The city of spires

With this cruise starting and finishing in Copenhagen, we wanted to spend some time in that city and we had also been in contact with Gary’s cousin Nicola about the possibility of her meeting us there either before or after the cruise. For Nicola it would be approximately a two hour flight from London. It worked out for her to meet us after the cruise, so we spent a bit of time coordinating what we’d do before and after the cruise in Copenhagen. It was nice to plan the possibilities in the weeks leading up to the trip.

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    Our flight was scheduled to leave Toronto on Monday June 28 at 5:15pm, but our preparation began the day before to make Monday a bit more relaxed. The flight to Copenhagen was smooth and the only complaint about the flight was that Gary’s entertainment screen wasn’t functioning, and even that may have been a blessing - with him taking the opportunity to sleep through the night rather than watch movies. In the end Gary slept about 5 hours and Linda about 3 hours (with a working entertainment system, that is) on the way to the Danish capital. The early Tuesday morning approach into Copenhagen Airport gave us a good view of the impressive Oresund Bridge that links Denmark with Sweden - fortunately, we were on the left side of the plane to be able to see it.

    Our flight touched down about 8:00am in Copenhagen. The process to clear customs was very efficient, and we were waiting at the baggage carousel before any of the luggage from our flight appeared. In due course we spotted our two larger bags and then waited and waited for the third to appear. When almost all of the bags had been removed we resigned ourselves to the fact that bag number three wasn’t arriving. We checked the luggage tag numbers on the two we had received to report the non-arriving bag and it was only then we realized that a black bag with its handle partially raised was still on the carousel....yes, our third bag. Neither of us had recognized the shape of the handle pulled slightly out of the bag as it passed by likely several times. We laughed as we collected bag three off the nearly empty carousel and noted that our black bag maybe needed something slightly more distinctive than a black luggage tag! With all bags in hand, we made our way to the taxi stand and within thirty minutes we were safely delivered to the Copenhagen Admiral Hotel. We had arrived.

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  • Tuesday June 29, 2010

    First tour of Copenhagen, Nationalmuseet and dinner at Cap Horn

    Our first impression of the Copenhagen Admiral Hotel was that it was very nice. The building was originally built in 1787 as a grain-drying warehouse and the building and location are rich in history. It opened as a hotel in 1978 and was renovated to its current configuration in 2004. The mixture of old and new in the hotel was well done - a modern Scandinavian elegance that complimented the heritage of the building. Understandably, our room was not ready at this early hour of the day for checking-in, so we had our luggage stored in order to do some sightseeing in the city until the time we could get into our room. Incidentally, this was one of the better setups we had seen in hotels for handling luggage storage and security.

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      Without the burden of luggage we ventured out from the hotel shortly after 9:00 am. The day was developing nicely, with it being warm and sunny - not a cloud in sight. First stop was Nyhavn - a very colourful and picturesque street along a canal and plump full of cafes, bars & restaurants. We strolled along the street, and even though not many were in the cafes and restaurant there was still lots of activity - with fresh supplies being delivered to almost every spot along the street. Both sides of the canal are called Nyhavn, with the odd numbered building being on the north side, and the even on the south side of the canal. One road, Holbergsgade, crosses the Nyhavn Canal, which provides a nice bridge location to view the canal and surroundings.

      What isn't obvious at first with this bridge is that it is a drawbridge, such that boats with masts could pass though it travelling west from the open harbour into the dead-ended canal. Having said that, it didn't look like many of the boats in the canal had moved recently. Some of the boats in the canal had the look of being moored permanently.

