Tall Ships Cruise SA323
on the Saga Sapphire
to the Baltic Sea
July 2017

(Please scroll down to see my photographs and report)

Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
15/07/2017 Dover
England
- Aboard
before one!
18/07/2017 Gothenburg
Sweden
West Coast
Island(s)
Glorious day!
19/07/2017 Kalundborg
Denmark
Roskilde Cathedral &
Viking Ship Museum
21/07/2017 Stockholm
Sweden
Old Town &
Hallwylska
Glorious day!
22/07/2017 Turku
Finland
Turku &
Sheep Farm
Glorious day!
24/07/2017 Ventspils
Latvia
City Tour Outdoor Museum &
Steam Train!
25/07/2017 Riga
Latvia
Highlights Walking tour!
27/07/2017 Gdynia
Poland
Gdansk &
Oliwa Cathedral
Our only wet port!
29/07/2017 Kiel Canal
Germany
- Night &
Morning Transit
30/07/2017 IJmuiden
Netherlands
Panoramic &
Canal Cruise
Yet again!
31/07/2017 Dover
U.K.
- Home
by 1:15


Embarkation Day - Southampton
Saturday the 15th of July, 2017

I awoke at 5:45 and received an email from the Highways Agency just after 6 o'clock saying that the M25 was closed due to an accident. So I decided to leave home early and take a different route. I departed at 7:15 and went via the M27 and A27 along the south coast via Brighton and Hastings. This was an interesting, but slow, way of going! I finally got to Dover at 11:30 and slept in the car for half an hour.

I was on board before 1 o'clock and soon met up with my cabin mate Kenneth. I lunched in the Britannia Lounge buffet with Canadian Pam from Bournemouth. I also met up with Dorothy from Nottingham. I then lay down for another hour, before the Cruise Director's early cocktail party at 3:30 pm. Here I met up with lots of familiar faces including Ashley, Andy and Aidan. Also present were stage managers Marlon & Ramil.

Me & Marlon

Me & Marlon

At 4:30 we had the safety drill, out on the promenade deck. At 5:30 I went to Steve's 55 minute talk on Gothenburg and Kalundborg, which he read from a script. This majored on Copenhagen, rather than Kalundborg itself. At 6:30 I went to the Drawing Room where the duo started playing, but no ladies wanted to dance. However my fears that there would be shortage of dancing talent would be proved wrong later that evening.

At 6:45 Kirsten placed me on a table for eight: Ursula & Carol from Aberdeen with their friend Cynthia; Ainsley the dancer & her husband George and Mary & her amusing partner from Oswestry. I dined on the scampi and chips rather than the pot beef. I had to slip out early as the programme mistakenly said dancing would commence at 8:30. When it did start at 8:45, there were plenty of dancing ladies, including Peggy & Sue from Birmingham and Charmain from Clevedon. We had to wait in the wings for our walk-on, before the production company did a short performance. We then danced after the show until 10:30. When we got up to the Drawing Room, the duo had just finished playing for the night, so I was in bed by 11.


First Sea Day - North Sea
Sunday the 16th of July, 2017

Kenneth got up at 6:30, but it was now 7:30 Swedish time. I breakfasted with him on the day's special of egg, bacon and beans on a tortilla with another couple. At 9 o'clock I taught the Slosh, Texas Waltz & Electric Slide to 27 people including Alix & Rebecca from the production company. At 10 o'clock I watched Sam's 45 minute video tour of Sweden. At 11 a.m. I listened to Amanda's 40 minute lecture on the different types of tall ships.

At noon we had the Singles Mingle where the Captain said a few words alongside Ashley. Several pax recognised me from previous cruises. At 12:30 I lunched on the roast beef (it was Sunday!) with two ladies from Worcester and a couple from Windsor in the Verandah restaurant. At 1:30 I taught the Social Foxtrot to 20 people. I then slept for nearly two hours, catching up on yesterday's exertions! I then started on this blog. I spent three-quarters of an hour in the pool and the jacuzzi, before dressing for the evening. At 6:15 I bought Charmain a drink in the Drawing Room and then danced with her, Peggy, Sue, Susan and some other ladies sat with Ken & Alan. At 7 o'clock Charmain asked Kirsten if I could join her and Barbara from Devon for dinner. We then sat with two other couples, as I had the sirloin steak with jacket potato. During the pre-show dance set I managed to dance with a different lady for each dance. I watched Aidan's magic show from the cabin, with a magnificent sunset appearing through our twin portholes. We danced after the show and then up in the Drawing Room with Charmain, Peggy, Sue and some married ladies. We went to bed at 12:15.


