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3rd August, 2015

St. Petersburg

We picked our pilot up at 4 o’clock this morning – I would not normally be pleased about such an early start, but there is something special when you sail 25 miles into the harbour. Firstly you pass Kronstadt Island on the way in. I always have a peek into the navy base there to spot some of the navy ships. Most in rather a sorry state, but every now and then you find something interesting. This time it was the famous cruiser ‘Aurora’ – the key ship of the October Revolution. Normally stationed in the heart of the city, last year it was towed to Kronstadt and apparently there are some plans to recommission her and make her a flag ship of the Russian Navy, due to her historical and cultural importance. However the pilot on board did not share the enthusiasm and thought that this money could be spent elsewhere.

We docked just before 8.00am at the Marine Façade Terminal in St. Petersburg with lots of excursions in prospect throughout the day. The first group set off at 8.15 for Catherine’s Palace, originally commissioned by Peter the Great for his wife Catherine I and later embellished by Empress Elizabeth. The next excursion set off for a visit to the magnificent Peterhof Gardens, followed by a Road Train ride to the Park of Alexandria and the Cottage Palace. Other groups set off for trips around the city centre of St Petersburg, one on which went on a Panoramic Tour viewing all the main attractions of St Petersburg, as another group went on a trip entitled ‘Visions of St Petersburg’, viewing all the main sights, followed by a visit to the splendid Spilled Blood Cathedral followed by a cruise along the Moika and the Fontanka Rivers.

In the afternoon more passengers set off for more trips into town, with 2 Groups heading for the famous Fabergé Museum. Others went on a trip entitled ’St Petersburg Cathedrals’ with visits to St Isaac’s Cathedral, the Kazan Cathedral and to the Spilled Blood Cathedral. Meanwhile other groups discovered ‘Railway Engines and Machinery from the Soviet Era’, or visited the oldest structure in St Petersburg: the Peter and Paul Cathedral.

In the evening, after an early dinner, guests dressed up for their evening excursions. One group enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime exclusive tour of the Hermitage.

After an overnight in St Petersburg some of our passengers were up bright and early to embark on more adventures. The first groups left at 7.45am for a full day tour of St Petersburg and the Peterhof gardens. Other guests set off to see the sights that they were unable to see the day before, be it the Hermitage, the Peter and Paul Fortress, or the Cathedrals around the city. Meanwhile some guests visited the Palaces of Menshikov and Yusupov, two buildings with a rich history, the latter being the place of the murder of Rasputin. Other passengers travelled west of St Petersburg to the town of Schlisselburg where they took a boat, on a brand new tour, for a visit to Oreshek Fortress which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, often referred to as the “Russian Alcatraz”.

We slipped our lines just after 6pm and sailed back into the Gulf of Finland towards our next port - Tallinn.

Captain Krzysztof Majdzinski

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.