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23rd August, 2021

Inaugural Cruise Summary

Well, it’s been some almost 18 months since I’ve tapped one of these up for publishing, but here I am with the full team on board, all excited to be back at sea. After a week or so of testing the ship, her systems and our crews on sea-trials and a little mock-up cruise, we found ourselves ready to take on our guests again, both new and old!

Tilbury 26th July

The Inaugural Cruise kicked off with a noisy confetti filled departure from London International Cruise Terminal (aka Tilbury docks) accompanied by the sounds of the Music from London Military Band. After a lengthy pilotage outbound along the River Thames into a fine evening, Spirit of Adventure was finally sailing with guests on board after 262 days in Tilbury.

The chefs were busying around in our galleys preparing their first full supper spread, and the Playhouse Theatre’s grand opening came in the form of ‘The Welcome Show’, a (non-royal) variety performance by an array of our resident entertainers, was enjoyed by all those lucky to be in attendance.

Newcastle 28th July

After a leisurely run up the East coast of England, the ship was welcomed into the Tyne by a water fountain reception courtesy of a local tugboat. After a short pilotage, the ship was tied up alongside her very first destination. Shortly after, the first coachloads of eager guests departed on shore excursions, visiting sites such as Hadrian’s wall, Belsay Hall, and the best of Northumbria’s Castles. In the evening, entertainment was provided by Kenny Martyn, presenting ‘Swingin’ Again’ in the Playhouse Theatre – celebrating the sounds of Benny Goodman.

Belfast 30th July

The passage to Belfast was fast and picturesque over the top of the UK which began with a transit through the racing currents of Pentland Firth, squeezing in between Thurso and the Orkneys. After passing the Scottish Islands of Skye, Mull, and Arran in the afternoon, we crossed the Irish Sea and finally arrived in Belfast early next morning at around breakfast time. The weather produced a fine example of a northern Irish summer - chilly, with a delightful hint of drizzle at times. Tours for the day included visits to the Giant’s Causeway and the coasts and glens of County Antrim. The evening entertainment came in the form of heavenly harmonies with Indigo May presenting their show ‘Pure Harmony’.

Isle of Man Scenic Anchoring 31st July

The 31st saw a clockwise scenic cruise around the Isle of Man, but once past the town of Maughold, I decided to take the con of the ship and went astern (reversed) at a speed of 10Kts giving those with balconies on the other side of the ship a chance to see the view, too. Due to the now well-rehearsed politics surrounding Covid-19 restrictions within various British nations, unfortunately guests were not permitted ashore however a pleasant day was had by all enjoying calm seas and scenery. The Victory Piano Quartet provided some afternoon entertainment performing ‘A Constellation of Melodies’. After weighing anchor at suppertime, we set sail for Liverpool just across the bay to the east.

Liverpool 1st August

Now approaching the mid-point of the Inaugural Cruise, the Spirit of Adventure arrived in Liverpool after a short pilotage along the river Mersey. Shortly after, the gangway was rigged and ready and as the music of the Beatles played over the Quayside loudspeakers, guests began disembarking for their tours and anticipation of once again encountering some interesting accents. Visits for the day included ‘The story of the Beatles’ as well as trips to Crosby Beach and walking tours of the city. The crew got a chance to go ashore, with an open top bus tour organised taking them to Liverpool locations such as the Cavern Club.

Holyhead 2nd August

After a short run along the North Wales coast, the ship arrived in Holyhead Harbour. The pontoon was lowered, the tenders were launched and - in an unexpected turn of events - the North Wales sun shone down (albeit briefly). After a short ride in our tenders, guests enjoyed the sights of the Anglesey Coastline, the Mountains of Snowdonia, and a trip on the Welsh Highland Railway. In the evening, Dr Simon Fricker was ‘In Concert at Sea’, playing the music of Jerry Herman, Ivor Novello, and a chap named Andrew Lloyd Webber. Portbury for Bristol 4th August In the early hours of the 4th we sailed up the Bristol Channel passing Cardiff, Weston-Super-Mare and Barry Island and, after squeezing the ship into the lock in Portbury Harbour, we were alongside. As the sun was shining, tours for the day began to depart. Dyffryn Gardens, Cheddar Gorge and Wells Cathedral were among the locations visited during the day, as well as a village with a completely un-pronounceable name to me. Evening entertainment came in the form of an impressions-without-props masterclass courtesy of Fogwell Flax, and the Victory Piano Quartet’s performance ‘Baroque Masters’ in the Britannia Lounge.

Falmouth 5th-6th August

The first and only overnight of the cruise was during the ship’s visit to Falmouth. After a tight pilotage escorted once again by a spraying tugboat up the shallow river Fal, we squeezed alongside the quay next to the RFA ship ‘Argus’, with a great view of the town. Shortly after arrival, guests began departing on tours to sites such as Lands End, the Lost Gardens of Heligan, and a cruise along the scenic Helford River. Indigo May delighted guests in the Playhouse Theatre in the evening with their performance ‘Stage, Screen, Sopranos!’, and guests danced the night away to the music of Abba courtesy of the ship’s band “Viva” in the Britannia Lounge.

Fastnet Yacht Race 8th August

To mark the end of Cowes Week 2021, the Fastnet took place on the 8th and those on board the Spirit of Adventure were treated to the best view around. Some of the fastest yachts in the world began their race and we were anchored just north of the Isle of Wight, right in their way. The winds were gusting as high as force 8 and with currents running at 3 knots this provided excellent but challenging conditions for the sailors (and our anchor chain), however everybody on board was afforded a front-row view in comfort and warmth of the ship, gin & tonic in hand. After a peaceful night at anchor, we set sail on the morning of the 9th bound for the Port of Tilbury. This would mark the end of our delightful Inaugural Cruise, which covered 2400 nautical miles and took us all the way around the United Kingdom.

Captain Kim Tanner

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.