Hello everybody and welcome to the ‘Quest for Adventure’ blog. My name is Captain Wesley Dunlop and I have the pleasure of taking this beautiful ship on her inaugural cruise called 'Castles and Legends'. We will be staying within the British Isles, with calls to the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Guernsey. I am sure many of you reading this blog will be aware that the ship itself is not new, as we arrived into Southampton this morning as ‘Saga Pearl II’.
When this ship was originally purchased by Saga Shipping in August 2009 the intention was to launch her as ‘Quest for Adventure’ and be a sister ship to our popular ‘Spirit of Adventure’. However, with no replacement then being available for the retiring ‘Saga Rose’ it was felt that it would be more practical to have the ship sail under the Saga flag, until a permanent replacement could be found. The recent launch of the ‘Saga Sapphire’ meant that the ‘Saga Pearl II’ could therefore return to where she was originally intended, and become the ‘Quest for Adventure’. This all tied in rather nicely with the fact that our much-loved ‘Spirit of Adventure’ finished her Farewell Cruise two days ago in Civitavecchia, and therefore the baton for the Adventure Cruising has been handed over to us.
Changing the name of a ship is no easy task. It is amazing to realise in how many places the ship’s name is painted. Three times on the hull, every lifeboat, lifering, liferaft, etc. However, we were blessed with dry, albeit overcast, skies and as soon as we had arrived this morning the deck boys and local contractors set to work. By the time we came to sail we were resplendent in our new name. The new passengers started to come onboard from 2pm and there were familiar faces from our other ships, as well as an encouraging amount of complete newcomers to cruising. Our departure time was put back slightly to 6.30pm as there were five cruise ships in Southampton today and we have quite a slow run to our next port of call, Douglas on the Isle of Man.
We gave a salute to ‘Saga Sapphire’ as my colleague, Captain Alistair McLundie, took her out on a Baltic cruise. After completing our mandatory lifeboat drill for the passengers we were ready to sail. Everyone was out on deck as we left the berth and headed out into the Solent, turning to starboard to pass the west coast of the Isle of Wight. The ferry connecting Lymington and Yarmouth crossed our path ahead of us and we then had a clear run down to the Needles.
Dinner was served in the main Dining Room and Verandah, which have both reverted to being fully open seating in line with the ‘adventure cruising’ ethos. After a long day travelling down or across to Southampton many passengers had an early night, with the alternative being the 'Welcome Aboard Introductions' given by our Cruise Director. I know many of the passengers on ‘Spirit of Adventure’ were hopeful that the crew from that ship would be able to come across to ‘Quest for Adventure’. Where possible this is being done, and the most graphic example of this is that I am delighted to welcome Neil Horrocks on board as Cruise Director for this inaugural cruise. Not only Neil, but he has brought with him Assistant Cruise Director Angela Cherry, cruise staff Nicky and David, and cocktail pianist Clive Carrington. Neil was very much one of the key officers on ‘Spirit of Adventure’, having sailed on her from her inaugural cruise (in March 2006) to her farewell cruise (which ended two days ago). I last worked with Neil seven years ago on ‘Saga Rose’ before I became Captain and he became Cruise Director, so it is great for us to have the opportunity to work together again.
During his welcome talk Neil introduced many of the cruise team and ship’s staff who are here to ensure everyone has an enjoyable cruise, and afterwards the passengers could enjoy the Quest Quartet or listen to Clive in Shackleton’s Bar. It promises to be an interesting cruise and I must pass on my thanks to all those involved in the successful name change today!