|09/06/2013||Dover, UK||-||Royal Naval Dockyard Chatham for a.m.|
|10/06/2013||IJmuiden, Netherlands||Amsterdam on your own||All day walking and photographing|
|11/06/2013||Kiel Canal, Germany||-||Lovely afternoon|
|13/06/2013||Stockholm, Sweden||Drottningholm Palace||Overcast|
|15/06/2013||St. Petersburg, Russia||Spilled Blood Cathedral
& Canal Cruise
|16/06/2013||St. Petersburg, Russia||Sts. Peter & Paul Fortress
& Canal Cruise
|17/06/2013||Tallinn, Estonia||Tallinn &
|18/06/2013||Visby, Gotland, Sweden||Visby &
|20/06/2013||Warnemunde, Germany||Minster &
|21/06/2013||Copenhagen, Denmark||City Tour &
|22/06/2013||Sandefjord, Norway||(Ibsen & Telemark Canal)||Ill|
|24/06/2013||Dover, England||-||Four hour drive home|
I left home early to get to the Old Royal Naval Dockyard at Chatham for the 10 am opening. I spent three hours there but only managed to see half of the exhibits! I got to Dover for 2 pm and quickly got embarked. Jeffrey the steward was able to reunite me with three of my shirts left over from my previous cruise. The first evening I dined with Liz, Ann, Pauline, John and the other Liz. I also danced with Penny who thankfully came to nearly every dance session on the cruise.
The first port of call was IJmuiden in the Netherlands and I had already been pencilled in to escort the all day 'Amsterdam on your own' tour. After dropping off my charges at the Gassan Diamonds shop, I was able to explore East Amsterdam and take 133 photographs. After two days I was able to compose a suitable port presentation in PowerPoint. I saw most of the Plantage district's sights including the new cruise terminal. In the evening I dined with Pauline, Sue, John, Joan and Norman and danced with Penny and Tessa amongst others.
The next day included a daytime transit of the Kiel Canal with the weather improving as the day progressed. I taught my first line dance class in the morning but the initial locks proved a big distraction. In the afternoon I taught my first ballroom dance class but the final locks also proved another big distraction. I taught the waltz with the help of Tessa. In the evening I forewent Martin Sixsmith's lecture to enjoy the scenery before dining with Gill, Robin(a), Agnes and two other ladies. The Classical Trio were denied entry to Britain from Belarus and so were not able to join us until we got to Russia, so that evening Angela hosted an impromptu ballroom dance session. I danced with Penny and Barbara who both came to most dance sessions. Later we adjourned to the deck party which included the perennial YMCA, Electric Slide to Achy, Breaky Heart and Gangnam (Gingham?) Style. The Cruise Director introduced me as the Dance Hostess with the Mostest!
On the Baltic Sea day I again led line and ballroom dance classes, interspersed by a singles lunch. Fortunately the Cruise Director's mother was appreciative of my line dance tuition! The weather was glorious all day. In the evening I dined with Marion, Judy, Joy, George and Agnes.
In Stockholm I went into the city in the morning and escorted my first choice tour to the Drottningholm Royal Palace in the afternoon. I was off the ship by 7:45 am and enjoyed a sunny walk into the city. Unfortunately it started to drizzle for most of the day, but I did manage to take 143 photographs! After two days I was able to compose another suitable port presentation in PowerPoint. The drive back from the palace was in the evening rush hour compounded by road works, so we got back five minutes late after a couple of frantic phone calls. I dined with Robin(a), Major Bob and two other ladies that night in my favourite corner table.
The next morning I led my third line dance class before we sailed into Helsinki. I escorted the Highlights tour again in the rain. The weather was not a photographic problem since I had already composed my PowerPoint presentation on the city. I dined that night with Robin(a), Major Bob, Agnes and two other ladies again in my favourite corner table.
