|29/09/2017||Santa Cruz de
|30/09/2017||Santa Cruz de
|01/10/2017||Las Palmas de
|-||Off at 9:20|
I awoke at 6 o'clock and left the house just before 10:00. I enjoyed the 99p MegaMelt breakfast in a Subway snack bar in SoToN, the last of three mornings of this special promotion. After doing some shopping, I got to the ship just after noon. Unfortunately there was no-one present from ABP parking to take our car keys, so Saga arranged for us to park in the short-stay car park, with special dispensation from the usual parking regulations!
In the departure lounge I met up with dance host Ernie and the lovely Linda from Lincoln with her friend the lovely Sue from Campbelltown on the Mull of Kintyre. Boarding started at one o'clock, and I was on board soon after. I had a snack in the embarkation buffet, where I sat with Linda & Sue, before greeting regulars Nadine, Jean & Mary. I then touched base with Leo and Jenny in the Shorex office, before sleeping for an hour. After the safety drill, we had the sailaway, where I danced with Linda, Sue, Jean but not Mary. Steve called a Slosh, which I led off, joined by four other ladies. We then had the entertainers' cocktail party, where I chatted to the vicar and the other two speakers.
I dined on the roast beef (it was Sunday) in the Verandah restaurant with two ex-BA ladies from Twickenham near Heathrow airport. At 8:30 we had the first dance set, where I danced with Linda, Sue and another lady, before bagging a jive with cruise director JoBo! During the introductions she mentioned me as both destinations lecturer and dance instructor!
I watched the production company's "Forever in Blue Jeans" Neil Diamond tribute show from the back of the Britannia Lounge, but didn't know some of the songs. After the show, Jo curtailed the dancing as it was a bit rough in the English Channel, so I went to bed at 10:30 and read the free newspaper until 11 o'clock.
I awoke at 6 o'clock and got up to work on my morning's port talk. At 7:30 I breakfasted on a cheese omelette with crispy bacon, sat at the large oval singles table. At 9 o'clock JoBo and two of the dancers called off the line dancing, as it was still too choppy. At 9:45 Leo gave his 20 minute introduction to the tours, followed by my 45 minutes on Funchal, Madeira. I stayed on to hear the first part of Keith's Spook talk, but slipped out to see Leo & Jenny, who were pleased with the morning's sales, following my port talk. I gave the Singles Mingles a miss at noon, but did sign up for the Singles Lunch.
At 12:30 I lunched on smoked salmon, caesar salad and chips sat at an empty oval, singles table in the Verandah. Before long the table was full of single ladies and one other gent. At 1:15 I slipped out to set up for my 1:30 dance class, where I taught the Social Foxtrot to eight people, including cruise staff member Robert, who was under Saga HQ's instructions to learn to dance! The sea had calmed down as we left the English Channel and entered the notorious Bay of Biscay. I then slept for two hours, before having the warm strawberry compote with ice cream and Grand Marnier liqueur sat with Linda & Sue. Afterwards I did five circuits (half a mile) of the top deck as penance, in the bright sunshine. I caught sight of two fin whales, one of which was spouting, 100 yards off the back of the ship. I then started on this blog.
At 6:50 I dined on the sirloin steak with June from Shrewsbury and Biddie & Gordon from Keyhaven in Hampshire, who brought me up-to-date with the Saga gossip! We danced before and after the lady magician's show, which I ducked out of after ten minutes. The band finished at 10:45 and after a creamichoc I went to bed at 11 o'clock.
I awoke at 7 o'clock ready for the breakfast special of egg and bacon inside a baked potato at 7:30. I then put my first laundry load on at 8 o'clock. At 9 o'clock Mollie & Grace taught Crazy Postman, Mamma Maria, Honky Tonk Stomp & Electric Slide. The second dance had lost its Charleston steps and turned right instead of left. The third dance was done to four walls, not two as written. The fourth dance had grapevines instead of the slides! At 9:45 I gave my 55 minute presentations on both Santa Cruz de la Palma AND Santa Cruz de Tenerife. One gent in the front row fell asleep and started snoring towards the end!
At 11 o'clock Alan gave his talk on Islands, but spoke very slowly, so I slipped out after ten minutes. I touched base with Leo and Jenny, who said I could go on the RIB adventure in Funchal, even though escorts don't normally attend! At noon I sat with Linda and Sue listening, but not dancing, to Stuart's country music set in Shackleton's lounge. I lunched on the roast lamb sat at the large oval singles table in the Verandah Restaurant. At 1:30 I taught the waltz to ten people, before sleeping for an hour. After watching my Funchal presentation on the cabin TV, I went swimming for 25 minutes. It was 32 degrees warm and empty of pax, but of course no jacuzzi on such a small ship.
