As mentioned yesterday the approach to Stockholm is not unlike the approach and departure from Turku. Lots of scenic locations with small and large colorful holiday homes perched (some precariously) on rocks and islands. The only difference is that with Stockholm we come in from the north and we will exit via the south side. That means that the scenery is only the same for about an hour when near Stockholm itself. The Prinsendam is the only Holland America ship that can do the south exit from the Archipelago.
Close to open sea there is a 90o turn (and it is really 90o) and the pilots have decided that the safe maximum length is 220 meters for a ship to make the turn and that only when the weather is nice. Too much wind and the ship still has to exit via the North exit and then it is an extra 30 miles to get back to where the ship would have otherwise exited. Because the hour before and after Stockholm is the same route, the guests will not have missed very much in case they were not up and about early this morning. They can catch up on the departure and also see the best bit as on the southern route there is much more to see then on the northern route.
We were lucky to day that we could dock in downtown. There is one large cruise ship dock here, Stadtgarden 161, next to the Viking ferry dock, and the Prinsendam just fits in. Normally, only when you are smaller, you dock in down town as was the case with one of the small Windstar ships today. This ship has been following us around since Tallinn and has popped up everywhere except in Turku. The only other option for downtown is to go on the buoys here which sometimes happens as well, the R class is about the largest ship size which can do that but it is a mixed blessing. The ship goes at anchor and then brings out mooring ropes to a large yellow buoy which prevents the ship from swinging around the anchor as there is not enough room to do so. On a windy day, one just has to hope that the buoy can hold the ship, and on good and bad days there is so much traffic – wave making traffic – that running a tender service is not so ideal either. Passing boats and ships do not slow down and that can result in a bouncy tender alongside the ships platform and downtown landing and in a roller coaster ride to and from. And yes you dock in downtown but the journey can be unpleasant. Now it was about a mile to walk to down-down town but a glorious walk in the sunshine. Those not on tour had the option to take (my favorite) hop on – hop off big red bus to town where it also connects to a hop on – hop off sightseeing boat.
The crew had other things to think about than hopping on and off, as today was the 128th Filipino Independence day which is celebrated by all the Philippino’s anywhere in the world, including on ships at sea. So our Filipino community had also prepared for the festive day which always consist out of three parts, official in the morning, followed by games, followed by a festive dinner, followed by a party (for one night we block off a passenger deck if the weather is nice) Although the structure of the vents always remains the same, every generation is changing the program a little bit. Where it very disciplined in the 80’s, this year was the first year that they had incorporated a Disco dance and the presentation was gleaned from tv shows where they use two presenters. Most of the crew were wearing the T shirt for the 128th. Which seems to be a major point of excitement for both Filipino and Indonesian crew. In the past I had to deal with major dramas (and traumas) if the T shirts did not arrive timely at the ship as they are normally printed at home. Without a T shirt, no independence day is possible it seems.
This time the T shirts were on time and all was well in the world. What had not changed was the prayer, the national anthem, the history lesson, the wise (?) words from the captain and a spiritual message from the Chairman of the Filipino community on board. And then it was time for a tug of war on the dock side. Won this time by the galley staff.
This evening we will have a 2.5 hrs. scenic cruise to the south exit of the Stockholm archipelago and then we will sail to Visby for a ¾ day call tomorrow.
Visby is located on the island of Gotland and is part of Sweden
We will dock there and as I have not been there for a while I will find out if the Prinsendam is still the longest cruise ship allowed to dock or they have already built a mega pier as the plan was. The cruise plan gives pier 14 and that is a new number to me. We will have a continuation of the same weather. Partly Cloudy to sunny 65oF / 20oC. This is starting to shape up to be a VERY nice cruise.
And yes……………. we had a cake yesterday for our 30 year old Birthday girl ms Prinsendam.