This trip to Sweden was not only about Midsommar and visiting family. It was 50 years ago that my sister spent the summer in Sweden with our Grandmother and cruised the Göta Canal the first time. It was our idea to recreate that trip, on the same ship and the same route.
Luckily for us, the M/S Juno – the oldest continuously operating passenger ship in the world – is still traversing the Göta Canal. We had booked this cruise late last year. The Juno was built in 1874 in Motala, Sweden and is 31.45 meters in length, 6.68 meters in width and has a draft of 2.72 meters. For our sold out cruise, the 29 cabins held 42 Swedes, 4 Germans, and yes, only 2 Americans.
We boarded the M/S Juno in Stockholm’s Gamla Stan. We had been warned about the size of the cabins, but they were still smaller than anticipated; two bunk beds, one sink and a “closet” that was two inches deep, enough to hang a few things flat against the wall. Ok, no problem. So we put the few items we needed in bags under the lower bunk, and everything else went into the cargo area with our suitcases.
As we sailed out of Stockholm, a cold rain came down in sheets. Soon the sun was out, but now and then it would rain again.
As I squeezed past the Captain along the railing, he smiled and said “Swedish Summer. Last year it was on a Tuesday.” Albert Hakansson seemed like a very nice man, his crew calling him Albert, not Captain.
The Göta Canal is an engineering marvel that began in 1810. It is called the Swedish Construction of the Millennium. In combination with the Trollhatan locks, the canal links the east and west coasts of Sweden. The journey sails through natural waterways and lakes, ninety kilometers of hand dug canals, and 66 locks. We start at sea level. Through a system of locks we gain a total of approximately 91 meters. Lake Vattern is our highest lake at 88.2 meters. We let down again through the impressive Trollhatan lock system, first designed and built in the 1800s. The Trollhatan lock system now is very modern, but you can still tour the two older systems no longer used.
The brochure for the cruise says it best:
Old-fashioned luxury. Historic setting. High-class food and superb wines. The good life is yours as we slowly glide through the Swedish landscape on board some of the world’s oldest passenger ships along the unique, hand dug canal across the middle of Sweden created to serve as the artery for the country’s industrial revolution. This is indeed one time when the pleasurable journey is much more important than the goal to be reached.
On our first day of the Göta Canal Classic Cruise that begins in Stockholm, we passed through the Hammarby Lock and into Lake Malaren. We cruised past Drottningholm Palace, through Sodertalje lock and into the archipelago.
As the brochure for the cruise states, there are faster and cheaper ways to travel from Stockholm to Goteborg, but nothing as scenic or relaxing. The meals were stellar and the service impeccable. Guests dress for dinner and enjoy a leisurely pace. We were assigned a table for lunch and dinner, the table set with a different beautiful menu for each meal.
On day one, we stopped in the scenic town of Trosa. We had two hours to explore, and then boarded the ship again.
Dinner was served at 7:30 pm. The ship cruised through the night on the first night, arriving into the Soderkoping lock first thing in the morning at 04:55 the second day.