The day after Mariehamn, Friday, was a day at sea. Our passengers had the chance to look behind the scenes at the Galley and the Navigational Bridge. The evening started in the Discovery Lounge with my Farewell Party. Our passengers took part in short act of remembrance to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme, and to pay tribute to the many killed and wounded. After this short ceremony I had the pleasant task of recognizing the hard work of our crew, presenting the Employee of the Month for June.
We arrived at the Kiel Pilot station at 6.30. We entered Holtenau lock, on the Baltic side of the Canal, at 8 am and started our transit at 9 am. The weather was a bit indifferent, but that did not dampen the wonderful experience of sailing along this 58 mile long canal, passing flat but interesting German country side consisting of bustling port activity, gentle agricultural stretches, charming villages and interesting examples of German engineering.
As this was a Saturday we did see a lot of people walking and cycling many of whom returned our waves. During the transit the Food and Beverage staff did another sterling job, laying on a fantastic lunch time Frueschoppen and Beer Fest, a banquet of German speciality food and beer. Sadly I could only indulge in the food!
We arrived at the Brunsbuttel lock, the exit of the Kiel Canal on the North Sea side, at 4 pm. We exited this lock at 5 pm and started our 45 mile trip down the Elbe River to the pilot station. We arrived at 7.30 pm, disembarked the pilot and set course for our next port of call Ijmuiden.
This evening the Discovery Lounge hosted a performance by Vocalist Penny Mathisen presenting her show “From Sydney’s Opera House to London’s West End”.
Amsterdam’s port is Ijmuiden, and we arrived at the pilot station at 9.30 am, to start our 8 mile sail into the port. Ijmuiden lies on the North Sea side of the North Sea Canal which connects this sea with Amsterdam. Starting out as a pre-Roman settlement it is now the largest fishing port of the Netherlands and trading hub.
A Taste of Holland started with a drive through typical Dutch countryside to the Zaanse Schans, a quaint Dutch “windmill village”. Here one can visit several working windmills. From here the coach drove to Edam for a wander through this archetypical Dutch village and a visit to the cheese factory.
Amsterdam on your own. Passengers simply used the coach bus to travel to Amsterdam and explore on their own, safe in the knowledge their return journey was assured.
Van Gogh Museum& Canal Cruise began with a tour of Amsterdam before stopping at the Van Gogh Museum to see some of his works. It ended with a glass topped boat trip along the canals.
Panoramic Amsterdam & Canal Cruise showcased the highlights of the city, both by road and boat.
The many highlights of Amsterdam began with a tour of Amsterdam, including a visit to the Anna Frank House before joining a glass topped boat trip along the canals.
After a sunny and pleasant sail away the evening started in Shackleton’s with pre-dinner cocktail, while being entertained by the King of the Keys Clive. After dinner the Discovery Lounge was the venue for Variety Showtime with “Last Night at the Proms”. This included performances by the Passenger Choir, Opera Interludes, Vocalist Penny Mathisen and The Diablo String Quartet celebrating all that is British.
Tomorrow morning we are expecting to arrive at the Dover Pilot station at 7 am for an 8 am arrival. We all wish our disembarking passengers a safe journey home and look forward to pampering them again in the not too distant future.
Today we were in Dover and prepared the ship for this cruise. Our passengers embarked and were taken through their paces during the mandatory pre-departure safety drill. After the drill the ship was ready to sail at 4 pm.
We invited our passengers to witness our departure out on deck, while enjoying a complimentary glass of bubbly with music provided by the Saga Orchestra. Once out of the harbour we were treated to a flyby and air show by a second world war Spitfire from Biggins Hill Heritage Hangar. A lovely way to start this cruise.
Before dinner there was time for a destination talk by Susan Leng, who gave a presentation about Ijmuiden, Zeebrugge and Boulogne Sur Mer. After dinner the Discovery Lounge hosted the Welcome on Board Show, during which Cruise Director Kayleigh McMahon introduced her staff and there was a performance by Explosive Productions Singers and Dancers presenting their show “Cool Britannia”.
