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23rd November, 2013


Well it was a rocky night onboard Saga Sapphire with North Westerly winds blowing as forecast. As we rounded the West of Sicily we felt the full brunt but this ship handles the weather well, so once around the corner we changed course to Easterly. With the wind and swell behind, things smoothed out and became more comfortable.

I forgot to mention yesterday in Valetta, we had a visit from one of our Cadets, Jessica from Malta, who sailed on Saga Ruby with me on the Grand Voyage. She is now at college gaining her Officers Certificate. It was lovely to see her again and she brought me some local nougat!


Palermo was the birth place of this ship for me and as I haven’t been back since I took Saga Sapphire away in March 2012, it was nice to reorient myself with the port and pass the dry dock we were in for so long.The wind was very fresh so I asked for a tug but didn’t need to use it as the ship reacted well to the commands I gave her - I was very satisfied that the ship still handles well. We were all fast alongside by 1145, giving those guests on tour an opportunity to have a good lunch onboard. As we sailed in everyone enjoyed glasses of Bellini cocktails while listening to the ever fabulous Perfect Mood Duo.

Palermo is the port of call today and it is in fact the capital of both the Autonomous Region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The busy and commercial city and its historic port can trace its origins back to a Phoenician settlement in the 8th century BC, and over the centuries it has played host to various other invaders. The inhabitants are known as Palermitans or, poetically, panormiti. 


The tours available today were ‘Ancient Wonders of Segesta’, ‘Medieval Cefalu’ and ‘Palermo and Monte Pellegrino’. The first of the tours left at 12.30pm where they went for a drive through the scenic countryside to the enigmatic ancient site of Segesta, on the summit of Monte Barbaro.Again Palermo is another architect’s idea of paradise with its varied architecture, such as the Norman Palace and Cathedral, which stand as reminders of when Sicily was a Norman Kingdom. Several guests were booked on the ‘Palermo and Monte Pellegrino’ excursion this afternoon revealing the main sights of this beautiful city. The ‘Medieval Cefalu’ excursion was again popular today with a brief panoramic drive around Palermo’s historic town centre and then a tour of the charming medieval town of Cefalu on Sicily’s Northern coast.

As 5.30pm approached all of the guests were back onboard and we prepared to set sail towards our next port of call, Algiers in Algeria, which is a distance of approximately 515 nautical miles. It was a straight forward departure and a calm night, so we slid aft off the berth, turned and headed out the breakwaters, waving the Pilot goodbye as we set course to the West.

Our departure had an eerie feel as it mirrored the night Saga Sapphire left the dock for the first time in 2012 - a calm night with the shore lights highlighting the mountainous backdrop. As we sailed further West, the wind started to rise as forecast.

The show this evening featured the fantastic Sapphire Orchestra titled ‘Band on the Run’, which was a journey through the world of jazz music. Our resident production vocalists Ru Caddell and Scott Unsworth got everyone up on the dance floor this evening with their ‘Boys Night Out’ cabaret, shortly followed by the Perfect Mood Duo. For those wanting a sing song Malcolm Aldridge was up in Cooper’s bar playing requests at the piano. A great atmosphere once again this evening, as fun was had by all.

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.