Cruise P2170 on the Saga Pearl II to Ireland, March 2017

(Please scroll down to see my photographs and report)

Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
15/03/2017 Dover
- Aboard
by 2:30
17/03/2017 Dublin
Trad. Song &
Dance with Lunch
Great food
& craic!
18/03/2017 Dublin
Dublin &
the Liffey
River Cruise
& Tour
19/03/2017 Liverpool
Port Sunlight
& Cream Tea
Art Gallery!
20/03/2017 Cobh
Cork Countryside
& Kinsale
& Showers!
22/03/2017 Dover
- Home
by 1 p.m.

Embarkation Day, Dover
Wednesday the 15th of March
Beware the Ides of March!

I awoke at 6:30 and left home just before 9 a.m. It took me over ten minutes to go the half mile into BoMo owing to roadworks! The rest of the journey was easy in the spring sunshine. I got to Ashford just after noon and to the ship at 1:15. Boarding started at 1:30, but I had boarding card number 8, so I didn't get on until 2:30. I had a late lunch with Mary and Jean from Gravesend.

After the safety drill, I showed my shore excursion slides to Leo, but missed most of the sailaway. We had the welcome cocktail party at 5 p.m. ready for the Spitfire aerial display at 5:15. At 6 p.m. I gave my talk on Dublin's Fair City. At 7 p.m. I dined on the pot beef with a quiet couple from Seaford and a loquacious man from Bexleyheath. The latter looked and sounded like Brexit Secretary David Davis! At the 8:45 dance session surprisingly the floor was full from the outset. I danced with Mary, Jean and various other single ladies. Unfortunately Mary & Jean overdid the dancing that night and didn't dance again the whole cruise. Marianne reminded me that I had danced with her at a Strictly Come Dancing competition some years ago! I then watched the introductory variety show from the right hand side. At 10:15 I went to bed.

First Sea Day
Thursday the 16th of March

I awoke at 6 a.m. and watched my Dublin port talk on the television. At 7:30 I had the kedgeree breakfast special with a Geordie gent and dance host Danny. Back at the cabin I began this blog. At 9 a.m. two of the professional dancers taught Achy Breaky, Mamma Maria & California Frieze. At 9:30 Leo spoke for fifteen minutes on the shore excursion procedures. This was followed by a safety drill, which finally finished at 10:20 ready for my port talk on Liverpool: Queen of the Mersey! I rushed through this in 35 minutes. At 11:15 I listened to Ernie's talk on mermaids, but left when he started singing. I did some ironing and updated this blog.

Saga Pearl II

Saga Pearl II

At 12:30 I lunched on the chicken caesar salad with crisps, not chips. Sat at the large, oval table in the Verandah, I was joined by the large bowling group from Bucks! After a short lie down, I gave my Cobh: the Port for Cork talk at 2:30. I then slept for an hour and a half, before getting dressed in my formal outfit. At 6:15 I attended the Captain's welcome cocktail party. I dined on the fillet steak with the two ladies from Dornoch, and the ladies from Malvern & Gloucester. I danced with the usual suspects, before Paul Fredericks's showtime. I enjoyed his singing, but not his comedy, before going to bed at 10:30

Dublin, Ireland
Friday the 17th of March
St. Patrick's Day

I awoke at 6:30 and watched my Liverpool talk on the television. I breakfasted on the special, a hollow potato filled with bacon and egg, with Danny. At 8 a.m. I walked through the port to the Point tram station. I shelled out 2 euros 40 cents to take the "Jerry Lee Luas" to Heuston Station. I then walked back along the banks of the River Liffey with the cold west wind behind me. I explored Dublin Castle, went in the new tourist information office and passed through the Trinity College (TCD) quadrangles. I went in the National Gallery and saw their Picasso still life and their new portrait of Graham Norton! I gave the paid for Caravaggio exhibition a miss. I then caught the 11 a.m. shuttle bus back from outside the Davenport Hotel in Merrion Street.

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle

At 11:30 I escorted my first choice Traditional Song & Dance Luncheon (E, L, N, SD) to the Abbey Tavern in Howth fishing village. The Irish music and dancing was excellent with all my favourite songs including: Tell Me Ma, Whiskey in the Jar, Galway Girl & Cry of the Celts! I chose the soup over the salad, the salmon over the corned beef, the Irish stew or the chicken. Having had two slices of bread and a complimentary pint of Guinness, I forewent the apple pie or cheesecake. I also gave the Irish coffee a miss, so I could sleep for an hour and a half back at the ship. At 7:15 I dined on a small portion of the Dublin Coddle bacon and sausage stew with two couples from Surrey. I then danced with the usual suspects, before the Best of British production show. At 10:30 I updated this blog and went to bed.