Second Sea Day - North Sea
Monday the 17th of July, 2017

Ken's alarm went off at 7:30 and mine at 8 o'clock. I breakfasted on a cheese omelette and crispy bacon with Anne from Bristol. At 9 o'clock I taught Texas Waltz, Cowboy Charleston & Party Samba to 26 people including Lauren & Louise from the production company. It was lucky that I taught the Party Samba, as we danced it once or twice nearly every evening! At 10 pm I attended Sam's video presentation on Denmark, followed by Amanda's talk on the Tall Ships Races at 11:00. At noon I lunched on a bratwurst and boiled potatoes with Charmain, Barbara and Daphne. At 1:30 I taught the Ballroom Waltz to a dozen people in the Britannia Lounge, competing against the sunshine and the food! I then slept for nearly two hours, before having my first ice cream on the top deck in the sun.

At 6:15 we had the Captain's Cocktail Party where I danced only with Jill and chatted with a chap who had been on my recent Braemar cruise around Denmark. Daphne asked Kirsten if I could dine with her and we were placed on a table for six with a couple from Beckenham and a couple from Hitchin. I had the scallops to start and the fillet of steak as my main course, but didn't have time for my dessert. We danced both before and after Helen's excellent showtime. I loved her split screen appearances as the Andrew Sisters! We then went up to the Drawing Room with Charmain and Peggy, but not Sue. The duo finished at 11:45 and I was in bed at midnight.


Gothenburg, Sweden
Tuesday the 18th of July, 2017

I was awoken at 6:10 by some banging, so I got up and went up to the top deck to see the sail-in in the sunshine. At 7 o'clock I had the breakfast special of the smoked salmon omelette with crispy bacon, sat with Ken and the same couple as two days previously. At 8 o'clock I escorted my second choice tour to the West Coast Island of Tjorn (M, R). We drove past the impressive Bohus fortress and then through the old town of Kungalv (King's River). We stopped at Kladesholmen for the loos and a climb up to the church on the hill overlooking the yacht harbours in the bright sunshine - cue selfie time! At Skarhamn we enjoyed coffee and large cinnamon buns in the new water colour art gallery. Our last stop was at the impressive cable-stayed bridge Tjornbron connecting the island with the mainland.

Back at the ship, I had a late lunch of roast lamb al fresco with three couples. At 2:15 I just managed to catch the next shuttle into the city. I whizzed around the old town taking pictures in the sun - cue another selfie! I went in both tourist information offices and the lovely cathedral (Domkyrkan). I then caught the 4 o'clock shuttle bus back to the ship, where I slept for an hour and a quarter. Later it transpired that there had been a surprise sail-away party, but nobody had bothered to inform us, and our cabin never got tannoy annoucements! During the departure the new Captain took a chunk out of the quay, left a large blue streak on it and a dent in the ship! At 6:15 we danced in the Drawing Room with the usual suspects. I then dined on the sirloin steak again with three ladies from Worcestershire and two others, at a rectangular window-side table for six. We danced both before and after the production company's excellent Sinatra showtime. Up in the Drawing Room we danced with Charmain, Peggy & Sue as usual, going to bed at midnight. I led off the Electric Slide & Slosh as usual.


Kalundborg, Denmark
Wednesday the 19th of July, 2017

I awoke at 6:15 ready to breakfast at 7 o'clock on the daily special of poached egg on spinach with bacon and sausage, sat outside with Brigadier Philip. At 8 o'clock I escorted my first choice tour to Roskilde (M). We began at the impressive brick cathedral, touring both the outside and the inside, which was full of royal tombs. We then moved on to the Viking Ship museum, which wasn't as good as the one in Oslo.

