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27th October, 2015

Lisbon, Portugal

Greetings Ladies and Gentlemen! It’s wonderful to be back onboard again and even more exciting in that I have a new ‘ocean going greyhound’ to be at the helm of! Captain Philip Rentell handed over command of the beautiful Saga Sapphire to me early on Saturday morning following, what I’m led to believe, has been a most successful cruise to Canada in the fall and I wish Captain Philip and his charming wife Helen a fantastic time on their well-earned leave.

I took to the controls shortly after 4pm as we cast off and set sail on our ‘Spanish Adventure’ and I’m happy to report my first chance at ‘driving’ the Sapphire was completed successfully and I still have all my hair intact! We plotted a course south across the Bay, managing to find only a few holes in the ocean along the way, and by Tuesday morning I was on the Bridge to guide the Sapphire gently onto her berth at Lisbon’s cruise terminal. It may seem a little odd that our first port on a Spanish themed cruise is Portugal but we do like to mix things up!

The weather was fabulous, just a little cloud and temperatures in the high 60’s, as our passengers made their way down the gangway and onto the tour coaches. One of the most popular excursions proved to be ‘Obidos – Nazare and Alcobaca’ The fantastic excursion allowed our guests to discover a trio of Portuguese towns, first they journeyed north to the picturesque walled town of Obidos where the cobbled streets and whitewashed houses are adorned with colourful blooms. King Dinis of Portugal presented the town as a wedding gift to his wife Isabella, a custom which was repeated for successive Portuguese queens until 1833. The old fortress has been converted into a pousada, which affords wonderful views of the town and its surroundings. They then continued to Nazare, the most colourful of Portuguese fishing villages. According to legend, the fishermen here are descendants of the Phoenicians, and old prints show that they once had to pull boats onto the beach with oxen. The next stop was at Sitio, set on the clifftops above Nazare. Following a hearty lunch the final stop was at Alcobaca, which was Portugal’s spiritual centre until the 18th century. The stop included a visit to the 12th century monastery, where the Baroque façade conceals an early Gothic interior.

With everyone safely aboard we let go our lines and now continue our journey further south, through the Straits of Gibraltar and into the Mediterranean - next stop Almeria.

Captain Wesley Dunlop

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