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2nd June, 2013


City Hall Tower

The sea day between Kalundborg and Stockholm enabled our passengers to rest and relax, at least, that is as long as they didn’t mind the peaceful sound of the vessel's hull cutting through the calm sea being punctuated by the ship's horn as we hopped from fog bank to fog bank.

Fortunately the fog had lifted by 9pm allowing for a few hours rest before the pilot boarded off of Sandhamn at 4am. It takes around 4 ½ hours to transit the archipelago to Stockholm, largely due to speed restrictions imposed in order to reduce the wash of vessels in the waterways, and lessen their effect on the shoreline.

The ship weaved in and out of islands and islets with some rocks seemingly passing just metres away as Saga Sapphire made her way into port. The sun had just risen when the pilot boarded and the day promised to be a hot and sunny day once more. However there was one more fog bank to negotiate on the way in with the visibility dropping to around 2000m briefly before the early morning sun burnt it away.

Blue Hall

Once alongside, relatively close to the town centre, our passengers disembarked on tours and independently to see the sights. Had we been a day earlier we would have had rain as well as the upheaval of the city’s marathon to contend with so our timing worked out very well.

I volunteered to escort a tour to see the City Hall and Vasa, never having seen either location before. The Vasa, had been recommended to me several years ago, but I’d never previously found the time when I’d been here before. I’d not even considered the City Hall as a tourist destination as visiting a city hall didn’t really sound that exciting. I was therefore pleasantly surprised by the building that hosts the after presentation banquet for the Nobel Prize Winners (The Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, but the remainder are awarded in Stockholm).

Gold Hall

The imposing brick building took 12 years to build and stands at 106 metres tall, one metre taller than that of the comparable building in Copenhagen (a deliberate adjustment to the original plan). The Gold Hall was certainly an impressive room and it was quite interesting to find out that the Blue Hall was so named because it was originally going to be plastered and painted blue. That is until the architect changed his mind and left it red brick.

Vasa Warship

After the City Hall we moved on to the Vasa Museum, home of the Vasa Warship. The magnificent looking warship said to be the most powerful at that time, with 2 gun decks and costing the Swedish Treasury a fifth of the years GDP to build, sank less than 1 nm into its maiden voyage in calm waters. Ooops!

A slight design flaw, a bit of human error, and pressure to get the job done, all played its part in the catastrophe. Apparently the vessel's stability had been checked by the equivalent of the ship's Staff Captain and found to be a little “tender”. This was achieved by a number of sailors running from side to side to see how much she rocked! Fortunately nowadays our Staff Captain has a slightly more scientific approach to checking Saga Sapphire's stability before sailing from each port. In any event the Staff Captain on the Vasa was too frightened to speak up about his concerns so the vessel sailed.

A couple of strong gusts of wind were enough to heel the Vasa over enough so that water ingressed through the open lower gun port doors. The rest as they say is history.

The evening sail out in the sunshine, with everyone back onboard from their day’s adventures concluded the day. With a less unsociable hour there were a few more passengers out on the decks to take in the scenery too. At least until the dinner bell sounded in the main restaurant! 

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.