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21st October, 2013


We had to contend with high winds and head swell as we proceeded to Leixoes. However this ship rides the waves well and the journey was comfortable considering the weather. When we arrived at the pilot station the wind was gale force conditions. As we arrived into the port we attached one tug boat on the after end of the ship as the wind was rather strong!! As we started our turn, the wind started to increase from nowhere and it was evident that the Bowthruster was not going to cope with the excessive wind so I instructed the pilot to get the 2nd tug who made fast on the bow. Once we had swung I manoeuvred the ship astern through a very narrow channel to the berth, asking the pilot to ask the tugs for full power to hold us up against the increasing wind. With the engines running, bowthruster and tugs pulling, we managed to steadily make a safe approach to the berth and were all fast alongside at 0800. I must admit these challenges I enjoy as we have to use all our skills and being part of a very professional bridge team. Scott Hunter the Chief Officer was giving me continuous information about set, drift, wind speed, ships progress, while the other officers stationed fore and aft were giving me distances off the blind sides of the ship of obstructions. A good team effort.

Coming into port early this morning the first of our guests had disembarked the vessel come 8.30am on the wine lodge and tasting tour which is situated in the picturesque countryside outside of Oporto. The estate is renowned for its production of Vinho Verde, a light sparkling white wine. With a trip to the bottling factory shortly followed by wine tasting today I half expected guests coming back with bags in tow full of wine which made me feel rather envious. The most popular tour today was the Oporto sights and Douro river cruise which is rather a relaxing panoramic which enables guests to see main points of interest in the comfort of a coach and boat.

Where we were docked today was 17 miles out from Porto, also known as Oporto in English. It’s the second largest city in Portugal and one of the major urban areas in the Iberian Peninsula. Interestingly Porto is one of the oldest European centres and registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. There are many architectural highlights in this city, Oporto cathedral and the small Romanesque church of Cedofeita just to name a few.

Forecasted for showers we remained optimistic today and in fact it remained relatively bright throughout the whole day. Departing Leixoes at 3.45pm we soon started our journey towards our next port of call being Lisbon Portugal which we will be arriving at early tomorrow morning.

The departure was just as exciting as the arrival due to the wind having increased again. So we moved the ship bodily to port away from the pier using everything we had then I put the engines ahead quickly to get headway. I steered the ship away from the piers and into the basin. We let go all the tugs and disembarked the pilot inside the harbour due to the choppy conditions outside.

We had secured the ship once again for some choppy conditions. Sadly the low pressure system in the Atlantic west of lands end was affecting the whole area south as far as Gibraltar but as I mentioned before this is a very good seaship.

Entertaining us this evening with his second show was the ever so popular Steve Galler with his much famous sing along titled “Down at the old Bull and Bush”. Steve’s celebration of songs was once again shortly followed by a rather diverse show with the Sydenham Quartet playing for our guests a few classical favourites with works by Mozart, Elgar and Brahms. The movie showing this evening in the Academy was one which I’ve not seen before being Phil Specto.. 

With early excursions tomorrow morning most retired to their beds early with just a few joining members of the cruise team upstairs in the drawing room for a late night beverage. Much fun was had by all once again today so another successful day here on the Saga Sapphire.

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.