Cruise SA271
"Gardens of the Atlantic Isles"
from Southampton
on the Saga Sapphire

(Please scroll down to see my photographs and read my report)


Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
16/02/2015 Southampton
UK
- On board by 1:15 pm
20/02/2015 Praia da Vitoria
on Terceira
Angra do Heroisme UNESCO World Heritage Site
21/02/2015 Horta
on Faial
Capenlinhos Volcano Erupted in 1957
22/02/2015 Ponta Delgada
on Sao Miguel
Furnas Valley & Hot Springs Dramatic Scenery!
26/02/2015 Las Palmas de
Gran Canaria
Essence of Gran Canaria Five Star Hacienda!
27/02/2015 Santa Cruz de
Tenerife
Sunset & Stars on Teide Spectacular Sunset!
01/03/2015 Funchal
on Madeira
Madeira Island Delights Five Star Quinta!
03/03/2015 Casablanca
Morocco
Rabat Revealed Roman, Moorish & Modern!
07/03/2015 Southampton
England
- Luggage Tag 'A'!

Southampton Embarkation Day:
Monday the 16th of February, 2015

I left BoMo at ten to ten in the morning getting to IKEA in SoTon before the £1.50 breakfast had ended at 11:00. I was at the QEII cruise terminal for 12:30 and on the ship by 13:15. After snacking at the embarkation buffet, I had a little lie down on my lovely double bed in my spacious outside cabin on deck 6! After the emergency drill conducted in the very fresh air right underneath our lifeboat, I attended the sailaway in the cold drizzle where I met up with Jenny from Wellington again. I then attended the CD's welcome cocktail party for all the entertainers in the card room. I dined on braised beef cheek in the Verandah restaurant with a Welsh couple from Cardiff and a quiet Scottish couple from Edinburgh. At the first dance session Richard from SoTon, the owner of the Seabreeze dance agency, introduced me to Chris & Janis the dance instructors, the latter of whom I had a few dances with. I also danced with Christine the petite Parisian lady from Ickenham and Diane who I've cruised with before. After the introductory show, I also danced with the same three ladies before going to bed at 11 pm and sleeping for nearly 9 hours.


First Sea Day:
Tuesday the 17th of February, 2015

On the first sea day, I breakfasted on a freshly made plain, not cheese, omelette (please don't tell me off Sally!) with Colin from Taunton, before attending the 9 am line dance class where Chris taught a Merengue and a Salsa latino line dance. At 9:45 I listened to Tom the tours manager's introductory presentation, before giving my port talks on Praia da Vitoria on the island of Terceira and Horta on the island of Faial. I lunched on roast lamb with John the sequence dancer from Brum and David & Madeline the bridge instructors, before sleeping for nearly two hours. I then started writing this blog. I did six circuits (one mile) of the top deck in glorious sunshine. At the Captain's welcome cocktail party I chatted to a couple with a house fronting on to the Thames at Chelsea. Naturally they were worried about the possible imposition of the mansion tax! I dined on beef with Mary, Brenda and Ann from Kidderminster in the Verandah restaurant. I danced with my three favourite dancers and some other ladies both before and after Lorraine Brown's enjoyable show.


Second Sea Day:
Wednesday the 18th of February 2015

On the second sea day, I breakfasted on one egg Benedict with John before we both went to the latino line dance class. Chris recapped the Merengue and Salsa dances and taught a new Samba one. I then gave my second port talk on Ponta Delgada. I lunched on pasta with sisters Nancy & Diana together with John. I then slept for an hour and a half, before checking the next day's programme with Dio and the next day's lecture with Tom. When the sun came out I walked around the top deck for about a mile. I went to the early evening dance set played by the Perfect Mood duo in the Britannia lounge. I dined on turkey with Audrey and her friend from Chorley together with a couple from Cambridge. I danced before but not after the Stars on Strings puppeteers.


Third Sea Day:
Thursday the 19th of February, 2015

On the third sea day, I breakfasted on a plain omelette with Parisian Christine. At the line dance class Chris recapped the three previous dances and then taught a Mambo latino line dance. My port talk on Santa Cruz de la Palma followed. Then I enjoyed Toby Buckland from BBC Gardeners' World who gave his first botanical lecture. Both Resty (the ACD) who had spoken to me, and Pam (the Social Hostess) who had written to me, asked me to host a table at the Singles Luncheon. We began with vegetable soup accompanied by complimentary wine, before one third of each table moved on. We then continued with chicken before another third changed tables. The meal finished with a Black Forest style mousse with chocolate ice cream. After two glasses of red wine, I then slept for an hour and a half! I walked around the top deck before partaking of strawberries and cream with Mrs Abbott from Cambridge in the Britannia Lounge. I dined on rib eye steak with ladies from Suffolk and a couple from Andover in the Verandah restaurant. I danced both before and after the Simon & Garfunkel tribute duo.


