Bright, sunny day at sea – clear skies, light following winds, temperatures rising to 23C.
After an exhausting but fascinating two days in St Petersburg, it was nice to have a sea day to relax and rewind. Thankfully we were blessed with gorgeous weather and smooth seas.
After breakfast in the Queens Grill, M went to the Royal Court Theatre for a lecture on The British Royal Navy and their reliance on the Baltic region in the late 18th to mid-19th century. It was interesting to hear how critical supplies from Baltic ports were to the building of the fleet, e.g. wood for masts, hemp for ropes. In order to build one ship, a multitude of other vessels fully loaded with materials were required to enable its construction. The talk provided a real insight into why the sea merchant trade was of such importance during this period. It also gave context to the Battle of Copenhagen that Admiral Nelson was involved in, as it was crucial to maintaining the sea lanes for the British. It was the fleet built during this period that (among other things) would go on to destroy the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar.
We both went to the gym for a quick work out before lunch. J had a Rueben Sandwich, and M had Schnitzel Vienna style with a potato salad. After lunch M attended a Gin tasting class at the Midship Bar. Hosted by one of the bartenders, and with just 7 guests it gave an opportunity to taste a few neat gins and understand the difference the botanicals make to them. Fascinating to learn more after so many years of drinking G&T’s! That was followed by tasting (and drinking) four gin cocktails. These were accompanied by some very nice tapas style nibbles. M returned with all sorts of new information, e.g. London Dry Gin applies to all gin which includes all its botanicals in a single distilling process versus Distilled Gin which has additional botanicals added at a later point in the process and apparently James Bond got it wrong – you should never shake a gin martini as it will bruise the botanicals. It seemed M developed a bit of a taste for gin martinis as from this point onwards, his post dinner cocktail because a wet gin martini, stirred with 2 olives (1 for each of us). J continued to work her way through the Commodore Club cocktail list!
The rest of the afternoon was a relatively lazy affair, enjoying the beautiful sunshine as we continued sailing south. J went to the beauty salon at 5pm to have her hair made up ready for the evening.
It was a Gala evening which meant formal dress code – an opportunity for J to put on one of her beautiful evening gowns, and M to break out the tuxedo. This is one of our favourite parts of cruising as we rarely have an excuse to dress up at home (and J LOVES to see M in his tux!). M ordered a lovely bottle of a Chateau Gruaud Larose Saint Julien to accompany a starter of pan-seared duck liver, followed by rack of lamb ribs which was delicious as always (he actually ordered loin of lamb, but instead the a la carte rack was delivered and he didnt complain!) J ordered the sweetcorn Chowder with spiced popcorn and the broiled lobster tail with sesame crusted jumbo shrimp.
We were also at the end of our bottle of 1970’s Warres vintage port – and after much deliberation we chose to get another bottle of the 1980 Dows which we had when we first left Southampton and taste them side by side. They were both very fine Ports, and it was interesting how the 1970 remained much more consistent during the 4 days or so that it was open, whereas the 1980 evolved into a richer more full flavour. We went through to the Grills Lounge to finish our Port and the Petit Fours that are served up after every evening meal.
We went to the Queens Room after dinner to watch some of the ballroom dancing. We are always in awe of the couples who effortlessly take to the floor and know the various steps. We really hope that one day we will be able to master one or two dances and feel comfortable take to the floor ourselves.
After watching the professional dancers do a routine, we decided to go up to the Commodore Lounge for a night cap as we watched another beautiful sunset sky. That actually turned into two night caps (J tried another couple of the Commodore signature cocktails, whilst M enjoyed a couple of Martini’s). It was another perfect evening, and we didn’t want it to end, so we ended up also going to the Yacht club to have a dance before finally retiring to bed.
Throughout this trip we were consistently struck by the beauty of the night-time sky and how fortunate we were to be able to experience it while enjoying such luxury onboard the Queen Victoria.