Back at the ship, I lunched on gammon, tomato and chips, with a single lady I remembered from the Gulf of Bothnia cruise. I then slept for two hours. At 4:30 we had the sail-away party, were I danced with Daphne, Charmain and some others. Ken joined me for the Party Samba and a married lady joined me for the Cowboy Charleston, danced to "A Town Called Malice" by the Jam! I bagged a jive with Alix, one of the professional dancers. She didn't know it, but followed me perfectly! I then picked up an email from one of my agents asking me to bid for three or four FOCL cruises next year as a destinations lecturer. At 6:15 we went up to the Drawing Room, but the duo were still having technical problems, so we didn't start dancing until 6:30. At 7 o'clock the dancing ladies went to dinner. Kirsten placed Charmain, Barbara and myself on an inside table for four, guaranteeing quicker service than a big table. I had the lamb shank. We danced before and after Aidan's second magic show. Up in the Drawing Room we listened to the male singers' cabaret. When the duo took over they only played disco music, so we all went to bed at midnight.


Third Sea Day - Baltic Sea
Thursday the 20th of July, 2017

Ken's alarm went off at 7:30 and I breakfasted at 8 o'clock with Peggy & Sue on the special Arnold Bennett omelette. At 9 o'clock I taught the Party Samba, Just Because & California Frieze to 24 people including Reece & Alix. It was lucky that I taught Just Because as a Mambo was called several times up in the Drawing Room. At 10:00 I watched Sam's video presentation on the Baltic States, followed by Amanda's moving talk on sailing for the disabled at 11 o'clock. I had to slip out at 11:30 to get ready for the Singles Lunch at noon, where I hosted a round table of five single ladies, including Aloe Vera from North Staffs and Nadine who will be on my next Canaries cruise. I had to slip out at 1:15 to set up for my Social Rumba class at 1:30, where I taught a dozen people including Reece again. I then slept for an hour and a half, before attending the Tea Dance hosted by Stuart. He started with the usual ballroom dances, before moving on to the Olde Tyme ones.

After the tea dance, I went swimming and wallowed in the jacuzzi for half an hour. We danced up in the Drawing Room until 7 pm, when I dined on the surf and turf (fillet steak & lobster) with two elderly ladies and a younger lady from Dunfermline and her mother at a rectangular table by a window. We danced both before and after Helen second, also excellent, showtime. Her Joyce Grefeld monologue and comedy songs were very funny! We then also danced upstairs until the duo finished at 12:15. I had done eight sessions in one day!


Stockholm, Sweden
Friday the 21st of July, 2017

We awoke at 7:15 ready for the sail-in via the Stockholm archipelago. I breakfasted on one Egg Benedict AND a special egg & bacon roll with Charmain & Barbara. I was first off the ship at 9 o'clock and I explored the area around the Silja Ferry Terminal, before catching the second shuttle bus at 9:30 into the City. I then proceeded to walk the four or five miles back to the ship via various museums. At 12:15 I lunched al fresco with Nadine on a small pork cutlet, a large German sausage and a jacket potato.

Me in Stockholm

Me in Stockholm

At 1 o'clock I escorted my second choice tour to the Old Town and the Hallwylska town house (LA, M). The latter was an exceptionally fine Victorian mansion with rooms arranged according to different periods, including medieval, renaissance, baroque, rococco and Victorian/Edwardian.

Back at the ship, at 5 o'clock I slept for three quarters of hour, before getting dressed. After the pre-dinner dancing, I dined on the sirloin steak again with Ursula & Carol from Aberdeen with their friend Cynthia, plus two other couples. We danced both before and after the Musicals production show, which I opted out of, chatting with Stuart on the Verandah deck. We then danced up in the Drawing Room until midnight.


Turku, Finland
Saturday the 22nd of July, 2017

I breakfasted on the dish of the day, a tomato omelette with bacon, before listening to Steve's talk on Gdynia, Gdansk and Sopot. I caught the first shuttle bus into the city at 10:30, getting off outside the tourist information office. I then walked back along the river admiring the many tall ships berthed there.

Back at the ship, I lunched al fresco on smoked salmon salad and chips. I then escorted my third choice tour to a sheep farm (E, R, SD). The period farmhouse had its own beach, but only six token sheep. The show was stolen by the lovely collie sheep dog following his master's whistling instruction. We had coffee, cake and beautiful home made biscuits in the garden.

