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Perla the Parrot

Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs

9th March, 2019

My name is Perla, and I am Captain Tanner’s baby blue & gold Macaw parrot. He collected me from “Feathers & Beaks UK” and my breeder Lorrie, near Reading, the day before our South African Adventure cruise started. I’ve been hand-reared from birth and so although the origin of my species is South America, I’m not actually a wild bird. Oh, and you should have seen Captain Tanner’s face as he left the shop when Lorrie reminded him that I will probably live for 70 years or more! Almost immediately thereafter I introduced him to my mischievousness by escaping from my travel cage in the rental van he was driving, flapping around pecking at his bags, forcing Captain Tanner to pull over onto the hard shoulder and try to put me back into my cage. Great fun!

Since boarding the ship in Portsmouth, I have lived happily on Saga Pearl 2’s Bridge, entertained around the clock by her Bridge Officers and other visitors who like to come and greet me, as well as bring me fresh fruit, veg & nuts to nibble on. I am a social bird, so the more people around me, the merrier. Except at night-time, when I like to get a good rest on my perch in my cage with a tailor-made blanket over it.

I’m only a baby, so have yet to grow to full size and learn all the tricks that a Macaw should. That said, I have already learnt to say ‘hello’ quite well, as well as mimic the Bridge Officers’ laughter. According to something called Google, I am not supposed to learn to talk until I am about 3 years old however I must be a quick learner at just 5 months. The other trick which I’m slowly learning is the control of my bowel movements. Captain Tanner only allows me to perch on his shoulder for about 20 minute periods at a time because after this spell – well, at my age I just really need to go.

Captain Tanner put it out to the ship’s passengers to name me, and received lots of good ideas back. Initially there was confusion about whether I was a male or female, but this was soon cleared up when the DNA test results arrived 2 weeks ago and it was confirmed that I was a beautiful young lady. Some more notable name ideas included “Sixpence” and even “Tanner’s Tart!” However, he decided upon “Perla” in the end; which is Spanish for Pearl – the name of this lovely little ship of course. Captain Tanner lives in Mallorca which is also known by some as the ‘island of pearls.’ So, Perla the Parrot it was.

When I first met Captain Tanner in December, he asked my breeder and his vet friend if it was a good idea to take me cruising with him, and they both replied that it sounded like a super opportunity for a bird like me. Apart from being able to travel the world with the best views on the ship from my perch situated on the Bridge Wing, Captain Tanner allows me to roam around freely on my Java wood tree all day, pecking away on my toys and throwing seeds & nuts around for the boys to tidy up. 2 or 3 times daily, he comes to pick me up and takes me on a walk around the ship, where I am stroked regularly by lots of intrigued people who seem to spend most of their time eating, drinking and sleeping on board. It’s amazing – they seem to fall sleep everywhere!

My favourite times (apart from feeding times when Jemma the Cruise Composer looks after) are when Captain Tanner takes me down to the Discovery Lounge on the odd evening when everyone is dressed very smartly, before he walks around on the stage with me on his shoulder whilst speaking into a small, round black metal stick which I am desperate to try and peck but can never quite reach it. The attention I receive is incredible! Being so young, I haven’t quite mastered the skill of flying yet, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had a few jolly good attempts at learning. I have more than once leapt from my tree and attempted to fly across Saga Pearl 2’s Bridge, but never making it more than halfway across before colliding with something called a compass repeater or the ship’s wheel and bouncing onto the carpet below. I’ll get the hang of it in the end I suppose…

I occasionally doze during the daytime, (although not nearly as much as Saga passengers seem to do) perched on 1 foot with my beak snuggled into my shoulder. This seems to provide great entertainment for the Bridge Team, who initially – quite hilariously - thought that I might suffer from seasickness. Nope – I’ve gained my sea ‘leg’ very quickly, I assure you. When we seem to be close to land, the Bridge becomes quite busy with lots of officers all concentrating a great deal on staring outside the window or at strange pieces of technology. Everyone always seems to listen to Captain Tanner during such times, oh – and laugh at his jokes. He must be a very funny man…

Ah, before I sign off I have to tell you about the email that I sent to Saga Headquarters without Captain Tanner even knowing! It was hilarious – he let me roam around on his desk for a bit and while he was distracted talking to someone called the Chief Engineer who came into his office, I pecked at his keyboard a few times and before I knew it, ping! An email with lots of ‘zzz’s in it had flown off to a lady called Karen ashore who apparently is helping somehow to build Saga’s new ships. Captain Tanner only discovered I’d done this when Karen replied later in the day asking what on earth he was talking about! I do love a good trick!!

Well, I’m a month into my first trip at sea now and can’t wait for more voyages around the world with Captain Tanner & Saga. It’s been great fun so far. Some cruise ship Captains have other pets on board to accompany them (I heard one even has a bald cat!) but I think having a parrot on his shoulder makes Captain Tanner look like a more authentic Merchant Navy Captain. All he needs now is an eye patch, a hook and a wooden leg…

Captain Kim Tanner

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.