Cruise SA283 on the Saga Sapphire around Jutland August 2015

(Please scroll down to see my photographs and report)

Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
12/08/2015 Dover
- Free parking!
14/08/2015 Kiel
- Morning transit
15/08/2015 Aalborg
Skagen - The Top of Denmark All day tour with one heavy shower!
16/08/2015 Fredericia
Royal Jelling UNESCO Site Two famous Runic standing stones &
Two Viking burial mounds!
17/08/2015 Copenhagen
City & Carlsberg Brewery Lager & bitter, but not brown ale, sampled!
19/08/2015 Sandefjord
Viking History Two Viking burial mounds & two longships!
21/08/2015 Newcastle
United Kingdom
Historic Hadrian's Wall Heddon-on-the-Wall & Chesters Roman Fort!
23/08/2015 Dover
United Kingdom
- Drove Justine Balmer back to Surrey!

Folkestone: Tuesday the 11th of August 2015

I left home at 10 am and drove via the M27, M3, M25, M26 and M20 to Ashford in Kent. I got to my hotel in Folkestone (kindly paid for by Saga) by 3 pm and after a lie down walked into town.

Dover: Wednesday the 12th of August 2015

The next morning I visited the Battle of Britain Memorial halfway to Dover before shopping in the town. I then visited the lovely little village of St. Margaret's nestled in the white cliffs of Dover. I was at the cruise terminal by noon and on board by 1 pm. After the embarkation buffet I lay down for an hour before the safety drill. At the sailaway we had a Saga magic moment with a Spitfire flying around the ship. I chatted to various passengers from previous cruises including two chaps from Preston both of whom used to work at BAe Warton. At the Cruise Director's cocktail party I chatted with Frank and Dr Dan amongst others.

I dined on beef with Barclay from Wokingham, a lady from Broadstairs, two ladies from Hertfordshire, a mother & daughter and another lady who I later danced with. The daughter didn't look old enough to be on a Saga cruise, but the mother said she was 52! I ordered a bottle of Argentinian Malbec but only Barclay and the lady from Broadstairs joined me. At 8:30 pm we started dancing in the Britannia Lounge. It was slim pickings at first but gradually some dancing ladies arrived. At 9:15 the classical quartet played their first concert so I adjourned to the Drawing Room. I only found one lady there willing to dance but the duo played Endlessness so I was able to dance my current favourite line dance waltz! Back in the Britannia lounge, thankfully we had three keen dancers to entertain. When the band finished for the night, I partook of some midnight snacks in the Verandah restaurant with the lady who I had danced with in the Drawing Room. We checked out the Drawing Room one last time and then went to bed.

First Sea Day: Thursday the 13th of August 2015

Leslie Lea & Martin Lee

Leslie Lea & Martin Lee

At 7:45 am the steward awoke us with cups of tea which has never happened before! I breakfasted on the full English al fresco with the couple from Preston. At 9 am one of the professional dancers taught Red Hot Salsa, Dance the Night Away & Achey Breakey Heart, the latter as a one wall dance. They said that they would be doing a Country & Western show with audience participation using these three dances, but it never happened! At 10 am John Parton the Cruise Director introduced us in the Britannia Lounge. At 11:15 Frank gave his first destination lecture on Aalborg and Fredericia. At noon we had the singles minge in the Drawing Room. At 12:45 I lunched on steak and BBQed vegetables al fresco at the seafood buffet.

At 1:30 pm I led my first ballroom dance class for over twenty people when I taught the social foxtrot. One of the two Bridgets helped me demonstrate the various figures. I then slept for an hour and a half before completing half a dozen circuits of the top deck (one mile) and a dozen lengths of the indoor pool. The latter was closed off by water-tight doors, as we were already in the Elbe estuary. So one door was opened for me, I proceeded into the Spa with the door closed behind me. Then another door was opened to allow me into the swimming pool. After ten minutes swimming and twenty minutes jacuzzing, I had to phone the Spa to let me out again!

At 6 pm we moved back into the Drawing Room but only managed a couple of dances. I dined on escalope of turkey stuffed with brie with Rosemary, Elizabeth, two Margarets and a quiet old man. I ordered a bottle of New Zealand Astrolabe white wine to go with the red left over from the previous day. We danced before the show with Bridget, Kathryn, Margaret and others. When the production company came on to do their "Concert they never gave" show, I adjourned to our cabin to update this blog. We danced after the show with both Bridgets, Kathryn and others. I took hot chocolate with Sally Lamb from Milford-on-Sea in the Verandah before moving up to the Drawing Room. This was very quiet again with only one of the Bridgets present, so I went to bed at midnight. Unfortunately we were still waiting to enter the Kiel canal.

