Christmas Cruise SA334
on the Saga Sapphire
to Scandinavia

(Please scroll down to see my photographs and report)

Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
21/12/2017 Southampton
U.K.
- Aboard
by 1:15
24/12/2017 Oslo
Norway
Ice Bar &
Walking Tour
Snow & the
Best Ice Bar so far!
26/12/2017 Copenhagen
Denmark
Two Kingdoms
in a morning!
Oresund Crossing
to Malmo in Sweden!
27/12/2017 Gothenburg
Sweden
City &
Haga tour
Overcast
29/12/2017 Gdansk
Poland
Gdansk & the
Holy Trinity Church
Medieval
Triptych!
31/12/2017 Stockholm
Sweden
Old Town &
Millesgarden
Fascinating
Sculptures!
05/01/2018 Bremerhaven
Germany
Bremen
Free-Spirited
On Our Own!
07/01/2018 Southampton
England
- Home
by 10:10!


Embarkation Day, SoToN - Thursday the 21st of December 2017

I was about to leave home at 9:30, so I closed my laptop down. Unfortunately it needed to do an update, so I didn't get away until 10 o'clock. With five ships (Balmoral, Black Watch, Oriana, Ventura & Saga Sapphire) in SoToN, I was expecting traffic grid lock, but I sailed through to the West Quay car park. I then spent an hour shopping, but the Coop Bank demanded that I have an pre-arranged appointment before changing my account. Having closed both their Poole & BoMoH offices, I was not happy! However, I did enjoy a free decaf capuccino in Costa's cafeteria, courtesy of the Three network's WunTu app! (One, Two, Three - do you get it?)

At the QEII terminal I was parked directly behind dance host David Sindall and close to David from Bishop's Stortford, who used to live in Upper Park in Harlow. I was straight through check-in to the departure lounge, where boarding began at 1 o'clock and I was on board soon after. I went to the embarkation buffet and sat with Doreen and her husband from the New Forest, who told me about their Brahmaputra river cruise!

My computer resumed it's update, but was taking hours, so I started panicking as my first lecture was billed as 5:30. Grazia lent me the Shorex laptop, but it wouldn't recognise my pen drive. Jackie in the sound booth let me load my presentation on to their laptop as backup. Fortunately at ten to five my laptop finished updating, so I was able to do my final edits that Cassie had requested. However, the sailaway had been delayed (owing to a passenger's puncture en route) and so my presentation was put back to 6 o'clock. So I was able to attend the entertainers' cocktail party at 5 p.m., where I chatted to the lovely Olive amongst others.

At 6 o'clock Cassie gave her 15 minute introduction to the tours. Given that dinner began at 6:45, I whizzed through my port talk on Oslo in thirty minutes flat. I dined on the beef with a couple from Basingstoke, together with Scottish Margot from Edgbaston and her friend Martha from Cambridge. I danced both before and after the Introductory showtime which included the Explosive Production company's Sinatra tribute. I went to bed at 11 o'clock after a hectic day without a siesta!


First North Sea Day - Friday the 22nd of December 2017

I awoke at 7 o'clock ready for the breakfast special of Ranger's Egg with beans on a tortilla, sat with Charmain. At 8:45 I ran my slides past Cassie, before attending the line dance class. Two of the professional dancers taught one wall versions of Stroll Along & Lemon Tree together with a partner dance. At 10 o'clock I gave my 40 minute presentation on Wonderful Copenhagen. After the lecture Charmain gave me her big, red Northern Lights jacket, as every passenger had been issued with new, navy blue jackets with detachable fleece linings! I then listened to Sam's introductory talk on Norway, before lunching at noon on the gammon and chips with June Harvey from Hove.

At 1:30 I joined in Olive's Social Foxtrot & Rumba class, before sleeping for an hour. I was awoken by a phone call from Maja asking me to host a table at the singles lunch. I had a mini-quiche and a cream cake in the afternoon tea, sat with Peggy, June from Essex and her friend. I then went swimming and jacuzzi-ing in the indoor pool, which was steaming at 33 degrees! I then got into my formal wear, together with my "Bah Humbug" hat, ready for the Captain's welcome cocktail party. I danced with some of the usual suspects and chatted with the couple from Dumfries, amongst others. Thankfully the Captain announced that Christmas dinner would be in the evening, not at lunch time, on the 25th. He also said that they hoped we would come back through the Kiel Canal, rather than going back around Jutland again.

