Kiel Canal & Kiel
Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs
5th October, 2018
After leaving Amsterdam, we steamed at a healthy speed overnight around the Hook of Holland and into German territorial waters towards the River Elbe which leads up to Hamburg. Part-way up this river lies the eastern entrance to the Kiel Canal, and I wished to enter as soon as possible so that passengers could enjoy the majority of the transit in daylight hours.
Thankfully we only had a 30 minute or so wait until we entered the Brunsbuttel Lock chamber. Sluice gates opened, and we rose only a foot or so this time before the inner gate allowed us to enter the canal. 52 Nautical Miles of very pleasant cruising at speeds between 6-8 knots through the German countryside followed. An Indian-summer sun shined, temperatures almost reached 20oC, and we celebrated by holding a special German themed food-fest on the aft decks. Sausages and sauerkraut, along with dozens of other themed dishes, were served whilst the ship’s band played Oompa-music in the open air.
We reached the other, western end of the canal at supper time, and were clear of the Holtenau Lock chamber – lowering us again to sea level – by 21:45. From there it was just a short hop around the corner to Kiel itself, where we berthed safely at 22:30.
The following morning the sun shone nicely and after the local authorities had popped on to ensure that we weren’t smuggling anything or anybody undesirable into the country, passengers were all free to head ashore. It is just a short stroll from the designated Cruise Terminal to this ancient maritime city centre, and today being Sunday it seemed there was plenty to enjoy. I strolled down the gangway at lunch time and followed a helpful ‘blue line’ marking the route to the centre of town, before coming across a farmer’s market spread all over the central part of town.
Antique tractors were parked on many street corners on display, their proud owners standing nearby to answer any facts that passers-by might have about their prized machines. Elsewhere, tents had been erected and all sorts of local specialities – edible or otherwise – were on sale. I was in my element. I started with a freshly-baked sausage roll, then followed up quickly with some goulash soup from a stall only a few metres from the first. Plenty of room left, I then opted for a giant fresh pretzel to nibble away on, accompanied by a healthy portion of Currywurst from a centre stall at the end of the street. Delicious!
Stomach suitably filled, I waddled back in the general direction of the ship, only briefly stopping at an ice cream stall en-route. As I walked along the road with the ship only a few hundred yards ahead, some of the coaches taking passengers on more far-flung adventures returned were pulling into the cruise terminal. These passengers had been lucky enough to have been taken to castles, lakes, vineyards, on historic boat trips, to the town of Lubeck or on a themed maritime tour of Kiel itself. Still, I was delighted with my choice.
We enjoyed a very pleasant Saturday evening alongside in Kiel, with an early am departure set for Sunday morning in order to nip 40 miles or so around the corner to neighbouring Denmark for our next new & interesting port of call.
Captain Kim Tanner
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