Sunday, July 5, 2015

Cruising the Baltic with Mickey ~ Part 3

Day 5: Helsinki, Finland

Since we had such a busy day in St. Petersburg, we tried sleeping in! Unfortunately our kids haven't reached that stage in their lives, especially Kyle. We tried eating brunch in the dining room, but it was packed and service was slow, and the servers were not as friendly as those at the buffet. They just seemed stressed out. The kids didn't want to get off of the ship so we took them to camp, so the adults and Kyle got off to go look around. Disney has free shuttles that take you into town and drop you off, they run every 15 minutes back and forth. We walked around the city and went to a farmer's market where we bought some souvenirs and some amazing jam! The lady selling the jam showed us on the map where her and her crew pick the berries (above the Arctic Circle) and then bring them back down to turn into jam. I think she had about 6 flavors but we brought home Cloudberry and Lingonberry.

Senate Square

At the top of those steps

And inside 

Giant carrot statue on the way to the market

Market Square

When we came back to the ship, Brandon took Brice and Cody onto land just so they could snap a photo and say they had been on Finnish soil.

Semi-Formal night in Lumuire's. I tried Oysters for the first time and actually like it! Not at all slimy like I always thought they would be.

Day 6: Stockholm, Sweden

Another day where Brice and Cody did not want to get off of the ship! We took the free shuttle again. Walked around Gamla Stan (Old Town) which was adorable and smelled like steak :)  Then we walked to the Vasa Museum. Stockholm is made up of a bunch of islands so we had to walk around the long way to get where there was bridge. After an hour or so we were glad the boys didn't come because we did to A LOT of walking, and they would have been exhausted.

The Royal Palace. There were a few places you could go in and tour but nothing was open yet.

Old Town and walking to the Vasa

Brandon would not have done well on this ship! Looks how close his head is to the ceiling beam. 

Here is the information about the Vasa:


It took almost two years (1626-1627) to build Vasa. From dawn to dusk, carpenters, sawyers, smiths, ropelayers, sailmakers, painters, carvers, gun carriage makers and other specialists struggled to complete the navy’s great, new ship. The king, Gustav II Adolf, visited the shipyard to inspect the work.
Vasa should be splendid, a hull built of more than a thousand oak trees with 64 cannon, masts over 50 meters high and hundreds of painted and gilded sculptures.


The shipyard where Vasa was built was called Skeppsgården and was located in what is now called Blasieholmen in Stockholm. Skeppsgården was one of the largest workplaces in Sweden at that time, where craftsmen and raw materials from all over Northern Europe met. The workforce was about half Swedish and Finnish, with the rest mostly from Holland. Wood from Swedish and Polish forests was shipped to Stockholm to become ship’s timbers. Iron and copper were mined in Sweden, while hemp for rope, sailcloth and paint were purchased from abroad.


The work on Vasa was led by a Dutchman, Henrik Hybertsson, an experienced shipwright. In this period, Dutch ships were not built from drawings, instead the shipwright was given the overall dimensions and used proportions and rules of thumb based on his own experience to produce a ship with good sailing qualities. Hybertsson became ill early on and died in the spring of 1627, so he never saw the ship completed. Responsibility for construction fell to his assistant, Henrik “Hein” Jakobsson, already in 1626.


On Sunday, the 10th of August, 1628, Vasa lay rigged and ready for sea just below the royal palace Tre Kronor. Ballast, guns and ammunition were all on board.
On the quays and shores along Strömmen, an excited public waited to watch the ship leave Stockholm and celebrate her departure.
Over a hundred crewmen were on board, as well as women and children. The crew had permission to take family and guests along for the first part of the passage through the Archipelago.


For the first few hundred meters, Vasa was warped along the waterfront with cables from the shore. The ship did not begin to sail until she reached what is now Slussen. Sailors climbed the rigging to set four of Vasa’s ten sails. A salute was fired, and Vasa slowly began her maiden voyage.
Once Vasa came out from under the lee of the Södermalm cliffs, the sails could catch the wind, but the ship was tender and heeled over to port, then heeled again, even farther. Water rushed in through the open gunports and the ship’s fate was decided. Vasa sank, after sailing barely 1300 meters.
The crew threw themselves into the water or clung to the rigging until rescued, but not all managed to save themselves. Eyewitnesses differ on the exact numbers, but perhaps 30 of approximately 150 people on board died in the loss. After the ship was raised in 1961, the remains of at least 16 people were found.


