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11th January, 2018


After a few days at sea with an excellent crossing of the Bay of Biscay, the 3-4 metre swell we experienced reminded me what a great Sea Ship Saga Sapphire is - cutting through the sea and swell like the fine cruiser she is.

I always enjoy arriving in Madeira as it’s such a spectacular setting, and this lunchtime was no exception. As we approached the pilot station at 1145 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.

We were alongside by 1215 and by 1245 our Guests were heading ashore to sample all the delights of this great port. With a 24 hour overnight call there was plenty of shore excursions for our Guests to sample. For those going ashore independently there was a also complimentary shuttle bus service which took passengers into the heart of Funchal. With this being a stargazing themed cruise there were 2 very popular tours during the evening!!

I was invited ashore for dinner by some guests I had previously sailed with – they have a lovely apartment overlooking the sea. The ship's doctor was also invited and we dined out on chateaubriand in a small restaurant called “Moby Dick” near their apartment block. A fun evening was had by all.  We walked the 2 km back to the ship in the balmy evening breeze – it was all downhill which was a bonus.

An overnight in port is always well received and I particularly enjoyed waking up in the same location, just for a change!! With everyone back on board by 1230 we slipped our moorings and moved the ship astern to clear the berth. Once clear of the port, and with the pilot away, we set a southerly course for our 0800 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.