Cruise SA310
on the Saga Sapphire
to the Western Mediterranean
Christmas 2016 and
New Year 2017

(Please scroll down to see my photographs and report)

Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
20-Dec-2016 Southampton
U.K.
- Aboard
by 1:15
22-Dec-2016 Ferrol
Spain
Santiago de Compostela
(L, LA, S)
Overcast,
but dry
24-Dec-2016 Cádiz
Spain
- Glorious
Afternoon!
26-Dec-2016 Valencia
Spain
Flamenco in Valencia
(E, LA, N, WT)
Glorious
Day!
27-Dec-2016 Barcelona
Spain
A Taste of Cava
(LA, M, WT)
Glorious
Day!
29-Dec-2016 Livorno
Italy
Easy Peasy Pisa
(E, R, SD)
Glorious
Day!
30-Dec-2016 Civitavecchia
Italy
Tivoli & Villa d'Este
(L, S)
Glorious
Day!
01-Jan-2017 Valletta
Malta
Jeep Tour
(LA, M, SD)
Glorious
Afternoon!
03-Jan-2017 Palma
Majorca
Scenic Palma &
Valldemossa (M, R)
Glorious
Day!
05-Jan-2017 Gibraltar Dolphin Watch
(E, LA)
Glorious
Day!
07-Jan-2017 Oporto
Portugal
Palace of the Dukes
of Guimaraes (S, SD)
Glorious
Day!
10-Jan-2017 Southampton
England
- Home
by 10:30


Embarkation Day: Southampton
Tuesday, the 20th of December 2016

I left home at 10 a.m. and was breakfasting in IKEA SoTon before 11. I met up in the terminal with Phil Giles the aviator and Maureen the keen cruiser, who now had a male partner in tow. I was on board by 1:15, but gave the embarkation buffet a miss, as I got organised. After the safety drill, I attended the sailaway with both mulled wine and bubbly available. I danced with Janet the ex-Saga employee from Folkestone and another lady. I spoke to Mike Reid the ex-Dance Host and David the ex-Upper Park resident, now living in Bishop's Stortford.

Martin & Marlon

Martin & Marlon

At 5 p.m. we had the entertainers cocktail party, where I met up with the two dance hosts Chris from BoMo and Vaughan from Blackpool and the two stage Managers Marlon & Ronald. I dined in the Verandah restaurant at 6:45 on the braised beef, with a Scotsman and his lady friend from St. Albans and a chap from Thetford. At 8:45 I went to the first dance set which included the Slosh. At the start of the show we all spoke a couple of sentences of introduction, before the production company did their short but sweet Buddy Holly tribute. After one more dance I went to bed.


First Sea Day
Wednesday, the 21st of December 2016

I awoke at 6:40 which was now 7:40. I had the breakfast special with Sally from Crouch End and her friend Meryl from Muswell Hill. At 9 a.m. I watched two of the professional dancers teach the Electric Slide, California Frieze, Mamma Maria & Country Walkin' which she called the Irish Jig! At 9:45 Jacquie spoke for 35 minutes followed by my talks on Ferrol & Santiago de Compostela. At noon I lunched on spaghetti carbonara with June Harvey.

At 1:30 I led my first dance class teaching the Social Foxtrot to sixteen people. At 2:30 I gave my second port talk on Cádiz. Feeling a little seasick, I lay down for two hours. I gave dinner a miss, snacking on fruit in my cabin instead. I danced at 8:45 with four ladies, before Resty intervened to recommend we sit down instead. I then watched Chloe's cabaret, in place of the production show, before going to bed.


Ferrol, Galicia, Spain
Thursday, the 22nd of December 2016

I awoke as we passed St. Philip's fort entering the Ria of Ferrol. I then breakfasted on the chef's special with Sally & Meryl. I escorted my second choice (the first choice having been cancelled), the all day tour to Santiago de Compostela (L, LA, S). We began at the Cathedral including the excellent museum for the first time. As usual we had the tapas and wine with musical accompaniment in the historic Parador, the Catholic Monarch's Hospital. During the free time, I whizzed around the two tourist information offices, the market and the cathedral again.

