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3rd September, 2018


With the pilot on board at 0630 we weaved our way towards Helsinki and at 0700 he guided us through the very scenic Kustaanmiekka strait which has a navigable width of only 86m!!! Some very precise navigation is required here (photos included). This straight houses the Suomenlinna fortress which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1991. A special feature of this military fortress is that it has served in the defense of three realms: Sweden, Russia and Finland.

A couple of miles from the berth Captain Julian took the con and guided us ahead of the berth before swinging the ship round to “reverse” her in and come alongside. Once all the hard work was done by the arrival team, I started my watch with our Third Officer Adam at 0800.

On port watches, Adam is subject to endless questions from me about the running of the ship and navigation and so far, I’ve never asked one that he hasn’t known the answer to! After a bit of a worry that we might be in for some drab and dreary conditions early this afternoon with mist rolling in from the small islands around the ship, the weather cleared up quite nicely to give us good conditions for going ashore in the Finnish capital of Helsinki.

There are plenty of charming little spots to be found in the city, from cobbled alleys zig zagged with bunting, to the café that I had my hot chocolate in while watching birds flit around the tables. A particularly nice find today was Finland’s ‘Bridge of Love’. Similar to bridges found all over Europe, this Bridge is used by couples young and old, to mark their love for one another by locking their padlock to the bridge and throwing the key into the water below.

Helsinki actually finds itself partnered with three more of this cruise’s ports. Due to its origin as a city in the Swedish empire it is partnered with our previous port of Stockholm. It is also paired with Tallinn, my favourite port in my seven months at sea. This pairing may be because Helsinki was originally founded to provide competition for the economic powerhouse that was Tallinn in 1550, and finally it is paired with St Petersburg, having been under Russian rule from 1809 until 1917.

Staff Captain Matt Goulding “drove” us out tonight, heading back through the way we came in, and I start watch again at 2000 until midnight. With the skies looking clear I may be able to get some practice with star sights this evening, as we go full speed ahead towards Helsinki’s sister city of St Petersburg.

Cadet Christy Mcinally

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