Cruise M1516 German Waterways on the Braemar

(Please scroll down to see my photographs and read my report)

Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
02/06/2015 Dover
- Back on board at noon
05/06/2015 Flensburg
Rum Distillery & Maritime Museum
06/06/2015 Travemunde
Flavours of
Sunny morning in the Queen of the Hanse
07/06/2015 Kiel Canal
- Sunny Scenery
08/06/2015 Hamburg
City Hall, St. Michaels, Prom & Parks
10/06/2015 Bremen
Walking Tour
Alleys, Cathedral & Parks
12/06/2015 Dover
- Home by 1 pm!

Turnaround Day in Dover: Tuesday the 2nd of June 2015

Doing a back-to-back cruise meant that I was already settled in to the lovely Braemar. The safety drill took place inside the ship only as it was still blowing a gale outside. We then attended the Entertainers cocktail party in the card room, now down on deck three. The old card room and internet room have been converted into the posh Venus Café. During the course of the cruise I sampled one of their hot chocolates and two of their luxury chocolate milkshakes! (The new Ł20 Grill had no takers all cruise when I was around!) The ship was rocking as we left Dover Harbour but it soon calmed down and so we were able to dance before, between and after the "Taste of things to come" preview show. We were marched on and off the stage by Simon for our introductions. There was only a handful of people in the Coral Club so I went to bed soon after midnight.

First sea day across the North Sea: Wednesday the 3rd of June 2015

On the next sea day I led my first line dance class of 25 people teaching California Frieze, Texas Waltz & Electric Slide as usual. Hollie the professional dancer and one of her colleagues watched the proceedings so that they can do it in the future. I then listened to Richard's talk on Flensburg. Unfortunately this was interrupted at 10:30 by a medical emergency and the Neptune Lounge had to be cleared. At 11:15 we attended the first Ocean's cocktail party for gold members only. At 11:45 we slipped out for the Singles party in the Coral Club where I chatted to Leslie the yachtsman who I had met previously on the Saga Pearl II. I lunched at 12:30 before sleeping for two hours. At 4 o'clock Maureen taught the Social Foxtrot to 18 people. Dennis the costumier kindly opened up the pockets on my new 38 inch formal trousers, the old 36 inch pair from 1987 having finally been outgrown!

Joan, Dennis, Dave, Maureen, Jeff, Cristina & Maureen

Joan, Dennis, Dave, Maureen, Jeff, Cristina & Maureen

The first Captain's cocktail party started at 5:30 pm when I danced with Joan and Mary. I gave Mary a list of the Quest for Adventure (Q4A) cruises (Panama, West Africa and Eastern Med) that we had been on together. She said that we had also travelled and danced together when I had been a port lecturer on the Braemar going around Britain in 2012. At the end I chatted to Richard and his wife at the back. I dined at 6:30 pm with the rest of the team, together with Dennis and Daniel the young classical pianist. The second Captain's cocktail party started at 7:45 pm. I danced with Maureen, who had slept through the first party, and a lady who I had partnered that afternoon at the dance class. During the changeover I updated this blog before watching the "Let's Swing" production show for the second time in less than a week! We danced between the shows, both performances of which I watched. Cristina came back for the final dance session again.

Second sea day around Jutland: Thursday the 4th of June 2015

On the second sea day I led another line dance class teaching Texas Waltz, the Slosh & Cowboy Charleston, but having lost an hour my numbers were down to 22. I then managed to connect to the Three mobile phone network off of North Denmark. I was thus able to use their "Feel at Home" service of only 1 penny per megabyte of data to pick up my emails. One from the Seabreeze Agency contained the new Saga dance host evaluation scheme. I then listened to Richard's port talk on Bremen. At 11:15 we had the second Ocean's cocktail party, this time for the silver members. I lunched at 12:30 before attending Maureen's cha cha class at 2 o'clock. I then had my delayed siesta. As there was an Asian buffet on in the Palms Café, I dined at 6:15 pm in the Thistle restaurant with a couple from Leeds. I began with the prawn bisque followed by the house salad with thousand island dressing. For my main course I had the smoked haddock and shrimp pie followed by pear belle Helene. This meant that I missed the 7 o'clock first dance set for the second setting guests, but most of our dancers were of course eating on the first sitting like me. I listened to Anthony Stuart Lloyd's first show given to the second sitting guests. We danced before and after his second show for the first sitting guests. The late night crew cabaret featured the talented Wilmar Casa doing both his ventriloquist and sand picture acts!