Back at the ship, I went up on to the top deck to see the passage past St. Philip's fort, where a soldier in period uniform fired his musket several times. I got ready for the Captain's welcome cocktail party by wearing my "Bah Humbug" hat! I had a couple of dances and chatted with several people. I dined on beef in the Verandah restaurant with a lady from Romsey whose husband was confined to their cabin. The lady next to us had weetabix with hot milk for her dinner! I danced at 9 p.m. with the usual suspects in their finery, with me still wearing my "Bah Humbug" hat! I sat at the back with Sylvia the circle dancer sitting behind the Captain and his glamorous wife, to watch Georgina Jackson's singing and trumpet playing, but I nearly nodded off, so went to bed at 10:30.


Second Sea Day
Friday, the 23rd of December 2016

I awoke at 7:30 and breakfasted on the chef's special smoked salmon omelette with Sally & Meryl. At 9 a.m. I went to the line dance class for recaps of the Electric Slide, California Frieze & Mamma Maria. The new dance was a two wall version of Stroll Along Cha Cha. At 10 a.m. I gave my 40 minute port talk on Valencia. I enjoyed the sunshine as I walked around the top deck. I lunched on lamb with the Bridge couple and the Craft couple.

At 1:30 I taught the ballroom waltz to sixteen people wearing my Elf's hat. I then slept for an hour. I enjoyed the sunshine as I walked around the top deck with my first ice cream. At 6 o'clock I gave my port talk on Barcelona, before dining on the entrecote beef with the lady who had weetabix with hot milk again. I enjoyed the musical theatre and swing music of the cabaret duo "Bells & Baxter". I danced after the show and went to bed at 11 p.m., but watched my Cádiz lecture on the television, before sleeping from midnight.


Cádiz, Andalucia, Spain
Saturday, the 24th of December 2016
Christmas Eve

I awoke at 8 a.m. and grabbed a glass of cranberry juice, before attending the line dancing. The girls went over the previous dances, but this time to Christmas music. At 9:45 I gave my port talk on Livorno and city talk on Florence. At 11:30 we had the sail-in to Cádiz with complimentary sangria, I danced with some of the regulars. At noon I grabbed a bowl of the cold cherry soup and sat with June Harvey for five minutes, before departing the ship. I walked across to Saga Pearl II, as we were berthed bow-to-bow. I met June from Essex, Jean & Mary, destination lecturer John Lucas & his wife and cruise staff member Andrew Galler. I then walked the entire ramparts (4.5 kilometres) stopping off at St. Catherine's castle which was open on Christmas Eve with free admission! I attended the Zambomba flamenco festival in the main square. This was very loud and crowded, so that you couldn't see the musicians and dancers.

Back at the ship I had another ice cream in the glorious sunshine, before sleeping for two hours! I danced in the Drawing room with Shirley, Doreen, Susan and Margaret the tall lady, who kindly bought me a drink. I dined on scampi with Derek the Royal Naval Warrant Officer and his wife and another quiet lady. I danced before the excellent Christmas production show, which was a lot of effort for the singers, dancers and musicians to learn for just one performance! I stayed on for the classical quartet's concert which began with Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker suite, but went downhill afterwards. After the egg nog, mulled wine and mince pies, I went to bed at 11 p.m.


Third Sea Day
Sunday, the 25th of December 2016
Christmas Day

I awoke at 7 a.m. and listened to my Barcelona talk on the television. I breakfasted from 8 to 9 on the excellent Arnold Bennett cheese omelette special with Shirley. I stayed on when Prof David Nichols and his wife Anne arrived. The lady on the next table had two weetabix for breakfast, just as she had done for her dinner on the two previous evenings! During the morning I did six circuits (one mile) of the top deck in bright sunshine, with views of the Snowy Mountains (Sierra Nevada) of Southern Spain. At noon I lunched on roast pork with another Margaret and the Nichols again.