      From Nyhavn we made our way to Amalienborg, the royal winter residences. We entered Amalienborg from the south along Amaliegade, home to a number of embassies. At the end of the street stood the entrance to the octagonal courtyard of the palace grounds marked by a colonnade between two of the palaces. This colonnade was erected in 1795 to connect the royal families of Christian IX and Christian VII. Of the four entrances to the grounds this is the only one with a colonnade. Amalienborg has four palaces, each located on the diagonal facet of the octagonal square. The buildings date back to 1754–1758 and have been used as Royal Palaces since 1794. Clockwise from the colonnade - the Moltke Palace (Christian VII), the Levetzau Palace (Chistian VII, Christian X), Brockdorff Palace (Frederik VIII, Frederik IX), Schack (originally Løvenskjold) Palace (Frederik VI, Cristian IX, Margrethe II). At the centre of the square is an equestrian statue of Frederik V unveiled in 1771 to commemorate the founder of Amalienborg. Tours were available for some parts of the palaces and a fairly long line had already formed along the north entrance of the square. We opted to avoid the wait and stuck to an external visit of Amalienborg on this beautiful morning. Before leaving we watched a guard change near the colonnade and then made our way east towards the water - and Amaliehaven. Amaliehaven is a relatively new park, having been built in the 1980s on a spot that used to be a shipyard. It now provides a scenic connection to Amalienborg from the harbour, and with the newly built Opera House located directly across the harbour from Amaliehaven it is a very attractive area. Amaliehaven itself is a fairly compact rectangular park with a central fountain flanked by four rather abstract columns that had a “familiar” look to us - turns out they were “Pillars for Amaliahaven” made by Arnaldo Pomodoro, the same Italian artist who had made “Sfera Con Sfera” (Sphere Within Sphere) in Cortile della Pigna at the Vatican Museum that we had seen last year.

      Walking towards the water we only then realized how close we were to our hotel. We’ve often noticed on trips to European cities that we misinterpreted the scale of the city map - viewing them on the scale that we would for a map of Toronto without taking into account that these cities are much smaller in area. Viewing the Admiral Hotel from Amaliehaven gave us just such an appreciation for the scale of Copenhagen.

      We walked northward from Amaliehaven along the waterfront Larsens Plads, planning this scenic route to get us to our next destination of Citadellet Frederikshavn, more commonly known as Kastellet - recognized as one of the best preserved citadels in Europe. On our way we passed by a building that was associated with Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark) and houses the Royal Cast Collection - plaster casts of statues and reliefs from all over the world dating back as far as 2500 BC. The collection itself dates back to the 18th century. Further northward along the waterfront we reached the end of Larsens Plads and then decided walk through Langeline Park to take a look at the impressive Gefionspringvandet (Gefion Fountain), built 1897 to 1908 and donated to the city by Carlsberg in honour of the brewery’s 50th anniversary. The spot the fountain is located was not the originally intended one - it was first planned to go outside city hall. Not really sure why it ended up in this spot instead. The fountain depicts a 9th century mythical story of the creation of the island of Zealand (on which Copenhagen is located). According to the myth, the Swedish king Gylfi was seduced by the Norse goddess Gefjun and he promised her all of the territory she could plough in a night. She turned her four sons into oxen and the territory that they ploughed out of the earth was tossed into the sea to create Zealand. Mythology notwithstanding, it truly is an impressive fountain to look at. No touring route on our vacation is ever straight, so this one was no exception - but we finally did reach our “next” destination of Kastellet. Today, Kastellet is a pretty and peaceful public park as well as a military monument, but it started life in the 1600s as a pentegon-shaped fortification to defend the northern part of Copenhagen. The fortifications on the five bastions no longer remain, but the shape is preserved by the raised ramparts that now provide a very pleasant walk (or jog, as many were doing while we were there) with lovely views of Copenhagen around Kastellet. Each of the bastions have names, and the one located in the southwest of Kastellet is called the King’s Bastion and has a Dutch-style windmill. The one that stands now dates back to 1847 and is the third windmill to occupy the location. Historically, Kastellet featured prominently in the 1807 version of the Battle of Copenhagen (not the more famous Admiral Nelson battle - that was 1801). Can you say prominently even though it was in defeat? Hmmm, not sure. History records that Danish forces did not fare well against an overwhelming British force.

