Spirit of Discovery blog
Highlights of the Canaries
16th October - Southampton
The crew on board Spirit of Discovery were once again looking forward to welcoming a ship full of new guests. The housekeeping teams were ensuring that the vessel was sparkling, and guests were welcomed on board to live music played by our Spirit Keys Player.
Guests could start off the cruise with afternoon tea in the Britannia Lounge before getting to know the ship with a tour of all of the facilities that the ship has to offer.
Safety is of utmost importance to Saga and therefore a passenger general emergency drill was carried out before we set sail to ensure that all of our guests were familiar with their muster stations and where to go in case of emergency. After the last luggage bag was delivered to the right cabin, and all our guests were on board, it was time to wave goodbye to Southampton and head off to sunnier climates.
17th – 19th October - 3 Days at sea
After leaving Southampton, we had a fun packed few days to allow our guests to get their sea legs and explore the ship. Starting off the three sea days on board with activities such as deck quoits, arts and crafts classes, golf, and line dancing.
We also had guest speakers on board to give lectures on Bletchley Park, taking a look into the history of the mansion and the reasons why Bletchley Park was chosen for the Government Code and Cypher School. As well as talks on some of the places we will be visiting, including Lanzarote so we can learn about lava fields and cinder cones that make peaceful basaltic volcanoes into great tourist sites.
Of course we had our staff in the spa on hand to ensure everyone was feeling their best. With 45 minute sessions of pampering to make anyone feel their best, to massages and acupuncture, facials, or just an afternoon relaxing in our spa pool, saunas and steam rooms.
On board Britain’s Got Talent’s record-breaking Welsh brother duo Richard and Adam, entertained us all with their world class vocal talent and harmonies, as well as a Cabaret by our Cruise Director Johnny, who took to the Britannia Lounge stage for a collection of golden oldies, sing-a-long favourites and chart topping tunes.
20th October - Funchal, Madeira
Before arriving in the Canary Islands, we stopped off in Funchal, Madeira, the capital city of Portugal's Madeira archipelago. It's backed by hills, and known for its harbour, gardens and Madeira wine cellars. A busy day ahead for our guests who were able to enjoy a variety of excursions. Including visiting the Botanical Gardens with marvellous views overlooking the city of Funchal, the Madeira Botanical Garden is located in one of the most interesting estates in the city, the Bom Sucesso Estate. The Estate dates from 1881 and was created by the Reid family as their private park. For those more active guests, the Levada walks in Funchal were very popular, with their stunning waterfalls and views over Funchal.
Meanwhile, on board, our spa was very busy indulging our guests’ mind, body and soul with expert massages that ironed out the creases from the three sea days. Alternatively there were quizzes to take part in, table tennis competitions and shuffleboard.
The evening kicked off with the sail away enjoyed on the Lido deck with live music, while below deck the ropes were being let go and we began the manoeuvre out of Funchal port. The Britannia Lounge presented the wonderfully talented Spirit Orchestra playing a collection of their favourite Jazz tunes, while guests in the Playhouse Theatre laughed along to a wonderful comedy routine presenting original impressions and observation comedy, plus great music.
21st October - Santa Cruz De Las Palmas
Late risers were able to finish their breakfast as they watched our arrival into the port in Las Palmas at the slightly later time of 11:30. Las Palmas is the largest city in the Canary Islands and is also known for having the longest beach on the island.
The history of Las Palmas is a long and eventful one. The founding of the city in 1478 stems from the area’s history as a Castilian military encampment. Until the 17th century, Las Palmas was considered the actual capital of the self-governing community of the Canary Islands simply because it was practically the only operational city in the area.
After a day of exploring the city, or just enjoying the views from the top deck, guests could end their evening with a relaxed movie night in the Playhouse Theatre, or the more lively dancing in the Britannia Lounge. The night drew in, and we were able to sail away past the beautiful city of Las Palmas at night, seeing the city all lit up.
22nd October - Santa Cruz De Tenerife
Another early morning began as we arrived at Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The sun was shining off the water and everyone was looking forward to a lovely day in Tenerife.
Guests were able to enjoy a wonderful excursion up Mount Teide, and the wonderful view from the top was rivalled only by the cake! Mount Teide is not only the highest point in Spain, but also the highest point above sea level of the islands of the Atlantic. While it seems like a desolate area, the volcanic soil provides nutrients for up to 168 different plant species and plants can grow up to 3 metres tall.
There was also chance for the guests to learn more about the history of Tenerife by visiting the Abaco Mansion. A museum by day, and a cocktail bar by night. This beautiful Mansion dates back to the 18th century and the décor is based on nature and natural products with beautiful flower arrangements dotted throughout. The Mansion has a wonderful, relaxing garden and rooms of different styles that our guests made the most of.
