Cruise M1713 on the Braemar to Denmark

(Please scroll down to see my photographs and report)

Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
31/05/2017 Southampton
- On board by 1:45
02/06/2017 Esbjerg
Ribe - Denmark's
Oldest Town
Pretty medieval port &
Viking outdoor museum
03/06/2017 Skċgen
- Sunny then drizzle!
04/06/2017 Ċalborg
Walking Tour Overcast then sunny
05/06/2017 Ċarhus
City Tour Excellent outdoor
06/06/2017 Fredericia
Royal Jelling -
Danish Birthplace
07/06/2017 Copenhagen
City &
Harbour Tour
Cloudy & Sunny
08/06/2017 Kiel Canal
- Overcast
10/06/2017 Southampton
- Home by 9:30!

Embarkation Day in Southampton
Woden's Day the 31st of May, 2017

I left home by taxi at 10:45 to catch the 11 o'clock train to SoTon. As the train left BoMo, I realised that I had left my mobile phone in the taxi. Luckily I had my old Acer mobile phone with me for backup. When I got to SoTon, I sent a text message to the Streamline taxi company asking them to look after my phone until I got back. At the QEII terminal I enjoyed my packed lunch, before meeting the dance couple Carrissa & Ken Ko (not Kenco)! I boarded the Braemar at 1:45 and touched base with Conie in the Ents Office. I then had a lie down for an hour, before my colleague George arrived from Blackpool. After the safety drill, we had the entertainers' cocktail party, where Simon the Cruise Director said that if I was taking a line dance class at 9 a.m. the next morning, then I was excused the Coral Club and could go to bed early! Nevertheless ballroom dancing in the Neptune Lounge went on until 11:45 most evenings, so I never got an early night! I met up with several familiar faces, including Ben Carpenter the singer who had come to my dance classes on the Saga Sapphire last August! I also said hello to Marina, Wilmar, Hollie, Misha and Jamie the singer who I had last been with on P&O's Oriana up the Amazon!

At 5 o'clock I went swimming in the 35 degree salt water pool on the top deck in the bright sunshine, but the jacuzzis were closed off. At 5:30 I changed for dinner and at 6 o'clock I went to the Observatory for my first soda and twiglets, as we traversed the Solent in the sun. At 6:30 I dined on chicken and chips with the dance team at my favourite window seat in the lovely triple aspect Palms Café! Surprisingly I did every single dance in the first set of the Orchestra led by Erwin on drums and the lovely Malou. I danced with George's friend Pauline, Anne the Ramblers Leader, Pam and her disabled daughter Catherine, Molly from Romsey and Wendy from my last Saga Gulf of Bothnia cruise in 2015. We then had a walk-on to be introduced by Simon. We were told not to attend the first sitting show, so I started on this blog in my cabin. At 9:30 we had the second dance set, where I danced the Cha cha with the lovely Julie Bilton and another dance with her mother Wendy. I had first cruised with Julie and Michael Bilton in 2008 to the Adriatic on the Black Watch, when they had been the dance couple. I had seen them last in 2015 on the Amsterdam mini-cruise on the good ship Braemar. We then watched the second sitting "Let's Swing" production show. After the show there were no single ladies left in the Neptune Lounge, so I went to bed at 11:30.

First Sea Day
Thor's Day the 1st of June, 2017

I awoke at 6:30 but it was now 7:30 Danish time. As I entered the Palms Café, Rey the Chef said "Cheese Omelette!", which I enjoyed with George at our regular window table. At 9 o'clock I taught the Electric Slide, Texas Waltz & California Frieze to ten people. Unfortunately during the second dance two pax collided and one lady fell over. I had played the slowest waltz track that I have and all seemed to have got it, but when I put on the correct speed the collision occured. Julie rushed to get some ice to put on the lady's wrist. She told me to continue with the class, so I carried on. The nurse came to see the lady, but she said she was now fine.

I stayed on in the Neptune Lounge for Maja's port talks on Ċalborg and Ċarhus, but had to slip out after 45 minutes. At 11 o'clock I went to Sandy's Viking talk, but it was based on England not Denmark. I had to slip out for the 11:30 Solo Travellers Party in the Coral Club. Here I chatted with Wendy, a lady from Taunton and a chap from Broadstone. I then did two circuits of the promenade deck (half a mile) with a stop to chat with Michael Bilton who was celebrating his 80th birthday.