At this point I always take the opportunity to tell you who my senior officers are, and also the members of the Entertainment Department. This cruise we have Staff Captain Kim Tanner, Chief Engineer Mark Cameron, Hotel Director Ivar Drageseth and Cruise Director Kayleigh McMahon.
Kayleigh is supported by Assistant Cruise Director Jemma Thomas, Social Host Andrew Galler, Cruise Staff and IT Support Rober Urcia, Fitness Instructor Cathy Ellis and Stage Managers Bernard Mendoza and Ian Te Gentlemen. Dance Hosts this cruise are Eamonn Black and John Flook.
Guest Entertainers are Theatre Group Beyond the Barricade. Guest Speaker is: Destinations Susan Leng. The Resident Troupe is the talented Explosive Production singers and dancers. The Resident Musicians are The Diablo String Quartet, The Saga Orchestra and Cocktail Pianist Ben Cousins.
This morning we arrived at Ijmuiden, a port city in the province of North Holland. It lies on the North Sea side of the North Sea Canal which connects this sea with Amsterdam. Staring out as a pre-Roman settlement it is now the largest fishing port of the Netherlands and a hub for trade.
The majority of our passengers took the opportunity to spend time in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam on Your Own gave our passengers the opportunity to explore Amsterdam on their own.
The many Highlights of Amsterdam started with a tour of Amsterdam, which included the Anna Frank House, before joining a glass topped boat for a trip along the canals.
Van Gogh Museum and Canal Cruise began with a bus tour of Amsterdam before it stopped at the Van Gogh Museum to see some of his works before also enjoying a glass topped boat trip along the canals.
A Taste of Holland. There was a lovely drive through typical Dutch countryside to the Zaanse Schans, a quaint Dutch “windmill Village”. Here is a variety of windmills, which are still actively working. It was then time to drive to Edam for a wander through this archetypical Dutch village and a visit to the cheese factory.
The evening began with my Captain’s Cocktail Party during which I had the pleasure of meeting many of our passengers and introducing my management team. I also gave a little talk about the places we will call at during this 4 day cruise.
After this I hot-hoofed it to the bridge to take the ship from the berth, swung her 180 degrees and set course for our 8 mile sail to the pilot station, where we disembarked the pilot and set sail for Zeebrugge.
Zeebrugge serves both as the international port and a seafront resort with hotels, cafes, a marina and a beach. It is a hub for trade with the rest of Europe. It is Belgium’s most important fishing port and has one of Europe’s largest wholesale fish markets.
Soon after the authorities had boarded the ship was cleared and it was time for the tours to be sent on their way.
Bruges on Your Own was the chance for passengers to have half a day or a full day exploring Bruges independently.
Romantic Bruges. Bruges, the Venice of the North, possesses a wealth of culture and beauty. This tour was a walking tour and canal boat ride through this most magical of cities.
Loppem Castle & Damme took our passengers on a drive through the Belgian countryside to the village of Damme. This typical Flemish village has retained its historical character. Here the passengers had time to explore and look in the many bookshops for which it is famous. From here there was a drive through the outskirts of Bruges passing windmills and the medieval city walls on the way to the impressive Castle Loppem. Surrounded by a romantic park with ponds and a maze it is more a country house than a castle with a rich history. The castle has a richly decorated and furnished interior and houses a collection of works of art including paintings, stained glass and statuary.
Ypres &The Last Post. This tour took in the dramatic history of the battles fought in and around Ypres. Amongst other memorable sites, our passengers visited 1917 Memorial Museum and the Tyne Cot Cemetery. At 8 pm they witnessed the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate.
All on board was at 9.30 pm. We backed away from the berth, swung the ship and set course for our 24 mile sail to the pilot station, where we disembarked the pilot and set sail for Boulogne.
This morning we arrived at the Boulogne pilot station at 7 am, to start our 4mile sail into the port and our berth, where we were safely moored at 8 am.
Boulogne-Sur-Mer is a seaside resort and town with a long and interesting history going back to before the Romans. Due its location it has always been and is an important strategic port. Today the port is an important fishing port and offers beautiful beaches and a good tourism infrastructure.