Praia do Vitoria, Terceira:
Friday the 20th of February, 2015

Arriving in Praia do Vitoria on the island of Terceira, I breakfasted on one egg Benedict with Toby Buckland who presented BBC Gardeners' World for a couple of years during Monty Don's illness. I then escorted my first choice morning tour to the UNESCO world heritage site of Angra do Heroismo. The Azorean cathedral and Duke of Terceira's garden were the highlights. I lunched on gammon with Janis and Dennis before sleeping for 45 minutes. I then caught the complimentary shuttle bus into Praia da Vitoria. I photographed all the sights (such as they are!) before walking about a mile up the road to the viewpoint across the bay. I then returned the direct way down the zig-zag steps to the marina and prom. That night I danced both before and after the Hollywood Nights production company show with the usual suspects.


Horta, Faial:
Saturday the 21st of February, 2015

Caldeira de Faial

Caldeira de Faial

In Horta on the island of Faial, I escorted my first choice tour to the central caldeira and the 1957 Capelinhos volcano. We rode up through the clouds into bright sunshine with spectacular views of the crater in front of us and the volcanic cone of Pico (the Peak island) behind. We could even see the two smaller peaks poking through the clouds on Sao Jorge (St. George island). I lunched al fresco with Christine & Toby on BBQ steak, sausage and vegetables but not chips! After a brief lie down, I bussed into town and walked the length of the Prom taking photographs. I also shelled out one euro for the bijou museum! I dined on veal with the quiet Scottish couple again and a couple from Bristol, the husband of which was the longest serving member of Poole Yacht Club! I then danced both before and after dinner and both before and after the lovely Lorraine Brown's second show. I particularly enjoyed her rendition of Nina Simone's "My baby just cares for me"


Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel:
Sunday the 22nd of February, 2015

At the Pineapple Plantation, Ponta Delgada, the Azores

At the Pineapple Plantation, Ponta Delgada, the Azores

In Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel (St. Michael), I breakfasted with John and two ladies on one egg Benedict. I escorted my first choice all day island tour. We began at Riberia Grande before reaching Furnas for a silver service beef lunch. The Terra Nostra gardens were enchanting with enormous tree ferns and a hot spring swimming pool full of iron-brown water. The fumaroles on the edge of Furnas were dramatic, not quite as good as those in Iceland but better than Soufriere on St. Lucia! We ended at a liqueur tasting at a pineapple plantation. Perhaps one of my best shore excursions ever! Back at Ponta Delgada at 5:15 pm, I walked around the downtown area taking photographs. I dined on roast chicken with the couple from Cambridge again and the two sisters from Cornwall. I danced both before and after the puppeteers second show during which I finished off my next port talk.


Fourth Sea Day:
Monday the 23rd of February, 2015

On the next sea day, I breakfasted on a plain omelette with Christine and Peter & Hazel from London. Chris recapped his previous dances and taught a Cha Cha latino line dance. I then gave my port talk on Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. I stayed in the Britannia Lounge to listen to Keith Muras's first talk on Russia. I lunched on fish and chips with Janis & John before sleeping for over two hours. In the afternoon I swam in the indoor pool and luxuriated in the indoor jacuzzi for the very first time on the Saga Sapphire. I listened to the lecture on the Queen before dancing in the Drawing Room before dinner. I dined on lamb with the couple from Cambridge for a third time and a couple from Grantham. I danced both before and after the Let's Swing producion show, which I watched in my cabin whilst working on my next few presentations.


Fifth Sea Day:
Tuesday the 24th of February, 2015

On the next sea day, I breakfasted on one egg Benedict before attending Chris & Jan's latino line dance class. Richard asked me to stay on for the next mini-cruise as a dance host, but I declined as I only have four days at home between cruises anyway. Then I gave my port talk on Santa Cruz de Tenerife. I stayed on for Phil Giles's lecture on aeroplane black boxes. I lunched al fresco on a lamb steak and a sausage with Rosie and her friend from Yarmouth on the Isle of white. This was followed by a large chocolate crepe with cream and Grand Marnier liqueur prepared by the French executive chef. I then slept soundly for two hours before swimming and jacuzzing in the indoor spa. On duty in the second cocktail party, I chatted with Dr John Kirkhope and his wife amongst others. I dined on scallops with a lady from Bristol who I had previously cruised with on the Pearl, together with a couple from Chorley. I danced both before and after flautist Tara Rachelle's show. I particularly enjoyed her Carmen selection!


