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28th November, 2013

Lisbon, Portugal

Another sunny day today however it was also rather chilly here in Lisbon, Portugal. We started our transit of the River Tagus at 0600 this morning and the familiar red flashing leading lights guided us between the shoals as we proceeded up river. I had asked the port as to what the wind conditions were off the berth and they told me a nice gentle 10 knots, so I thought berthing was going to be easy.

As we picked the pilot up the wind was blowing about 25 gusting 30 knots!! So I thought berthing without a tug was going to be a challenge. The river was flooding meaning the tide was coming in so it was pushing us up river. We ran past the berth then turned the ship head to current which is a proper seamanlike practise. This way also the current runs past the rudder and makes it effective, even if the ship is stopped in the water. I applied power to the ahead engine to keep us moving ahead towards the berth, then slowed down to minimum power, and the ship stopped in the water and stemmed the current. Then by applying helm, the stern was directed towards the Quay and using bowthruster as well managed to push the ship alongside despite very strong winds. Many chose to go on tour this morning however, a few went in independently as the shopping here I’m led to believe is excellent. Lisbon lies on the banks of the River Tagus nearing the end of its journey from the mountains of Eastern Spain. The city is a mix of both old and new including the residential district of the old Moorish quarter of Alfama with its maze of alleys and streets. With the hour back last night everyone was refreshed this morning and ready to visit our last port of call.

Lisbon has been the capital of Portugal since the 13th century, following their disastrous earthquakes in the 18th century, Lisbon was rebuilt by the Marques de Pombal who created an elegant city with wide boulevards and a great riverfront and square, Praca do Comercio. As soon as clearance was granted at 8am those on the Arrabida Mountains excursion departed the ship, this excursion takes you to the lesser explored area south of Lisbon-Arrabida. Those opting for this tour had the opportunity to sample local Moscatel wines and also view the beautiful Arrabida National Park. Quite a few went on the Sintra Town and Palace tour where they really got to admire this UNESCO World Heritage Site. This quaint old town still retains much of its medieval layout, with labyrinthine streets, steps and arcades. Those on the panoramic crossed the suspension bridge today to go and have a good look at the statue, Christ the Redeemer which is a big focal point here in Lisbon.

All aboard time was 4.30pm, and with conditions having eased, the departure was straight forward and very pleasant. Tea this afternoon saw many custard tarts polished off, as these are quite popular being a local delicacy. After tea many went out to see us sail out from this fantastic city whilst enjoying a glass or two of ‘Lisboa Sunset’.

Music Legends was the show this evening through in the Britannia Lounge with the Explosive Productions cast. A tribute to the stars, including Tina Turner, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, Shirley Bassey and Elton john meaning this was really a show for everyone. Later there was music for dancing both with Saga Sapphire’s Orchestra through in the Britannia Lounge and also upstairs with ‘The Perfect Mood Duo’.

This is our last port of call on this cruise as we sail towards Southampton. It was a beautiful sunset this evening and the run up north doesn’t look too bad at all. I am due to be relieved in Southampton by Captain Philip Rentell, which allows me to go home on leave and enjoy Christmas at home with my family which I am very much looking forward to.

All being well I will be back onboard on January 20th, so look forward to continuing with my blogs.
I hope you have enjoyed reading and as always I try and write as it happens!!

I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year and I wish everybody onboard Saga Sapphire a warm Christmas.

Signing Off…

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.