Cruise P2209 on the Saga Pearl II to Ireland, August 2018

(Please scroll down to see my photographs and report)

Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
- Aboard
County Cork
West Cork
& Clonakilty
Hugh Town
Saint Mary's
Isles of Scilly
Steam Train &
the English Riviera
& Kingswear
Royal Naval College
- Off
at 9:00

First Travelling Day - Friday the 24th of August 2018

   I awoke at 8:20 and was on the road by 10 o'clock. The bottom of the M3 was congested, so I stayed on the M27 before turning off on to the A3. The M25 was solid going clockwise, but my side was clear, so I was in Ashford for lunch. I shopped in town and at the out-of-town shopping centre, before getting to my digs in DoVeR at 4:30. I unloaded and then walked into town to see the big new shopping development. After snacking on melted cheese nachos, I retired to watch the TV in my B&B. I went to sleep just after ten.

Embarkation Day, DoVeR - Saturday the 25th of August 2018

   I awoke at 6:30 ready to have the full English breakfast in my £30 a night guest house. I departed at 8:30, getting to Canterbury for nine o'clock. I walked around one quarter of the medieval walls, before doing some photography and some shopping. At ten o'clock I enjoyed the free ice cream sundae in Hotel Chocolate, courtesy of the WunTu app from the Three mobile network. At 10:45 I got to my cousin's house near Wingham. She gave me a tour of the house and garden, before we had an early lunch at her local farmers' market. I had the ham, egg and chips, whilst she had the lasagna.

   I got to the ship at 1:30 and went straight on board. I met up with my colleague and agent Richard, and showed my slides to tours manager Andy. At 3:30 we had the safety drill, followed by the sailaway in the sunshine. It was good to meet up with Charmain, Sue, Joan, June and others, but there was no room for dancing. At 4:45 we had the Entertainers' cocktail party, which I had to slip out of at 5 o'clock in order to set up for my 40 minute talk on Ringaskiddy: the Port for Cork at 5:15.

   I dined on the small pot roast beef with June & her sister Maureen from Essex, Veronica & Anne, two ladies from Nottingham and a single gent called John. Dancing was timetabled for 8:30, but the band thought that it started at 8:45 as usual! We danced both and after the classical concert, mainly with Charmain & Sue. We all introduced ourselves before the concert. When the band finished we adjourned to Shackleton's, where I had my first lime soda sat with Charmain & Sue. When the duo finished at 11:45, I went to bed and was asleep by midnight.

Sea Day, English Channel - Sunday the 26th of August 2018

   I awoke at 7:40 ready for a cheese omelette with crispy bacon, in preference to the kedgeree special, sat with June from Essex. At 9 o'clock the girls taught the Cowboy Charleston, California Frieze & Postman line dances to seven pax. I then did some ironing, before getting ready for my next 40 minute port talk on Hugh Town, St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly at 11:15. At noon we had the singles mingle, before I lunched on the roast beef sat with June's sister together with a couple and their sister-in-law. At 1:30 Richard taught the Social Foxtrot to eight pax with my assistance. At 2:30 I gave my third and final 40 minute talk on Dartmouth. I then slept for an hour and half interrupted by a phone call from Andy concerning the bus tours on St. Mary's.

   After updating this blog, I got ready for the only formal night of the cruise. At the cocktail party I chatted with June's sister Maureen and others. At 7 o'clock I dined on the real Beef Wellington which was real Boeuf en croute for a change! I was sat next to Audrey from Storrington and Felicity the Manchester University Bacteriologist from Tatton. Also on the same table as the previous night were June & Maureen, a single lady and a quiet couple. We started dancing before the show, but Richard called a halt as it was getting choppy. I watched the Best of British show from the back and then we recommenced dancing. We sat and danced with Charmain, Sue, June & Maureen in Shackleton's until midnight.

Ringaskiddy, County Cork, Ireland - Monday the 27th of August 2018

   I awoke just before my alarm at 7 o'clock ready to have the breakfast special of a jacket potato stuffed with egg & bacon. At 8:15 I escorted my second choice tour to Clonakilty in West County Cork (E, N & R). We stopped at the Henry Ford model T memorial on the way out and at a ruined abbey on the way back. Clonakilty is a quaint little town where I had two half scones loaded with Irish cream and jam. I then walked around the town taking photographs. We had a scenic drive back via Kinsale.

