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13th July, 2019


It was breakfast time when we proceeded into the river Tyne towards our next port of call – Newcastle (upon Tyne – funnily enough). A tugboat rendezvoused with us just after we passed into the harbour entrance, as this would help us swing the ship around in the turning basin further upstream. With about 1 knot of current ‘pushing’ us upstream with the flooding tide, the turning manoeuvre within the 320m wide basin would be critical.

Thankfully, with the assistance of a good bridge team, pilot and tug-master, this was conducted with the minimal of fuss and we then only had to proceed back downstream a few hundred metres before our allocated berth here on the northern side of the river – in North Shields. The southern side of the river – easily accessed by either road bridge or short ferry journey, was South Shields. A little further upstream lay Newcastle on the northern side, and Gateshead on the southern banks of the Tyne.

These townships share some 2000 years of history with their origins being traced back to Roman times. Newcastle has seen many an industry play an important role in its economic development – from wool, to coal and shipbuilding. It now calls itself a lively cosmopolitan city that manages to mix the best of old & new, with the city centre being a business and cultural centre for the north-east.

The weather started promisingly this morning, with even a hint of blue sky threatening to expose the sunshine – however lunchtime signalled the start of drizzly dullness which would prevail most of the afternoon. Summer cruising around the UK – fortunately our guests had the sense to pack their waterproofs for this trip…

Today our tours ventured off on various points of the compass – one to explore the Victorian streets of the Beamish, another to Alnwick Castle and Gardens (with a private welcome from the Duchess of Northumberland herself, to the building apparently recognisable to most as “Hogwarts” from Harry Potter films) whilst another bus drove off in search of Hadrian’s Wall. There were also trips to Durham Cathedral and the Angel of the North, Classic Wallington Hall, or Brinkburn Street Brewery.

Despite some guests returning resembling drowned rats after roaming the Beamish streets, everyone had smiles on their faces. That’s what we call the stiff upper lip. It was then time for a hasty departure at 18:00, for at 18:30 I was to host the farewell cocktail party. Unusually late for my own party, I was fortunately present early enough to make an address and thank everybody for coming along on this little British adventure.

Off to Dover we go now, with a day at sea to enjoy and for guests to cram as much food as they can into their tummies before beans on toast awaits at home, as well as cram their clothes back into their cases again… I am taking a short break to attend an important event next week, and so will leave the ship in the capable hands of Captain Lambert until my return on the 22nd July for the exciting sounding ‘Wild about Iceland’ cruise. Until then, I hope you enjoy Captain Lambert’s commentary of Saga Sapphire’s upcoming little jaunt to Norway next week.

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.