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Saga Sapphire - Emerging Canada 2019

Saga Sapphire - Emerging Canada 2019

Postby khkate » 14 Jun 2019 17:56

We were on the same cruise as Hazel - our first visit to Canada. Below is my FB posts done during the same cruise - and providing a different view. We enjoyed the cruise and the ports of call - but the ship was not for us!

Mon 13 May – DOVER
Well good evening all from Saga Sapphire. We are off on our travels again, heading west towards the east coast of Canada. Saga transport was late collecting us by about 20 mins, other lady already on board collected from Weston-Super-Mare Very circuitous route taken via Corsham, Chippenham, Bowood, Devizes, Andover, A303, M3 and then M25. Short stop at Clacket Lane Services and then onto Dover. Straight on board, although long wait at gangway. Cabin stewardess is Juliette. Embarkation buffet and then reacquainted ourselves with layout of ship. Chatted with the wildlife speakers. Muster drill was at 1600, then cabin to change for dinner. Sat in Drawing Room for pre dinner drinks (fruit punch), then down to MDR On fixed table (table 99). Enjoyable meal but very tired. Back up to Drawing Room to get a book for H and then bed. Ordered breakfast in cabin for tomorrow Ship left Dover at 2000. Good night.

Tue 14 May – AT SEA
Afternoon all from Saga Sapphire. We have now left the Channel and are in the Atlantic! Sea is calm, wouldn’t know you was on a ship apart from the view of sea around. Ship is doing 16.5 knots, almost full speed and a tail wind. Slept like a log last night and enjoyed the luxury of breakfast in cabin. Been very lazy, just relaxing in Drawing Room. Did attend the destinations talk and finally met up with Hazel. Lunch at the Beach Club but it’s a chill breeze out there, so retreated back indoors.

Certainly, noticed some things have gone hi-tech on board. All the staff have new uniforms, look very smart. As we arrived at Dover yesterday, security was first at ground level. Then upstairs to check in. Photo done by smartphone and passports scanned, then handed back. As Gold members, we were able board straightaway, but there was long queues at ship end of gangway. It looked like Lance Bachelor coming off ship and certainly all officers were at gangway. Shown to our cabin by staff who didn't know where it was, we were more aware than him. Previous cruises on Sapphire, we have been on deck 6 and they had huge bathrooms, deck 5 cabins are compact, even more so than Pearl was. They have changed toiletry range again, it’s now Prija.When you order drinks from the bars, the waiter/steward does it on a handheld device. When you go for muster drill, your name ticked off on a written list and then also a handheld device. Dinner orders also go on a handheld device in the MDR (not Verandah).

Gemma is Cruise Director with Maja as assistant, Rolando is cruise staff with Abi. Having a rest in cabin at present. Think we will change our dining to Verandah, MDR last night was so noisy. Anyway, that’s it for now until next update.

Wed 15 May – AT SEA (FORMAL)
Afternoon all from Saga Sapphire. So here we are again, still at sea and heading westwards. The seas have a bit more if a swell in them and this morning went through a spot or two of rain, still chilly on the outside decks. Just had a really lazy day again with breakfast in cabin, then up to the Drawing Room to read and gaze out to sea. Lunch in MDR and then back to the Drawing Room just come back to the cabin to find a bottle sparkling wine and anniversary wishes from the captain (27 years ago!). Now got three bottles of plonk and we don’t drink the stuff! First formal night tonight, will have dinner in the Verandah. Simon Fricker is the entertainment tonight but starts too late for us as I am often flagging by 2100. Captain gave a little update; he keeps mentioning about lows ahead, but if we kept on the course we are on at present, we might find ourselves in Bermuda. We are apparently on the same northern latitude as New Zealand in the south (only 10,000 miles away). He also mutters about the ice reports, ice floes and snow in Newfoundland. So far, we have steamed about 500 miles with only another 1100 miles to our first port of call. So until the next update, a bientot, au revoir, etc.

Thu 16 May – AT SEA
Thursday and its good afternoon again from Saga Sapphire, still somewhere in the north Atlantic. We had an enjoyable evening last night in the Verandah, sat with some people from a previous cruise (can’t remember names) but they had done a few trips to Africa, so lots of reminiscing about Uganda, South Africa. Had the cake, photos and singing waiters to celebrate our anniversary. Back in the cabin by 2130. Slept through to 0700 this morning, seas still calm, but temp has dropped a little, skies were grey (sun out now), but chill winds persist.

Another relatively lazy day mainly spent in the Drawing Room. Went and listened to second talk by Hazel this morning and the talk by wildlife photographer, Tom Rowlands (he was cameraman for series Canada in the Wild) this afternoon. Lunch in MDR with interesting group. Resting in cabin before dinner this evening. Clocks go back one hour tonight.