Me on Christmas Day!

Me on Christmas Day!

At 1:30 I led the Social Rumba class for 14 people. I then slept for an hour and a half only to be awoken by the Captain's anouncement about the 4 p.m. Queen's broadcast. I went swimming and jacuzzi-ing for the first time this cruise. At 6:30 I attended the Captain's cocktail party wearing a red cap where I chatted with the gentleman from South Devon, whose wife comes from San Diego. As the Captain was finishing his speech, Resty asked me to go down to the main restaurant as the Maitre d'Hotel wanted table hosts. He placed me on a table with Sylvia from Essex, Brian from Folkestone, David Scotland the six foot six vocalist from Stirling and a couple from Beckenham whose wife was Scottish and whose husband was inaudible! I watched the variety show and then danced with the usual suspects after the show.


Valencia, Spain
Monday, the 26th of December 2016
Boxing Day

I didn't wake up until 8 a.m. and we were already berthed, so I grabbed a fruit smoothie and a glass of cranberry juice, before catching the second shuttle bus into the city at 9 o'clock. I did the western side of the old city which I had missed out last summer. The west gate had just opened as I arrived and offered free admission on the Boxing day bank holiday. I spent 2.50 euros and three quarters of an hour in the lovely Botanic Gardens in the sunshine. Back at the ship, I lunched on gammon and chips with Shirley. At 2 p.m. I escorted my first choice Flamenco tour (E, LA, N, WT). We had a photo-stop at the City of Arts of Sciences, before doing a panoramic tour of the old city. We then had a lively flamenco demonstration with three dancers and a singer and guitarist. There was unlimited sangria, so I over-indulged. We didn't get back to the ship until 6:05, by which time it was getting dark. I dined on cold turkey, ham and roast beef with jacket potatoes, again with Graham from Sheffield and another couple from Devon. The husband originally came from Bury St. Edmunds and the wife from Morecambe in Lancashire. She was a great fun, so we got some dirty looks for all our laughing! I danced with the ladies before the show, but went to my cabin and watched the lady trumpeter for a third time on the television.


Barcelona, Spain
Tuesday, the 27th of December 2016

After the chef's special breakfast again, I escorted my second choice Taste of Cava tour (LA, M, WT). We began at the Codorniu Art Nouveau "Cathedral of Cava" where we watched a 3D video. We then caught the electric land train to the cellars. We descended four levels, before boarding another land train to explore the extensive tunnels. The tour ended with glasses of both the rosé and white Cava sparkling wine.

The labyrinth (maze) in Barcelona, Spain

The labyrinth (maze) in Barcelona, Spain

Back at the ship I lunched with Janet, before sleeping for two and a half hours. I then caught the 4:40 shuttle bus to Catalonia Place. I walked around the Gothic Quarter, past the cathedral and the royal palace. I was one of only two people to catch the last shuttle bus back to the ship at 6 p.m. I dined on teryaki beef with Ray the old sea dog from Exeter, the Scotsman from Aberdeen and a lady from Ealing. I danced before the new, excellent Sinatra production show. Up on the Verandah, I danced with Susan at the 10:30 sailaway, although we had already left Barcelona early. I enjoyed two mugs of hot chocolate with Baileys, but then had heartburn when I laid down!


Fourth Sea Day
Wednesday, the 28th of December 2016

I breakfasted on the special poached egg with smoked salmon sat with David from Bishop's Stortford. After seeing Jacquie at 8:45, I joined the line dance class, which recapped the previously taught dances. At 10 a.m. I gave my talks on Civitavecchia & Rome. I did six circuits of the top deck in the brilliant sunshine chatting with Julian. At noon I lunched al fresco out on the Verandah on chicken and sausage from the BBQ with the couple from Beckenham. At 1:30 I taught the Social Cha Cha to a dozen people. At 2:30 I lectured on Valletta: the Capital of Malta. I then slept for two hours, before my second swim and jacuzzi. I gave the 6 o'clock jazz session a miss. I dined on the rib eye steak with Diana & Simeon and another Diana and her friend. I danced before, but not after, the Bells & Baxter "Hits of Hollywood" show.