On the first morning in St. Petersburg I tried in vain to get past immigration with my Bahamas Seamen's book, but I did meet Adela and Sally from Boudicca's tours department who were berthed behind us. One of the lecturers succeeded in getting ashore with a British Seamen's book, I now wish I had applied for one when they were formerly available! The all-suite Seabourn Sojourn had pole position on the English Embankment, but at least we were on the River Neva and not way out at the new deep water cruise terminal. In the afternoon I escorted the Spilled Blood Cathedral and Canal Cruise tour. I also met the lovely Jane Rainger and the Boudicca's Cruise Director Ashley Bolton-Burrows. That evening I ate in the Verandah buffet restaurant with Christine for the only time on this cruise when most of the passengers were at the ballet.
On the second afternoon in St. Petersburg I escorted my first choice tour to Saints Peter & Paul's Fortress together with another canal cruise! In the evening I dined with Liz, Robin(a) and two other ladies. Over dinner one of the ladies told me a harrowing story that her daughter had been murdered and the murderer had been sentenced after two trials to a 30 year prison sentence reduced to 26 years on appeal. What can you say?
In Tallinn I was allocated my first choice Tallinn and Saue Manor tour. We drove out to the palatial manor house in a cramped minibus. The coffee and apple cakes were delicious and the recital in the drawing room quite charming. We then had a short tour of the old city. After a quick lunch I walked back into the delightful old city for more photography to update my PowerPoint presentation. There was only one dance session that evening so I was able to go to bed early and sleep for nearly 11 hours. I must have been so tired missing out on so many siestas in the previous ports!
I led my fourth line dance class with ever increasing numbers of dancers just before we berthed in Visby on Gotland. The Captain wrote in his blog "Gentleman host Doc. Martin had been teaching the passengers line dancing ahead of tonight’s deck party." I took the first shuttle bus into the old walled city, rushed around the northern half of the city before catching the last shuttle back before lunch. In the afternoon I escorted my first choice Visby and Central Gotland tour. We walked through the old walled city to the Botanical Gradens then took the coach out into the Central Gotland countryside. The coffee and cakes at the golf course were very filling! The old farmhouse was as palatial as the manor house had been on the previous day in Tallinn. I dined with Major Bob, Robin(a) and three other ladies.
The final Baltic Sea day included my fifth and final line dance class (this time in the Discovery Lounge) and my third ballroom dance when I taught the social rumba (this time in Shackleton's Lounge).
The next morning I walked around a sunny Warnemunde in Germany. In the afternoon I escorted the tour to a Minster and the Molli narrow gauge steam railway. The cherry tart at a seaside hotel was delicious! I dined with a couple from Broadstairs and a couple from Swansea.
In Copenhagen I escorted the City tour and canal cruise in the morning. I did a little photography near the cruise terminals in the afternoon before leading my fourth and final ballroom dance class.
The last port of call was a first for me - Sandefjord near Oslo in Norway. I was down to escort my first choice tour to Ibsen's birthplace with a cruise on the scenic Telemark canal, but unfortunately I was too ill to go. In the evening I had also been down to give my lecture on Sir Ernest Shackleton whose ship Endurance had been built in Sandefjord.
I had a quiet final sea day crossing the North Sea. On the final evening Christine invited me to dine in the private Chart Room with Carolyn, Rosemary, Dennis, Adrienne, Gillian, Maria, Georges, Susan and Jan. A perfect end to a super cruise!
Back in Dover I was off the ship by 9 am but an accident had closed the M23 which had backed up across the M25 causing gridlock. So I turned off the M20 at junction 4 and headed cross-country via Tunbridge Wells, Lewes, Littlehampton and the M27, getting home just after 1 pm.
One lady subsequently wrote: "Thank you so much for your company and expert tuition on the cruise - I did enjoy it; it's back to Scottish dancing now though!" Another wrote: "I enjoyed the cruise very much – of course, the dancing made everything all so much better!!! Thank you for your part." The cruise director's brother wrote: "The cruise director's mother was quite impressed that she got a mention on your excellent review page!"
11 Line dances taught. 10 Tours escorted. 9 Ports visited. 5 Line dance classes. 5 Passengers hosted at dinner every evening. 5 Old PowerPoint presentations updated. 4 New PowerPoint presentations composed. 4 Ballroom dances taught. 2 Singles events attended (party & luncheon) 1 Cruise enjoyed!