Cruise SA302 on the Saga Sapphire around the British Isles, August 2016

(Please scroll down to see my photographs and report)

Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
18-Aug-2016 Dover
- Aboard before
19-Aug-2016 Poole Bay
- Red Arrows at the
BoMo Airshow!
20-Aug-2016 Portland
Gardens closed!
22-Aug-2016 Ringaskiddy
Cork Countryside
& Kinsale
Pretty Fishing
23-Aug-2016 Cobh
- A soft Irish day!
24-Aug-2016 Killybegs
Donegal Town
First visit!
25-Aug-2016 Inner Hebrides
- Glorious sail past
Mull, Islay & Jura!
26-Aug-2016 Holy Loch
27-Aug-2016 Holy Loch
Loch Lomond
Sunny day!
28-Aug-2016 Outer Hebrides
- Glorious sail past
Skye & Lewis!
29-Aug-2016 Kirkwall
North of Orkney Scenic cliffs!
30-Aug-2016 Invergordon
Lovely day!
01-Sep-2016 Dover
- Home by 1 p.m.

Dover, Kent
Thursday the 18th of August 2016

I awoke at 5:30 and couldn't get back to sleep, so I got up and was on the road by 7 a.m. I had an easy run, except for the slow M3 at Chandlers' Ford, so I took the old A31 to Guildford. I stopped off at the Shopping Outlet in Ashford, before being fast tracked on to the ship before noon. I then lay down for two hours, until my colleague Chris arrived at 2:15. We snacked in the embarkation buffet, attended the drill in the hot sun and had a couple of dances at the sailaway. I chatted to Sally and Sue with her disabled mother.

At 6:30 we had the introductory meeting and I dined at 7 p.m. on braised beef. I sat with Beryl and her friend Sonja, another single lady and two couples. We danced with a few ladies both before and after the production show "The concert they never gave". Jo Bo introduced us in the walk-on and we adjourned to the Drawing room to dance with Shirley from St. Albans and Barbara from Stratford-upon-Avon. The duo finished at 11:30 and I was in bed by 11:40.

First Sea Day, Poole Bay, Dorset
Friday the 19th of August 2016

I awoke at 8:30 and breakfasted on one egg Benedict with a couple from Esher and a couple from Dartford. At 10 a.m. I went to the RNLI lecture which had one slide, one video and overran. At 11 a.m. I listened to the port talk on Cobh. At noon we had the Singles Mingle in the Drawing Room, where I chatted to Sally, Sue and some other ladies. With queues for the Verndah restaurant, we dined in the main restaurant at a table for eight. I was sat next to Carol from Great Yarmouth and had carrot soup and smoked salmon salad with no chips. We had to slip away at 1:15 ready for the line dance class at 1:30. I taught the Slosh, Texas Waltz & Just Because to sixteen people including a couple of absolute beginners and some members of the production company including the vocalists Ben and Charlie. After the class, I set up my first lecture with Jake in case the BoMo air show was cancelled. At three o'clock the sky cleared, the air show began and I had my first ice cream of the cruise. I watched the Red Arrows at 3:45 before sleeping for an hour and a half.

I dined on sirloin steak with a jacket potato (not steak fries!) with Kay from Bourne, Iris from Hitchin, a couple from Ipswich with their sister, and a Dutch lady and her friend on table 102. I danced with Shirley, Ann and various other ladies before the show and led off the Slosh for the first time this cruise. When the magician came on, I slipped ashore in Portland, but there was a long wait for the port bus to take us a few hundred yards to the terminal building, so I came back on to the ship and updated this blog. We danced after the show and then up in the Drawing Room with Shirley, Barbara, Daphne and an old lady travelling with her daughter. When the duo finished at 12:05 we went to bed.

Portland, Dorset
Saturday the 20th of August 2016

I awoke at 7:30 and breakfasted on a cheese omelette with a talkative lady from Wigan. The 8:30 shuttle bus was fifteen minutes late leaving, but we were in Weymouth by 9 a.m. I took some photographs in the sunshine and did some shopping. While waiting for the shuttle bus back to the ship a cloud burst soaked us at the bus stop. I caught the 10:45 bus back and lunched at 11:45 on the not-so-minute steak, before escorting my third choice tour to Abbotsbury swannery and subtropical gardens (M, SD). We began with a panoramic drive around the Isle of Portland, down to the three lighthouses at Portland Bill. When we got to the Abbotsbury subtropical gardens, they were closed due to high winds. Our guide did some phoning around and came up with a panoramic drive to West Bay and back. At the Abbotsbury swannery we arrived in time for the 4 p.m. feeding frenzy.

