Rather a nice day at sea before our stay in Funchal. Sun was still shining and I saw many happy faces around the ship. The evening prior to our visit to Funchal we held our Britannia Club Cocktail Party and this was very well attended by our Club members. I also had the honour of handing out a further 4 new Sapphire Pins –well done everybody!!! It was also the perfect time to do our Employee of the Month ceremony and the crew certainly received a big round of applause from our guests –Bravo!!
Bit of an earlier arrival into Funchal –we picked up the pilot this morning at 6am, so I could dock ahead of the morning wind with sunrise. We turned the ship around at the breakwater, backed in and went starboard side alongside on our downtown dock. It was forecast to be a great day and we certainly got some sunshine and clear skies. Funchal can be its own little micro-climate, especially with northerly winds which it is well sheltered from, and that was certainly the case today.
1030pm was all aboard today, so people had a great opportunity to explore and even dine ashore at their leisure during this really nice stay in this lovely place. Departure is straight forward, open the bow a bit, half ahead on two, and out we go with a starboard 20 turn at the breakwater!!!
Next stop Horta in the Azores, with 2 seadays. Weather is not looking too bad so here we go........
Well I think the 2 seadays to Horta served us relatively well, bit of a NWly swell out there but on the whole pretty good.
On the evening of the 2nd April we were able to host our Newcomers Cocktail Party and it is always nice to meet with everyone and get their opinion on our great product. On the evening of the 3rd April we hosted our Officer’s Ball, so everyone had an opportunity to dance and laugh at me trying to dance. I would say I am talented!, but cannot dance, but I at least tried!!! I'm sure everyone enjoyed it and also our ‘Harry the Piano’ show afterwards was great –Thanks Harry.
We picked up our Horta pilot at 7am on the 4th. Bit of a windy day contrary to forecast, but nevertheless we were able to proceed inside the port and go alongside, with the assistance of one tug. Bit of an exposed berth, especially to those North Atlantic SEly winds we were getting but all was well.
Horta is something you don’t expect to be part of Portugal, if you looked out of the window you would think you were in the rolling hills of Campbeltown or the highlands and the islands –not PORTUGAL.
A very nice place and we managed to get some nice photos for you. Tours were going all over the place today on this 173 square km island. We had Gardens of Horta, Capelinhos Volcano, A day in Pico and the Caldeira Hike.
We departed the port at 8pm and then we were treated to West End Soprano Robyn North and her show in the Discovery Lounge at 9:30pm –Brilliant.
Well, very sadly we had to cancel Ponta Delgada due to the weather situation in the harbour. So we decided to sail full speed towards the European mainland and to have an overnight in Brest, arriving Saturday evening and staying until Sunday evening.
The Cruise staff were busy for the 3 seadays organising entertainment for our guests and we had extra shows from Harry the Piano –which is always good. We also did our Crew Show on Wednesday evening and there was a special guest - me, playing the piano –not many of you knew that did you!!
On the last seaday before Brest we were able to hold ‘Captain Nick’s Fish and Chip Shop’ and have some great photos for you!!! Really nice fish done by our Chefs –tasty!!!
Well we arrived at Brest Pilot station at 5pm on Saturday 8th April and the weather was glorious. I love this part of Brittany and today it was shining in all of its glory. We were alongside just after 6pm and our guests had a great chance to go ashore for the evening and then go on tour the next day, or to go exploring on their own making use of the shuttle buses.
I have attached some photos for you to get the feel of this place –very nice!!
Well at 5:30pm on Sunday we departed. After leaving this tricky entrance to the port we dropped off our harbour pilot and set heading for our next extra, secret, port ------- where we are going to be on Monday!!!
At 6:30pm I held my Farewell Cocktail Party in the Discovery Lounge and there were many brown faces –guess the sun had been out!!
Well our Surprise Port is . . . . . . . . Portland, and here we were today!! We embarked our pilot this morning just before the breakwater at 8am and were alongside just before 9am. The weather was sunny and it was forecast to be a nice day, which is always a nice way to finish off a cruise.
Tours were available today, with some guests also choosing to go on the shuttle bus to Weymouth. We have some great photos for you.
