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Spirit of Adventure blog

Setting sail for Funchal

23rd November, 2022

The beginning of this cruise looked a lot like the previous one, so I apologise if this blog sounds familiar.

We were lucky enough to follow, from a safe distance, the weather on our way back to Southampton on our last cruise, but now, with all the planning that we have made, we needed some luck as well, as we had yet another storm approaching.

We left Southampton on time and our departure was filmed by a drone. The intention was to go as fast as we could through the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay. I was having a chat with our pilot and we agreed that, once we completed the Brambles turn, we would go with maximum speed. As we completed the turn and aligned us with the exit course between the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth, I gave the order: Warp Speed, Number 1, please and confirmed it with: Make it so. My 2nd officer Adam knew what I meant, but our cadet looked surprised with my “modified” order. I asked him if he knew what warp speed is and the cultural reference. He has never heard of Star Trek and Captain Jean Luc Picard. With 3 sea days ahead of us, he got the full briefing.

Speaking of warp speed, we had calculated the speed we needed to outrun the storm. I kept our guests well informed of my intentions and asked them to bear with me for our first sea day. We were making really good speed and it was good that we did, as the storm sped up and instead of arriving at Cap Finisterre at 10 o’clock in the morning, it arrived at 6. Luckily, we turned the corner at 06:30, so for the bumpiest part everybody was still in bed.

Our original route was drawn for the shortest route to Funchal but due to the weather, instead of proceeding on SW course, we kept going south until we were almost abeam of Lisbon and then turned towards Funchal. That helped us a lot with the motion and apart for the first sea day the rest of our cruise to the Island of Madeira was rather pleasant.

The Formal Welcome party was well attended and I changed our regular line up music to something more upbeat. I spoke with Jo, our Cruise Director, who spoke with the Britannia Band and they made such a great effort so that each one of us had a different song welcoming us on the stage.

By the time we came close to Madeira, the sun came up, temperature was over 20 deg C – proper cruising conditions. Staff Captain Simon took us in, did a very nice smooth arrival. One of my ex colleagues was monitoring our arrival from another ship and got amazing photos.

Shortly after arrival, I went ashore with 3rd Officer Mate to watch the Croatia vs Morocco match as our reception signal on board wasn’t the best due to the mountain blocking it. I might as well have stayed on board as the game was not even worthy of mention. The only comfort was that we didn’t lose. But we didn’t show much will and passion on the pitch.

After the game, Mate went back on board and I went for a stroll. My back is back to normal, although I’m still avoiding the gym and I’m starting easy. I walked for an hour and a half with no pain during or after. By the time I had finished my walk, it was time for lunch.

I went back to the same tavern as a week ago, but this time my two 2nd Officers joined me. Adam and Tom knew they wouldn’t remain hungry and trusted me with the orders. We were planning to go for steaks on stone, but when the waitress recommended Barracuda as a fresh catch of the day we couldn’t say no to that, as none of us had eaten barracuda before and were curious. We ordered one portion of barracuda instead of an appetiser to share and then steaks as a main course. Both meals were amazing.

While I was ashore Simon organised, through our agent, permission to leave a mark on the breakwater. It is a long tradition that ships leave a crest, insignia or similar drawing on the wall. Our quartermaster Ariel, with the assistance of Bosun Jhun and Quartermaster Jun Jun, painted an amazing picture on the wall. He had several templates, but we decided to go for the more discreet one without our portraits. I was really impressed. Our crew members are virtuoso class.

Kind Regards
Captain Franko Papić

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.