Kinsale, Co. Cork

Kinsale, Co. Cork

   Back at the ship I lunched on the salad nicoise with no chips, sat with Essex June. I then slept fitfully for an hour, having drunk a strong mug of tea on the morning tour. At 3:45 I caught the complimentary shuttle bus into Cork city. I whizzed around the city centre, going in the library, the famous English market and the tourist information office. Unfortunately the Crawford art gallery closed slightly early.

   I then caught the final shuttle bus back to the ship at 5:15. This meant we got caught up in the evening rush hour on the southern by-pass and so took over half an hour to get back to the ship. Here I freshened up and updated this blog, before dining at 6:45. I had the luscious sirloin steak with jacket potato sat with Yorkshire Margaret now from Liphook, the two cousins from Notts/Derbys, the little flower lady and camp Anthony from Lancaster. We danced with the usual suspects both before and after the swing band and singer. The duo finished at midnight, when I went to bed.

Isles of Scilly - Tuesday the 28th of August 2018

   My alarm woke me at 7:30 ready for the salmon fish cakes with eggs and bacon special breakfast. At 8:15 I was on duty in the Britannia lounge ready to escort my first choice tour to the famous sub-tropical garden on the island of Tresco (M). The local tenders had trouble rendezvous-ing with the ship, so the captain had to turn the ship around. This meant that we were over an hour late departing. At the Carn Near quay on Tresco we were met by two tractors hauling passenger trailers up to the gardens. We were split into smaller groups for our guided tours. Jon, a young gardener, took us around for an hour and a half, before giving us some free time.

   Back at the ship I lunched on the Greek salad without chips sat with June, Maureen and a couple who had been on my tour. I then slept for an hour, before being the only person on the 3:30 tender into Hugh Town on St. Mary's. I photographed the important sights, before visiting the tourist information office. I then walked out to the Peninnishead lighthouse, before visiting the Old Town church. I failed to find Harold Wilson's grave here. Back at Hugh Town, I explored the famous Star Castle which is now a hotel on the headland. I caught the final tender back to the ship at 5:30.

   Having walked a long way in the humid afternoon, I showered ready for Shackleton's lounge rather than the Britannia Club party. Here I sat with Charmain & Sue, before dining on the lovely sirloin steak again. I was sat with Glenys from Redditch, but we had already finished our main courses before the other four single ladies emerged from the cocktail party. We danced with the usual suspects both before and after the new West End to Broadway production show. I especially liked the opening songs from Calamity Jane, but nodded off in the middle. I sat with June back in Shackleton's, and danced with Joan, Charmain, Sue and others. The duo finished at midnight, when I went to bed.

Dartmouth, Devon - Wednesday the 29th of August 2018

   I awoke at 7:10 ahead of my 8 o'clock alarm, ready for the Egg Florentine special sat with June. I watched the ship turn around upstream of Dartmouth and then moor mid-river by the town quay. In the process the ship scraped four yachts! I tidied my cabin, put the washing on and updated this blog. At 9 o'clock I escorted my first choice tour on the steam railway (S, SD). We had one hour of free time in Totnes, which is full of charity shops, so I was in my element. At Paignton we boarded the steam train for the ride to Kingswear. Here we caught the ferry back across to Dartmouth

   Back at the ship I lunched on four pigs in blankets, chips and mushy peas al fresco with Charmain & Sue. I then had a deep sleep for an hour and a half. I caught the 4:15 tender into and the 5:15 tender out from Dartmouth. I whizzed around the shops, stalls and funfair of the Royal Regatta.

   Back at the ship again I went to Charmain's soirée with Sue and Richard. At 6:45 I dined on the rib eye steak with Pat & Derek from Cambridge, Veronica & Ann, and Pat who I danced with later that evening. We danced both before and after the jazz singer's second show, which was more poppy than her first offering. During the show Resty rushed into the Briefing room, where I was working, to say that dancers were needed. I strode back into the Britannia lounge and took Charmain on to the floor. When the song finished, the singer urged us two to stay on the floor. Gradually other cruise staff joined us and I was eventually able to sit down again. The rest of the show was a disco and many pax walked out as they couldn't see the singer at all!

   At the end of the 'show', the room cleared as a deck party had been called outside upstairs. However the band did come back on and we danced with Charmain, Sue and a couple of other ladies who were left. We then went up to the deck party where we had a few dances, but it was mainly a disco. The production singers together with Kayleigh sang some songs, before the duo came on. They finished at 11:45 when I went to bed.

