21st May, 2020
Another day begins! It is 7:45am. Thursday morning on the bridge and already the coffee machine is hung up batch processing steamed milk and thick espresso into a series of mugs. One-by-one a series of caffeinated beverages emerge, the mugs’ owners duly accepting it before weaving around the table. We begin to plan today’s maintenance.
All over the ship, the departments have come together by 8am, each one ready for their morning meetings.It is another day in Tilbury. Apparently, we are in lay-up, but those of us that are left seem to be just as busy as before! The routine operations of the ship continue and, as the clock still ticks, we continue our working habits that preserve the ship.
That said, one can’t pretend all is exactly the same as a few months ago. There is a notable absence of people, namely a thousand missing passengers, and nearly 500 repatriated crew. Just 48 of us remain. Rather than a sense of loneliness, we have stronger sense of community than ever before. We are no different to any household in the UK, where strength in common adversity has brought us together.
Over the past few weeks, in addition to Saga Sapphire, our number of neighbours has grown, crowding in this tiny expanse of Essex water with ever more cruise ships.
Indeed, our echo sounder shows less water beneath our keel, as the additional tonnage inside the locks has displaced a greater mass of water. These new ships have their tribulations of repatriations; getting flights home for their crew members has proven incredibly difficult and the same applies for all other cruise companies at this time. Thankfully, at Saga, we sent our loyal crew home safely two months ago.
Similarly, in the past two months we have all remained healthy and well. Our nurse Sydney works to no end monitoring and maintaining the health of the crew. You see him every morning, about with his clipboard and blood oximeter and thermometer, darting from galley to office, control room to workstation.
Meanwhile, we continue to think about the future. We are longing for our passengers to return to us and despite these ongoing trials, I wholly believe our best days yet lie ahead.
Recently, we marked VE day with two minutes silence in the morning, a blast of our horn in the afternoon, and pointing our searchlights skyward after sunset. It is a reminder to the ship, as much to the nation, how trying times have been before. But we also remember how trying times have always come to pass.
Now, it is a Thursday evening. The only port movement is a ro-ro ferry, who hums her way from a quiet corner of the docks down a corridor of dormant liners. Crowds of crew members on the open decks, from their cabin and office windows, mutedly observe her outward passage. We all wish to return to sailing.
All of us here on the Saga cruise ships are healthy, in good spirits, and itching to get back to sea. Whenever that may be, we hope to see you there and we can all enjoy the good times that lie ahead together.
Stay safe and healthy,
Matthew Goulding, Staff Captain
The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.
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