Charmain asked me to join her, Peggy and Ellen for dinner in the Verandah restaurant. I went through the special menu: soup, salad, sorbet, beef and Pavlova! At 9 o'clock I danced with the usual suspects including my dinner companions, Anne from Exeter, Catherine, Sue and her sister Elaine. One lady took up my suggestion from the end of my first port talk, to ask me for a Cha cha! I ducked out of the classical guitarist's show, and worked on this blog instead. I only did a couple of dances after the show, as there was a Beatles & ABBA cabaret on in the Drawing Room. Reece was not well, so it was sung by Matt, Karin & Kayleigh. I led off the disco dancing with Charmain, before going to bed at 11:40.


Second North Sea Day - Saturday the 23rd of December 2017

I awoke at 6:30, but it was now 7:30 Norwegian time. I had the breakfast special of poached egg on a bread pudding scone, sat with Charmain. I gave up my seat when Peggy arrived. At 9 o'clock I went to the line dancing, led by Louise & Lauren. They taught Texas Waltz, Party Samba, Blue Rose Is & Electric Slide, which pleased me.

I touched base with Cassie, before giving my 40 minute Gothenburg lecture at ten o'clock! I stayed on for the maritime talk but, as he read from his script, I soon slipped out. At 11:30 I went to the main restaurant to host a table at the singles luncheon. My guests included two Scottish ladies and June from Essex. I was sat at a table for four, where we had lemon sole not chicken!

At 1:30 I went to Olive's improver dance class, where I did the syncopated whisk in the waltz with Peggy. Olive didn't get around to doing the rumba as advertised. I then slept for an hour and a half, before updating this blog. At 4:30 I went to the strawberry afternoon tea, sat with Olive and June from Essex. At 5 o'clock I dressed in my elf outfit ready for dressing the Christmas tree. I got to dish out chocolates to hang on the tree and participate in the group photographs which was nice. I then went swimming in the indoor pool and wallowing in the jacuzzi.

At 6:15 I went up to the Drawing room, but the duo weren't timetabled to start until 6:30. Charmain kindly bought me a lime soda, and I then danced twice with her, with June, with Peggy and with Catherine. At 7:15 Charmain, Peggy & June dined with me in the Verandah restaurant. We all had the sirloin steak! At 8:45 I danced with the usual suspects including Sylvia, and Sue, but not her sister Elaine, before adjourning to my cabin to update my blog when Aidan the Irish magician came on. Back in the Britannia lounge, I only had a couple of dances, before the ship began rocking, so I sat chatting to June Snowden. I had a hot chocolate, augmented with Charmain's marshmallows, sat with Peggy in the Verandah restaurant. I went to bed at eleven.


Oslo, Norway - Sunday the 24th of December 2017 - Christmas Eve!

I awoke at 7 o'clock, ready to breakfast on the special omelette with Charmain. Up on the top deck they had been swabbing the decks as usual, but it was now frozen and I went flying! At 9:30 I escorted my first choice walking tour (LA, N, S, SD, WT). We began at the fortress, viewed the new Opera House and then walked along the main street, but missed out going past the cathedral. We went in the Magic Ice Bar which was better than the ones in Copenhagen & Stockholm, that I had been in during my summer cruise on the Celebrity Eclipse. We had a wine based drink, whilst admiring the excellent Munch inspired art works. We continued past the City Hall back to the ship. It later transpired that the Mystery Tour (E, N, SD) had gone to the Fram Museum, so I regretted not asking to go on it!

Martin P. Lee in Oslo

Me in Oslo

I lunched on the roast leg of beef (it was Sunday!), sat with a single lady and a couple. I then slept for one hour, before heading back out. I walked along the quayside, then headed up into the fortress. The guards looked very smart with their black uniforms with large black plumes! At 3 o'clock the castle's chapel opened ready for a Christmas Eve service, so I was able to look around and take a photograph. I then headed for the Opera House planning to walk up the famous sloping roof, however the paving was very slippery with snow and ice, so I decided against it. I went in both the new and old railway stations, but the Visitor Centre was being locked up as I arrived. I walked past the Cathedral and headed for the free ice rink, the only part of the extensive Christmas market that was open. These Lutherans Protestants are rather sensitive to the Sabbath, unlike us! I then headed past the City Hall as darkness fell.