So this is it –End of the Cruise. I cannot believe this near 3 weeks has come to an end so soon. I hope everyone has enjoyed themselves on this cruise as much as we have enjoyed looking after everybody!!
Well last stop - back to Dover and then Drydock for the Ship, Captain and Crew next. I will keep you updated in Drydock and post some pictures for you to see our progress. Wish us luck!!!
Well Drydock is over half way now and a very busy time for the ship and all her crew. Nearly every part of the ship has had some work done to it and there is a lot of work to be completed. Drydock is the only opportunity to do the majority of essential maintenance for a continual ‘in service’passenger ship.
We arrived at the Pilot Station for Vlissingen in Holland on the 12th April at just after midnight and embarked our pilot. This pilot took us all the way to the Damen Shipyard on the outskirts of Vlissingen. After lowering all our lifeboats prior to entering the totally enclosed Drydock we proceeded inside, with the assistance of 2 tugs. At 0635 on the 12th April we sat on the blocks and the water was pumped out of the dock. Drydock had begun.
Much work is planned in the Engine room, Galley, Fan Rooms, Electrical Systems and Tanks, to name a few areas. Upgrades are also planned for the hotel area including the re-carpeting of the Dining Room and the Library/Shackleton's bar area.
The ship will also undergo extensive exterior maintenance and will receive a ‘top to toe’paint job. She will look great.
I have attached some photos for your viewing pleasure and I will be back with the finished job photos soon.
Well Drydock has come to an end and last night we sailed back from Vlissingen to Dover. A lot of work projects have been completed and the ship is looking great.
I have attached some photos for your viewing pleasure, as a picture tells a thousand words!!!
So in Dover I hand over to our new Master, Captain Kim Tanner, and I wish him all the best in his first voyage as Captain. I go on leave and will be back again on the 30th June for the Iceland Cruise. I am really looking forward to that!!
So, on the 30th of April Saga Pearl II found herself gleaming in the sunshine under the white cliffs of Dover. Two and a half weeks in Holland well-spent on a refit resulted in a ship which had that ‘new’smell about her again. However, everything which was ‘undone’in order to allow work to be carried out, now had to be replaced of course...and this was in progress the day prior to passengers embarking for the May Bank Holiday Getaway cruise. Crew members scurried around, tearing up carpet protectors, replacing wall mounted pictures and sculptures, dusting and mopping so that everything shined like new again.
Checklists in public areas like galleys, offices and cabins were posted on respective doors to ensure that everything was placed back where it should be, and the final safety checks were conducted on machinery and navigation equipment. I felt a little guilty with all this work going on around me so I decided that, whilst I wandered around inspecting things, I would ask if various teams required assistance in their cleaning duties. “No, Captain, but thank you very much,”came the firm response from each and every crew member to whom I offered my services. Now, I will admit that I’ve never been the most conscientious nor thorough cleaner in my life, however I didn’t realise that this reputation had preceded me here at Saga. I consoled myself by instead going about a task which I am proud to declare that I’m much more proficient with –eating one of Executive Chef Dirk’s fine lunches.
Finally - with safety being our top priority at Saga –the crew were thoroughly drilled in their emergency procedures the eve before passenger embarkation commenced.
Our passengers set to travel on the May Bank Holiday Getaway cruise eagerly started embarking at lunchtime. What a treat lay ahead of them –and no, I’m not talking about my Captaincy here –but instead an exciting cruise 75 miles up the River Seine to the famous city of Rouen where we are to enjoy an overnight stay, then on to the Cornish town of Falmouth –another overnight stay here, and finally to the quaint Channel island of Guernsey. Along with me for this cruise, I am proud to have supporting me the superb expertise of Chief Engineer Mark Cameron, Staff Captain Richard Lambert, Hotel Director Dawn Cartwright and the ever-smiling Cruise Director Jemma Thomas.
At 18:00 I managed to find my way to the Bridge and, having perused Google Maps and double-checked with my navigator (he didn’t seem to require Google’s services), successfully located Rouen. After a team brief, we set sail from Dover across the Channel to the basin of the Seine, where we would pick up our local Pilot to guide us up the river the following day.
I couldn’t wait: my first proper stint as Captain on a beautiful little cruise ship, our first destination a delightful French town I’d never been to before. Let the adventure begin!