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11th October, 2014


Gibraltar, dominated by a sandy peninsula and the stunning 1,400-feet-high limestone rock, has been an important base for the British Armed Forces and is the site of a Royal Navy base. It has excellent duty free shopping in many familiar British high street shops.

As we didn’t arrive in Gibraltar until noon we had lots of activities and lectures this morning, including our healthy eating guru Jennifer Marshall-Jenkins talking about food from Spain and our Aviation Lecturer Captain Phil Giles with his presentation of the Mystery of Malaysian flights 370 and 17. Our Social Hostess Rebecca was hosting a plethora of games and activities.

We had a very busy arrival with many tankers and container ships all heading for Gibraltar. With my bridge team we wove our way through the various traffic and picked up our pilot up just before 1100. Our berth today was the rather more difficult eastern berth which meant we had to pass through the breakwaters into the inner harbour then it was hard to port to line up with the berth. To make things more difficult, there was a rather nice shiny superyacht in the way which we had to pass close to. I didn’t really want to use it as an “expensive” fender so I edged past and we were soon in position and fast alongside on a beautiful day.

Today there were quite a few different tours departing the ship, and the first was the Fortress Gibraltar excursion. On this tour passengers were able to catch a glimpse of Gibraltar’s most famous residents, the mischievous Barbary apes, enjoy the view from Europa Point and also explore the series of man-made tunnels inside the Rock of Gibraltar itself. The second tour which left Sapphire this morning was The Rock. This tour started with a drive across the unique runway, built using stones dug from the Rock itself by the British Army during the two World Wars. Passengers then continued to the upper rock area and St Michael’s Cave, finishing the tour with some free time for duty free shopping. On the third tour, Alameda Gardens and Cable Car Ride, passengers enjoyed a stroll around the beautiful Alameda Gardens before embarking on a cable car ride and capturing some magnificent views of the Rock. Our Dolphin Watch tour was the next one to depart, where passengers went in search of dolphins and other marine life on a large boat that left directly from the pier, and with plenty of sightings no one was left disappointed. The final tour to depart was the Europa Point and English Tea; this panoramic tour showed Gibraltar’s highlights from the comfort of the coach, including the American War Memorial and Trafalgar Cemetery and finishing with a stop at the Rock Hotel for some refreshments.

On sailing a very good friend and an old Staff Captain of Saga, Andy Muirhead, came onboard as our pilot. I always enjoy catching up with old friends so it was good to speak. He is a fellow Scot with a home in Tobermory, a beautiful part of the world. We slipped away in the tranquillity of the night, only to be faced with a rather harsh wind as we left Gibraltar straits.

Our cruise team swapped their usual uniform for the housekeeping uniform this evening as they handed out popcorn for a Night at the Cinema with the film Chocolat. The evening then continued up in the Drawing Room with some late jazz from our Saga Orchestra.

Captain Alistair Mclundie

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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