Wednesday, 5 July 2017

I have been to … Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and Estonia

Sunday 18th June 2017: Southampton
Knowing that Junction 12 on the M25 was going to be closed to traffic trying to drive westward on the M3, Sue and I intended to leave home as early as possible in order to allow for any potential traffic hold-ups. This turned out to be a wise course of action as there was considerable congestion on the M25, especially towards Junction 10 where the motorway intersects the A3. The latter was the suggested alternative route for car drivers hoping to travel towards Southampton, and the queue to turn off there was nearly two miles long when we reached it.

Luckily our sat nav recommended that we continue driving around the M25 and then turn off at Junction 11. We followed this suggested route and it took us to Junction 4 on the M3. Due to so much of its normal traffic having been diverted onto the alternative route, the M3 was relatively empty, and we managed to make up for some of the time that we had lost due to the hold-ups on the M25.

We stopped at about 10.45am for a late breakfast at Winchester Services, and then rejoined the M3 to continue our journey towards Southampton. Soon afterwards we joined the M27, the motorway that serves the New Forest, Bournemouth, Southampton and Portsmouth area. Because the weather was particularly good, there was a build-up of traffic on the motorway, and the closer we got to Southampton, the slower the traffic was moving. We were able to turn off and use a local road that took us into the centre of Southampton, and this enabled us to miss the worst of the congestion.

We finally reached the dock where MV Arcadia was moored just before 12.30pm, and within thirty minutes were had unloaded our luggage, handed our car over to the valet parking service, booked in and received our boarding passes, passed through the shoreside security checks, and had boarded the ship. Once aboard we were directed to the upper tier of the Meridian Restaurant (Deck 3 Aft), where we were able to have a drink and a snack lunch whilst we waited for our cabin to be ready for us to occupy. This was announced not long after 1.35pm, and by 2.00pm we were in our cabin unpacking.

Sue and had a short break for a drink in the Aquarius Bar (Deck 9 Aft) at 3.30pm, after which we retrieved our life-jackets from our cabin prior to going to the pre-cruise safety briefing in the Palladium Theatre (Decks 1, 2, and 3 Forward). The briefing ended at 4.45pm, and soon afterwards Arcadia set sail downriver. We had finished our unpacking by 5.30pm, at which point we went up to the Aquarius Bar for another drink. Sue and I then returned to our cabin to rest for a time before we had to get ready for dinner.

We returned to the Aquarius Bar for a pre-dinner drink, and just after 8.30pm we made our way down to the lower tier of the Meridian Restaurant (Deck 2 Aft) to eat. Sue and I were directed to our table, where we were soon joined by the two other couples that we will be eating with during the cruise. We were very pleased to see that we were going to be served by a waiter – Aldrin – that we knew very well from previous cruises.

After dinner we returned to the Aquarius Bar for a final drink and a chat before going back to our cabin to sleep. Sue and I were both feeling very tired, and were asleep well before midnight.

Monday 19th June 2017: At Sea
After a very good night's sleep, we awoke at 7.30am, to find that Arcadia was off the coast of the Netherlands, heading north east.



Visibility was quite good, but the horizon was obscured by light sea mist.


Just after 9.00am Sue and I were in the Meridian Restaurant and had just ordered breakfast. We had finished eating by 9.45am, and after spending about twenty minutes on the Promenade Deck (Deck 3) we went down to the Excursions Desk (Deck 1 Midships) to book a tour of the World War II German-built coastal defences that are located near our first port-of-call, Skagen.

After a short visit to the ship's shops we returned to our cabin to drop off our purchases. As we did so, Arcadia passed very close to one of the numerous oil and gas platforms that are located in this area of the North Sea.


We then decided to go to the Aquarius Bar to sit in the fresh air, and whilst we were there we had a long and interesting chat with a couple that we had met on the previous evening. In the end we stayed there until after midday, at which point we went back to our cabin to rest before it was time to eat lunch.

Sue and I had hoped to eat lunch from the Neptune Grill (Deck 9 Midships), but as there was nowhere to sit nearby, we went to the Belvedere Self-Service Restaurant (Deck 9 Midships). We had a drink with our meal, and went out to the Aquarius Bar after we had finished eating to get some fresh air whilst we finished our drinks. We then returned to our cabin to rest before it was time to get ready for the Welcome Aboard Party and the first formal dinner of the cruise, and other than a short break to go to the Belvedere Self-Service Restaurant for afternoon tea, we stayed there until it was time to go to the party.

