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20th December, 2013


We left Southampton on the 17th for the run down south passed Ushant, across the Bay of Biscay to Cape Finisterre and then down the Iberian Peninsula as far as Lisbon. A two day journey that can, on occasion, be not quite so pleasant and on this voyage it lived up to its unfortunate reputation. Fortunately I had advised passengers to take ‘precautions’ so they had raided the front desk on sailing evening and the majority were, I believe, fine. We did have to have a little rendezvous with a Spanish helicopter off Finisterre, but even that was both ‘interesting’ and well within our experience.

As a result we were a few hours late arriving into Lisbon, but it was a fine morning, blue sky and a light northerly wind, so a great opportunity to see the approaches in daylight instead of the darkness. Some passengers even relaxed in the sun on the starboard side until lunchtime. The morning tours, through necessity, had been transferred to the afternoon and the shuttle bus operated throughout.

Having discussed our somewhat uncomfortable journey with my colleagues ashore it was decided to remain alongside overnight, which allowed me to have the welcome cocktail party, postponed from the previous night, that evening. It was a cheery affair, with the lights of Lisbon as a backdrop visible through the windows of the Britannia Lounge, and the restaurants on the decks above and below as dinner was served. We sailed early the following morning as the sun was rising into a clear sky, and as we passed under the impressive Tagus suspension bridge, the sky behind us turned from black to blue through every shade of yellow orange and red. It’s a pity that probably most of them missed it as they continued with their slumbers.

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