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25th November, 2013

Algiers, Algeria


The weather en route from Palermo to Algiers was unfortunately adverse. We were passing south of a weather system that had flooded Sardinia a few days before and was still hanging around Northern Italy but its effects are being felt as far south as the Tunisian coast. So we had gale force winds and heavy swell but again I marvel at the sea keeping qualities of this ship. As a mariner I know how ships react and having been Master on Saga Rose and Saga Ruby for many years, sailing in adverse conditions and being chased by hurricanes up the Eastern Seaboard, I know a good sea ship when I sail on one. So I am pleased with the way Saga Sapphire was handling. Anyway through the night as we approached Algiers, the weather eased and we had a comfortable night. We embarked the pilot just outside the breakwaters at the harbour entrance as there was still a bit of a swell, so the pilot asked us to proceed on our own which I am always pleased to do. Once inside the shelter of the breakwater, we had to carry out a very tight 100 degree turn to port then another 90 degrees to starboard to line up with our berth. These manoeuvres I enjoy, pushing a 40000T ship around through her paces. Once lined up with the quay, there was a cargo ship across the end of the quay with his bow protruding into my line of approach so I had to stay off the berth a little then when the officer aft told me we were clear of the bow of the ship, I used the engines to force the ship upwind towards the berth. The wind was blowing quite fresh from the north but again the old Sapphire did what I asked of her and we were soon all fast alongside. This morning we were greeted with glorious sunny weather which is always welcomed as well as the port authority who quickly gave us clearance, so we were able to start sending the guests off on tour, come 8.30am this morning. Eager to see what this country has to offer, I suspect it will be one of those ports today which is a real eye opener for many. Unfortunately Algiers is a port in which going on tour is required if you want to visit this city, due to their rules and regulations. Once again police escorts were on hand to divert the traffic away from our coaches which were passing through the city. Being a rather large port the last of our coaches this morning seemed to get lost in the port vicinity delaying the final tour which was not only frustrating for the guests but for the Shorex department, who endeavoured to get the tours off and away from the ship smoothly.


Algiers, with a total population of 2.9 million inhabitants, is the largest and most important city in Algeria, little wonder then that it is also the country’s capital city. There are many interesting things to see and do in Algiers, and visitors can learn a lot about Algeria’s history and culture. With many staying onboard today to enjoy the company of the crew, there was still plenty to do of course. Many came up to the Bridge to visit us this afternoon, having a tour of the Bridge with the officer on the watch. An afternoon tea dance saw many of the keen dancers on the dance floor with not only the dance instructors, dance hosts but cruise department.

On sailing, the wind had picked up considerably, so on departure we swung the ships stern to windward. We moved astern until the ship was level with the entrance and breakwater, then gave her the gun to get up to speed quickly and get steerage in order to get through the breakwaters before the wind had a chance to blow us towards the breakwater. This is a normal routine and as always with a great bridge team giving me excellent information on how we are progressing while I am on the bridge wing.

Due to the strong winds we experienced yesterday, the church service we postponed to this afternoon. The worship was then at 5.30pm led by myself; we of course also featured the Filipino Choir, with all the offerings donated to Saga Sapphire Crew Disaster Fund. Also Resty, one of our Cruise Staff and a very proud Filipino asked if he could sing a solo of “You'll Never Walk Alone” as a way of thanking the passengers for their support and donations towards the crew and the Philippines. I have to say, being a hardy sailor of some 30 years, it gave me a lump in my throat and I felt very proud to be head of such a fine crew.

Tonight we welcomed The Chapman Brothers into the Britannia Lounge for main show time, presenting a Soul and Motown show; it was one really not to be missed this evening. Following the performance the identical brothers signed copies of their CDs. Keeping the guests entertained up in the Drawing Room this evening was ‘The Perfect Mood Duo’. In Cooper’s playing some late night musical melodies was Malcolm Aldridge.

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.