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18th February, 2014

Praia Da Vitória, Azores

After six days at sea, MV Saga Sapphire docked in the port of Praia Da Vitoria at 8:00am this morning. It was a beautiful morning and we had managed to stay in an area of relatively good weather all the way across from the Caribbean. The low pressure systems to the north of us were playing havoc with the north Atlantic and the UK but we managed to avoid the worst and had a relatively comfortable run across.

It was calm seas and calm winds this morning as we sailed into the port. The manoeuvre this morning was get inside the breakwaters and then move astern towards the quayside and moor starboard side alongside. This port reminds me of a Story regarding its Airport. I remember there was an Airbus A330, flying from Toronto to Lisbon that eventually lost both its engines due to a fuel leak and the Pilot managed to Glide this Air Transat plane with no engines for 65 miles where they landed on the airfield on Terciera, and the runway is just above the Port of Vittoria. So as we sail in I can see the runway from the breakwater and always reminds me what it must have looked like this great big silent plane gliding over the port to land. Thankfully due to some wonderful flying the Passengers and crew survived.

Praia da Vitória was given its name by Queen Maria II in 1837 in recognition of the role its citizens played in the Battle of Praia during the Liberation Wars.  Now one of the Azores most modern towns, it is situated on a large bay on the east coast of Terceira Island and has a beautiful long sandy beach, a fashionable marina and an agreeable pedestrian shopping precinct.

A complimentary shuttle bus service took passengers to Rua de Jesus town centre and main shopping area so that they could have a wander and explore the local town. There were also two organised shore excursions on offer today. ‘Discover Terceira’ was a full day tour which visited the town of Biscoitos to see the natural swimming pools and visit the wine museum with some free wine tasting. After this passengers were taken past the impressive volcanic craters of Pico da Bagacina and Caldeira de Guilherme Moniz before arriving in the island’s capital, Angra do Heroismo. Passegers visited the Duke’s Garden and the Church of Se, dating from the 16th Century, it is the mother church of the Azores and is an imposing gothic structure. Afterwards, passengers enjoyed lunch at the Terceira Mar Hotel, before returning to the island’s second largest city, Praia Da Victoria

The second shore excursion that passengers could choose to go on was ‘Angra do Heroismo’ which was a morning tour to the island’s capital. Along the way, passengers saw the largest crater in the archipelago and the protected landscape of Monte Brasil. Once the arrived in Agra do Heroismo, passengers visited the Duke’s Garden as well as the Church of Se. Passengers returned to the port passing through the enchanting villages of Ribeirinha and Sao Sebastiao which is home to another 16th Century church.

All aboard time was 5:30pm as we made preparations to set sail from the Azores. This evening’s entertainment began with two short plays entitled ‘Going Home’ and ‘Blind Date’ performed by the Lyceum Theatre Company. This was followed by ‘It Don’t Mean A Thing’, a show dedicated to Jazz Music and performed by The Sapphire Orchestra. This performance was very well received and really demonstrated how very talented our onboard musicians are. The boys even received a standing ovation at the end of their performance. We will now spend two days at sea sailing north to our final port of call on this voyage, Lisbon in Portugal.

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.