Las Palmas de Gran Canaria:
Wednesday the 25th of February, 2015

Poble Canario, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Poble Canario, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

With strong winds, our call into the little harbour of Santa Cruz de la Palma (SCdlP) was abandoned being replaced with another morning at sea. I breakfasted on an omelette with Christine and Peter & Hazel from London. No line dancing and no port talk for me, so I listened to Dr John Kirkhope's lecture on H.M. the Queen instead. Arriving in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (LPdGC) at noon, I skipped lunch and slept for an hour before walking around the city taking photographs for over three hours. Back at the ship, I partook of some afternoon tea snacks with Maureen & Carol. I then slept for another hour before dining on prime rib of beef with a couple from Rickmansworth and the couple from Keighley in Yorkshire for a second time. I danced both before and after the magician's show.


Las Palmas de Gran Canaria:
Thursday the 26th of February, 2015

Sunrise in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Sunrise in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Overnighting in LPdGC, I walked around the city in the morning talking photographs. I lunched at 11:30 on grilled salmon and chips at the pool side café for the first time this cruise. In the afternoon I escorted my first choice Essence of Gran Canaria tour. We began at the neo-gothic church at Arucas before taking afternoon tea and cakes at three in a lovely hacienda hotel surrounded by banana plantations. The old town of Teror was a delight and I revisited Bolivar Place. Back at the ship I danced with the lovely Christine at the first sequence dance session. We did all the classics: Mayfair Quickstep, Rumba No. 1, Catherine Waltz, Balmoral Blues, Saunter Together & Square Tango. I dined with a couple from Beeston and the quiet Scottish couple yet again. I then danced both before after the variety show.


Santa Cruz de Tenerife:
Friday the 27th of February, 2015

Clock tower in San Cristobal de la Laguna, Tenerife

Clock tower in San Cristobal de la Laguna, Tenerife

In Santa Cruz de Tenerife (SCdT) I caught the tram to the old capital of San Cristobal de la Laguna for only 1 euro 35 cents each way! It had been raining there but thankfully dried up when I arrived. They have started charging 2 euros to climb the clock tower shown above, so I gave it a miss! Back at the cruise terminal, I caught the complimentary shuttle bus back around the port to the ship.

Tenerife Auditorium

Tenerife Auditorium

Back on the ship, I lunched on prime rib of beef (again!) with John, the talkative lady from Totnes and the quiet one who turns out to be 92 years old!

Gardens on Tenerife

Gardens on Tenerife

After my siesta at 3:15 pm I was a guest of Tom & Cathy (not an escort!) on my first choice Sunset & Stars on Mount Teide Tour. Whilst awaiting the bus, Carrie from several of my previous cruises came up to me. Unfortunately she had been ill on the ship since leaving England and this was her first day out of her cabin! On the tour, we climbed up above the clouds into glorious sunshine with views of the tops of Gran Canaria, La Palma and El Hierro, but not La Gomera, poking through the clouds. At the cable car station we had a sumptious Canarian tapas buffet, with a constant stream of delightful plates and unlimited drinks. I stuck to just three bottles of the local Dorada beer! At the western lookout we watched the sun set over a hidden La Gomera whilst sipping Mumm champagne! Back at the foot of Mount Teide, the famous Garcia Rocks were in darkness. At the car park we had a talk on the stars with the guide using a laser pointer. Unfortunately the moon was too bright and the wind was too cold, so I retreated back to the bus. I thus missed the two telescopes focussed on Jupiter with four of her moons and the craters of our Moon. Back at the ship at 10:30 pm I went straight to bed having missed the "Come on over to our place" Drifters tribute production show.

Mount Teide, Tenerife

Mount Teide, Tenerife


Sixth Sea Day:
Saturday the 28th of February, 2015

On the next sea day, I breakfasted on one egg Benedict with Colin, Janis & Chris, before attending the latter's latino line dance class which included a latino Jive for the first time. At 10 am I gave my penultimate port talk entitled "Funchal, Madeira: Churchill's Pad". At the end Vincent Gradwell the gardener came up to me to say that we had cruised to the Canaries together four years ago on the dear old Saggy Booby (Saga Ruby)! He also remembered that I had mentioned him in my blog at the time! At 11 am he gave his talk on Canarian flora. He had been flown out the previous day when Toby had unexpectedly had to fly home!

