Sep 1, 2018
After a day at sea when we had a USPH Self Inspection, Crew Cabin Inspection and a Masters ATD (Attention to Detail) rounds we finished with a Newcomers party. We have these inspections every week to ensure we maintain the very highest standards aboard our ships. With many First Timers to Saga Cruises it was great to have lots of Officers and myself there to welcome, and chat to them and make them feel part of the Saga “Family”. I showed them a video clip of the new ship and I’m sure many will now be thinking about booking this magnificent ship that enters service in July 2019. After the party I hosted a table with the Social Hostess – it was great fun with lots of banter and a “small” drop of wine. The after dinner liquors polished it off, although not for me.
Arriving on the Bridge at 0445 with the beginning of twilight upon us and glassy seas it reminded me again of why I love this job - I’m definitely a morning person. With the pilot on board at 0500 we then weaved our way through the archipelago and a myriad of Islands for the 45 miles to our berth in downtown Stockholm. It was a fantastic arrival and it was great to have 2 pilots who were ready to be part of our Bridge team. I’ve been to Stockholm before but not as Captain and now I understand why people talk not only about the beauty but the narrow channels – less than 100m wide in a few places!!
There is a ruling that we must make our transit in daylight and so timings were adjusted accordingly which meant we were alongside shortly after 0900, and ready to let guests ashore by 0930. We had originally been scheduled to sail at 1800, however after reviewing our run to the next port we were able to remain alongside until 0600 the following morning so an overnight for all – happy days.
I took the opportunity to head out on my bike at 1700 hrs with my cycling buddy Rico – he has been running during the 2 months I was on leave so this was his first “pedal” in 3 weeks. After circling the Island we were moored at (10km) we then headed into the city centre and beyond. Stockholm, which is made up of 14 Islands and connected by 40 bridges, is the Baltic’s largest seaport. Surrounded by clear waters and unspoilt countryside it is considered one of the most beautiful capitals in the world, and we could soon see why. We managed to clock 26.3 km for our late afternoon ride – the time always passes quicker when you are cycling with someone else.
With an 0500 wake-up call on the 2nd September I arrived on the bridge at 0530 ready for our departure at 0600. Well what a stunning sunrise as can be seen from the photos. The city was lightly shrouded with an early morning mist which added to the splendour. Richard our Chief Officer carried out the departure and swung off the berth. We then re-traced our tracks for 45 miles and what a spectacular departure it was in glorious sunshine and the lightest of a N’ly breeze making the air feel so healthy. Many guests were on deck and commented how beautiful it was.
We have a day at sea now before our next port, Helsinki.
Captain Julian Burgess
Sep 3, 2018
With the pilot on board at 0630 we weaved our way towards Helsinki and at 0700 he guided us through the very scenic Kustaanmiekka strait which has a navigable width of only 86m!!! Some very precise navigation is required here (photos included). This straight houses the Suomenlinna fortress which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1991. A special feature of this military fortress is that it has served in the defense of three realms: Sweden, Russia and Finland.
A couple of miles from the berth Captain Julian took the con and guided us ahead of the berth before swinging the ship round to “reverse” her in and come alongside. Once all the hard work was done by the arrival team, I started my watch with our Third Officer Adam at 0800.
On port watches, Adam is subject to endless questions from me about the running of the ship and navigation and so far, I’ve never asked one that he hasn’t known the answer to! After a bit of a worry that we might be in for some drab and dreary conditions early this afternoon with mist rolling in from the small islands around the ship, the weather cleared up quite nicely to give us good conditions for going ashore in the Finnish capital of Helsinki.
There are plenty of charming little spots to be found in the city, from cobbled alleys zig zagged with bunting, to the café that I had my hot chocolate in while watching birds flit around the tables. A particularly nice find today was Finland’s ‘Bridge of Love’. Similar to bridges found all over Europe, this Bridge is used by couples young and old, to mark their love for one another by locking their padlock to the bridge and throwing the key into the water below.
