11th August, 2019
It was another pleasant start to another promising voyage on board Saga Sapphire. For the next two weeks we would be cruising up to the Baltic Sea, visiting some of the highlight ports in the region as well as some lesser-visited ones.
We would also be transiting the Kiel Canal enroute into the Baltic this time – the canal transit itself being a real highlight for many. Our first day at sea cruising slowly north-east off the coasts of Holland & Germany passed very pleasantly, with calm sea, sunshine and a light breeze meaning that the pool deck was well used, and our welcome aboard cocktail party that evening was certainly well-attended despite my address with the inevitable notoriously hopeless joke upon conclusion.
It was a very antisocial rise for the Captain the following morning, as we arrived at the mouth of the river Elbe at 03:00 to commence our passage of some 40 miles upstream before peeling off at Brunsbuttel to enter the Kiel Canal. We had hoped to enter the locks here at around 07:00, however due to maintenance on one of the chambers at the other end of the canal, German efficiency was not at its finest today and we were delayed by around 4hrs, awaiting in the standby anchorage.
Finally at around 11:00 we got permission to slide into the southern lock chamber and shortly prior to midday we were lifted into the fresh waters of the canal for our transit. 55 nautical miles (these are just a little longer than statute miles, at 1852m) of slow but very pleasant canal cruising followed, with everyone enjoying the scenery. Even the weather stayed dry for the vast majority of the passage (unlike the stormy rains at home) which was an added bonus.
We popped out of the other end – Holtenhau – just before midnight and spent another pleasant day at sea on Saturday weaving north-eastward through the eastern Baltic Sea towards Stockholm. Sunday morning was spent pleasantly meandering between the famous Swedish archipelago of some 221,831 islands (well, we didn’t negotiate quite that many…) before arriving in Stockholm at lunchtime; where we would remain alongside for more than 24hrs for guests to thoroughly enjoy everything it has to offer.
Stockholm held plenty of treasures to enjoy and with an evening in port too, there were also special riverboat cruises we could offer guests who wished to enjoy their sunset upon Sweden’s waterways. Set upon 14 islands, this would be one of the best ways to see the city at leisure too.
Other tour options included evening strolls around the old city (Gamla Stan), daytime river cruises, various museum visits, a sneak peek behind the scenes at the Royal Opera House, or a visit to Sweden’s oldest town of Sigtuna located nearby. Suffice to say, most guests returned exhausted just prior to lunch on Monday as we made preparations to depart and shoot eastward to our next Baltic capital, Helsinki. Not before an afternoon of enjoying the Swedish archipelago again, though – in the opposite direction to that of the day before…
Captain Kim Tanner
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