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4th June, 2012

St Petersburg by Assistant Cruise Director Kayleigh McMahon

As Saga Sapphire sailed into one of the main ports of interest on this Baltics Cruise many guests were preparing themselves for the busy day ahead. Unfortunately due to a medical disembarkation through the night our arrival time was significantly delayed, however Captain Philip Rentell strived to make up some time and dock as swiftly as possible.

St. Petersburg like Venice and Amsterdam is a floating city, crouching on the water, crisscrossed by rivers and canals, sewn together by hundreds of bridges; ceremonial, quaint or humdrum. With the ship all tied up for around 11.30am we began the dispatching of tours in which our passengers could experience St. Petersburg in a variety of ways.

With 6 tours to choose from this morning our guests could enjoy sights such as The Royal Palaces and Parks of Peterhof, Hermitage and the Gold Room or Park of Alexandria & Road Train. One of the most popular tours was Splendours of St. Petersburg which took our passengers on a panoramic guided tour of the city beginning with a short drive to the historical centre of the city. A slow drive along the embankment takes you to Decembrists’ Square. They then stopped at the Rostral Columns to photograph the beautiful panorama of the Neva River and Peter and Paul Fortress. Next, they could feel the city’s contemporary pulse as they drove along the boulevard of Nevsky Prospect to one of the best downtown restaurants for lunch. Our guests spent an enjoyable afternoon exploring the magnificent halls and staterooms of the Hermitage Museum on a guided tour before returning to the ship.

In the afternoon 3 tours left including A Taste of the Hermitage and Peter and Paul’s Fortress and Canal Cruise, the final tour being The Winter Palace at the Hermitage where our guests saw one of the most splendid buildings in St. Petersburg. The Palace has hundreds of rooms, many of which were state apartments. When inside they could see the magnificent Jordan staircase, covered with a red velvet carpet and decorated with sculptures, huge mirrors, marble, glided wood carvings – all in the Baroque style. They then enjoyed a guided tour of the State Rooms before returning to the ship.

This evening guests could enjoy either an 'Evening of Folklore' experiencing a wonderful evening of lively Russian folkloric song and dance or an 'Evening of Ballet' taking the opportunity to immerse themselves in an absorbing performance of Russian classical ballet both excursions of which are spectacular performances.

This evening for those staying on board were invited to join me Kayleigh Assistant Cruise Director for a fun trivia quiz in teams of six in the Drawing Room.

Tonight’s Showtime came a little earlier this evening with a night of classical music as we invited the Notturno Quartet to the stage as they presented ‘From Russia with Love’ including works from Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky we then followed with music for dancing from the Sapphire Orchestra and our gentlemen hosts.

As our guests returned from their respective excursions or indeed Showtime a late night Russian Buffet was provided in the Pole to Pole restaurant. After some late night bites guests could join resident duo Perfect Mood in the Drawing Room as they played for their entertainment until late.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.