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6th September, 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. Shortly after embarking our pilot at 0600 we increased speed for the 22M run to our berth, however we soon to had to reduce this as we were quickly shrouded by Fog. It was patchy but then “socked in” as we approached Kotka harbour. In fact, we had less than 200m of visibility as I took the con and guided the ship in towards the dock. I have been sent some great photos taken from ashore on our “eerie” approach to the berth. The images would not be amiss in a Pirates of the Caribbean film!!

With great teamwork we made our final approach to the berth and as we did so we were greeted by 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 8.15am, when our Security Officer was greeted with a parade of welcoming handshakes from locals as he strode ashore to touch base with the local authorities. This was the second visit of the SAGA Sapphire to Kotka and once again the port did themselves proud.

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 the Finns and German forces. But today the Island remains a green and pleasant town and 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 ships berth was situated just 500 metres from the centre of town and guests not booked onto trips were able to wander ashore and enjoy the shops and cafes in the area. They were given a hearty welcome from the locals who arranged a special market.

I was very fortunate as I was invited for a round of golf at the Kotka Kymen Golf Club. It was a superb day and I was with 2 chaps I had met during the first call in Kotka back in June. Needless to say they were superb hosts and let me win.

With everyone on board at 1900 our Safety Officer Richard manoeuvred the ship off the quay and “backed out” of the port before a swing to port and the we were able to re-trace our tracks. With a beautiful calm evening our pilot disembarked at 2130 and we then set course for Tallinn, Estonia.

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.