A Travellerspoint blog

Return to Copenhagen, Denmark

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

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The Royal Princess eased her way into her berth before the 06:30 sunrise and before long almost 2500 passengers were disembarked and the crew prepared to receive an equal number of new passengers. There is also a significant crew swap at this port.

The Horizon Court was quite busy when we went there for breakfast. We returned to the cabin and waited to get a measure of the weather, there had been rain squalls all morning. At about 09:30 we decided to risk a drenching and boarded the first Shuttle Bus into down-town Copenhagen.
We found our way to the Tivoli Gardens but they didn't open till 11:00 so we walked on to visit the central railway station. A most impressive structure with vaulted domed roof and stained glass windows. Back to the Tivoli where we spent DK 100 (US$ 20) each for admission. It is not an extensive park in area but they have plenty crammed into that space.

There is a great variety for rides from the high excitement roller coaster and other thrill rides there are the more sedate carousel and miniature train rides. Rides are outnumbered by restaurants and other food outlets. There are performance stages and a Concert Hall as well as delightful gardens to wander through. The whole atmosphere was that of a relaxing family fun venue with something for everyone.

The rain held off and there were long periods of bright sun when we needed to shed our jackets. Spent the last of our Danish cash on some fast food before heading out to meet up with the Shuttle Bus for the trip back to the ship. On the way back to the bus we found an impressive display of Italian produce in one of the squares. The range of cheeses and processed meats was mind boggling.

The trip back to the ship was uneventful but there were some near-misses expertly avoided by our very competent driver. Can't get over the number of bicycles there are on the road and when you add the Metro Construction Project you have a recipe for chaos.

Back aboard and we meet our new Stateroom steward, nice chap named Jerico. Later when we went down to the dining room there was a new Assistant Waiter, her name is Katerina, she's from Serbia. We're overrun by Serbians, according to one of them there are about 120 Serbians in a total crew population of about 1400- almost 10% !!

After dinner went to the Theatre for the Welcome Show. Standing room only !! We'd missed the first show eleven days ago, didn't miss out on much. There was a lengthy introduction by the Cruise Director, great information for first-time cruisers but nothing new for us old hands ;-) The last 20 minutes were adequately filled by that funny man Al Katz, managed to have a go at people from Mississippi again.

Tomorrow we visit Kristiansand where we have a Shore Excursion booked.

There's an image of our visit to the Tivoli Garden at http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-09-10
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 12:56 Archived in Denmark Comments (1)

At Sea - En-route to Copenhagen

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

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Awoke this morning to find that the ship does actually move about !! For days the weather has been so calm one needed to constantly remind themselves that were in fact afloat. A slight rocking of the ship from side to side was the only effect of a very strong wind buffeting the ship.

I limited my walk as I was almost blown off my feet on the exposed areas of Deck 18. The deck-hands who mop the deck each morning had to restrain their mop-buckets to prevent them from 'running away'. Storm clouds dominated the skyline and there was no spectacular sunrise. A quick breakfast and back to the cabin where Jenny convinced me that there was no reason to 'get up' just yet. She's breakfasting on some fruit and yogurt she's stored away in the fridge.

We're off to the 'Culinary Demonstration' in the Princess Theatre, one of the most entertaining versions we've seen as the Chef tried to be all serious and the Maitre d'Hotel clowned through the whole thing. The stage setting was very impressive as was all the stainless steel in the cavernous Galley. Everything looked spotless and sterile. The Chef had explained that they were subject to Food Safety inspections at any of their Ports of Call so they maintained a standard that exceeds the most stringent.

Decided to buy the print from our Formal Night portrait photo and then visited the 'Outlet Sale' in the dinning room. There were lots of bargains but the queue lined up to the check-out was so long we were reluctant to even consider buying anything.

Up to the Horizon Court for a quick lunch and then we took our Kindles to the Theatre to await the screening of the movie "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" staring Ben Stiller. I found it rather confusing, but I guess that was partly the aim of the movie. Reality and his Imagination crossed over many times.

Paid a visit to the Captain's Circle Hostess to establish what arrangements were in place for the restocking of the Mini-Bar. It appears we will be totally replenished !!

From tomorrow morning we will have a new stateroom steward as Malcolm is being re-deployed to work in the Lotus Spa. We've also been issued with Transit Tickets to facilitate our return to the ship in Copenhagen. It appears that the majority of passengers are leaving the ship tomorrow so there will be lots of new faces.

Great dinner with fabulous service as always, one of the Head Waiters has taken a shine to our table, he drops in for a chat every night. At about 20:00 we passed under the Great Belt Bridge where the ship had a clearance of only 4 metres. It was a bit too dark to really see the proximity.
Copenhagen tomorrow, depending on the weather we'll catch a shuttle bus into the city and visit the Tivoli but if it is raining we'll stay aboard.

There's an image of our Formal Night Portrait from last Sunday at http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-09-09

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 12:15 Archived in Denmark Comments (1)

Nynäshamn, Sweden

Monday, 8 September 2014

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The good weather gods deserted us this morning as we approached Nynäshamn. Some miles short of our anchorage area we were engulfed in dense fog. Because of the ship's size she had to anchor out in the bay and use her tenders to ferry people ashore. Due to the dense fog and with "your safety is our paramount priority", all schedules were delayed for just on two hours.

We were kept constantly informed on the progress and were eventually invited to rendezvous in the Theatre for our party to be assembled. Transfer to the tender and the passage to the shore-side pier was accomplished with little or no fuss. Once ashore we were collected unto a coach and were taken on a sightseeing tour of the small town and surrounding countryside. The town at one time was the headquarters and main manufacturing plant of the Erickson company. It has recently relocated to Stockholm, about an hour by bus, train or car to the North.