Helsinki actually finds itself partnered with three more of this cruise’s ports. Due to its origin as a city in the Swedish empire it is partnered with our previous port of Stockholm. It is also paired with Tallinn, my favourite port in my seven months at sea. This pairing may be because Helsinki was originally founded to provide competition for the economic powerhouse that was Tallinn in 1550, and finally it is paired with St Petersburg, having been under Russian rule from 1809 until 1917.
Staff Captain Matt Goulding “drove” us out tonight, heading back through the way we came in, and I start watch again at 2000 until midnight. With the skies looking clear I may be able to get some practice with star sights this evening, as we go full speed ahead towards Helsinki’s sister city of St Petersburg.
Cadet Christy Mcinally
Sep 4, 2018
Up early and on the deck as we sail into our next port of call, St. Petersburg. With the modern districts of the city looming in front of us, we docked in the new cruise terminal, at the month of the Neva River. Two large ships to our left and a further two to our right, the port area was preparing for a busy day ahead.
By 08:00, the pier came alive, with guests heading ashore for an array of excursions into the city and beyond. With so many choices in St, Petersburg and such an array of attractions on offer, guests would have two busy but magical days ahead of them.
We had several small group excursions head off to marvel at the Faberge collection, with only 14 per group, a guide and ships escort, guests were treated to a real VIP experience, as they immersed themselves in the palaces and riches of a bygone era. Some of the full day excursions that headed out to the city limits and to the magnificent palaces that surround the city, such at the Peterhof and Catherine Palace, give a flavour of the splendour of the Russia under the rule of the Tsars, and guests are treated to a wonderful Russian lunch experience to add to the flavour of the tour. For something a little different, the Railway Engine Museum excursion provided interest for some of our guests, with a behind the scenes tour of the locomotives and machinery of the communist era. The Hermitage Depositary tour was also on offer, allowing guests to see the archives and storage areas of the World’s largest museum.
Of course, in the evening is when our guests experience some of the best that St. Petersburg has to offer; the Ballet, a performance of Swan Lake, the traditional Folkloric performance, and an exclusive Hermitage visit and concert, were all on offer, to delight our guests.
Onboard, the F&B team were working around the clock to ensure the meal times fit with the heavy excursion program ashore. The pinnacle of their operation being the evening buffet on the first day in St. Petersburg, where the restaurant is laid out with a Russian banquet for all guests. With the full restaurant waiter compliment in attendance, the string quartet accompanying the delicacies and delights on offer and a full room of guests, the late-night buffet is a perfect way to end a busy day in the City - it’s what we call THE SAGA WAY!
The greatest thing about St. Petersburg, is that after a long, exhausting and exhilarating day, we all get to repeat it again during this two-day call.
As the second day draws to a close and all guests are back onboard we know they have experienced a wonderful part of this voyage, never to be forgotten. The city is truly remarkable and forms a magical part of any cruise. As we set sail, we have other destinations to discover, tomorrow Kotka in Finland, and a very different experience awaits our guests, for we will be arriving into a laid back and off the beaten track destination, which will show to our guests a wild side of the Baltic, so different from their experience in St. Petersburg. A true cruise of contrasts, which we hope will be enjoyed by all.
Nat Green, Shore Excursion Manager
Additional comments by Captain Julian.
I had the pleasure of joining the “Exclusive Hermitage Experience” evening excursion along with my good friend the Ships Doctor. Wow what a fabulous evening. There was 27 of us on the coach and we had 2 guides, so with 14 in my group we had an amazing private tour. To basically have the Hermitage to yourself and be guided around was a real privilege. To literally be face to face with paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Danielle and statues by Michael Angelo is quite something. There is so much to see in the Hermitage and the opulence is jaw dropping. As if walking around was not enough we enjoyed a 45 minute classical concert by the St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra in a magical setting – photos included. As you might expect from such an orchestra the performance was 1st class and at times spine tingling. After the concert we were then led down the most beautiful “Presidential) like staircase to waiting staff serving champagne. Our return trip to the ship was only a great experience as we got to see a good part of St Petersburg by night – I definitely recommend this tour to everyone.