Just before 8.00pm Sue and I made our way up to the Neptune Pool to attend the Welcome Aboard Party, and when the party had ended, we went down to the Meridian Restaurant for dinner. After dinner we returned to our cabin and spent a short time reading and resting before getting ready for bed.

Tuesday 20th June 2017: Skagen, Denmark
Overnight Arcadia passed along the north west coast of Jutland, and experienced bad weather from just after midnight until after 3.00am. By the time we woke up at 7.00am the ship was turning around the most northern part of Denmark …



… and the weather had undergone considerable improvement.


Sue and I made sure that we were in the Meridian Restaurant by just after 8.00am so that we could eat breakfast and have plenty of time to get ready before we had to go ashore to join our tour around some of the World War II bunkers dotted around the coast of northern Denmark.

Our first stop was at Grenen, the most northerly point of Denmark. This is the location of a lighthouse …


… and a special tractor-drawn trailer bus service that takes tourists to the very tip of the sandy peninsular.




It is also the location of the Grenen Bunker Museum, which we spent over thirty minutes looking around.

Our tour coach then took us southwards to Frederikshavn, the location of our second stop, the Bangsbo Bunker Museum, which has a commanding view over the town and the Baltic Sea.



During our hour-long visit we were able to look around an artillery bunker that contains a 150mm naval gun …


… and the battery command bunker.


On our way to our next stop, we had a brief comfort and refreshment break at a local restaurant. We were served coffee and tea as well as a Danish pastry … which we were informed is know as Vienna Bread in Denmark!

Our final stop was at the Resistance Museum that is housed in the small museum complex inside the privately-owned Bangsbo estate. The family that own the estate still live in the manor house …


… which is only about 100m from the main museum building.


We spent an hour in the Resistance Museum before returned to Arcadia, and Sue and I were ready for a late snack lunch by the time we were back aboard just after 3.20pm. After a brief break out on deck for some fresh air, we returned to our cabin to rest until it was time to get ready for dinner.

(We saw and photographed so much during the visits we made that I will have to devote at least a blog entry to each location to do them justice.)

We had a pre-dinner drink in the Aquarius Bar before we ate dinner with our usual table companions in the Meridian Restaurant. Sue and I returned to the Aquarius Bar after dinner for some fresh air, but it proved to be quite cold and we were back in our cabin getting ready for bed by just before 11.30pm.

Wednesday 21st June 2017: Kiel, Germany
When we awoke at 7.00am Arcadia was already on her way down the inlet leading to the city of Kiel.




The ship was moored alongside almost an hour earlier than expected, which was probably just as well as two other cruise liners – the Queen Elizabeth


… and Color Magic


… moored nearby very soon afterwards.

We ate our breakfast in the Meridian Restaurant, and had finished in plenty of time to go back to our cabin to collect our stuff before going ashore to join the tour we had booked. Arcadia was moored alongside the Ostseekai, and we had to use an air-bridge and a long elevated walkway to reach the cruise terminal. Once there we were directed to our tour coach, and just after 10.00am we were on our way.

Our tour took us on a brief trip around Kiel, before we drove to the village of Wik, the location of the Kiel Canal locks. We were shown a large billboard display of the locks …


… before we drove over a nearby bridge which gave us an excellent view of them in operation.


We were then taken past some of the few old buildings that survived the World War II bombing raids …


... to the small lighthouse situated on the northern bank of the Kiel Canal.


This was opened by Kaiser Wilhelm II when the canal was opened.

For there we were driven back through the outskirts of the city to Laboe, the location of the Naval Monument and Museum. This was a most impressive building constructed from local dark red brick, which comprises a tower and viewing platform, …



… and underground monument, and a museum with a colonnaded frontage.



We spent over an hour exploring the site, and only saw about fifty percent of what was there.

(Again we saw and photographed so much during our visit that I will have to devote at least a couple of blog entries to the Naval Monument and Museum to do it justice.)

By this time Sue and I were both feeling rather thirsty, and before we had to board our tour coach, we were able to buy a cup of tea to drink in the small nearby café.


On our return to the Arcadia Sue and I did consider walking into the old part of Kiel to have a look around, but by the time we had been back to our cabin to drop off our bags and cameras we had decided to stay aboard and have some lunch. We ate a late lunch in the Belvedere Self-Service Restaurant, followed by a short spell in the seating area near the Aquarius Bar. By then we were both feeling rather tired, and as a result we spent the rest of the afternoon in our cabin.

Arcadia set sail from Kiel just before 5.15pm, and on our way out into the Baltic we were able to see the Naval Monument and Museum at Laboe from the sea.


