Skip to navigation Skip to content
< Back to Saga Sapphire blog

21st December, 2014


I had flown down to Heathrow and was then driven to Dover the previous evening. Saga Sapphire arrived at midnight so I was on a very chilly quayside to watch her coming in. As you know, she had spent the last few weeks at the Damen Shipyard in Rotterdam where her drydocking took place. It is a legal requirement that ships are drydocked regularly where the hull is inspected, all the barnacles and growth are pressure-washed off, and new environmentally-friendly anti fouling is applied. Also maintenance on Saga Sapphire was carried out on all her underwater parts such as valves, seachest valves, stabilisers, propellors, shafts and bowthruster.

In the engine room much work was also carried out. Similar to when you put your car in for a major service and they strip the engines down, well work was done to the engines on here, but in a rather larger fashion. There was also upgrading of the “Hotel”, and by the time the ship arrived back at Dover only the removal of the floor coverings and a bit of furniture replacement was required. So everybody had worked hard but were all looking forward to starting our “Christmas in the Canaries” cruise.

I carried out the usual administrative tasks with the legalities of taking over the ship and Captain Philip Rentell was soon on his way for a very well earned rest.

Just after 1:00pm we started to embark our passengers. I had taken a walk into the Terminal as I always like to do, to have a chat with the Saga staff and the passengers and I was delighted to see so many familiar faces. To set the mood, a local school had sent their pupils down to entertain our guests with carol singing and dancing which was superb and set the scene for the cruise ahead.

At 3:00pm I watched my friend and colleague Captain Dunlop bring Saga Pearl II into port so I was able to have a quick chat over the radio with him before he set off home to spend Christmas with his wife and newly extended family!

At 4:30pm we were given a spectacular fireworks display to send us off, but once we started manoeuvring off the berth, as luck would have it the wind picked up. However we had taken tugs to help turn us and they earned their money as they hauled this heavy ship around, and we were soon heading down the Channel towards our next port of call Lisbon, where we are due on Wednesday.

Although I was sad to leave my family at Christmas it’s part of my job, and Jenny and Scott saw me off at the airport which was difficult; but as I always say once I have unpacked and have my feet under the table I slip into work mode and will very much enjoy spending Christmas with my extended second family.  So I’m looking forward to having a fun time, and with John Parton as my Cruise Director I know we are in for a few giggles along the way.

Captain Alistair McLundie

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.