Livorno, Tuscany, Italy
Thursday, the 29th of December 2016

I awoke at 7 a.m. and breakfasted on a cheese omelette with David from Stortford. I then escorted my third choice Easy Peasy Pisa tour (E, R, SD) We took a trolley train from the coach park around the old city to the café meeting point. I had the real lemonade with snacks. We then walked one hundred yards to the famous Field of Miracles. One lady struggled and I had to take her back to sit down in the café. During the free time, I whizzed around the sights, whipped into the city centre and then popped into the cathedral. We then took the land train back to the coach park.

Back at the ship, I lunched on haddock and chips with Anne & her sister Diana from Bermuda. I then slept for one hour, before taking the shuttle bus into Livorno. I failed to find Modigliani's house but did some photography in the setting sun. Back at the ship I just missed the glorious sunset, but with a cold wind. At 6 p.m. I danced with the usual suspects: Shirley, Doreen, Stella, Margaret & Betty for the first time. I enjoyed the Italian dinner with Ray the old sea dog from Exeter, a lady from Henley and the quiet lady who smokes. I began with the minestrone soup, continued with the sardine and anchovy salad, then had the veal shank. The casatta was delightful and I ended the meal with a chocolate and a piece of Turkish delight! I danced before, but not after, Anne Rayner's multi-instrumental show. I was nearly falling asleep by the end, so I went straight to bed.


Civitavecchia, Lazio, Italy
Friday, the 30th of December 2016

I awoke at 6:45 and breakfasted on the chef's special, which was a sort of egg Benedict construction. I was one of the first people off the ship at 7:30 and I walked into town as the sun came up. The sunshine was brilliant for early morning photography, but the wind was bitterly cold. I photographed the main sights and circled around the old Roman harbour, before catching the shuttle bus back to the ship from the new drop-off point way out of town!

The gate on the Appian Way, Rome

The gate on the Appian Way, Rome

At 10 a.m. I escorted my first choice tour to Tivoli & the Villa d'Este (L, S). It was a long drive via the Rome ring road to Tivoli not arriving until 12:30. We lunched in an authentic cellared Italian restaurant on salad, lasagna, cake, wine and coffee, before touring the exceptional Villa d'Este. The huge and extensive fountains and water features glistened in the bright sunshine with views across to Rome. They reminded me of the Peterhof palace gardens in St. Petersburg, and were way better than the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen! On the journey back the coach driver missed the turn on to the Rome ring road twice, necessitating two double backs! We got back to the ship at 6 p.m. just in time, just ahead of the Rome panoramic tour. It had been one of my best tours ever!

I danced with the usual suspects in the drawing room, before dining on sirloin steak and chips with Shirley and Doreen, sat next to Graham and Anne (but not her sister Diana). On the way out of the Verandah restaurant Jan, who had given me my purple sequined Michael Jackson hat on a previous cruise, gave me Ollie the owl, a sparkly cuddly toy! I danced before, but not after, the Frankie Valli tribute production show.


Fifth Sea Day
Saturday, the 31st of December 2016
New Year's Eve

I awoke at 6:30 and breakfasted on the chef's special with Vaughan at 7:30. After checking out my Palma presentation with Jacquie, I attended the line dance class at 9 o'clock. The girls went over Mamma Maria and I then taught the Slosh & Texas Waltz. They ended the class with the Red Hot Salsa. At 10 a.m. I gave my port talk on Palma de Mallorca. At noon I lunched on macaroni cheese with Graham from Sheffield, Shirley & Doreen. At 1:30 I taught the quickstep to sixteen people. I then slept for an hour and a half, before doing some circuits of the outside swimming pool in the bright sunshine. I then had my third swim in the warm inside pool, but unfortunately the jacuzzi was out of commission.