Back at the ship, I quickly showered and dressed for the Captain's delayed welcome cocktail party. I had a few dances and chatted with Sally, Shirley and others. I dined on the tenderloin beef again at table 102 with one of the Dutch ladies on my right and Iris from Hitchin on my left, both of whom had been on my coach that afternoon. The rest of the table were also the same as the previous evening. The pre-show dancing was rather thin, until the usual suspects turned up. When the Jazz band came on, I retired to our cabin to update this blog and back up my photographs. We danced after the show and then up in the Drawing room with Shirley, but not Barbara, who was now walking with a stick, until after midnight.

Celtic Sea Day
Sunday the 21st of August 2016

I set my alarm for 7:30 and breakfasted on one egg Benedict with Sally Lamb. At 9 a.m. I taught Texas Waltz, Electric Slide & Party Samba to six people with a slight swell. During the church service I updated my powerpoint presentation on Portland & Weymouth with the photographs that I had taken the day before. At 11 a.m. I attended the talk on the Victorian era, with good use of zooming in and out of pictures. I had to slip out before the end to get changed for the singles luncheon. After the starter, two people moved tables and my colleague Chris moved to my table. We had roast beef (it was Sunday!) for a change. I had to slip out at 1:15 to prepare for my Social Foxtrot class, leaving Chris to hold the fort at the table. Eight people came to my first ballroom dance class.

I then slept for an hour and a half, before watching the sail in to Cork harbour in the rain. I had a hot chocolate and a cold ice cream beside the empty swimming pool. At 5:15 I gave my first talk on "Hamlet: Prince of Denmark". After the talk, two ladies told me about the new black Hamlet, which I must investigate. We berthed in Ringaskiddy, County Cork at 6 p.m., so I walked around the quayside in between the rain showers. At 6:45 Kirsten placed me on table 100 (not 102!) with Carol from Great Yarmouth, Robert, Audrey & Ann from Worcestershire and two other ladies. I dined on sirloin steak with jacket potato again. We danced with all the usual suspects before the magician's second show, which I avoided by working on this blog in our cabin. We then danced up in the drawing room. Seven sessions successfully completed in one day!

Ringaskiddy, County Cork, Ireland
Monday the 22nd of August 2016

Kinsale, Co. Cork

Kinsale, Co. Cork

I breakfasted on the dish of the day consisting of two small omelettes with a single gent, before escorting my third choice tour to Kinsale (E, R, N) for the third time! On the quayside, on seeing my long socks and walking shoes, Captain Philip said I was "as mad as a box of frogs"! We had morning coffee and huge scones with jam and cream at the Trident hotel, followed by a generous hour and a half of free time to explore Kinsale in the warm sun. I visited all three churches, including the Carmelite Friary for the first time.

Desmond's Castle, Kinsale

Desmond's Castle, Kinsale

Back at the ship, I lunched on the BBQ gammon and jacket potato (not chips!) with dancing Shirley and her two friends Valerie & Margaret. I then slept for an hour and a half. At 3:30 the ship was moved from Ringaskiddy across Cork harbour to Cobh. I slipped ashore for a walk along the prom in the sunshine, but forgot my camera. I went in the Commodore hotel both ways, the latter time to visit the roof top garden for the first time. We danced at 6:30 with Ann and latterly Sue, but missed the first Irish show. I dined on the corned beef hash pie with Shirley, Valerie, Margaret, Scottish Jean and the Irish couple from Cork who now live in London. We danced both before and after the second Irish show with three musicians, but only one dancer. Up in the Drawing room we danced until midnight with Shirley and Daphne.

Cobh, County Cork, Ireland
Tuesday the 23rd of August 2016

Cobh, Co. Cork

Cobh, Co. Cork

I awoke at 7 a.m. and breakfasted on the dish of the day, one egg Benedict with extra bacon, with Sally Lamb. I then walked around Cobh under the overcast skies, regretting that I hadn't done my photography the previous evening when the sun had been shining. At 11 a.m. we had the sailaway on the Verandah deck, where I danced with several ladies that I had not previously danced with. I lunched at noon on chicken with Canadian Pam from Bournemouth and a couple from Hinckley. At 1:30 I led the Waltz class for ten people, including vocalists Ben & Charlie. I then put my laundry on and lay down for an hour. Up on the top deck I had an ice cream and watched some dolphins frolicing as we rounded the Cork/Kerry coast.

