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14th July, 2014


Helsinki was somewhat of a whirlwind stop compared to Stockholm. We had caught up the two hours we had lost through leaving Stockholm later than planned, but as it was a half day call as soon as the gangway was in place the tours started streaming off.  This is a ‘Classical Music’ themed cruise, so there were many bookings for the Sibelius experience, a great tour I managed to join last year and which takes the visitor to the composer’s house on Lake Tuusula. In a concert hall overlooking the lake a thirty minute performance of some of the greatest works of Sibelius was performed as the audience sat and looked out at the scenery that had been so inspiring.

Many of the passengers managed to get into the city of course, but others went to the old town of Porvoo, dating back from the middle ages and basically unchanged despite the intentions of Czar of Russia who, in the 19th century, wanted to get rid of the ‘dense and flammable’ town. Across the harbour Princess Cruises mega vessel Royal Princess sailed in mid-afternoon sounding some Disney like tune from the whistle when leaving the berth. Apparently it had relatively few passengers on board, only 3500 instead of the 5000 it could carry. Personally I am impressed by the technology, but somehow feel that I would not actually be ‘in command’ if I was Master of a vessel so large. A very different kind of experience to that which Saga offers and certainly not the family feel that we manage to inspire with our regular passengers. 

Our departure was after five pm, ensuring all tours were not short changed time wise, the pilot and I exchanged stories about our respective time on casino ships out in the Far East back in the 90’s, the second time that’s happened in two days. He left just after half an hour and we proceeded onwards to the east, deep into the Gulf of Finland and the land of the ‘White Nights.

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.