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4th November, 2017


Buenas Dias. Today’s arrival took us into Barcelona. It is one of my favourite cities, and where in 1995 I had my first date with my wife.

With the pilot on board at 0645, Peter our 3rd Officer kept the Con (control, of course, & speed), and took us all the way into the harbour and close to the berth before I took over and docked the ship. 99% of ports in the world now require a pilot as ports make sure each and every ship is under the guidance of an expert. Not every ship has the level of manning and ability we have on Saga Sapphire. With a swift manoeuver we were alongside by 0750 and the ship was cleared by the local authorities ready for 0800.

Barcelona has so much to offer with its spectacular Mediterranean scenery, open air cafes, the famous mosaic paved Ramblas with all the street entertainers and of course some spectacular architecture, the most notable of which is Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. I have attached a few photos taken by our photography team headed up by Rodrigo as I wanted to capture good images for you.

The Shore Excursions team had a very busy morning with 6 tours heading off around the city, or further afield to Montserrat with the Rack Train. I have not been to Montserrat, but certainly will now that I’ve spoken with a number who went on the tour. “Spectacular Scenery” and a beautiful mountain area was what I was hearing time and again –I think I’d better head to Montserrat next time I’m in town.

After seeing off many of the guests going on tour I agreed that our Staff Captain Franko could go ashore today. I needed to sit down and start writing my handover notes ready for my relief Captain Stuart Horne, who takes over on the 13th November in Southampton. It was a very productive day, and with my fingers burning from “crunching” the keyboard I took an hour out during the afternoon to video call my wife and 2 girls. How wonderful modern technology is that I could press a few functions on my phone and see and chat to my daughters in an instant. I remember my first trip to sea in 1980 when I had to book a phone call through Portishead Radio at vast expense, and then get used to the delay either end as we were trying to talk. In those days I used to write long letters, yes letters!! on air mail paper to my parents, and of course wait weeks to receive one.

With everyone on board we were ready to sail shortly thereafter, but had to wait for the Pilot to board. At 1815 we cast off our lines and Hugo our 2nd Officer took the ship to sea with myself in a coaching role. You may be starting to wonder if I still drive the ship with all this coaching!! Well I get great pleasure in coaching the Officers and giving them the opportunity to “handle” Saga Sapphire. With Hugo having done a great job we were clear of the harbour by 1900 and then set course for Valencia.

As I finish this Blog we are getting a free wash-down with the heavy rain associated with a front moving through. There is spectacular lightening too which I always think is extra special whilst at sea.

Buenas Noches

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.