Captain Julian Burgess
Sep 6, 2018
Moving away from the hustle and bustle of St. Petersburg, Saga Sapphire made the relatively short journey to Finland’s most easterly port, Kotka. Shortly after embarking our pilot at 0600 we increased speed for the 22M run to our berth, however we soon to had to reduce this as we were quickly shrouded by Fog. It was patchy but then “socked in” as we approached Kotka harbour. In fact, we had less than 200m of visibility as I took the con and guided the ship in towards the dock. I have been sent some great photos taken from ashore on our “eerie” approach to the berth. The images would not be amiss in a Pirates of the Caribbean film!!
With great teamwork we made our final approach to the berth and as we did so we were greeted by a local youth marching band that were supported by pom-pom waving Majorettes, burst into life providing our passengers and crew with an even warmer welcome.
Finnish flags were being waived by all ashore as the gangway was landed at 8.15am, when our Security Officer was greeted with a parade of welcoming handshakes from locals as he strode ashore to touch base with the local authorities. This was the second visit of the SAGA Sapphire to Kotka and once again the port did themselves proud.
Located at the mouth of the River Kymi about 75 miles from Helsinki, the town centre occupies the Island of Kotkansaari – The Eagle Island, which is linked to the mainland by a number of bridges. Owing to its strategic position Kotka has witnessed a turbulent history and in the past has been occupied by both Sweden and Russia. In 1918 it was also the scene of a desperate battle between the Finns and German forces. But today the Island remains a green and pleasant town and the warm welcome of its locals went unabated as our guests were treated to an array of popular excursions such as a Tall Ship adventure in the archipelago, and a visit to the Imperial Fishing lodge built by Tsar Alexander III when the Island was part of the Russian empire.
The ships berth was situated just 500 metres from the centre of town and guests not booked onto trips were able to wander ashore and enjoy the shops and cafes in the area. They were given a hearty welcome from the locals who arranged a special market.
I was very fortunate as I was invited for a round of golf at the Kotka Kymen Golf Club. It was a superb day and I was with 2 chaps I had met during the first call in Kotka back in June. Needless to say they were superb hosts and let me win.
With everyone on board at 1900 our Safety Officer Richard manoeuvred the ship off the quay and “backed out” of the port before a swing to port and the we were able to re-trace our tracks. With a beautiful calm evening our pilot disembarked at 2130 and we then set course for Tallinn, Estonia.
Captain Julian Burgess
Sep 7, 2018
After a slow speed overnight run from Kotka, Finland we were greeted by another stunning sunrise, unfortunately it did not last for long as 15 minutes later we were engulfed with fog!!! Richard our Safety Officer was on the roster to dock the ship and fortunately for him the fog cleared 30 minutes before the berth and we were once again presented with a beautiful morning. The port pilot was arranged for 0630 as it was a 7-mile run in to the berth and we were all fast alongside by 0745.
Being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tallinn offers a truly magical experience and has one of the most beautifully preserved medieval centres in Europe. The Upper Town is characterised by watchtowers, graceful spires and winding cobbled streets, while the Lower Town offers red gabled roofs and soaring spires, the golden era in Tallinn’s history came in the period between the early 15th and mid-16th centuries when the city attained fame and a powerful role in the Baltic Sea area through its membership of the Hanseatic League.
After a busy morning of meetings, I took to the streets of Tallinn and after heading through the narrow cobbled streets I discovered a delightful coastal cycle path that also weaved its way through a charming area of woodland. With 22M completed I returned to the ship by 1600 and after a good stretch, headed to the Britannia Lounge to chat with a few guests over afternoon tea.
We had a late sailing so I took advantage of this by heading ashore with the Ships Doctor for a small beer and some local “nosh” – the borscht and then perch with risotto was excellent. It was a barmy evening with temperatures around 20’c so perfect for an Al Fresco experience.