At 12:30 I lunched on Southern Fried chicken and chips, before sleeping for an hour and a half, so I missed Maja's talks on Fredericia & Copenhagen. I then had my second swim in the 35 degree pool in the brilliant sunshine, but the jacuzzis were still closed. When the classical concert finished at 4:15, I met up with Jackie, friend of Norwegian lecturer Jane, and her mother Monica. She said that Jane was currently back on the Saga Pearl II, going to the North Cape of Norway. She also said that she had heard about Alan Perks's tragic death and my consequent doubling up. At 4:15 Carrissa taught the Cha cha to two gents and nine ladies. I danced with Lillbet (?) from Copenhagen and some other ladies.

We then had a quick change into our formal outfits ready for the 5:30 Captain's Welcome cocktail party. Simon asked us to dance, so we did so with Pauline, Pam, Catherine, Anne and others. I dined on the stir fried beef with oyster sauce with chips and green beans. At 7:45 we had the second cocktail party, but with very few dancers. I did get one quickstep with the lovely Julie in her stunning 1920s flapper outfit! I worked on this blog in our cabin during Jamie's first show, before dancing between the shows. We sat with Pauline for Jamie's excellent second show with his great impressions of Sinatra, Monroe and Bublé! I danced with Pauline, Carrissa and one married lady after the show. We then went to the midnight buffet, where I had a small wrap and a small ham roll. The Coral Club was nearly empty, but I stayed until the band finished at 12:15 and then went to bed at 12:30.

Esbjerg, Denmark
Frigga's day the 2nd of June, 2017

I awoke at 7:30 and had a cheese omelette and streaky bacon with George and Wendy. At 9 o'clock I collected the masonic book and updated this blog. We were late docking and didn't get off until 10:45, when I escorted my first choice tour to Denmark's oldest town, Ribe. We had a one hour walking tour around this pretty little medieval port, culminating in the majestic cathedral. The latter surprisingly had free wi-fi, so I was at last able to update my Facebook status. We then had an hour at an interesting Viking outdoor museum.

Back at the ship at 14:40, I walked the half mile into the city, but was unable to find any free wi-fi. This had been my first visit to Esbjerg since 1977! Back at the ship again, I had two beef open sandwiches and one cheese and pickle roll in lieu of lunch. At 4 o'clock we had our first sailaway party in the hot sun, where I led off the Electric Slide. At 5 o'clock I hosted the masonic gathering in the Morning Light pub with five gents. Having got them started, not being a freemason myself, I left them to it. I then went for my third swim in the warm water pool on the top deck in the sunshine. At 6 p.m. I went back to pick up the masonic log book.

I dined on the Burgundy beef with roast potatoes. We then danced for one whole hour from 7:30 to 8:30. I danced with both Wendys, Julie, Anne, Pauline, Pam & Catherine and various other ladies. I then adjourned to the cabin to update this blog, whilst the Elvis show was running for the first time that evening. We danced both before and after the second Elvis show, which we watched with Pauline. At 11:45 the dancing finished and I went to bed, as I had a line dance class first thing the next morning.

Skċgen (Skayn), Denmark
Saturn's day the 3rd of June, 2017

I awoke to my alarm at 8 o'clock and breakfasted on a cheese omelette and streaky bacon as usual with George. At 9:15 I led my second line dance class for eight people, including the lovely Julie. I taught Texas Waltz, Slosh & Cowboy Charleston as usual. At the end, Julie asked me for details of the Celine Dion track I had used for the fast Slosh. At 10 o'clock I listened to Sandy's second Viking talk on their culture, but when the bow thrusters started up, I slipped out to watch the sail-in to Skċgen (pronounced Skayn).

At 11:00 I slipped ashore to collect the local leaflets and to utilise their free wi-fi, so I was able to upload a selfie from Ribe the previous day to FaceBook. I had an email from my next door neighbour Nige, to say that the Streamline taxi company had given him my mobile phone for safekeeping. At 11:15 we attended the Oceans cocktail party, but with a large ice carving of an Irish harp on the floor, we didn't dance. I lunched at noon in the main dining room on pastrami and chips with a Danish lady, who now lives near Thame. I then slept for over an hour, before catching the port's complimentary shuttle bus into the pretty seaside resort. I whizzed around photographing all the main sites, but didn't go in any of the museums. I had been to the famous art gallery on a previous tour from the port of Ċalborg, where we will be tomorrow, but this was my first visit to the port itself. It gradually clouded over and then began to drizzle. Back at the terminal building, I updated FaceBook with the day's selfie.

