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14th February, 2020

Honfleur, France

After our 21 night “Italian Premiere” where we had some amazing weather and ports in the Mediterranean, it was time for a 4 day taster type cruise “Rendezvous in Rouen” over the Valentine’s Day weekend. Unfortunately storm “Carina” had other ideas and it was confirmed the day before sailing that the River Seine was abnormally high which prevented us passing under the Tancarville bridge and a call in Rouen – back to the drawing board!! We had already looked at Le Havre and booked a contingency berth only to find out that at the last moment there was Industrial action at the port so we were advised by our agents not to come!!

So it was plan C - which saw us have an overnight in Southampton and then sail at 1000 to Honfleur after our compulsory Passenger Emergency Drill. After clearing Southampton water we headed east for a cruise by Beachy Head on the South Downs, which was fantastic as it was close to the area in which I grew up.

At 0015 on Friday 14th we embarked the local French Pilot near the entrance to the River Seine and we then docked at 0200. Yes 0200!! As Honfleur is very much a tidal port with currents up to 6 knots, so you have to arrive at the right stage of the tide. Back in bed for 0300 I was awake by 0800 and then decided to “wake myself” up but running 5k around the beautiful town . This is actually part of my preparation for my first ½ Marathon on 29th March when I take part in the Landmarks event though the centre of London. I am raising money for 2 charities “tackle prostate cancer”, for which I am an Ambassador and AgeUK. All donations will be using the website “JustGiving”.

Well I thoroughly enjoyed my run through the town’s old harbour “Vieux-Bassin” which is lined with 16th to 18th century townhouses and an abundance of restaurants and boutiques. Some consider Honfleur the prettiest harbour in all of France and famous artists like Claud Monet certainly agreed and loved to paint the beautiful town.

I was very kindly invited out to lunch with the Director of the Port Agency for France – sometimes it’s a great job being Captain!!

With close to a 2 day stop, we had all our guests on board by 1530 and at 1615 we left our berth in very strong winds. With the pilot away by 1800 we set sail for our overnight return sail to Southampton.

Captain Julian Burgess

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

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