Day 3 - Stockholm, Sweden

July 3rd

Cruise Ship Log

July 3, 2007 - Stockholm: The Star Princess made her final approach to Stockholm in the mid morning. We were alongside with gangways rigged and ready by 1030.

Noon Position:
Alongside in Stockholm

Pressure: 1007.0 kPa

Wind: SE Force 3

Temperature: 22° C

Sky: Cloudy

Chris woke up around 8:30 a.m., an early morning at our own choosing. We looked out our balcony and could see land as the ship was gently cruising up the fjord to the port. The sun was bright and the landscape was dotted with little houses that had small piers and boats tied up outside. Chris thought it would be nice to go up to the top of the ship and watch as we pulled into the port. I quickly got dressed, we took our cameras and called Tina to say that we were going up to the top deck. We walked up as high as we could go to the viewing platform on top of the bridge.

Other travelers apparently had the same idea as us, but not many so we were able to get a good spot. At first the wind was chilly, but as the ship turned and entered an area more sheltered it was very nice and warm in the sun. From our vantage point we could watch ships leaving Stockholm and other ships following ours into the port. The terrain on both sides of the ship was similar to the Pacific Northwest -- slightly rocky with pine trees. There were piers and boats all along the way and at the gentle pace we were cruising, it was a very enjoyable way to start the day.

Soon the rest of our group arrived, Kirsten still in her footy pajamas. With the port was still off in the distance we all headed back inside for breakfast. We had plenty of time to get dressed for our excursion after breakfast, especially since the ship still had not docked. So all we could do was wait around until we finally docked at 10:30 a.m. Docking mid-morning meant there would not be enough time to explore on our own and get back to the ship in time to meet with the rest of the group in the Princess Theater at noon.

Chris and I meet with Tina and Brad, taking our seat in the theater. Angela, Brian and Kirsten were in another area of the theater since they were going on a different tour than us. Soon, everyone was shuttled past the photo crew, who take your photo as you get off the port and loaded onto the buses departing on different tours within Stockholm. Our guide introduced herself and asked if everyone in the back, which was where we were seated, could hear her. She explained the general timing of the tour for the day. Our RIB boat adventure was only eight people, so the rest of the bus would be doing other touring after the first stop – the Vasa Museum.

driving around stockholmThe unfortunate thing about our guide was that as soon as the bus started moving, we were not able to hear her. Since English was not her primary language, I really had to concentrate to understand what we were looking during our small tour of the city. I had read a travel guide on Stockholm and knew about some building that would be interesting to see, but without knowing where we were in the city to start with, I had to rely on our guide’s commentary to know what we were passing outside our windows. The driver went out of his way to travel down some roads and show us the shopping areas that we would not be able to visit. I took some photos out the window of various parts of the city. The bus passed by the palace and I believe the guide pointed towards the building where the Noble Prize is awarded every year.I considered the cruise a sampling of the Scandinavian countries. However, the quick dash about the city really pointed out how little we were actually going to be able to see of these cities, much less the countries themselves.

We got off the bus at the Vasa Museum. Since we had to meet back at a key point in less than 50 minutes earlier than the rest of the bus for our boating adventure, we quickly spilt from the group and toured the museum on our own. The museum itself is small, pretty much a building built around this royal ship from the 1600’s and built around in the manor that the mast extend out of the building making it easy to identify the building as you approach. The books I read mentioned that the museum also had two other historic Swedish boats. However, they were docked outside the museum so we weren’t able to see them. The only problem with the Vasa was that it appeared to be the first stop for most all the tours of Stockholm. So while normally 50 minutes would have been antiquate time to see everything, given all the people it was not.

We walked around taking some photographs of the recovered ship. Since the boat had been underwater for so many years, it was not something that you could actually walk on to, but from the upper floors of the building you could look down into the ship. While it is large, it is hard to believe that it is something that was build to carry people on the Baltic Sea.

I had already been surprised by the vastness of the Baltic Sea -- from looking at a map it was hard to believe that they could make a journey from one port to another, to realize that ships like the Vasa were meant to navigate this same area is incredible.

There were some interesting displays that showed the painting of the Vasa, what life was like at the time of the ship and even a replica of one of the crow’s nests that you couldl walk out on to over the ship. The crow's nest was very high up, even by the standards of someone who is not typically afraid of heights. Next, we attempted to navigate our way through the gift shop and find something from Sweden to take home and to the café to get something to eat. The line at the café was long and all the food was pre-made for a sit down meal, we did not have the time and needed to get outside to meet up for the boat ride.

Prior to the trip I had suggested to Chris that we really try and get some photos of the two of us that were not at the same stops that everyone else was using for their backdrops. When I looked back at other trips, I noticed many of our group photos were all taken in the same places, which really made putting my books together rather boring. Outside the museum Chris and I struggled to get a photo of the two of us in Sweden with no one available to hold the camera. Meanwhile, Brad was on a mission to find something to eat. I was the only one who had any cash, and only dollars, so he found a hot dog vendor who would take U.S. dollars. I bought us three of the best hot dogs I have ever eaten from the vendor for $12.