Back at the ship again, I dined on sirloin steak yet again with Ursula & Carol from Aberdeen with their friend Cynthia, plus two other couples. That evening we danced the usual four sets, but I gave Kym's piano showtime a miss. We watched the 11 o'clock fireworks from the Verandah deck, with me dishing out hot chocolate drinks. We went to bed at 12:15, after dancing in the Drawing Room.


Turku, Finland
Sunday the 23rd of July, 2017

We didn't wake up until 8:40, so I had a late breakfast on the special poached egg with wasabi mashed potato in a cone. I caught the 10 o'clock shuttle bus into the city, but this time stayed there photographing the sights. The protestant cathedral had a service going on (it was Sunday!) so I could only stand at the back, but the orthodox church was completely empty and full of lovely icons. I then caught the noon shuttle bus back to the ship.

Me at Turku castle

Me at Turku castle

I lunched al fresco on roast leg of beef (it was Sunday!) with Charmain, Barbara and Ken. At 1:45 we had the sailaway, where I danced with Charmain, Daphne, Peggy, Sue, Susan and Janet. The cruise staff were dressed as pirates and I did have my pirate outfit with me, but nobody told us! At 2:15 as the band were taking over from Stuart, Ashley called a halt to the proceedings as Amanda had begun her commentary for the departure of the Tall Ships. I then slept for over two hours! Up on the top deck I watched a few tall ships glide pass as we swung at anchor in the bay, but few had their sails unfurled. At 6:15 we danced with all the usual suspects until 7 o'clock, when I dined on the sirloin steak with the quiet lady from Staffs and four other single ladies. We danced both before and after the Jersey Boys show and up in the Drawing Room until midnight with Charmain, Peggy & Janet from Wensleydale. I slipped down to the Verandah restaurant to take hot chocolate drinks up to the ladies.


Ventspils, Latvia
Monday the 24th of July, 2017

We awoke at 7:30 and I had the dish of the day consisting of a fried egg on a baguette slice on top of baked beans with Anne. I escorted my first choice City tour (S, SD), which began at the small, but nice, open air museum. We had five folk singers in national dress accompanied by a zither, before catching the narrow gauge steam railway out to the ski slope. We then had a walk around the old town centre including the market and Lutheran church. Our final stop was at the huge new fountain inaugurated in 2016, but only part of it was generating water mist as planned.

Me in Ventspils, Latvia

Me in Ventspils, Latvia

Back at the ship, I lunched al fresco on prawns and smoked salmon salad with chips sat with Charmain. I then slept for nearly two hours, before catching the final shuttle bus back into town at 4 o'clock. I whizzed around the ferry terminal and the promenade, before catching the final 16:30 bus back to the ship. At 5:15 we had another sail-away party, but with no free drinks on offer it was poorly attended. At 6:15 we danced with Charmain, Janet, Peggy & Sue up in the Drawing Room.

I dined on the escalope of turkey with the 88 year old Welsh dancer from Houghton-on-the-Hill and the Irish (?) gent from Glenfield, both in Leicestershire. Also present was the lady from Stanmore with her sister from Derbyshire and a Scottish lady. At 8:45 we danced with all the usual suspects, this time with Elaine & Sue, the two younger sisters, sitting in the front row. The married man, who had struggled in my dance class, suddenly came out of his shell, dancing with the sisters too! When the pianist came on, I adjourned to our cabin to update this blog. After dancing in the Britannia Lounge, we all had hot chocolate out on the Verandah Deck looking at the bright red sky. Up in the Drawing Room all the youngsters were disco dancing, so I led off the Slosh and then sat back and watched. I went to bed at midnight.


Riga, Latvia
Tuesday the 25th of July, 2017

I awoke at 7:20 and breakfasted on the Egg Florentine dish of the day again with Anne. We were berthed right next to FOCL's Balmoral under a cloudless sky. At 8:30 I escorted my second choice Highlights of Riga tour (S, WT). We began with a panoramic tour of the new city, before embarking on a strenuous walking tour of the old city. We ended with a liqueur tasting in a central restaurant. We began with a lovely sweet, cranberry spirit, which the lady next to me passed on to me as well. The next was chocolate flavoured, which we were encouraged to pour into our coffee. Then came pure vodka, finally finished off with a herbal, balsam concoction which I didn't like.

