26th June, 2019
We were blessed with yet another calm, sunny day at sea trundling north at the very leisurely speed of 10kts, past the Swedish Island of Gotland, before late in the evening encroaching upon the beautiful archipelago of islands scattered outwards for dozens of miles from the Swedish mainland.
That evening, we hosted a cocktail party especially for out Britannia Club guests – those are Saga’s ‘frequent flyers.’ Following on from these drinks, of course, was a special gala supper when I was fortunate enough to have the honour of HRH Princess Michael of Kent co-hosting the Captain’s table with me as she travels aboard with us. It was a most superb supper, even if I might have watched my P’s & Q’s a little more carefully than I may have done normally…
The following morning, at the somewhat antisocial hour of 03:00, we approached the outlying islands of Sweden and picked up our local pilot from his boat. He would help guide our ship some 45 miles through the established southern route, toward Stockholm city centre, which would take around 4.5hrs. Unfortunately, today looked to mark the end of our run of lovely weather. It remained grey and drizzly all morning, but this didn’t seem to mar our [British] passengers’ enjoyment of the beautiful sail-in.
Gracefully set on 14 islands, (and connected by 40 bridges) Stockholm is the Baltic’s largest seaport. Ornate architecture is reflected in its churches, castles, bridges and open squares. The old town centre is notable for its narrow, medieval streets. This place was ours to explore for the day – the only slight downer was that today one would require the services of an umbrella to do so in comfort. But at Saga this isn’t a problem; we provide them for free ready to pick up at the gangway…
Around half of our passengers took advantage of an organised trip today in and around the city, whilst the other half either did their own thing ashore (or elected to guarantee staying dry by remaining on board). Amongst many options, we had tours running boat trips around the waterways, visits to museums including that containing the famous warship Vasa, city tours by foot and coach, trips back in time to the oldest town in Sweden, as well as a behind-the-scenes visit to the Royal Opera House.
Suffice to say that most returned exhausted but happy at the end of the day, placing their umbrellas back in the gangway stand with smiles upon their faces. Time then to return to the cabin, freshen up and head to one of the many ship’s bars with windows so that they could enjoy our sail back out of the archipelago again. We made good speed out of the waterways, for we had a top speed run to achieve in order to arrive in Finland tomorrow on time…
Once clear of the final lighthouse, we dropped our pilot and set the telegraphs to ‘full ahead’ on an easterly heading straight across the central Baltic. Most importantly though, I had a date with two delightful passengers in our exclusive restaurant – East to West – and I was very much looking forward to sampling the delights that our Indian chefs Franky and Tushar had conjured up in there. Speak to you from Helsinki tomorrow!
Captain Kim Tanner
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