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Funchal, Madeira

Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs

20th February, 2019

Well faithful blog readers, Captain Tanner back again to look after this beautiful little ship for her final two very special months with Saga.

Having gone through the necessary handover formalities with Captain Sunderland, I then set about looking at some of the countries we’d be visiting during this fascinating 2-month itinerary. Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia and Saint Helena – to name just a few.

Things got off to a spectacular start after embarkation of our 400 passengers (along with about 4,000 suitcases) as the 74-voice strong Welsh male Morriston Orpheus Choir gave a wonderful & moving rendition, followed by a spectacular 10 minute firework display to send us off from Portsmouth harbour at 18:00. We moved out of the harbour with tugboats providing water fountains over the ship and whistles blowing, which surely had everyone living on the Portsmouth waterfront intent on watching the Six O’ Clock News reaching for their television volume buttons.

Thereafter followed 3 easy days at sea to allow those to settle in on board, but mainly to unpack & stow hundreds of kilograms of luggage. What an entertainment line-up we have on board for everyone’s enjoyment, with the famous Sid Lawrence Orchestra led by Chris Dean, and West-End Swing Singer Chris Dean just a few names to provide outstanding music to our ears throughout these days at sea.

Temperatures gradually climbed as we neared our first port, the rugged Portuguese island of Madeira. Often the or last first port of call for many a transatlantic crossing, Funchal offers a nicely sheltered harbour on the south side of the island, where one can normally hide from the often high winds & swells of the North Atlantic. We approached the harbour in the early hours but had to wait a while outside as this ever-popular stop was like Piccadilly Circus this morning with cruise ship & ferry movements in abundance. We were able to nip in ahead of the Porto Santo ferry and berth on the preferred quay, in the north of the harbour nearest the town.

Some went on organised excursions, others pottered ashore to ride on the cable car up the hillside, or to visit the fish market. Tours today went off to some botanical gardens, leisurely walks around the town or countryside, and even to visit Cabo Girao – which at 1900ft stands as one of the tallest cliffs in Europe. With hazy sunshine and temperatures in the high teens, it made for a pleasant ‘winter’s’ day regardless of activity choice.

Mid-afternoon came about and it was time to set sail further south, to the Canary Islands. As we headed out of the harbour, the Sid Lawrence Orchestra played outside on the Veranda deck aft next to the pool; there was reportedly a significant amount of dancing and enjoyment had by all present. Just what everyone came for…

Captain Kim Tanner

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

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