At 5:45 I was up in the Britannia Lounge in my kilt and accessories. At the cocktail party I danced with a married lady, then sat and chatted with June Harvey. I dined with Ken & Trish from Romsey, Gillian (who had been on my Pisa tour) and a quiet gentleman. I had the beef as usual. We danced from 9 p.m. and then at 9:20 I took over as host of the New Year's Eve Ball. I had prepared a playlist of five dances with Steve the musical director. I called the ballroom waltz first in order to fill the floor and then told people to stay on the floor for the barn dance. I did one quick walkthrough and we were off! I then called the quickstep, the foxtrot and the rumba to complete my set.

It was then show time and they did my all time favourite "Totally Continental" production show, with French, Spanish, Irish, Scottish and English country dancing. When the jazz band came on, I slipped ashore as we had arrived in Valletta. Out on the Verandah deck, I sat with a blanket over my bare knees! At midnight the fireworks were pathetic. I went around wishing everyone a Happy New Year and went to bed at 12:15.


Valletta, Malta
Sunday, the 1st of January 2017
New Year's Day

My alarm woke me at 7:15 as I was due on duty at 8:15. I breakfasted on a large cheese omelette with Vaughan, who was also escorting. I was in charge of my first choice Jeep Tour (LA, M, SD). We had photo stops at the Red Tower, the Popeye Movie Village, the Dingli Cliffs and the Blue Grotto Belvedere. We also had half an hour at the lovely Golden Bay, where I shelled out 3 euros 20 for a luxury hot chocolate, as travelling in the back of the open sided jeep was a bit chilly! We had an unexpected half an hour at the old capital of Mdina too. I sped round the ramparts and went in both the posh hotel (for the loo) and the cathedral, where a Catholic service was in full swing. Half way round the tour the sun came out and we had the roof rolled back, so I was able to stand in the back of the jeep and cling on to the rollover bar as we raced around the island!

Siege Bell, Grand Harbour, Valletta, Malta

Siege Bell, Grand Harbour, Valletta, Malta

Back at the ship I had the roast leg of beef (it was Sunday after all!), before walking along the road to the Barracca lift. This cost one euro to whisk me up to Valletta. Unfortunately, being New Year's Day, every thing was closed, but I did get some good photos in the bright sunshine. At 3:45 I attended the sailaway, but for technical reasons it didn't start until 4:15. I danced with Susan, Stella, Janet, Charmain and another lady as we sailed out of the Grand Harbour. I had my siesta at 4:40 and only awoke when Marvin was vacuuming in the corridor, so I had a quick shower and rushed off to dinner. I dined on beautiful rib-eye steak with Graham from Sheffield, seated next to Anne, David, Shirley and the late arriving Doreen. We danced before the Clarinettist's show, but I went straight to bed afterwards.


Sixth Sea Day
Monday, the 2nd of January 2017

My alarm woke me at 7:30 ready for the breakfast special of Egg Florentine with David from Stortford. I checked my slides with Jacquie, before attending the line dance class. The girls recapped the Irish Jig, Stroll Along, Lemon Tree & Cowgirl Charleston, the latter turning to the left. I also taught Just Because as both a rumba and a mambo line dance. At 10 a.m. I gave my penultimate port talk on Gibraltar. I did a dozen circuits of the top deck (two miles) with Julian and another couple, with the bright sun shining on the calm Mediterranean sea. At noon I lunched al fresco on the BBQ lamb steak with the lady from St. Albans and her Scottish partner. At 1:30 I taught the Rock 'n' roll Jive to sixteen people. Janet from Folkestone helped me with the teaching. I then slept for an hour and a half before swimming and jacuzzi-ing. I danced before and after dinner, which consisted of garlic lamb with Gillian, Diana & Simeon and another lady. After Bruce Morrison's excellent Lloyd-Webber show, I went to bed.


