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30th September, 2014

Southampton, England

I had an early start this morning, at 0330 I was on the bridge making ready to bring the ship through the Needles Channel, west of the Isle of Wight. We approached the “Gate” which is the start of the channel, and is marked by 2 Navigational Buoys which are actually offset from each other; so to the unsuspecting mariner, who has never been here before, it looks as though there is no space between the buoys to get the ship through. But having sailed our Saga Ships through here for many years, starting with Saga Rose, I know that as you get closer the aspect opens up and you see the entrance to the channel. You have to get the ship centred on leading lights, a very prominent white light perched on Hurst Point and it changes to green or red if you are to port or starboard of your course line. And on top of that we have our own Navigational Charts, so we have a lot of information to help us come through safely.

So once into the channel we made our way slowly up to the pilot station, West of Cowes where we picked the Pilot up at 0530, and proceeded towards our berth.

By 0720 we were all fast alongside 101 berth in Southampton.

Our normal routine ensued whereby we said farewell to our passengers and waved them on their way. The crew then got to work to make sure the ship was ready for our embarking passengers whom we welcomed aboard from around 1pm. With 443 Britannia members joining us on our Lap of the Mediterranean cruise, there were so many familiar faces. Once embarked our passengers enjoyed a delicious embarkation buffet accompanied by some of our Saga Sapphire musicians. Once our passengers had settled in Jay, one of our Cruise Staff, organised a ship's tour.

We had our obligatory Lifeboat drill and then we prepared to set sail. Passengers joined the Cruise Team and Bar Staff out on the open deck to enjoy a Bucks Fizz while listening to our fantastic Saga Orchestra.

Once we disembarked the pilot off Cowes, we headed west along the Needles Channel. The current was very strong, about 4 knots, so we shot out of the channel at over 20 knots at one point!! But once in the English Channel, and back to our normal speed, we motored along at about 16 knots.

After a delightful dinner passengers joined our Cruise Director Kayleigh for the “Welcome Aboard Show” to introduce some of the members of the ship’s staff. For those who wanted to continue the evening they could dance the night away with The Sapphire Orchestra or they could listen to magical melodies from our Perfect Mood Duo.

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.