Gothenberg, Sweden and One Last Evening aboard Wind Spirit

The rain-splashed decks of the Wind Spirit as we approach Gothenburg, Sweden. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

As Windstar Cruises’ Wind Spirit sailed into the Swedish port of Gothenburg this morning, the dreary weather was tempered with the sad knowledge that this would be the last day onboard for 119 of us, including yours truly.  Ten lucky guests will be continuing on to Le Havre, France aboard the next voyage as Wind Spirit works her way back to the sun-drenched islands of the Mediterranean.

Breakfast may have moved indoors this morning, but it was no less enjoyable. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

But back in the present, today is the first day on our entire itinerary that has begun with less-than-desirable weather, and even then the heavy rain that plagued our sail-in cleared up magically before the first guests stepped ashore this morning.

Stepping ashore in rainy Gothenburg. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Our time in Gothenburg was fantastic.  We took part in the “Maritime Gothenburg” shore excursion that whisked us on a comprehensive tour of the city centre before turning us loose on along the canals of Sweden’s second-largest city.  The water level on the canals was so high today that at one point we all had to leave our seats and sit on the floor to go under one particularly low bridge that had been affectionately dubbed, “The Cheese Shredder.”

Cruising the canals of Gothenburg, Sweden. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

We passed with less than half a foot of clearance above the seats.

Our tour guide here was just as good as the ones we’ve had the privilege of meeting on other excursions, and has restored my faith in shore excursions in general.  I’ve never been a huge fan of shore excursions, but I feel that we’ve definitely got our money’s worth out of the four we’ve taken here so far.

Gothenburg, seen from the water. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Tomorrow, we’re taking part in the four-hour Oslo City Tour offered by Windstar.  Including a drop-off at Oslo International Airport or central Oslo hotels, this post-cruise tour seemed like a no-brainer way to transition from our stay aboard the Wind Spirit to our overnight stay in the capital of Norway.

Located right on the cruise pier, the Volvo Museum is a must-see for transportation enthusiasts. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

I also took the time to go visit the Volvo Museum.  Located a mere hundred steps or so from the cruise pier, the Volvo Museum highlights – predictably – the history of Volvo and their contributions to the automotive industry.  But it doesn’t end there: trucks, tractors, aircraft engines, marine generators, and even concept vehicles are on display here.  If you’re at loose ends or simply have some free time, its well-worth the 50 SEK admission fee.

A tug helps us during departure from Gothenburg, due to high winds. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

This evening though, we are finally feeling some “motion on the ocean” tonight as the Wind Spirit sways noticeably.  Still, she’s more stable than many full-size cruise ships I’ve been fortunate to have sailed on, and if anything this slight movement seems to only enhance passengers’ enjoyment here this evening.  The lounge is almost completely full, and music and dancing are in full swing, even as 11pm approaches.

A tasty, end-of-cruise martini. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

I made my way onto the Navigation Bridge today for the third time this voyage.  I always feel a bit strange about just entering into this domain that remains inaccessible aboard so many other cruise ships, so I rap on the glass each time with my knuckles, and each time the officer on duty beckons me in.  From the Captain to the Officers, they’re all eager to chat about their chosen profession and their beautiful ship.  I only wish more lines offered this fascinating experience, and I can’t thank the officers enough for taking the time to “geek out” with me over their maritime knowledge.

Trading my "deck chair" for something a little more comfortable this evening aboard the Wind Spirit. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Speaking of all things maritime, I should mention that the seas last night were heavy enough to wash over our Deck 1 stateroom porthole windows; it was incredible!  Ironically, I’ve never slept so well in my life.  The beds here are terrifically comfortable, and there’s something about a little pitching and rolling that just puts one to sleep like a baby.  I only wish I slept this well on land.

Even though there’s still another day of enjoyment left in this Live Voyage Report, this unique cruise with Windstar can be summed up based on what I saw today as we sailed out of Gothenburg.

The rain had returned, and the wind picked up noticeably.  A tug was needed to pull our bow out from our berth, as thrusters alone weren’t enough to do the job.  A large crowd had assembled on the aft pool deck despite the pouring rain, with every pair of eyes trained on the receding dock.  As “Conquest of Paradise” began to play one last time, the lady next to me broke down and began to cry.  Her husband put an affectionate arm around her, and she wept with the same strength as the raindrops pounding on the deck.

Every passenger understood the significance of that music, that “last song.”  They are leaving their adopted home at sea behind, with its smiling, ever-helpful crew members.  The motion of the ocean won’t lull them to sleep tomorrow, and no sail-away music will fill their ears at 4pm.  For many, Europe will also be left behind tomorrow; the “old world” that holds the promise of so many new discoveries and adventures.

Next year, Windstar will return to the Baltic region, but with the larger Wind Surf taking over the run for the smaller Wind Spirit.  I’ve seen more than a few passengers taking advantage of the onboard future cruise booking deposit, and talking about plans to come back to this fascinating region next year.

One final evening to enjoy some music and dancing in The Lounge aboard Windstar Cruises' Wind Spirit as we head to Oslo, Norway. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

But like any good adventure, the ending of this fantastic voyage aboard Windstar Cruises’ Wind Spirit is one that has yet to be written.  A great author once said, “We’ll always have Paris,” but I think what he really meant was, “We’ll always have the Wind Spirit.

Join us tomorrow as we explore Oslo, Norway and say a regretful goodbye to Windstar Cruises’ beautiful motor-sailing yacht, the Wind Spirit – hosted by Ralph Grizzle’s The Avid Cruiser!




3 Responses to Wind Spirit Live Voyage Report – Day 8

  1. Patty says:

    Glad you have had such a great trip! Can’t beat Windstar!

  2. Anton says:

    What a great live voyage report!
    A question, what does Windstar offer if you take advantage of the “onboard future cruise booking deposit”?

    • Aaron Saunders says:

      I believe they offered $100 onboard credit for a $100 future cruise deposit. Many passengers seemed to take advantage of it!

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