Back at the ship I went to afternoon tea, sat with Peggy. I restricted myself to two small cheese nuggets with two cups of tea. I then went swimming and jacuzzi-ing, but the temperature of the pool had fallen from 33 to 30 degrees! I had a wardrobe malfunction as the chlorine in various swimming pools had rotted the stitching of my trunks!

At 6:16 I went up to the Drawing Room, where Charmain again bought me a lime soda. I danced with Charmain, Peggy, Sue, Elaine, Janet, Brenda, Frances, Catherine & Jan(ice)! I dined on the rib-eye steak with Charmain, Peggy and two other single ladies. I then danced with the usual suspects back in the Britannia Lounge.

During the variety show, I updated this blog and backupped my photographs. Back in the Britannia Lounge I enjoyed half a glass of egg nog, but gave the mince pies a miss. I then danced with Frances, June Snowden, Doreen from the New Forest and some other ladies. When they started setting up for the midnight mass, I went to bed at 11:30.


Third North Sea Day - Monday the 25th of December 2017 - Christmas Day!

I awoke at 6 o'clock and couldn't get back to sleep, so I was breakfasting with Charmain at 7:30. With no special on offer, I had the smoked salmon omelette. I then poured my champagne into my fruit smoothie! At 8:20 we sailed from Oslo, so I sat with Charmain in the Drawing Room as we pulled away from the magnificent, flood-lit castle in Oslo. At 9 o'clock I went to the line dancing, where Louise & Lauren taught Mamma Maria, Country Walkin' (Irish Jig), California Frieze & their own dance. Back in the Drawing Room, at the narrowest part of the Oslo fjord, we passed the shore battery which had famously sunk the German battleship Blucher in 1940!

At 11:15 we had the carol singalong in the Britannia Lounge. I lunched on parma ham and anchovy salad with Gaynor, before sleeping for two hours! At 3:30 I had tea, one prawn sandwich and one small piece of Christmas cake, sat with Charmain in the Britannia Lounge. At 4 o'clock we all listened to the Queen's Christmas message on the big screen. Near the end of the broadcast, an old lady passed out (it was very hot in here) and a code alpha alarm was sounded. The Captain leapt to her rescue and she had recovered by the time the nurse arrived. She left the room in a wheelchair ashen-faced, but awake.

Me on Christmas Day!

Me on Christmas Day!

I then went swimming with my newly repaired trunks that Charmain had had to sew up for me! The jacuzzi was not switched on until the stewardess came along, and seeing me wallowing, turned it on! Back in the cabin, I showered, changed into my formal wear and updated this blog. At the Captain's cocktail party I danced with the usual suspects and chatted with some others. I dined on the tenderloin steak with Charmain, Peggy & Ellen. Charmain gave me half her steak and Peggy gave me half her turkey! After dinner, I again danced with the usual suspects including both a jive and a waltz with Jan(ice). When the variety show started, I adjourned to my cabin to update this blog. I danced after the show, before going to bed at 11:00.


Copenhagen, Denmark - Tuesday the 26th of December 2017 - Boxing Day!

I breakfasted on the special Italian omelette, before escorting my first choice tour to Malmo in Sweden (E, N, SD). This went over the spectacular Oresund crossing of combined bridge and tunnel. We had a photo stop at the famous turning torso building designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, which is the tallest building in Scandinavia. In the city centre, our guide led us on a short walk to the large square, whilst the zimmer frames turned into the first café we came to! We then proceeded to the small square, before being given free time. I went in St. Peter's church, which was getting ready for its Boxing Day service. I also went in the impressive railway station, but couldn't find the Tourist Information Office. Back in the main square, I finally found a large panel map, together with a quantity of paper maps to take away.

The little mermaid statue in Copenhagen photo taken by Jon Horrrocks

The little mermaid statue in Copenhagen photo taken by Jon Horrrocks

Back at the ship, I lunched on smoked salmon salad with chips, sat with an ex-RAF gent. I then slept for an hour, but decided to go swimming rather than take the shuttle bus into Copenhagen. Unfortunately the classical guitarist and his girlfriend were in the jacuzzi, so I had to give it a miss. At 6:15 I finally got to buy Charmain a lime soda up in the drawing room. We danced until 7:15, by which time the Verandah restaurant was full, so we had to descend to the Pole to Pole main restuarant. Here Trevor gave us a table for four: Charmain, Peggy, Ellen and myself. I had the Parma Chicken with mozzarella cheese on a bed of pesto spaghetti. At the next table was a gent from Branksome Park in BoMoH, who used to go dancing at the Pavilion! I danced both before and after the excellent Piano Men production show, paying tribute to Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel & Barry Manilow! I went to bed at 10:50.


