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16th May, 2015


This morning we arrived at the pilot station at 7 am, and soon after the pilot had boarded we made our approach to the berth. After a wide swing of 180 degrees we brought the ship alongside and were safely berthed at 8 am.

Saaremaa is an island in western Estonia, separating the Baltic Sea from the Gulf of Riga. It is a low-lying island with an area of approximately 2,922 sq km (1,128 sq mi). Raising livestock is the principal economic activity. The island was conquered by a German religious order of knights, the Brothers of the Sword, in 1227. It subsequently passed to Denmark (1561), Sweden (1645), Russia (1710), and the USSR (1940). Saaremaa was also a part of independent Estonia from 1918 to 1940. The main settlement on the island is Kuressaare (population 16,111), which in 1990 was the first town to regain the status of a regional authority in independent Estonia.

As soon as the ship was cleared by the local officials our passengers could proceed ashore.

Today’s tours were:

“Discover the Marvels of Saaremaa” started with a drive along the coast, past Angla windmills, through the countryside to Kaali for a view of the meteorite crater believed to have fallen around 700BC. From here the tour proceeded to Kuressaare, the capital of the island, to visit the Episcopal or Bishop’s Castle and its surrounding park. After lunch our guests then visited the Mihkli Farm-Museum, a typical farm of the area, where almost all the exhibits were made by the six generations of the same family who lived there for over two centuries.

“Saaremaa Island Tour” tour started with a drive though typical island scenery, passing the attractive village of Leisi en-route to Angla windmill hill. Here the five windmills are the survivors of the only remaining windmill hill on the island which, during the 19th century, was home to around 800 mills. From here it was on to Karja, a 14th century church regarded as one of the island’s treasures. The interior is decorated with stone carvings depicting various stories including those of St Katherine, St Nicholas. On the way back to the ship the tour stopped at Kaali, home of the meteorite crater, and the capital Kuressaare.

“A Trip to the Capital” started with a drive to the capital passing the typical island scenery of pine tree forests, oak groves and juniper fields. At Kuressaare our passengers set off on a 45-minute walking tour of the Old Town viewing the Town Hall, which was completed in 1670 but is now used as an Art Gallery, the Weigh House, situated opposite the Town Hall, which was built in 1666 to keep the public scales and is the only building of its kind in Estonia and the Episcopal (Bishop’s) Castle, the most important site in the city. Built in the late 14th century, this is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in the Baltic.

“Delights of Saaremaa” started with a drive through the countryside passing windmills and thatched farm houses before arriving at the Mihkli Farm-Museum. During their visit our guests enjoyed a folk show and bread tasting before continuing to Kuressaare, the capital of the island.

For passengers who wanted to explore Saaremaa independently there was a shuttle bus that ran between the ship and the Old Town.

Once everyone was back on board we let go of the lines, left the port, disembarked the pilot, and set our course for our next port of call, Riga. The evening began with the Britannia Club Cocktail Party in the Britannia Lounge where I welcomed 185 members, or there was cocktail hour in Cooper’s Bar with Martin Orbidans at the piano and in the Drawing Room The Perfect Mood Duo played music for dancing. After Dinner the Britannia Lounge featured the Comedy and Artistry of Master Marionette Artists John Chisholm and Josef Probst presenting their Stars on Strings.

Captain Kees Spekman

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