Palma, Majorca, Spain
Tuesday, the 3rd of January 2017

I awoke at 7:15 and breakfasted on a cheese omelette with Vaughan, before escorting my first choice tour to Valldemossa (M, R). The name comes from the Arabic Wadi Musa which means Valley of Moses according to our guide! We began at Bellver Castle in brilliant sunshine, before reaching the mountains. In Valldemossa we went in the famous Royal Charterhouse Monastery, which was a first for me. I enjoyed the hot chocolate with potato bun, before heading back to the monastery, where I discovered a room full of Joan Miro's paintings!

Bellver Castle, Palma, Mallorca, Spain

Bellver Castle, Palma, Mallorca, Spain

Back at the ship I lunched on BBQ lamb with Sally & Meryl. I then caught the 2 o'clock shuttle bus back into Palma, where I visited the outside of the Bulwark Art Gallery and the inside of the Gothic Stock Exchange. I caught the 4:15 shuttle bus back to the ship and slept for one hour, only to be awoken by the Captain's announcement. I danced both before and after dinner, which consisted of sirloin steak with the couple from Bristol, the lady of whom again had weetabix to eat, and a lady from Stafford, who knew Keele University well. I danced before, but not after, the excellent Magic of the Musicals production show.


Seventh Sea Day
Wednesday, the 4th of January 2017

My alarm woke me at 7:30 and I had my first Egg Benedict of the cruise, sitting with Vaughan. At 9 a.m. Katie & Alex recapped the Electric Slide, Mamma Maria and taught the Hustle, whilst I taught the Lindi Shuffle. At 10:00 I gave my tenth and final port talk on Leixoes & Oporto. At 11 a.m. Professor Prickett gave his talk on Jerusalem, but as he was reading from a script, I slipped out. After six circuits of the top deck (one mile), I lunched on BBQ gammon and jacket potato with Shirley, Doreen & Graham from Sheffield. At 1:30 I taught the Party Samba, before lying down for half an hour. At 4:15 I hosted the tea dance which had full floors for the popular party dances! I then went swimming in the warm pool and wallowing in the very hot jacuzzi! At 6:30 I attended the Britannia Club cocktail party, where I chatted with Maureen amongst others. I dined on the beef with the lady from Stafford, the quiet smoking lady and a gentleman who cruises with Seabourn amongst other up-market lines. I danced before, but not after, Bruce's excellent Les Miserables tribute concert. This included all the great songs, interspersed with some history, topped out with camp theatricality! This proved to be my busiest day of the cruise with five sessions completed!


Gibraltar
Thursday, the 5th of January 2017

I awoke early and watched my Oporto port talk on the cabin television. I breakfasted on the chef's omelette of the day with Chris and a lady. I then escorted my second choice Dolphin Watch tour (E, LA), my first choice, the new library and museum tour, having been cancelled. We saw large, two-tone common dolphins riding our bow wave and smaller, darker dolphins slightly away from the boat. Back at the marina one of my ladies stumbled over a low kerb and cut her face badly. Vicki the photographer did some first aid, whilst the boat captain phoned for an ambulance. Vicki took over my role as tour escort, whilst I travelled in the ambulance to the new St. Bernard's hospital. After two hours in A&E, the lady was given nine stitches and we took a taxi back to the ship. I then walked back to the hospital with her passport and EHIC card to be photocopied.

The Guard Room, Gibraltar

The Guard Room, Gibraltar

Having missed out on lunch, I had some skimmed milk from Morrisons, before walking through the city. I visited the garrison library and gardens for the first time. I also went in the glass blowing workshop and store for a first visit. Back at the ship, I got ready for the pre-dinner dancing in the Drawing Room with the usual suspects. I dined on lamb shank with a couple from Oxford and a lady from Abingdon. I danced before, but not after, the crew show, which culminated with the famous hand mime to "You raise me up"!