Gothenburg, Sweden - Wednesday the 27th of December 2017 - Boxing Day!

I awoke at 6:00 and couldn't get back to sleep, so I was breakfasting with Essex June at 7 o'clock. I had the special Egg Benedict, minus its usual sauce! I then updated this blog. Our arrival into Arendal, the deep water port for Gothenburg, was delayed by the pilots' union.

I caught the 9:15 shuttle bus into the city. I walked to the Nordstan shopping centre, where the small tourist office was open, but the desk was closed. I then visited the Central Railway Station, before reaching the Palm House in the Garden Society park. Unfortunately this didn't open until noon. I then doubled back into the city centre for the main tourist office, which was open. I headed out of the centre along the Avenue to visit the impressive Public Library. Unfortunately, at some point along here, I managed to lose my PoundLand spectacles. I crossed the Civic Centre into the main University's campus to photograph the Liseberg Amusement Park with Universeum Science Centre. I doubled back via the Vasa Church to catch the 11:30 shuttle bus back to the ship.

I lunched on seafood salad with chips, sat with the Weetabix lady and her husband. At 1 o'clock I escorted my second choice City & Haga tour (E, N). We began with a panoramic coach tour in the rain, before walking along Haga shopping street, thankfully in the dry. Unfortunately there were no public toilets, so the guide had to take the desperate few into the Art Nouveau University Library! We ended the tour at the magnificent Masthugget Church overlooking the estuary.

Back at the ship I missed the local singers, as I slept for 100 minutes. I danced with an increasing number of ladies up in the pre-dinner Drawing Room. I dined on the rib-eye steak again, sat with Charmain, Peggy & Ellen at a round table in the Pole to Pole restaurant, as again the Verandah restaurant was full. We all danced both before and after Steve Galler's excellent Sixties Singalong Showtime. After another hot chocolate with Charmain's marshmallows, I went to bed at 11 o'clock.


First Baltic Sea Day - Thursday the 28th of December 2017

I awoke at 6:30 and was breakfasting at 7:30 on the Arnold Bennett special smoked fish in cheese sauce omelette with Charmain. At 8:45 I touched base with Cassie, before going to the line dancing. Louise & Lauren taught Electric Slide, Tush Push, Fly Me To The Moon & Texas Waltz. At 10:00 I gave my 35 minute talk on Stockholm. I then sent emails to Fred. Olsen's cruise ship Boudicca, as my next cruise will be in a fortnight's time. Both Cruise Director Allan Tait & Shore Excursions Manager Hannah Jones replied promptly.

At 11 o'clock I listened to Sam's talk on Sweden, which I had heard on the Tall Ships Cruise in the summer. At 11:45 I went with Charmain to see the Scandinavian buffet in the Pole to Pole restaurant, but declined to photograph the displays or to stay for the ensuing bun fight! Up in the Verandah I lunched on poached salmon salad with chips, sat with Charmain, Mo from Purfleet and another lady. I then slept for two hours, missing Olive's third dance class, and Commander Jo's talk on the WRNS (Wrens).

At 4:30 I had a piece of Christmas cake and a cup of tea with Charmain in the Britannia Lounge, followed by swimming and jacuzzi-ing. At 6:30 I danced with reduced numbers of ladies in the Drawing Room as the Britannia Club cocktail party was on downstairs. At 7:10 I dined on the Veal Wellington with Charmain, Peggy & Ellen in the Verandah restaurant. I danced both before and after Paul Fredericks showtime. I enjoyed his singing, particualrly "Bring him home" from Les Mis sung a cappela, but not his jokes! At 10:45 I went up to the Drawing Room to catch the second half of Reece & Matt's cabaret. I went to bed at 11:30.


Gdansk, Poland - Friday the 29th of December 2017

I awoke at 7:00 and breakfasted on the special salmon omelette, sat with Charmain in her favourite corner seat. After ironing two shirts and updating this blog, I caught the first shuttle bus into the city at 9:15. I went in both tourist information offices, as I traversed the main street. I walked out of the so-called "main town", to the so-called "old town", where I saw the Market Hall, the Great Mill and the Old Town Hall, all for the first time. I continued north to the "new town", where I went in the Madison shopping centre to use their loos. I doubled back along the long wharf, before catching the 11:30 shuttle bus back to the ship.

