Spirit of Discovery blog
Mediterranean Ancient Wonders
Well Hello faithful blog readers, it’s Captain Tanner back at the helm again, this time on Adventure’s older sister, having taken over from our brand new Captain Jason, after a few days of mandatory quarantine on board towards the end of the recent Canaries cruise.
We departed Southampton on a gloomy evening with dark skies upon us and near gale force winds of 30kts from the south. The English Channel was navigated overnight before the southbound passage through Biscay was tackled the following day. Here we encountered typical north Atlantic autumnal weather, and all but the most adventurous souls remained indoors and made the most of what was on offer inside; namely food, drinks and plentiful entertainment.
The weather warmed as we tracked further south, and by day number 3 we found clearer skies with temperatures in the 20’s – we’d found the Mediterranean. Housekeeping teams were dispatched onto deck to prepare the sunbeds and all of a sudden everyone was outside enjoying…well, more food, drink and entertainment.
Our first port of call this cruise was Malaga on the Spanish Costa del Sol. It transpired that other cruise companies had also earmarked Malaga on this particular day, which meant we shared the harbour with 3 other cruise ships. A typical November day in the southern Mediterranean meant temperatures in the mid 20’s and plenty of sunshine, although the wind picked up throughout the day and I’ve little doubt that a few sunhats may have been whisked off peoples’ heads come sailaway in the evening.
The 1st of November marked an important post-pandemic milestone for Saga, for this was the day that independent shore leave was finally granted, as well as crew being given the long-awaited opportunity to pop off and breathe some fresh air in ports too. Not being one to miss out on an opportunity, I did exactly that and wandered ashore with our chief engineer Mark, for a spot of tapas with a view over the beach towards the harbour.
To my further delight, Mark offered to pick up the tab for lunch, which meant that it was only right for me to volunteer sponsoring an ice-cream stop en-route back to the ship. Alas though, all the ice cream stalls we passed had closed – presumably in preparation for the upcoming winter and the high-teens temperatures that the Spanish dread.
Two more very pleasant days at sea followed thereafter as we skirted the north coast of Africa heading eastbound, before Malta and her capital, Valletta loomed on the horizon as port of call No 2 for our Mediterranean adventure. Sailing into the heavily fortified and historic harbour of Valletta is always a highlight, and so the decks were full of camera-wielding folk at sunrise on the 4th November to capture the moment.
A busy morning of drilling our crews in emergency procedures had me famished by lunchtime, and I therefore asked Mark if he wished to pop off again, this time for a Maltese lunch. It was only when the bill arrived that I remembered it was my turn; how remiss of me to order the swordfish with all the trimmings, as well as allow Mark to challenge himself to the largest bowl of mussels I’d ever seen. Twice the price of our Spanish tapas later, I this time ensured that we passed an open gelato stall so that I could see the colour of Mark’s money in an attempt to even things out…
A warm, sunny day with temperatures in the high 20’s ensured that everyone who wished to enjoy an authentic Maltese experience did so, whether on an organised excursion or simply strolling around Valletta as we had done. Our 3rd officer Jack launched his drone at sunset to obtain some cracking shots of the ship alongside…
With sailing time at 19:00, it was dark as we weaved out of the harbour entrance again, whilst staff captain Simon conned the ship under my watchful eye. The tradition of firing cannons from the city fort (blank shells, fortunately) at departing cruise ships did not disappoint, before we embarked on another day at sea, again eastbound and this time towards the island of Crete.
A fine day at sea found me wandering around in the morning time, getting to know some of our guests. The clocks were due to be advanced 1 hour forward to match Greek local time at 12:00 midday on board, meaning that 12:00 would instantly become 13:00. I happened across a delightfully bubbly lady who was clearly enjoying her cruise experience, but when it came to the subject of the clock change her eyebrows suddenly raised and in a somewhat distressed tone she commented, “Oh goodness, does that mean we’ll miss lunch?”.
Captain Kim Tanner
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