Cobh, Co. Cork

Cobh, Co. Cork

At 5:15 I gave my "Tommy Cooper: Just Like That" lecture for the first time. At 6:30 we had the second set of pre-dinner dancing in the Drawing room. I dined on steak and Stilton pie with the Geordie lady and her Bristolian husband, Shirley, Valerie & Margaret and John & Jill from Tower Road, Branksome Park directly opposite Brian Harvey's new house! We danced both before and after the production companies musical theatre show. Up in the Drawing room we danced with Shirley & Barbara until midnight.

Killybegs, County Donegal, Ireland
Wednesday the 24th of August 2016

Killybegs, Co. Donegal

Killybegs, Co. Donegal

I got up at 7:30 and breakfasted, with the lady from Wigan and another lady, on a cheese omelette which, for a second time, gave me heartburn! At 9 a.m. I ran my third line dance class for seven people even though we had already berthed in Killybegs. I taught Electric Slide, Cowboy Charleston & Lindi Shuffle. At 10 a.m. I walked into Killybegs and then back again at 11:15 ready for an early lunch. I had the cabbage and bacon soup with Canadian Pam and then BBQ salmon with jacket potato with Sally at her favourite corner table.

Wild Donegal

Wild Donegal

At 12:15 I escorted my first choice walking tour of Donegal Town (S, R). We began at the ruined abbey on the waterside in the sunshine and then walked through the Donegal Diamond, which is actually a triangle, up to the castle. We had a guided tour of the small, but pretty, castle before adjourning to the Olde Castle Bar for refreshments. I had a pint of Guinness, before exploring the town in my free time. I walked out to the railway museum and then back along the river Eske past the castle to the old stone bridge. I went in the two famous Donegal tweed shops, the waterbus office and the tourist information, as it began to drizzle.

Back at the ship, I slept for an hour, before attending Ben's cabaret in the Drawing room. This meant that the pre-dinner dancing lasted to 7:30, giving us only an hour for dinner. We then danced both before and after Elaine's showtime. She has a strong Scottish accent, but sings beautifully without it! Finally we danced up in the Drawing room until midnight.

Inner Hebridies, Scotland
Thursday the 25th of August 2016

I awoke at 8:15 to see the island of Staffa from our porthole. I breakfasted on two croissants with ham and cheese al fresco on the Verandah deck with two single ladies. At 10 a.m. I led my fourth line dance class where I taught Electric Slide, Texas Waltz & California Frieze to thirteen people. During the class the Captain reversed the ship into Tobermory bay. I then spent the rest of the morning on the Verandah deck, chatting with the ex-Shell non-stipendary vicar from Buxton and lunching on the roast lamb with Sally Lamb in her favourite corner table as we sailed past Duart Castle in bright sunshine!

At 1:30 I taught the Social Rumba to a dozen people including vocalists Ben & Charlie. I then slept for an hour and a half. I took my only dip in the indoor pool, but both watertight doors had to be slowly opened and closed for access as we were still at sea. I then slipped into my Black Watch tartan kilt for Chess Taylor's cabaret in the Drawing room. Chris stayed on to hold the fort there, whilst I moved down to the Britannia Lounge at 6:30 for the Britannia Club cocktail party. I danced with the all the usual suspects there. I dined on fillet steak, but it was well done and not medium rare as I had ordered, with the same folks on table 102 again: The couple with their sister, the two Dutch ladies, Kay from Bourne and Iris from Hertfordshire. We danced both before and after Sarah's super show and then upstairs with Shirley, Daphne & Barbara until ten past midnight.

Holy Loch for Dunoon, Scotland
Friday the 26th of August 2016

I got up at 7:30 and breakfasted on the poached egg special. At 9 a.m. I caught the first independent tender to the shore. At 9:30 I was the only person on the first shuttle bus into town, so I was told to wait half an hour. I took the opportunity to explore the village of Sandbank into which we had tendered. In Dunoon I whizzed around the tourist information office, the pier, the castle and the main street, before catching the 11 a.m. bus back to the port. I then caught the 11:25 tender back to ship ready for duty at 11:45 - quite a mad rush of a morning!

I ate most of my packed lunch in the Britannia lounge, before escorting my third choice tour to Loch Lomond and the Benmore Botanical Gardens (S, N). We crossed the Firth of Clyde on the car ferry from Hunter's Point to Gourrock and then drove through Greenock, where the Marco Polo was berthed. I fell asleep and missed the Erskine Bridge, only awakening at the next stop, the pretty lochside village of Luss. I shelled out 1.30 on a chocolate milkshake. At 4:30 we arrived at the extensive gardens, where the famous Victorian Fernery was slated to close at 5 p.m. I was the only one to make the trek up the steep hillside! I also discovered the famous Golden Gates, the Bhutan Monument and the Chilean Refuge. Back down on lower land, I enjoyed the Dolphin Fountain, the walled garden and the enormous Californian Giant Redwoods.