I lunched on monkfish tails with chips, sat with Brenda, before escorting my second choice tour to the Holy Trinity church (N, S, SD). We began at the adjacent National Museum, which is actually an art gallery, where we admired the magnificent Last Judgment triptych by Hans Memling. We walked around the former monastery building to the Holy Trinity church itself, where we saw the famous mechanical nativity scene, complete with the Polish pope, John Paul the second! We were driven back along the dual carriageway to the parking lot to begin our strenuous walking tour. We went in St. Mary's basilica and saw all the main town sights. The walk finished with a visit to an Amber shop, where we had the obligatory demonstration. I stayed sat in the warmth of the shop during the free time, as it was already dark and cold outside. We walked back to the coach, admiring the lovely Christmas illuminations.

I didn't get back to the ship until after six o'clock, so I gave Charmain's suggestion of Cooper's bar a miss and went up to the Drawing Room as usual for dancing at 6:30. By 7:15 the Verandah resturant was full, so we had to go down to the main dining room again. I had the rib-eye steak yet again, sat with the usual threesome. I danced before, but not after, the local show of two pianists and a violinist, who played some of my favourite classical tunes. I was very tired, not having had a siesta that afternoon, so I was in bed by 10:30.


Gdansk, Poland - Saturday the 30th of December 2017

I awoke at 7:45 and rushed to get ready. I breakfasted on the Egg Florentin special, sat with Brenda. I then caught the first shuttle bus into town at 8:30. I headed away from the main street to explore the east bank of the Vistula/Weichsel river. I went in the five star hotel in a converted warehouse to pick up some more leaflets, before photographing the famous west bank wharf in the bright winter sunshine.

I crossed back over the brand new pedestrian lifting bridge, which had been raised the previous day. I photographed the four lions in front of the Royal Chapel, before going in St. Mary's basilica again. The new stained glass window was shining in the sun light! I doubled back to the Archaeological Museum which opened at 10 o'clock with free admission on Saturdays. I saw two old, wooden boats and a gallery of prehistoric amber jewellery. In the latter I somehow managed to set the alarm off, which they then had trouble silencing. I didn't have any local currency to pay the five zlotys to go up the black lookout tower.

I caught the penultimate shuttle bus back to the ship at 10:40. I went up on to the top deck to photograph the sailaway past the Defenders of Poland monument and the Nowy Port lighthouse at the mouth of the Vistula/Weichsel. At noon, I lunched on the gammon with croquet potatoes (not chips!) with June Snowden and another couple. At 1:30 I went to Olive's improver dance class, where she turned some beginners away. We did the syncopated whisk in the waltz again, followed by Cuban breaks in the cha cha. I danced with Jan, Frances and Charmain, before sleeping for an hour. At 4:15 I had three little hot snacks with my cup of tea, sat with Charmain & Peggy in the Britannia Lounge. I then went swimming and jacuzzi-ing, but had another, near fatal, wardrobe malfunction with my swimming trunks, which nearly fell to bits! At 6:30, 8:45 and 10:20 I danced with the usual suspects. I dined on the veal in the Verandah restaurant with the usual threesome. After hot chocolates augmented by Charmain's miniature marshmallows, I was in bed by 11:30.


Stockholm, Sweden - Sunday the 31st of December 2017 - New Year's Eve!

I awoke at 7:30 and breakfasted on the special double omelette with Charmain. At 9 o'clock Alix and her friend taught the Slosh, Red Hot Salsa, Lemon Tree & an un-named Jo Jones (Epic Moves) dance. We stayed in the Drawing Room for the sail-in via the archipelago, only venturing out for the passage between the two forts. At 11:30 we had the official sail-in party on the aft deck, where I danced with Charmain, Peggy, Ellen, Sue, Elaine & Catherine. At noon I lunched with Charmain & Peggy on the roast leg of beef (it was Sunday!) in the East to West restaurant, which had been opened as overspill from the Verandah restaurant.

Me in Stockholm

Me in Stockholm

At 12:45 I escorted my first choice Old Town & Millesgarden tour (LA, S). We began at the fabulous sculpture garden overlooking the deep water ferry port. One lady fell down one marble step that she hadn't seen, but was alright afterwards. We then had our walking tour around the Old Town. One old man with a stick struggled and complained on this tour which had been clearly labelled 'strenuous'. Two ladies failed to turn up at the rendezvous, but we found them on the way back to the coach park. They apologised for holding us up, but another passenger verbally abused them! One man wanted us to rush back to ship for his medication, despite the tour running to time!

