On a glorious day in Southampton we set sail on our beautiful new ship Saga Sapphire for her Inaugural Cruise, albeit a little later than expected. We had finalised all our inspections by the local inspectors, a statutory requirement for all ships, and once the inspection was complete and I too was happy all was ready, we set sail. Our passengers were in good spirits, exploring the beautiful interior of the new ship and the crew were ready and excited to provide superior service. We had carried out the obligatory passenger lifeboat drill before we sailed, and as I made my welcome onboard and sailaway speech, I felt a great sense of pride.
Having been with Saga since they started cruising in 1997, and having been Master with them now for 12 years, I have been privileged through my time with the company, in being asked to sail the last four ships out on their inaugural cruises. I started Saga Ruby, Spirit of Adventure, Saga Pearl II and now Saga Sapphire. I remember the call last year from the company asking if I would do this and I was delighted. I had expected some of my colleagues to get the opportunity and it was time to give someone else the challenge that is associated with the Inaugural cruising. When the call came I was Master of Saga Pearl II and very happy as she's another lovely ship that has settled down nicely into the fleet. But not wishing to turn down a challenge I readily accepted, and am very pleased to be working with such a great level-headed team onboard, with familiar names such as Horst Pint, Hotel Director, Len Blinston, Chief Engineer, Matthew Henderson, Staff Captain and Jo Boase, Cruise Director to name a few. So we had the best team for the job. And with the scope of work undertaken, it was needed to have such a strong team.
So as we sailed away, our passengers enjoyed a glass of bucks fizz out on the Verandah deck with the cruise staff. Many familiar as well as new faces decided to join us on this new adventure for Saga and in the end all our hard work had come together to set off on Sapphire’s maiden voyage.
After departure our guests could enjoy the Saga traditional afternoon tea served in the Britannia Lounge with music from our resident duo Perfect Mood. For those guests looking for a giggle or two, Cooper’s bar was the place to be as many enjoyed the legendary comedy of Tommy Cooper over a cup of tea.
To begin this evening’s entertainment passengers could join Assistant Cruise Director Kayleigh in the Drawing Room, as she put their grey matter to the test with this fun general knowledge quiz. Alternatively some could take their partners for a quick step or foxtrot in the Britannia Lounge with The Sapphire Orchestraand our gentlemen hosts and enjoy some pre-dinner dancing.
This evening guests could enjoy a six course dinner in our new Pole to Pole restaurant compliments of our Executive Chef Tierry Cherronet. Following dinner the entertainment continued in the Britannia Lounge in the form of our first classical concert on board as we invited the Cairn String Trio to present ‘Slanj a va including works from the Scottish Highlands to the Borders.
Tonight was to be the first night in which Explosive Productions took to the stage in the Britannia Lounge for production showtime as they proudly presented ‘Let’s Swing’ which took us on a magical journey through the greatest hits both old and modern from legendary swing artists. We then continued the evening with music for dancing from The Sapphire Orchestra and our gentlemen hosts.
After showtime many could enjoy gourmet bites in the grill or join cocktail pianist Andy Law for a late night drink to some good music, as some retired for the evening to enjoy our first sea day tomorrow en route to El Ferrol, Spain.
Once we cleared the Nab Tower, we set course to the south west, along the channel, the bridge officers settling things down on the bridge with all her new equipment, and the same in the engine room, and I retired to my bed late that evening, happy to be putting some water under the keel now, and sailing the ship how she should be sailed, with our guests onboard enjoying the new ship.