Soon after the authorities had boarded the ship was cleared for passengers and crew. This was the time for the tours to be sent on their way. Today’s tours were for the two days were:
Cote D’Opale & The Atlantic Wall. This tour offered the passengers a combination of beauty and wartime history. It took the passengers along one of France’s most beautiful coasts and monuments and strategic points including the Colonne de la grande Armee, Cap Griz-Nez and Cape Blanc-Nez. Batle of the Somme. This tour offered the passengers a poignant day of remembrance. It started with a drive to Albert to visit the Somme 1916 Museum. Other places visited were La Boiselle, Thiepfal, home to the Ulster Tower and the Franco-British Memorial, and Beaumont Hamel home to the Newfoundland Memorial.
Montreuil & Le Touquet. Montreux-Sur-Mer, once a port, lies now eight miles inland. It is undoubtedly the most beautiful walled town in Northern France. With its churches, chapels, mansions and picturesque streets enclosed within impressive ramparts. From here it was a short drive to LeTouquet, the most elegant holiday resort of the Cote d’Opale
Taste of Northern France. This tour started with a 45 minute drive along the Channel Coast to the small village of Tardinghen. Here the passengers visited Brasserie des Deux Caps for guided tour and a taste of the brews. From here the coach headed to the Upper Town of Boulogne-Sur-Mer. Here the passengers could wander, taste some of the smelliest cheeses and in general have a relaxing time.
For passengers who wanted to explore Boulogne-Sur-Mer independently a shuttle bus was operating between the town centre and the ship.
For passengers on board the cruise staff had organized and hosted activities to entertain and keep them busy.
All on board was at 11 pm. Soon we backed away from the berth, swung the ship and set course for our 4 mile sail to the pilot station, where we disembarked the pilot and set sail for Dover.
The evening in the meantime started in the Shackleton’s with pre-performance, while being entertained by Ben Cousins at the piano. After dinner the Discovery Lounge hosted a performance by “Beyond the Barricade” presenting a fabulous evening of stunning showstoppers. This was followed by Late Night Live with Ben Cousins at the piano till late.
Tomorrow morning we are expected to arrive at the Dover Pilot station at 7 am for an arrival at 8 am. This port is the end of our present short but successful cruise. We all wish the disembarking passengers a safe journey home and look forward to pamper them again in the not too far future.
Yesterday we were in Dover and prepared the ship for this cruise. The passengers embarked and were taken through their paces during the pre-departure safety drill. After the drill the ship was ready to sail at 4 pm. Soon after we left the berth, sailed out of the port and had a surprise waiting for the passengers, who were invited to witness departure while enjoying a complementary glass of bubbly and music provided by the Saga Orchestra. We were treated to a flyby and air show by a second world war Spitfire from Biggins Hill Heritage Hangar. After the show we disembarked the pilot and set course for St. Helier. A nice start of the cruise. Before dinner there was time for a destination talk by Shore Excursion Manager Jackie Forbes-Watson, introducing shore excursion procedures and about St. Helier and Jersey. The evening consisted of pre-dinner cocktails, dinner, quiz time, a show by the resident troupe Explosive productions and late night music and nibbles in the Shackleton’s.
St. Helier is the capital and only sizable town on the island of Jersey. St. Helier takes its name from a 6th century hermit who is said to have been martyred by marauding pirates. The town has some historic buildings. Amongst them are the medieval parish church, Elizabeth Castle and the towns Royal Square.
Immediately after the ship being at anchor the tender boats were lowered into the water, the ship’s side prepared for the embarking gate and the shore side prepared for receiving the tenders and their passengers.
As soon as the ship was cleared the passengers could proceed ashore and the tours could be dispatched. Today’s tours were for the two days were:
Jersey War Tunnels. This tour took the passengers back to the second war, when Jersey was occupied by Nazi Germany. As part of the Atlantic Wall they constructed fortifications consisting of bunkers, batteries and tunnels. These were visited during this excursion.
