbour on the Baltic Sea, gradually increasing in size until it is now home to over half a million people. Despite its size Helsinki has retained much of the charm of the small seaport it was as a 19th century Swedish outpost, while its large numbers of students create a cheerful atmosphere, particularly during the evening when clubs and bars come to life.
Severe winters, with only 5 hours of daylight in December, may have encouraged Finnish creativity and design, but these undoubtedly fostered the Finns’ famous “sisu” - the fortitude to survive while powerful neighbours fought over their lands. However, what most clearly sets them apart from their neighbours is their impenetrable language, which is neither Slav nor Scandinavian but was brought by their ancestors from central Asia.
As soon as the ship had been cleared the passengers could proceed ashore. Today’s tours were: The “Sibelius Experience”. During this tour passengers visited the home town of Jean Sibeluis, Finland’s master composer and the short coach ride enabled our passengers to appreciate the landscape that inspired the composer. ”Old Town Porvoo” ventured into Finland’s second oldest city, where the treasure of Finnish architecture and the town plan remain as they were in the Middle Ages. “Helsinki Highlights” covered the best of Helsinki from architecture to arts and culture and even food as passengers went to the Market Hall and tasted the wonderful delicacies on offer. “City Tour Helsinki “ was an easy walking tour around the town visiting the Cathedral, Museums, the Presidential Palace and the beautiful Kaivopuisto Park. For those passengers who wanted to explore on their own we were berthed just a short walking distance from the town. In the meantime, onboard, the Cruise Staff organised and hosted activities for those passengers who did not wish to venture ashore.
All on board was at 4.30 pm. Soon after we left the berth, and passengers were able to enjoy the scenery on our way to the pilot station, where we disembarked the pilot and set sail for St. Petersburg.
The evening began with cocktails and dinner, after which the Discovery Lounge hosted a Classical Recital by the Cantara Piano Quartet followed by the amazing Master Marionette Artists, John Chisholm and Josef Probst, with their Stars on Strings. After this Shackleton’s hosted Late Night Live with Clive Carrington at the piano ‘til late.
Captain Cornelis Spekman
Sep 18, 2014
Yesterday we arrived at the pilot station at the very early hour of 4.30. It was still well before sunrise, but we were treated to a clear starry night and calm seas. This allowed us to move in a stately fashion down the fairways, past a beautifully lit Krohnstad to be berthed in downtown St. Petersburg at 8 am. Many passengers were on deck to witness this magical arrival during which the sun lit up golden domes and beautiful restored buildings along the Neva River.
The city, located on the shore of the Neva River, was founded by Peter the Great in 1703 when he captured the area from Sweden to create a Russian seaport. It was in St. Petersburg in 1917 that Tsar Nicholas II abdicated, ending the Russian monarchy and over 300 years of rule by the Romanovs. Later that year Lenin led the October Revolution, during which the Winter Palace was stormed, which was the beginning of the end for the post-Tsarist provisional government and the rise of the Russian Communist Party.
Since 1991 the historic centre of St. Petersburg has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is home to more than 200 museums, the largest of which is the State Hermitage Museum.
After the ship had been cleared for passengers to go on their tours they were greeted by Russian officials who were on guard checking the passport and shore pass of each individual as they passed the terminal building heading to their coach. All the regulations were definitely worth it according to our guests when they returned from visiting the palaces, museums and other historical places of St. Petersburg. During our overnight stay the tours were mainly full day affairs and included: Royal Palaces and Parks of St. Peterhof, Splendours of St. Petersburg, Catherine Palace and Essence of Petersburg. There were also four-hour tours which included: St. Petersburg Cathedrals; A Taste of the Hermitage; Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo; Hermitage and Gold Room; The Spilled Blood Cathedral and Canal Cruise; Park of Alexandria and Road Train; Menshikov and Yusupov; Peterhof Parks and Fountains; the relaxed panoramic tour, Glimpse of St. Petersburg and few more.
Our night in St Petersburg wouldn't have been complete without the ballets, the folklore and the new excursion“Exclusive Hermitage” during which passengers were offered a private visit to the Hermitage, entertained in one of the Ceremonial Halls by the full symphonic orchestra of the Hermitage Academy of Music while enjoying a glass of Sparkling wine and nibbles. On board in the meantime the Discovery Lounge featured, in line with our theme this cruise, the James Bond Film, “Skyfall”while other passengers joined the Cruise Team in a very special quiz, during which Cruise Staff members ask questions on different categories. Later in the evening all our passengers were treated to the now traditional and much anticipated Special late night Russian buffet. Prepared by the Galley Department, headed by Executive Chef George, and served by our dining staff, passengers enjoyed a shot or two of vodka or a glass of sparkling wine served by our cocktail waiters and waitresses.
Today all on board had been set for 4.30, which was the time the tours returned. All went according to plan and we were soon making our way down the river retracing our course of yesterday morning. This time a lot of passengers were on deck witnessing and enjoying our sailing down the river. We passed Krohnstad at 8 pm and disembarked the pilot at 9 pm, after which we set course for our next port Tallinn. The evening started with cocktails and dinner. After dinner the Discovery Lounge hosted a Classical Concert by the Cantara Piano Quartet followed by another magical evening with Master Magician Peter Mehtab. After the show Shackleton’s was the place for Late Night Live with our very own Clive Carrington at the piano 'til late.
Captain Cornelis Spekman