It was in some ways even more impressive when viewed from the sea … and one feels that this was always the intention of its designer.

Suitably rested, Sue and I had our usual pre-dinner drink in the Aquarius Bar ... and after dinner we returned there for another drink before going to bed.

Thursday 22nd June 2017: At sea
The weather remained calm overnight as a result of which we both slept well. In fact we did not wake up until 8.00pm, by which time Arcadia was well on the way to her next port-of-call, Stockholm.



As we were attending the Peninsular Club Lunch for Ligurian and Baltic tier members at midday, we decided to have a leisurely morning. After breakfast in the Meridian Restaurant we sat out on deck near the Aquarius Pool (Deck 9 Aft) until it was time to get ready for lunch.

Out table at the lunch was hosted by the ship's Safety Officer, who is also the Senior First Officer, and there were five other people at the table besides us. The menu was superb, and I ate:
  • Croquette of Confit Duck Leg with Pickled Egg and Beetroot Purée
  • Beef Fillet with Oxtail Potato Hash, Sautéed Bok Choy, Baby Carrots, and Pumpkin Purée
  • Warm Sticky Toffee Cake with Tonka Bean Mousse and Orange Curd
  • Tea and Turkish Delight
The food, the service, and the company were excellent, and afterwards we spent a short time on the Promenade Deck before going back to our cabin to read, rest, and recover!

Our period of rest and recovery lasted longer than expected, and we both dozed for a large part of the afternoon, and didn't do very much until it was time to get ready for the second formal dinner of the cruise.

As has become our habit on this cruise, we had a pre-dinner drink in the Aquarius Bar, and after dinner we returned there for some fresh air before going back to our cabin to get ready for bed.

Friday 23rd June 2017: Stockholm, Sweden
Arcadia was already moored alongside when we woke up just after 7.00am.



As we were not going on a tour, we took our time having breakfast in the Meridian Restaurant and getting ready to go ashore. We disembarked not long after 9.30am, and the shuttle-bus dropped us off outside the Opera House, which is located on Strömgatan near the Parliament Building and Royal Palace.


Sue and I stopped in the Kungsträdgärden park to orientate ourselves. The park is dominated at one end by a statue of King Karl XII.


From there we walked along several streets and through an open area …






… until we reached the National Theatre.


We then walked up the road to its left-hand side …


… and then around its back …


… which brought us to Riddargartan, the location of the Swedish Army Museum.


Sue and I were somewhat surprised to find that the main gate was closed and locked, but the presence of people inside the site encouraged us to try to find an alternative entrance. Our walk took us completely around the block, …


… and past the Hedvig Eleonora Kyrka, …



...a most impressive looking church.

We finally found an open gate in Sibyllegatan, and walked into the courtyard of the Army Museum.



It soon became apparent that the museum was shut …


… and after photographing the three military vehicles that were on display in the courtyard …




… we found an noticeboard that informed us that the museum was shut on Midsummer's Eve (23rd June), Midsummer's Day (24th June), and the Sunday after Midsummer's Day (25th June). This was most disappointing as I had hoped to visit the special wargaming exhibition that was being staged in the museum.

Rather deflated we made our way back to the shuttle-bus pick-up point. Sue and I followed a slightly different route back that took us past a monument to John Ericsson, the father of the turreted ironclad …


… and a large red church.


We were back aboard Arcadia just before midday, and after a quick visit to our cabin we went up to the Aquarius Bar for a pre-lunch drink. Sue and I then ate a snack lunch in the Belvedere Self-Service Restaurant before returning to open deck area near the Aquarius Bar.

We stayed there until 1.15pm, when we returned to our cabin to rest until it was time to go back to the open deck area near the Aquarius Bar for the sail-away from Stockholm.

Sue and I remained on deck from just before 3.00pm until just before 5.00pm, by which time it was beginning to get cold. We returned to our cabin, where we spent some time reading before getting ready to go to dinner in the Ocean Grill Restaurant (Deck 2 Midships), one of the alternative dining venues aboard Arcadia.

We sat down to eat at 8.30pm, and finally left the restaurant just over two hours later feeling rather full. Sue and I had a short walk along the Promenade Deck before returning to our cabin, where we sat for a while to allow our meal to begin being digested before we went to bed.

Saturday 24th June 2017: Helsinki, Finland
Sue and I were up just after 7.00am, after a quiet and gentle night's sleep. Arcadia had already changed course towards the entrance to the archipelago of islands that protect the approaches to Helsinki.




The harbour was already quite crowded, and we saw three other cruise ships moored alongside. These were Serenade of the Seas, …


Marina, ...


