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11th February, 2014

St John's, Antigua


This morning at 8am Saga Sapphire docked in the paradise island of St John’s Antigua. This will be the last port of call in the Caribbean islands and passengers were up early and keen to make the most of our final day in the Caribbean. Our berth today was heritage quay and as is the norm in this port, as we arrived the sun rose over the mountains in the east and obliterated our view as we sailed into the port. The sun was right in our eyes as we sailed down the channel but luckily we have special sun blinds on the bridge that counter this so we had them pulled over the bridge windows in good time as it is always the same when we come to the islands with the morning sun.

I knew from previous experience we would struggle a little on this berth as there is little water underneath the keel, and I was right. The ship reacted the exact same way Saga Rose and Saga Ruby acted when I brought them into the same quay, years before. So I was expecting a bit of a struggle. We managed to get the bow alongside and then sent lines astern to the bollards. I had asked for the use of a tug this morning from previous experience and with it pushing full, me using the engines and the after mooring gang heaving on the rope, we slowly edged the ship into position and were all fast at 0800. Shortly after, the cruise ship Thomson Drea, arrived alongside us so it was nice to drink my coffee and watch someone else drive!

A steel band were set up on the quayside to welcome us ashore and played throughout the day, giving a real Caribbean feel and party atmosphere.

There were plenty of shore excursions to choose from today ‘The Highlights of Antigua’ gave an interesting insight into the history of this island along with the chance for some relaxation. Passengers visited the famous Nelson’s Dockyard, where Nelson had his headquarters and is now the only working Georgian naval dockyard in the Western hemisphere. Afterwards passengers enjoyed lunch on one of the island’s many beaches.

The ‘Catamaran Sail and Snorkel’ tour took passengers along the tranquil picturesque coastline in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. Passengers were given the opportunity to snorkel among the colourful fish and coral and spend time relaxing on a beautiful beach.

The ‘Stingray Encounter’ was certainly a memorable excursion offering the chance to experience the delights of Stingray City, located in the clear waters in the lee of the barrier reef on the Eastern Atlantic Coast. Southern stingrays have lived in these waters since the Caribbean archipelago was created. Passengers learnt about these amazing creatures and were able to feed them in their natural environment. If they wished to, passengers were able to snorkel among the colourful marine life of the beautiful coral reef.

The ‘Mangrove Kayaking’ tour departed the ship for a 30 minute drive to the pristine east coast. From the kayak land base, fast motorboats transferred passengers to a hidden lagoon where after some instruction they began their kayaking adventure though mangrove areas, coastal inlets and tiny islands. After kayaking, passengers boarded the motor boat for an exhilarating 20 minute coastal ride through the 12 uninhabited islands of the North Sound to great Bird Island. Those who were keen on snorkelling headed out to the nearby reef and of course there was time to relax on yet another beach belonging to this paradise island.

For those who were not on a tour, the town was within walking distance, and a purpose built shopping village gave passengers a last chance to pick up souvenirs and duty free. There were plenty of taxis available to take passengers to a local beach of their choice (there are apparently 365 to choose from) if they wished to make the most of the golden sand and crystal blue sea on our final day in the Caribbean.

All were back on board at 5.30pm and we sadly had to say goodbye to this paradise island. The Perfect Mood Duo played for our sail away party out on deck. We will now set sail to cross the Atlantic which will take six days and will travel approximately 2,252 nautical miles.

This evening’s entertainment began with Team Trivia, hosted by our Social Hostess Nicola in the Drawing Room and after dinner The Auralio String Quartet performed a concert of ‘Pop Classics’. This was followed by Perfect Mood who played music for dancing in the Drawing Room until late. In the Britannia Lounge it was Production Showtime and the Explosive Singers and Dancers presented ‘Hollywood Nights’, performing a selection of tributes from some of the all-time movie greats.

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.