Fri 17 May – AT SEA
Good afternoon from Saga Sapphire in the north Atlantic. Seas are still relatively calm, but the winds continue to blow cold (12 degrees) and stronger - force 7. Last night sat with two ladies from Oxfordshire in the Verandah, only their second cruise with Saga. We then went down to the cinema to watch Mamma Mia 2 (3rd time of seeing it). Only six of us, and seats not very comfortable. Clocks went back one hour, so awake early. Breakfast in cabin, then up to Drawing Room for a while. Britannia Lounge to watch final presentation by Tom Rowlands about filming adventures in Zambia and Kenya. Then Hazels talk on Gaspe and Sept Iles. Rather numb bum by then. Into MDR for lunch and then Drawing Room to read. Both tired, so have come down to cabin to rest. Found out last night that the number of crew on board this cruise (415) outnumbers the passengers!

I think our clocks retreat another hour tonight also. Capt. made a remark yesterday that those passengers who are disembarking in St Johns or Montreal will get invoiced for their extra hours on board, due to some days being 25 hours long, rather than 24, lol. We are over halfway across now as its 1100 miles behind us and 800 or so to go. Adieu until the next update.

Sat 18 May – AT SEA
Hello from Saga Sapphire still at sea in the north Atlantic. Very foggy out there today, foghorn has been sounding mournfully all the time and speed has dropped right back still wandering around a bit to avoid lows, storms, icebergs, etc, air temp only 10 degrees. We had to put our clocks back another hour last night (and again tonight also), so upsetting the sleep patterns a bit.
Another relatively quiet morning in the Drawing Room reading and snoozing. We did make it to the Q&A session by Tom Rowlands (seats are too bum numbing to sit through two consecutive talks, so gave Esther Rantzen a miss). Lunch in MDR was so slow today (waited 45 mins for first course) and other 4 on our table just blanked us. Skipped coffee and had it in Drawing Room. Now in cabin having a lie down, rest.

Met Canadian Pam last night, my friend Pam is much better company. Haven’t really found any fellow passengers we get on with yet and still don’t really like the ship, but at least it’s a relaxing cruise. Anyway, adios until the next update.

Sun 19 May – AT SEA
Good afternoon from Saga Sapphire still in the north Atlantic, getting ever nearer to landfall. According to the captain's recent update, we are just 198 miles from Cape Bonavista. Last night we put our clocks another hour back - really made me realise the difference as my device still on UK time told me it was 2300 and my watch told me it was 2000.

Sat with another couple in the Verandah last night and I couldn’t hear anything she said and she kept chatting to her partner. So, another unsocial table really finished me off. Yesterday was a bad day for me and if I could have got away from the ship, I would have gone. Today, things are better.

Woke to a clear morning, still calm seas but air temp of just two degrees - have been warned that tomorrow will be cold ashore, with a strong wind and chill factor making it feel like zero, and there may be snow! Was in Drawing Room by about 0900 and it started to rain, next thing the foghorn started, and it’s still going. Played carpet bowls this morning (H won). Then to Drawing Room for coffee and cake and seating was at a premium. Roast lunch in MDR on table for 8, nice friendly group and this afternoon we are off to Hazels next talk, on Montreal. Another time change tonight - just 30 mins - and then tomorrow we are due to arrive at St Johns. So, au revoir until the next update.

Good afternoon from Saga Sapphire, and joy of joys, we are in our first port of call, St John's, Newfoundland. Yesterday's dull, misty/foggy weather persisted all day and our arrival this morning was dull, drizzly and bitterly cold winds. In fact, our captain said he nearly aborted the call as the weather looked appalling. However, thankfully, he persisted and within a couple of hours, the sun came out and blue skies ruled. Still bitterly cold, about 5 degrees. We took ourselves out for an hour or so, up some steep steps, and dawn some steep pavements. A lovely place to meander although the kerbs at road junctions are perilous, being broken up and some with hidden steps. We were greeted at the harbour gate by plenty of locals, including a gorgeous Newfie dog. Back to the ship (passed Hazel who was setting off to explore) and enjoyed some very welcome hot drinks. Then into the Drawing Room to read and relax. We have just had lunch and more relaxing. We are due to depart about 1700, and we gain another 30 mins on our clocks tonight. Last night, we shared our dinner table with a couple from Scotland that are disembarking in Montreal to fly back. She was a jolly character, but he was as miserable as sin, typical dour Scot and fed up of being at sea.

Just a little update - having just departed St Johns, we were rewarded with blue skies, bright sun on the water as we navigated a very narrow channel and then found a few icebergs just sitting waiting for us! Captain is currently just going a bit further north to locate a few more and then we will turn south and back on course Anyway, that’s all for now until my next update - adios!

