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11th May, 2015


Yesterday was a lovely day at sea. After breakfast it was time for our Sunday church service led by Canon Michael Weaver.

This evening there was a special Cocktail Party for all our passengers hosted by the Executive Chairman of Saga, Mr. Andrew Goodsell. Little did he know that during this party he would be playing a lead role in a murder mystery, as he would be the victim. A most entertaining and suspense laden affair. After Dinner the Britannia Lounge featured an opening act by our dining room stewards followed by Explosive Productions taking passengers on a trip to the Old Wild West with their “Hoedown Showdown. This was followed in the Drawing Room by our own Jemma Thomas performing a selection of her favourite songs and Easy Listening with The Perfect Mood Duo, while in Cooper’s Bar there was The Late Show with Martin Orbidans at the piano.

This morning we arrived at the pilot station at the very early hour of 3.30 am. This is because it is a long pilotage through the beautiful archipelago which surrounds the port of Stockholm. There was no wind and the dawn was already colouring the sky. A very special time of day, giving beautiful views and scenery. We were berthed at 8am.

As soon as the ship was cleared by the local officials our passengers could proceed ashore. Today’s tours were:

“City Hall and Vasa Museum”: This tour started with a drive through the city and across the Western Bridge to the island of Kungsholmen for a visit to the distinctive redbrick City Hall in the Old Town. Built between 1911 and 1923 in the National Romantic style to the design of architect Ragnar Ostberg, City Hall is renowned for its architecture, mosaics and for housing the Nobel Prize banquet. This was followed by a visit to the Vasa Museum on the island of Djurgården, to see the amazing restoration of the magnificent Vasa warship which sank in Stockholm harbour after being launched for her maiden voyage in 1628. After more than 300 years the ship has been pieced together and now presents a unique and fascinating insight into life in the 17th-century.

“Drottningholm Palace” was the first Swedish site to be placed on the World Heritage List, and is one of Europe’s most enchanting royal residences. It has been the permanent home of the King and Queen of Sweden since 1981 and was as immaculately created as Versailles or Nymphenburg, with formal baroque gardens filled with statues, fountains and flower beds and resplendent interiors. Built in the 17th century, the palace was perhaps the greatest achievement of the father-and-son architects, Tessin. Our passengers could visit the State Apartments and stroll through the French and English-style landscaped gardens.

“Modern & Historic Stockholm”: Today the capital of Sweden encompasses five unique city districts, each with its own special character. During the tour our guests enjoyed a splendid panoramic view of the city from Fjällgatan, a popular hilltop for photographers. They also saw Sergels Square, the National Museum and the Royal Opera, Riddarholmen - the Island of Knights. Here our passengers visited one of the oldest buildings in Stockholm, Riddarholmen Church, the final resting place of Sweden’s kings and Stockholm's only preserved medieval monastic church. Next it was on to the verdant island of Djurgården, once a royal hunting preserve, before visiting the Old Town, where passengers could wander through the narrow stone streets of the Gamla Stan, Stockholm's oldest quarter. Many of the houses there date from the 16th and 17th centuries, and come complete with Baroque doorways and ancient, rusting coats of arms. They visited the Coronation Church, which has witnessed numerous royal weddings and other state occasions, the Great Square, and the former Stock Exchange, now the home of the Swedish Academy.

“Sigtuna” is the oldest town in Sweden, having been founded in 980 by the first Christian King of Sweden. Our passengers visited St. Mary's Church, built in the 13th century by the Dominican order as a monastery church, which is still largely intact, the ruins of St Olaf’s church, Sorga Gatan, the old main street, the charming small streets with their low built wooden houses, handicraft shops and Scandinavia's smallest Town Hall.

“Stockholm Panoramic” offered our passengers a moving panorama of sights from the comfort of a coach. They enjoyed visiting Fjällgatan for its magnificent view of the city, as well as the enchanting medieval old town, ‘Gamla Stan’, where the Royal Palace overlooks Stockholm’s inner harbour, the Royal Dramatic Theatre and the island of Djurgården. This island is renowned for its recreational attractions due to its wonderful parklands and gardens as well as the Gröna Lund Tivoli and the Skansen Open-Air Museum. Djurgården is also home to the Vasa Museum that houses the remarkable 17th century warship. The tour would not have been complete however, without a visit to the impressive City Hall, the site of the annual Nobel Prize Banquet.

“Waterways of Stockholm”: Set on a string of islands and surrounded by the protective embrace of 24,000 outlying islands, water understandably plays an important part in city life. A boat trip is the perfect way to appreciate the splendour of Stockholm. The centre of Stockholm is strategically placed where freshwater Lake Mãlaren meets with Saltsjön (the Baltic). The boat glided along the many waterways, so that our guests could enjoy the city from a different perspective.

This evening started with cocktail hour in Cooper’s with Martin Orbidans at the piano and in the Drawing Room where the Perfect Mood Duo entertained our guests. After dinner the Britannia Lounge featured a performance by Classical Pianist Naomi Edemariam presenting her “Russian Extravaganza”, highlighting the works of the great Russian composers Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninov.

Captain Kees Spekman

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.