With everyone on board by 2200 we sailed shortly afterwards and this time it was 3rd Officer Adam’s turn to “drive out”. With light head winds we slipped our lines, swung off the berth and then set course for Gdynia. Poland.
Captain Julian Burgess
Sep 9, 2018
After the later sail from Tallinn we had a day at sea which was perfect for our guests as although they had enjoyed 4 ports on the “trot” they were in need on a rest. Well a rest of sorts because there is always so many events available to our guests. The key event for me was a charity raffle and auction of promises at 16:30 right after afternoon tea. This was for the charity “tackle prostate cancer” which I have become very involved with. Wow! The Britannia lounge was absolutely packed, with John Parton our Cruise Director as MC and auctioneer. There were some great prizes for the raffle and then we had the auction which is when I got involved. John handed me the microphone and I had to play auctioneer for a private dining experience in the Captains quarters, the sounding of the ships whistle, ringing the ships bell and making the noon announcement over the PA. What an amazing event and we raised the incredible amount of £3,000 including Gift Aid.
Sunrise this morning saw us approaching the pilot station at Gdynia, Poland. The pilot boarded at 0645 and Chris our 3rd Officer kept the con, guided the ship into the port, swung it through 180’ and then with my continued guidance gently manoeuvred the ship alongside – in fact he “kissed” the fenders as we moored alongside. With another fine day in port our guests were already heading down the gangway by 0815 with all 4 shore excursions heading to the fabulous town of Gdansk. The city is full of cobbled streets and graceful architecture reminiscent of Amsterdam.
For those guests heading ashore independently we offered them a complimentary shuttle bus to the centre of Gdynia – as you know Saga does not charge for this service. Gdynia is a relatively young city born out of the treaty of Versailles in 1919. The League of Nations decision to create the Free City of Gdansk (Danzig) left neighbouring Gdynia in the newly reformed Polish State and at the end of the infamous Polish corridor – the narrow strip of land granted to Poland to give it access to the sea. It had been a quiet and very small fishing village but then became the focus of huge development as Poland created a massive port to rival the German controlled Gdansk.
Once again, I took to the roads with my bike and took another of our Quartermasters with me – Joey hadn’t cycled for 3 weeks and it was his first time on a road bike – in fact it was my previous road bike that I donated to the crew when I bought my newer one. He did very well despite trying to cuddle a lamp post!! The few scratches didn’t put him off and we had a very enjoyable couple of hours.
With everyone on board by 1630 we departed soon after, with Dennis our recently embarked Staff Captain taking the ship to sea.
Captain Julian Burgess
Sep 11, 2018
After leaving Gdynia we had a sea day before our evening arrival into Kiel, ready for our transit of the Kiel Canal on Tuesday 11th September. With the pilot on board at 1600 he was happy to leave the “con” with our 3rd Officer Chris who guided us towards the harbour passing the entrance to the Kiel canal and “avoiding” a number of ships who had finished their canal transit. It was a pleasant early evening arrival as Matt our Staff Captain swung the ship through 180’ and then “drove” our fine lady astern towards the dock. With our gangway rigged and clearance granted at 1800 our Guests were able to proceed ashore. I decided to take a walk ashore with the Doctor and sample some German traditional food. With a miniature beer selection, and some fine bratwurst, sauerkraut and mash potatoes we had all we needed. A good couple of mile walk after meant I was ready for a great night’s rest in anticipation of a busy day in the Kiel Canal.
By 0600 on Tuesday morning when departure was imminent and all required parties were awake, safety briefs were carried out and all stations manned. The inner working of the Sapphire began to teem with activity from watertight doors being shut, breakfast being prepared in galleys to crew going about their morning routines as another day dawned. The Saga Sapphire was indeed ready to depart for the Kiel Canal transit.