… and Celebrity Silhouette.


As it was Midsummer's Day – a public holiday in Finland and several other Scandinavian countries – we did not rush to have an early breakfast. Sue and I decided to have as leisurely a start to the day as possible, and made our way down to the Meridian Restaurant just after 8.30am to eat. We had finished by 9.15am, and after a short walk along the Promenade Deck we returned to our cabin to get ready to go ashore.

We were in the shuttle-bus from the docks to the centre of Helsinki by just before 10.00am, and it deposited us outside the Swedish Theatre in the centre of Helsinki about twenty minutes later. Unfortunately the theatre was not marked on our map, so we set off to find a suitable landmark by which we could orientate our map.

A ten minute walk along a wide but quite empty street …


… brought us to the Central Railway Station and bus station.



This helped us to identify where we were on our map, and after a few minutes walk Sue and I arrived at the Esplanade Park.



A large statue of Sibelius is located near the centre of the park …


… and we passed it on our way towards the harbour-side market.


One end of the market is adorned by a large fountain …


… which we had to walk past in order to reach the market.


Sue and I spent some time browsing the market stalls to see what was on sale, as a result of which we came away with a few small souvenirs.

Near one end of the market is the Uspenski Church …


… but rather than visit the church, Sue and I decided to go back to the shuttle-bus pick-up point. We took a slightly different route back to the ship, and after walking up a side street …


... we reached and then passed the Helsinki Cathedral, which is located along one side of Senate Square.


We then made our way back to the pick-up point via yet another almost empty street.


We were back aboard Arcadia by 12.15pm, and after a drink in the Aquarius Bar we at lunch in the Belvedere Self-Service Restaurant. Sue and I had returned to our cabin by 2.30pm, and stayed there resting and reading until it was time to get ready for dinner. (If the truth be told, both of us seem to be feeling very tired in the mid afternoons at the moment, and more dozing took place than reading!)

Dinner in the Meridian Restaurant was preceded by our usual drink in the Aquarius Bar, where we chatted for some time with a couple we have got to know during this cruise. After dinner Sue and I spent a short time on deck before going to our cabin to prepare for our visit to St Petersburg on the next day.

Sunday 25th June 2017: St Petersburg, Russia
We were both awake by just after 6.00am, by which time Arcadia was already docked alongside the cruise terminal.



The weather was very overcast, with occasional rain, and it was quite difficult at time to see the other cruise ships that were docked nearby. They included Norwegian Getaway, …


AIDA Cara, …


… and Celebrity Silhouette.


After eating a very light breakfast in our cabin, we were ready to join the rest of the passengers who were going on the same tour as us in the Palladium Theatre. We were all there by 7.40am, and by 7.55am we had all passed through Russian Immigration Control in the terminal and were on our way towards the minibus being used for our tour.

We were greeted by our tour guide – Marina – and issued with 'whisper' radio receivers and earpieces. Once these were tested we set off for the first stop of our tour, the house that was owned and occupied by the Fabergé family.


The minibus then took us to the Fabergé Museum, which is housed in the former Shuvalov Palace. Although the building does not look very impressive from the outside, inside the entrance is dominated by a grand staircase that you have to climb to reach the exhibition.




The stairwell is surmounted by a very ornate cupola.


Our tour of the exhibition began in the Knight's Room …



… and then moved on to the Beige Room …


… which contains a large collection of Russian icons.

We then spent some time in the Red Room, where some wonderful examples of Russian silverware are on display, …


… and Blue Room where the Imperial Fabergé Easter Eggs are displayed in individual glass cabinets.


Our tour then went into the Gold Room, …



… the Anteroom, …


… the White and Sky Blue Rooms.


At this point one of our tour party became faint (it was very humid and we probably all had low blood sugar levels due to the very early start) and had to be taken downstairs by members of the museum's staff.

They had sufficiently recovered by the time the tour had ended and we had all made our way outside for the tour to continue. The minibus then took us via Nevesky Prospect …


… to Ostrovskovo Place, where we had a short stop to look at the Alexandrinsky Theatre …


… and the statue of Catherine the Great.


During our stop a police car belonging to the St Petersburg Militia parked alongside our minibus.


Our final stop of the tour was at the Pushkin Art Gallery, which is – in fact – a souvenir shop. Sue and I bought a few small items (a book about the Fabergé Museum and some wooden Christmas tree ornaments) and had a chance to have a quick drink … of Russian champagne!

On the drive back to the ship we passed a large housing development, in the middle of which were two turrets from an old Russian cruiser!


