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25th August, 2017


In Zeebrugge and it’s been a while since I was last here. Back then I frequented recently in my guise as a Deep Sea Pilot.

Our last cruise ended and this one, Bank Holiday Escape, started seemingly without drawing breath. These consecutive ’short cruises’ are such great fun but wow, busy!

Having sailed at 1800 we took a short coastal cruise off Folkestone last night. It’s a short sea passage between Dover and Zeebrugge and all governed by ‘Traffic Separation Schemes’ so there isn’t a lot of room to go the ’long way’ around. Turning around east of Dungeness, we head back NE in the inshore zone before crossing the English Channel to the French side.

It was an early morning call to pick up the Pilot at Wandelaar station before heading into Zeebrugge. It’s a lengthy pilotage due to the nature of the shallows and the number of ships, making the water congested.

It’s a sizable harbour, so plenty of room to manoeuvre the 37,000 tons of Saga Sapphire. All berthed for 0730, our first Shorex Excursion was down the gangway shortly after 0800.

The feedback from our guests about the tours today was fabulous and emotional - particularly from those who went to Ypres In Flanders Fields. That one is on my bucket list for sure. Of course, Zeebrugge is the gate way to the lovely and idyllic ‘Bruges’.

All onboard for 1730, we made preparations to depart with Chief Officer, Igor, driving out tonight. Manoeuvres that look ‘straight forward’ can often be challenging so it was a good learning experience for Igor.

I am just off the bridge and making myself ready for hosting tonight with a lovely selection of Guests. We have our regulars [and we have a lot of loyal Saga passengers, been with us for years] as well as our ‘new to Saga’ guests. We have many new Guests coming to Saga, and that’s great to see. It just underlines that we are very good at what we do – we deliver a great cruise holiday experience.

Captain Stuart Horne

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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