Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs
19th June, 2014
There are quite a few days to cover from the last blog dated 16 June about St. Peter Port, Guernsey. Dover day was as usual a very busy. After berthing we went into the routine of preparing the cabins and ship in general for the next cruise, White Nights in the Baltic, bid the disembarking passengers a bon farewell, provisioned the ship with food, drink, dry provisions, fuel, water, welcomed the new passengers on board, took the new passengers through their safety instructions and were ready to depart at 4:00pm. During all these activities taking place the ship’s management was kept very busy with meetings and accompanying contractors and inspectors from different companies and authorities. This time some auditors joined the ship. They are on board to audit the process of preparing the ship for its upcoming dry dock in December 2014. As there are large amount of moneys, making of job specifications, getting ship yard quotes, prioritising jobs and many other procedures involved this will be monitored and audited by Saga PLC to keep an eye on where the requested money goes. Shortly after the passenger safety instruction, at 3:30pm, the pilot was on board, the tug boat was in position, the linesmen on the berth and the ship ready to sail. Bang on schedule the ship left the berth and the port. Outside the port we disembarked the pilot and set sail for the Elbe pilot station. We were on our way to Stockholm via the Kiel Canal. After Sail Away there was cocktail hour in the Cooper’s Bar and early evening music for listening and dancing in the drawing Room, followed by dinner. After dinner the Britannia Lounge hosted the”Welcome Aboard Show during which Cruise Director Jo Boase introduced her staff and a performance by the Explosive Productions presenting a celebration of the seventies “Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet”. This was followed by a music for listening and dancing with the “You and Me Duo” in the Drawing Room and Late Night Musical Melodies with Lloyd Hulme at the piano in the Cooper’s Bar.
The next day we had the morning and part of the afternoon at sea. The day at sea gives the passengers a chance to rest from their embarkation day, which for a part of the passengers was very tiring, get to know their way around the ship and in general make themselves at home. After breakfast the sea day routine started with lecturers, instructors, cruise staff etc. organising and hosting presentations and activities to entertain and occupy those passengers who wished to participate. At 2:00pm we arrived at the Elbe River pilot station. From here it was 40 miles or two and a half hours sail to the entrance locks of the Kiel Canal. About one hour before arrival we were given a time slot. We were told that there was a waiting time of 1 to 2 hours. On arrival it was a bit different. We were there at 5:00pm and did not enter the first locks till 9:00pm. The reason was very heavy traffic. This put us quite a bit behind schedule. During the transit of the Canal, which was very good we were restricted by a slow speed. We also had to wait a few times to meet oncoming traffic at the passing points. All in all we left the last lock at 7:30am the next morning. We had just cleared the Canal approaches, when the ship’s Doctor informed me that he had a very ill passenger in the hospital, who need urgent shore side hospital treatment. So nothing else to do than to bring the ship at anchor as close as is allowed to the Kiel Canal and arrange for a launch to take the patient to the local hospital. Just after 9:00am we were on our way again. We disembarked the Kiel Canal sat 10:00am pilot and were on our way to Stockholm.
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