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11th December, 2015


Having waved good-bye to Captain Wesley, who is going to spend Christmas at home with his lovely wife Kelly and his two boys, Saga Sapphire departed Southampton on December 7th bound for the Caribbean and Christmas in the sun.

The Bay of Biscay in December is rarely flat calm, but fortunately, as the windy weather covering the British Isles was heading rapidly north east, we were heading south. By the second day of our run to Funchal, the sun was out, the wind had dropped and there were just the remnants of a swell.

With the forecast well understood we had opted to have a welcome party once life had become a little steadier and it was a delight to see so many familiar faces, in fact several who had been on my last cruise to Canada in October. A great evening was followed by a very pleasurable day at sea before our first landfall on Friday. With our arrival scheduled just before sunrise, I had suggested that the folk should rise in good time to see Funchal still in darkness with the lights of the city seemingly cascading down the hillsides towards the harbour. It is truly a sight I never tire of.

To give our passengers the maximum time in this delightful port, and knowing it is almost always a relatively quick ‘escape’ from the long pier, I delayed the scheduled on board time but still managed to be ‘Full Away on Passage’ in a timely fashion, despite having to work our way around a German vessel berthed ahead (the lovely original P&O ‘Royal Princess’).

By all accounts those that went ashore, either on tour or just into town on the free shuttle bus, had a very pleasant visit. It was a delightful interlude to our crossing of the Atlantic, a break sufficiently long enough for those last minute must-have Christmas shopping items to be bought!

Captain Philip Rentell

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.