After a restful first day on board the Azamara, we docked in Leith Port, Edinburgh, Scotland. Few ships can dock in this tidal port because it requires pinpoint navigation and just the right size ship. We went upstairs to Deck 11 to watch the pilot and Captain Carl thread the needle of this large ship through what seemed like an impossibly narrow lock. Gail laughingly compared this to being directed into a car wash, but without as much hardware at stake.
Leith Harbor locks, yikes, how is this possible?
Laughing our way through the optical illusion of this it’s-going-to-be-way-too small lock and our less than 12 inches success, we happily docked in Leith, finding ourselves next-door neighbors to Queen Elizabeth’s (now decommissioned) yacht, the Britannia. We were “moving on up!”
After leaving the ship and being greeted by a female bagpiper, we walked the short distance to a mall where we found the entrance to the Britannia museum on the third floor. After (happily?) paying our “concession” (a.k.a. senior) rate, we began what turned out to be an extraordinarily wonderful tour. You start on the top floor, the Royals residence, and move down to the officers quarters, then two levels of seaman’s quarters. The ship exudes the feeling that time has paused. Crews’ towels hang ready. Shoe shine kits are open, waiting to polish with regulation shine, and the queen’s formal dining room table is set for a grand reception, utensils scientifically measured for exactness, and knives, forks, and spoons stand like soldiers ready to greet her honored guests.
Royal living room
Officer’s Dining room
Gail and I stopped for a proper cup of tea at the yacht’s tearoom, and I thoroughly enjoyed my whiskey cake and Earl Grey tea. Then, continuing our tour, we marveled at the artful flower arrangements in every room, and the engine room that gleamed more like a Hollywood set, making it hard to believe that this same engine had circumnavigated the earth more than 11 times in its long history.
Brittania’s Tea room
View of Azamara Quest from the Brittania
A short walk back to our ship we grab a quick but LOVELY dinner at the buffet then ready ourselves for our Azamazing Evening at Hopetoun House, a grand estate near Edinburgh. This is a for-free evening for all Azamara guests, offered on each cruise. They are always different and seek to amaze guests with a cultural event that creates a unique life-long memory of the cruise.
From start to finish, the Azamara crew set a new standard for efficient excellence. Moving 600+ guests to an off-site location in 14 buses, we were greeted by a highlander war band, complete with highlander regalia, their “plaids” more rustic than the official versions you typically see, and their war chants, drum beats, and piping set the stage for collective fun! Lord Hopetoun, who had arrived only moments before from Queen Elizabeth’s afternoon garden party at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, greeted the Azamara guests with genuine enthusiasm. He and his family of 5 still live on the estate, and he has become an unofficial representative of Scotland’s welcoming nobility. Sharing the granite steps with Lord Hopetoun was our affable Captain Carl, a man of genuine wit and ingratiating humor who seems to generate a sense of shared fun whenever he speaks. Unlike other cruise captains, he does not take himself too seriously, and instead, always creates a mood where strangers feel authentically welcome.
Lord Hopetoun, the ships Captain Carl, the Cruise Director Russ (in the kilt)
Facade of the estate
One of the estate bedrooms
View of the bridges from the roof – there are three bridges, the closest is under construction, the third is a railway bridge from the Victorian era. The middle bridge is the currrent automobile bridge that has become obsolete. The new bridge will open next year.
My 18th century boyfriend. He was actually a nice man who gave me the run down on what parts of the estate were used in the making of “Outlander”. The central part of the facade was used as the “Duke of Sandringham’s” estate in season 2 and parts of the stable out buildings were set up as some of the Paris scenes. He had all the scoop because he too is a fan.
The ladies that keep the place running
The night ended with a bang