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14th June, 2018


Moving away from the hustle and bustle of St. Petersburg, Saga Sapphire made the relatively short journey to Finland’s most easterly port, Kotka.

The warm sunny weather which has remained a feature of this trip continued to pursue us as we entered Kotka harbour this morning. From the first glimpse of the approaching ship a local youth marching band that were supported by pom-pom waving Majorettes, burst into life providing our passengers and crew with an even warmer welcome.

Finnish flags were being waived by all ashore as the gangway was landed at 8am, when I was greeted with a parade of welcoming handshakes from locals as I strode ashore to touch base with the local authorities. This was the first visit of SAGA Sapphire to Kotka. The welcome was extended to a plaque presentation ceremony with the Master, the town’s Mayor and local dignitaries.

Located at the mouth of the River Kymi about 75 miles from Helsinki, the town centre occupies the Island of Kotkansaari – The Eagle Island, which is linked to the mainland by a number of bridges. Owing to its strategic position Kotka has witnessed a turbulent history and in the past has been occupied by both Sweden and Russia. In 1918 it was also the scene of a desperate battle between Finnish and German forces, but today the Island is a green and pleasant town. The warm welcome of its locals went unabated as our guests were treated to an array of popular excursions such as a Tall Ship Adventure in the archipelago, and a visit to the Imperial Fishing Lodge built by Tsar Alexander III when the Island was part of the Russian Empire.

The ship’s berth was situated just 500 metres from the centre of town and guests were able to wander ashore and enjoy the shops and cafes in the area. They were given a hearty welcome from the locals and treated to a rally of vintage cars that was going on in the town at the same time.

As guests returned to the ship, an evening of entertainment kicked off with the start of the World Cup which was shown on the big screen in the Academy. Despite a thumping 5 – 0 win by the hosts Russia, others chose to participate in a Murder Mystery of a different kind in the Britannia Lounge. Showtime for this evening involved a performance by the wonderful virtuoso violinist Michael Bacala who has returned to us with his brand new show, and those wishing to stay up a little later were treated to - ‘A performance of songs from Musical Theatre’ from our own Michael Jarrod.

We now end the day and say goodbye to Kotka as we sail across the Gulf of Finland to our next destination of Tallinn, Estonia.

Colin Garland, Security Officer

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.