A very gentle breeze out of the south west helped us off the quay and we tried to limit the use of the bow thruster to avoid waking our guests. We had 10 miles to run to the Kiel locks and by 0700 we were making our approach.
Once alongside in the Haltenau Lock, 5 Officers including the Hotel Director and Staff Chief Engineer descended the gangway with bicycles in tow to begin the 110km or 68mile cycle to Brunsbuttel lock off the Elbe river. It was to be a race, the Sapphire vs the cyclists. Who would reach the destination first? Would we be left behind?!
Due to her size and draft Saga Sapphire requires a tug to be made first for the entire canal transit. The canal has many passing places called “sidings “where large ships can safely pass, and we had to slow down a few times to wait for a ship transiting in the other direction. This is where the tug is really useful to steady the ship and hold position while waiting. There are many small ferries that cross the canal linking roads on both sides. These ferries are free to use for foot and car passengers with the cost covered by the canal transit charge to ships.
As we entered the Brunsbuttel lock at 1615 we could make out the 5 cyclists in an operations hut – yes they beat us and quite convincingly! This was a great achievement as they had head winds and light rain for the entire journey. As the cyclists walked across the lock gate with their bikes we sounded the ships whistle and the guests cheered from the rails. The cycle rise was all in the name of charity and my favoured one “tackle prostate cancer”. For those that could not take part in the Kiel challenge, 3 bikes were set up on the Verandah open deck and various Officers and Crew took their turn either with a 30 minute or 1-hour pedal. Again, all donations for this sponsored “cycle to the moon” event were for my chosen charity. I’m pleased to report that a total of £5,437.66 was raised which is just outstanding.
We cleared the locks by 1700 and then entered the Elbe river for the 3 hour passage back to the open sea and on towards Dover.
Captain Julian Burgess
Sep 15, 2018
After our day at sea we entered Byfyorden at 0600 for our run into Stavanger. It was a little windy outside but as soon as we entered the fjord the wind started to ease. By the time we reached the main harbour it was what I like to refer to as “healthy” - a little chill in the air to keep you on your toes!! After swinging through 360’ in the inner harbour we “backed” down to our berth and were all fast alongside by 0730. We had the new cruise berth close to the old town which was fabulous for our guests to go ashore.
Stavanger has always prospered from the riches of the sea. During the 19th century huge harvests of brisling and herring established it as the sardine capital of the world. A resident is still called a Siddis – the S from Stavanger and the Iddis which means “sardine label”. The city’s symbol is the key of a sardine can. While other towns in Norway have suffered with the decline of the fishing industry, Stavanger has kept its economy booming by diversifying, first into shipbuilding and then into oil. These contrasting industries have created a city of two halves – a modern area of high-rise buildings and a historic centre with cobbled streets and old wooden houses.
With lots of choice from our shore excursions including “Stavanger & Countryside”, “Stavanger City and Surroundings”, Lysefjord Boat Trip and a Helicopter Flightseeing tour over Pulpit Rock, there certainly was something for everyone. I headed out around 1500 for a 45-minute burst on my mountain bike. It was a busy morning with a long emergency drill set by an outside agency, so I was keen to get some fresh Norwegian air into my lungs!
With everyone on board by 1700 we slipped our lines shortly thereafter and our Staff Captain Dennis then headed back out through the fjords. The pilot was away at 1900 and we set course for Kristiansand.
Captain Julian Burgess
Sep 16, 2018
Pilot was booked for 0645 and this was the first time I had been to Kristiansand. Although rather wet, the wind was light - which is always welcomed by any Captain when docking a ship. Safety Officer Richard was actually tasked with today’s arrival and after allowing the Pilot to guide us into the inner harbour he slowly and gently brought the ship towards the pier and kissed the fenders.
Kristiansand is an important centre on the Southern Coast of Norway, with daily ferry links to Hirtshals in Denmark. Designed and laid out by King Christian IV in 1641, the town has a network of distinctive right-angled streets laid out in a quadrant plan. The oldest part of the town, Posebyen, is home to rows of charming white-painted wooden houses. With its busy harbour, lively pedestrianised shopping area and a coastline dotted with islands and series, Kristiansand is a favourite holiday destination for Norwegians.