Kiel Canal Transit & Second Sea Day: Friday the 14th of August 2015

Kiel Canal transit

Kiel Canal transit

On the second sea day, I breakfasted on my first egg Benedict of the cruise. With a VJ day service in the Britannia Lounge, the line dancing took place out on the Verandah deck, as we continued to transit the Kiel Canal. One of the professional dancers taught Cowboy Charleston, Country Walkin' & Electric Slide. I watched the transit of the Holtenau locks chatting to Stephen Prince. I then listened to Bridget's lecture on her father and his aircraft carrier HMS Indefatigable, followed by Fred's lecture on Copenhagen & Sandefjord. Between the lectures, I chatted to Barclay and Sheila (cloistered in the smokers corner!) over a beef tea (bouillon). I lunched on BBQ chicken and a sausage with salad and no chips with a lady from Cambridge.

At 1:45 pm Leslie taught the waltz to 18 passengers. I then slept for an hour before walking around the top deck as we went under the Great Belt suspension bridge between the Danish islands of Funen and Zealand. After doing some laundry, we got ready for the Captain's welcome cocktail party, delayed by one day by the Kiel Canal transit. I danced with Bridget, Marian & Sally and chatted with Sheila & Sally Lamb. The latter asked me to join her for dinner. I had the beef as usual with Sally Lamb, Gaye, Glynis, Margaret and David & his wife Valerie from Clitheroe. I ordered another bottle of Argentinian Malbec which we emptied and they also finished up the New Zealand white from the previous night! We danced with the usual suspects both before and after the Rat Pack show. 'Frank Sinatra' was spot on! After chatting with a lady over a glass of skimmed milk in the Verandah, I danced the jive with Bridget and led off the Electric Slide in the Drawing Room.

Aalborg, Denmark: Saturday the 15th of August 2015

In our first port of call, Aalborg in Denmark, I breakfasted on a cheese omelette with David & Valerie from Clitheroe. I escorted my first choice all-day tour to Skagen at the very tip of Jutland where the North Sea meets the Baltic Sea (M, L, SD). We began at Voergard Castle, before continuing on to Skagen where we had a guided tour of the famous art gallery. We had a lovely smorgasbord buffet at the Color Hotel before taking the land train along the beach to the northernmost point of Denmark. Unfortunately as we alighted from the carriage, the heavens opened and we got soaked in a heavy, if short lived, shower. Back at the port I indulged in a complimentary Danish hot dog from the tourist authority. The VJ Day sailaway had to be moved indoors due to the showers. We danced with the usual suspects before Martin Orbidans led the communal singing from the organ. At dinner I had the salmon en croute with Gaye from West Sussex, a couple from Beaconsfield, a lady from West Yorkshire and another one from Essex. I ordered a new bottle of Argentinian Malbec, but no-one joined me! We danced both before and after the Piano a Deux concert with Robert & Linda.

Fredericia, Denmark: Sunday the 16th of August 2015

I breakfasted on one egg Benedict on our maiden call into Fredericia. I picked up a history tour map on the quayside which I followed aound the old town. I then walked the entire ramparts and circled back to the ship via the beach and the castle. I lunched al fresco with Tricia and Martin.

In the afternoon I escorted the tour to the Royel Jelling UNESCO site (M, R N). This is a fascinating Viking burial site. It has two burials mounds separated by a medieval church. The largest mound was set within an enormous Viking ship outlined with stones and the whole site was formerly guarded by a trapezoidal wooden palisade. Next to the church were the two famous standing stones. The smaller one, made of grey Norwegian gneiss, has runic words carved vertically. The larger one, made of pink Norwegian augen gneiss, has three sides, one of which has runic words carved horizontally. These name 'Denmark' for the very first time in history together with the story of its Christianisation. The second side has a famous carving of Christ with arms outstretched. This appears as the frontispiece in all Danish passports. I'm surprised this doesn't upset the non-Christian Danes! The third side is a mythical beast. Both stones are glacial erratic blocks carried from Norway by the ice sheet. The brand new visitor centre has dramatic multimedia displays. The various weapons which could be plunged into a enemy's body were very popular with the children. The virtual journey to Valhalla was very atmospheric! On the roof was a viewing platform at about the same height as the two large burial mounds. On the way back to the ship we stopped off for an enormous afternoon tea buffet at an old watermill. I pigged out on fresh cherries and chocolate tiffin! I dined with Gaye, Richard from Swansea, two quiet ladies and one talkative lady. As usual we danced both before and after the Rat Pack's second show, which some pax felt was even better than their first. Up in the Drawing Room we danced with both Bridgits.

