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14th October, 2013


Saga Sapphire, Gibraltar

Coming into Gibraltar always seems to be a highlight to many as it’s somehow seen as a taste of home, but with far better weather of course. So it’s no wonder why it’s such a popular holiday destination with many British holidaymakers. Boasting excellent duty free shopping in many familiar British high street shops, once again it was inevitable bags upon bags were going to be brought back onto the ship with plenty of alcoholic substance.

I had been called at 5:00am this morning by my Chief Officer on the bridge to tell me that the port needed to delay our pilot as they had a “traffic jam” in the port. Despite my protests they were 30 minutes late coming out to us which annoyed me as my passengers would be affected. Despite trying to make up the time, I had to bring the ship into the inner berth which is a very tight squeeze, so I couldn’t rush things. Anyway we were 30 minutes getting alongside so I changed the departure time to give the passengers the correct amount of time in Gibraltar. It was a beautifully sunny day so as our guests enjoyed time ashore, we took on some fuel, about 400 tons!


Today there were quite a few different tours departing the ship, my favourite being the Fortress Gibraltar excursion. On this tour they were not only able to catch a glimpse of Gibraltar’s most famous residents, the mischievous Barbary apes, and enjoy the view from Europa Point, but the guests were also able to explore the series of manmade tunnels inside the Rock of Gibraltar itself. One of the most fascinating tours I’ve ever done, and really a must if you’re interested in World War Two. The first tour which left Sapphire this morning was the Dolphin Watch tour, where they went in search for dolphins and other marine life on a large boat that left directly from the pier. Being a perfect day it couldn’t have been any better for our guests who chose to go on this tour, and with plenty of sightings no one was left disappointed.  Today I learnt the unique runway here which is commonly known for being one of the most dangerous in the world was in fact built using stones from the Rock itself by the British Army during the two World Wars. I’m lead to believe the Europa Point tour was also very popular being a laid back excursion showing the highlights of Gibraltar by coach, which was then followed by the ever popular English tea held at the Rock Hotel.

Sadly as we were due to sail away today, Saga Ruby, a fond favourite of many of our guests came in alongside. Now I don’t know who was more excited to see her today the crew or the passengers. Standing on the bridge wing I and my fellow officers all heard loud cheers as we all caught sight of our friends and colleagues.  It was great to catch up with Jo as we were on the Grand Voyage on Ruby together this year and she was sporting an engagement ring today!!. We are all chuffed to bits as she deserves all the happiness she gets. So pleased as we all are. So many congratulations to the bride to be.

Barbary apes of Gibraltar

It was also great to go onto the quayside and shout abuse at my colleague and friend Wes, I was telling him to get a move on to berth the ship and stop messing about and he shouted to me to take his ropes!! Once all fast we all had a reunion on the dockside, Helen Macdonagh and Horst Hotel Directors, myself and Wes Dunlop Captains and all other officers. I don’t think I have been kissed by so many young ladies!!! It’s a hard job but someone has to do it.

On a serious note though, it really was so satisfying to see so many friends and colleagues coming to see each other and as we sailed away we all waved goodbye to our friends. A special day, and so nice to be alongside my old ship, and so many trusted colleagues.

Entertainment this evening in the Britannia lounge was Let’s Swing with our resident production company Explosive productions. Sadly it’s the last time these singers and dancers will be performing this show as they’re all going home at this end of this cruise. However with a full room it was a lovely audience to finish up with.

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.