Back at the ship, I changed into my Scottish outfit ready for the New Year's Eve celebrations. At the Captain's cocktail party I danced with Charmain & Ellen, but not Peggy. I dined on the sirloin steak again, with Peggy, Ellen, Brad & Simeon, but not Charmain who was on Michelle's table in the other restaurant. I danced constantly from 9:00 to 10:00, with the first 35 minutes strict tempo from the orchestra, and the second 25 minutes Olive's party dances. I then retired to my cabin to update this blog and drink copious amounts of water! I watched the variety show on the television, before returning to the Britannia Lounge for the production company's showtime. I then danced again from 11 o'clock until 11:35, when I changed out of my kilt and into my formal trousers. Out on the aft deck it was raining and heaving with people, so Charmain, Sue, Elaine, Brian and myself slipped out and went up to the Drawing Room, which was nearly empty, to watch the New Year fireworks. Unfortunately the cloud base was too low for half of the fireworks. I said my New Year greetings and then went to bed at 12:10.


Stockholm, Sweden - Monday the 1st of January 2018 - New Year's Day!

I awoke at 6:45 ready to sh*t, shower & shave. Despite having had two glasses of champagne and one of red wine, I didn't have a hangover! At 7:30 I breakfasted on the full English, leaving when Charmain later arrived. I was off the ship at 8 o'clock and walked into the city, taking 45 minutes. I went into the Viking Ferry terminal and the Grand Hotel to collect tourist leaflets. I then took tram no. 7 to the museums island. The conductress didn't speak English and wouldn't take my euros, norsk kroner or credit card, so she let me off paying! I went past the Nordic, Vasa, ABBA and Skansen museums going both ways to get back to my start at the King's Garden. I then walked though the Central Business District (CBD) to the tourist information office, but it was closed for New Year's Day. I also went to the office in the central station, which was also closed, but which did have lots of leaflets for me to collect. I caught the final shuttle bus back to the ship at 10:30.

At 11:30 we had the sailaway out on the aft deck. I lunched on spaghetti bolognese with Charmain & Peggy in the East to West overspill area of the Verandah restaurant. I then slept for THREE hours! I missed the talk on the Vikings, but caught part of it on the TV later. At 4:15 I had one small piece of warm quiche with my cup of tea, sat with Charmain. At 5 o'clock I went to the latter's soirée with Peggy, Sue, Elaine, David & Chris. We had two bottles of rosé bubbly and two bowls of crisps. Peggy feigned hurt at not being asked to mend my swimming trunks, so I gave her the challenge! Upon leaving, Peggy gave me her tin of Christmas biscuits and Charmain her bottle of Christmas port to go with the bottle already given me by Essex June! At 6:30 I danced with the usual suspects up in the Drawing Room. I dined on the beef with Charmain, Peggy and a lady from Caterham in the Verandah restaurant. I again danced with the usual suspects, both before and after the Graffiti Classics showtime, which I watched on the cabin TV. We had hot chocolate, before retiring at 11:10 for the night.


Second Baltic Sea Day - Tuesday the 2nd of January 2018

I slept through until 8 o'clock, before breakfasting with Charmain & Peggy on the special omelette of the day. At 9 o'clock Louise & Lauren taught Black Coffee and two other dances. I then touched base with Cassie in the Tours Office. At 10 o'clock I listened to Sam's talk on the Singing Revolution of the Baltic States. At 11 o'clock I started listening to the talk on photographic composition, but slipped out after ten minutes. At noon I lunched on prawn salad with chips, sat with Charmain, Peggy & Simeon.

I then slept for one hour, before giving my 40 minute long sixth and final port talk on "Bremerhaven, the port for Bremen" in North West Germany. At 4:15 we had the tea dance, where I danced with the usual suspects. I then worked on the port presentations for my next cruise to South Africa. At 6:15 I went up to the Drawing Room and danced with the ladies. At 7:00 the usual four of us went to the Verandah restaurant, where we sat with Howard & Isobel from Forton near Lancaster. I had the sirloin steak yet again with jacket potato and vegetables. I danced both before and after the Mersey Beat production show, which I watched on my cabin TV. At 11 o'clock I had a hot chocolate with Charmian & Peggy, before going to bed soon after. I had done seven sessions in one day!