Jersey Island Drive. This was a scenic drive around the island seeing the sights, which included Elizabeth Castle, St. Aubins Village, St. Brelades Bay, the ancient Fisherman’s Chapel, La Corbiere Light House, St. Quen’s Bay, Jersey Pearl, Gory and 13th century Mont Orgueil Castle.
Durrell Wildlife Park. This zoo, founded in 1958 by Gerald Durrell, was built primarily as a reserve and centre for breeding endangered species. In its 25 acres of parkland and water gardens it houses reptiles, birds, Mountain Gorillas, Orang Utans, Andean bears, Ring-tailed Coatis, Lemurs and the elusive Aye-Aye.
La Mare Wine Estate. This tour visited the 18th century granite farm house where in its kitchen produced Jersey fudge, biscuits, chocolates, preserves and the famous Jersey Black Butter. It is set in 21 acres of vines and orchards and has a winery and cognac style distillery.
Floral Jersey. This excursion took the passengers to two of the island’s charming, but contrasting gardens. The first garden was Le Clos du Chemin, where colour and texture abound in the form of glorious herbaceous border, beds and wild garden. From here the passengers went to Sameres Manor which has stunning Oriental style gardens.
The last tender from the shore to the ship was at 6 pm. As soon as all the passengers were on board we stowed the gear and the tender boats, heaved up the anchor, left the anchorage to the pilot station, where we disembarked the pilot and set course for our next port of call Barrow-in-Furness. This evening the passengers enjoyed a pre-dinner classical concert and cocktails, dinner, a show by by Comedy and Variety Performer David Copperfield with “Not an Illusionist, but the Unusualist” and late night music, dancing and drinks in the Shackleton’s till late.
Before arrival today we had two relaxing days at sea. As we had lots of time the bridge team decided to put a bit more interest to the days at sea by producing a chart of our route from Jersey to Barrow-in-Furness. This was accompanied by points of interest with the date and the approximate time of passing. We ensured that we were passing close enough to these points to have a good look at them.
Sunday, 10 July, started after breakfast with an Interdenominational Sunday Service, which was conducted by Canon Graham Drake and opened by our own Filipino Choir. From then on the passengers settled for some scenic cruising, enjoying speakers, instructors, entertainment, treatments, wonderful meals and a special strawberries and cream tea while watching the exiting men’s Wimbledon Final, which was won by Andy Murray. The evening offered the Welcome On Board Party, dinner, a performance by the Explosive Production Singers and Dancers and Late Night Jazz and drinks till late.
Monday offered more scenic cruising and enjoying speakers, instructors, entertainment, treatments, Singles Luncheon, wonderful meals and afternoon tea. The evening offered pre-dinner cocktails, dinner, a performance by Vocalist Sussy Woods presenting an evening of sassy and soulful sounds and late night cocktail and music in the Shackleton’s.
This morning we arrived at the pilot station at the very early hour of 4 am. The reason for this early hour is that the port is tidal and protected by a gate. The ship can only enter at high water. After the pilot boarded we sailed the 9 mile to the port and were berthed at 5.30 am.
Barrow-in-Furness is Cumbria’s second largest town. It is called after Furness Abbey, which was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1537. The town grew to a major industrial centre in the 19th century. Its shipyards have been building submarines since the First World War. Barrow is part of Britain’s “Energy Coast” with one of the country’s largest concentrations of wind farms. The town is home to the afore mentioned picturesque ruins of the abbey and Piel castle, the Dock Museum and its large public park designed by Thomas Mowson.
The ship was cleared at 8 am so we could start to run our tours. These were :
Muncaster Castle. This is s a treasure house of art and antiques and is said to be haunted. It is set in beautiful gardens.
Furness Railway & Windermere Cruise. A steam train took the passengers to the terminus for a leisurely cruise on the lake.
Beatrice Potter & Days Gone By. The passengers discovered the charming world of Beatrix Potter through sights and sounds. They also saw many of the characters from the books. This was followed by a cruise on Lake Windemere.
Apart from the tour a shuttle bus was running between the town and the ship for independent passengers.
All aboard was 5 pm. Soon after we left the berth to the pilot station from where we set course for Warrenpoint. The evening offered `pre-dinner classical music and cocktails, dinner, a variety show with performances by vocalist Suzi Woods, Comedian David Copperfield and the Explosive Productions and late night drinks and Cabaret in the Shackleton’s.