      Leaving Kastellet we went in search of the location of Copenhagen’s iconic statue of Den lille Havfrue (The Little Mermaid). We say “location” because the statue was not in Copenhagen for the time of our visit. From May 1 to October 31, 2010 it was on display in the Danish Pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai, China. Once again we overestimated the distance - overshooting the location considerably, but that did give us a chance to look around Langeline and stop for a cold drink near the Langeline Pier before backtracking to the Little Mermaid’s location. Maybe someday we’ll learn about the scale of the cities we visit. The Little Mermaid’s six month move to China is the first time it has left Copenhagen since being erected in honour of author Hans Christian Andersen in 1913. Even the stones on which the statue sits were moved to Shanghai for the World Expo. In its place in Copenhagen a video screen has been erected with a live feed from Shanghai - showing the Little Mermaid and the people that walk behind the statue. It is an art piece by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei called “Remote” intended to run non-stop for the duration of the exhibition. Nice touch. The video feed was also available for viewing online while the World Expo was running.

      It was about this time that our hotel room should have been ready, so we began thinking of making our way back there. To get there we walked back through part of Langeline Park by the Gefion Fountain and the Anglican St Alban Church. From there we decided to visit Frederiks Kirke (Marble Church), passing the Russian Orthodox church of St Alexander Nevsky Kirke, with its gold onion domes, along the way. The Marble Church took a long time to build. It was originally designed in 1740 with construction starting in 1749, but it stood unfinished and abandoned for about 150 years. The final design was changed from the original and the church was finally finished in 1894. Not as long as La Sagrada Família in Barcelona (and that one is still going), but still a long time in the making. The design of the dome is said to be patterned on St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. It certainly does have a similar look, especially from the inside. Just not the grandeur of St Peter’s. After our visit of the Marble Church we made the short walk back to our hotel to collect our keys and baggage and get to our room. It had been a full morning of touring Copenhagen.

      For the afternoon, our destination was Nationalmuseet (Danish National Museum). We did our usually sight-seeing meander route to get there, which was enjoyable. One of the most interesting things we saw was the Dragon Spire on Børsen, Copenhagen’s old stock exchange building built 1619–1640. The spire is made up of four dragons with their tails entwined to reach a total height of 56 metres. The building itself was pretty cool as well.

      By this point it was past 2:00pm and we were starting to feel the need for some food. We were away from the areas that were plentifully supplied with restaurants and cafes, and in the end decided to head into the Nationalmuseet to see what they had to offer before we toured around the museum. In an upper level of the open interior courtyard we found a very nice cafe and had a wonderful lunch. As we sat and enjoyed our time there, though, we started to feel more tired and figured we needed to get moving before jet-lag (or lack of quality sleep) truly set in. With that, we made our way back down to the main floor to enter to museum proper. We took in the parts that interested us most (which was primarily Danish pre-history and middle ages) and enjoyed it. From Nationalmuseet we meandered our way back to the hotel for one last stop before dinner. Our route took us first to Det Kongelige Bibliotek (The Royal Library), consisting of two building near the waterfront: the original old building with a new adjacent building on the water known as the Black Diamond, named for its outside of black marble and glass. We took a brief look inside the Black Diamond, mainly to look at the architecture of the building and then set back off. We’d say that the building makes more of a striking statement on the outside rather than the inside. From the Black Diamond we found our way to Strøget, recognized as the longest pedestrian shopping zone in Europe. It is zone rather than street because it does encompass more than one street. The zone stretches from Rådhuspladsen (City Hall Square) to Kongens Nytorv (The King's New Square) and has the full gamut of stores from junk to very high end plus all manner of cafes, restaurants and bars. From Kongens Nytorv we made our way back to the hotel.

      Once back at the room we then understood what had been setup just to the east of our hotel - a large outdoor screen to show World Cup Soccer games. The spot in question was Kvæsthusbroen - which at some point had been a shipping berth but now had all manner of fun soccer-related activities set up as well as the large screen at the north end. The game on at the time was the Round of 16 matchup of Paraguay and Japan (eventually won by Paraguay on penalty shots). Quite a number of people were gathered in an open area of Kvæsthusbroen to watch the game. We rested a bit and then prepared to head out for dinner around 7:00pm. We decided to go casual for dinner this evening, opting to dine on Nyhavn at a place of which we had read some good reviews before leaving Canada - Cap Horn. The choice turned out to be a good choice for dinner. The outside seating was very busy and rather cramped, but we were able to get a nice table inside without a wait. The atmosphere inside the restaurant was very nice, and the service was good. It did have a somewhat limited menu, but the food itself was excellent. To start, we shared a lovely appetizer of grilled Langoustines and followed that by both ordering pan fried Danish Mullet served with spelt grains, white asparagus and lemon creme. Wonderful dinner. As the evening wore on, it got increasingly cloudier outside and we expected it to be raining by the time we would be done dinner. That turned out not to be the case, so after dinner we wandered and took a few more photos around the Nyhavn area, enjoying the festive atmosphere of this picturesque part of Copenhagen. It was as we were heading back to our hotel that we began to feel rain drops, and the last 100 metres or so was a bit of dash to avoid the increasingly heavier rain.