After another busy day ashore, our guests could come back to a ship filled with the sounds of Dusty Springfield, and other iconic songs of the 60’s with our guest vocalist in the Playhouse Theatre.
23rd October – Arrecife, Lanzarote (new captain)
Captain Jason Ikiadis made his last arrival look easy as he manoeuvred the ship into Arrecife before packing his bags and leaving the vessel to enjoy a well-deserved holiday. In his place, and emerging from his isolation cabin, the crew welcomed back Captain Kim Tanner, one of Saga’s longest serving Captains, onto the bridge.
Our guests were able to enjoy the sights of the wonderful island of Lanzarote, well known for its warm climate, not disappointing us today with highs of 24 degrees. Its beaches, as well as the volcanic landscape, were created by volcanic eruptions in the 1730’s. Our guests were able to explore some wonderful sights in Lanzarote including the El Cuervo Volcano, which was the first to erupt in 1730, starting 6 years’ worth of volcanic activity.
After a busy day on shore, guests were able to enjoy a wonderful cocktail demonstration that displayed the talent of the bartenders on board Spirit of Discovery, as well as entertainment on the Lido deck.
It was then time to get dressed up for a formal night, and enjoy the Crescendo show, where the show cast delighted us all with a spectacular four-part harmony with some amazing costumes.
24th- 25th October - 2 Days at sea
Sea days on board Spirit of Discovery are always full of fun activities for our guests, and these two sea days were no different. We celebrated Oktoberfest on the Lido deck with a special feast prepared by our Food and Beverage Team accompanied by some live music.
Cruise Director Jonny got up close and personal with our talented Spirit of Discovery Show cast, who delighted in meeting the audience and spilled all the secrets and backstage gossip, answering questions from our guests.
The following day the food and beverage team put together a Tapas Fiesta & Sangria feast on the Lido deck, even although sadly our Lido pool had to be closed due to the water splashing on the deck, but the tapas and cocktails more than made up for it.
Our guest speakers also pulled out all the stops, with lectures about the explosive varieties of andesitic volcanoes, as well as talking about some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes to be found in the High Arctic, where permafrost, tundra, ice sheets, glaciers and icebergs are all set in a magnificent wilderness. Furthermore, there was an interesting lecture about the use of pigeons in communications during WW1, and WW2, and the links with the British Monarchy.
26th October - La Coruna
An early start for most as our tours around the beautiful city of La Coruna began at 8:30 ship’s time, and 9:30 local time. La Coruna has a medieval district and this part of the town, referred to as simply "the city", still has some remnants of the old Roman wall that once enclosed it. A modern and attractive city has grown up around this. La Coruna is home to the Torre de Hercules, the oldest working lighthouse in Europe and it is possible to climb the square tower and get views across the town and the ocean.
The old town is protected from the sea by a wall and behind this are attractive narrow streets and a couple of Romanesque churches, the Santiago church and the Santa Maria del Campo.
Meanwhile on board, a crew drill was being carried out and those guests still on board were able to experience the bustle of crew musters, as they simulated an emergency muster.
Once lifejackets and high visibility jackets were removed and put away, it was almost time to get dressed up for a formal night. Our guests could enjoy a lovely meal in one of our restaurants before the crew joined them in the Playhouse Theatre, to walk across the stage and wave to everyone.
27th October - Day at sea
Another sunny day at sea for everyone, although it has been noted that the closer we get to Southampton, the cooler the weather seems to be compared to the heat of the Canaries.
This morning, as a treat for our guests, Spirit of Discovery Captain, Kim Tanner, joined our Cruise Director Johnny in the Playhouse Theatre as he answered questions and talked about his life and times at sea.
The Playhouse Theatre was bustling with life for most of the day, as guests could also enjoy a lecture from our guest speaker John Chapman as he spoke about the life of Winston Churchill. From his involvement with the Boer War, his appointment to a Military Commander in WW1 through to his subsequent removal from active service in the trenches.
It is never a boring day at sea as we relished in activities such as line dancing, crafts classes, quizzes afternoon tea, and some live music. As well as a chance for our guests to be entered into a prize draw after answering a questionnaire about how much they enjoyed their time on board.
With plenty of ways for our guests to enjoy their last night, there was a dance party in the Britannia Lounge, as well as an ensemble of the greatest hits of world-renowned British band ‘Queen’ in our Playhouse Theatre
28th October - Southampton
We arrived to a surprisingly dry Southampton morning, and through the clearing mist we could see some familiar ships such as Aurora, and Queen Victoria, still in lay-up. It makes me very proud to be working for Saga.
The usual bustle of embarkation day saw the crew transporting luggage off and collecting provisions for our next cruise, as we said goodbye to our guests and thanked them all for joining us on our Highlights of the Canaries cruise.
Anna Field – Deck Cadet
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