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Amsterdam

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

4th July, 2017

It was a very early start, being called at 0330 for pilot boarding at 0430. Add to that the clocks were advanced 1 hour at 0200 as well!!!

Anyway after a hot and then cold shower I was raring to go , particularly as the most amazing sunrise greeted us as we made our approach to Ijmuiden – the sea port for Amsterdam. Believe it or not that photo is real and has not been photo-shopped!!!

We passed through the Ijmuiden breakwater at 10 knots and the gradually reduced our speed as we approached the single lock. The Dutch pilot was excellent, and like most people from Holland was very relaxed which suited our bridge operation. Which I like to think is also relaxed but very professional.

The lock was 47m wide which gave us 10m either side if we were in the centre. Conditions were ideal with very little wind and we entered the lock at 3 knots with me now having the “con”. Once inside we manouvered alongside and used just 2 ropes each end for tying up. The lock aft gate was then closed and the level of water in the lock lowered. With the lock gates open we had 13.5M to go down the canal to the berth.

It was a delightful sail down in ideal conditions and as we arrived off the berth we then swung through 180’ with 45m clearance each end of the ship. We were all fast alongside by 0815 and had clearance shortly afterwards. This was going to be a great call with fine and sunny conditions forecast and 23 hours alongside.

Amsterdam is the capital and most populated city in the Netherlands, although The Hague is where the seat of government is held. The population is approx. 7 million and the city’s name derives from Amstelredamme, indicative of its origin around a dam in the River Amstel. In the late 12th century it was just a small fishing village but by the Dutch Golden age of the 17th century it became one of the most important ports in the world primarily due to its innovative developments in trade. It was the leading centre for diamonds and finance. Famous Amsterdam residents include the diarist Anne Frank, Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent Van Gogh.

There were 3 daytime tours and 4 evening excursions on offer including: A Taste of Holland, Panoramic Tour and Canal Cruise, Van Gogh’s Museum & Highlights, Harlem Walk and Organ Concert, and a Twilight Canal Cruise.

I was planning to go cycling mid-afternoon as I know it is lovely and flat here!! Unfortunately I got delayed by work and eventually started pedalling at 1730 – yes it was rush hour on the streets of Amsterdam. “Exciting” is how I would describe it. There were bicycles seemingly everywhere and if that was not enough there were mopeds and golf carts on the same cycle paths!! Anyway I made it back in one piece and then had a quiet night watching the next 2 episodes of the “Night Manager” – one more to go and very exciting!!

This is a 4 night short cruise with 153 guests staying on board from our last cruise, and 292 Newcomers. Unfortunately I missed the Mersey Beatles last night who John Lennon said were the best Beatles tribute band. They were also the resident band for the Cavern Club from 2002-2012 and after a year touring the globe were asked to come back and they now play at the Cavern Club every Sunday.

After a good night’s sleep, I was awake at 0530 and at 0600 I decided to go for a jog. I love being out early in the morning when a city is awakening and this morning was no exception as shown by some of the photos. The Dutch love their bikes and one photo is of a bike rack by the canal.

At 0730 we slipped our moorings and started our outward bound canal transit. It was a fantastic departure with loads of guests on deck enjoying the views and activity on the water. We reached the lock at Ijmuiden by 0930 and back out to sea by 1045 with the pilot disembarked. We then set sail for Guernsey.

Captain Julian Burgess

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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