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8th August, 2012


We had an interesting run from the port of Seydisfjordur to Akureryi. I was sitting down to my meal with my guests on the formal evening when I was informed by the ship's doctor that one of my crew had taken gravely ill and I was needed on the bridge. I went up and it was clear a helicopter was required as at the time it was a life and death situation. As we were on the NE corner of Iceland, basically in the middle of nowhere, the ship's team sprung into action. We called Reykjavic MRCC which is the coastguard station who dispatched a helicopter from Reykjavic to us, with an ETA of 2 ½ hours. So preparations were made to the aft end of deck 11 where we winch from.

Meanwhile I went down to the hospital to see our patient, a young chap who had basically been revived by the wonderful work of our Medical Team, Dr Dianne, Nurse Lyn and Myleen. I suggested Myleen the nurse went with the patient as a fellow countrywoman and she did not hesitate. So by 2330, the helicopter had whisked our patient and Myleen away, landed at Akureryi, and transferred them to a waiting ambulance plane to take them to Rekjavik. Annie our Chief Purser made all arrangements for hotels and hospitals with our agent, so it was a great team effort by all departments. We don’t normally write about medical evacuations but I was so impressed and in awe at the way the medical team brought this young chap back from death's door and now he is doing fine and due to fly home, warranted writing about our angels of the sea. I know they would say they are only doing their job but I am in awe at their professional abilities, so much so I would want to be treated by this group as they are superb!!

A fantastic effort also by the other officers and crew who provided fire team cover, and rescue boat cover while the operation of winching took place, and stretcher parties and all others, a great team effort which I am so proud to be part of.

So it had been a busy night but we sailed to the pilot station the next morning on time. The wind had increased to gale force conditions so berthing proved to be a bit of a struggle especially as there were no tugs available to assist, only the small pilot boat. So I had to use all my skills to get the ship alongside using mother nature as well. At times she helped us as the wind pushed us towards the quayside and then at the last minute blew us strongly away. So looking later at the route on the chart, we did a few pirouettes before berthing. But patience I was always taught is a virtue and we eventually got alongside, again another team effort.

We were all fast by 0830 and there was a chill in the air, a windy start but the rain was holding back much to our passengers delight! Our excursions were setting off early today and our guests waited patiently in the Britannia Lounge whilst our Assistant Cruise Director Ed organised them for the coaches. Many of our passengers were carrying back packs with them today as one of the excursions we offered was to the ‘Myvatn Nature Baths’. Myvatn is just south of the Arctic Circle where the land is a mixture of craters and cave formations, sulphur-streaked mountains and surreal lava. Our guests were able to relax in the mineral rich waters for more than an hour before returning back to the ship via the ‘Godafoss Waterfall’ a tremendous breath taking sight that really lived up to its expectations.

For those who had opted for ‘something different’ it was a jeep safari ride off the beaten track of Akureyri where they also visited some of the fabulous waterfalls and glaciers and seen some amazing sights exclusive only to those who braved the bumpy ride with our Social Hostess, Donna and Cruise Administrator, Carrie.

For those who did not book an excursion today, as always plenty was going on around Saga Sapphire. Resty had a fun packed day with games including deck quoits where the passengers enjoyed the beautiful views over the fjords from deck 12. Meanwhile our dancer Hayley tested our passenger’s brainpower with a general knowledge quiz in the drawing room and Michael our singer led a good nautical game of shuffleboard.

As our passengers began returning back to the ship looking somewhat refreshed from all the fresh air and mineral water, our waiters had prepared for them an impressive chocolate afternoon tea, a lovely end to a great day! Our chocolate fountain was Saga Sapphire’s interpretation of our very own waterfall accompanied by some delicious strawberries and other treats to dip in and enjoy with our afternoon tea, accompanied by our resident duo ‘Perfect Mood’ in the Britannia Lounge.

Shortly afterwards our guests made their way up to the Verandah deck at the aft end of the ship with our cruise staff to enjoy a ‘Bacardi Breezer’ as we took in the scenery and sailed from Akureyri en route to our next destination Isasjordur, around 169 nautical miles. We all kept our eyes peeled and binoculars at the ready for some sightings of the local marine life and some were lucky to spot some dolphins, whales and puffins on the way out!

A great day was had by all in Akureyri, the rain held off, we enjoyed some fantastic excursions and our passengers expressed their delight about the iconic waterfalls saying they were ‘amongst the best in the world’.

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.