The news of the sinking reached the Swedish king, who was in Prussia, after two weeks. The disaster had to be the result of “foolishness and incompetence,” and the guilty must be punished, he wrote to the Royal Council in Stockholm. What exactly lay behind the loss could not be determined with certainty in the inquest held in the palace, but the ship’s lack of stability was a fact: the underwater part of the hull was too small and the ballast insufficient in relation to the rig and cannon. The leaders of the inquest believed that the ship was well built but incorrectly proportioned. After Vasa, many successful ships with two or even three gundecks were built, so something must have been learned from the disaster.


Vice Admiral Klas Fleming, partly. He had been present before the ship sailed, when the captain demonstrated how crank the ship was by having 30 men run back and forth across the upper deck. On their third pass, the ship was ready to capsize at the quay. The admiral was heard to say that he wished the king were there.
King Gustav II Adolf, partly. He ordered a large ship with so many heavy-calibre cannon, and approved the ship’s dimensions.
Master shipwright Henrik Hybertsson, partly. He was a talented shipbuilder who had delivered several successful ships to the navy, but he had too little experience with building ships with two gundecks.
Captain Söfring Hansson, ultimately. Vasa’s sinking can also be blamed on the captain. It would have been safer to sail the ship with the lower gunports closed, since he knew the ship was unstable. It might have been possible to redistribute weight in the ship or even rebuild it. If the inquest were held today, the captain would probably be held responsible.


The engineer and wreck researcher Anders Franzén looked for several famous shipwrecks, including Vasa, for a number of years. He went through the archives in search of information and dragged the sea bottom for physical remains. On the 25th of August, 1956, he sat in a small motorboat with the diver Per Edvin Fälting, who had provided advice on a likely search area. On that day, his homemade coring device brought up a piece of blackened, waterlogged oak.  Fälting dived to the bottom two weeks later and could confirm the find – two rows of gunports meant that it had to be Vasa.
Franzén succeeded in enlisting support for salvaging the ship, notably with the navy and the Neptune salvage firm.


Vasa lay at a depth of 32 meters. The navy’s heavy divers were able to cut six tunnels through the clay under the ship with special water jets. Steel cables were drawn through the tunnels and taken to two lifting pontoons on the surface, which would pull the ship free of the harbour bottom’s grip. In August 1959, it was time for the first lift. There was great uncertainty – would the old wooden ship hold together? Yes! Vasa held. She was lifted in 18 stages to shallower water, where she could be patched and reinforced in preparation for the final lift, to the surface!


The day that Vasa was scheduled to break the water, all of Sweden held its breath. Newspapers, radio and TV from all over the world were there, and Swedish TV made its first live broadcast to Europe.
At 9:03 AM on the 24th of April, 1961, Vasa returned to the surface. A piece of the 17th century was suddenly back among us.


Just seven months after the salvage, the Wasa Shipyard opened as a provisional museum. The ship and all of the smaller finds were conserved, partly as a great experiment. Nothing like it had been attempted before. For 17 years, Vasa was sprayed with polyethylene glycol, PEG – a chemical compound that replaces the water in waterlogged wood to prevent shrinkage and cracking. The current Vasa Museum opened in 1990.

I am really glad we took the time to go to the museum and see the Vasa. It was well worth it!!!

Photos cannot even begin to portray the size of this. It is incredible to see in person. 

We came back to the ship and hung out, went to the show, and then to dinner. Dinner was our second night in Animator's Palette, and it was awesome!!! I am doing a separate post just on this restaurant because there is so much too it.

My mini Captain America; wants to be like his brother!

Dinner with Captain America!

Day 7: Day at Sea

The last day :( Brandon and I participated in a chocolate and wine tasting at noon while the boys went to camp and Kyle hung out with Grandpa. Then we saw Inside Out but I missed the end because Kyle was too fussy and I took him back to the room. Brice went swimming with Grandpa for about two hours after the movie and I think Cody went to camp. (He could sign himself in and out and go between two different camps)

I don't really remember much else until we went to dinner! (We will all be keeping journals next time and making daily entries!!!) There was a farewell from the staff followed by an Until We Meet Again Party in the Lobby.

Saying goodbye to our servers, Noel from India and Teresa from Seville. They were so patient with the kids (Kyle) and Noel gave the boys a puzzle to solve every night. They really made us feel special!

Goodbye Meeska!!!

This man was part of the entertainment cast and he was amazing! He was the evil fairy godfather in Twice Charmed and a few other villains. Great voice and great acting. 

Goodbye to the Princesses :( 

This is Kyle's friend Oksana from Ukraine. She gave the boys tons of pins to start their pin trading collection! She was so funny telling us about her kids back home. This was her last cruise before going home on leave; she will return to the ship in September. 

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