Cruise W1322 "Baltic Capitals"
from Dover to St. Petersburg
on the Black Watch

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

Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
24/11/2013 Dover, England - Easy run down
27/11/2013 Copenhagen, Denmark Tivoli Pleasure Gardens Passenger had heart attack
29/11/2013 Tallinn, Estonia Tallinn Panoramic City & suburban sights
30/11/2013 St. Petersburg, Russia Peterhof Palace
& Hermitage
Bright but cold!
01/12/2013 Helsinki, Finland (Porvoo) Too rough to berth!
03/12/2013 Warnemünde, Germany Rostock Christmas Markets Strawberry Farm Emporium,
Hanseatic City and
04/12/2013 Kiel, Germany Lübeck Lovely Queen of the Hanse!
05/12/2013 Kiel Canal, Germany - Night time and morning transit
06/12/2013 Hamburg, Germany - Walk into City in the sleet!
07/12/2013 Dover, UK - 33.5 hours late!

Here's my report on the cruise:

I drove over to Dover and parked away from the terminal requiring a minibus ride to the ship. I settled in to my own twin outside cabin with two portholes before the Cruise Directors welcome party. I dined on gammon and duck with the four dance hosts in the Garden Café, before dancing with dance hostess Jennie and Maureen from Folkestone.

Martin, Peter, Michael, Paul & Jennie

Martin, Peter, Michael, Paul & Jennie

We hadn't gone far out of Dover harbour when the ship's steering failed so we had to anchor up and await the fitting of a spare part to the controller. This was completed by dawn but we couldn't then go through the German Kiel Canal without the new part being tested and certified! So we headed around the Jutland peninsula of Denmark to Copenhagen rather than Warnemünde. I had 40 minutes to change over my first port presentation to "Copenhagen: Capital of Denmark"! After the Captain's welcome cocktail party, I dined on fillet steak with the dance host team, before dancing with dance hostess Jennie, Maureen and some other passengers. I then watched the excellent "21st Century Swing" production show, before more dancing ensued.

On the second sea day I lectured on "Tallinn: Capital of Estonia" in the morning and "St. Petersburg: Capital of the Tsars" in the afternoon. I dined on roast lamb and then danced with Jennie, Maureen and Margaret & Kath from Manchester. We got to Copenhagen at nine pm for an overnight stay. I got off the ship at 10 pm and walked past the floodlit little Mermaid. Unfortunately I couldn't find any free wi-fi at the Toldbod quay.

The little mermaid statue in Copenhagen photo taken by Jon Horrrocks

The Little Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen photo taken by Jon Horrrocks

In Copenhagen, capital of Denmark, I was off the ship by 8 am. I found free wi-fi at the Admiral Hotel in a magnificent converted warehouse on the quayside. I walked the length of the Strøget, allegedly the longest pedestrianised street in Europe. I also found free wi-fi at the Visitor Centre near the railway station.

Back to the ship for an early lunch I escorted my first choice tour to the Christmas Market in the Tivoli pleasure gardens. After a panoramic coach tour of the city, we were walking towards the Tivoli gardens when one of my passengers collapsed on the pavement with a heart attack. A passing cyclist immediately performed CPR whilst we phoned the nearby ambulance station. The guide took the rest of party on to the gardens whilst I stayed with his wife and another couple. I phoned Sandra the Tours Manager who was already in the gardens. The paramedics used a defibrillator and adrenalin to restart his heart. Sandra, Hannah and the local agent arrived as he was whisked away in an ambulance and his wife followed in a police car. I then entered the gardens to meet up again with my tour. When we got back to the ship Sandra came on to the coach to reassure us that he was 'stable' in hospital. The ship had packed up their belongings and dispatched them to the hospital. The wife was put up in a hotel and her two daughters flew out to look after her.

I dined on minute steak and then danced with the usual crowd this time including Hazel. I wore my new Chief Petty Officer (CPO) nautical fancy dress for the first time. The "Oceans" production show was again excellent, particularly the Pirate King patter song from the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzances.

