Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs
6th April, 2019
On a breezy Saturday morning, I stepped onto Saga Pearl 2’s Bridge just before 06:30 and a sight greeted me that confirmed our arrival back into ‘regular’ cruising waters. 3 large cruise ships – the biggest of which is only a few months old and carries some 7000 passengers & crew – were queuing ahead of us to make an entrance into Las Palmas port.
We duly joined the end of this queue (I think we were actually so small in comparison that the port authority didn’t notice our presence for a while…) and finally entered the port about half an hour after scheduled, behind a local ferry. The good thing about being a small ship is that it takes less time to manoeuvre and tie up than it does for one of these behemoths, so fortunately we found ourselves in a position despite being last into the harbour, where we were seeing our passengers step off into the sunshine earlier than some of the larger ships!
Almost circular in shape, with a small peninsula at the north end where Las Palmas lies, Gran Canaria is perhaps one of the prettiest Canary Islands once one ventures away from the port area. This island offers mountains, volcanoes, flora & fauna, beaches, and of course a Spanish city with an old quarter dating back to the 15th Century. Top that off with a pleasant round-year climate, and it’s not a bad spot, really.
Saga’s organised trips well-covered the island of course, with everything offered from volcano hikes, shopping trips, visits to floral haciendas, caves and even an off-road jeep trip. Those who wished could also just wander into Las Palmas from the ship, as it is only a few hundred metres distant from our berth. If one walks straight through town for about 10 minutes, you emerge on the western side of the island to a grand promenade and beachfront, which makes for a great walk and coffee/lunch stop.
The weather presented a typical spring Canary island day – sunny with a breeze out of the northeast, just slightly stronger than usual making it necessary for strings to be attached to sunhats. I found good entertainment posting myself on the Bridge-wing and watching passengers disembark a large ship berthed opposite us. As they exited the ship’s side door, they were immediately exposed to a strong wind which often whipped away an unsecured item of clothing or newspaper. Affected passengers would then hastily move down the quayside in chase of their recently lost items, watched on by other passengers and crew with smirks on their faces. At Saga of course, we warn people of such risks before they leave the vessel, and as a result I did not witness anything – not even a wig – blow from any of our guests’ possession…
The Captain was on a brief mission to source a suitable outfit for an upcoming highlight of the cruise – ‘Captain Tanner’s 80’s Night’ – where I had been persuaded to DJ for a night of boogieing in Shackleton’s Bar the evening after departing Gran Canaria. I therefore despatched a team to purchase some comedy 80’s paraphernalia (e.g. mullet wig, headband, etc) from a Spanish party shop…
Late afternoon arrived and in the afternoon sunshine we waved goodbye to Las Palmas and some 10,000 passengers returning to their respective floating hotels, before turning north and heading for Cap Finisterre, where we would next see land shortly before our destination of El Ferrol. I shall send a message from there!
Captain Kim Tanner
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