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20th October, 2017


Greetings everyone, and we are now heading south on our Madeira and Canaries cruise.

With the passage of Tropical Storm Ophelia, and its affect on the western approaches to the English Channel, we took the decision to delay our sailing by 5 hours and let the worst of the weather pass. As we cleared the Nab Tower on the eastern side of the Isle of Wight, this proved to be the right decision and ensured we had a reasonable passage towards and through the Bay of Biscay. With the residual swell I was reminded what a great Sea Ship Saga Sapphire is. Cutting through the sea and swell like a fine cruiser we were able to maintain our scheduled arrival into Madeira on Friday 20th October.

I have always enjoyed arriving in Madeira as it’s such a spectacular setting and today was no exception. As we approached the pilot station the seas were calm, the sun was shining and lots of Guests were on deck to watch our arrival into Funchal.

Formed by a volcanic eruption, Madeira lies in the Gulf Stream, about 500 miles due west of Casablanca. Discovered by Portuguese explorer Joao Goncalves Zarco in 1419, this beautiful Island became part of Portugal’s vast empire and was named for the dense forest which cloaked it- Madeira means wood in Portuguese.

Once alongside it was but 15 minutes before our Guests were heading ashore to sample all the delights of this great port. Our Shore Excursion Team headed up by Jacquie and Cindy offered a variety of tours, including the light and easy excursions Cabo Girao and Madeira Island Delight, and by contrast the more active excursions like the ‘Levada Trail Walk’, the ‘Four-wheel Drive Safari’ and the RIB Adventure – this has got to be a must for another call. For those going ashore independently there was a also complimentary shuttle bus service which took passengers into the heart of Funchal.

I took a short stroll into town with the Ship's Doctor for a small coffee and Portuguese Custard tarts – Pastel de Nata. After a few days at sea its even good for the Captain to put his feet on terra firma!!

With everyone back on board we slipped our moorings and Staff Captain Franko took the ship out to sea. Once clear of the port, and with the pilot away, we set a southerly course for our arrival into Santa Cruz, La Palma.

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.