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Imaginary cruise of the Baltics

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    Imaginary cruise of the Baltics

    Morning all, cloudy here but mild.

    Today if Coronavirus hadn’t happened we would have been in Southampton waiting to board our ship for a Baltic cruise, we were really looking forward to visiting places like Stockholm, Tallin, Copenhagen, Helsinki and St. Petersburg in Russia but at least we are safe and well and can hopefully do the cruise another time.

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    Graham
    Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or you can visit us at our Website

    #2

    What were you doing this time last year when the only corona we knew came in bottles? This is what we were doing. It was a sea day on our cruise to the Baltic, they always choose a sea day for a formal night but not all sea days are formal nights there are normally 3 or 4 on a 14 night cruise.

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    Graham
    Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or you can visit us at our Website

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      #3
      Today but for the dreaded virus we would have been in Helsinki where it is pleasantly sunny but only 13 degrees max temperature, next stop is St. Petersburg Russia, we are imaging where we would be and what we would be doing as the days pass on what would have been our cruise. Helsinki was going to be a do-it-yourself tour of the city, maybe a light lunch before heading back to the ship no doubt weary and foot sore but happy.

      Here's what I imagine we would have done.

      The ship approaches the port through an island archipelago, it was beautiful, lots of little islands dotted all over, I imagine the captain has to be very careful on the approach. At every port the ship picks up a pilot who has local knowledge of the port and helps steer the ship successfully to its berth.

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      After disembarking the ship we caught the shuttle bus provided by P&O and it dropped us off in the main square where we spent a pleasant day walking around and seeing all the lovely sights.

      Here's a few pictures of what we would have seen.

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      Graham
      Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or you can visit us at our Website

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        #4
        Continuing our imaginary cruise. We’ve had a lovely imaginary day in Helsinki but we clambered back up the gangway absolutely exhausted after walking for miles.

        We are now underway for St Petersburg, the sea is fairly smooth with just a gentle swell but hardly noticeable because Azura is a huge ship.

        Tonight’s dress code is smart casual so after relaxing in the cabin and watching the sail away from our balcony with a glass of G&T we got dressed and ready for our evening meal. Although we could go to the main dining room or buffet for a free meal we are opting for one of the paid for restaurants called Sindhu which is a fusion of British/Indian food and excellent fare for just £20 a head for five courses. We were given £150 OBC (on board credit) each so we just give them our cruise card and the cost of the meal is deducted from our OBC.

        As usual the meal was excellent and the service superb. Here’s a few pictures.

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        After dinner we are we are going to the huge theatre to see a show by the Headliners who are the resident performers and are doing a musical tribute to the 60s, 70s and 80s.
        Graham
        Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or you can visit us at our Website

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          #5
          Good morning it’s 11 degrees and sunny here on our imaginary cruise, we really enjoyed last nights show by the Headliners in the theatre, some great dance routines to 60s, 70s and 80s music, afterwards we had a nightcap in our favourite bar which is right at the top of the ship at the stern, the resident pianist kept us entertained as we sipped our drinks.

          We docked in St. Petersburg around 6 am this morning, today we will breakfast in the buffet because we need to be ready for the excursion at 9am which is going to take us to see the sights of the city including The Church of the Spilled Blood, the Hermitage museum with its priceless treasures and a boat trip on the river, sounds great can’t wait. I’ll try to take some imaginary pictures to post later.

          Have a great day everyone.
          Graham
          Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or you can visit us at our Website

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            #6
            We’ve had a lovely imaginary day in St Petersburg on our imaginary cruise of the Baltic, I don’t have to imagine what the day would be like because we actually booked an excursion. We were taken by coach to the River Neva where we boarded a barge for a cruise up the river to the beautiful Church of Savior on Spilled Blood which is a strange name but our imaginary guide told us that the church was in fact build as a monument to Alexander II who was assassinated by a terrorist bomb on the site where the church was built hence the name “on spilled blood” fascinating stuff. Here’s some pictures.

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            After a guided tour of the church we were taken to the Hermitage Museum which houses over 3 million works of art from all over the world.

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            After a long day we were transported back to ship tired but happy after going to the cabin for a quick shower and freshen up we headed to Brodie’s which is a pub style bar on the ship I had an imaginary pint of real ale, (yes they do have real ale) and Pauline had a mocktail (an non alcoholic cocktail).