At 6:15 I was on duty in the Captain's welcome cocktail party, where I danced with several of the ladies. At 7:15 I dined on the fillet steak stuffed with Stilton cheese, sat with a couple from Chippenham and Maurice & Jean from Easingwold with their single gentleman friend Alan. At 9 o'clock I danced with the usual suspects. I only lasted one tune from the classical guitarist before retiring.
I awoke at 7 o'clock and breakfasted on the Egg Florentine special sat at the large oval table with Elaine from Cardiff & Maureen from Leighton Buzzard. At 9 o'clock two of the dancers taught Honky Tonk Stomp, Simply the Best, California Frieze & Country Walkin' (Irish Jig). At 9:45 I gave my 40 minute talk on Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. I touched base with Leo, who was recording his farewell message for Captain Spekman's imminent retirement. I then did my ironing, before attending the Solo Travellers Luncheon. We began with cauliflower soup, continued with pork cutlets and finished with steamed pudding. At 1:15 I had to slip out to set up my dance class.
At 1:30 I taught the Social Rumba to ten people including both Robert & Harold. I then slept for an hour and half, before attending the tea dance. Here I did every dance bar one including two with Linda and one with the Captain's wife Tina! At 6:45 I dined on the sirloin steak with jacket potato again, sat with Alan from North Yorkshire, Penny from Brighton, Gaynor from Stourbridge and a couple from Bedfont near Staines. We danced both before and after the Musicals show time. At 10:45 I had a creamichoc from the machine and went to bed at 11 o'clock
I awoke at 6 o'clock to watch the sail-in to a dark Funchal. At 7:30 I had the breakfast special sat with firstly petite Betty from Frinton then Bernard the vicar. After clearance, I slipped ashore to discover that Cristiano Ronaldo's (CR7) museum had moved. Back at the quayside I escorted my first choice Reinforced Inflatable Boat (RIB) Adventure with only 7 pax (M, LA). We had a short minibus ride to the yacht harbour to board the 12 seater powerboat. We headed out south east to find four beaked whales: two adults who stayed away and two juveniles who came right up to the boat. They circled us for ten minutes and we could hear them breathing. We then headed west to the famous Cabo Girao cliff, the highest in Europe at 580 metres sheer drop. We then came back via the Camara de Lobos fishing harbour, but didn't see any dolphins.
Back at the ship, I lunched al fresco on smoked salmon salad and chips with an elderly couple from West Bromwich. I then slept for an hour. I caught the 2:30 shuttle bus into the city. I began at the Tourist Information Office, before climbing the hill to St. Clare's Convent. Back in the city centre, I bumped in to Joyce Dunn. I asked how Dr. Brian Dunn was and she said that they had now split up! She was on holiday with her Scottish friend Alison, what a small world! I walked back to the ship ready for all aboard at 4:30.
It had been very humid, so I had to shower before changing ready to give my 32 minute Arrecife lecture at 5:15. This clashed with the sailaway, and I had to finish in time for Michael's musical recital. I sat at Shackleton's bar to listen to his lovely voice. At 6:45 I dined on the lovely lamb shank with Alan, Maurice & Jean from Easingwold in North Yorkshire, together with Audrey & Peter from Whitefield near Manchester. I danced before the variety show and watched the short production show of Elvis songs, but slipped out when the lady magician came back on. I was tired after an exciting day, so went to bed at 10:30.
I slept for 9 hours before arising at 7:30 ready for my cheese omelette and cripy bacon with Welsh Elaine and Maureen from Leighton Buzzard. At 9 o'clock I touched base with Jenny, before getting to the second half of Mollie's line dance class. She taught the Red Hot Salsa, Achy Breaky Heart & Crazy Postman. At 9:45 I gave my 37 minute talk on Lisbon to a diminished audience as we sailed into Santa Cruz de La Palma in the bright sunshine. I went up on to the top deck to enjoy the sail-in. I had an early lunch of the fisherman's pie sat with Pat from Sandbach.
At 12:30 I escorted my first choice Hacienda & Silk Museum tour with Leo (LA, M, R). We had a photo-stop at the Conception viewpoint overlooking the port and town. In El Paso we visited the interesting silk museum. In Glorieta I saw the famous mosaics for a second time. At the Hacienda in the banana plantations, we had a short tour of the period house and the lovely gardens, before tea, coffee and fruit punch was served with small cakes.
