Cruise SA347
on the Saga Sapphire
to the Irish Sea

(Please scroll down to see my photographs and report)

Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
29th May
- Aboard
by 1:00
31st May
& the Liffey
1st June
2nd June
Isle of Man
Steam Train
& Castle Rushen
4th June
Broadchurch &
the Jurassic Coast
West Bay
& Bridport
5th June
- Home within
three hours!

Embarkation Day - Tuesday the 29th of May 2018

I awoke at 6:10 and left home at 8:10. There was trouble at both ends of the M3, so I stayed on the M27, before turning on to the A3. On the M25 and the M20 there was torrential rain, but no hold ups, so I was in Dover before noon. I sat with Wendy from Plymouth in the departure lounge, where I also said hello to dance host David. I was on board by one o'clock and slept until three. I then touched base with tours manager Andy and greeted Dorothy from Nottingham.

At the safety drill I said hello to cruise director Simon. At the sailaway I chatted with the couple from Wakefield and danced with Janet from Folkestone and Catherine from Berkhampstead. The latter was sat with new dance host Eddie. I then had to miss the CDs welcome cocktail party. At 5:30 Andy gave his ten minute introductory talk, before I gave my 45 minute lecture on Dublin. One gent accosted me before the lecture over the tall ships and afterwards over the cathedrals!

Me & Marlon

Me & Marlon

I then went up to the drawing room to chat with Mick & Shirley, who told me I would be invited to their planned soiréee! When Hilary came to join us, I slipped away for dinner. I sat with Roger from Sussex and John from Penistone, together with a couple from Walton-on-the-Naze. I had the broccoli & cheese soup, the braised beef, the almond toffee ice cream and the red wine. It was good to be back! Back in the cabin, I began this blog, before dancing in the Britannia lounge with Catherine, Janet, Anne & married Jill. This finished at 11 o'clock, when I retired to update this blog.

First Sea Day - Wednesday the 30th of May 2018

I awoke at 7:50 ready to touch base with Andy & Rose at 8:30. I then had the special herb omelette with bacon in the Verandah restaurant sat with two couples and a single gent. At 9 o'clock Alex and Rhian taught Alley Cat, Mamma Maria, California Frieze & Country Walkin' (Tell me Ma). At 10 o'clock I went to Simon's interview with celebrity chef and Manx man Kevin Woodford in the Britannia lounge. I didn't know that he had been the head of the catering department in a Sheffield FE college.

At 11:15 I gave my 40 minute talk on Liverpool. I lunched with couples from Windsor & Barnet together with a single gent, before dozing for three quarters of an hour. At 2:30 I talked for another 40 minutes, this time on Douglas the capital of the Isle of Man. I then slept for another half hour, before doing six lengths of the indoor pool. I wallowed in the jacuzzi, also for half an hour, together with the heavily tattooed Glaswegian Saga Fleet Superindendent!

At 6:15 we had the Captain's welcome cocktail party where I chatted to the American magician. I dined on the Tornedos Rossini fillet steak with Mary from Bexley and the young coloured South African jeweller, who now lives in Carshalton. We danced both before and after the Yeah Beatles tribute act, whose classic early songs all sounded samey. When the dancing finished, I rushed up to the Drawing room to catch the second half of Michael & Kenny's cabaret. I sat with Shirley, who had been on the Captain's table for dinner, as Mick had already gone to bed. When the boys finished singing and Stuart took over, I went to bed at 11:30.

Dublin - Thursday the 31st of May 2018

I awoke at 6:45 just before my alarms, ready for the Egg Florentine special. I then escorted my third choice Dublin & the Liffey tour (E & LA). We began on the lovely Liffey Voyager, which gave us a three quarter's of an hour cruise on the river. The Captain was a young Slovenian girl called Irena and the guide was a young Irish lad. We then had a panoramic coach tour of Dublin with four photo stops. The guide on the coach was Sean an elderly Irish man with a great sense of humour!