            Later we will be going for dinner in the main dining room which always has a excellent selection on their menu.

            More later.
            Graham
            Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or you can visit us at our Website

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              #7
              On our imaginary cruise we are staying overnight in St Petersburg so no sailaway party. We had another fabulous dinner in the main dining room, being the anti social types we are we ask for a table for two, we had a wait but were given a pager and went for pre dinner drinks in the piano bar, it wasn’t long before our pager was buzzing and we were making our way to the dining room, we prefer freedom dining which means we can turn up at any time rather than a set time every night. When we were shown to our table we were pleased to see it was the same table we’d had a previous night and the waiters recognised us and began immediately fussing round and gave us great service as usual.

              After dinner we went to see a comedian in one of the show bars he was very funny and had the audience roaring with laughter. After our by now customary night cap in our favourite bar we retired to our cabin where the steward had made up our beds with a little chocolate gift on our pillows. We were really tired and we have another big day in St Petersburg tomorrow so we soon drifted off to sleep, dreaming of our lovely experiences so far in this beautiful city.

              Night night all.
              Graham
              Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or you can visit us at our Website

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                #8
                Good morning all, I’ve just checked the weather in St Petersburg and it’s 16 degrees and sunny, so a lovely day for our 2nd day there on our imaginary cruise. Today we are having breakfast on our balcony as it’s so nice, you fill out a form and hang it outside your door the night before and the steward brings breakfast at the specified time. No cooked stuff but lots of choice of cereals, fresh fruit, Danish pastries, croissants, toast, preserves, cold meats etc., and of course tea or coffee in silver pots.

                Today we have another excursion which promises us a “glimpse of life of the ordinary Russian” we are taken across the city to the award winning subway and a trip to a food market and then tea and cake in a typical Russian cafe with locals. This is an excursion we booked and were looking forward to so I’ll report back later.

                Graham
                Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or you can visit us at our Website

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                #9
                Morning all we’ve just berthed in Tallinn, Estonia on our imaginary cruise (but for the virus we’d be REALLY doing this).

                Last night we left St. Petersburg after two fabulous days and had a great sailaway party in the evening sunshine on deck, lots of flag waving and patriotic music.

                We went to the main dining room again for dinner and I cheekily asked the maitre'd if we could have the same table as the previous night and after a short wait we were soon being greeted by our favourite waiters who are always smiling and friendly.

                After an excellent meal we made our way to the theatre where an excellent female vocalist gave us a lovely entertaining show.

                Back to this morning it’s a lovely morning here in Tallinn and the forecast is for a sunny 15-16 degrees, we are having a leisurely breakfast before making our way off the ship to explore what Tallinn has to offer.

                More later.
                Graham
                Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or you can visit us at our Website

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                  #10
                  Continuing our imaginary cruise we’ve just got back on the ship and had a late lunch it’s so nice we sat on deck with our lunch at the back of the ship overlooking one of the swimming pools which are being used due to the excellent weather.

                  Tallinn isa lovely quaint place the ship is berthed 500 metres from the town and 1km from the old town we opted to walk to the old town the cobblestones were a little uncomfortable to walk on but we had been warned of this in our daily ships newspaper so we made sure we were wearing good strong walking shoes, it was an uphill climb but worth it to see all the lovely old buildings and browse the craft market. We found a nice looking cafe with outside tables in the shade and had a coffee, after we’d seen everything we wanted to see we thought we make our way back to the shipto spend the afternoon relaxing after a hectic few days.

                  The captain tells us that sailaway is at 4.30 and all should be back by 4.00 pm so we’re back in good time.

                  Heres a couple of pics.

                  Pauline dwarfed by the Azura.

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                  Tallinn Old Town

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                  Graham
                  Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or you can visit us at our Website

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                    #11
                    Morning all, today we would have been sailing into Stockholm so that is where we are on our imaginary cruise this morning. The ship sails in early in the morning and all the guide books say it's worth getting up for so we did, depending on which guide you read there are between 24,000-30,000 islands as we sail in some are islets which are home to nesting birds so we are glad we brought our imaginary binoculars, some superior balcony cabins and suites have binoculars supplied but this cruise we opted for a slightly cheaper balcony cabin which didn't have the supplied binoculars.