Back at the ship, I unpacked and then walked back into town. The Tourist Information Office was still open after six o'clock, so I was able to pick up some maps and leaflets. The Salazar Palace was also still open with a dramatic exhibition of modern, but still figurative, art. I took some photographs of the new elevator still under construction next to the Post Office and going up to the Hermitage viewpoint. Back at the ship, I dined on the sirloin steak yet again with Jean, Maurice, Alan, Linda and Sue. The latter was celebrating her birthday, so we had the singalong and the cake with extra icre cream. We danced before the classical guitarist's second show. I read in the library, before updating this blog and uploading all my photographs taken so far. I went to sleep just after 11 o'clock.
I breakfasted on a cheese omelette with crispy bacon, before offering to take Sue & Linda Middleton out to La Laguna on the trams. We caught the port shuttle bus to the terminal, before walking to the Foundation (Fundacíon) tram stop. I shelled out 6 euros for a 5 trip ticket, covering the three of us outbound and the two ladies inbound. Unfortunately the tourist information office was closed, but the lovely period courtyard was open. I then headed back with a 1 euro 35 cents ticket, which was immediately checked by a lady inspector.
I had a quick lunch of smoked salmon salad and chips, before escorting my first choice tour to the Gardens of the Valley (R, S). We began at the botanical garden, had tea at the orchid garden and finished at the Fine Crag (Risco Bello) hanging gardens. Back at the ship, I danced with the usual suspects at the sailaway and also led off the Slosh. I dined on the veal with Rob from Pinewood together with Judith and her husband at table number one.
I danced before the ABBA show, but not after, as it was disco dancing. Just before the show began, Andrew asked me to be in the fashion show, so I had to spend an age in the shop waiting to be kitted out, so I missed the show. At 10:30 Stuart had his second country music set, where I sat with Sue & Linda. The latter bought me a lime soda, as thanks for the morning's excursion. I led off one Electric Slide and danced a country waltz with Linda, before going to bed at 11:40.
I awoke to my alarm at 7 o'clock, ready to breakfast on the Egg Royale special. I then escorted my second choice tour "Essence of Gran Canaria" (M, R). We began at the famous Bandama (not Bandana!) caldera, which was clear, but overcast. We continued on to Teror, which was heaving with a busy Sunday market. There was a packed service going on in the Basilica of the Virgin of the Pines, so I had to stand at the back, but the museum upstairs had free admission to see the Virgin herself, mounted behind the high altar. We had a photostop at the neo-gothic (1907) black basalt church in Arucas, before going to the hacienda, set in the banana plantations, for our refreshments. I had the orange juice, biscuit, cake and TWO sandwiches at noon. We had one final photostop at the Altavista viewpoint overlooking the city and port.
Back at the ship I had the roast beef (it was Sunday!), before sleeping for an hour and a half. I then spent one hour walking around the new city centre, but the Sunday flea market had already closed. I walked across the isthmus to the lovely beach and promenade, before heading back via the Mole (Muelle) shopping mall. I copied some of the morning's photos on to my memory stick for Jenny, who in turn lent me hers, full of maps! After showering, I tried on all the fashion clothes, but missed the sailaway. Jo gave me a ring to ask if could do two enrichment lectures, so my port talks must have gone down well!
At 6:45 I bumped into Sue outside the Verandah restaurant, so I joined her, Linda and an elderly lady for dinner. I dined on the veal shank, but it was rather fatty again. At 9 o'clock I led off the fashion show wearing casual, informal and formal outfits. I then listened to the Israeli tenor who was much appreciated by the audience, although he did have a few bum notes. I loved his falsetto version of Sam Smith's James Bond film theme "The Writings on the Wall", but disliked some of the vibrato in the arias. I liked his two humourous songs: Just One Cornetto and IKEA, to the tune of Maria! I danced with the usual suspects after the show, before having a creamichoc in the Verandah restaurant. I went to bed at 11 o'clock.
I awoke at 7:10 to the bow thrusters, before breakfasting on the special poached egg, salmon fish cake and baked beans with extra crispy bacon. At 9 o'clock I escorted my second choice César Manrique tour (M, R). We began at the Mirador de Haria, before visiting the enchanting cactus garden. Here I bought a small cactus which Jenny had requested. The next stop was at Manrique's former home, now the HQ of his foundation. The final stop was at his artisans' museum, where we had the famous wrinkled potatoes, with red & green spicy dips, cheese and white wine all served at one o'clock.