Our guide was dressed in traditional Viking garb and spoke flawless English. He kept up a constant flow of information. The most surprising statement concerns a Swede's "Right of Access" which allows many recreational activities on all land whether private or publicly owned. The only 'activity' that is excluded is hunting, for that you need a permit.

Part of our tour was along the path of an old Viking Road. It was open to two-way traffic but scarcely wide enough for our coach. The only time this was tested is when we were off inspecting a 1000 year-old 'rune', a form of tombstone carved in granite with a story of who was commemorated by whom and for what.

Towards the end of our tour we stopped to visit the Medieval Church of Ösmo on the outskirts of Nynäshamn, Sweden which dates back to the 12 Century, originally a Catholic church it is now Lutheran. The interior of the church is highly decorated and although white-washed when the Lutherans took over, the original decorations have been painstakingly uncovered.

Eventually the coach brought us back to the pier where we were checked aboard a tender and ferried back to our ship. We had decided to forgo the doubtful pleasure of shopping in the local shops.

Despite the inclement weather and the delayed schedule, the crew's ability to handle the 3500 passengers was most professional and impressive. There will no doubt be complaints but I haven't heard any yet. A comment from a first time cruiser on board the tender was that she hadn't found it 'relaxing', not surprising on the 'port intensive' itinerary.

By the way, I have to correct a statement made in Saturday's blog. The structure I referred to as 'flood defences' were in fact a security barrier to prevent any form of access to the Naval Base.

As I write this I notice a considerable amount of rain on the lens of the bridge 'web cam'. Seems the weather has turned completely.

Another enjoyable dinner after which we hunted down last night's photos, one of them is more than reasonable, we might have to buy it. With nothing better to do we went to the Theatre and were well entertained by Al Katz who kept up a 45 minute wisecracking barrage of one-lines and managed to have a jab at people who arrived late, people from Mississippi and also from Topeka Kansas. Certainly kept us laughing.

Sea day tomorrow but it looks like there are at least a dozen things to fill in the day. May not get them all done.

There's an image of the Medieval Church of Ösmo at http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-09-08

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 12:40 Archived in Sweden Comments (2)

Helsinki, Finland

Sunday, 7 September 2014

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Relaxed start to the day with both our ship and the sunrise arriving at about the same time. By 07:00 we were secured to our berth and the sun was visible above the horizon. A simple breakfast in the Horizon Court and prepare for our Tour Group rendezvous in the Theatre at 09:15.

The coach and guide transported us through the various neighbourhoods with stops along the way. First stop was at the Senate Square with the Lutheran Cathedral of St Nicholas occupying one side, with the Government Palace to the right and the University to the left. The City Hall, the Bank of Finland and the Presidential Palace are also there.

We visited the Sibelius Monument a unique sculpture set in a parkland and dedicated to the composer Jean Sibelius who wrote a number of symphonies celebrating the unique Finish culture and landscape.

Finally the Temppeliaukio Church also known as the Church in the Rock. The church was blasted out of a granite outcrop and most of the walls were left as they were. The blasted rocks were then used to bring the walls to a uniform height. The whole 2000 sear church was then topped with a copper-lined dome.

We found Helsinki to be a bright, clean and very green city. There is a strong emphasis on boating and we saw many coves and inlets virtually crammed full of small boats and yachts. Because of the severity of their winter all these boats have to be lifted from the water and placed into storage.

Our guide also made mention of the significance of the sauna to the social fabric of Finland. It is considered the universal first aid treatment for many ailments. Even business deals are cemented with a visit to the sauna.

We were back at the ship's side by 12:45 where we made our way to the cabin before heading off to lunch in the Horizon Court. Back to the cabin to compose this text and prepare for our second Formal Night and the Captain's Circle Cocktail Party.

A lovely dinner and the Captain's Party was enjoyable and brief. Decided to attend the show in the Theatre and very pleased we did. Chris Watkins has an amazing repertoire and had us all enchanted with his violin. It was also the first time we'd heard the orchestra and seen the stage lighting in action. Certainly a step or two up from the older ships we've sailed.

We add another hour to our night to bring us back to where we started in Copenhagen.

Tomorrow we arrive at Nynäshamn, Sweden where the ship will anchor.

Selecting an image for today was no easy task, I've chosen this interior of the Temppeliaukio Church at http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-09-07

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 12:13 Archived in Finland Comments (1)

St Petersburg, Russia - Day 2

Saturday, 6 September 2014

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I was up in time to watch the Queen Victory slip into an adjacent berth while the sun rose despite having much less sleep than I'm used to. After breakfast we spent some time finishing off a number of chores we were too tired to complete last night.

We had nothing planned until our booked Shore Excursion at 13:50. This outing featured a cruise on a river boat on the river and canals of the city. As most of the significant buildings were designed to look out over water this cruise provided a unique perspective. The weather was still excellent but the sun was behind many of the buildings and prevented decent images.

We were back aboard about 15 minutes before the scheduled "All Aboard" time of 17:30. We freshened up a little and had dinner where we said farewell to our waiter of the past week. He's returning to his family after a solid nine months on the job.

After dinner we rugged up and went up to Deck 17 to watch the ship pass through the gap in the 'flood defence' structure which protects the city from high storm tides. Our ship was the largest to have passed through these gates.

Another adjustment to our clocks as we claw back some of the time lost since leaving Copenhagen. It gives us an extra hour of sleep.

We are due to arrive in Helsinki at 07:00 tomorrow.

There's an image of this morning's sunrise at http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-09-06

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 10:16 Archived in Russia Comments (1)

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