This morning we arrived at the pilot station at 6.30 am for the 12 mile scenic sail to the port, where after turning the ship 180 degrees, we were berthed at 8 am.
Warrenpoint is a small seaside town, located on the northern side of Carlingford Lough, just across the border from the Irish Republic. It started out as a small fishing port, but in the 19th century built a tidal dock for larger ships and due to the rise in tourism into a Victorian summer resort with promenade, bandstand and swimming baths.
Soon after the authorities had boarded the ship was cleared for passengers and crew. This was the time for the tours to be sent on their way. Today’s tours were:
Armagh & Its Ancient Cathedral. This tour took the passengers on a drive to historic town, which is the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland. After being told and show the history of the town the tour visited the 19th century cathedral.
Belfast & the Titanic. This tour took the passengers on a panoramic tour of the town of Belfast on the way to Tatanic Belfast. This building has nine galleries telling the story of the ill-fated Belfast-built liner.
The Mountains of Mourne. This tour took the passengers this granite mountain range, which includes the highest mountains in Northern Ireland. This is an area of outstanding beauty. Visited during this tour was the small charming town of Newcastle.
For passengers who wanted to explore Warringpoint independently it was just a short walk into town.
All on board was at 7.30 pm. Shortly after we eased away from our berth, sailed the 12 scenic miles to the pilot station and set course for Stornoway.
The evening offered pre-dinner cocktails, dinner, quiz time, pre and post-show dancing, Showtime with a performance by the Explosive Singers and Dancers presenting their show “Laughter in the Rain”, celebrating the music of Neil Sedaka and late night drinks, music and dancing in the Shackleton’s.
Yesterday was a day at sea. The bridge team had again prepared a chart and a list of points we would be passing with the times. Our scenic cruising started with the Old Man of Hoy and continued along the North and East coast of Scotland, followed by a short run down the east coast of England to Newcastle. The day was filled with activities and wonderful meals, including The Captain and Johnny English Fish and Chips, served by the four stripers at lunchtime.
The evening offered pre-dinner classical music and cocktails, dinner, quiz time, variety ShowTime with a performance by Explosive Productions, Flautist Tara Rachelle and Tenor Lee Bradley.
This morning we arrived at Newcastle. Dating from the Roman Period, it lies on the north bank of the River Tyne. Due to its strategic location it has been used in the frontier defences guarding the east coast route from Scotland. It once had a thriving wool and cloth industry. Now associated with marine and heavy engineering industry, it plays an important role in servicing Britain’s offshore oil and gas fields and is a major service and financial centre.
Today’s tours were:
Alnwick Castle & Garden took our passengers to this centuries’old treasure trove of history for a tour of the castle and garden. The Garden is home to the Grand Cascade, the largest water feature of its kind in England as well as the bamboo labyrinth and one of the world’s largest tree houses.
City of Culture showed our passengers what the city has to offer in terms of history and culture. Visited were The Sage Gateshead, Baltic Flour Mill, one of the largest centres of modern art outside London, Gateshead Millennium Bridge the Anglican Cathedral and the Angel of the North.
Historic Hadrian’s Wall. This wall was 73 miles long and 20 feet high. It is the best known frontier in the entire Roman Empire and the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain. Our passengers visited a preserved section of the wall, Chester’s Roman Fort and Chester’s Museum.
All on board was not until 10.30 pm. Shortly after we eased away from our berth, swung the ship 180 degrees, sailed the 4 miles to the pilot station and set course for Southwold.
Our scenic cruising today really started with Whitby and will continue all along the east coast of England to Southwold.
However, in Newcastle our CEO, Robin Shaw, had joined the ship. Accompanied by some of our Directors and a team from SMC, our ship designers, they were with us to facilitate workshops with both passengers and crew. Well received I know!
This evening it was a pleasure to meet many of our passengers at my Farewell Cocktail Party. After a most delicious dinner variety ShowTime saw us enjoy a performance by the Saga Passenger Choir, as well as The Saga Orchestra, Flautist Tara Rachelle, Tenor Lee Bradley and The Diablo String Quartet.
