Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs
3rd June, 2018
A dart of just over 200 miles overnight, following similar routes to those of the ferries running from Sweden to Germany, saw us approaching Kiel lighthouse at breakfast time on Sunday morning. Here, our local pilot would embark and assist myself & the team on our final approaches to this maritime city.
The famous “Kiel Week” (Kieler Woche) festival of sail occurs every year in mid-June, and the city is clearly preparing for this event, with marquees and stages being constructed on the banks of the shore, and plenty of local sailors out ‘practising’ for the upcoming races, or just enjoying a leisurely day on the water.
Kiel has been Germany’s main naval base since the 1860’s and remains the centre for German Naval ship builders, the shores of the city and surrounds are lined with hundreds of ships and yachts alike. The city itself is mostly rebuilt, having been extensively bombed during the war.
I decided to embrace the maritime theme of this destination and took a trip on one of Saga’s organised tours today, aboard a tall ship. We took a wander along the quayside a few hundred metres until we met and embarked our vessel, the square-rigged ‘Mercedes.’ Although her hull was originally built in the 1950’s, she has since been purposely refitted for day trips and now has a large lounge, a bar, dining area and comfy seats both inside & out. We set sail, cruising along the city’s coastline, the crew pointing out highlights to our passengers and regularly refilling drinks on the way. An array of German snacks were offered as well, to ensure that we were not hungry during our few hours away from a Saga ship…
The more nimble passengers were permitted to scale the ratlines (climb the rigging) to the Crow’s Nest, affording spectacular views over the bay. Those who had not been plied with too much from the bar were also encouraged to take the wheel, steering this grand vessel whilst under sail.
We returned alongside again at lunchtime, and I decided to head into town for a little wander and to see this new place for myself. However only a few hundred metres along the main street I found myself being enticed into a local eatery offering delicious looking Goulash & Currywurst. After my fine feed, I waddled, stuffed full, back to the ship…only to receive the dinner menu in my cabin and discover that tonight’s theme is a German one – with exactly my lunch feed on the menu!
We sailed out of Kiel late afternoon and headed, this time, straight into the Kiel Canal without delay. The Cruise Director had organised a locally themed ‘Oompa-pa-pa Party’ on the outer decks aft as we sailed into the Lock, which was very well attended. We spent the night transiting the Canal and popped back out into the North Sea in the early hours of the morning again, marking our home strait back to Dover again. What a fantastic cruise it’s been!
Captain Kim Tanner
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