Back at the ship, we danced up in the Drawing room until 7:15. I then dined on salmon at a window table with Valerie and Paula, who had twice gotten on my coach by mistake on the Abbotsbury tour! We danced both before and after the excellent Sinatra production show and up in the Drawing room with Shirley and Daphne until after midnight.

Holy Loch for Dunoon, Scotland
Saturday the 27th of August 2016

I awoke at 6:30 ready for duty at 7:45. I breakfasted on a single croissant with ham and cheese with the talkative lady from Wigan, before escorting my second choice Panoramic Scottish Lochs tour (E, N). My group was on the first tender away at 8 a.m. and on the road soon after. We followed exactly the same route as the previous day's tour, but this time I managed to stay awake for the impressive Erskine Bridge over the river Clyde! Luss was even lovelier in the weak sunshine and we had a photostop at the Rest & Thankful pass. Back at the pier the tender was waiting for us.

I lunched al fresco on cauliflower soup, caesar salad and double Irish ice cream with Sally, not in her favourite corner table. I then slept for over two hours before updating this blog. I went to the cabaret before dancing in the Drawing room for the first time this cruise with my own squirt bottle. I dined on sirloin steak with jacket potato with a couple from Gillingham in Dorset and another couple. We danced both before and after Elaine's second show, complete with sanitising ourselves and our partners before every dance. Up in the Drawing room we caught the end of Ben & Charlie's swing versus rock 'n' roll cabaret. This was followed by quiet records so we just chatted with Shirley & Daphne, before going to bed at midnight.

Cruising the Minch, Scotland
Sunday the 28th of August 2016

I got up at 7:30 and breakfasted on one croissant with ham and cheese with Sally Lamb, before leading the 9 o'clock line dance class. I taught California Frieze, Just Because & Ziggy to nine people. At 11 a.m. I attended the port talk on Invergordon. I lunched al fresco at noon on haddock with Sally Lamb at her favourite corner table. I told the Captain, who was doing his rounds, that I had seven sessions that day! At 1:30 I taught the Social cha cha to a dozen people. I then slept for nearly two hours. At 5:15 I gave my talk on "Hitler & Putin: a tale of four cities". At 6 p.m. I went up to the Drawing room to hear Charlie's swing cabaret, before dancing with the Welsh ladies and others. I dined on the lamb shank with Beryl, Sonja, four other ladies and a quiet gentleman. We danced both before and after Sarah's second show, which I watched on our cabin television whilst updating this blog. Jo asked me to demonstrate the sanitising after the show! We then danced up in the Drawing room until midnight.

Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland
Monday the 29th of August 2016

Orkney cliffs

Orkney cliffs

I breakfasted on one egg Benedict with a couple, before catching the first shuttle bus into town. I splashed out one pound on a Toblerone chocolate bar from Poundland (here called Dealz) and 40p for a pint of milk in Lidl's. Back at the ship I lunched on Filipino fish soup at 11:15 with Dr Brian Dunn, who had been having a very busy cruise! I then escorted my third choice North of Orkney tour (P, R). We had afternoon tea with shortbread and chocolate cake and visited the magnificent cliffs at several places in the sun. We danced at the sailaway, but it started to drizzle. We quickly changed and danced up in the Drawing room, before dining. I was back at table 102 with Iris, Kay, the two Dutch ladies (Coby?) and the couple with their sister. I had a rather small portion of the beef stroganoff with a large portion of rice. We then danced both before and after the excellent "Totally Continental" production show, but minus the Greek dancing. The Can-Can and Riverdance sequences were as good as ever! We then adjourned to the Drawing room where I danced with Shirley, Daphne & Barbara, until midnight. The Roumanian Duo said that we were the best dance host team that they had ever worked with!

Invergordon, Scotland
Tuesday the 30th of August 2016

Urquhart Castle, Scotland

Urquhart Castle, Scotland

I awoke at 8:30 and breakfasted on one croissant with ham, cheese and marmite with the widow of a Presbyterian minister who has retired from Caithness to Cornwall. She was proposed to at Land's End and got engaged at John O'Groats! I then worked on this blog and wrote my post cards as Mars cleaned the cabin. I walked into Invergordon to photograph the sights and post my cards. Back at the ship, I lunched on minute steak with Kay and the Dutch ladies.