Copenhagen, Denmark: Monday the 17th of August 2015

The little mermaid statue in Copenhagen, photo taken by Jon Horrrocks

The little mermaid statue in Copenhagen, photo taken by Jon Horrrocks

I breakfasted on a cheese omelette before escorting my first choice City Tour & Carlsberg, the latter being my first ever visit to the famous brewery (M, W, N, SD). We started at the Little Mermaid statuette before visiting the Amalienborg square (it's actually an octagon)! At the brewery I had a third of a litre each of Tuborg lager and Carlsberg bitter, but I didn't get to sample the brown ale! Back at the ship, I BBQ lunched with Sally Lamb at her favourite corner table on the windy edge of the Verandah deck. I then slept for an hour and a quarter before catching the 3:45 shuttle bus into the city. I collected a pile of leaflets from the tourist information office opposite the Tivoli pleasure gardens. I then walked back to the ship via the Stroget, allegedly the longest pedestrianised street in Europe. Construction of the new underwater car park meant I was diverted around the National Playhouse and had to cut back through the Admiral hotel to get back on the quayside. I photographed the Berlin berthed at Toldbold, she having being Saga's Spirit of Adventure (SofA) in the past. Back at the ship, I dined with Sally Lamb, Jenny, Roger, Richard from Swansea and another couple. We then danced both before and after the production company's show Hollywood Nights. Up in the Drawing Room neither Bridgit made an appearance, so after dancing the lovely Endlessness line dance waltz alone, we went to bed.

Third Sea Day: Tuesday the 18th of August 2015

On the next sea day, I breakfasted on a ham and cheese croissant before, and an egg Benedict after, the al fresco line dancing session. One of the professional dancers taught The Slosh, Stroll Along Cha Cha & California Frieze. At 10:15 I listened to Frank's final port talk on Lerwick capital of the Shetlands. At 11:15 I enjoyed Stephen's talk on Nelson and the Battle of Copenhagen. I must produce a lecture on Nelson since it can be given on both Copenhagen and Trafalgar cruises! At 12:15 I listened to John's talk on the Question of Sport television quiz programme. Unfortunately this lecture contained no video clips. With a post-noon lecture, my Latin American dance class was cancelled, so I was able to have a siesta straight after another al fresco lunch of BBQ chicken, sausage, tomato and baked potato, not chips!

I worked on my Skagen PowerPoint presentation before dancing in the Drawing Room at 6 pm. I dined on veal stroganoff with Joan from Leamington Spa, and four other ladies. At 9 pm I led a Party & Sequence Dance session. I did the Rumba No. One with Bridget #2, the Gay Gordons with Bridget #1, the Mayfair Quickstep with one of the sisters, the Catherine Waltz with Kathryn, the Square Tango with Margaret and the Party Samba with both the two sisters! See the full playlist below. We danced again after violinist Michael Bacala's excellent show. It was quiet again up in the Drawing Room.

Sandefjord, Norway: Wednesday the 19th of August 2015

Martin P. Lee at a deck party, photo taken by Chris Lowthian

Martin P. Lee at a deck party, photo taken by Chris Lowthian

In Sandefjord I breakfasted on a cheese omelette with Leslie. I was off the ship before 9 am and walked into town taking photographs. In the tourist information office, wearing my Saga name badge, I was a given a lovely glossy booklet on the Vikings ready for my afternoon tour. In the Whaling Museum, again wearing my Saga Name Badge, I was given free admission, saving a fiver! I caught the 12:30 shuttle bus back to the ship for another al fresco BBQ lunch of four lamb chops. I then escorted my first choice afternoon Viking History tour (E, N, LA). We visited two burial mounds, whose longships are now in the famous museum in Oslo, and two sites in Tonsberg. At the museum there we saw half of an origianl longship and the largest blue whale skeleton in the world. At the quayside we went on board a replica longship and found out about their planned pilgrimage (www.Pilegrim.No) to the White Sea, the Baltic and the North Sea ending in Winchester with HM the Queen! My tour didn't get back until 6:30 pm so I missed the first dance session where Leslie had to alternate between the two Bridgits! I dined on lamb shank with Joan from Leamington Spa again, two ladies from Kent and a couple from Lichfield. We danced both before and after the lovely soprano Justine Balmer's show. Up in the Drawing Room we danced with Bridget, Kathryn and for the first time three little old ladies!

Fourth Sea Day: Thursday the 20th of August 2015

I breakfasted on a croissant with ham, cheese and marmite with a lady from Croydon and a couple from Bromley. At the line dance class, Sam taught Cowboy Charleston, Electric Slide & Honky Tonk Stomp. I listened to Dr Dan's lecture on Norse mythology followed by John's talk on Morecambe & Wise again with no video clips! At noon we had the German al fresco lunch on the Verandah deck with dancing to the orchestra, the singers and the duo. I managed to wolf down a BBQed sirloin steak seated with Tricia & Martin, but had to slip away at 1:15 pm to set up my dance class. I taught the social rumba to a dozen people, but they arrived in dribs & drabs from the lunch which made things difficult for me. I then slept for an hour and a quarter before getting ready from the tea dance. That went swimmingly with the usual suspects present. I then worked on my Fredricia port talk before dancing with Kathryn, Bridgit and the two little old ladies in the Drawing Room. This meant we missed the pre-dinner variety show of Justine Balmer & Michael Bacala.