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle

Back at the ship, I lunched on the BBQed steak and chips, sat with Anne from Flax Bourton. I then had a deep sleep for an hour and a half, before updating this blog. I went up to the top deck for the sail away from Dublin, but, although the sun was shining, the wind was cold, so I retreated down to the aft verandah, where I chatted to Janet. I only lasted ten minutes in the TT motorcyclist's interview with Simon, before working in the computer room. Here I had to deal with a last minute request for a Gulf of Bothnia port speaker. Unfortunately it began the very day I got back into Dover, so I had to turn it down.

Dublin Castle Trinity College, Dublin

Dublin Castle & Trinity College Towers

I attended the Britannia Club joint Newcomers cocktail party, but slipped out when the speeches began. I dined on the scampi & chips with young Tracy from Sidcup. We danced both before and after the excellent "Totally Continental" production show. I went to bed at 11 o'clock.

Liverpool - Friday the 1st of June 2018

I awoke at 6:45 ready for the Ranger Egg special sat with Janet. I also had a croissant stuffed with ham, cheese and marmite! At 8 o'clock I escorted my second choice Iconic Liverpool tour (E). We began at St. George's Hall, went in the huge Anglican cathedral and visited Penny Lane. Whilst inside the cathedral, I had a phone call from one of my agents offering me a port speaker contract on the lovely Saga Pearl II at the end of August. However I am already contracted on this cruise as a dance host, so Saga will have to agree to me doubling up!

Fab Four

Fab Four

Back at the ship, I dined on BBQ steak AND gammon with chips sat with Anne and her two relations from Wilmslow. I then slept for an hour and a quarter, before heading back into the city. I began at the John & Yoko exhibition in the Liverpool museum, before going around the Albert Dock. I bought some sticking plasters in a city centre shop, before visiting the Carpathia bar on the roof of the White Star HQ. The café in the Port Building had already closed, but the new, small tourist information office was still open in the Cunard building. I didn't go in the third of the three Graces, the Royal Liver building, which is now home to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), which pays my pension!

Back at the ship again, I had a cup of tea, but no food, listening to the Sea Shanty choir in the Britannia lounge. At 5:30 I gave my 40 minute talk on Portland & Weymouth. For the third time the same gent came up to me to argue that the two Dublin cathedrals had always been Protestant, in spite of them being medieval churches built before the Reformation! At 6:30 I went to Mick & Shirley's soirée in the Card Room, before dining on the lamb shank sat with Tracy, Dorothy and John from Penistone. We danced both before and after the Yeah Beatles' second show, which I ducked out of in order to update this blog. The dancing finished at 11 o'clock and I was asleep soon afterwards.

Douglas, Isle of Man - Saturday the 2nd of June 2018

I awoke at 5.45 and couldn't get back to sleep as I was excited to be visiting the Isle of Man, the first time since the late 1970s! I breakfasted on the special omelette with crispy bacon, followed by a croissant stuffed with smoked salmon, cheese and marmite! I then escorted my first choice tour to Castle Rushen in Castletown, the ancient capital of the Isle of Man (LA, M, N & SD). We then caught the steam train back to Douglas.

Back at the ship, just before 2 o'clock, I lunched on the cold roast beef with cold chips as the Verandah restaurant was closing. I then slept for one hour, before catching the 3:45 tender back into Douglas. I hastened to the impressive Manx Museum before it closed at 5 o'clock. I spent the next hour photographing some of the more important sights. At the sea terminal, I had to wait an hour and a half to get back to the ship, as one ferry departed and another one arrived to disgorge large numbers of motorcyclists.

I dined on the rib-eyed steak al fresco sat with John from Penistone and a couple from Rye. We danced both before and after the American magician's showtime, which I ducked out off in order to update this blog and back up my photos. When the dancing finished, I went up to hear the girls' cabaret in the Drawing Room. Unfortunately too many people talked all the way through it, so I didn't stay to the end, but left when the disco dancing started.