When I got back to the ship at 1:45, I gave lunch a miss and slept for an hour. I then walked into town via the new yacht marina. I did half the length of the prom, the full length of the main street and the north side of lagoon, catching the final shuttle back to the ship at 4 o'clock. Leo and me were the only two people on it!
Back at the ship again, I went into the afternoon tea with Sue & Linda, dressed in my Lanzarote tee shirt. I had just half a pastrami roll and a mini-creme brulée with two cups of tea. I then went swimming for 15 minutes, before dressing for the Britannia Club cocktail party, where I chatted to Ernie amongst others. At 7:15 I dined on the Chateaubriand beef with ladies from Bedfordshire and Windsor, together with a gent whose wife was in bed sea-sick! We danced both before and after the excellent piano showman, who played a good mix of classical and musical theatre numbers. After a creamichoc, I went to bed at 11:30.
I awoke at 7:30 and got dressed in my Lanzarote tee shirt. I then breakfasted on the special scrambled egg with Linda & Sue. At 9 o'clock the girls cancelled the line dancing as it was too choppy. At 11 o'clock I listened to Keith's interesting talk on four failures of military signal intelligence (sigint). I knew about the Gary Powers incident, but not the other three.
At 12:30 we had the Canary Island Fiesta, so I changed into my Spanish flag polo shirt. At 1:30 I had to cancel my social cha cha class as it was still too choppy, I just chatted to Ann & Margaret, who were the only ladies to join Ernie, Barry, Robert and myself. At 2:15 I gave my first enrichment lecture on the Story of the North Atlantic. I then slept for an hour, before our second tea dance began at 4:15. I did another foxtrot with the Captain's wife Tina and bagged a cha cha with cruise director JoBo! I then slept for another hour!
At 6:45 I dined on the sirloin steak yet again, with a couple from Rutland, a couple from Huddersfield and a chap from Brighouse whose wife was also seasick in their cabin. We danced both before and after the excellent Swing-time production show, the latter being to my tracks, as the band had adjourned to Shackleton's for the jazz night. I finally went to bed at 11:40.
I awoke at 7:15 and breakfasted on a cheese omelette with crispy bacon sat at the large oval table, with a chap from Lambourn and Elaine from Cardiff & Maureen from Leighton Buzzard. After ironing my shirt and updating my Shackleton talk, I went to the line dancing. The girls taught California Frieze, Stroll Along, Achy Breaky & Cowboy Charleston with the second one as a one wall dance and the third as a two wall dance.
At 10 o'clock I gave my second enrichment lecture entitled "Shackleton: the Importance of Being Sir Ernest". At 11 o'clock I went to the sail-in where the three vocalists serenaded us in the glorious sunshine. I lunched at 11:30 on smoked salmon salad with chips with Sue & Linda.
At 12:45 I escorted my first choice Taste of Lisbon tour (E, R). We began at the King Edward the Seventh park, continued over the suspension bridge to the Christ the Redeemer statue, and finished in Bélem. On the way the famous cafeteria, Renée's friend slipped, but recovered quickly. Here I had two egg custard tarts (Pasteis de Bélem) with orange juice. Nearly back at the coach Renée, who suffers from Menieres disease had a funny turn, but recovered after a few minutes. We then had photo stops at the Bethlehem Tower (Torre Bélem) and the Discoveries Monument. Back at the cruise terminal, one lady slid down the back stairs of the bus, but was alright afterwards!
Back at the ship, I danced at the sail-away with the usual suspects including Tina, the Captain's wife. At 6:45 I dined on the special sirloin steak with five single ladies, including Gaynor from Stourbridge, the lady from Long Eaton and Renée & her friend from Bucks, the latter two having been on my tour that afternoon. I was sat next to Jean who was celebrating her birthday, so we had a special cake with extra ice cream, but I missed out on more egg custard tarts (Pasteis de Nata)! I danced with the usual suspects before the show, including two dances each with Linda, Betty and the tall lady. I kept falling asleep in Shimi's excellent second show, as I hadn't had a siesta that afternoon, so I slipped out and went to bed at 10:15.
I awoke at 6:45 having slept for eight and a half hours! I then watched my Shackleton lecture on the television. At 8 o'clock I had the special poached egg and bacon inside a jacket potato, sat with Maureen & Elaine. At 9 o'clock the girls taught Simply the Best, Blue Rose Is, Lemon Tree & Stroll Along, the latter as a one wall dance. I then updated my blog and put my laundry on. I spent most of the morning updating my Funchal and La Palma presentations with new photographs.