I lunched on chicken cordon bleu with Maureen before sleeping for two hours. Having walked around the swimming pool in the sun I got changed again for the tea dance. However when I got to the Britannia Lounge it had been cancelled! So I went swimming and jacuzzing in the Spa on deck two. In the evening I attended the Britannia Club cocktail party. I dined on lobster thermidor with Shirley, Sylvia & Ann from Kidderminster. I danced both before and after pianist Adam Johnson's showtime.


Funchal, Madeira:
Sunday the 1st of March, 2015

Madeira

Camara do Lobos, Madeira

In Funchal, Madeira I breakfasted on a plain omelette with Rosie before escorting my first choice all day tour of the island. We began at the peak with glorious sunshine above the clouds before descending to the famous Cold River trout farm. We stopped off in Santana before lunching as usual at the Quinta do Furao with views out to the companion island of Porto Santo. We then returned round the east coast stopping twice, in and overlooking Machico. Back at the ship, I caught the five o'clock shuttle bus into Funchal, walking back to the ship along the prom to admire the brand new statue of Cristiano Ronaldo. I dined on rib-eye steak with the banker and his wife from North Oxon and the quiet Scottish couple yet again. The couple from Chelsea told me about the British cemetery on Madeira which I didn't previously know about. I danced before the McDonald brothers show and then adjourned to the deck party where I danced with Kayleigh, Diane and Jenny amongst others.


Seventh Sea Day:
Monday the 2nd of March, 2015

On the next sea day, I breakfasted on one egg Benedict with Chris & Janis before attending their latino line dance class. I then gave my final port talk on Casablanca. I stayed on for Phil Giles's lecture on the Malaysian airline disasters. I ate al fresco with Ann from Kidderminster at the Spanish lunch, including two glasses of complimentary sangria, one red and one white! When Captain Rentell came over I told him that I had had lunch the previous day at the same restaurant in Madeira where I had met Cindy & Charlie Wood from Fowey. That had been last January when I had been lecturing on the first leg of Queen Mary 2's world voyage. Charlie had been a passenger on the all day tour I was escorting around Madeira. He claimed to have taught Captain Philip all he knew on his very first voyage! Back in my cabin, I slept for over two hours. At the delayed tea dance, I danced with some of the professional dancers as well as some of the usual suspects. I swam and jacuzzied in the indoor pool before dining with two couples from Nottinghamshire. Both ladies were fans of the Archers so I was later able to show them pictures of me with Eddie Grundy & Kathy Perks! I danced both before and after La Musica's excellent showtime.


Casablanca, Morocco:
Tuesday the 3rd of March, 2015

In Casablanca I escorted my first choice tour to the capital, Rabat. We had a photo stop at the huge King Hassan II mosque in Casablanca before hitting the motorway. In Rabat we started out with a photo stop outside the royal palace, before visiting the Roman remains inside the Moorish walls of Chellah. We went inside King Mohammed V's mausoleum but weren't allowed inside the adjacent mosque. The famous Hassan tower was cordoned off and partly covered with scaffolding. We had a lavish Moroccan meal in a period restaurant in the old Medina. It started with salad & warm lentils, continued with beef couscous, followed by chicken Tajine and ending with fresh strawberries and oranges. We then had our first glass of sweet mint tea. In the afternoon the sun came out as we toured the impressive Kasbah. Here we had our second glass of mint tea, this time unsweetened at our request. This was a really excellent tour and Rabat was so much more interesting than Casablanca! Back at the ship I attended pre-dinner dancing in the drawing room, before dining on lamb chops with one of the couples from Nottinghamshire and the quiet Scottish couple yet again. I danced before the production company's show "The concert they never gave", but afterwards went to listen to Resty's cabaret in the drawing room.


Eighth Sea Day:
Wednesday the 4th of March, 2015

On the next sea day, I breakfasted with artist Hilary Frame and her husband on one egg Benedict. At the latino line dance class Chris taught a Bossanova (mainly slow, quick, quick). I spent most of the morning sorting out my photographs and updating my powerpoint presentations. I lunched with John and two ladies in the Verandah restaurant before sleeping for two hours. In the afternoon I used the brand new washing machines for the very first time. I walked around the outdoor swimming pool many times in the sunshine, both before and after the chocolate afternoon tea in the Britannnia Lounge, where I partook of fresh strawberries dipped in warm chocolate and a bowl of fresh cherries! I chatted with Dennis, Diane and Carrie, the latter telling us about her department store in Kirkaldy. Later another passenger told me that she had sold one of her ten Jack Vetteriano original paintings for three quarters of a million pounds last year! No wonder she winters on the Saga ships!