Second Sea Day - Sunday the 3rd of June 2018

I awoke at 6:30 ready for breakfast at 7:30. I had a cheese omelette with full English on the side sat with Anne. Back in the cabin, after doing some computer work, I napped for an hour. This was the second time recently that I have had to sleep in the morning, as well as the afternoon! I only lasted ten minutes in the "Can't Cook, Won't Cook" pantomine as the Captain, the Cruise Director and Kevin Woodford talked over and interrupted each other.

At noon I lunched on the roast beef (it was Sunday!) al fresco with a couple from south east London. I then slept for two and a quarter hours, so I must have been tired! At 4 o'clock I did half a dozen lengths of the indoor pool, before wallowing in the jacuzzi for twenty minutes.

At 6 o'clock I went to the Captain's farewell cocktail party, where I danced with Janet, Catherine and two other ladies. I dined on Kevin Woodford's signature beef fillet dish, sat with Stuart, two single ladies from Bexleyheath and a couple from Gloucestershire. We danced both before and after the excellent new Burt Bacharach production show, but Eddie failed to appear after the show! Dancing finished at 11 o'clock and I was in bed soon after.

Portland, Dorset - Monday the 4th of June 2018

I awoke just before 6 o'clock to watch the sail-in past Portland Bill. I enjoyed the Arnold Bennett special omelette, followed by a croissant stuffed with ham and cheese. At 8 o'clock I escorted my first choice tour entitled "Broadchurch & the Jurassic Coast" (M & N). We began at the Portland Heights viewpoint, before visiting West Bay, formerly Bridport Harbour. We then moved on to Bridport itself, before returning to the ship.

I lunched on the roast lamb sat with Anne, before sleeping for 45 minutes. I then caught the 2:30 shuttle bus into Weymouth and the 3:30 one back again. I did six lengths of the indoor pool, before wallowing in the jacuzzi with the heavily tattooed and nipple pierced officer! At 5 o'clock we had the sail away from Portland, the band played to very few people as nearly everyone waited for the local cannon to be fired. I danced once each with Janet and Catherine, before packing.

At 6:45 I dined on the sirloin steak with jacket potato, not chips, sat with a gent from Canterbury, a lady from Radlett, a lady from Norfolk and a couple from High Wycombe. The latter gent regaled us with stories of his work as a joiner for Sir Norman St. John Stevas the MP for Chelmsford. We danced both before and after the American magician's second show, which I ducked out of in order to update this blog. Just before 11 o'clock the band finished and I said thank yous to the two Robs, Kieran, Mike & Nick. I said goodbye to the three remaining dancers: Anne, Janet & Catherine, before retiring for the night.

Disembarkation Day, Dover, Kent - Tuesday the 5th of June 2018

I awoke at 6:30 ready for the full English breakfast in the Verandah restaurant. I returned to my cabin to finish packing and update this blog. I was off the ship by 9:10 and home within three hours after another enjoyable cruise!

One lady wrote: "Enjoyed reading your latest blog. It was obviously a great cruise. Particularly loved the photos of Dublin - we are cruising with Saga there next year. Glad you kept off the "junk" food!"

I scored 1.67 in the pax questionnaire where 1.0 is Excellent, 2.0 is Good, 3.0 is Poor and 4.0 is Very Poor.

Saga Sapphire

Saga Sapphire


7 Evenings of dancing
7 Dining tables hosted
4 Port talks given
4 Tours escorted
3 Cocktail parties attended
1 Soirée enjoyed
1 New port visited (Douglas)

Good points were:

  1. Double outside cabin on deck 4 with twin portholes
  2. Eating in the Verandah restaurant every night
  3. Spacious bathroom with large shower
  4. Breakfast special every morning
  5. Free wine with lunch & dinner
  6. Free hot chocolate drinks
  7. Giving four lectures
  8. Free shuttle buses
  9. Tours in all ports
  10. Free car parking
  11. Dressing gown
  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 June 2018):

1096 Ports called at
 661 Tours escorted
 381 Ports visited
 241 Lectures delivered
 125 Cruises undertaken
  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

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

	Seabourn Sojourn
	Seabourn Odyssey

	Celebrity Eclipse
	Crystal Symphony

8 Cruise lines:

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