Back at the ship, it was too cold and overcast to go swimming, so I updated this blog instead. At 6 o'clock I went up to the Observatory for my second soda with peanuts and double twiglets! At 6:30 I dined on escalope of pork with chips. We danced from 7:30 until 8:30 with the usual suspects. I ended with a jive with the lovely Julie and a Catherine waltz with her mother! During the first show time I went out on to the promenade deck to access the cruise terminal's excellent wi-fi, before updating this blog in the cabin.

Ċalborg (Orlborg), Denmark
Sun's day the 4th of June, 2017

Arriving in Ċalborg, I escorted my first choice walking tour. Whilst we were in the medieval monastery it poured down, but we didn't get wet that morning. Back at the ship I had a small complimentary hot dog with all the trimmings from the quayside kiosk. I lunched on the roast lamb (it was Sunday!), before sleeping for an hour and a half. I then headed off to the eastern/downstream side of the city. I visited the impressive new concert hall for the first time and the converted power station (Nord Kraft) for a second time.

Back at the ship, this time I had a large hot dog with all the trimmings. I then went swimming for half an hour as the sun had come out. With an Asian Buffet on in the Palms Café, I dined on lamb shank with Jane & Joy in the main Thistle restaurant sat at table number one! We had a short first dance session so I was able to go upstairs to the Observatory for the scenic sailaway down the Limfjord from 8:00 until 9:30. We danced the middle session with the usual suspects, but I then gave the comedian's second show a miss to hear Eric's cabaret in the Coral Club sat with Marina & Sam. There was a short final session, so I was able to go to bed at 11:30, after an easy evening's dancing.

Ċarhus (Orhous), Denmark
Moon's day the 5th of June, 2017

The bow thrusters awoke me at 7:45 ready for my cheese omelette and streaky bacon. I then escorted my first choice city tour. We drove through the city centre to the yellow brick university in the northern suburbs. We then had an hour and a half at the outdoor museum (Den Gamle By - pronounced Boo in Dansk, but Bee in Norse/Norsk)! This is the finest open-air museum I have ever visited! The period buildings with period interiors were exquisite. The stream, lake and two mills were very photogenic! How they got the steam locomotive into a basement, I will never know! We headed for the royal palace but there was a Justin Beiber concert on for their bank holiday Monday, so many of the roads were closed. We came slowly back to the ship along the southern shore road. This had been my first ever visit to Ċarhus, and I was suitably impressed.

Back at the ship, I lunched on steak and kidney with chips, before sleeping for an hour and a half. I then walked back into the city centre. I went in the lovely Cathedral with its lovely chapter house, but everything else was closed. I used the loo in the station, before heading back to the ship. I then went up to the Observatory for a soda and twiglets. I dined with my colleagues, before dancing the three usual sets. We watched the second showing of the "Through Europe to Britain" production, which featured singing and dancing from France (Can can), Spain (Flamenco), Italy, Greece, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England. The latter being a cockney knee-up! With karaoke sessions in the Coral Club I went to bed at 11:45.

Fredericia, Denmark
Tyr's day the 6th of June, 2017

The bow thrusters awoke me just before my alarm at 7:30. After my usual cheese omelette and streaky bacon, I escorted my second choice tour to Royal Jelling for a second time. The two Viking burial mounds, the medieval church and the modern museum were as interesting as ever.