On the next sea day I gave my port talk on "Helsinki: Capital of Finland". I was asked to attend the Oceans cocktail party and whilst there I chatted with a chap whose computer games company employs programmers in Vladivostok! After another deep siesta I attended Jennie's rock and roll class where I danced with Maureen from Folkestone. On the second formal evening, I dined on bacon and egg meatloaf, before dancing on a moving dance floor!

The orthodox cathedral in Tallinn

The Orthodox Cathedral in Tallinn

In Tallinn, capital of Estonia, I escorted my first choice Panoramic tour. We viewed the Maiden's and the Kiek in de Kök (Peek into the Kitchen) towers in the upper walled town for a first time for me, rather than the Toompea castle and Orthodox cathedral of previous visits. We had a photo stop at the quinquennial song festival ground followed by coffee and cakes accompanied by two zither players in national dress. One of them had played for us at the Saue Mansion, along with the same guide Kristi, when I had visited Tallinn last summer. I utilised their free wi-fi to update my facebook status and answer an important OU email. Our final photo stop was at the enormous ruins of St. Birgit's convent.

After lunch and a siesta I had to give my final two port talks in one hour:- "Kiel: City of Museums" and "Warnemünde, Rostock & Berlin: Capital of Germany"! For the first time I was invited to attend the suite passengers' private cocktail party in the library! I chatted with a couple from Dover and Peggy. It being a curry night in the Garden Café, I dined on roast pork in the Glentanar Restaurant with Maureen and others. I danced that evening with Jennie, Maureen, Margaret, Kath and Peggy both before and after watching the "Cinematastic" production show.

St. Isaac's cathedral in St. Petersburg

St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg

At the new deep water terminal outside St. Petersburg, the immigration lady asked me for my seaman's book which I didn't have with me since last summer they had rejected it as it came from the Bahamas not the UK! I escorted my first choice tour in St. Petersburg, capital of the Tsars, to the Peterhof Palace and the Hermitage art gallery with a Russian lunch in a palatial setting. The Peterhof palace is the Russain Versailles and was very impressive even if the famous fountains and cascades were turned off for the winter. We dined on coleslaw with cold meat, vegetable soup, chicken fricassé, blackberry tart and a shot of vodka which I drank much diluted with water! My favourite paintings in the enormous but uncrowded Hermitage were the four by Vincent van Gogh. One lady had her camera stolen and another man caused a scene when he thought he had lost his cloakroom ticket! As we exited the Winter palace we were greeted by a magnificent sunset after a very cold but bright day. That evening it began to snow!

Old Soviet submarine in St. Petersburg, photograph taken by Dr. Brian Dunn

Old Soviet Submarine in St. Petersburg, photograph taken by Dr. Brian Dunn

In Helsinki, capital of Finland, I was supposed to escort my first choice all-day tour to Porvoo, but it was too rough to berth. A new programme was hastily arranged with me leading a line dance class in the morning and finally giving my "Hamlet: Prince of Denmark" lecture in the afternoon. I had 27 brave people risk the choppy seas to line dance! The "Love Me Tender" production show also had to be postponed. In the evening I wore my new rock 'n' roll outfit for the first time.

My new rock 'n' roll outfit!

My new rock 'n' roll outfit!

I had the next sea day off and enjoyed the afternoon tea dance. I danced with Jennie, Maureen, Hazel, Margaret, Kath, Peggy, Laura the Down's Syndrome girl and Basil's wife Toni. In the early evening I walked into Warnemünde but was unable to find any free wi-fi. I did however find an open internet terminal in the foyer of the Hübner Hotel on the prom. I enjoyed the lobster thermidor at the second sitting in the main dining room before watching the postponed Elvis/Vegas floorshow.