Dublin, Ireland
Saturday the 18th of March

I awoke at 7 a.m. and breakfasted on the special salmon fishcake with fried egg and bacon with Danny. At 8:15 I again walked to the Point tram station and again caught the "Jerry Lee Luas" to Heuston station. I walked to see the Wellingon obelisk in Phoenix park for the first time. I then walked back into the city via the Guinness Storehouse. At the City Hall I went in the free basement museum. I again walked though Trinity College (TCD), before catching the 11:30 shuttle bus back to the ship.

Dublin Castle Trinity College, Dublin

Dublin Castle & Trinity College Towers

At noon I lunched on the not-so-minute steak with chips, tomatoes and peas with Danny. At 1 p.m. I escorted my first choice Dublin & the Liffey tour (E). We had a 45 minute cruise on the river Liffey, somewhat curtailed by the annual University boat race between TCD and UCD. We then had a panoramic tour, with a rest room break at the Ashdown visitor centre in Phoenix park. Back at the ship, I couldn't do my laundry as the launderette had been closed due to a virus on board. I then slept for an hour, before dining on the sirloin steak with jacket potato with a couple from Kent, Pat from Aldeburgh and Audrey & her son Tony from Bristol. The latter had been a chartered accountancy partner with KPMG, but was now a volunteer with the Georg Mueller orphanage in Bristol. I danced with the usual suspects before the amusing Graffiti Classics showtime. At 10:30 I went to bed.

Liverpool, England
Sunday the 19th of March

My alarm awoke me at 6:30 ready for the Egg Florentine special breakfast at 7 a.m. with Danny. We were 45 minutes late getting into Liverpool and then getting away as escort on my first choice tour to Port Sunlight (E, N, R, SD). We began with photostops at St. George's Hall and the Anglican Cathedral. At Port Sunlight we had a short drive around, before spending time at the magnificent Lady Lever art gallery. I enjoyed the wonderful pre-Raphaelite paintings, the single Constable and single Turner canvases, the tapestries, the Wedgwood porcelain, the classical sculptures and the period rooms. I splashed out a fiver on the village guide and map. This gallery is right up there with the wonderful Wallace Collection in London or the fantastic Frick Collection in New York City, as the eclectic collection of one incredibly rich man! We then adjourned to the former hospital, now the magnificent Leverhulme Hotel, for a cream tea. I pigged out on two fruit scones with cream, jam and lovely home made lemon curd! I had a very infirm old lady in tow, so I didn't get back to the ship for lunch until 2 o'clock. She had been in quarantine for two days so was desperate to go on a tour. I gently declined the tip that she offered me at the end!

Fab Four

Fab Four

I grabbed a bowl of soup with Jean & Mary before heading back into Liverpool. I walked around the Albert Dock, the Liverpool One shopping centre and the Cavern quarter. In the latter, I bagged selfies with the John Lennon and Cilla Black statues. Back at the ship, I had a couple of sarnies, before sleeping for an hour. Unfortunately the Britannia club cocktail party had had to be cancelled due to the virus on board. So I dined at 7 p.m. on fillet steak again, with June from Greenwich and amusing Barbara from Feltham. Towards the end of the meal, Barbara's new friend Finola joined us and regaled us with tales of her 48 hours of quarantine! I danced with the single ladies before Paul's second show. Again I enjoyed his singing but not his tired, old jokes. At 10:30 I went back to my cabin and slept from eleven until seven.

Morning at sea, Afternoon in Cobh, Ireland
Monday the 20th of March

I breakfasted on my first Egg Benedict of the cruise, as I didn't want the special waffles with maple syrup and berries. I also had a warm croissant with ham, cheese and marmite, sat with Danny as usual. Back in the cabin, I updated this blog and started updating my powerpoint port talks. At 11 a.m. I gave Ernie's talk on smugglers a miss in order to watch the sail-in to Cork harbour in the sunshine. At noon I lunched on the roast lamb with the gent from Bexleyheath.

