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5th April, 2015

Southampton, England

Today was the day I joined Saga Sapphire in Southampton.

At 6.30 am I set off from home with my wife Tina. We arrived on board at 9 am. Captain Philip Rentell was waiting for me and ready to hand over command of the vessel. As you can imagine this does entail a lot of paperwork and verbal enlightenments. Captain Rentell had already sent me some of the papers and information a few days ago, so I was more or less informed about the most important matters. When all was discussed and inspected Captain Rentell and his wife Helen left the ship for the drive to Cornwall and a well-deserved rest.

The ship was in full swing in preparation for the upcoming 31 day cruise. Fuel, water and provisions were loaded, the ship was made ready to receive our new passengers, contractors were on board to do the usual services and overhauls of the different equipment, crew went on leave and new crew joined etc.

At 4 pm we held the Life Boat Drill with our passengers after which we sailed from our berth under a sunny sky. While the ship sailed the 25 miles to the pilot station, Canon Richard Hammer, our chaplain, conducted an Easter Sunday Service. We arrived at the pilot station at 6.30 pm, disembarked the pilot and were on our way to the first port of call, El Ferrol.

As I do usually at the beginning of a cruise I will mention the senior officers and the persons working in and for the cruise department. Senior officers are: Chief Engineer Len Blinston, Staff Captain Xenofon ( Fondas) Livanios, Hotel Director Alfred Steindl and Cruise Director John Parton. John Parton is responsible for the cruise department consisting of : Assistant Cruise Director Pamela Johnston, Cruise Hostess Jemma Thomas, Social Hostess Nicola Cameron Clarke, Cruise Staff Jay Collins and Fernando Perez, Fitness Instructor David Calvo, Stage Managers Damien Hartshom and Marlon Mendoza and Gentlemen Hosts Colin Smith, Dave Leigh and Dennis Spooner. Guest Entertainers are: Special Guest Star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Vocalist Kaweti Waotford, Violinist Claire Gobin, Magician Brett Sherwood, Hot Rhythm Friends Colin Bryant and Dave Peterson, vocalist Paul Emmanuel, Vocalist Philippa Healy, Pianist Harry the Piano, Flautist Tara Rochelle, Stars on Strings John Chisholm and Josef Probst, The Celtic Tenors Daryl Simpson, Matthew Gilsenan and James Nelson, Comedy Entertainer Graham Jolley, Flanders and Swan’s Timothy Highman and Duncan Atkins and from the BBC’s sitcom series ‘Allo ‘Allo the actors Richard Gibson (Herr Flick) and Kim Hartman (Helga). Guest Speakers are: Destinations lecturer Jeff Roberts, Celebrity Chef Tonia Buxton, Maritime Historian David Bray, Former Diplomat Stephen Day, Gallipoli speakers Peter Headley, Professor Dennis Shanks and Colonel Robert Likerman, Military Historian Brigadier Mike Shaw and Comedy Music and Entertainment Stephen Smith. Instructors are: Computers Lee Blakemore, Bridge Ian and Christine Buchanan, Craft Barbara Harvey, Dance Ron and Christine Davies, watercolour David Hemmingway and Poetry & Literature Appreciation Mei Tow. Our on board show team is the Explosive Production Cast. Our on board Musicians are: The Saga Orchestra, resident duo The Perfect Mood Duo, resident piano entertainer David Peterson and classical ensemble The Tiffany String Quartet. Our Chaplain is Canon Richard Hanmer.

With this information I am signing off for today and will inform you about our progress and experiences from El Ferrol.

Captain Kees Spekman

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.