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Saga Sapphire to the Baltic and Norway.

Saga Sapphire to the Baltic and Norway.

Postby rdw123 » 17 Sep 2019 07:00

A review on my 3 weeks on Saga Sapphire last month.
I was picked up from home at 9.40 promptly and after an very good run down to Dover and a very quick check in I was in my cabin before 1.30. I went for some lunch and a quick walk around the ship. We sailed out of Dover harbour in a brisk wind about 5pm.
A day at sea and then a transit of the Kiel canal, one of my reasons for booking the trip. We had a 4 hour wait for our slot to come up but entered the first lock about 12 noon. A lady had been taken very ill and there was to be a helivac from the back deck in the first lock. As it turned out the helicopter landed in the area beside the lock. All was handled very efficiently by the crew. Our progress along the canal didn’t disappoint, the views and the smells of the surrounding countryside were great. We finally exited the last lock about 11pm by which time I had retired to my cabin after being up on deck all day.
After a sea day we began the cruise up through the Swedish Islands. Another day up on deck looking at the fantastic views and we arrived in Stockholm for an overnight stay. Just caught the shuttle bus into town for a look around.
Next day was Helsinki and I caught the shuttle again.
We then arrived into St Petersburg for an overnight stay. We were surrounded by 5 floating tower blocks so it was obviously going to be very busy. I did a river cruise the first day and a tour of the Metro next day. I have no stamina now for long excursions so the 2 day tours were out also I don’t like crowds of which there were many.
Next day was Tallin in Estonia. I had booked a trip on a Soviet era bus. What a great trip it turned out to be, I have not laughed so much in ages. The guide gave us an experience of what it was like to live under Soviet rule with all the shortages etc. This was accompanied by much vodka or there was water from Chernobyl for those that wanted it! Towards the end of the tour we were given a sausage roll but due to Soviet shortages there may or may not be a sausage in it! All this with plenty of vodka, threats of deportation to Siberia and much humour. Our guide later told us that he had been at Oxford University for 4 years. Had intended to go into Tallin on the shuttle bus but having consumed too much vodka followed by wine with lunch I only got as far as a lie down in the cabin! Captain Tanner, a good fun captain, gave us an overnight in Tallin so the crew that could could get off.
Tomorrow is Klaipeda in Lithuania. I had booked a trip out into the village where an ex diplomat now lived. What a lovely spot he has there and such a lovely hospitable man. Another excellent excursion.
Another sea day was followed by Skagen in Denmark. A trip in on the shuttle bus revealed a delightful town, everywhere so clean. After a day at sea we arrived back into Dover at 8 but I was staying on for another week up to Norway.
Found myself a spot up on deck and watched the interesting ballet that was the unloading and subsequent loading of the ship. It all went like clockwork. We sailed about 5 for our day at sea.
First port of call on this trip was Haugesund, so just had a walk around. A nice little town but a bit dead as it was Sunday.
Next day was Bergen and I had booked a trip on the Vossenbahn steam railway. As I like old trains I found it very interesting and it didn’t rain. It was a beautiful hot day!
The highlight arrived next day, a sail into Flam and a trip on the railway. The sail in was spectacular and as it was a tender port we were all ready by 12 noon.
I had booked Flam railway and beyond. We did the “beyond” first and then the train ride back to Flam. Excellent. We slipped quietly out of Flam as it was beginning to get dark.
Next port was Skjolden and a trip up the highest road in Norway. It didn’t disappoint, another excellent trip.
Then came all too quickly the last stop in Stavanger. We had a Costa block of flats in front of us so not much view of the town until it sailed about an hour before us. I started to walk up to the old town but the masses off the other boat were coming my way so I ducked up a side street and found a little fisherman’s house which was now a museum. Admission was free which was just as well as I hadn’t intended to go ashore at that time so had not taken any money with me! Just before we sailed we had an almighty thunderstorm. Apart from that the weather had been very good on both trips. Low 70 most days.
My departure time was 9.10 and after a trip home in a Mercedes all to myself I walked in doors at just before 1.30. Excellent food, wine and of course service. Another brilliant Saga cruise. The next one I shall be trying out the new ship up to Italy and the Med. in late January.
Sorry it’s long winded, best read with a cup of coffee I think!
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Saga Sapphire to the Baltic and Norway.

Postby judgegeoff » 17 Sep 2019 07:50

Many thanks for sharing your cruises with us Ruth, it was a very interesting read. :clap: Chris and I haven't yet visited the Baltic, but it is very high on our list.
Geoff

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"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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Saga Sapphire to the Baltic and Norway.

Postby Gillzajoker » 17 Sep 2019 10:14

Really interesting review, Ruth - very enjoyable. :D
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Saga Sapphire to the Baltic and Norway.

Postby Mungo » 18 Sep 2019 06:40

Thanks for sharing! :mrgreen:

I love the Baltics and is on my “return to” list! :D
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Re: Saga Sapphire to the Baltic and Norway.

Postby rdw123 » 18 Sep 2019 06:44

Thanks for the replies. It was a very enjoyable cruise. I now know that I really prefer longer cruises to just 7 day ones. Call me lazy but I like being looked after!
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Re: Saga Sapphire to the Baltic and Norway.

Postby khkate » 18 Sep 2019 12:06

An interesting review Ruth - thanks. On the "beyond" bit for the flam trip, did you go and see some waterfalls, or did you go on a ferry trip? We have done both - quite amazing. Jealous of you doing the steam train trip in Bergen - every time we have been to Bergen the train has not been in operation and it looks a wonderful option. Enjoy Italy in January - I have a friend on the same cruise.
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Spirit of Adventure - September 2020, March 2021, June 2021, October 2021
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Re: Saga Sapphire to the Baltic and Norway.

Postby Camela » 18 Sep 2019 16:55

A good read, thank you. I wasn't aware of the Vossenbahn steam train so will investigate it for our stop in Bergen next year.
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Saga Sapphire to the Baltic and Norway.

Postby Dave » 18 Sep 2019 17:15

Thanks for that Ruth. :thumbup:

Our first proper (ie. not-mini) cruise was to the Baltic and we loved it. The Kiel Canal was a highlight although we entered it after sunset, but we stayed out on deck well into the night to enjoy the experience.
Dave

Booked cruise 2019: December - Caribbean on Marella Explorer 2
Remaining land-based holidays 2019: July - Peak District, August - Harris and Highlands, October - Brecon Beacons
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Saga Sapphire to the Baltic and Norway.

Postby grannyM » 19 Sep 2019 16:36

Really enjoyed your review Ruth. Sorry I've taken so long to comment it but wanted a quiet time to read it and this week has not been quiet!!

Thank you for taking the time to post it. I particularly liked reading about the Tallin trip on the Soviet era bus with plenty of vodka. If we ever go back to the Baltics it is certainly one I'll look for. ;) :lol:
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Saga Sapphire to the Baltic and Norway.

Postby khkate » 20 Sep 2019 09:16

grannyM wrote:Thank you for taking the time to post it. I particularly liked reading about the Tallin trip on the Soviet era bus with plenty of vodka. If we ever go back to the Baltics it is certainly one I'll look for. ;) :lol:


Saga often offer this excursion when in Tallinn. We've never done it , but when we did our last Baltics cruise, the captain did and said how brilliant it was - and the guide made them push-start the bus at the beginning of the tour too (well the gents anyway).
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