Back at the ship, I lunched on Tandoori chicken, which proved rather garlicky! I then slept for an hour and half. Awaking at 3 o'clock, it was too late to go ashore again, and I had already been here before with both Saga & FOCL. I then headed for the warm swimming pool in the intermittent sunshine. Unfortunately one of the pools was dry and both jacuzzis were still out of bounds. The stage men started setting up the sound equipment so I knew a surprise sailaway party was imminent. I got out of the pool and went down to warn George. Then Simon came over the tannoy with just a five minute warning. I quickly changed and headed up to the Marquee deck, but the music was delayed whilst the local band played, the veterans fired their minature cannons and the ship turned around. Whilst waiting, I enjoyed two complimentary sangrias. Eventually the smoke from the funnel was behind us and the party could begin. I danced with the usual suspects, but not the two Wendy's or the lovely Julie. I led off the Electric Slide as usual. At the end there was still sangria left over, so I indulged in a third glass - it was rather weak! I took this through to the Observatory to watch the scenic sailing under the Little Belt suspension bridge both ways.

Back in the cabin, I uploaded my photos and updated this blog. I dined on cod, chicken and a jacket potato, before dancing the three usual sets. Instead of the second showing of the variety show in the Neptune Lounge, I went to the production company's MoTown show in the Coral Club sat with Sam. When the dancing finished at 11:45, I went to bed.

Copenhagen, Denmark
Woden's day the 7th of June, 2017

The bow thrusters awoke me at 7 a.m., so I had an early breakfast, before escorting my fourth choice City & Harbour tour. We had stops at the Little Mermaid and the Amalienborg Palaces, before embarking on a longer than usual boat trip. As well as the usual route, we went further downstream, before disembarking right by the ship at the Toldboden quay. This is the premier cruise berth, closest to the city.

The little mermaid statue in Copenhagen photo taken by Jon Horrrocks

The little mermaid statue in Copenhagen photo taken by Jon Horrrocks

I lunched at 12:15 in the Thistle restaurant on a frankfurter, green beans and pasta (not chips!) followed by the sundae, with the lovely Jane & Joy. I then slept for an hour, before walking back into the city. I did the entire one mile length of the Strĝget (pronounced Struryet) pedestrianised street system, before visiting the main Tourist Information Office. Here I was able to ascertain what would be happening in ten days time, when I would be back in Copenhagen as the Destinations Lecturer on the Celebrity Eclipse. I then headed back for the ship along almost the entire length of the quayside.

At 6 o'clock I had another soda and twiglets in the Observatory, before dining on roast chicken and roast potatoes. A young lady Russian rambler, originally from Siberia and now from Glasgow, was sitting in my favourite seat, so I had to sit opposite her. At 7:15 I went back to the Observatory as we crossed the Oresund tunnel, to see Balmoral go past heading for Gothenburg. At 7:30 I watched the "Night at the Musicals" production show for second sitting guests. We then danced when the first sitters poured in. At 9 o'clock I withdrew to my cabin to update this blog and cool off. We resumed dancing at 9:45 through until 11:25 when thankfully the DJ called a halt after 100 minutes of non-stop dancing! One lady, who had waited until near the end of the mammoth session before arriving, was not happy, but I was at least able to give her the last waltz. I was in bed by 11:30 exhausted!

Kiel Canal
U.K. Election Day!
Thor's day the 8th of June, 2017

I awoke to my alarm at 8 o'clock, ready for my cheese omelette and streaky bacon. At 9:10 Ralph the technician still hadn't arrived in the Neptune Lounge, so I had to go to Reception to have him called. I had to teach the first two dances without a microphone or music, to a dozen people, in spite of the distraction of the Holtneau lock transit outside. When he finally arrived at 9:20, we did the Cowboy Charleston, Lindi Shuffle & Just Because, the latter two to both slow and fast tunes. At 10 o'clock I listened to Sandy's lecture on the Vikings in Scotland, Ireland & Wales. At 11:00 I went up to the Observatory and sat with Anne & Claire to watch the transit of the Kiel Canal.

Kiel Canal transit

Kiel Canal transit

At 12:30 I lunched on salmon broth followed by three frankfurters, peas and chips. I then had a deep sleep for an hour and a half, before updating this blog. At 4:15 Carrissa taught the Rumba to only four ladies, so we had one each. I then went up to the Observatory to see the transit through the Brunsbüttel locks. At 5:45 we had the first of the Captain's farewell cocktail parties. I danced with Anne, Catherine, Pam, Jane, Joy, Pauline and a married lady. Claire arrived with her mother late, so she missed out!