Back at the ship, I lunched al fresco on smoked salmon salad with chips sat with the quiet lady. I bumped into Anthony Stuart-Lloyd the bass/baritome singer, who was working on FOCL's Balmoral, which had pole position on the quay ahead of us. Tony told me that he would be doing the sail-away on the aft deck of the Balmoral at 4 o'clock. Having had a strong coffee in the morning, I forewent my siesta in favour of walking the length of the city moat. I went in the Russian Orthodox cathedral, but the Protestant churches all charged for admission.

Back at the ship again, I went up to the forward top deck to listen to Tony as the Balmoral departed. I then slept for one hour, before getting dressed for dinner. Up in the Drawing Room, we danced with the the usual suspects. I led off the Party Samba & Just Because, the latter as a mambo rather than a rumba. The assistant maitre d'hotel sent me to the other side of the main dining room, so I ended up with Mo from Purfleet, two ladies from Yorkshire, one lady from Romsey and one other on a round table for six right next to the Captain's table for eight! I dined on the veal shank, but it was rather fatty.

We danced the pre-show set, before I adjourned to my cabin to update this blog and back-up my day's photographs. I then watched the Totally Continental show on the TV. We danced after the show and then had hot chocolate drinks out on the Verandah deck. Up in the Drawing Room, I led off the Slosh & Y.M.C.A., the latter for the first time this cruise. The duo finished at 12:05 and I was in bed shortly afterwards.


Fourth Sea Day - Baltic Sea
Wednesday the 26th of July, 2017

I got up at 7:25 and breakfasted on the dish of the day, fried egg with crispy bacon and beans on a crispy tortilla with Anne, Iris & Paul from Suffolk. At 9 o'clock I taught Texas Waltz, Just Because & Lindi Shuffle to 24 people including Louise & Lauren. At 10 am I watched Sam's Viking videos, but they were mainly about Russia. At 11 o'clock I listened to Amanda's talk on the construction of the laminated tall ship Tenacious, but had to slip out at 11:30 to deal with my laundry. At noon I lunched on roast lamb with Charmain, Barbara, Peggy & Sue. At 1:30 I taught the Social Cha Cha to 18 people, before sleeping fitfully for an hour.

At 4:15 we had the second tea dance, just as popular as the first and hosted by Stuart in a pink shirt and striped jacket! I then slept fitfully again for an hour, missing Steve's talk on IJmuiden & Amsterdam. The first evening dance set didn't start until 6:30, so we only had half an hour of dancing before dinner. I had the scampi & chips sat with two couples and three single ladies, including the dancing lady from Houghton-on-the-Hill and another from Oxford, who said she was an honourary alumni of St. John's College, where I had stayed earlier this year. We danced both before and after Amy Lee's lovely violin showtime, before rushing upstairs, grabbing a hot chocolate drink and heading for the girls' cabaret in the Drawing Room. The duo played a short final set and I again led off Y.M.C.A.! I was in bed by 12:05, after completing seven sessions in one day!


Gdynia, Poland
Thursday the 27th of July, 2017

I awoke at 7:25, but it was now 6:25 Polish time. I breakfasted on the special Gibraltar omelette, before escorting my first choice tour to Gdansk & Oliwa Cathedral (S). We walked the streets in the light rain, before going into St. Mary's basilica. After a short demonstration in an amber shop, we had only fifteen minutes of free time. I went in both tourist information offices, before gathering people up at the meeting point under the gatehouse. We tried to count the people, but the area was heaving with people milling about, so after a five minute wait, we headed off. Back at the bus we were one short, so I had to run back into the city centre to retrieve the miscreant lady. So we arrived at Oliwa cathedral when the organ recital had already begun, but we heard most of it. We then had a tour of the building, before returning to the ship.

I lunched on parma ham salad and chips with Charmain, Barbara and Sue with Peggy in the middle! Back in the cabin, Ashley gave me a ring and called me to his office to finalise the next day's programme. He asked me if I could stay on for the next cruise as he was short of speakers! Unfortunately I have commitments at home and need the ten days to prepare for my next cruise back on the Saga Sapphire. I then slept for nearly two hours, before checking out of the ship. Outside it was pouring with rain, so I turned around and went back into the ship. I then went swimming and jacuzzing, but both watertight doors had to be opened to get to the pool, even though we were still in port. At 6:15 we danced with the usual suspects, before dining at 7 o'clock. I had the chicken breast wrapped in bacon with the lady from Colorado with her elderly mother, a Yorkshire couple and three other ladies. We danced both before and after Matt Cairns' excellent guitar and song show. He began with Tell me Ma, Galway Girl & Loch Lomond followed by a John Denver medley and an Eric Clapton song. Up in the Drawing Room we danced until midnight.