Flensburg, Germany: Friday the 5th of June 2015

I escorted the Heritage tour in Flensburg on the German/Danish border. We began at one of the rum distilleries where Ann (Arbor?) from Michigan gave us an interesting presentation. The Danish West Indies were of course flogged off to the Americans in the first world war and are now the US Virgin Islands. The raw rum was a bit rough but the ones with cream and with berries were delightful. Unfortunately the miniature bottle of rum opened up in my pocket soaking one of my mobile phones. (When I eventually got the now empty bottle home, it fell on the floor and shattered!) We walked along the main pedestrianised street to the maritime museum and it's associated shipyard and haven. The latter parts were more interesting than the museum itself. Back at the ship, I lunched on gammon and chips with Daniel and Stan before lying down for half an hour. I then caught the complimentary port authority shuttle bus into town visiting nearly all of the 34 sights on the local map. I walked back the one mile to the ship around the harbour promenade in the glorious sunshine. I was wallowing in the jacuzzi when Simon announced that the sailaway was being brought forward by fifteen minutes. So I fled back to our cabin and quickly changed into my white shorts. I enticed some ladies up to dance to the pop band and led off the Slosh & Cowboy Charleston. I dined on cold beef wellington with lovely cajun potato skins before dancing with Joan and Marjorie the married lady at the 7 pm dance set. During Stan's first show I backupped my pictures and updated this blog. We danced between and after Stan's showtime, but after Jess Belleza's late night Matt Monro cabaret all the dancers had gone to bed!

Travemunde, Germany: Saturday the 6th of June 2015

St. Mary's Bells, Lübeck

St. Mary's Bells, Lübeck

In Travemunde, I escorted the Taste of Lübeck tour which began at the famous Holste(i)n Tor Gatehouse. We visited the Holy Ghost Hospital, St. Mary's Church with the famous fallen bells, the Town Hall and a period Brewhouse. Here we had a glass of beer brewed on the premises with a large, soft pretzel, more like a bagel really. They gave us all a rather nice lager glass as a souvenir to take home. (I managed to get this one home in one piece!) On the way back to the ship we stopped off at one of Karl's famous strawberry emporia for strawberry cake. I sampled all the other produce on offer too. Back at the ship I had a quick lunch and then slept for over an hour. I then walked around Travemunde in the hot sun taking pictures. At 5:30 pm I gave my "Story of the Kiel Canal" illustrated talk wearing my red, white and blue outfit ready for British night. We danced before, between and after the two performances of the "Cool Britannia" production show and again after the Great British singalong.

Kiel Canal, Germany: Sunday the 7th of June 2015

Kiel Canal transit

Kiel Canal transit

After breakfast, I watched the transit of the Holtenau lock from the lovely Observatory lounge, just feet above the Captain on the bridge wing. At 10 am I attended Geoff's talk on the Rivers of Europe, at 11 am I danced at the deck party and at noon I helped out at Maureen's Mambo/Salsa class. I lunched at 12:45 and then slept until 2:45 ready for my well received second talk on "Hitler & Putin: A Tale of Four Cities" at 3:15 pm. Unfortunately I missed Anthony Stuart Lloyd's Prom on the Poop Deck. Amongst others, a lady from German Sudetenland came up to congratulate me on my talk! I then went swimming and jacuzzing in the sunshine, although the wind was cold. At 5:15 I led my third line dance class with 21 people notwithstanding the sunshine and the distraction of the Brunsbuttel lock passage outside. I taught The Slosh, Party Samba & Just Because. As usual we danced both before, between and after the two performances by Daniel Johnson the classical pianist. At 10:30 pm they showed a movie in the Neptune Lounge, so I slipped ashore in Hamburg and spent one euro on the wi-fi in the terminal. Quite a day with seven sessions completed!

Hamburg, Germany: Monday the 8th of June 2015

In Hamburg I escorted the city tour which had half hour stops at the City Hall and at St. Michael's Church. After lunch I slept for over an hour, before walking back into the city. I walked along the waterfront to St. Paul's landing bridges then followed the old ramparts which are now lovely parks. I then came back across the city via the Colonnades (Colonnaden) and the Maidens' path (Jungfernstieg). With a German buffet on in the Palms Café, I ate in the Thistle restaurant for a second time with Pam the former headmistress from Oxford, Fiona the Scot from Ormesby St. Margaret in Norfolk and three others. I began with cream of watercress soup, continued with salade Nicoise, then pigged out on spaghetti with ham, tomato and Parmesan cheese. I finished my meal with Bavarian strawberry cream! With a German sea shanty choir on board, there was no dancing before or between their performances as they had their equipment on the dance floor. We danced with Maureen and Cristina after the show but the lounge was nearly empty of other passengers.

