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13th October, 2019


Passage down from Dover was relatively calm after the first part of the Bay of Biscay, with only an Atlantic swell from the NW to give a gentle movement to the ship down the coast of Portugal. Unfortunately it was mainly overcast, but the temperature was rising all the way south. The slight easterly wind in the approaches to, and the Straits of Gibraltar, caused some fog during the night, which did not clear for the morning.

We arrived in Ceuta in calm conditions but with only about 2 miles visibility and slight drizzle. I turned the ship around outside the port and backed in through the entrance past The Pillars of Hercules statue on the Western breakwater, and we were docked on time at 0800.

Ceuta is a tiny Spanish city-enclave on the Moroccan side of the Straits of Gibraltar, separated from the Spanish mainland by just 12 miles. The city's strategic location has ensured it has endured a turbulent history, often being used as a trade and military outpost. Originally an old Carthaginian colony, it has since been held by the Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, and Arabs, and has been known as 'Abyla', 'Septem' and 'Cibta'. It was finally taken over by Spain in 1580 and has remained Spanish since then, with the name 'Ceuta'.

Amazingly this was the first call that the Saga Sapphire had made to Ceuta and there was a plaque presentation to the ship from the port, we of course responded by presenting them with one of the ships plaques.

Due to the fog that lasted all day the tours where disrupted with the boat trip being cancelled and the sightseeing tours not being able to see much. There was a trip to Tetouan UNESCO World heritage site in Morocco that ran OK but was delayed due to the tight security crossing the border back into Ceuta because of the number of refugees.

We left at 1500 and soon after we left the fog in the Straits of Gibraltar behind bound for Oran in Algeria.

Captain Richard Lambert

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

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