21st September, 2021
Postcards from the Baltic - part 2
An overnight in Stockholm, so the perfect excuse for a party. Sometimes simple is better, so we arranged a pool party on the Lido deck; fresh air, live music, drinks - simple, yet effective and enjoyable. With the upbeat music filling the air, we spread the party over two decks allowing social distancing. An evening of good fun. Those of you who came to know me as Staff Captain will know I’m partial to a sing-along, so even I got on to the stage and sang a few of my favourites. I donned my red leather jacket over the stripes, to match the rock’n roll sound (the blue jumper just wouldn’t have done it!).
High noon next day we cast off the lines, backed the ship up in the channel, swung and used the same route as when we came in. There was a shorter option, but as the wind was forecast to increase to 30+ knots we agreed with our pilots that the same way out was the safer approach. No need to take any unnecessary risks.
The next morning brought us to Tallinn, Estonia. During our stay guests had the opportunity to experience the famous “Back to the Soviet Era” tour, while on board we bunkered fuel – we wouldn’t want to run out halfway through the cruise after all. We departed at 9pm as our next port was Helsinki; just around the corner. Arrival was smooth and easy. Departure was not. Wind was forecast to be 15 knots, but in reality we ended up with 25+ knots so it took me a while to get her going.
Alas, we then received news that we would not be permitted to enter Gdansk. We needed to find a suitable port to replace Gdansk. Visby came as our best choice – they had an available berth and options for organized tours. This was my first successful visit to Visby. On two previous occasions it was far too windy to get alongside, so I was pleased to finally tick that box. Once alongside guests went off on a walking tour (with amazing feedback!) and I got a phone call from an old friend who I sailed with 12 years ago. He was on a ferry in the harbour and saw us coming in. He even sent me a lovely photograph of the ship from his point of view. Departure was fairly simple; I just had to find the balance to counter the wind. Off to Ronne, Denmark.
This was my first time in Ronne. We swung outside the breakwater, and backed the ship through the harbour down to the pier. Danish regulations meant that in order to receive clearance from port authorities we had to subject all guests to antigen testing. With testing completed we resumed with our day and our guests went off on their tours. After departure we set sail for the Drogden channel, passing Copenhagen and Skagerrak once again on our way back to the United Kingdom.
With 2 seadays to Tilbury we decided to create a special event for our guests, our very own Master/Chef cook off! Executive Chef John McCerey was in the red corner and I was the challenger. I had Tushar as a helping hand. Once the secret ingredients were revealed I decided to make seafood risotto and surf and turf, both of which I found rather successful if I do say so myself! Even Chef John was impressed and complimented my efforts (I won the battle, of course!).
All in all a great cruise - my first command and Saga’s first international cruise since restarting operations... I’m happy.
Captain Franko Papić
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