Dating from Roman times, the Galician city of Vigo has a fine natural harbour and is renowned as the biggest fishing port in the world. It is also full of history; it was in this fjord like quay that the English and Dutch defeated the French and Spanish fleets in 1702.
We had been experiencing a storm that was affecting our progress that had been brewing mid Atlantic. I had been watching it for a few days so when we cleared Gibraltar, we were all battened down, passengers advised and we made our way to Vigo.
On the morning of arrival, the swell was affecting the entrance to the harbour and at one point thought I was going to have to abort due to the surf, but with a good bridge team, we steered gingerly in between the islands and were soon picking up the pilot in the shelter of the harbour.
At 0745 we were alongside in Vigo. Such was the strength of the swell, it was affecting the berth, and the Saga pearl pitch and ranged up and down, fore and aft all morning. We deployed extra ropes to counteract this.
There was two tours that went off this morning the first of which was ‘Santiago de Compostela’, this tour give a wonderful opportunity to visit the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela with its charming old quarter and beautiful cathedral which dominates Obradoiro square. The cathedral has become the most popular site of Christian pilgrimage after Jerusalem and Rome. At Obradoiro square the passengers was told more about the cathedral and plaza and then was giving some time to browse the local shops.
The second tour to go was ‘Tui Cathedral and Wine Tasting’. The excursion headed south towards the province of Pontevedra and the historic city of Tui, which is set on a hill close to the Portuguese border alongside the River Mino, known as ‘Tuda’ to the Romans, Tui has a compact city centre of narrow streets and traditional Galician buildings. One of the main attractions for the tour was the 12th century cathedral, which following several invasions, was converted into a fortress studded with battlements. The tower forms a magnificent balcony over the river; afterwards continue to a local Parador where the passengers could enjoy a tasting of two local wines, with snacks.
Andy, Staff Captain took the ship away, then once clear of the harbour, we experienced the large swell again. Up to 10 metres at times but this ship is such a good sea ship, she rides it well. After 4 hours, we had reached Finisterre, and were able to turn into the Bay of Biscay, put the swell astern of us, and a comfortable night was had.
The evening’s entertainment started with a team trivia quiz hosted by one of our cruise staff James. This was followed by show time with The Saga Pearl II Palladium where our cruise director presented a farewell variety spectacular featuring The Nero String Quartet, Sally Jones, The Gail Davies Singers and Dancers and Bettine Clemen. The night did not end there as for passengers who wanted to stay up late there was Late Night Cabaret and cocktails with our cocktail pianist Adam Reece.
This is sadly my last ever Blog on Saga Pearl II as I leave the ship in Southampton to go on leave. I will do 2 weeks on Saga Ruby for a Mystery Cruise then I have the privilege of taking the Saga Sapphire into the Saga Fleet, from dry dock on her Inaugural Season. I have loved my time on Saga Pearl II; watching her grow in popularity and watching all the ships company work together to make it a success.
So I leave with a very heavy heart, saying goodbye to a lovely ship, one that was my ship when my son was born, so I will always associate this ship with Scott, who has also sailed on her last year. I work with a great team and the consolation is that many will go to the Saga Sapphire, but I will also get to reacquaint myself with many colleagues who left when I left Rose, Ruby and Spirit of Adventure.
So I hope you have enjoyed the Blogs from here, and look forward to writing those on the Sapphire.
Enjoy Christmas when it comes and speak with you in the New Year which will be very exciting for us all in Saga....