Third sea day cruising the Elbe and Weser rivers: Tuesday the 9th of June 2015



At 9:15 am I led my fourth line dance class, teaching Party Samba, Ziggy & Lindi Shuffle to 23 people. At 10 am I listened to Geoff's interesting talk on the Vikings. I then worked on this blog. I lunched at 11:45 on a steak pie and chips for the first time this cruise al fresco on the top deck. This was also the only time that I had ice cream for dessert. I then slept for over an hour. At 3 pm I attended Maureen & Jeff's rumba class, immediately followed by the tea dance at 3:45 pm. I then watched the sail-in along the Weser river from the Observatory bar. As usual we danced before, between and after the two shows of comedian Stan Johns and singer Anthony Stuart Lloyd. During the second of their shows I was able to slip ashore and discovered an enormous shopping mall called Waterside. This had a McDonalds so I was able to have my FaceBook fix!

Bremen, Germany: Wednesday the 10th of June 2015

I caught the 9 am shuttle bus the 7 kilometres (5 miles) into Bremen. I photographed most of the important sights and walked the rampart parks as I had done in Hamburg. To misquote the poem, the river Weser deep and wide washes its walls on the southern side! I caught the 12:15 pm shuttle bus back to the ship for lunch. At 1:30 pm I escorted the Bremen walking tour. I had dancers Cristina & Maureen in tow, together with 13 other pax and a German guide also called Cristina. We walked around the delightful old town alleys, the cathedral and the famous Art Deco arcade. Here we had a beer whilst listening to the 4 pm (not 3 pm) glockenspiel performance. I got back to the ship for 5 pm and was formally dressed by 5:15 pm ready for the Captain's two farewell cocktail parties. Between them I grabbed some dinner then headed back to McD's in the shopping mall for one last wi-fi fix! Wilmar again stole the crew show with his sand pictures. After the crew show we had a mass photographic session in the foyer with dancers Maureen, Cristina, Joan & Dennis and my colleagues David, Jeff & Maureen.

Fourth sea day cruising the North Sea: Thursday the 9th of June 2015

At 9:15 am I taught my fifth and final line dance class. I recapped Texas Waltz, Cowboy Charleston & Lindi Shuffle to 22 pax at their request. I worked on this blog during the morning before lunching on a chicken and mushroom pie with chips at 11:45 am on the top deck. I then slept for over an hour before attending Maureen's revision class at 2 pm. I had another lie down for an hour after it too! At 4 pm I went swimming and jacuzzi-ing for an hour before packing. We danced before, between and after the triple variety show with two walk-ons for all of us entertainers! At the end we said our thanks to Jess and the orchestra and our goodbyes to the dancing ladies.

Disembarkation Day in Dover: Friday the 10th of June 2015

I awoke at 6 am, breakfasted at 6:30 am and was off the ship by 7:30 am! I caught a taxi to the station and the next train to London. However when I got to Ashford the conductor announced that since the train was arriving in London before 10 am no off-peak tickets were valid. So I had to get off and wait half an hour for the next train. Alighting at Waterloo East I crossed the bridge to Waterloo proper and caught the next Weymouth train. I was home before 1 pm after another super cruise!

The ACD wrote: "Thanks for all of your input Martin, I promise it was very much appreciated by our management and it was mentioned in Ricky’s report." One lady later wrote: "Thank you for your interesting writeup about the cruises, it makes good reading, thanks again for your good company over the last two weeks" Another said: "Enjoyed your talks". A third wrote: "It was a brief but memorable encounter of the dancing kind with you !! Glad I joined this cruise, had lots of quality dancing. The Line Dancing was special, it was an icing on the cake !" A fourth lady said: "I didn't realise I was being held in the arms of such a brilliant academic when I enjoyed all those dances with you!" One gent wrote: "Thank you so much for sharing this (blog)"

Score card:

9 Line dances taught:
  (California Frieze, Texas Waltz, Electric Slide, Slosh,
  Cowboy Charleston, Party Samba, Just Because, Ziggy, Lindi Shuffle)
7 Sessions attended in one day:
  (Deck party, Latin dance class, Guest lecture,
  Line dance class, Three evening dance sets!)
6 Cocktail parties attended 
5 Line dance classes taught
4 Tours escorted
3 New ports visited (Flensburg, Travemunde & Bremen)
2 New waterways cruised (Flensburg Fjord & the River Weser from Bremerhaven to Bremen) 
2 Deck parties danced
2 Guest lectures given (The story of the Kiel Canal and 
                         Hitler & Putin: A Tale of Four Cities)
1 Cruise enjoyed!

Good points were:

  1. Slopchest
  2. Open foredeck
  3. Travel expenses
  4. New Venus café
  5. Four deck atrium
  6. Expansive top deck
  7. Planning spreadsheet
  8. In cabin tea & coffee
  9. Daily drinks allowance
  10. All round promenade deck
  11. Triple aspect Palms Café
  12. Half hour long dance sets
  13. Teaching 5 line dance classes
  14. Two warm pools and two hot jacuzzis
  15. Dining in the Thistle resturant twice
  16. New shorter, dance sets (up to four half an hour sets each evening)
  17. Giving 2 lectures (The story of the Kiel Canal and Hitler & Putin)

For the record ...