Eighth Sea Day
Friday, the 6th of January 2017

My alarm woke me at 8 a.m., ready for the poached egg with smoked salmon chef's special, sat with Vaughan. At 9 o'clock the girls recapped California Frieze, Stroll Along Cha Cha, Lemon Tree & Red Hot Salsa and I taught Ziggy. At 10 a.m. I started listening to Dr Williamson's talk on Pirates, but slipped out after ten minutes. I did a few turns of the top deck, before lunching on hot soup, cold salad with chips and then cold cherry soup for dessert, at the large table outside with the four ladies 'what lunch' and one couple (the Scotsman and the lady from Ealing). At 1:30 I taught the Square Tango & Social Tango to fourteen people. I then slept for an hour and three quarters. I went swimming and jacuzzi-ing, before dancing up in the Drawing Room. I dined on sirloin steak with the couple from Burnham-on-Sea and the vegetarian TV engineer from Camden Town. I danced before, but not after, the production company's Beatles show "All you need is love".


Oporto, Portugal
Saturday, the 6th of January 2017

I awoke at 8 a.m., but it was now 7 o'clock GMT. I breakfasted on a cheese omelette on my own. I then escorted my first choice tour to Guimaraes (S, SD) with Sarah Chaston in tow for training. We began at the castle and chapel where the first king of Portugal was said to have been baptised. At 10 a.m. we entered the magnificent palace of the Dukes of Braganza. We walked through the old quarter to the main square, where we were given half an hour of free time. I flew around taking pictures in the brilliant sunshine.

Douro River, Oporto

Douro River, Oporto

Back at the ship, I lunched on roast lamb al fresco with petite Sylvia, Charmain and another lady. I then caught the 2 o'clock shuttle bus into Oporto. I walked down to the river bank to catch the vintage wooden tram running along the riverside to the seaside for 2.50 euros each way. Back at the ship I watched the wonderful sunset, before dancing with the usual suspects in the Drawing Room. At 6:30 I went down to the Britannia Lounge for Bruce's "We Are Not Amused" story of Queen Victoria. His voices of the Queen, Prince Albert, Disraeli and John Brown were amusing, if somewhat camp! I dined on the scampi prawns, again with the couple from Burnham, together with Will, another Scot. For dessert I had just one warm Pasteis de Belem egg custard tart with cinnamon ice cream! At 8:30 I danced back in the Britannia Lounge, but left when the magician came on at 9 o'clock. I then worked on this blog in my cabin, with two shows on back to back, they didn't finish until 11 p.m., when I went to sleep.


Ninth Sea Day
Sunday, the 8th of January 2017

With no morning line dance class on, as it was a Sunday, I didn't need to set my alarm and so didn't wake up until 8:10. I had the Egg Florentine with Jan from Malvern, Hilary the cruise hostess from Boscombe and Vaughan. I watched the start of the comedy bake-off, but the four contestants kept talking over each other, so I retired to my cabin to update this blog. I lunched on roast leg of beef al fresco out on the Verandah deck in the sunshine crossing the Bay of Biscay in January!

My caricature by the lovely Helen Pointer!

My caricature by the lovely Helen Pointer!

At 1:30 I revised the four ballroom dances (Waltz, Social Foxtrot, Quickstep & Rock Jive) that I had taught during the cruise. Having slept for nine hours last night, I only lay down for half an hour. I then went swimming and jacuzzi-ing for a final time. At 6:30 I attended the Captain's farewell cocktail party, where I danced with Ellen, Stella, Charmain, Janet and two married ladies. I dined on proper beef Wellington with Ray the old sea dog, Kevin the marine engineer who was weighing the ship (sic!) and a quiet old man. I danced before, but not after, the comedian's funny show, which ran on a bit.