After saying goodbye to our tour guide, Sue and I spent ten minutes looking in the various souvenir shops in the cruise terminal before going back through Passport Control and re-boarding Arcadia. By this time we were both feeling very thirsty, and after dropping our stuff off in our cabin, we went up to the Aquarius Bar for a refreshing cold drink. We then ate lunch in the Belvedere Self-Service Restaurant before returning to our cabin.

We had intended to read and to rest for a while, but fatigue overcame us and we both fell asleep … and it wasn't until 5.00pm that we were both fully awake again! Our sleep had – however – helped to revive us, and we were feeling much more energised by the time we went up to the Aquarius Bar for our pre-dinner drink.

As one of the couples we share a dinner table with was on an evening trip to the Hermitage, there were only four of us at dinner. The conversation covered a variety of topics, but mainly concentrated on what we had seen and experienced during our first day in St Petersburg.

After dinner Sue and I went for a short walk along the Promenade Deck, and by 11.00pm we were back in our cabin getting our stuff ready for the second day of our visit to St Petersburg.

Monday 26th June 2017: St Petersburg, Russia
Sue and I were woken up by our alarm clock at 6.30am, and after getting dressed and eating a couple of croissants in our cabin, we were ready to go ashore by 8.00am. The weather seem a bit overcast, …


… but the forecast for the morning was reasonable, so we did not bother to take umbrellas or topcoats.

Getting through Immigration Control was quick and easy, and by 8.10am we were seated under the canopy where the tour coaches picked up their passengers.


Our guide arrived quite soon after we had sat down, and we discussed our tour itinerary with her whilst we waited for our car – a vintage Volga limousine – to arrive. The car was earlier than expected, and was driven by the same driver who had driven us three years ago!


Our driver is keen on military history and shooting, and remembered us from our last visit to St Petersburg. As a result he was very amenable to altering the order in which we visited the various sites on our itinerary, and even suggested a couple that we were unaware of.

Our first stop was at St Nicholas Cathedral …


… which has a famous, separate bell tower.


The cathedral contained many beautiful icons, but as photography was banned were we unable to capture any images of them.

Our next stop was close to the Rostral Columns where the Malaya Neva (Little Neva) and Bolshaya Neva (Big Neva) rivers meet. This gave us a panoramic view from the Peter and Paul Fortress to the Hermitage and Winter Palace.


The Rostral Columns …


… were erected to commemorate Russian Naval victories, and were copied from similar columns built by the Romans.

The Peter and Paul Fortress …


… contains the Peter and Paul Cathedral, which is the last resting place of the Romanovs.

On the opposite bank of the River Neva are the Hermitage and the Winter Palace, both of which are iconic buildings.


At our driver's suggestion we next visited Alexandrovsky Park, which is not normally visited by foreign tourists. It is located just behind the Artillery Museum, and contains a bronze tableau of all the architects who planned and built modern St Petersburg …


… and a magnificent 3D map of the centre of the city with the major buildings modelled in bronze and marble.












It was only a short drive from the park to the place where the cruiser Aurora is moored.


It has recently been renovated and re-commissioned into the Russian Navy, and its foremost 6-inch gun bears a plaque commemorating the shot that signalled the start of the October Revolution.


(It has been suggested that the 'signal' was in fact fired by mistake by a number of drunken sailors … but no one actually knows whether or not this is true.)

Whilst we were there, our guide pointed out a large anonymous-looking building on the opposite side of the River Neva.


This is the local headquarters of the State Security organisation, the FSB, which was formerly the KGB and before that the NKVD.

We recrossed the River Neva and stopped at the Field of Mars. This park was formerly the parade and training ground used by the local garrison, but now it houses a memorial to those who died in the February and October Revolutions, the Russian Civil War, and the Great Patriotic War.


In its centre is an eternal flame …


… the first to have been lit in Russia.

The park also gives visitors an excellent view of the Church of Our Saviour on the Spilt Blood …


… and Mikhaylovsky Castle.


The final stop on our tour was next to Dvortsovaya Place, …


… where the General Staff Building, …


… the Alexander Column, …


… and Winter Palace …


… are located.

After our visit to Dvortsovaya Place, Sue and I walked across the Moika Canal …


… to the Kempinski Hotel …




… where we ate afternoon tea …


… at 11.30am!

Our vintage Volga limousine took us back to Arcadia by 12.30pm, and after a drink in the Aquarius Bar, we sat on deck chatting until it was time for a late snack lunch at 3.15pm. We then went to our cabin to rest and recuperate after what seemed to have been a long and busy day, but neither of us fell asleep.

