Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs
30th September, 2018
Our final port this cruise, Belfast, was last but by no means least. It was still dark as we turned west into the muddy river estuary and entered the buoyed channel into the port, some 8 miles distant. Rain threatened on the horizon as we neared the turning area and swung the ship about before moving backwards (astern, for those nautically minded folk out there) around half a mile towards our berth.
Sure enough, just as the requirement was for the Captain to head out onto the bridge-wing and ‘park,’ the rain started. Typical! Luckily it was just ‘Irish rain’ which apparently means just light drizzle. In any event, this slightly damp Captain berthed the ship just before 08:00 on the scenic coal berth in Belfast Harbour, for these is no dedicated ‘cruise’ berth here. Nevertheless, it is quite conveniently situated, and it is actually possible to walk into the city from the berth, with or without coal stains on the soles of one’s shoes.
The birthplace of Titanic, Belfast boasts a proud seafaring history. In recent years it has undergone a remarkable rejuvenation and today it offers a good selection of shops, bars and restaurants as well as some lovely landmarks. Much like any city should, if you ask me. One such impressive landmark is the grand City Hall in the centre of Donegall Square. Other rather impressive sights include the 19th Century Opera House, and Queen’s University (although I’m unsure if Her Majesty actually ever did study at her own university).
The coastal scenery is rather nice here too, offering the National Nature Reserve on the nearby north-east coast of County Antrim, which also boasts Giant’s Causeway – where one of our organised trips headed today. Other tours took those who so wished to the famous Titanic Museum, the Historic Royal Palace of Hillsborough and of course there was also a scenic city tour on offer.
A breezy day, with the odd Irish shower (they are apparently ‘lighter’ in nature than those neighbouring English showers) the sun eventually did make an appearance just as we departed the berth at the slightly earlier time of 15:00. This was because tonight we were holding our traditional farewell cocktail party, and our female travellers required a good few hours to prepare and don their glad rags for the occasion. The gentlemen of course enjoyed a bit of down time before jumping into the shower 10 minutes before cocktails were poured…
Another fantastic meal prepared by our Executive Chef John, followed by a show by a west-end singer/producer, and then an Irish themed sing-along/jig in Shackleton’s Lounge. Our final sea day back to Dover would be a nice calm one, with passengers being able to enjoy views of some of the English (well, Cornish) coastline throughout the morning before we headed into the traffic routing schemes of the busy English Channel. Speak to you next cruise!
Captain Kim Tanner
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