Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs
2nd December, 2018
Known as Holland’s ‘Gate to the North Sea,’ Ijmuiden has 4 harbours and is the largest Dutch fishing port. It grew up in the 1870’s when the North Sea Canal was opened. Much of it was rebuilt after WW2, and it now acts as the gateway to Amsterdam for regular visiting ferries, and cruise ships which decide not to use the canal (or are bound by time constraints – which we were on this occasion).
It was ‘blowing a hoolie’ as some might put it, when we approached the port from the west at 07:00. Some of the first sights one glimpses of land as they approach Holland from seaward is the towering wind turbines – and today they must have been charging every battery possible in earnest. Fortunately, as we entered the harbour itself, the wind eased a little and of course the sea flattened nicely in time for breakfast on board. With the aid of a local tug boat, we berthed the ship on the designated cruise berth, right next to the canal lock entrance.
At 08:00, having been visited by local customs & immigration authorities, the ship was formally cleared into Holland and passengers were free to proceed ashore and do whatever they wish. I warned them that a warm jacket & woolly hat would be handy accessories ashore today. Our shuttle & tour buses came right up next to the ship on the quayside so that people were exposed to the elements as little as possible, before heading off to explore.
A free shuttle service was offered into either the centres of Amsterdam or Ijmuiden. Alternatively of course, there were several of Saga’s own excursions on offer, with choices of scenic tours around Holland’s countryside, boat trips around the canals of Amsterdam, or even trips to various museums including the famous Van Gogh Museum. Those feeling less adventurous could merely wander about 100 metres from the ship, where there was a lovely bar & fish restaurant offering nice views over the harbour front and our ship. Those feeling entirely unadventurous were more than welcome to remain on board and enjoy Saga Pearl 2’s facilities, delicious food or all-inclusive drinks on offer.
Just after lunch time an enormous barge-like ship tied up alongside us, and deposited about 350 tons of fuel into our tanks (this was planned, by the way). This should be enough keep us going for another week or so. Once we had disconnected the fuel hoses, just around supper time, it was time to untie our lines tethering us ashore and head off out into the choppy North Sea again towards the neighbouring country of Belgium, to sample its delights tomorrow… In the meantime, our passengers were to enjoy a delicious 5 course meal, followed by their choice of entertainment between singing delights from the ‘Four D’s’ in the Discovery Lounge, or that of our residential one-man band Stuart, in Shackleton’s bar…
Captain Kim Tanner
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