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Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs

2nd August, 2018

Pasajes is our port today which like the other ports, is a new one for me. As I arrived on the bridge this morning I was looking for the entrance to the port, always handy to see where you are going! We had had our Navigational Overview meeting, (this is where we talk about the upcoming ports and the plan for each of them) and during this meeting it was discussed that it was a narrow entrance to the port. So, this morning while I was looking I saw a narrow entrance, and it was narrower than I thought it would be! Saga Pearl II has been here before, so I knew we would fit. Two pilots embarked at 0700 and between the pilots and the bridge team we sailed in. The entrance is very scenic and stunning and once we had cleared the narrow channel it opened up in a wide harbour. We then swung the ship to the north and then moved astern towards the berth. There were many guests who had woken up early to watch us sail in. With all line ashore and gangway in place our guests headed out at 0800.

It was a cloudy start to the day as we arrived, but once we were docked the sun came out. We saw temperature reach 28c or 80f today. Tomorrow in Bordeaux the forecast is for 40c!

For our shore excursions today, our guests had a wide selection to choose from. We had a full day tour heading our thought countryside to Bilbao a port further along the coast. Here our guests experience the spectacular transformations that have taken place, one of these being the ultra-modern Guggenheim Museum. For those that wanted to see the countryside from a different view we took them across the border to French Basque country and the village of Sare. Here they took the vintage rack-and-pinion train 30 minutes up the summit of La Rhune which stands some 3,000 feet above sea level. There was also the chance to go and visit San Sebastian the small city that is the central hub of the Basque Country.

For those of us on board, today was our weekly crew drill, which was a simulated fire in the funnel. We are continually undertake drills to ensure that our teams are ready to respond at a moment’s notice. With the simulated fire complete we then launched our lifeboats with their operating crews. All went well during the drill and with the lifeboats returned to their stowed position it was time for lunch.

At 1700 with all the pre departure checks complete and gangway removed it was my responsibility to bring Saga Pearl II safely off the berth and lined up for the narrow passage out. Captain Nick gave the order to let go all the lines and with the assistance of a compulsory tug we lifted off the berth and proceeded back towards the narrow channel. With the pilot taking the navigational conn of the vessel, this is where the pilot will give the helmsman the courses to steer, we sailed back out towards the open sea.

Once we disembarked our pilot at 1730, it was time to get ready for our Britannia Members and New Comers cocktail party and formal dinner. Which I have on good authority from the Cruise Director Kayleigh that Dirk our executive chef has removed all the calories from the meal, brilliant!

I have taken a few photos today to show you the beautiful passage we sailed through the morning and upon our departure.

Simon D Westall - Staff Captain

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.