Arcadia set sail just after 6.00pm, and I was able to stand on the cabin balcony whilst she sailed past the Russian naval base at Kronstadt and through the new barrier that has been built across the channel from the open sea to St Petersburg. Needless to say, I managed to take some interesting photographs of the Russian warships that were in harbour, and they will be featured in a future blog entry.

Despite the cold weather and rain, Sue and I had a pre-dinner drink in the Aquarius Bar. Over dinner we exchanged stories of our respective tours in St Petersburg with our table companions, and did not leave the restaurant until nearly 10.30pm. We had a short walk along the Promenade Deck, but as it was quite cold we only stayed there for about five minutes before going inside and back to our cabin for some much-needed sleep.

Tuesday 27th June 2017: Tallinn, Estonia
The ship arrived in Tallinn just before 7.00am, and we were awoken by the announcement from the bridge that the ship was secured alongside.





After eating breakfast in the Meridian Restaurant, Sue and I visited the Future Cruises sales desk … and booked a cruise to Iberia for later in the year. We then went ashore just after 10.00am, and took the shuttle-bus to the Viru Gates of the Old Town.


After passing through the gates we turned right and walked along the back street (Uus) …




… that followed the outer side of the old city walls. Along the way were passed several interesting old buildings …



… before passing though a gateway in the city wall …



… that gave us access to Vene Street, the street on the inner side of the city wall.

We followed this road …



… until it reached Paks Maragrata (Margaret Park). We sat there for a time opposite an ancient stone-built building …


… before walking uphill towards the Fat Margaret Tower.


The tower was formerly part of the city's defences, and was a gun platform that guarded one of the main gates as well as the northern end of the city walls.

We walked through the gate …


… and entered the tower, which houses part of the Estonian Maritime Museum. We spend over an hour in the museum, which has a magnificent collection of model ships as well as displays that tell the history of Estonia's maritime history from earliest times.

When we left the museum we found two plaques were fixed to the wall, one commemorating the role of the Royal Navy in the independence of Estonia …


… and the other the role of Estonians in the Finnish Navy during the Second World War.

We then walked down Pikk Street, one of the most historic streets in the city.




Our route took us past the Oleviste Church …


… which had the tallest spire in the world when it was built in 1500.

By this time Sue and I were feeling thirsty, and began to look for a café as we walked further along Pikk Street.



We eventually stopped for a café latte in Tallinn's oldest coffee house, Maiasmokk's.


Suitably refreshed Sue and I continued our walk through the city's streets …


… until we reached Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square). This is dominated by the impressive stone-built Town Hall, which was built during the fifteenth century.


After a look around the numerous restaurants that line three sides of the square, we decided to eat lunch in Mad Murphy's Irish Pub and Grill.


By the time we had finished lunch the weather was beginning to get colder, and Sue and I decided to make our way back to the shuttle-bus pick-up point.


When we got back to the cruise terminal, we spent some time looking around the numerous small shops that line the route back to the quay. Arcadia was moored alongside one of the two cruise ship quays …


… and Norwegian Getaway was tied up next to the other.


Sue and I were back aboard Arcadia by 3.45pm, and after a quick drink in the Aquarius Bar we went back to our cabin to rest until it was time to get ready for the Peninsular Club Cocktail Party. This was held in the area around the Neptune Pool, and lasted from 6.00pm until 6.30pm.

Sue and I then spent about thirty minutes in the open deck area near the Aquarius Pool before going back to our cabin to get ready for dinner. As we had already had a drink, we chose to have a walk along the Promenade Deck instead of a pre-dinner drink in the Aquarius Bar.

At 8.30pm we joined our table companions in the Meridian Restaurant, and we spent most of the meal sharing our experiences of Tallinn.

Wednesday 28th June 2017: At sea
Sue and I woke up when the alarm clock went off at 7.50am, and the on-screen map showed us that Arcadia had already sailed past Gotland on her way to Copenhagen.



We ate breakfast in the Meridian Restaurant as usual, and then went up to the open deck area near the Aquarius Pool to sit in the fresh air. We stayed there chatting to other passengers until just before 11.00am, at which point we went through to the area around Neptune Pool where the on-board shops were holding what they termed a Russian Bazaar.

Sue and I browse our way around the various stalls, and bought a few small items. We then returned to the deck are near the Aquarius Pool, and sat there until after midday having a drink. We walked back through the bazaar on our way back to our cabin, where we remained until it was time to go for a late lunch in the Belvedere Self-Service Restaurant.