Tenth Sea Day
Monday, the 9th of January 2017

I awoke at 7:15 and breakfasted on the Arnold Bennett special (cheese and smoked haddock sauce omelette) with Graham from Sheffield. At 9 a.m. I attended the comedian's very serious talk on Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi governor of Bohemia (now the Czech Repubic). At 11 a.m. I listened to Dr. Arthur Williamson's interesting talk on "Quixote, Liz & Cádiz". At noon I lunched on a cheese pasty with chips and peas, seated with Shirley. At 1:30 I recapped the Latin American dances that I had taught on the cruise: Social Rumba, Social Cha Cha, Party Samba & Square Tango. I then slept for an hour and a half, before taking my final swim and wallow in the jacuzzi. I quickly packed and then danced in the Drawing Room for one last time. I dined on the mixed grill with the couple from Long Hanborough in Oxon and the lady from Stratton St. Margaret in Swindon. I danced with all the usual suspects for one last time, before the final variety show. I said thank you to the boys in the band and to Jan, who had given me Ollie the Owl!


Disembarkation Day: Southampton
Tuesday, the 10th of January 2017

I awoke at 6:30 and breakfasted on TWO Eggs Benedict with a chap from Brixham, Devon. With luggage tag 4, I didn't get off until 9:30, but was home by 10:30.

Saga Sapphire

Saga Sapphire

For the first time ever, both the Cruise Director David Wimble and the Tours Manager Jacquie Forbes-Watson showed me the complimentary reports that they had written about me!

The lady I took to hospital wrote: "Dear Martin, I just wanted to say thank you for your help yesterday. You showed me great patience and kindness, for which I am most grateful. I promise not to do it again!"

Helen Pointer the caricaturist wrote: "Your website's very impressive. So glad you like your picture!"

One lady wrote: "I have to say your destinations talks were so interesting I was always looking forward to the next one...... and NEVER fell asleep. I want to thank you for your company on board and great dancing. I remember coming on board and looking for the 'Dance Hosts' out on deck, saw you dancing and I went up to you and asked you if you were a host, which you replied 'No', but would I care to dance! Great cruise and always looking forward to the next."

Another lady wrote: "I know now why your destination lectures were so good, your site is amazing - congratulations. Your attention to detail amazing. You did look smart (in your kilt)! Once again thanks for making my cruise most enjoyable and did once again learn all the dances I once was an expert in. Again take care and I look forward to seeing you again in July at the Tall Ships cruise."

I scored 1.60 as the Destinations Lecturer and 1.50 as the Dance Instructor 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:

21 Dinner tables hosted
20 Evenings of dancing
10 Lectures given
10 Ports of Call
10 Ballroom dance classes led
  (Social Foxtrot, Waltz,
   Quickstep, Rock Jive,
   Social Rumba, Social Cha Cha,
   Samba, Social Tango
   and 2 Revision classes)
 9 Tours escorted
 6 Cocktail parties attended
 5 Sessions in one day
 4 Line dances taught
  (Texas Waltz, Just Because,
   Lindi Shuffle & Ziggy)
 2 New towns visited
  (Tivoli & Guimaraes) 
 1 Biography printed
 1 Tea dance hosted
 1 Evening ball hosted

Good points were:

  1. New LED display above the stage for surtitles
  2. Hosting tables in the Verandah Restaurant
  3. Casual, Informal and Formal dress nights
  4. Leading the ballroom dancing classes
  5. Efficient cabin steward (Marvin)
  6. Breakfast special every morning
  7. Outside double cabin on deck 4
  8. Free wine with lunch & dinner
  9. Free hot chocolate drinks
  10. Tours in all ports bar one
  11. Plenty of dancing ladies
  12. Giving ten lectures
  13. Free shuttle buses
  14. Free car parking
  15. Free internet
  16. No quarantine
  17. No headaches
  18. Free water
  19. Free wi-fi
  20. Free fruit

For the record ...


Shore Excursion Key:

E Easy
L Lunch
M Moderate
N New
P Panoramic
R Refreshments
S Strenuous

LA Limited Availability
SD Something Different
WT Wine Tasting


Tea Dance: Waltz Barn Dance Quickstep St. Bernard's Waltz Cha Cha Gay Gordons Foxtrot Party Veleta Rumba Party Samba (Jive - no time for) Last Waltz