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17th July, 2014


Our good luck with the weather continued and we berthed the following morning in the inner harbour of Tallinn, with blue skies and light winds. The old town was obviously going to be popular, not only with passengers from the regular ferries, but also three large cruise vessels berthed, unfortunately for their passengers, on the outer piers. I opted to take a few hours and go over to see the relatively new Maritime Museum, situated in the renovated seaplane hangars, the first column less thin shell concrete domes ever built back in 1917. This museum is quite excellent and includes a complete submarine built for Estonia by a British yard in 1937. Visitors are allowed to climb down inside and, minding their head, traverse through the different compartments.

I was more interested however, in the ‘Suur Toll’, an icebreaker built in 1914 which lay afloat in the basin outside. The ship has an amazing history, being built for the port of Tallinn, then Russian, by the German shipbuilder Vulcan-Werke. For many years I had seen it in the distance on my many calls to the port, but never managed to take a closer look. The Soviet Union had taken the ship when Estonia was occupied in 1941, and as ‘Volynets’ she saw active service in Leningrad during the war. In 1988, instead of being scrapped, the ship finally returned to her home port.

Recent sympathetic renovations have returned the vessel to how she must have looked very early in her career and visitors are allowed, not only throughout the accommodation, but also into the engine rooms where the three original triple expansion engines still rest. I can highly recommend this ship and museum, particularly to those understanding husbands who might want to let their wives go off shopping on their own.

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.