It was a leisurely arrival this morning into Vigo’s natural harbour. Approaching by the south entrance channel we passed the mussel beds and embarked the harbour pilot. It was a short run up to the berth, and Saga Ruby was soon made fast to the quayside.
The morning sun made us feel immediately welcome, and it wasn’t long before my group of explorers were eagerly marching ashore. Tours to Vigo and the fishing town of Bayonna were offered, but the popular destination of the day was Santiago de Compostela, a pilgrimage town since ancient times. It was forecast to be a nice day, and I’m happy to report that it was.
Volcanic dust high over northern Europe had grounded all flights. Saga Ruby came to the rescue of 40 or so Saganauts stranded in Spain following their holiday, giving them a lift back to Blighty. They’d set off on a river cruise and ended up on a world cruise!
As Saga Ruby departed in the early afternoon my passengers enjoyed their final sailaway. This was the last port of the world cruise, before we cruised the final leg of our voyage back to Southampton - 675 miles across the Bay of Biscay, and into the English Channel. We entered the Solent through the Needles channel before docking in time for an early breakfast at the new Ocean Cruise Terminal.
Saga Ruby had travelled 32086 miles circumnavigating the globe. For some it was a once in a lifetime voyage, for others an annual event. She had departed Southampton on 7th January crossing the Atlantic. The winter weather was not kind and a choppy crossing meant that she bypassed the Azores before arriving in the Caribbean sunshine and cooling trade winds. A few exotic islands and ports later she cruised the Panama Canal to vibrant Latin America and a not too peaceful Pacific Ocean.
A landing on Easter Island under the gaze of the Moai statues was a highlight, before the Bounty mutineers’ hideout at Pitcairn Island. Onwards then to Tahiti and Fiji. Once again weather made life uncomfortable as a tropical cyclone disrupted the schedule. Eight ports in New Zealand delighted my passengers with great weather, spectacular scenery, and very friendly locals. A crossing to Australia then, and my turn to take command, letting Captain Rentell fly home for some R’n’R.
Joining in Sydney I was soon meeting my passengers for the second half of the world cruise. Ports in the Great Barrier Reef and Northern Territories gave a glimpse into life Down-Under. Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia breezed by. Then came Sri Lanka and India and a very different view of life.
A stop in Oman was followed by a sprint through Somali pirate territory en-route to ports in the Red Sea. A hot and dusty day transiting the Suez Canal was followed by cooler Mediterranean springtime conditions. Cyprus and Malta were pleasant stops before sailing past Gibraltar and back into the Atlantic. This time the ocean was remarkably placid, and remained so all the way to Southampton. 103 nights and 39 ports since departure early in the new year.
My passengers had enjoyed some great food too, sampling local flavours as we toured the world. Barbecues and gala dinners featured regularly. They consumed huge quantities of fruit and vegetables, many tons of meat and fish, 143,000 eggs, 17 tons of potatoes, almost 1000 bottles of whisky and 15,000 bottles of wine!
A host of lecturers and entertainers had occupied the time of my passengers. My favourites were Tom O’Connor and Farrel Smith, we’ll see her again singing at the FA Cup final. Many books were read, and plenty of snoozing took place too, often at the same time in the library!
To the hundreds of people involved in such an adventure I extend my thanks. Pilots and tour guides, coach drivers and tug skippers, lecturers, entertainers, and the remarkable crew of the Saga Ruby. The crew remained cheerful and hard working throughout, and I’m sure that they will have left fond memories with the passengers of the Saga Ruby World Cruise 2010.