I dined on the duck with croquette potatoes, whilst Carrissa & Ken provided a bottle of Prosecco for us four! At the second cocktail party I danced with birthday girl Wendy and another married lady. I then adjourned to the cabin to update my blog. We danced both before and after the second crew show. At 11:45 we went to the grand gala buffet which was out in the atrium for the first time. I pigged out on smoked salmon, parma ham and cold roast beef followed by strawberries and chocolates. I went to bed at 12:15.

Second Sea Day
Frigga's day the 9th of June, 2017

I awoke at 6:45, but then dozed until 8 o'clock. After my cheese omelette and streaky bacon, I led my fourth line dance class for ten people. I taught the Lindi Shuffle, Ziggy & Texas Waltz. I then quickly changed out of my Doc. Martin dancer outfit and into my Martin P. Lee lecturer clothes. At 10:00 I went to Sandy's lecture on the North Atlantic Vikings. I now must write a lecture on the Story of the Vikings! At 11 o'clock I gave my well-received lecture on "Hamlet: Prince of Denmark". Afterwards one lady showed me a cutting from Time Out's Copenhagen Guide which gave the original story of Amled the Viking. Another lady told me that Bothwell's body is still on display in the Danish castle in which he was tortured, went mad and then died! I then did four circuits (one mile) of the promenade deck in the bright sunshine.

At 12:30 I lunched on ham, green beans and chips with Pauline, Wendy and the dance host team. I then slept for an hour and a half, before updating this blog, whilst listening to the general election coverage on the TV. At 4 pm Carrissa revised both the Cha cha & Rumba for six pax, of whom four hadn't attended any of the previous classes! At 5 o'clock I went swimming in the warm sun, but cool wind. At last the jacuzzis were open, so I had a fifteen minute wallow! Back in the cabin, I packed and then had my final soda and twiglets in the Observatory. At 6:30 I dined on roast pork and chips with Liam and the team. Carrissa and Ken bought a bottle of Rioja to share with us.

During the first hour's dance set, I managed to dance with a different lady for every single dance, bar the Party Samba, danced with Pam and Catherine as ever! One lady slipped me a £20 tip! During the short interval, I thanked Malou, Erwin and the orchestra. I then adjourned to the cabin to update my blog. We danced both before and after the second show, which was put on by members of the entertainments department. This culminated in "If I were not upon the sea" with no walk-down for us. Instead all our names came up on the big screen. The dancing finished at 11:45 and after saying our goodbyes, I was in bed by 12:15.

Disembarkation Day, Southampton
Saturn's day the 10th of June, 2017

I awoke at 7 a.m. to the bow thrusters, but it was now only 6 o'clock, so I dozed for half an hour. I had the full English breakfast as Rey was busy with other pax. I then updated this blog. I was off the ship at 8:25 and home by 9:30 after another lovely cruise!

One lady later wrote: "Thank you so much for making my cruise so memorable. The whole experience of the cruise was fantastic but the dancing will stay forever. You must realise you were the best dancer and it was a privilege to do so many dances with you. You had the great ability of leading which makes the whole experience so much easier."

Score card:

8 Line dances taught
5 Shore excursions escorted
5 Cocktail parties attended
4 Line dance classes organised
3 New ports visited (Esbjerg, Skċgen & Ċarhus)
1 Lecture given (Hamlet: Prince of Denmark)
1 New town visited (Ribe)

Good points were:

  1. Twiglets!
  2. Slop chest
  3. One lecture
  4. No heartburn
  5. Open foredeck
  6. Jives with Julie
  7. Midnight buffet
  8. Travel expenses
  9. Two warm pools
  10. Four deck atrium
  11. Cheese omelettes
  12. Cha chas with Pam
  13. Expansive top deck
  14. Planning spreadsheet
  15. In cabin tea & coffee
  16. Allowed to retire early
  17. Four line dance classes
  18. Triple aspect Palms Café
  19. All round promenade deck
  20. Teaching eight line dances
  21. Efficient stewardess (Joyce)

For the record ...

Free Wi-Fi:

Ribe Cathedral!
Cruise Terminal, Skċgen
McDonalds, Ċalborg
Burger King, Ċalborg
Cruise Terminal, Ċarhus
Seamen's Mission, Ċarhus 
National Museum, Jelling
Tourist Information Office, Fredericia, Denmark
Tourist Information Office, Copenhagen
Toldboden Restaurant, Copenhagen