      Safely inside we made our way to the SALT Bar near the hotel lobby for a drink before heading up to our room. It was a pleasant place to sit and recount the day's touring. We were sitting near an open window, so we could see and hear the rain easily. The brief shower ended before we had finished our drinks. Back in our room, Gary went through the process that would pretty much be repeated every night of this vacation concerning our digital photos: backing them up! We were using two cameras for this trip: a Canon EOS 7D and a Canon PowerShot G9. We would be primarily shooting RAW images and the files sizes were in the range of 22MB to 30MB for the 7D and 12MB to 17MB for the G9, so they would take a bit of storage space with the number of shots we were likely to take over the duration of this trip. To make sure we actually brought home all of the photos that we took, our plan was to make two copies of each photo. For this we used our small netbook computer and two small portable hard drives. Each night Gary would copy that day's photo images from the memory cards to the two drives. Overkill? perhaps, but better to be safe than sorry. Would be such a shame to get home to find some electronic glitch had wiped out some or all of the photos. One thing we truly did appreciate upon return to the room was the breeze through our east facing window. Even with the rain it was still quite warm outside and the breeze through the window was welcomed indeed.

      We had had a full and enjoyable first day in Copenhagen. The city has much to offer. Our first impressions are of an attractive city full of bicycles (not as much as Amsterdam, but still a lot), friendly people (of whom most spoke quite good english) and lots of dining choices to suit any style one might want for a given meal. The city also clearly has a thing for equestrian statues - they are everywhere. And one other thing - uneven cobblestones throughout the city! A bit tough on the feet with a full day of walking around the city. Our first day was done, and after the travel from Canada and a day in Copenhagen we were tired. Tomorrow we'd enjoy another half day in the Danish capital and then we'd head to our cruise ship. But sleep first.

  • Wednesday June 30, 2010

    Statens Museum for Kunst and a morning walking tour

    Day two in Copenhagen started fairly early, we woke at 7:30am to make the most of the time we had left in the city. The hotel had a buffet breakfast in the SALT Restaurant, so we decided to take that in before heading out. The breakfast was okay, but nothing great. It was quick, though. After breakfast we returned to our room and gathered our luggage - figuring that it would be better to check out before we set out for the day and thus didn't need to be back at the hotel for check-out time. As we had done when we first arrived, we stored our luggage at the hotel before heading out.

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      The day was partly cloudy and about 22ºC when we left the hotel, quite a bit different from the conditions we had experienced yesterday. First on our agenda for the day was Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark), but we made a quick stop at Kvæsthusbroen first to take some photos of the hotel . From this vantage point we could clearly see the proximity of Admiral Hotel to Amalienborg and Frederiks Kirke (Marble Church). With the photo opp finished, we then walked through Nyhavn and part of Strøget to get to our eventual destination.

      Once at the gallery, we had a bit of a delay getting in because we needed some change to check Gary’s camera bag. The guard at the entrance to the gallery would not allow the bag through. It wasn't the camera that was the problem, just the size of the bag that they wouldn't allow. Between the gift shop and the information desk we got the required change and deposited the camera bag inside one of the gallery's lockers. The first thing we saw in the gallery also happened to be the most visually striking - Tomás Saraceno’s "Biospheres". The work sits in a glass covered space called Sculpture Street, which is the link between the old and new buildings that make up Statens Museum for Kunst. Biospheres is a collection of floating transparent orbs, some of which contain plant-based ecosystems, some with water and some with air. It was possible to enter the largest orb, suspended 10 metres above the floor. Neither us nor anyone else at the gallery this day took up this gracious offer. The work is intended as the Argentinean artist’s vision of alternative social spaces and habitats. His idea of future living. Good to look at, at least...just not so sure about the living in part.