The next morning I again walked into Warnemünde. After an early lunch I escorted the Rostock Christmas Market tour. We started out at Karl's famous strawberry farm emporium. This is an incredible place where we had glühwein, stollen and Christmas biscuits. We saw strawberry jam and sweets being boiled. It was also possible to sample the jam, paté etc. The outside area included a (closed) funfair and pet's corner. After a short tour and then walk around Rostock, we had free time during which I photographed all the main sights. Unfortunately no free wi-fi or toilets again in Germany! As dusk arrived the largest Christmas market in North Germany was magnificently illuminated. Our last stop was at a micro-brewery where we ate sausages and sauerkraut washed down with both light and dark beers. So it was cabbage again just as we had already eaten in St. Petersburg - these continentals do eat well! After the "Britannia Rocks" production showtime I went straight to bed having missed my siesta that afternoon.

St. Mary's Bells, Lübeck

St. Mary's Bells, Lübeck

On my first visit to Kiel my first choice tour to Hamburg didn't run, so I got my second choice tour to the Queen of the Hanse - Lübeck. The morning was cold but dry whilst after 1:30 pm it started to drizzle until we got back to Kiel at 3:30 pm. After a photo stop at the Holstein Tower (Holstentor), we had a walk around the city including going into the Seamen's Guildhall, St. Mary's Church and the City Hall. The coffee and marzipan cake stop in a café at 12:30 pm was chaotic, better to have got there at 11:30 am! During the free time after our snack I managed to photograph all the major sights, despite the poor weather. One lady failed to show up at our rendezvous but thankfully managed to make her own way back to the coach! On another coach all together one lady failed to show up at all but managed to get back to ship by (expensive) taxi before the coach did, it having had to wait another 20 minutes in vain for her. Of course when she got back to the ship she didn't bother to identify herself! I found Hannah the Tours Assistant wading through the passenger list with the gangway crew, and so was able to tell her that Sandra the Tours Manager had already chanced on the miscreant lady.

On the final formal night I danced a lot to burn off the morning's caffeine overdose. I watched the crew show which had a couple of new acts to appreciate. I missed the parade of the chefs but queued for the gala buffet.

Kiel Canal transit

Kiel Canal Transit

I awoke the next morning to find that we were still stationary in the Kiel Canal. The Captain announced that in view of the forthcoming storm we would divert to Hamburg. We arrived at 4 pm but the weather was too bad to get off, so I processed my Rostock photographs into powerpoint. In the evening I was on duty at the two farewell cocktail parties.

The next morning I walked into a blustery Hamburg to take a few photographs in between the hail and sleet showers. Later in the morning I led my second line dance class. In the afternoon I processed my Lübeck photographs into powerpoint.

Black Watch

Black Watch

On the final sea day I gave my lecture "The Story of the North Sea" in the morning and ran my third and final line dance class in the afternoon. We got back to Dover 33.5 hours late and I didn't get home until ... One lady gave me an early Christmas card which said: "Thank you for all the dances."

Score card:

6 Port talks given
5 Tours escorted
4 Cocktail parties attended
3 Line dance classes led
2 Guest lectures delivered
1 Cruise enjoyed!

Good points:

  1. Dance hostess all to myself for the fast dances (sambas, cha chas, jives etc.)
  2. In-cabin tea and coffee making facilities
  3. Leading three line dance classes
  4. Outside twin cabin all to myself
  5. First choice tours
  6. Cheap Slopchest

Good, free wi-fi:

  1. Admiral Hotel, Copenhagen
  2. Visitor Centre, Copenhgen
  3. Hotel Birgitta, Tallinn
  4. Peterhof Gardens, St. Petersburg
  5. Cruise Terminal, Kiel

Updated Powerpoint presentations:

  1. Copenhagen
  2. Tallinn
  3. St. Petersburg
  4. Warnemünde
  5. Kiel

New Powerpoint presentations:

  1. 46 slides Rostock
  2. 79 slides Lübeck
  3. 38 slides Hamburg

Line Dances Taught:

  1. California Frieze
  2. Texas Waltz
  3. Electric Slide
  4. Just Because
  5. Party Samba
  6. Slosh
  7. Cowboy Charleston

For the record ...