After lunch Sue and I sat in the open deck area near the Aquarius Pool until 4.15pm, when we went down to our cabin. We stayed there until it was time to get ready for the third formal dinner of the cruise, which – for a change – we ate in the Ocean Grill Restaurant.

We had a pre-dinner drink in the Aquarius Bar before dinner, but we were both feeling so full afterwards that rather than go back there after our meal, we went for a short walk along the Promenade Deck before going back to our cabin to sleep.

Thursday 29th June 2017: Copenhagen, Denmark
Our overnight voyage was affected by some bad weather, and as a result Sue and I both woke up much earlier than we needed to.



We were actually eating breakfast in the Meridian Restaurant when Arcadia docked alongside in Langelinie, which is at the seaward end of the inlet on which Copenhagen is located.



We decided not to rush ashore, and spent time after breakfast in the open deck area near the Aquarius Pool chatting to other passengers. Sue and I finally got our act together just after 10.30pm, and after putting on our coats and collecting our stuff for our cabin, we took the shuttle-bus into the centre of the city.

The drop-off point was located outside Det Kongelige Teater (The Royal Theatre) on Konigens Nytory (King's Square).


From there it was a short walk to the nearby Danske Bank, where we checked the validity of some of our Danish currency. (During our earlier visit to Skagen we had been told that the currency notes we were using were no longer in circulation; this proved not to be true … as we found at the bank.)

We then walked up the Stroget, Europe's longest pedestrianised shopping street.



After a short detour into a large department store, …


… Sue and I continued our walk up the Stroget



… until we eventually came to the Pandora store, where some serious retail therapy took place.


By this time is was after midday, and we began looking for somewhere to have lunch, but due to the fact that there were four cruise ships in harbour, everywhere was crowded. It also began to rain, and in the end we decided to return to Arcadia.

On our return to Langelinie we had a short walk along the quayside shopping area before going back aboard, and by 1.15pm we were having a drink in the Aquarius Bar. Sue and I decided to have lunch in the Belvedere Self-Service Restaurant whilst it was still relatively empty, and then went back to the Aquarius Bar for a second drink before returning to our cabin at 2.45pm.

We stayed in our cabin reading and resting until it was time to go up to the open deck area near the Aquarius Pool to watch and listen to the Tivoli Youth Guard Band play a selection of music on the fife and drum. During the afternoon we saw a seaplane land in the harbour and taxi across it to a landing stage on the other side of the inlet.


The Tivoli Youth Guard began their performance at 7.45pm by marching onto the open deck area near the Aquarius Pool towards the stern of the ship …


… where they stopped and played for fifteen minutes …


… before marching off again to loud applause.

Not long afterwards Sue and I went down to the Meridian Restaurant for dinner, during which Arcradia set sail for Southampton. After dinner we returned to the Aquarius Bar for a post-dinner drink … only to discover that the ship was sailing through torrential rain. Luckily we were able to sit under cover, and we remained there for half an hour before going to our cabin to sleep.

Friday 30th June 2017: At sea
Sue and I woke up just after 7.00am to find that overnight the weather had improved. The ship was just turning around the north of Denmark, thus leaving the Baltic Sea and entering the North Sea.



As we did not have a lot to do Sue and I had a leisurely morning. After eating breakfast in the Meridian Restaurant, we went to Reception to get a print off of our on-board account, followed by a short time in the ship's shops. We then spent some time outside on Deck 9 near the Aquarius Bar before going up to to East Bar (Deck 11 Midships) to sit and read. It was very quiet there, and we stayed until it was well past midday.

For a change we managed to eat lunch from the Neptune Grill, which is situated in the Neptune Pool area. Sue and I then returned to the open deck area near the Aquarius Bar, but only stayed there for about thirty minutes before we went back to our cabin. Once there we did some pre-packing sorting out, which took us until just before 3.30pm.

We then returned to sit in the area near the Aquarius Pool via the Belvedere Self-Service Restaurant, where we had afternoon tea. Although the weather was overcast, the temperature was not too low to be uncomfortable to sit there, and we stayed there chatting until 5.00pm. Sue and I then returned to our cabin to get ready for the last formal dinner of the cruise, which featured the usual parade of the chefs.

After dinner we had a further chat in the Aquarius Bar with some fellow passengers, and did not got back to our cabin to sleep until it was 11.45pm.

Saturday 1st July 2017: At sea
Overnight Arcadia made her way down the coast of Denmark and was off the Netherlands when we woke up at 8.00am.



