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2nd May, 2015


Prior to today we had a couple of days and also a morning at sea. After breakfast, as is tradition on our ships, the Guest Speakers, Instructors, Beauty Staff and Cruise Staff were in action and busy presenting, organising, hosting and treating.

During the first of our day's at sea, some of the highlights were a noon quiz with John, Colin and Dave called All Our Yesterdays with music, nostalgia, memories and laughter, Francis’ Indian Corner offering a Taste of India, and a delicious Strawberry Tea. The evening started with cocktail hour in Cooper’s Bar with Dave Peterson at the piano and in the Drawing Room, where the Perfect Mood Duo entertained our guests. After dinner the Britannia Lounge hosted a performance by Britain’s Most Baffling Mind Reader, Graham Jolly. This was followed in the Drawing Room by the Saga Sapphire Happy Jazz Club with Hot Rhythm friends Colin Bryant and Dave Peterson, accompanied by the Saga Orchestra - jamming till late.

On our second sea day, again a day of many activities and attractions which included a Grand Mediterranean Lunchtime Buffet, created by our Executive Chef Thierry Cherronnet. After dinner the Britannia Lounge featured A May Day Magic Moment with Richard Gibson & Kim Hartman (Herr Flick and Helga from the popular series Allo, Allo). This was followed by a stunning surprise performance by four past principal performers from Les Miserables, who sang hits from Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and Little Shop of Horrors.

This morning we approached the Rock, which was hidden by a fog bank, from the east. A few miles before we rounded Europa Point, on our way to the pilot station, the fog lifted and we were treated to magnificent scenery. We arrived at the pilot station at 11 am. After some nifty manoeuvring we were berthed on the inside of the berth at 1200 noon.

Soon after the officials had boarded the ship was cleared and our passengers could go ashore. Today’s tours were:

“Alameda Gardens and Cable Car” started with a stroll around the beautiful Alameda Gardens, which is home to a wonderful collection of plants from around the world and are an important conservation project. This was followed by a trip on Gibraltar’s cable car, which is the island’s only purpose-built tourist attraction providing a ride to the very top of the Rock to marvel at the breath-taking views. From here our passengers enjoyed splendid views of the city of Gibraltar to the west, the coastline of Africa to the south, the Spanish mainland to the north and the blue waters of the Mediterranean to the east. From here it was back to the town for a wander or a relaxing drink.

“Europa Point & English Tea” tour offered the chance to see most of the highlights of Gibraltar from the coach. Viewed were the island’s unique airport runway the border with Spain the American War Memorial Trafalgar Cemetery and Europa Point, the most southerly point in all of Europe, which is home to a light house which has been guiding ships since 1841. From here the tour headed to The Rock Hotel, for English Tea before heading back to the harbour.

“Fortress Gibraltar” covered a mixture of sightseeing , including Gibraltar's fascinating and unique wartime history. It started with a drive to Europa Point, site of the only Trinity Lighthouse outside Britain, where the passengers could savour spectacular views of the Atlantic merging with the Mediterranean, the African coastline and the Spanish Costa del Sol in the distance. From here it was on to the Nature Reserve, home of the Northern Defences Sector, where passengers could catch a glimpse of Gibraltar’s most famous residents, the mischievous Barbary apes, who roam freely around the area. Then on to the Hays Level where the passengers visited the exhibition which displays a collection of photographs illustrating the history of the World War II tunnels. Formerly known as the ‘Upper Galleries’, this labyrinth of manmade tunnels inside the Rock of Gibraltar is ingenious and there was time to explore and admire the outstanding views of the east side of the Rock from Jock's Balcony and discover more about the soldiers who were stationed within the tunnels during World War II.

“The Rock” was another opportunity to see some of the highlights. Our guests were able to view the unique runway built using stones dug from the Rock itself by the British Army during the two World Wars, the frontier with Spain, the American War Memorial, the British Naval Base, Trafalgar Cemetery, Europa Point, the Upper Rock area and St Michael’s Cave, to wonder at the mass of stalagmites and stalactites, and then King Charles’s V Wall where our guests saw the famous Barbary apes.

“Dolphin Watch” took our passengers by boat in search of dolphins and other fascinating marine life. Gibraltar’s bay boasts three species of dolphin and seven species of whale, as well as sunfish, flying fish and turtles. Setting off into the bay, they learned about the history of this tiny colony and an insight into the marine life of the bay.

All on board was not until 10.30 pm, so there was time for a leisurely cocktail and dinner ashore for those of our passengers who wished to sample the culinary delights of Gibraltar. After dinner the Britannia Lounge hosted Cabaret Showtime featuring the comedy and artistry of Master Marionette Artists John Chisholm and Josef Probst. This was followed by a special Sail-Away Party on the Verandah Deck and a fabulous selection of floor filling favourites from the Perfect Mood Duo in the Drawing Room till late.

In the meantime my team and I, with the assistance of the pilot, sailed Saga Pearl II out of port, dropped off the pilot and set course into the Gibraltar Straits for our trip to Southampton, the last destination of this fantastic cruise.

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.