      We toured around the gallery until we reached that museum/gallery overload moment one tends to get at these sorts of places. Overall, it was interesting and worth the visit. There was an exhibit of Bjørn Nørgaard’s that we decided to ovoid based on the promotional information - just looked too strange to us. Not our art taste, to say the least. Having finished, we collected the camera bag from the locker room and with that provided the correct change for some other visitor caught as we had been earlier in the morning with a need for one of the lockers.

      From Statens Museum for Kunst we made our way to the grounds of Rosenborg Slot. We’d already decided that we weren’t going inside the castle this day - we were saving that for the end of the trip when we would meet up with Gary’s cousin Nicola. Today, our plan was to walk through the garden (known as Kongens Have - the King’s Garden) and take a look at the outside of Rosenborg Slot. There were plenty of people enjoying the day on the garden grounds - a nice green space in the city. Next to Rosenborg Slot sits the Den Kongelige Livgarde (Royal Life Guard) Garrison.

      A marching band was practising at the garrison while we were at Rosenborg Slot, so our tour of the castle grounds was set to music. As we left Rosenborg Slot, it was around 11:30am and we saw Den Kongelige Livgarde begin their march from the garrison through the city (and down the middle of the road) to reach Amalienborg for the changing of the guard at noon. We weren’t prepared for this, so we never really got a chance to take a decent photo of the procession. No running on vacation for us. Having left Rosenborg Slot, we made our way to see Rundetårn (Round Tower). Again, we only made this an external visit this time, planning to go up the tower after the cruise. The tower was built in the 17th century as an astronomical observatory. Today it is mostly a great place to get high views of the city. More about that when we actually go up there during our post-cruise stay in Copenhagen. It is a cool looking tower. We were feeling a need for a cup of coffee at this point, so set out from Rundetårn in search of a suitable spot.

      We settled on Frellsen Chokolade, a chocolate shop that also served coffee. From the steady stream of locals buying coffee here we thought it was worth a try. Was a good choice, we got a nice cup of coffee plus selected some tasty chocolates to share. As we were paying we found out we also would receive some free chocolate treats with our purchase. We were liking this, Danish chocolate is good. We paused not far from Amagertorv (Amager Square) to enjoy our coffee and chocolate. Near the square we also saw a couple of interesting things - first up was a tiny little three-wheeled van-like vehicle that drove up on the pedestrian zone. Out popped the driver who then proceeded to open up the back of the vehicle to expose a mobile espresso machine at the back of it. Very cute. We watched the fellow make an espresso and maybe we would have tried one as well had we not just finished a coffee. Second thing we noticed was another variation on street food vendors - a fellow making dessert crepes. Nutella appeared to be a key ingredient in the ones we saw being made. It seemed to be a popular choice.

      Amagertorv is considered to be the most central square in Copenhagen. The existence of a square in this location dates back to the middle ages - meaning the 1400s when fish and farm produce were sold here. The name of the square comes from the Amager farmers that operated a market here starting in 1472. In the centre of the square sits a fountain with a statue with three stocks, aptly named Stock Fountain, built in 1894 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the then prince and future King Frederik VIII and Louise of Hesse. Near the square was one of the larger bicycle parking lots we had seen in Copenhagen. Apparently, 36% of Copenhagians (is that a word?) cycle to work.

      We continued walking in the pedestrian area, deviating a little here and there, and by accident we stubbled upon the Embassy of Canada to Denmark. Nice to spot a touch of home here in Copenhagen. With that, we decided it was time to start making our way back to the hotel to collect our luggage and catch a taxi to Frihavn Port. To get back to the hotel, we made our route back through Kongens Nytorv (King's New Square). We never found out why, but there were a few very large flower pots in the square. Seemed an odd addition to the square that was otherwise quite formal and sedate. Equally puzzling was the sight of the Mindeankeret (Great Memorial Anchor) located between Kongens Nytorv and the top of Nyhavn Canal. The anchor is a monument commemorating the more than 1,700 Danish sailors who died during their service of World War II. What it appeared to be today was a jungle gym climber for kids under the sorta watchful eye of their parents. Didn't seem right, or safe.