Loch Ness, Scotland

Loch Ness, Scotland

At 12:15 I escorted my fourth choice tour to Urquhart Castle & Loch Ness (M). Back at the ship again, I slept for one hour before attending the Captain's farewell cocktail party. I dined on beef Wellington back at table 102 again. We danced both before and after the final variety showtime with the usual suspects, including Ann who had been released from two days of quarantine. This began with the production company's western mini-show. It was followed by Sarah's fifteen minutes of violin playing. We then adjourned upstairs to hear the end of the two female vocalists' cabaret set. We danced with Shirley, Daphne, Barbara and the daughter until after midnight.

North Sea Day
Wednesday the 31st of August 2016

I awoke at 7:45 and breakfasted on one croissant with ham and cheese with Beryl, Sonja and another couple. At 9 a.m. I taught my final line dance class of Ziggy, Texas Waltz & Lindi Shuffle to nine people. At 10 a.m. I listened to Graham's talk on the 1960s from our cabin. At 11:15 we had the disembarkation talk with farewell walk-on. I lunched on gammon and jacket potato (not chips!) with Canadian Pam from Bournemouth at noon.

At 1:30 I led my final revision ballroom dance class for ten people, including a couple who hadn't been to any of the previous sessions! This was followed by my fourth and final lecture on "The Story of the North Sea". I then slept for two hours, before packing and backing-up my computer files. The photographer kindly gave me three photographs taken with the six ladies on table 102. We danced before dinner up in the Drawing room with the usual suspects. I dined on Wiener Schnitzel with four single ladies and my colleague Chris. We then danced both before and after the final production show dedicated to the music of the Beatles, which we listened to on the cabin television. Up in the Drawing room, we danced with Shirley, Daphne and the daughter, but not Barbara who had bad joints. We went to bed at midnight. I had completed eight sessions in one day!

Disembarkation in Dover
Thursday the 1st of September 2016

I awoke at 7 a.m. and breakfasted on TWO egg Benedicts with Chris in the Verandah restaurant. I then finished packing and adjourned to deck 11. With luggage tag 4, I didn't get off the ship until 9:30. I had to fill up with petrol at the Tesco superstore north of Dover, so came home via the A2/M2, M20, M26, M25, A3, A31 and M3. I got home by one o'clock.

One lady later wrote: "Just wanted to thank you very much for the way you and Chris worked to make our holiday so enjoyable. Please don't remove your expertise from the dance floor completely. I can now understand that your first love is lecturing."

In the end of cruise questionnaire I scored 1.35 as a dance host and 1.64 as a guest speaker, where 1 is Excellent, 2 is Good, 3 is Poor and 4 is Very Poor! Five passengers praised me for my lectures.

Passengers wrote about me:-

    "Dance lessons very good";
    "Ballroom & Linedancing great";
    "Line Dance teacher had very poor choice of music, (but) teaching very good".

Passengers wrote about both of us:-

    "Fair to all the ladies";
    "Both dance really well";
    "Very professional & circulated well";
    "Seeing my mother dancing was a highlight";
    "Good dancers and they stayed until we retired".

Saga Sapphire

Saga Sapphire

Score card:

14 Dinner tables hosted
14 Evenings of dancing
9 Line dances taught
8 Sessions in one day (the last)!
7 Ports of Call
  (Ringaskiddy in place of St. Peter Port)
7 Tours escorted
5 Line dance classes
5 Ballroom dance classes
  (Social Foxtrot, Waltz, Social Rumba,
   Social Cha Cha and Revision)
4 Lectures given
  (Hamlet, Tommy Cooper, Hitler &
   Putin and North Sea)
2 New towns
  (Donegal & Dunoon) 
1 Double Billing
  (Dance Host & Guest Speaker!)
1 New port (Holy Loch)
1 Printed Biography

Good points were:

  1. New LED display above the stage for surtitles
  2. Hosting a table in the main dining room
  3. Red Sea dress with no ties most nights
  4. Leading the ballroom dancing classes
  5. Leading the line dancing classes
  6. Breakfast special every morning
  7. Free wine with lunch & dinner
  8. Efficient cabin steward (Mars)
  9. Outside twin cabin on deck 4
  10. Free ice cream machine
  11. Plenty of dancing ladies
  12. Free creamichoc drink
  13. Giving four lectures
  14. Tours in every port
  15. Free shuttle buses
  16. Free car parking
  17. Dressing gown
  18. No quarantine
  19. No headaches
  20. Free internet
  21. Free water
  22. Free wi-fi
  23. Free fruit
  24. No chips
  25. No cold

For the record ...


952 Ports called at
569 Tours escorted
162 Lectures given
106 Cruises enjoyed
_19 Ships sailed on
__6 Companies worked for

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
Updated PowerPoint Presentations: Portland & Weymouth