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22nd October, 2017

Gran Canaria

With sunrise at 0806 we had already embarked our pilot and had started manoeuvring towards our berth, the main passenger pier at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. Having turned the ship through 180’ we “backed” up to the pier and were all fast alongside by 0830. I always enjoy Gran Canaria as everything is so convenient with a very short walk to the tour buses and those going ashore independently can easily stroll to the town centre or to the beach. There were a couple tours on offer today, “Essence of Gran Canaria”(morning and afternoon) and a “Puerto Mogan on Your Own Transfer”.

With temperatures around 23’C this was perfect weather for the sun worshippers. There are of course a few passengers who just prefer to stay on board and be looked after by our attentive staff. In fact during a port day morning they usually have the ship to themselves.

Las Palmas, the capital of Island of Grand Canaria was founded in 1478 and named for its abundant palms. The city was the headquarters for the Spanish conquest of Tenerife and La Palma, and was later a major supply port for ships bound for Spanish America. The oldest houses, dating back to the 15th century, can be found in the colonial quarter, along with the cathedral of Santa Ana and the house of Christopher Columbus. The Island is often considered the prettiest of the Canary Islands and is almost a circular isle with the peak of Pozo de Las Nieves - its highest point, right at the centre.

It was a busy morning for us as we had the start of a 4 day Safety, Security & Pollution Prevention Audit as part of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code. This Code provides an international standard for the safe management and operation of ships and for pollution prevention. This is an annual inspection and is one of many audits and inspections we have throughout each and every year. With a busy morning over I headed to the Verandah for lunch and a sumptuous BBQ lunch. These are a regular feature on Saga Sapphire and in fact when the weather is good are just about every day!!

After a “big lunch” it was time to work off all those calories so I hopped on my bike and headed for the road!! There is a superb cycle route down the east coast of Gran Canaria which goes on for miles and miles. I have cycled 15 miles along it before and the path just disappeared into the distance. Today I managed 20 miles in total, the outward 10 were easy but it took twice as long to cycle back as I was straight into the wind!!

Although not on the original schedule I decided to delay our sailing and remain alongside until 2130. With an evening in port this gave another opportunity for guests to head ashore, or to stay on board and experience our “Al Fresco Fiesta Verandah Deck aft” with dining on the open deck followed by our resident duo playing some wonderful Latin favourites.

At 2130, as we were getting ready to sail, the evening evolved into a night of dancing on deck under the stars and all in the great company of our Explosive Singers & dancers, The Saga Orchestra and the Cruise team. The sailaway party certainly demonstrated that with our guests, age is only a number!! Once clear of the harbour I did pop down and witness first-hand what a great party it was with live music from our in house band.

Captain Julian Burgess

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

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