This morning we made our way along the Tagus River to what was to be our final port of call outside the UK as Saga Pearl II, Lisbon in Portugal. Having picked up our harbour pilot close to the Belem Tower we made our way under the 25th April Bridge towards our berth at Lisbon’s new cruise terminal. As we eased onto the quay many of our guests, and indeed crew, were out on deck to catch their first glimpses of the latest addition to our fleet, the beautiful Saga Sapphire.
I have to say our latest acquisition was looking resplendent in her new Saga livery, especially the new funnel design, and you could feel the excitement in the air as our guests and crew made their way over to the Sapphire to take part in what was described as a ‘Gastronomic Tour’ of the public rooms and dining venues. Many passengers also mentioned that they were eager to have a sneek peak onboard at the cabins they have booked for upcoming cruises; I’m led to believe nobody was disappointed and everyone commented on what a fine addition she is to the Saga fleet.
For me it was a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues on the Sapphire, not least fellow Masters, Captain Alistair McLundie, Captain Philip Rentell and Captain David Warden-Owen. It was a perfect opportunity for us all to meet and catch up over a coffee as normally the only chance we get to see each other these days is during our handovers. We all spared a thought for Captain Steve Angove and the passengers and crew of Saga Ruby, such a shame they could not be with us, and of course for Captain Kees Spekman and those aboard Spirit of Adventure, just completing her final voyage.
At 5pm I led the first of our guests over to the Sapphire, which was to be the venue for this evening’s festivities, where we would officially welcome Saga Sapphire into the fleet and bid a fond farewell to Saga Pearl II. The evening commenced with a cocktail party led by the Master of Saga Sapphire Captain McLundie, and then we dined in style in the Pole to Pole restaurant onboard the Sapphire. I have to say the spread laid on was top class (what else would you expect?!) and I must thank Captain McLundie and his team onboard for making our passengers and crew so welcome.
Following dinner everyone made their way into the Britannia Show Lounge on the Sapphire for an intimate performance from Britain’s most popular soprano Lesley Garrett CBE. The show was simply outstanding and something that we shall all remember for a long time to come.
Finally we bid farewell to those on the Sapphire as everyone hurried back onboard Saga Pearl II and made their way out onto our open decks for the perfect way to round off the perfect day-a spectacular fireworks display, accompanied of course by a glass or three of bubbly!
With only the smoke left from a sensational display, I gave the order to cast off our ropes and we made our way into the River Tagus once more, as we slipped past Saga Sapphire we signalled our farewells with 3 long blasts on each ship’s whistle.
We now make our way north to Southampton where our name will be officially changed to the ‘Quest for Adventure’ and another exciting chapter opens in the history of Saga cruising. Having sailed on this fine vessel throughout her humble beginnings in Swansea dry dock and her inaugural season as Staff Captain and then sailing for the last year as Master, my first ever command, no one shall miss the name of Saga Pearl II more than me. However I am delighted, honoured and excited to be leading her into her new life as Quest for Adventure, how privileged I am.
I do hope you have enjoyed reading the Saga Pearl II blogs and I look forward to penning the first, and many more to follow, as Master of Quest for Adventure.
A fond farewell from us all on the Saga Pearl II