Third North Sea Day - Wednesday the 3rd of January 2018

I awoke at 7:45 ready to breakfast on the poached egg, smoked salmon, wasabi mashed potato and tortilla shell special, sat with a lady from Letchworth and Margaret & her friend both from Lancashire. At 9 o'clock Alix and her colleague taught the Cowboy Charleston, Little Red Book, Cowgirl Boogie & Mamma Maria line dances up in the Drawing Room. I spent most of the morning in my cabin, including seeing my port talk on "Bremerhaven: the port for Bremen" again. At noon I lunched on the gammon and chips with Charmain, Peggy & a single gent in the East to West overspill area. I then slept for two hours, interrupted halfway by the Captain's annoucement.

At 4:15 I had a small slice of the smoked salmon quiche with two cups of tea, sat with Charmain & Kayleigh. Back in the cabin I watched my final port talk again, unable to swim until the lovely Peggy had finished repairing my swimming trunks! At 6:15 I went up to the Drawing Room, where Charmain bought me another lime soda and Peggy handed me my newly embroidered cossie! After dancing, I dined on the sirloin steak for a fourth time, sat with Charmain, Peggy, Martha from Cambridge and the couple from Basingstoke. I danced both before and after Paul Fredericks second showtime, which I watched from my cabin. He began with "I rode all night" by Celine Dion, but then launched into his tired, old jokes, so I turned him off! I also had my first dance of the cruise, a jive, with the lovely Olive. After hot chocolate with Charmain & Peggy, I went to bed at 11:10, but had a restless night. It was the revenge of the lobster bisque!


Fourth North Sea Day - Thursday the 5th of January 2018

I awoke at 7:50 ready to breakfast on the special poached egg on baked beans, sat with Margaret and her friend, both from Lancashire. At 9 o'clock Louise recapped Black Coffee, Lemon Tree, Texas Waltz & Fly Me To The Moon. I spent most of the morning in my cabin working on this blog and my forthcoming presentations. I only lasted ten minutes in the photo lecture and five minutes in the pirate lecture! At noon I lunched on the pasta with Charmain, Peggy and another lady who sent her first meal, a bean burger, back! I then slept for two and a quarter hours, before swimming and jacuzzi-ing in my newly repaired trunks, thanks to the lovely Peggy.

At 4:15 I went to the afternoon tea, where I had some savouries followed by a crepe with strawberry ice cream. I gave the marshmallows dipped in the chocolate fountain a miss! At 5 o'clock Charmain held her second soirée for just Peggy and me. We shared a bottle of Merlot and two bowls of crisps. I left with a small carrier bag full of chocolates! Up in the Drawing Room I pigged out on yet more crisps, which meant I struggled through dinner for the first time this cruise. I had the gorgeous lamb shank, so much better than the fatty, veal shank which I had avoided earlier in the cruise. I danced both before and after the crew show, which I watched from the cabin. After hot chocolate with the two ladies, I went to bed soon after eleven.


Bremerhaven - Friday the 6th of January 2018, Twelth Night!

I awoke at 6:45 before my alarm at 7 o'clock. I breakfasted on the special Egg Florentin with Jean from Leeds (who had been on the Spirit of Adventure when we had gone to Australia & New Zealand), together with her friend from Colchester and Charmain. I then escorted my first choice Bremen Free-Spirited on-your-own (OYO) transfer (M). I began at the city centre tourist information office (who told me that none of the museums had free admission), before traversing the famous Coopers Street alleyway. I then went in the cathedral whose excellent museum had free admission! I headed out to the main railway station, complete with another tourist information office. I then doubled back to the Schnoor medieval quarter, where I saw the children dressed as the three kings, before traversing the quayside to see the two tall ships: the Alexander von Humboldt and the Admiral Nelson!

Back at the ship, just before two o'clock, I lunched on the Parma ham salad with chips, sat with Charmain. I then caught the 2:40 shuttle bus into Bermerhaven. We were dropped off at the Emigration Museum, which proclaimed that 7 million Germans had migrated from here. I then explored the Harbour Worlds area including the Atlantic hotel, which charged three euros to ascend to the top viewing platform. I passed the zoo, the up-market Mediteranneo shopping mall and the climate house, before reaching the German shipping museum. I was able to go on to the tall bark ship without paying, which afforded an excellent vantage point to photograph the other floating exhibits. Heading back to the drop off point, I went in the tourist information office. I then traversed the main, pedestrianised shopping street. I also went in the Columbus shopping centre, only to discover it had an elevated, enclosed walkway back across the museum haven to the Mediterraneo shopping mall!

