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St Johns, Newfoundland

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

12th October, 2018

Once clear of the whale speed restrictions (less than 10 knots) in the St Lawrence we had a day at sea to increase speed and make earliest arrival in St Johns, Newfoundland.

The evening before arrival we had a very special dinner for our Diamond Members in our East-West restaurant. Well with a minimum of 1000 nights to be a Britannia Club Diamond member, I think you’ll agree they deserved such a private and special dinner. With the Senior Officers in attendance it was a grand affair commencing with pre-dinner drinks in the Captain’s cabin. With a specially created menu by our Executive chef and his team, our special guests were suitably impressed.

After dinner it was time for me to catch the 2nd show by “The Fitzgeralds” – a Canadian Family of 3 (+ 1 guest) who were Grand Master Fiddle and Step Dance Champions in their native country. It was a superb evening of Celtic-based music, singing and some very high energy step dancing. Wow what a show they put on and such incredibly powerful and fast step dancing – a little like river-dance but with greater movement and speed. They got a standing ovation for the 2nd time in a row. Our Cruise Director Jo Boase rated them as the best act she’d seen at sea in the last 15 years – quite an accolade. After that high energy performance I definitely needed to lie down.

With good speed overnight we managed to embark the pilot at 0815, which was an hour earlier than originally been expected. There was still a 2-3 metre swell running on our starboard beam so we had to create a good lee on the portside for him to “shimmy” up the pilot ladder. With the pilot on board we increased to 10 knots to reduce the amount of “drift” and proceeded into the Narrows as they are appropriately named. Having navigated the Narrows we entered the harbour at 8 knots and put the “brakes on”, swinging round to starboard before moving astern towards our berth. We were all fast alongside by 0915 with gangways ready.. St John’s is known as the oldest city in North America (European Fishermen first visited in 1497) and was once an exceptionally busy harbour. Despite its lesser importance as a port today, much of the appeal of St John’s centres on the seafront, whether walking through the streets of quaint colourful wooden houses or relaxing in the harbours cafes, bars and restaurants.

With several tours on offer including the Memorial University Botanical Gardens, Old St John’s and Cape Spear, Natural History Museums of St Johns, and St John’s Coastal Hike, many Guests went to Signal Hill. This is the site where Italian engineer Guglielmo Marconi received the first Transatlantic wireless signal. Cape Spear, another fantastic viewing point, is North America’s most easterly point. During the morning we had a visit from the local Mayor who presented us with a beautiful gift of jams, chocolates, books, postcards, fridge magnets, etc (photo attached).

With everyone on board by 1745 we slipped off our berth and retraced our tracks to clear the harbour. This was our final Canadian port before our Transatlantic crossing to Southampton.

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.

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