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1st January, 2015

Funchal, Madeira

Well I think it’s safe to say that 2015 certainly got off to a great start. The New Year celebrations began last night with an early evening cocktail party in the Britannia Lounge. Passengers dressed up in their best attire and the champagne began to flow. We piped in the Haggis, and the whiskey. After the party George Streeter and his team put on a splendid New Year’s Eve dinner in the restaurant.

After dinner, the entertainment began with the Saga Sapphire ‘Credit Crunch Pantomime; Cinderella’ which I was pleased to be the narrator of. The passengers seemed to enjoy it and featuring Cruise Director John Parton as the Fairy God-Mother there was lots of fun and giggles throughout.

After this, the very talented ‘Ukebox’ boys returned to the stage with some party songs and the dancefloor was filled with passengers dancing and getting in the party mood. As the time got closer to midnight, passengers made their way to the Verandah deck where our Explosive singers and Sapphire Orchestra were continuing the party outside.

I then proceeded to the bridge to take the con of the ship as we approached the anchorage at Funchal. There were many cruise ships and other small craft at the anchorage so I picked my spot with the best vantage point and held the ship against the wind for an hour. About 5 minutes to go, I turned the stern towards the shore just in time to see the fireworks display. It was the prime spot, with great views of the coast of Funchal and passengers waited with great anticipation for the clock to strike midnight. When midnight struck, suddenly the skyline was alight with a burst of colour in a spectacular fireworks display. With 35 fireworks stations dotted apart on the island and 3 stations in the water, the views of the fireworks were simply breathtaking with perfect unison and timing. After the fireworks, we all sang Auld Lang Syne and the party continued until the early hours with champagne flowing until the end of the night. I managed to leave the bridge briefly, when it was safe to do so, to wish all a Happy New year and even got roped in to leading the Conga around the deck with about 200 passengers!!

I then returned to the bridge as we were due to take the ship into the port at 0200 which we duly did and were all fast by 0220.

Passengers woke on New Year’s Day to spend the day in the beautiful town of Funchal. Those who had booked to go on one of organised tours, were up early and on the gangway after breakfast. Today’s tours were the ‘Levada Walk’, a ‘Leisurely Madeira’ tour giving a good insight to the island and the third tour was a ‘4WD Drive’ for our more adventurous passengers, although many passengers decided to have a lie in and have a relaxing start to 2015. There was a shuttle bus that took passengers to the centre of Funchal for those who wanted to explore the town independently.

This evening’s Cabaret Showtime featured Banjo Entertainer Steve Galler with some music, fun and laughter. And for those who wanted to continue the New Year celebrations, our Explosive Singer Aaron performed his late night cabaret upstairs in the Drawing Room.

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.