At 12:30 I lunched on a shrimp wrap with crisps, not chips. At 1:30 I taught the Quickstep to half a dozen pax, unfortunately a gentleman who had never danced before came along, so I recapped the Social Foxtrot as well. I then slept for one hour. I had half a roll and two cups of tea at 4:30 with Linda, Sue & Francesca, before swimming for a quarter of an hour.
At 6 o'clock I was on duty at Captain Spekman's FINAL farewell cocktail party. I danced with a few ladies, before sitting at the back with Linda & Sue. There were tears as lots of crew and pax gave presents and said goodbye to Captain Spekman, who was retiring at the end of this cruise. Stuart McQuaker from Saga Headquarters gave an address, a video of goodbyes was shown and then large numbers of the crew piled into the Discovery Lounge.
I dined on the so-called Beef Wellington with Linda, Jean, Alan, Maurice and the lady from Long Eaton. At 9 o'clock I danced with the usual suspects, before the amusing pianist came on again. After the show we only had three dances, before Linda and I had a creamichoc in the Verandah restaurant. I didn't get to bed until nearly midnight.
I got up at 7 o'clock and updated my blog, before having the special egg Florentine sat with a gent filling in his end of cruise questionnaire! I then updated my SCdT and LPdGC PowerPoints. At 9 o'clock the girls taught Cowboy Charleston, Alley Cat, Little Red Book & Lemon Tree to six passengers. I then updated my Arrecife and César Manrique presentations. At 11:15 I went to Jo's disembarkation talk.
At 12:30 I lunched on the minutely thin steak with chips and vegetables, sat at the large oval singles table. At 1:30 I taught the Rock Jive to 14 people, before sleeping for half an hour. I then updated my Lisbon presentation. At 4:15 I had tea, half a salmon mousse roll and a chocolate mousse sat with Linda, Sue & Ernie. We listened to the excellent pax choir, which included Margaret and the tall lady dancer. At 5:05 I went swimming for a quarter of an hour for one last time, before packing.
At 6:40 I met up with Linda and Sue for our last supper together on this cruise. I had the roast turkey sat with the girls plus Alan, Maurice & Jean from Easingwold in North Yorkshire. I danced with a different lady for each dance before the production company's excellent Best of British showtime. After the show we had just three dances, before saying our thanks to the band and our goodbyes to each other. I didn't get to bed until 11:30.
I awoke at 7 o'clock and breakfasted on a cheese omelette with crispy bacon for one last time, sat with Elaine from Cardiff & Maureen from Leighton Buzzard. With luggage tag 4, I was off the ship by 9:20 and home just after ten o'clock.
In the exit questionnaire, I scored 1.54 as the Destinations Lecturer, where 1.00 is excellent and 2.00 is good! JoBo said that we must get below 1.75 to be invited back! One passenger wrote: "Excellent lecturer on Destinatons"
Leo wrote: "It is so very nice to hear that you will be our lecturer for the upcoming cruise." One lady later wrote: "Well now your blog is out, I can say to you that I loved your company, and the dances we had together, but I think you know that already. Hope it is not too long before we cruise together again."
13 Dining tables hosted 12 Evenings of dancing 6 Port Talks given 6 Tours escorted 5 Dance classes led 3 Cocktail parties attended 3 Outfits worn in the fashion show 2 Enrichment lectures given (North Atlantic & Shackleton) 1 Cruise enjoyed!
Updated PowerPoint Presentation: Funchal, Madeira Santa Cruz de La Palma Santa Cruz de Tenerife Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Arrecife, Lanzarote Lisbon, Portugal César Manrique: Artist and Architect of Lanzarote Shackleton: the Importance of Being Sir Ernest The Story of the North Atlantic Special Slides
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 October 2017): 1042 Ports called at 628 Tours escorted 303 Ports visited 209 Lectures given 118 Cruises enjoyed 21 Cruise ships: Saga Rose Saga Ruby (Saggy Booby!) Saga Pearl II Saga Sapphire Spirit of Adventure (SofA) Quest for Adventure (Q4A) Black Prince Black Watch Boudicca Balmoral Braemar Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) Queen Mary 2 (QM2) Queen Elizabeth Queen Victoria Seabourn Sojourn Seabourn Odyssey Celebrity Eclipse Crystal Symphony Discovery Oriana 8 Cruise lines: Saga Shipping Company Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Cunard (Carnival) Seabourn (Carnival) P&O (Carnival) Voyages of Discovery (VofD) Celebrity Crystal