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Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

30th September, 2017

A very early morning start for me with a call at 0100 – yes 0100!!!, as we were embarking our 2 river pilots for our transit of the Saguenay rivers. We did this as quietly as possible so our guests would not hear a thing. At 0300 we entered the Saguenay river for the 60 mile run to our berth. The last time I came here in 2007 there was no berth so I was very intrigued to see what had been constructed.

Saguenay did not disappoint and we arrived at a very impressive berth with us all fast alongside just before 0800. As we were making the final lines fast we were greeted by about 50 volunteer actors from “La Fabuleuse”, which is a major theatrical production depicting regional history. We were entertained with their traditional song and dance whilst dressed in local costumes. This lasted for at least 20 minutes and I made a broadcast to encourage our guests to go out on deck to see this spectacle.

Shortly after the gangway was rigged I headed on to the quayside myself to meet the locals and I was quickly offered some blueberry pie, blueberry juice and maple syrup sticks. This of course wasn’t just for me but was for all our guests. It is no wonder that Saguenay has won the best port welcome award on 4 separate occasions.

There were many tours on offer today including: Best of Saguenay, A Zodiac Adventure, Helicopter Tours of Saguenay Fjord and a stroll in the park. All received great reviews. For me it was a special day as I met up with Ross, the ex-Chairman of Quebec port who I had not seen for 10 years. Ross was instrumental in developing the cruise industry in Quebec but also for bringing cruise ships to Port Saguenay and having a berth constructed. I made the first call of any cruise ship to Saguenay back in 2006 so it was great to be back after 11 years. After a delightful lunch I was then taken on a spectacular helicopter trip much like some of our Guests had taken earlier in the day. I took 3 of my Senior Officers with me and what a fabulous trip we had flying down the edge of the fjord and then over numerous forest areas where there was 100’s of small lakes.

It was such a great day and so wonderful to catch up with my old friend, and every guest I spoke to said they had a fabulous time and loved the port.

With everyone back on board at 1800 it was time to set sail and say goodbye to Saguenay until the next time. The ship's whistle was once again sounded with great vigour as we said thank you to the locals for their hospitality and of course I said farewell to my friend, Ross. We then retraced our steps back down the Saguenay river and on towards Quebec City.

During the late afternoon we had completed the Macmillan 24 hour bike challenge, and along with the auction, raffle and private donations we raised £5,074.44. What a fantastic effort by both our passengers and my crew.

Captain Julian Burgess

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

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