This morning we arrived at the Southwold anchorage at just after 7 am. Shortly after we set up for our tender operation, to transfer passengers and crew between ship and shore.
Southwold, a charming Suffolk coastal town has a bustling harbour, a wonderful pier with some eccentric attractions and numerous historic buildings. The largest employer is Adnams Brewery –a popular tour today.
Adnams Brewery. Beer has been brewed on this site for at least 670 years. This brewery, located in a distinctive Victorian building, is one of the icons of Southwold and one of the most modern breweries and distilleries in the UK.
Constable Country. This tour visited beautiful Flatford, which inspired the great landscape painter John Constable. The passengers visited the sites that were the subjects of some of his most famous paintings.
Helmingham Hall Gardens. This tour visited these spectacular Grade 1 listed gardens. According to old maps these gardens are older than the Hall, which was built in 1480. They offered enchanting herbaceous borders, a walled kitchen garden, and herb, knot and wild gardens.
Sutton Ho. On this tour our passengers visited one of Britain’s most important archaeological sites, the burial ground of the Anglo-Saxon Kings of East Anglia. Finds have included an iconic warrior’s helmet, shield, weapons, Anglo-Saxon gold and Byzantine silver treasures from France. Visited were the Visitor’s Centre and the house of Edith Pretty, who instigated the dig in 1938.
Opera Babes were the stars of Showtime this evening, followed late night music and dancing in Shackleton’s.
Tomorrow morning we will arrive in Dover at the end of our 12 day cruise. We all wish our disembarking passengers a safe journey home and look forward to pampering them again in the not too far future.
In Dover Captain Nicolas Sunderland will take over command of Saga Pearl II. I wish you all safe cruising, happy reading and look forward to chatting with you again from 18 September.
Well doesn’t 2 months just fly by. Here we are in Dover and Captain Nick is back taking command today. It’s good to be back after a busy leave and it’s good to see the familiar faces of our friendly crew again ready to go for our week long Norwegian Fjordland Gems cruise. Also quite an unusual site today is that we are in with the Saga Sapphire, so Saga Cruises have taken over the cruise piers in Dover!! The Pearl of course being the flagship! J
Well after a busy turnaround day, combined with handovers and meetings we were ready to sail ahead of Sapphire at 4pm. The Staff Captain brought the ship off the berth, with assistance of the wind and a tug, and backed up the ship into the basin, when the bow was clear to turn to port we used the thruster to swing us round to the outbound course necessary to negotiate the tidal current and wind. We proceeded out of the port and dropped off our pilot at the harbour entrance.
The evening is a good time for me to unpack, all those bits of uniform need pressing and making good ready for the days ahead. Off the Saga Pearl II sails in calm waters and warm weather upto the Norwegian Fjords and our first port of call Bergen, with one seaday to get there!!
Well the seaday had plenty of activities scheduled for our guests with various lectures and of course one of my favourites –team trivia. I wish I could know all those answers, pretty good on a pub team but I would like to be better.
The North Sea was calm with warm weather outside, so it was a good opportunity for our guests to top up their tan and come back from Norway with a tan –how good is that.
This evening I hosted my Captain’s Cocktail Party and I must say it was the longest queue I have ever had to have their picture taken with me –must be popular!! It took nearly 50 minutes to see everybody and then it was time to give my welcome address –which was very well received. Next stop was the dining room for our formal dinner and I must say for my 2 month vacation I have missed the Saga Cuisine –excellent again thank you Chef.
This morning in Bergen was rainy –lets call it Authentic for Norway. It is due to brighten up in the afternoon, but myself and the Staff Captain did get a little wet this morning during docking. We picked up the pilots at 7am this morning, the 2 pilots that would be with us until Sunday Evening after departure Flam. The Norwegian Pilots are very professional seafarers and I like working with them. After we had done the twists and turns for the 25 mile approach to Bergen we finished docking the ship by going bow in and port side alongside. We were next door to the ‘Albatros’so we were not the only cruise ship in town. Bergen is one of my personal favourites in Norway as it is the heart of Medieval Norway and is one of the holiday homes for the Norwegian Royal Family.