      We arrived back at the hotel about 2:00pm, which was pretty much bang on as we had planned. Collecting the bags was quick and easy, and the Admiral Hotel parking lot also seemed to be a bit of a taxi-stand, so it was just a matter of walking out of the hotel and looking in the right direction and the first taxi pulled ahead to collect us. A quick ride and 110DKK later we were standing outside the terminal building at Frihavn Port. Cruise time...

    Azamara Journey and the start of our Baltic Cruise

    Upon our early afternoon arrival at Frihavn Port, we were greeted as soon as we stepped out of the taxi by two very friendly and pleasant Azamara representatives. They checked that our luggage was tagged appropriately for the ship and then dispatched them and directed us to where we need to go. Similar to our departure from Rome last year, the terminal building was a pre-fabricated structure.

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      When we reached the entrance, we were surprised to see how few people were inside. There’d be no line-up for us. We walked to the point we needed to go and were taken by one of the agents almost immediately. We had prepared the required boarding information online before we left Canada, so the check-in process was rather quick as well. As we left the check-in counter we passed by a person taking reservations for one of the two signature restaurants onboard. We weren’t thinking of that for the first night, but we did want to make some reservations for other evenings of the cruise. For that, he said, we needed to do that onboard. Following that we passed the the customary cruise photographer for a boarding photo and then it was a short walk to the gangway entrance of the ship. As with on our previous cruises, the first task on the ship was to insert the sea cards (that we had received during the check-in) into the scanner inside the gangway and for the first time our photographs were taken. For each subsequent re-entry our photo would be used to verify that we were who we were supposed to be. We then passed through the normal airport-like security portal and our hand luggage was passed through the x-ray scanner. We had entered the ship at Deck 4. Once beyond the security we were greeted by crew members bearing trays of champagne, and we each enjoyed a glass as we wandered around the public area of Deck 4.

      With champagne done, we took one of the aft elevators up to Deck 7 to get to our room. Our room (7081) was located approximately mid-ship on the starboard side (that’s the right side as you face the bow, or front, of the ship). Two of our bags were outside our room’s door as we approached, and we were almost immediately met by our room attendant Abdul as we reached the door. He helped us in with the bags and then proceeded to show us the features of the room. We could have avoided this, but he was keen to show us anyway. Once he departed we took stock of the room - it was similar in size and configuration to the room we had on Celebrity Millennium in 2006. This room was in considerably better condition, though. Not as big as the room on Celebrity Solstice in 2009, but certainly enough space. We agreed the the room would do nicely. The bathroom was small, not sure if it was smaller than on Celebrity Millennium, but definitely smaller than the one we'd had on Celebrity Solstice. We both thought that a large person would have issues with the space inside this bathroom. The space available in the shower seemed particularly small. It would, though, be fine for us. Similar to what is done in many hotels, the television in the room was on with personalized welcome information. Good to know they were expecting Gary & Linda White in this room. Before we were finished checking out everything there was a knock on the door - it was Adbul once more, this time with our third bag.

      At this point we decided to take a tour of the ship, thinking we could get a few photos around the ship before too many people arrived onboard. We started our tour in The Drawing Room and then the two signature restaurants of Prime C and Aqualina located aft on Deck 10. We came across the maître d while in Aqualina, so we made two reservations each in both of them. Was good to get that done. On our previous cruises with Celebrity we had made specialty dining reservations online ahead of time, but that didn’t seem to be an option for us this time. The ship was quiet as we continued our tour around all of the public areas of the ship. Suffice to say that pretty much everything we saw was smaller than on our previous cruise ships, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. The casual dining location, called Windows Café, on Deck 9 was a case in point. The buffet stations were all located towards the rear, and the entire venue had much more of a restaurant feel to it than its larger counterparts on the Celebrity ships. When we made our way down to Deck 5 we took a look at Discoveries (the main dining room) and thought it also looked quite nice, and the table arrangement in particular seemed good to us.