Before dinner I swam and jacuzzied in the indoor spa again. I dined on smoked haddock ragout with the two sister-in-laws from Yorkshire (Leeds & Tadcaster) and a lady formerly from Frinton-on-Sea and now living in Harwich. I refrained from telling her the joke about Harwich for the continent and Frinton for the incontinent! I danced before but not after the hour long crew show which offered nothing new. It culminated in the famous hand mime to "You raise me up" by Westlife, pioneered by Dranreb on the Saga Pearl II. It was followed by disco dancing.


Nineth Sea Day:
Thursday the 4th of March, 2015

I breakfasted on an omelette with David the bridge instructor before joining the latino line dance class. I spent most of the morning updating this blog. I lunched on gammon and sausage from the BBQ with Janis and another couple inside the Verandah resturant. After my siesta I walked around the swimming pool to work up an appetite. At the Captain's farewell cocktail party I danced with Christine, Diane, Maureen and her friend Dilys. I dined on fillet steak with a lady from Suffolk and John & his wife from Bishops Cleeve in the Cotswolds. I danced both before and after variety showtime which suited me as it consisted of three excellent music acts, no magicians and no comedians!


Tenth Sea Day:
Friday the 5th of March, 2015

On the final sea day, I breakfasted on one egg Benedict with David the bridge instructor and Chris & Janis the dance instructors. After the latino line dance class, I listened to John Kirkhope's legal talk for mature people and Keith Muras's talk on South Africa. I didn't know about the Vela nuclear test near Marion Island in the southern ocean. I lunched on baked ham with Janis and Dr & Mrs Viner, a former GP & his wife from Boscastle in Cornwall. After a short lie down, I finished my laundry and worked on this blog. The second pre-dinner sequence dance session was poorly attended as most people were still packing. We did the Sindy Swing & Sally Ann Cha Cha amongst others. I dined on escalope of pork with a different Scottish couple from Dumfries and a couple from Brtistol. The latter gent had been a contracts lawyer with British Aerospace and so had met many presidents and prime minsters, including George Bush senior and George W. Bush junior! I danced both before and after the final Beatles themed production show. At the end of the evening I said goodbye to the dancing ladies and the members of the Saga Sapphire orchestra.


Southampton Disembarkation Day:
Saturday the 6th of March, 2015

Saga Sapphire

Saga Sapphire

I awoke at 5 am and couldn't get back to sleep, so excited to be heading home, if only for four days! I watched the pilot boat rendezvous with us at 5:35 am from my cabin picture window. I breakfasted at 6:30 am on TWO egg Benedicts with John and a couple from Puddletown in Dorset and was off the ship at 8:20 am. I was home by 9:15 am!


Score card:

19 Dinner tables hosted in the Verandah restaurant
18 Evenings of dancing (on tour one evening!)
 8 Port Talks given (including Santa Cruz de la Palma!)
 7 Tours escorted (including Sunset & Stars on Teide!)
 4 Cocktail parties attended
 2 Sequence dance sessions enjoyed
 1 Singles luncheon hosted
 1 Tea dance enjoyed
 1 Excellent Cruise!

Good points were:

  1. Outside Double Cabin with picture window on Deck 6 all to myself!
  2. Two New Cities (Angra do Heroisme on Terceira & Rabat in Morocco)
  3. Two New Ports (Praia da Vitoria on Terceira & Horta on Faial)
  4. Open Seating Dining in the Verandah Restaurant
  5. Free Shuttle Buses (Praia da Vitoria, Horta, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Funchal)
  6. Dancing with instructor Janis Greenhalgh
  7. Efficient Cabin Steward (Jojie)
  8. First choice tour escorting
  9. Two Italian Coffee Machines
  10. Free Ice Cream Machine
  11. Free Internet
  12. Free Water
  13. Free Wi-fi
  14. Free Fruit

For the record ...


Updated PowerPoints:

Praia da Vitoria on Terceira & Horta on Faial
Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel
Santa Cruz de la Palma
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Funchal, Madeira: Churchill's Pad
Casablanca, Morocco
Tommy Cooper: Just Like That!
Hitler & Putin: A Tale of Four Cities
Lisbon
Agadir
Arrecife