18th September, 2019
With the pilot on board at 0615 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!!! So some very precise navigation is required here. 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.
I was in a good mood so let the pilot keep the “con” until we were 1 mile from the berth and then I made the final approach to dock head in starboard side too. We have podded propulsion on Spirit of Discovery so for docking we switch to manouver mode which allows us to angle the pods as required through the whole 360’ range – these electric pods also make the ship very quiet so many guests are blissfully un-aware we have even docked.
Although a healthy 9’c it was a lovely sunny day and perfect for our guests to explore whether on an organised shore excursion, independently or using our “Explore Ashore” concierge service. There are plenty of charming little spots to be found in the city, from cobbled alleys zig zagged with bunting, to cafés that serve the best hot chocolate and for the romantics there is 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. Departure was set for 1700 and it was one of those very enjoyable sailaways where I got the chance to use “plenty” of power and spin the ship on a “sixpence” before once again handing the con to the pilot and proceeding outbound. Tonight was the Britannia Club party so I had to leave the bridge slightly early and give the Staff Captain the opportunity to disembark the pilot and take the ship to sea. See you in St Petersburg…
Captain Julian Burgess
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