There were 5 tours on offer which included the “Charming Little Lilesand”, “Kristiansand in World War II”, “City and Surroundings”, “Walking Tour of Kristiansand”, and the “Setesdal Vintage Railway”.
With everyone on board by 1700 we made preparations to set sail. It was a very windy departure and we had to wait for a “lull” in the wind to depart. With some excellent teamwork, a large tug and an excellent pilot we safely departed our berth and headed for Gothenburg.
Captain Julian Burgess
Sep 17, 2018
After clearing a windy Kristiansand, I was awoken by a windy Gothenburg. The great thing about Saga Sapphire is that she is a great sea ship with a deep draft so she doesn’t move like the big “block of flats” you see cruising these days. With the pilot on board at 0600 it soon became apparent that in addition to the tug I had already ordered we would need another one with the winds gusting over 35 kts. This was another first time port for me and the run in is about 1hr 30 mins. It is a well buoyed channel and the pilots very competent. The approach to the berth is tight especially with a ferry occupying a large part of the harbour – precision manoeuvring was required and a swift swing through 90. I used the pilot’s expertise for the main and then took over to softly land the ship alongside. Within an hour of our arrival the wind had eased and the sun was shining, which was perfect for our Guests to go and explore Sweden’s 2nd largest city.
There were 7 shore excursions on offer today including a free shuttle service to the city centre which took about 30 minutes. Of course, with Saga Cruises such a service is free to our Guests.
Gothenburg was founded in 1621 after King Gustav II, tired of Danish raids ordered a strong fortress be built to secure Sweden’s only Western port. It grew rapidly into the trading and maritime city envisioned by the King, and the East India Company became Sweden’s first International trading company during the 18th century. Now a busy modern city, Gothenburg is noted for its canals and numerous open green spaces that contrast with skyscrapers such as the Skanskaskrapan or “Lipstick Building”.
Having not been to Gothenburg before I decided it was a perfect opportunity to visit the city and get some exercise, so out came the bike and I then cycled the 10 miles to the city centre. As with many places in Europe the cycle paths were excellent and with the help of Google maps I found my way. Yes, even a Captain uses Google maps, although not for marine navigation of course!! My short glimpse of Gothenburg certainly impressed me with canals, trams, historic buildings and lovely gardens. You certainly need to pay attention with all the buses, trams, cars and cyclists, not forgetting the pedestrians of course. After an hour touring round the centre it was time to head back to the ship, however this took a little longer with the strong head winds – I knew then that once I got back to the ship we would need to order tugs for departure!!
As it was only 33 miles from Gothenburg pilot station to Skagen harbour we sailed at 0400 in the morning with an expected arrival time of 0830.
Captain Julian Burgess
Sep 18, 2018
After clearing Gothenburg port approaches at 0530 it was back to bed for 2 hours before arriving the same morning in Skagen, Denmark. As pilotage was not compulsory and I’d been here we proceeded to the harbour “solo”. Matt the Safety Officer carried out the docking with some strong winds onto the berth – with appropriate guidance and without the use of tugs it was certainly a well-executed docking. We were alongside shortly after 0830 and despite the fresh winds it was a beautiful clear and sunny day. Clearance from the port authorities is always very swift here so by 0900 our Guests were free to proceed ashore.
Skagen is Denmark’s northern-most town and in the far corner of Jutland. It is occasionally known in English as “The Scaw”. In the mid-19th century artists flocked to Skagen, charmed by the radiant light’s impact on the ruggedly beautiful landscape. Tourists are now drawn by combination of a busy working harbour, long sandy beaches and a bustling holiday atmosphere.