I dined on lamb en croute with Joan from Leamington Spa yet again, Arthur from Codicote, Pat and her talkative friend. I ordered a bottle of Argentinian Malbec red wine which the ladies enjoyed, but Arthur stuck to his house red. We danced to Martin Orbidan's organ playing both before and after the "Stars on Strings" showtime, which I watched from our cabin. Up in the Drawing Room we danced with Sybil and her friend and the lovely Justine Balmer. The latter asked if I could give her a lift home. Quite a day with NINE dance sessions completed!

Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Friday the 21st of August 2015

I breakfasted on one egg Benedict with Liz before escorting the Hadrian's Wall tour (E). We began at Heddon-on-the-Wall and continued to the Chesters Roman fort. The best part was the well preserved bath-house. Back at the ship I lunched on cold meat salad with a jacket potato with Pat and her friend, at Sally Lamb's favourite table in the far left hand corner of the Verandah deck. I then slept for an hour and a half but missed the final shuttle bus into Newcastle. So I walked to the Royal Quay shopping centre and marina instead.

With the Captain's farewell cocktail in full swing we only had Bridget and Kathryn to dance with in the Drawing Room. I dined on Angus beef with Margaret from Wakefield with her friend Brenda from Whitstable, ladies from Ashford and Highbury and a gent who provided a bottle of champagne. I ordered a bottle of New Zealand Astrolabe white wine to go with some left over red. We danced both before and after the production show with Andrew the new Music Director in charge of the Saga Orchestra instead of Paul. We took hot chocolate with Sybil, Babs & Jean before dancing with them and with Bridget #1 in the Drawing Room until after midnight.

Fifth Sea Day: Saturday the 22nd of August 2015

Saga Sapphire

Saga Sapphire

I breakfasted al fresco on the full English with Barclay before attending the line dance class. Sam taught Alley Cat, Country Walkin' & Stroll Along Cha Cha. I spent most of the morning updating this blog and my new PowerPoint presentations. At 11:15 I listened to Stephen's talk on World War One. At noon I lunched on sweet and sour ribs with Margaret, Brenda and a lady who owns the racehourse Irving! At 1:30 we held our final, revision ballroom dance class for a dozen pax. I then slept for an hour and a half before completing six circuits (one mile) of the top deck in the sunshine. I then started to pack. At 6 pm we danced with Bridget #2 and Kathryn. I asked the Captain if his wife would like to dance, but she declined. I did get a samba with the lovely Justine Balmer. I dined on sirloin steak with my first portion of chips on the whole cruise! Sally Lamb asked me to join her for dinner. We sat with Margaret & Glynis from Broadstairs, Arthur from Hertfordshire and Gaye. I ordered a bottle of Prosecco bubbly, but only Sally and Gaye partook, the others sticking to their own red wine. We danced with the usual suspects both before and after the second puppet show which I watched from the cabin whilst updating this blog. Up in the Drawing Room I danced with Bridget #1 only.

Dover: Sunday the 23rd of August 2015

I breakfasted on TWO egg Benedicts. With luggage tag A we were off the ship before 9 am. We got to Elaine Balmer's lovely new apartment in Woking at 10:30 where Justine Balmer the soprano had left her car. I got home before 1 pm, lunched, slept for an hour and then cycled down to the Prom just in time for the Red Arrows and the Vulcan bomber at the BoMo Air Show!

Score card:

11 Dining tables hosted
 5 Tours escorted
 4 Line dance classes attended
 3 Ballroom dance classes taught
 1 Cocktail party attended

Good points were:

  1. Running the Party & Sequence Dance session in the Britannia Lounge
  2. Open Seating Dining in the Main Dining Room
  3. Four New Italian Coffee Machines
  4. Efficient Cabin Steward (Cerilo)
  5. Free Ice Cream Machine
  6. Free Shuttle Buses
  7. Free Internet
  8. Free Water
  9. Free Wi-fi
  10. Free Fruit

For the record ...


P Panoramic
E Easy
M Moderate
S Strenuous

R Refreshments
W Wine Tasting
L Luncheon
N New

SD Something Different
LA Limited Availability

New PowerPoint Presentations:

28 slides Skagen
55 slides Fredericia
59 slides Sandefjord

Party & Sequence Dance Session Playlist:

Barn Dance
Rumba No. One
St. Bernard's Waltz
Mayfair Quickstep
Gay Gordons
Catherine Waltz
Party Veleta
Square Tango
Party Samba

No time for:

Saunter Together!