Copenhagen & Kiel Canal
Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs
14th December, 2018
Overnight, we maintained a southerly heading, leaving the North Sea and entering the Kattegat area, between Denmark & Sweden. Squeezing into Oresund basin just after 09:00, we passed Helsingborg in Sweden on the port side just over 1 mile distant, with Helsingor in Denmark about half a mile on our starboard side.
Copenhagen was our next destination, and we made our approach from the north at full speed so that we could have everyone ashore by lunch time. Slowing just before the harbour entrance (there is a speed limit here, and I did not wish to receive a fine) we then swung our ship around and berthed port side alongside, next to P&O’s Aurora – a somewhat larger passenger vessel astern of us. Actually, Aurora was the first ever cruise ship I visited when she was almost brand new, and since then served aboard as 2nd officer and safety officer.
Typically, it started to sleet just as the Captain had to go onto the open-air Bridge-wing to dock the vessel, but fortunately this was only a shower and it wasn’t wet for our entire call at least. Our berth is within walking distance of the city centre however of course Saga had free buses to shuttle those in and out who perhaps felt they had eaten or drunk too much; or simply didn’t fancy the walk.
Copenhagen retains many reminders of its fairy-tale heritage, and is a pleasant city, despite its size. As with many other Baltic cities it has several waterways, and attractions well worth a visit. Tivoli Gardens (one of the oldest theme parks in the world) is great fun, and you can even still ride on the world’s oldest rollercoaster here (it’s a bit rickety but hasn’t fallen apart yet). For those less adventurous and perhaps into something a bit more liberal, then why not stroll around the famous region of Christiania… a sort of hippy area where all sorts of odd things are sold, and fascinating things (and people) are on view.
We stayed well into the evening, and upon dark-fall the Christmas Markets lining the city canals, squares & streets, all lit up beautifully. Here, one could purchase almost anything they wished, from candles to Christmas jumpers, female products to children’s’ toys. Most importantly though, unlike Norway, wandering around the street whilst enjoying a cup of mulled wine in Denmark is not considered illegal.
Just as many were finishing their supper, it was time to sail out of Copenhagen and turn south again towards Germany, for we had a slot booked in the Kiel Canal early on Saturday morning. The Germans of course are highly efficient characters; and woe betide should we be late for our slot, who knows how we might be considered. After heading out of Copenhagen harbour promptly (this is one of the harbours in the world where pilotage service remains voluntary, and we didn’t call upon their services today) we turned to starboard and transited the Drogden Channel. This narrow piece of dredged water is just 8 metres deep and so with just over 1 metre of water under the keel, it was necessary to go slowly to avoid the adverse effects of ‘ship’s squat.’
Once clear of Drogden at about 22:00, we were able to speed up and make good tracks towards the coast of Germany and the city of Kiel, where we would enter the eastern end of the Kiel Canal the following morning at daybreak. A beautiful day was forecasted for our transit of the canal, skies would be clear and the air crisp, as Saga Pearl 2 made her final transit of this famous canal (and her birthplace) before emerging the other end at Brunsbuettel and popping back into the salty waters of the North Sea again in way of the River Elbe.
Our final day at sea would see us tracking west again, back to Old Blighty’s southern coast and the naval city of Portsmouth for Monday, where an important milestone is met in Captain Tanner’s mind: it’s time to go home! Yes, it’s Captain Sunderland’s turn to take over for Christmas this year, and so it’s farewell from me, a jolly Merry Christmas, and I’ll see you all again for Saga Pearl 2’s final farewell fling around Africa starting in February!
Captain Kim Tanner
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