Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs
27th May, 2018
Another early rise for the Captain saw our local pilot embark for our call to St Petersburg, just before 05:00 on Monday morning. We were greeted by yet another glorious morning, with the sun rising at 4am in summer time at these high latitudes making it a lovely bright start despite its earliness…
Almost 30 miles of distance was covered whilst weaving in towards this spectacular Russian port, passing the port gates and then the impressive summer palace residence on the nearby shores, before passing through the commercial port and finally into the narrow river leading up to the city centre and our most fortunate berthing position, almost right in the centre.
Shortly after 08:00, once a formidable looking team of Russian immigration officers had marched on to clear the ship, everyone was free to embark on any number of exciting excursions awaiting them during our two full days in this port. Only around 300 years old, this city is brimming with historic treasures including ornate palaces, splendid gardens and world-renowned museums, many of which are just a short walk from the ship.
Our numerous and varied selection of tours included a bespoke car service offered to adventurous independent travellers, various trips to the famous Hermitage (otherwise known as the Winter Palace) housing an impressive museum, an evening at the Ballet, river cruises, city highlight tours, the Faberge Museum or even trips further afield to various gardens with spectacular fountain displays. Our two days here were also blessed with uninterrupted warm sunshine, making the experience all the better and enticing me to try a selection of the ice creams on offer during my little wander off along the river banks on day two.
One of the highlight trips we offer here is an exclusive Hermitage experience, supposed to revive a tradition started by Catherine the Great. On this trip Saga guests avoid the usual crowds as they have the entire Palace / Museum to themselves, with private guides and an orchestral concert performed by the State Hermitage Orchestra - its players often outnumber the amount of passengers on the tour!
Our sunny evening departure on Tuesday was enhanced by a special Russian themed sail-away party, with cocktails on offer including our ‘secret ingredient’ Russian cocktails. The sail out of this grand port is also just as impressive, with a tight turn to execute next to the Lieutenant Schmidt’s River Bridge before heading downstream and into the narrow cut leading into the commercial harbour and then finally back out into the Baltic.
Once clear of the city gates, we pointed the ship’s nose in an unfamiliar direction, towards our next port of call, Kotka – a first for this little ship and Saga. We can’t wait…
Captain Kim Tanner
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