                    After navigating the multitude of islands we berthed around 7am, the overnight sail had been a little bumpy with a 5 metre swell but as usual the Azura coped with it really well and it wasn't very noticeable apart from the slight movement which the resident comedian made some great jokes about last night at the show.

                    After breakfast and before we disembark for our walk round I want to pop to the gym and do a 5k run on the running machine. The gym is right at the front of the ship and has enormous windows looking out over the bow so you get a great view while you are working out, it has just about every piece of equipment you can imagine from rowing machines to cycles and running machines to weight lifting equipment and its all free.

                    Here's a couple of pictures I imagine I might have taken on the sail in.

                    More later.



                    Attached Files
                    Graham
                    Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or you can visit us at our Website

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                    • Graham
                      Graham commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Continuing our fantasy cruise after breakfast and a quick work out in the gym we disembarked, Stockholm is in fact made up of 14 islands, our ship (because it is rather large) was berthed a little way out of town so we caught the shuttle bus which took us into the heart of the city. We wanted to do our own thing and explore the city as we'd never been before, rather than take an excursion. We started our visit on Gamla Stan the central island from which the rest of the city radiates and is half the size of Regents Park but is crammed with a lot of interesting building and sites to visit. We spent the day just strolling round and getting a feel for the place, once again the architecture is lovely, I'm no expert but I love seeing the old buildings.



                      We visited the Royal Palace which is one of the largest in the world, part of it is open to the public and we enjoyed the Royal Armoury Museum which is a feast of Nordic military pomp and history. A quick ferry trip took us to another island in the city and we visited the Abba Museum which although we aren't particularly fans we really enjoyed.



                      We were getting really tired so headed back to where the shuttle bus waited to take us back "home" to our ship. Incidentally a nice touch every port call when everyone is back on board and accounted for the captain makes an announcement and welcomes everyone "home" then tells us where we are headed next and what the weather is expected to be like. We always look forward to his announcements because he is sometimes very funny and speaks with a broad Yorkshire accent.

                      Back on board it was time to relax on the balcony, put our feet up and enjoy a nice G&T. We are once again berthed so that our balcony looks out port side so we can see all the comings and goings of the busy port, provisions being loaded onto the ship, people returning from their excursions etc., everyone has to wash their hands with a sanitiser machine before boarding (this is normal practice as there isn't any covid19 on my imaginary cruise) and their cruise card is scanned so that the ships company know who is aboard and who is still ashore.

                      Here's Pauline enjoying a G&T on the balcony after our busy day.

                      Attached Files

                    • Graham
                      Graham commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Back on our imaginary cruise we sailed out of Stockholm around 5pm with everyone on board thankfully, it was a lovely sailaway which we enjoyed on our balcony some families had comes down to the quayside with little children so we gave them a wave as we slowly drifted away from the berth I hope they saw us because it must look like a huge block of flats to them.

                      Tonight we went to The Epicurian for our meal which is one of the select restaurants which you pay a little extra for £25 a head but it really is excellent and fine dining at its best, we had seven courses with wine, if every you are lucky enough to have a cruise on Azura you must try the Epicurian it really is a special treat.

                      Tomorrow will be a day at sea as we sail towards our next (and last) port which is Copenhagen. It'll be nice to have a relaxing sea day after all the ports we've had for the last few days.

                      Here's a few pictures of our evening meal.

                      Pauline watches as the waitress hand carves her starter and tells us all about the animal it came from, almost everything apart from the poor thing's name.



                      Attached Files

                    #12
                    Back in my imaginary world today on our cruise which we can't have we'd have had a sea day, this is always enjoyable especially after a series of exhausting port days, so today we are just going to relax, the sun is out and for those who want to there is plenty of scope to sunbathe or swim in the pools etc. but for non sun worshippers there is always lots of entertainment on board during the day. Interesting talks, films, quizzes, sporting activities etc.

                    Tonight as we are at sea it will be a formal night, they tend to save them for sea days, we are looking forward to putting our posh clothes on this evening and dining in the main dining room but more of that later.

                    Here's some pictures of what we would have been doing today.

                    Enjoying our favourite cocktail Pina Colada by the pool.



                    Having a tour of the galley where all the food is prepared for the guests.



                    Or just relaxing on our balcony.

