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6th December, 2015

Cherbourg, France

I do love it when a plan comes together, and ours worked beautifully. We departed Santander like an ocean going greyhound and made our passage across the Bay of Biscay in double quick time, managing to stay ahead of the nasty weather that was on route to us.

We made our approaches to the port of Cherbourg early on Saturday morning and as we did the wind was just starting to increase so I was keen to get alongside and into the shelter of our berth as soon as possible. With our pilot onboard we made our entry through the narrow breakwaters and with the two harbour tugs Saga Sapphire was safely alongside and secure by 7am.

Facing the English Channel at the tip of the Cotentin peninsula, Cherbourg has been of strategic importance since the Roman times. Back in the 4th century, Cherbourg was fortified by Roman military camps known as ‘Corallium’ and by 1450 was the centre of fierce fighting in the hundred year’s war. The port accommodates a range of activities, from fishing to commercial shipping to passenger ferries and cruise liners.

Despite this being an unscheduled call our Tours Manager Jacquie had still been able to offer a shuttle bus service into the city where our passengers could enjoy all the delights Cherbourg has to offer, including a fantastic Christmas market and despite the wind the weather was kind to us and remained dry throughout the day.

During the evening I was able to host our Farewell Cocktail Party and our guests were in great spirits - it’s always a pleasure to hear how much they have enjoyed the cruise with us and the praise they have for our fabulous crew.

Following yet another sumptuous dinner served up by our culinary whizz Chef Thierry we invited our guests into the Britannia show lounge for a fabulous Cabaret starring International Recording Artiste and star of the BBC TV Show ‘The Voice’, Cai Williams; he wowed the audience with a celebration of power ballads and Musical Theatre hits, a stunning voice and a stunning show.

On Sunday Jacquie had been able to arrange a selection of optional tours for our passengers including a trip to ‘Arromaches, Bayeux and Ste Mere Eglise’. This tour commenced with a leisurely drive down the Cotentin peninsula to Arromaches, a modest seaside resort which owes its fame to its ‘mulberry harbour’. This artificial port, constructed in the UK and towed across the channel, was one of the most extraordinary industrial and maritime achievements of the entire war, and is commemorated in the town’s landing museum. Guests continued the tour with a drive to Bayeux to see the tapestry that presents a record of the events of 1066. Our passengers also paid a visit to the Bayeux cemetery, the largest British military cemetery of the Second World War in France. Concluding this tour they visited Ste Mere Eglise which entered the headlines on the nights of the 5-6th June 1944, the night when the American 82nd airborne troops landed.

We departed in the late evening with just a short hop across the Channel to our home port of Southampton where I will be handing over this fine vessel to Captain Philip Rentell as I head home to Norfolk for Christmas with my wife Kelly and our two boys Corey and Joey, I need not tell you how excited I am!

I’d therefore like to wish Captain Philip, his delightful wife Helen, all passengers and crew of Saga Sapphire and all our avid blog readers a very Merry Christmas and an extremely Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Captain Wesley Dunlop

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.