Dartmouth, Devon - Thursday the 30th of August 2018

   I awoke at 6:15 and dozed until getting up at 7:10. I had the special Egg Royale sat with Essex June, before escorting my first choice tour to the Britannia Royal Naval College [BRNC] (LA, M & SD). I led my charges down to the tender, but the security officer wouldn't let me board! We had one extra lady from the waiting list so the tender had the 46 people he had on his list so he said I couldn't go with them! I had to wait for the tender to go, unload, come back, reload with independents and go again, before I got to the shore. Apparently the same thing had happened to Richard the previous day. So I had to gallop along the quayside to catch up with my coach, whose passengers were not happy with having had to wait for me! At the BRNC ex-RN Officer Peter gave us an excellent tour of the magnificient building.

   Back at the ship, I lunched al fresco on the gammon, chips & peas with a couple from South Staffs who had been on my tour. I then slept for over two hours, awoken by the Captain's departure annoucement. I had to fly up to the Verandah, still in my tour escort's uniform, for the sailaway in the sunshine. I danced with June, Sue, Charmain and one other lady as the strawberry tea with Pimms proceeded around us. The sail past the two castles (Dartmouth & Kingswear) was majestic.

   I then had to pack ready for another, shorter soirée with Charmain, Sue & Hilary to finish their bottle of bubbly. At 6:15 I went to the Captain's farewell cocktail party where I chatted to Felicity and another couple. I then led Maureen into the main dining room for her early birthday party organised by her sister June. We also had two couples on our large table for eight. We had the complimentary wine and June brought a bottle of bubbly as well. I dined on the scampi and chips sat in between the two sisters from Essex. We had the obligatory birthday cake, but being the last night, no photographer, so I took some photographs and printed one off for Maureen. I also printed a pair off for Charmain and Sue taken as we left Dartmouth.

   We danced both before and after the Swing Time production show, which I slipped out of in order to spend my £50 allowance in the ship shop. I bought a bottle of Jean Paul Gautier eau de cologne which cost me less than two pounds! I slipped back into the Britannia lounge to hear the second half of the show. After a few dances we said our goodbyes to the boys in the band. In Shackleton's I sat with the birthday girl and her sister. When the duo stopped at 11:15 I said more goodbyes and went to bed.

Saga Pearl II

Saga Pearl II

Disembarkation Day, DoVeR - Friday the 31st of August 2018

   I awoke at 7 o'clock and had the cheese omelette sat with Maureen & June at the large oval table in the lovely Verandah restaurant. I then finished packing and updated this blog. I was off the ship at 9 o'clock and had an easy run home until I came to the A35. I therefore cut across the New Forest and then got back on the dual carriageway at Ringwood. I was home just after 1 o'clock after another super cruise!

   I scored 1.74 in the pax questionnaire, where 1.0 is excellent, 2.0 is good, 3.0 is poor and 4.0 is very poor!

Score card:

6 Dining tables hosted
5 ?
4 Tours escorted
3 Lectures given
2 Soirées attended
1 Birthday celebrated

Good points were:

  1. Biography and photo graph in the Today programme
  2. Double inside cabin on 'A' deck all to myself
  3. Hosting tables in the main dining room
  4. Last time on the lovely Saga Pearl II?
  5. Efficient cabin stewardess (Juliette)
  6. Photograph on the board
  7. Three first choice tours
  8. £50 on board spend
  9. Free in-cabin wi-fi
  10. Drinks allowance
  11. Two new islands
  12. Three new ports
  13. Dressing gown
  14. Free internet
  15. Free water
  16. Free fruit

For the record ...

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 July 2018):
1112 Ports called at
 671 Tours escorted
 382 Ports visited
 257 Lectures delivered
 127 Cruises undertaken
  22 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

	Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2)
	Queen Mary 2 (QM2)
	Queen Elizabeth
	Queen Victoria

	Seabourn Sojourn
	Seabourn Odyssey

	Sapphire Princess
	Celebrity Eclipse
	Crystal Symphony

9 Cruise lines:

	Saga Shipping Company
	Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
	Voyages of Discovery (VofD)
	Seabourn (Carnival)
	Princess (Carnival)
	Cunard (Carnival)
	P&O (Carnival)