Skagen is a real gem, and the feedback from our Guests is always very positive. Warm, friendly people who speak excellent English and they are only too willing to help. This was exemplified by tourist guides on the quayside who were there to offer guidance and answer any questions. I normally take a bike ride but today was a question of having lunch with the guests and then having a “little siesta” to catch up on some broken sleep.
Unfortunately, due to very strong winds on to the berth we had to delay sailing. They had forecast 15-20 knots, however we actually experienced 25-35 knots which even with the local tug was too strong. The only option was then to order a very powerful tug from Gothenburg which was at least 5 hours away!! It was our farewell formal night, so I whizzed down to the cocktail party at 1815 to greet our special guests. Formal nights are always a special night with Saga and the farewell party is no exception. The videographer kindly creates a 5 minute snapshot of the “Cruise Highlights DVD” which I like to play at the party and this is always well received.
With the “Gothenburg” tug finally in attendance we slipped our moorings at 0300 and manouvered clear of the berth – still in very strong winds of course. It was great to finally get back to sea and head towards Dover and the end of an exciting 1 week “Scandinavian Seascapes” cruise.
Captain Julian Burgess
Sep 30, 2018
After an extended sea passage due to a storm off the coast of the Azores we made our early morning approach to the Halifax pilot station and a delightful start it was. With the pilot on board at 0700 we then had 8 miles to weave our way to our berth. The pilot took the con for the transit and I then took over a couple of miles before the dock. The berth this morning was situated within a basin which was only 105m wide, so with a flood tide setting us on to the corner of the basin we had to get the approach “spot on”, particularly as I decoded to save the company some money with no tug. Of course, had it have been windy I would have taken one without hesitation.
The team on the forward and aft mooring decks were under strict instructions not to throw any line ashore until after 0801 as the local longshoremen charge 3 times the regular rate if they handle any line before 0800 and then they double it for Sundays!! With the first line at 0806 we were well in the clear. By 0830 we were all fast with the gangway ready. A crisp and sunny day initiated our first port on this “Nova Scotia and St Lawrence in the Fall” cruise. Today we were expecting highs of 18’C – so very pleasant indeed for the last day in September.
Halifax is a lively, vibrant city and the capital of Nova Scotia. It has a fascinating Maritime Heritage and features the World’s second largest natural harbour which stretches for approximately ten miles. The city was integral in the rescue operation of the Titanic in 1912 and was again at the forefront of a Maritime Disaster when five years later in 1917 they had the “Halifax Explosion”.
Halifax has lots to see and there were 8 shore excursions on offer today including; The Best of Halifax, Halifax Highlights by Harbour Duck or Vintage Double Decker, A History of Halifax Walking Tour; and The Titanic Connection.
I decided to take to the road and head for Mount Pleasant Park, cycling round the many trails and enjoying the coastal views before heading up to Fort George at the Citadel National Historic Site. With 15M covered and some cracking hills I felt I deserved a cup of Earl Grey and some Banana Cake at a local café–lovely!!, A pleasant change from the Britannia Lounge but you simply cannot match the ambience of afternoon tea on board, which is always a white glove affair.
With an overnight in port there were two evening tours running; the “Wines on the water” and a “Historical Ghost Walking Tour”. I decided to remain on board and take the Staff captain to dinner in the Pole 2 Pole restaurant and always a fabulous meal was had. I always enjoy overnights in port, as I rather like waking up in the “same place” for a change. With a good night’s sleep, I decided to go for a 5km run this morning and take in the sunrise over Halifax harbour. There is an excellent waterside walk which at 0700 was very quiet and perfect for my jog.
With just 2 tours this morning, “Exploring McNab’s Island” and Coastal Drive to Peggy’s Cove, all guests were on board by 1240. Our agent again gave us advice on avoiding excessive longshoreman costs by making sure we did not let the first mooring line go until after 1301!! Staff Captain Dennis carried out the manouver and once clear he handed over to the pilot. With the pilot away at 1400 hrs we set course for Sydney (Nova Scotia).
Captain Julian Burgess