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St Petersburg

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

15th September, 2016

The visit to Saint Petersburg is one of the highlights of each Baltic cruise. It is said that there is so much to see here that you would need lots of stamina and at least a week just to visit the most important landmarks of the region.  So I ensured that we arrived on time for our stay, by picking up the pilot before 5 this morning. We then sailed through a buoyed channel passing the island of Kronstadt on the way.

As I have mentioned before naval history is one of my interests, so each time we pass the island I take a close look at the status of whatever is left of the Baltic fleet. Most of the warships have indeed only historical value, but we were lucky to see a Kilo class submarine in rather good shape.

We continued our passage and shortly before 8am were docked safely alongside at Marine Façade. Normally this place is busy with cruise ships, but this time we were the only one here. It worked to our advantage as our guests could go through the (very thorough) immigration and security check at a rather steady pace. And the tour programme was really full for the two days.

One of the most popular tours of our first day was ‘Glimpse of St. Petersburg’. This panoramic tour started with a drive along the embankment to Decembrists’Square, dominated by the ‘Bronze Horseman’monument to Peter the Great. This was followed by photo-stops at St Isaac’s Square, the St Nicholas Naval Cathedral, and the Cathedral of the Spilled Blood. The drive continued along the boulevard of Nevsky Prospect, the city’s main avenue, to view the impressive Kazan Cathedral. Inspired by the architecture of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome this was intended to become the country’s main Orthodox Church. Finally, the coaches drove past Palace Square, the Alexander Column, the Admiralty, and the Hermitage.

As we stayed overnight, we ensured our guests were entertained in the evening as well. There was a choice between an absorbing performance of Russian classical ballet, a lively Russian folklore performance, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of an exclusive evening tour of the Hermitage, or a canal cruise along St. Petersburg’s waterways. Really tricky. I would not know which one to choose. I guess it gave our passengers a reason to return.

There was no chance for a late start on the following morning. More tours to come, with the second part of the ‘Glimpse of St. Petersburg’tour once again proving popular. This time the panoramic tour started with a short drive to the historical centre of the city. The first stop was at the Academy of Fine Arts and the 3,500-year old Sphinxes on the Neva River embankment, followed by an opportunity to photograph the beautiful panorama of the Neva River and the Peter and Paul Fortress. Other interesting sights along the way were the Cabin of Peter the Great and the Smolny Convent of the Resurrection.

So much to see, so little time. I am sure our guests have already made themselves a promise to return to this city.

Well, we have other plans for tomorrow –for some, it is the most beautiful port in the Baltic –Tallinn. Here we come!

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.

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