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Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs

12th June, 2018

A little further north into the Gulf of Bothnia lay today’s destination for our little ship. Umea sits around 275 miles south from the Arctic circle, and is known as the unofficial capital of Sweden’s wild & largely undeveloped northern half.

We ran around 8 miles into the entrance of the river Ume, before we could go no further due to shallow waters and the presence of a very low bridge which looked as though there wasn’t even enough clearance for one of our ship’s tenders. Therefore we had planned to dock at a cargo berth and our passengers would be ferried the short distance into the city by complimentary shuttle buses.

The town is known as the ‘Town of Silver Birches,’ as these trees line many of its streets, and at this time of year daylight exists for almost 24hrs at these latitudes. Winter, conversely, must be a fairly miserable affair with only a few hours of daylight each day to enjoy around the time of winter solstice. In 1888 Umea was almost entirely destroyed by fire and donations apparently came from as far afield as New Zealand to assist the rebuilding process.

The city has a population of around 80,000 – however around 1/3rd of these are students, apparently, as it is a large university town. Tours today whizzed off, with my personal favourite being a trip to see and learn about Swedish Elks. Here, one would be educated in how to look after these magnificent creatures, how to milk an elk, and also an insight into producing elk cheese – the only place in the world which does so.

Back on board, we prepared to sail out of the narrow entrance again just before supper time. Today is also Filipino Independence Day, an important celebration for many of our crew members, and so preparations were also underway for a special feast below decks to commemorate this.

On the Bridge, the ship’s head was pointed north again in preparation for our next destination, and northerly-most port this cruise, Lulea.

Captain Kim Tanner

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