      It was when we reached the central area of Deck 5 that our tour took a pause - for we were now at the location of Mosaic Café, the venue for a nice cup of coffee. The fellow behind the bar was Daniel, and he made us some espressos while we selected some small sandwiches and sweet treats to go with the coffee. Both coffee and food hit the spot. A very nice setting to enjoy a coffee, and the food they had available was excellent. It was the perfect light repas. Also good was the fact that the cost of premium coffees were included on this cruise. On April 1, 2010, Azamara Cruises was rebranded Azamara Club Cruises and they had made a number of changes in their pricing and service structure. The inclusion of premium coffees was definitely a good change as far as we were concerned.

      As a post-cruise note:
      In June 2019 Azamara Club Cruises rebranded once again as Azamara - which is what most people called them anyway. From here on we will refer to them as Azamara.

      From Mosaic Café we wandered past the small shopping area and casino. We would have had a look at the Cabaret Lounge, located forward on Deck 5, but it was closed because a rehearsal was in progress at the time. We had already seen the public area of Deck 4 when we first arrived onboard, but we lingered around there because by this point it was past the all-aboard time of 4:00pm and the "Emergency Lifeboat Drill" was scheduled for 4:15pm. One huge improvement in this particular mandatory drill was that we were not required to wear or even carry our life jackets to the drill. All we had to do was report to our muster station, which in our case was Discoveries Dining Room on Deck 5. We sat and listened to a few instructions, watched a demonstration of how to put on a life jacket and, well, that was about it. Complying with S.O.L.A.S. (Safety of Life at Sea) regulations had never been so easy. Following that we decided to head back to our room to unpack prior to watching the ship leave Copenhagen at the scheduled time of 5:00pm. While unpacking we certainly noticed the difference between the space difference between this room and the one we'd had on Celebrity Solstice. We were spoiled for storage space on our previous cruise. With a bit of planning, replanning and rearranging we did find a way that we could keep everything nicely stored and accessible for the cruise.

      Copenhagen was cloudy, windy and cool as we ventured out on the open portion of Deck 10 to watch our departure. One of the musical acts onboard, Diamond Heart Duo, performed on the Poolside stage on Deck 9 as the ship prepared to set sail. It was a man and woman duo doing lounge act standards. Ummm, enough said. Prior to Azamara Journey leaving, a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship (Norwegian Sun) departed from the adjacent berth. The two ships did a few rounds of duelling ship’s horns as the NCL ship left, and our ship was going to be leaving a bit later than the scheduled time. It was just past 5:30pm when we actually moved away from the pier. Once clear of the pier, Azamara Journey made a 180º turn and then set out from Copenhagen. We could see many of the prominent city sights on the starboard side of the ship as we pulled clear of Frihavn Port. We passed close to the island fortification of Trekroner Fort, the official opening of the Port of Copenhagen. The fort that stands today dates back to 1787 and was an important element in the defence of the city. Once Azamara Journey cleared the port we made our way back to our room and got a fairly close view of the large arc of turbines that stretch from Copenhagen as part of the Middelgrunden Windfarm. To give a sense of the scale, twenty 2MW turbines, each with a rotor diameter of 76 metres, are placed 180 metres apart from each other for a total arc length of 3.4 km. The windfarm generates about 3% of Copenhagen’s power consumption.

