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21st November, 2012

Ponta Delgada, the Azores

Ponta Delgada

During the early hours of the morning, 3.45 am to be precise, the rolling stopped when we came into the lee of San Miguel Island. Not that many noticed as everyone was tucked up in beds!

It was a great relief as even the hardened crew were a tad weary from the persistent pounding of the waves. Two local pilots boarded a little after 7.00am and with 2 tugs assisting I swung Saga Sapphire around and entered the harbour stern first and gently placed her alongside the relatively new swish passenger terminal by 7.45am.

Ponta Delgada is the largest city and the capital of the nine islands that make up the Azores archipelago.

We arrived on time and after a speedy immigration and customs clearance our passengers were ready and eager to set foot on dry land, after the first leg of our transatlantic crossing and filed down the gangway.

The first tour to leave the quayside today was the ‘Fire Lake and Riberra Grande’ shore excursion. Starting off by viewing the city centre, with its heavy Portuguese influence, the tour continued with a short journey to the spectacular viewpoint for the famed Fire Lake. The afternoon finished with a visit to a local pineapple plantation and a chance to sample some local liquor.

The next tour to set off was the ever popular ‘Sete Cidades and the Crater Lakes’ shore excursion. On this tour guests were taken to arguably the most beautiful natural setting in the Azores, the crater lakes that reside 1,900 feet above sea level. Each lake is famed for its distinct colour, the first being blue and the second one green. Or for something more energetic, there was a tour around ‘Ponta Delgada on Foot’. This guided walk revealed some of the most interesting sights of the capital.

Back on board there was a plethora of fun things to do organised by our cruise staff.

All too soon it was time to check that everyone one was safely back on board and with the same two pilots back on the bridge we slipped our ropes and left the berth.

Everyone enjoyed the stop at Ponta Delgada. However, one passenger with a very straight face told me that he was convinced that the island was about to erupt! Why was my reply? Because he could feel the ground moving under his feet!!!

Our next stop is St. John’s in Antigua in 6 days’ time!

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.