Fifth Sea Day - Baltic Sea
Friday the 28th of July, 2017

We awoke at 7:20 and I had a cheese omelette with crisy bacon sat with Charmain and Barbara. At 9 o'clock I taught Cowboy Charleston, Lindi Shuffle & Ziggy to 24 people. Unfortunately whilst doing Lindi Shuffle in contra lines, Sue fell over and hurt her wrist. She asked for me to continue, while awaiting the nurse with wheelchair. At the end, Peggy said that she would pop down to the Medical Centre to see how she was. This was the second time this year that someone had fallen over in one of my line dance classes. I then watched Sam's talk on Viking voyages and Amanda's talk on air shows whilst working in the cabin.

At noon I dined on the pasta shrimps with Charmain, Peggy & Sue, the latter now in plaster. She had had an x-ray which had revealed a break, but they wanted her to go to hospital in IJmuiden for a second opinion. At 1:30 I taught the Rock Jive to a dozen people. At 2:30 I gave my well-received talk on the Story of the Kiel Canal to a good number of people, despite the sunshine outside and the only time slot available. I then slept for an hour and a half. At 6:30 we danced with the usual suspects, minus Sue, up in the Drawing Room. At 7 o'clock I dined on the gammon, egg and chips with two couples, two single ladies and Brigadier Philip. We danced both before and after the Mersey Beat Legends production showtime, which I watched from the cabin. Up in the Drawing Room, we danced until the Duo finished at 12:05 and I was in bed by 12:15. Another day of seven sessions successfully completed!


Kiel Canal
Saturday the 29th of July, 2017

Ken's alarm went off at 7:30 and I breakfasted on the double omelette special with Anne at the corner table for two. At 9 o'clock I taught Ziggy, One Step Forward & California Frieze to 23 people, with Sue no longer present. The Captain managed to interrupt the class not once, but twice with his annoucements! Afterwards Lauren & Louise came along to my cabin to pick up some of my music. At 10 o'clock I went to Sam's talk on ITN & BBC celebrities, but without any videos. At 11 o'clock I watched my Kiel Canal talk on the cabin TV. At 11:30 I went up to the top deck to see the passage through the Brunsbuttel lock.

Kiel Canal transit

Kiel Canal transit

At noon I lunched on poached salmon with Charmain & Barbara. At 1:30 I held a revision ballroom dance class for a dozen people. I then slept for an hour and a half, before going to the afternoon tea to chat with Robert. He had been based at Corsham in Wiltshire, so had attended several courses at R.M.C.S. Shrivenham. Having dressed in our formal wear, we danced in a nearly empty Drawing Room until 7 o'clock. I then went through the dinner menu: lobster bisque, salad, sorbet, so-called beef Wellington, chocolate orange ice cream, decaff coffee and petit fours! I sat with Margaret & Barbara with their friend who had been to King's and had gained the AKC award as an undergraduate. At 7:30, the Captain's Farewell cocktail party having finally ended, we were joined by the lady from Dunfermline and her mother.

At 9 o'clock we danced in a depleted Britannia Lounge, as dinner ran on. I then adjourned to the cabin to watch my Kiel Canal talk again, missing Amy's second violin show. At 10:30 we had danced in the Britannia Lounge, before taking hot chocolate on the Verandah deck. Up in the Drawing Room we caught the end of the four singers' cabaret. We danced with Charmain, Daphne, Janet, Peggy, but not Sue of course. The duo finished just after midnight and I was in bed by 12:15.


IJmuiden, Netherlands
Sunday the 30th of July, 2017

I got up at 7:45 and had the dish of the day: Rangers egg and crispy bacon with beans on a crispy torilla base, sat with Anne. I was first off the ship just after nine o'clock, walking the two or three miles into IJmuiden new town centre. Only a few supermarkets and the solarium were open, as it was a Sunday morning. I then caught the 11 o'clock shuttle bus back to the ship, to start packing.

