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Cherbourg

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

7th June, 2017

It was rather a shock arriving back into the UK after such glorious weather on the Anniversary Cruise. 40-50 knot winds and horizontal rain on arrival into Dover made for a challenging docking. With great teamwork and 2 tugs we managed to get alongside but even with 9 ropes out fwd and aft, we had to have 1 tug pushing against the ships side all day to keep us alongside the pier – glad I’m not paying that bill!!!

It was certainly a challenging day but the team performed brilliantly such that we were ready to go shortly after 1700 hrs. Just as we were about to start singling up our lines we had a squall come through with 50-60 knot winds – we were going nowhere just yet!! Then 5 minutes later the wind dropped to 15 kts and the sun was shining for the first time all day.

With 2 tugs for departure we swung the ship inside the harbour and then headed out to sea for our overnight passage to Cherbourg. We were due to call in Guernsey but sadly the sea conditions were not safe to operate tenders. The Caribbean Princess was also due in Guernsey but also cancelled her call. Unlike other cruise lines, who often have a day at sea as a replacement, Saga always likes to try and find another port. Cherbourg was the best option, and they had a berth!!

At 0730 the following morning we embarked our Harbour Pilot 2 miles from the outer breakwater and then guided the ship into port. Initially Fiona our 2nd Officer kept the “con” but then handed over to me once inside the outer breakwater. Another testing arrival with 20-30 knots of wind we swung off the berth and backed down to our pier.

Facing the English Channel at the tip of the Cotentin Peninsula, Cherbourg has been of strategic importance since Roman times. The city saw significant action during WWII, occupied by the Germans in 1940 before finally being liberated by US forces on 26th June 1944. It is now a busy port for Ferries, Fishermen and naval ships – particularly French Nuclear Submarines. The Titanic also called here on its ill-fated voyage in 1912.

We were all fast alongside by 0830 and ready for Guests to go ashore 15 minutes later. There were 2 shore excursions arranged at short notice - Val de Saire, and Cap De La Hague. We were also running a complimentary shuttle bus into the town.

During the afternoon I took the opportunity to slip off on my bike and headed up to the top of Cherbourg for a great view over the city. On my return I went to visit Redoubtable, a French Nuclear Submarine which was launched in 1961. This is the first time I have been inside a submarine – fascinating how everything is crammed in and organised.

With everyone on board at 1730 the Staff Captain ”drove out” and with the wind assisting this was very smartly done. I was already dressed in my evening Mess Dress as I needed to head down to the Welcome Aboard party soon after we cleared the harbour.

See you in Cobh.

Captain Julian Burgess

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.

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