Saga Rose 2005

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The Great Cascade at The Peterhof Palace, St Petersburg
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Sunday 11th September-Dover, UK
Monday-transit Kiel Canal
Tuesday-at sea
Wednesday-Stockholm, Sweden
Thursday-Helsinki, Finland
Friday-St Petersburg, Russia
Saturday-St Petersburg, Russia
Sunday-Tallinn, Estonia
Monday-at sea
Tuesday-Warnemunde, Germany
for tours to Berlin
Wednesday-Copenhagen, Denmark
Thursday-Oslo, Norway
Friday-at sea
Saturday 24th September-Dover, UK
View Map & more Photos

The Baltic Capitals Cruise has always been popular and has long been the mainstay of the summer itinerary for cruise lines operating from the UK and I had often wondered what the attraction was. Although not basking in mediterranean temperatures, however, summer here can be extremely pleasant and this allows you to make more of the scenic beauty of the cities you visit.

This trip was for just Dad, John & me and it was our first time with Saga, most often associated with the travelling elderly. To an extent, this reputation is justified, as the minimum age is 55 (unless you are a guest) but no kids are allowed and most of the rest of the passengers would best be described as "spritely sixties". The bonus for us was the return to the lovely Sagafjord, now sailing as Saga Rose. Read more about her history as Sagafjord at the Sagafjord Gallery >>

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Little Mermaid
City Hall
The Cathedral
The Reichstag
Palace Guard
The Cathedral

Given that we were unable to book for June (which must be preferred in this part of the world) we travelled towards the end of the Baltic Season and the weather was a bit mixed. Stockholm was disappointingly grey and wet (the picture above is actually from a visit John & I made in 2001). In Helsinki, after John & I returned to the ship from a pleasant morning walk to collect Dad, it bucketed-down with rain all afternoon, so we spent the time travelling round the city on the trams - quite fun, even in the rain! It was also chilly at times, so next time book earlier!

At Warnemunde, John & I took the option of the full-day trip to Berlin including a lovely lunch cruising the canals (which I didn't know Berlin had!) and a reception in the new Dome of the refurbished Reichstag, the German Parliament. Designed by Norman Foster, it has attracted some differing opinions but it has certainly given a new life to what is the heart of the German Republic.

The climax of the trip was St Petersburg, where we were blessed with 2 days of glorious sunshine. Nothing short of spectacular, you could easily spend a week there and still have plenty to do.

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Church on Spilled Blood The Hermitage
The Winter Palace
The Hermitage The Alexander Column Palace Square West Chapel
Peterhof Palace

The canals in St Petersburg are more extensive than in Berlin and in a fantastic scenic introduction to the city, we visited the Church on Spilled Blood, a masterpiece in the traditional Russian style built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. In the afternoon, we took the hydrofoil to the Peterhof with its amazing fountains in the park. More Photos Here >>

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The Great Cascade
Peterhof Palace
Peter & Paul Fortress Neva River & Vasilevskiy Island Rostral Column & Naval Museum The Cruiser Aurora

The city itself is dominated by the Neva River and most of the sights are close to it. Most impressive of all, is The Winter Palace, home of the Hermitage Museum. The scale of this building is enormous; it's interiors are truly stunning and have all been restored beautifully. Even if you don't like museums, you must see inside The Winter Palace! More Photos Here >>

This was certainly not what you could describe as a quiet relaxing holiday. Almost every day was brim-full of things to do and places not to be missed. And I suspect that this is one of those cruises that you can come back and do over and over again, and still find new things to excite and interest you. At last, now I know why The Baltic Capitals has always been such a popular cruise!

Finally, a few pictures of Saga Rose herself:

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From the Fortress, Oslo North Cape Bar Saga Dining Room Britannia Lounge

It had been 11 years since we were on Sagafjord and I thought we had seen the last of her until she was unexpectedly saved from ignominy by Saga in 1997. Mind you, at 40 years old she's getting on a bit now and it is becoming more difficult for her to compete with the facilities of the newer ships. Our A-grade balcony cabin, for instance, was comfortable but not blessed with much storage space and you couldn't watch the TV while in bed! Where she scores is in her dignity and style, together with excellent food & service and single-sitting dining - something of a rarity these days. Although built as a liner, today she is more like a large ocean-going yacht and she's still my favourite!

See Detailed Mileage Log for this cruise >>

Cruise Mileage: 2,948 nautical miles
Total Mileage to date: 102,886 n miles

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