At noon I lunched on the roast leg of beef (it was Sunday!) with Sibyl from Belper (near Ken) and her sister Janet from Stanmore. At one o'clock I escorted my fifth choice Panoramic Amsterdam & Canal Cruise (E) yet again. We began with a photostop at the windmill on the Amstel river south of Amsterdam, before braving the traffic jams of the city centre. Nevertheless we got to the canal berth ten minutes early. We went out into the harbour, turned west then south to go past the famous Anne Frank house. We did the circuit of the old city, before coming back to the berth.

Back at the ship, I quickly changed and went up to the Drawing Room for the final pre-dinner dancing session with Charmain, Janet & Peggy, but not Sue. I dined on the Wiener Schnitzel with Sibyl, Janet, their friend Mary from Edinburgh, Daphne the dancer and a lady from Kingston-upon-Thames. We danced both before and after Matt's second excellent guitar and song show. I particularly enjoyed his Eagles songs. After our hot chocolate drinks, we adjourned to the Drawing Room for one last dance session. The duo finished soon after 11:30 so, after saying our farewells, I was in bed before midnight.


Disembarkation Day - Dover
Monday the 31st of July, 2017

I awoke at 7:40, but it was now 6:40 BST. I had the full English beakfast with a single lady from Essex and a couple from North Wales. I vacated the cabin at 8 o'clock and went up to the library to await disembarkation at 9:15 with tag number four. I was held up for nearly one hour by a jack-knifed caravan on the M25, so I didn't get home until 1:15.

Kiel Canal transit

Saga Sapphire


Ashley, the Cruise Director, wrote to my agent saying: "I am a BIG FAN of Martin. I have had the pleasure of working with him on a number of occasions." In his report he wrote: "Martin Lee once again excellent dance host and also was very informative in the Kiel Canal lecture."

My agent wrote: "While I was recuperating we received the passenger scores for your Baltic cruise on Sapphire. You received 1.35 which is one of the best scores we have received plus 5 positive comments. Well done, and thank you for ‘working’ so hard and representing our Agency with such distinction."

A lady wrote: "Your diary is excellent, puts mine to shame!! You add so much more detail than me! I especially loved all the statistics!! I shall look forward to your next cruises, if I may? May I wish you every success for the future and I hope to meet up with you again soon."

Sue wrote: "Thank you all for your kind thoughts and good wishes - it means a lot to me."


Scorecard:

16 Evenings of dancing
16 Dining tables hosted
10 Line dances taught (S, TW, ES, CC, PS, JB, CF, LS, Z & OSF)
8 Sessions in one day (once)
8 Ports of call
8 Tours escorted
7 Sessions in one day (twice)
6 Line dance classes
6 Ballroom dance classes (one revision)
5 Ballroom dances taught (SF, W, SR, SCC & RJ)
2 New ports (Kalundborg & Gdynia)
2 Tea dances
2 New towns (Roskilde & Gdansk)
1 Cocktail party only
1 New country (Poland)
1 New island (Tjorn pronounced Churn)
1 Guest lecture (Kiel Canal)

Good points were:

  1. Spacious twin outside cabin on deck 4 with twin portholes
  2. Teaching the ballroom and latin american dance classes
  3. New LED display above the stage for surtitles
  4. Spacious bathroom with large shower
  5. Efficient cabin steward (Mars)
  6. Breakfast special every morning
  7. Taking the line dance classes
  8. Free wine with lunch & dinner
  9. Free hot chocolate drinks
  10. Tours in all ports
  11. Giving one lecture
  12. Large, warm indoor pool
  13. Hot indoor jacuzzi
  14. Plenty of dancing ladies
  15. Dancing without ties
  16. Free shuttle buses
  17. Free car parking
  18. Free internet
  19. No quarantine
  20. No headaches
  21. No heartburn
  22. Free water
  23. Free wi-fi
  24. Free fruit
  25. Cool cabin

For the record ...


Current Statistics:

1018 Ports called at
614  Tours escorted
370  Different Ports
200  Lectures given
114  Cruises undertaken
21   Cruise Ships
8    Cruise Lines
_


Shore Excursion Key: E Easy L Lunch M Moderate N New P Panoramic R Refreshments S Strenuous LA Limited Availability SD Something Different WT Wine Tasting