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17th September, 2012


Today we sailed into the delightful Scandinavian city of Helsinki. Due to our delayed departure, we tried to make up time through the night but sadly could not so we stayed an extra 30 minutes again in Helsinki. Arrival in Helsinki is always interesting and I told the passengers of the unique entrance to the port. You have to sail through a break in the rocks which on some occasions I have seen the pilot leave the rudder amidships and running through at 10 knots the ship goes though by herself! This is because of the pressure fields that build up between the ship and the shore and they deflect the ship. Quite a spectacular show but I have to say it only comes with experience and have seen them do it.

However I remember my first time arriving in command all those years ago and it was quite disconcerting to watch the ship trundle along towards the rocks then at the last minute deflected away and around. It was really quite windy blowing us onto the quayside so I employed the use of tugs to help hold us up to the wind. But as usual, wanting to put the ship through her paces, I asked the pilot to keep the tug lines slack and I would use the engine and bowthruster to do this, which she did and the ship held up to 26 knots of wind on the beam, quite impressive. We were then shortly all fast, 30 minutes behind, just after 1000 but Jaquie, our shore excursion manager rearranged everything well.

With a number of tours going off today, it was a busy morning all around the ship. There was a great buzz in the air and guests were looking forward to getting off and exploring the wonders of Finland. The first tour to depart was for the many music enthusiasts on board the ship at the moment, the ‘Sibelius Experience’. Taking in a tour of the city, guests were then driven through the lush scenic countryside to the house of the master composer. After being guided around the near perfectly preserved home, passengers were taken to Finland’s main music institution to hear a wonderful recital of some of his greatest works.

The next shore excursion to depart from the Britannia lounge this morning was a trip to ‘Old Town Porvoo’. Taking in Finland’s most photographed sight, the red storehouses of the Porvoo; it gave all a fascinating glimpse the history of the proud nation. For something completely different there was the active ‘Helsinki Highlights’. Set up for those who want to get out and about and see as much as they possibly can, this tour as the name suggests, took in the most famous monuments the city had to offer. If you were after something a little bit more relaxing, we had you covered with the stress free ‘Helsinki Panoramic’. The charm and style of the ‘White City of the North’ unfolded before your eyes, as guests were transported around in a comfortable and well-appointed coach.

We departed, again in high winds but we manoeuvred around and set off for the wonderful city of St Petersburg. For tonight’s entertainment, Guests were taken on a musical journey through the decades with our ‘Music Legends’ production show. Performing classic songs from Elton John, Elvis, right through to Tina Turner, this show had everybody’s toes a tapping and hands a clapping to some of the greatest music of last century. All in all a great day was had on board the Saga Sapphire as we set sail for the wonders of St Petersburg.

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.