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18th July, 2017


Welcome to Gothenburg, the first port of call on our Tall Ships in the Baltic cruise. This is my first Command onboard our beautiful ship Saga Sapphire having taken over from Captain Julian in Dover on 15th July.

It has been a few years since I drove a ship around the Baltic so I am looking forward to the opportunity on so many levels - getting to know the Saga Passengers, working with an outstanding crew to deliver a holiday of a lifetime, visiting the ports and the highlight of this cruise the Turku call with the Tall Ships Race.

It was a lovely lazy two days passage up the North Sea toward Gothenburg, a great time to settle in and relax, get to know fellow travellers and plan Excursions ashore. Saga offers a fantastic array of these with something for everyone. We were blessed with following seas and breeze, making the open decks a great place to relax and after the first day, blue skies all the way.

I had flash-backs of my past, having previously been a Deep Sea Pilot with Trinity House plying these cargo routes, northern Europe to the Baltic through the Skagerrak and the Kattegat. For a reason that I cannot explain, there are often outstanding sunsets and sunrises as you navigate the eastern seaboards of the North Sea.

We rounded north Demark overnight on Monday and made ready for our first port of call. The run into Gothenburg from Pilot to berth is around 1h 30 and what a lovely navigation it was. With the Pilot at 0600, it was good to see our ‘early-risers’ out and about on the open decks enjoying the spectacle. There was a sharp breeze coming in from the North West, the skies were blue and the inland waters with just a ripple. It was one of those ‘great to be alive’ mornings.

The run-in brought back memories of when I was deployed to a Stena Line ferry for three months, working the route from Gothenburg to Frederikshavn in Denmark in the days of pre-EU.

Our berth in Gothenburg was to the west of the City, a new berth for me and a bit of a squeeze with a large ferry occupying a large part of the port. With the wind fresh I opted to use a tug to push the stern up against the wind. We were ‘all-fast’ by 0800 with our first tour heading down the gangway a little after 0830.

The forecast for the day was for a high of 27 celcius, of which I was sceptical. How wrong was I. It was a great weather day, 24 Celsius in the shade and when out of the refreshing breeze, it was a more than a warm day with blue skies to boot. The locals do make you welcome here in Scandinavia.

I heard a band playing, but could not see anything. So whilst taking my usual ‘check-the-ship’ quayside stroll, I investigated the source of the music emanating from the small terminal on the quay. I was delighted to come across the local Jazz band “The Board Band” whose style was a mix of Blues and Traditional Jazz. Quite delightful indeed.

For those of you who have not visited Gothenburg - what a fabulous city with much to see and do in and around the region; all catered for through the Saga Cruises shore excursion program. Sadly I have decided that for my first few cruises I will not be popping ashore as I need to get into the routine of the administration of Saga Sapphire. However, my Staff Captain Franco is delighted with this idea as it allows him to stretch his legs.

Next port is Kalundborg, a new port for me. Departure from Gothenburg was a considered affair, with limited navigable water around, perhaps a meter of water under the keel - it had to be slow departure! We ‘let-go’ our final lines shortly after 1800 and proceed out of the port through the off-lying islands debarking the Pilot at 1930 before heading into the Skagerrak once again.

Captain Stuart Horne

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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