Cobh, Co. Cork

Cobh, Co. Cork

At 1 p.m. I escorted the tour to Kinsale (E, N, R) yet again. We had a photostop at Fort Charles, before having another cream tea in the Trident hotel in Kinsale. I had an American couple in tow who struggled with the very short walk to the tea room, until the gent suggested he sat on his stroller whilst I pushed him! After rushing around Kinsale and getting a little wet, I walked back to the hotel with a glorious rainbow over the harbour. The hotel provided a wheel chair which facilitated the gent's return to the bus. We had another brief photostop overlooking one of the local tidal rivers, before returning to the ship.

Kinsale, Co. Cork

Kinsale, Co. Cork

At 6:30 I was invited to a private cocktail party in the card room with Mick & Shirley Horne. I chatted with several of the ladies who had been on my coach that afternoon and one of the lady officers from Hamburg. I pigged out on both the lovely hot and cold canapés. At 7:15 I dined with Pat from Aldeburg, Audrey and her son Tony from Bristol and a couple from Felsted in Essex. I had the sirloin steak with baked potato again. The first dance set only lasted 15 minutes as an Irish soprano had been brought on board. She ended her half hour set with the inevitable Danny Boy, not Danny Keenan's favourite song! This was then followed by the I Got Rhythm production show. Unfortunately I kept falling asleep, not having had a siesta that afternoon, so I went to bed at 10 o'clock.

Second Sea Day
Tuesday the 21st of March

I awoke at 7:30 after a choppy night and breakfasted on the special poached egg royale with Danny and David. At 9 a.m. the girls taught Flobie Slide, Blue Rose Is, Country Walkin' & Stroll Along, the latter as a one wall dance. At 10 o'clock I gave my fourth and final lecture on the Story of the Irish Sea. At 11 a.m. I went to Ernie's talk on Sea Shanties, but left when he started singing! At noon I lunched on the lasagna with Danny and a Geordie gentleman. I then slept for two hours. After finishing off the newspapers that I had accumulated, I did six circuits (one mile) of the top deck in the sunshine. At 4:15 I went to the chocolate tea and had the fruit dipped in the chocolate fountain. I then packed, before attending the farewell cocktail party. I dined on the veal shank with Pat and Audrey from Aldeburgh and her son Tony from Bristol together with another couple. I danced before the show which was the rather less amusing Graffiti Classics now a trio not a quartet. The chap inevitably sang Danny Boy! I went to bed at 10:30.

Disembarkation Day, Dover
Wednesday the 22nd of March

I awoke at 6:30 and had the full English breakfast at 7 o'clock with the two Scottish ladies and the couple from the New Forest who will be on my tall ships cruise this summer. I vacated my cabin at 8 a.m. and worked on this blog in the Briefing Room with Robert and a lady from Saga HQ. I disembarked with luggage tag 4 at 9:15. There were signs saying that there were long delays on the M25, so I turned off on to the M23. I came home via Horsham & Chichester, getting back by 1 o'clock.

Saga Pearl II

Saga Pearl II

One lady wrote "Many thanks for bailing me out of trouble!"

Score card:

7 Nights dancing
4 Tours escorted
3 Port Talks given
2 Cocktail parties attended
1 Enrichment lecture
1 Cruise enjoyed!

Good points were:

  1. Outside Twin Cabin with picture window on Deck A all to myself.
  2. Open Seating Dining in the Verandah restaurant.
  3. Two New Italian Coffee Machines.
  4. Efficient cabin steward (Andrei).
  5. New carpet in the public areas.
  6. New top deck lounge area.
  7. First choice tours.
  8. Giving the port talks.
  9. Free in-cabin wi-fi.
  10. Free Ice Cream Machine.
  11. Free Shuttle Buses.
  12. Dressing Gowns.
  13. Free Internet.
  14. Free Water.
  15. Free Wi-fi.
  16. Free Fruit.

For the record ...

Updated PowerPoint Presentations:

Dublin, Ireland
Liverpool, England
Cobh, Ireland
Story of the Irish Sea

Shore Excursions Key: N New E Easy L Lunch M Moderate P Panoramic S Strenuous R Refreshments WT Wine Tasting SD Something Different LA Limited Availability
Current Statistics (as of March 2017): 110 Cruises undertaken. 588 Tours escorted. 981 Port Calls made!