Sue and I had breakfast in the Meridian Restaurant, and after visiting Reception to drop off our end-of-cruise passenger survey form and a trip to the ship's shops for some last minute purchases, we returned to our cabin to begin the process of packing.

This was not a difficult task, but it was time-consuming, and during the morning we took a break for some fresh air and a drink. We had completed most of our packing by lunchtime, and after eating in the Belvedere Self-Service Restaurant we went outside to take part in the 'Great British Sail-Along'. (It had been impossible to stage a 'Great British Sail-Away' when Arcadia left Copenhagen as we did not set sail until mid-evening, and Langelinie is a residential area as well as the location of the cruise terminal.)

Sue and I were back in our cabin by 1.15pm, and after finishing the last of our packing, we spent the rest of the afternoon – until teatime – sitting in our cabin reading. We ate afternoon tea just after 4.00pm in the Belvedere Self-Service Restaurant, followed by a spell on deck near the Aquarius Pool. A couple with whom we have talked quite a lot during our cruise were there, and we spent time with them until we had to go back to our cabin to get ready for the last dinner of our cruise. We met up with them for a pre-dinner drink in the Aquarius Bar, and after saying goodbye to them, we went down to the Meridian Restaurant.

The meal was excellent, and after we had finished eating Sue and I said our farewells to the other couples we had shared our dinning table with and – most importantly – the waiters who had served us so well. Before going to bed we paid our last visit of the cruise to the open deck area near the Aquarius Bar, and by 11.00pm we were getting ready for bed. As we did so, Arcadia sailed past Dungeness on the Kent coast.



Sunday 2nd July 2017: Southampton
Thanks to all the early morning starts we seemed to have had on our cruise, both of us were awake by 6.15am.




We got dressed, packed our hand luggage, and were in breakfast in the Meridian Restaurant by 7.45am. We took less than thirty minutes to order and eat our food, and by 8.20am we had returned to our cabin, picked up our hand luggage, and were on our way to our disembarkation rendezvous.

The ship's company were actually ahead of schedule with the disembarkation process, and we went straight to the gangway. From there we went down to the luggage reclamation area and by 8.45am we had all our bags and were on our way through Customs. In less that twenty minutes we had reclaimed our car from the valet car parking service, had loaded our luggage into our car, and were driving out of the port entrance.

The drive home was uneventful, and other than a short stop at Winchester Services to buy some food from the Simply Food branch of Marks and Spencers that is located there, we had no stops along the way. We actually drove onto the hard standing outside our house just after 11.20am, and by midday we had unloaded our luggage, said hello to – and fed – our somewhat disgruntled cat, and were having a much needed drink.

Our cruise to the Baltic was finally over.

12 comments:

  1. Great photos Bob. I particularly liked the 'toy' Leningrad. Would they object if we showed up with a load of 54mm toy soldiers?

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    Replies
    1. Tim Gow,

      Funnily enough, when I saw it, I thought that it would make for a great LITTLE PATRIOTIC WARS battlefield ... but I suspect that the locals might just get a little upset if you used it for that purpose.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. Looks like you had a good time Bob. I suppose the 'soldier boys' could stand in for full scale toy soldiers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stephen Briddon,

      We had a great time travelling around the Baltic, and Iv'e come back with a few ideas for future wargames..

      The Tivoli Youth Guard band are about 1:2-scale when compared to the Royal Guard, even though they both wear the same basic uniform.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. What an amazing trip! I suspect you would have received an A+ on your school essay about your summer vacation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. William Stewart,

      It was a very enjoyable trip, and my wife and I had a wonderful time.

      I never managed to get A+ for anything that I did at school except Art ... and that was the year they decided to to give a prize for that subject!

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  4. Great photos and a terrific account of your voyage. Where to next?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jonathan Freitag,

      I'm very pleased to read that you enjoyed this blog entry about our latest cruise. The next one will be later this year to Iberia.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. What a splendid trip indeed. Thanks for sharing it with us all.
    Alan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tradgardmastare (Alan),

      It was our fourth visit to the Baltic ... and we still find it a wonderful area of the world to visit. Just walking around places like Tallinn makes ideas for imagi-nations abundantly blossom in my head.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  6. What an odyssey! St. Petersburg looks lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Conrad Kinch,

      The centre of St Petersburg has been kept as close to its original state as is possible, even though much of it was seriously damaged during the Great Patriotic War.

      One thing that they have done is to rule that no buildings can be built that are taller than the spire of the Peter and Paul Cathedral. It has kept the skyline as it was rather than allowing it to be dominated by skyscrapers.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete