- Day 17 – Aug 6 – Karlskrona, Sweden
- Day 18 – Aug 7 – A day at the Baltic Sea
This port stop was another substitution on our original itinerary, for we were scheduled to stop at Tallin, Estonia. We all know who the culprit is for that. OK, end of rant 😉
Anyhow, Karlskrona is a coastal and naval city located in the picturesque archipelago of the southern Swedish province of Blekinge. Did you know that Sweden is the country with the most islands in the world? There are more than 267,000 of them, but fewer than 1,000 are inhabited. A cool little factoid we learned while we were here.
We took the first early tender from the ship to the harbor and began our 2 1/2 hour walking tour. The town was quiet because most of the businesses here don’t open until 10:00am. Our first impression was that the town was dead, since we were the only ones walking around at that hour. We were proven wrong, for by the time we left the streets were humming with people and activities.
Our visit to this small and quiet island really drove home how much history exists in the countries we’ve visited recently. We’ve seen so many structures that were built over 500 years ago and are still standing that it’s becoming common-place. Our guides have described the history of these stops in great detail, and this island was a nice example of a small population (about 65,000) dealing with everything that’s happened over the past few centuries, including current issues like Covid.
We learned about the placement of the military and civilian sections on the island, and how they interact. Karlskrona was built as Sweden’s main naval base and shipyard in the late 17th century. The naval presence has ensured distinctive architectural qualities, and UNESCO has named this place a World Heritage city. Signs on the huge rock walls around the base warned us to not take any pictures of the walls or base facilities.
A stroll to the Bjorkholmen historical area led us to the narrow alleys of the old working section of town with charming cottages in vibrant colors. Many of the tiny wooden houses with low ceilings are from the 18th century and were built by ship carpenters for themselves and their families.
Hopefully our photos will give you a sense of what this place is like – small, quiet, and colorful. It has good schools and virtually no crime. Unfortunately the fishing industry isn’t anything like it used to be, and many small businesses have started up over the years but then gone on to fail.
Day 18 – Aug 7 – A day at the Baltic Sea
We always embrace a day at sea. It’s a time to catch our breath from the busy days of excursions with their constant feed of knowledge. We were ready for a break. What did we do? Well, we took a multi-mile walk around Deck 2, relaxed at the wonderful Nordic Thermal Suite Spa, did laundry, downloaded pictures, read, ate, and ate and ate.
Unlike our aborted World Wonders Cruise in 2020 where we hung out with new friends and joined ship activities, this time around we were more socially distant. We still had 38 days to go, including two river cruises, and we sure didn’t want to get sick. So we watched the port talks from our stateroom, skipped most of the shows at the Star Theater and mostly ate by ourselves. We were kind of boring cruisers this time.
Located next to the Explorer Lounge is a Norwegian-style deli called Mamsen’s where the menu originated from Viking’s owner’s mother, all served on the same tableware used by their family. The waffles are legendary and to die for! So much so that I could only eat half of one (Steve is not a big waffle fan).
Below is a sampling of what we enjoyed from the huge buffet selection at the World Café:
Steve attained his goal of gaining 10 pounds on our 14-day cruise, by visiting the buffet bar 2-3 times per meal. I felt like I was having dinner with a farm animal – oink, oink!
Our Homelands ocean cruise is winding down to its final stop – Stockholm