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17th September, 2014

Algiers, Algeria

Today MV Saga Sapphire arrived in the port of Algiers, the capital and largest city in Algeria. The city was founded in 944AD but did not rise to significance for many centuries. Annexed to the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, it became the chief seat of the Barbary pirates who sought to make their mark on the Mediterranean. Algeria became a French colony in 1830 and remained so until 1962 following a bitter struggle for independence.

Our arrival was somewhat interesting. We had called the Pilots an hour before reaching the pilot station and all was set for our arrival. On top of this, emails had been sent weeks before to confirm our arrival so all were aware of our impending visit, so you can imagine my utter surprise when I waited at the pilot station only to be told the pilot would be an hour later as they were not aware of our arrival. I took the VHF radio from my officer, and doing my best to keep calm and diplomatic, forcibly said I was not going to inconvenience my passengers and that all were aware and my officer had even spoken to the pilots before arrival. The Pilot station then had the audacity to tell me it was an imposter who had been talking to us and not the real pilot!!!!

I was expecting a little bit of a delay as things don’t always go to plan when coming here, but this I was not expecting. Anyway I argued as diplomatically as I could and then was told the pilot would be coming out to us, so instead of an hour's delay, it incredibly and suddenly changed to only 20 minutes.

So we made our way in, a fresh breeze blowing and in this port tugs are compulsory so we have to use them. I am not a great fan as the tugs tend to take control and I lose a little control of my ship. It was quite a challenging arrival, with the pilots doing a lot of shouting to the tugs but we eventually got alongside at 9:10am, having gained a little time and only 10 minutes later than scheduled…( I spoke with the agent later to ask what was going on and he said the pilot had slept in!!!!) All good fun!

Today, passengers were only able to go ashore as part of an organised tour and there were three to choose from. ‘The Algiers City Tour’ was a panoramic tour driving through the city centre to Victory Park and the Matyrs Monument which commemorates the victims of the struggle for independence from French rule. Passengers also visited the Basilica of Notre Dame D’Afrique. The ‘World War Two Remembered’ Excursion took passengers to the Dely Ibrahim Cemetery where they were able to wander throughout and reflect on the great sacrifice of many which included 474 who were British. The ‘Tipaza and the Royal Mausoleum of Maurentania’ tour took passengers to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tipaza to explore the amphitheatre, baths and basilicas and the remnants of ancient Roman, Phoenician and Byzantine occupation. They also visited the Mausoleum of the Mauretanian royal family which dates back to around 100BC.

We sailed from Algiers at 6:00pm and will have an overnight sail to our next port of call which is Palma in Majorca. This evening’s entertainment featured our Explosive Singers & Dancers with their performance entitled ‘Come On Over To My Place’. The Perfect Mood Duo performed in the Drawing Room throughout the evening until the early hours for those passengers who preferred a more relaxed atmosphere.

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.