                    Attached Files
                    Graham
                    Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or you can visit us at our Website

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                      #13
                      We've had a lovely day on our imaginary cruise, it's been a sea day so quite relaxing, after all that relaxing we were looking forward to our dinner so back to the cabin and shower, shave (for me) and get dressed in our finery for the black tie night, after 6pm on board the ship you are not allowed in certain bars, restaurants and entertainment venues unless you are wearing the appropriate dress code which is either a dinner jacket, tuxedo or dark suit for men and ball gown, trouser suit or cocktail dress for ladies. We find that the ladies do have quite a bit of leeway and really any smart dress is acceptable, the men however don't have as much choice, in the main most people tend to adhere to the code but there is always the odd person who seem to think that the rules don't apply to them and try to enter the dining room in jeans and t-shirt and they are politely turned away.

                      Of course if you don't want to dress for dinner there are plenty of other places you can go, the buffet restaurant is open to all and have a fantastic selection of food on offer and some bars are also open for anyone irrespective of dress.

                      We went down to the Atrium before dinner which is a good place to people watch and admire all the ladies gorgeous dresses and the men looking smart in their posh clothes. Photographers are on hand if you want that special picture of the occasion and they really do make an effort to pose you in the correct manner to make a fabulous picture to treasure.

                      On to the restaurant and we joined a small queue to see the maitre de and we asked for a table for two again and he asked if we would like our usual table which really pleased us, they obviously have it on their computer which table you have used before, we were quite happy to have that table again and see our wonderful waiters who really do look after us well. There are lots of waiters in the huge restaurant and a team of 4 look after a section of around 8-10 tables and they always serve on those tables so if you are on fixed dining you get to know the waiters and they get to know your likes and dislikes and for freedom diners like us if you ask for the same table you will get the same waiters every time. The meal once again was excellent as was the service, the beef wellington which I had just melted in my mouth. The wine waiter is also getting to know us, if you order a bottle of wine and don't drink it all (which we never do) they will save it for you until the next night, our wine waiter gave us this tip early on in the cruise as we were going to order wine by the glass because we didn't think we could finish a bottle, he told us its cheaper to have the bottle and he can save it, what a nice chap.

                      After dinner we went up to the Planet Bar which is our favourite bar it has wall to wall screens and on they are projected scenes from around the planet, it could be the streets of New York, the plains of the serengeti or indeed the Houses of Parliament as in the picture below, the surroundings are very plush and at night time the atmosphere is very relaxing with piano playing softly in the background. We enjoyed a glass of port whilst relaxing and listening to the music.

                      Copenhagen is our last port of call tomorrow before two sea days and back to Southampton. Boo!

                      Here's a few pictures of our evening.

                      The Planet Bar



                      The main dining room



                      Some good looking chap



                      A handsome couple

                      Attached Files
                      Graham
                      Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or you can visit us at our Website

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                      • Graham
                        Graham commented
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                        Morning all, I've just checked the weather in Copenhagen and it's beautiful, this is the sight that we should have been seeing this morning.



                        We would no doubt have enjoyed breakfast on our balcony as we very often do on port days especially when we are doing a tour which we would have been doing today. In my imagination the steward knocked on the door and asked if it was ok to bring our breakfast in, we were in our dressing gowns and he brought the tray in and put it on the table on the balcony for us, he is a pleasant chap and we asked him if we would manage to get ashore, he said he would be able to have a walk this afternoon when he'd done his duties and he was looking forward to it because he'd not been to Copenhagen before.

                        We are going to have an excursion today which takes us on a boat cruise around the harbour and then down the picturesque canals to the Tivoli Gardens and amusement park which we are looking forwards to.

                        More later.
                        Attached Files

                      • Graham
                        Graham commented
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                        We've just got back to the ship on our imaginary cruise, we had a great day, first of all we boarded a canal boat/barge thing which took us a cruise around the harbour and along Copenhagen’s picturesque canals to see some of the city’s main sights, including the old naval area of Holmen and the bronze statue of The Little Mermaid, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale.



                        It was smaller than I imagined but I suppose it is the Little Mermaid after all. There are some lovely sights to behold and our guide told us lots of interesting facts about the city as we cruised along the canal to our destination which was Tivoli Gardens which is an amusement park set in beautiful gardens with dozens of rides including a 1914 wooden rollercoaster, we had free time in the gardens to wander round at will, the rides were all a bit daring for us so we just strolled round and enjoyed watching other people going on them. The entry price to get in the gardens was included in our tour price but any rides we wanted we had to pay for ourselves. We were tempted by the little boats but decided we had enough water rides for one day.