Well the weather warmed up and cleared up and the forecasts look better as the days go on in our cruise –which is good news.
For our departure we moved the vessel astern along the pier around 15m off and then when the bow was clear to swing to starboard we did so and spun the ship around to make good for the outbound course. Then it was time to proceed out of Bergen and make for our next port of call Skjolden on Saturday.
The Britannia Club Party was held at 6:30pm and was well attended by our 96 Britannia Club members onboard –great to see them all again.
Well what a beautiful morning for arrival here in Skjolden. This port is in the heart of the Fjords and one of the most beautiful natural places I have seen. We approached the berth around 0915 this morning and after a slow turn to starboard in front of the pier we came port side alongside with no wind to assist us (or distract us!!). The sunshine was out and during the day the temperature rose to 24 degrees C and hot!!
Some great tours were on offer today including the very well received Scenic Sognefell tour which tours the area of the Sognefjord which stretches 126 miles inland to Skjolden. Guests visited ice capped mountains and walked in the snow with the sun providing the warmth –fantastic.
Well the weather certainly held out all day as you can see from the great photos we took. From 7pm we held our Norwegian Buffet on the Verendah Deck aft, with some items locally purchased by our Norwegian Hotel Director Ivar, and they proved to be very popular.
All in all a good day and when 1130pm came about we departed Skjolden in the moonlight and set sail for our next port of call around the corner –Flam.
After a short transit for Skjolden we approached the berth just after 6:30am. In order to go port side alongside we had to turn the ship around in front of a small ice cap river and back the ship up. We did this and with a slight set from the river we were able to come alongside with ease –and what another beautiful day it was going to be –forecast for even hotter today –25 degrees C apparently.
Flam (pronounced Flom due to the little o above the a) is a popular resort for the travelling tourist in Norway and there were many motorhomes and caravans ashore who were also basking in the sunshine and enjoying the local sights.
A tour that I would like to do is the Flam Railway –it has great reviews, but as I have just returned to the vessel there is plenty of paperwork to catch up on. A Captain’s day is not just driving the ship but all the paperwork associated with our modern times, along with constantly inspecting all areas of the ship to ensure we are always ‘Shipshape’!!!
Today proved to be very warm with temperatures in the late twenties, too warm for me!, so we are certainly blessed with the weather. Today was an earlier departure of 4pm, so our guests will get to enjoy the beautiful fjord scenery in the sunshine. Shortly before 4 we left the berth and as we did all the hardwork in the morning we drove the ship straight out and clear of the berth.
At 6:30pm I hosted our Newcomers Cocktail Party. It was very well attended by our many new Saga Guests and it was a pleasure to welcome them to our cruising family.
At around midnight we dropped off our 2 fjord pilots and proceeded towards Stavanger Pilot station ready for tomorrow.........
So we picked up our pilot for Stavanger at 8am this morning. A proper seagoing pilot boat brought the pilot to us then we proceeded into the entrance of the port, where the transit takes about an hour or so to come in towards the berth. We went starboard side alongside today and just moved the ship bodily sideways towards the dock. The weather was still warm but a bit more overcast.
Stavanger is Norway’s 4th Largest city and is renowned for its North Sea Oil connections so it is a bit more commercial than our other Fjord ports.
Some really nice tours were on offer today, and proved to be very popular as I saw most guests coming down the gangway in the morning as I waved goodbye.
Departure seemed to come about quickly today, maybe because it was time to set sail towards our home port of Dover! For departure we moved the ship away from the berth, with the assistance of some offshore wind, and then when it was clear to do so we used the bow thruster to port and turned the ship around to sail out of the port. We dropped the pilot off about 1.5 hours later at the southern pilot station and then proceeded on Southerly headings aiming for Dover.
At 6:30pm I hosted my Farewell Cocktail Party, which also has come about very quickly this cruise. We were then treated to another great dinner in the Dining room/Verendah from our excellent Executive Chef John and his team.