Back at the ship at 4:40, I slept for 40 minutes before being awoken by the Captain's departure annoucement. I then went swimming and jacuzzi-ing, but the two watertight doors had to be ponderously opened and closed, as we were in the shallow water of the estuary. I changed into my grey formal outfit ready for the Captain's farewell cocktail party, where I danced with half a dozen ladies. I then dined on the surf & turf, lobster & fillet steak with the usual threesome, sat at a window table in the Verandah restaurant. I danced both before and after the Totally Continental production show, which I watched whilst updating this blog. After hot chocolate with the two ladies, I went to bed at 11:20.


Fifth North Sea day - Saturday the 7th of January 2018

I awoke at 8:15 and breakfasted on the excellent Egg Royale special with Charmain & Peggy. At 9 o'clock the girls taught the Red Hot Salsa & Stroll Along, the latter as a one wall dance in contra lines, together with their own dance and then a partner dance to ten pax. I spent the morning working on my computer and packing. At 11 o'clock I listened to Sam's News at Ten reminiscences, which I had already heard in the summer. At noon I lunched on the special Bremerhaven frankfurters wrapped in bacon, sat with Charmain and Peggy, who both gave me extra helpings! I then slept for two and a half hours, before going to afternoon tea, where we heard the large pax choir. I had one last swim and jacuzzi, with my repaired swimming trunks holding out.

At 6:15 I went up to the Drawing Room for one last time. It was very quiet as Steve Galler had an early show on in the Britannia Lounge, so I only danced with Charmain, Peggy & Anne from Exeter. We did however do one final Party Samba! I dined on the sirloin steak for a fifth and final time, with Peggy giving me some of hers and Charmain giving me some of her chicken and ham pie, Ellen being far too polite to contemplate swapping food! I danced both before and after the amusing Graffiti Classics showtime, which I actually stayed to enjoy. I gave my thanks to the band and said goodbye to Chris, Ellen & June from Essex. After one final hot chocolate with Charmain in the Pole to Pole restaurant, I also said goodbye to her, until the Summer Regatta cruise. I went to bed at 11:20.


Disembarkation day, SoToN - Sunday the 8th of January 2018

I awoke at 6 o'clock and dozed until 7:00 and then breakfasted at 7:30, but it was only 6:30 UK time. I had the full English, sat with Brenda, Sylvia & Chris at a window table. I vacated the cabin at 8 o'clock, got off at 9:10 and was home by 10:10 after another super cruise!

One lady later wrote: "it was another good cruise (with a very knowledgeable destinations lecturer!)"

Saga Sapphire

Saga Sapphire


Scorecard:

17 Evenings of dancing
17 Dining tables hosted
7 Sessions on one sea day
6 Destination Lectures
6 Ports of call
6 Tours escorted
2 Cocktail parties
2 Soirées
2 Bottles of Port
2 New ports (Gdansk & Bremerhaven)
1 New city (Malmo)
1 Tin of biscuits
1 Red Arctic jacket
1 Tea Dance

Good points were:

  1. Double outside cabin on deck 4 with twin portholes
  2. New LED display above the stage for surtitles
  3. Eating in the Verandah restaurant most nights
  4. Spacious bathroom with large shower
  5. Breakfast special every morning
  6. Free wine with lunch & dinner
  7. Free hot chocolate drinks
  8. Giving six lectures
  9. Free shuttle buses
  10. Tours in all ports
  11. Free car parking
  12. No quarantine
  13. No headaches
  14. No heartburn
  15. Free internet
  16. Free water
  17. Free wi-fi
  18. 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

Current Statistics (as of January 2018):


1042 Ports called at
628 Tours escorted
303 Ports visited
209 Lectures given
118 Cruises enjoyed
21 Cruise ships:

	Saga Rose
	Saga Ruby (Saggy Booby!)
	Saga Pearl II
	Saga Sapphire
	Spirit of Adventure (SofA)
	Quest for Adventure (Q4A)

	Black Prince
	Black Watch
	Boudicca
	Balmoral
	Braemar

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

	Seabourn Sojourn
	Seabourn Odyssey

	Celebrity Eclipse
	Crystal Symphony
	Discovery
	Oriana

8 Cruise lines:

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