                        The gardens were beautiful and it was such a lovely day to see all the flowers in bloom. The time passed quickly and it was soon time to go to our arranged meeting point to board the coach which would take us back to the ship.

                        A short queue was forming at the gangways whilst everyone used the sanitising machine to clean their hands as we boarded the ship. It was still quite early and the sun was out and lovely and warm so we made the most of it and went and found some sunbeds by the pool, lots of folk were still off the ship on tours so it was fairly quiet and I was able to have a swim in the outdoor pool with the large screen which is used to show outdoor films. After a lovely swim we dried off and did a bit of sunbathing and managed to catch the eye of a waiter (they are always wandering round) and I ordered a nice cold beer whilst Pauline had her favourite mocktail Mango Mule.



                        We are staying on deck for the sailaway which should be around 4.30 it will be a special one because its the last port of our cruise before we have two sea days on the way back to Southampton.



                        Attached Files

                      • Graham
                        Graham commented
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                        On our imaginary cruise tonight it is an Hawaiian theme night, everyone is encouraged to dress for the theme, the waiters in the main dining room all wear Hawaiian shirts, they used to supply Hawaiian Lei to put round your necks but they don't do that now so we take our own which we have saved from other cruises, I wore an appropriate shirt and Pauline put some flowers in her hair, our waiters complimented us on our efforts.



                        After dinner we decided to watch an outdoor film which was showing above the swimming pool, this is a really nice way to watch a film (as long as its not raining) we once tried to watch the film Noah on another cruise and guess what? the heavens opened and it bucketed down with rain, we couldn't believe it everyone on deck was laughing at the irony. Anyway thankfully on this cruise the weather remained fine although it dropped a bit cool at night so we found a couple of sun beds and used the blankets supplied by the crew and settled down to watch The Book Thief which we enjoyed very much, thankfully waiters were still patrolling to serve drinks for anyone who wanted one.



                        After another lovely evening we made our way back to the cabin to read our books and have a bit of quiet time, only two days left now and they are both sea days, we don't want to go home from our imaginary cruise we have enjoyed it so much.
                        Attached Files

                      #14
                      Today is a sea day on our imaginary cruise we are heading home now so the sea is fairly calm and it's been a day of relaxing, a bit of sunbathing, a few swims, I went to a talk in the theatre from the captain about his life on P&O ships, it was very interesting and amusing at times.

                      Here is a video tour of the ship, I didn't manage to get everywhere but it gives you a taste of what the ship is like.

                      Graham
                      Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or you can visit us at our Website

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                        #15
                        Morning all it’s the last day of our imaginary cruise, we berthed in Southampton at 6am, breakfast is served in the buffet restaurant so a last minute fill up for the drive home. The last of our cases (apart from hand luggage) had to be put outside the cabin last night. Those wanting an early start can self disembark but they have to take their own cases off the ship, we don’t fancy lugging three large cases about plus hand luggage so we are happy to wait.

                        There are over 3,000 passengers on the ship so you can imagine it’s a logistical nightmare for the staff, as usual it is all quite smooth, passengers are disembarked in groups our group are told to meet in the theatre at 9.30 then when the time is right we join a long queue that snakes around the ship to get to the gangway. Of course as in all these situations some people think rules dont apply to them and they try to join the front of the queue but staff politely remind them that the end of the queue is in the theatre.

                        Once off the ship our luggage is in a huge hangar like building split into decks, we find the area for deck c, grab a trolley and start the hunt for our luggage, there are lots of similar cases and just as we are thinking ours aren’t there we find them. Porters are on hand if you can’t manage to manhandle luggage yourself and disabled passengers are given priority.

                        Successfully getting through customs without being stopped despite looking guilty as hell for no reason we make our way to the booth marked CPS (cruise parking services) where we hand over a card and are given our car keys which has been parked in a secure compound just across from the cruise terminal.

                        The car is easy to spot with it’s white roof bars and after loading the luggage and popping the trolley in the designated place we are soon on our way and waving farewell to Azura after our fabulous cruise.

                        Attached Files
                        Graham
                        Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or you can visit us at our Website

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