      It was amazing how quickly the weather cleared as Azamara Journey sailed away from Copenhagen. We spent some time enjoying the view from our veranda, enjoying the fresh fruit supplied in our room and relaxing some in advance of dinner. Our plan was to head to dinner around 7:30pm or so, and then check out the Welcome Aboard Variety Show in the Cabaret Lounge, scheduled for 9:30pm. Depending on how long dinner took we figured we might miss the first bit of the show, but we didn’t want to go to dinner too early. We weren't entirely sure what to expect crowd-wise with the fact that there weren’t fixed dining times as we had previously experienced on our other cruises. One other difference was that the dress code for dining onboard was “resort casual” - no set formal nights. We prepared and made our way to Discoveries Dining Room on Deck 5 around the time we had intended and the “crowd” experience turned out to be very good - there wasn’t one. To get to the dining room, we walked through the Discoveries Lounge to the pleasant sounds of harpist Jacqueline Dolan, another of the onboard musical performers. Similar to a restaurant, the maître d stood at a welcome station at the entrance to the dining room, and he asked for our room number, which he entered into a laptop and then addressed us by name. He asked us our preference on seating - whether we'd like to eat at a table with other or by ourselves. With our choice of a table for two he found a nice table in an area away from large tables with people on his map and had someone show us to the table. The atmosphere was very nice, and a very welcome change from the main dining room experience onboard Celebrity Solstice. This had the feel of a restaurant and the servers certainly seemed more professional to us. This was also our first opportunity to sample one of Azamara's other changes - at each meal time, one red and one white wine would be offered without charge. Every part of this dinner was good - the food, the service and the atmosphere. We were very pleased.

      It was, as we anticipated, after the start time of 9:30pm when we arrived at the Cabaret Lounge. It surprised us that the lounge wasn’t particularly full. The show was an introduction to all of the entertainers and planned entertainment onboard throughout the cruise. It was a good way to find our what to plan to see, what to avoid and everything in between those extremes. The show was hosted by Cruise Director Eric De Gray, who had joined Azamara Journey at the end of May 2010 for a four month contract. He had spent 9 years as an entertainer on Seabourne Cruise Lines, and he appeared to be part of Azamara’s rebranding effort. Even Gary got in on the act for this show. One of the performers was Las Vegas magician Garry Carson. Needing someone to assist him on stage, Carson asked a man in the audience if they knew each other, to which the fellow said no and then magician asked him to point out someone else in the audience that he didn’t know. We were sitting right behind him and he turned around and pointed at Gary. On stage, Gary assisted with a card trick that was quite impressive - and standing right next to the magician Gary could not detect how the trick was done. With that, Gary’s brief career in showbiz was done. With the show complete, we stopped in at Mosaic Café for some cappuccinos made by our new friend Daniel. The ship seemed quiet for this first evening in the cruise, and as we enjoyed our coffees we wondered if this was going to be a feature of this voyage. It was possible that many people had travelled far to reach the ship this day and were thus tired and in their rooms by this point in the evening - which was about 10:45pm. Relaxing at Mosaic Café was a nice way to end the evening for us. Diamond Heart Duo were performing in the Looking Glass Lounge on Deck 10, but we really weren’t interested in that. We decided to head back to our room to do the nightly photo backup plus get ready for an early start tomorrow in Warnemunde, Germany.

Copenhagen Image Gallery (both pre & post cruise)

Along the Nyhavn Canal, Copenhagen
Looking towards Amalienborg from Amaliehaven
Looking towards Admiral Hotel from waterfront edge of Amaliehaven
Gefionspringvandet (Gefion Fountain), located near Kastellet
Looking towards St Alban Church and Gefion Fountain, located near Kastellet
Frederiks Kirke (Marble Church)
Looking north along the Admiral Hotel from our room
Evening look along the Nyhavn canal
Evening look along the Nyhavn canal
Looking at the Opera House from our hotel room
Copenhagen Admiral Hotel
Rundetårn (Round Tower)
Amaliehaven, Amalienborg Palace and Marble Church
View of 71 Nyhavn Hotel from the our canal boat tour
Impressive Moorish style Nimb - hotel, restaurant and bar inside Tivoli
View from Nimb's patio
The artist's copy of The Little Mermaid on display at Tivoli Gardens
View from Rundetårn with the clock tower of Kunsthallen Nikolaj in the foreground and the Oresund Bridge off in the distance
About WHITEonline

WHITEonline is the digital home of Gary & Linda White. We’ve been married since 1980 and live just outside Toronto in Ontario, Canada. Linda was born and raised in Toronto while Gary was born in London, England and moved to Canada at the age of 11. We enjoy travelling and taking photos while we travel. WHITEonline provides the opportunity to share some of our photos & experiences.

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