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10th November, 2013


Saga Sapphire

After a few welcome days at sea, you could feel we were sailing further away from the Equator. The humidity had now gone and it was a pleasant temperature with bright sunshine as we arrived in Tenerife. Well it was a very early tour departure this morning with the first two excursions going at 8am. Being the largest of the Canary Islands it’s also generally blessed with year round sunshine however earlier this morning it did look slightly overcast. The island is dominated by Mount Teide which was a tour in which some of the passengers chose to go on today. The volcano rises 12,000 feet and is the highest peak in Spanish territory and declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Occupying the main portion of the island, the soil is fertile and agricultural products include tomatoes, grain, cotton, coconut palms, fruit and maize.

Mercedes and La Laguna was a popular excursion today, on this tour the guests were able to capture views of the outstanding wild countryside and northern coast.

The centre of town was just a short walk away, or a quick ride on the shuttle bus, and from here a large variety of shops selling all sorts of duty free items and handicrafts could be explored. There were also a number of cafes and bars to enjoy a relaxing lunch, or a park bench overlooking the main square to just sit back in whilst watching the world go by. Santa Cruz is in fact the islands capital but was originally a tiny fishing village. Having had quite strong winds during the night it had unfortunately meant the botanical gardens had to open a little later in order to have time to pick up the pieces, delaying the Gardens of the Valley tour’s arrival back to the ship. Consequently this meant we left the pier just over an hour later than originally planned, however this minor delay won’t interfere with the arrival into the port of Madeira tomorrow.

So we set sail at 1.15pm with the Perfect Mood Duo playing farewell tunes in the beautiful sunshine whilst everyone enjoyed their lunches on the open Veranda deck. With a busy afternoon at sea shortly after tea time everyone went to prepare for the remembrance service lead by myself and Reverend Ken Newell.  Today being a rather special service all the officers gathered in uniform and proceeded to be upstanding for the duration of the service. The Filipino choir sang the Lord’s Prayer in Tagalog, something I have never heard before and which was very moving. They were also very emotional which I will explain shortly. Through the service, another haunting hymn, Amazing Grace was sung by guest artist Maria Lyn. Playing for the service was the impeccably talented Saga Sapphire Orchestra accompanied by cocktail pianist Martin Orbidans. With an excellent turnout by all it really was a memorable service. To finish we sang upstanding the National Anthem. I’d actually like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to those involved in the organising and participation of this event.

This evening’s entertainment through in the Britannia lounge was with The Saga Sapphire Orchestra, where tonight they had the opportunity to be in the spot light, performing many much loved pieces in their show ‘Strike up the Band’. It’s great to show case the talent we have here on-board Saga Sapphire.  Finishing the evening the ‘Perfect Mood’ duo were up in the Drawing Room playing for those guests who are keen on dancing. Through in the Coopers Bar Martin was once again tinkling his ivories as well.

Saga Sapphire

On a more solemn note, as many in the UK and indeed around the world have seen on television, the super typhoon has struck the Philippines. The Islands have regular storms but Typhoon Haiyen, was particularly violent and with it laid a path of destruction. As always, our crew are our concern so as soon as we started getting these news reports, we had the crew inform us of any concerns with families. Over the next 12 hours it was evident that we had a handful of crew who could not reach their families so preparations were made to send them home the following day when immigration formalities were taken care of, but more importantly assurances were given that they could get to the Philippines.

The Reverend Newell asked if I would join the crew in their Mass in the Mess Room which I was honoured to be able to do and join in, being there to support where I could in their hour of need. I have to say that I cannot think of anyone more suitable in kindness and gentleness in actions and words, than to have Reverend Newell on-board to help me and my crew in their hour of need.

We have over 318 Filipino crew on board so with only 5 who need serious support, it is a god send that there are no more serious cases. However, those who need us are being supported not just by us on-board, but Saga Head office as well as the Filipino manning agencies who are better positioned to give us up to date information.

So all that can be done is being done at the moment. I needed to write this on-board, as I know all the readers will be worried about their favourite crew members. I thought I would update from Saga Sapphire, and be rest assured our staff are being well looked after as you can appreciate.

This has been a day of mixed emotions but as always a very professional approach to all the issues by all.

Our thoughts and prayers and hearts go out to the Philippines tonight!

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.