Tue 21 May – AT SEA (FORMAL)
Hola from Saga Sapphire and we are in ..... the middle of the sea heading to our next destination. Before captains update at lunchtime, I would have said Sydney. However, another weather low ahead changes that, and we are heading for Gaspe. Sydney is not cancelled, just delayed - we will call there in the way back downriver. So tonight, is second formal night and then tomorrow we will arrive at Gaspe in the afternoon and be there overnight to get ourselves back on schedule. Of course, it does also mean that tonight, we must put our clocks back another hour, but I think that will be our last one for a while until after Quebec and then we will start losing hours.

So today has been another day of calm seas but strong cold winds and some rain. The maximum temp has been about 6 degrees. In lots of areas of the ship, it has been cold too, not helped by the big automatic glass doors at the back of the pool area in deck 11. They were sealed shut for a few hours to get the ship warm, and then when in port yesterday with the sunshine, they were opened - result, it’s made the ship cold again!

A pleasant couple at our dinner table last night and a beautiful sunset too (bathed the ship in lovely golden light). Today has been spent mainly in the Drawing Room reading and relaxing, apart from attending Hazels talk on Quebec. Lunch in the MDR, table of 5 and one chatty lady made things bearable. We don't tend to take part in the deck games as usual as they are in the Academy, a most unsuitable venue due to lack of space.

We had put in a bag of laundry yesterday morning and it was back as we went to bed. Also got the mid-cruise questionnaire and as we are due ro enter the st Lawrence river, a request to be conservative with use of water and towels due to environmental restrictions. So, until the next update, adios, a bientot, etc.

Wed 22 May – GASPE, CANADA
Evening all from Saga Sapphire in Gaspe. Last night was second formal night - we didn't attend cocktail party but had dinner with another couple, good company and attentive waiters. Discovered afterwards that as usual, my comments on the questionnaire had been noted. It was another hour back on the clocks last night, so now we are 5 hours behind the UK. Of course, it means we wake at silly o'clock and its still dark. Seas were slightly lumpy (being down on the lower decks does have its advantages). All I knew was my bed was rocking a bit more than usual and the cupboard door in the bathroom swung open. Later in the day, the captain said it had been a force 9 storm!

All calm by the time we got up, had breakfast and went up to the Drawing Room. Spent most of the morning up there and had lunch in Verandah (not enjoyable as made to feel awkward asking for menu, so it will be back to MDR for lunches). Both felt shattered, so down to the cabin to have a kip. Back in the Drawing Room as arrived in Gaspe. Decided not to venture ashore, save energy for tomorrow. ORCA team said several whales had been seen, including blue whales. Captain did say they had to run the ship on "whale speed”, (thus below 10 knots) - we had been doing 16 knots beforehand. Anyway, many people have rushed ashore to explore the delights of terra firma. We will have another quiet evening on board. Tomorrow, we are on tour, so until the next update, au revoir!

Thu 23 May – GASPE, CANADA
Good afternoon from Saga Sapphire on day two of being Gaspe. Relatively early start for us this morning. Originally, our tour should have been for the afternoon, but with the itinerary changes, all tours went in the morning, as we are due to depart at 1500. Thus, our tour, Geopark and Perce met in the Britannia lounge at 0845. There was only one coach on our tour, no 5, 36 passengers with Nicky as our escort, Louise as our guide and Bernard the driver - and yes, it was one of those yellow school buses, so a bit basic, no seat belts and a bit squashed for legroom.

It was about an hour’s drive along the coast, rivers in full flood as the snow is busy melting (still plenty of snow on the ground in places) and they had 3 days of heavy rain earlier this week. Very difficult to get photos from the bus as there was bars mid window. A couple of photo stops en route, but they had to be taken from within the bus, so not ideal. Weather was goad, high cloud and about 10 degrees, light airs. Arrived at the Geopark, lots of standing around as we had to go into the techno displays in small groups of 8. We were given cards to slot into different machines to see/hear different aspects of the geology/natural history of the area. It was too crowded to do it, as you had to don earphones and space at each station was limited. One rather large dramatic display about the formation of the Perce rock, but otherwise we just felt confused. There was a display on the upper floor, but again hard to understand it. We exited the display area early and sat in the foyer area until the group was ready to depart. We should have visited a glass viewing platform on the hill, but due to insufficient time, we instead got 45 mins free time in the town of Perce. An amble along the wharf to get a photo of Perce Rock, then an amble along Church Street (no time to look inside the church), then back on the bus and back to the ship, getting back just after 1300. Dropped coats off in the cabin and then MDR for lunch. Just resting a bit before departure. Tomorrow, Sept Iles. Au revoir. Shared table at dinner with same couple - the ones we get on with, and finally exchanged names. They are Dave and Lyn from Sheffield.

Good afternoon from Saga Sapphire in Sept Iles. Another calm crossing and another sunny day, but the wind is cool especially in the port area. However, air temp is about 12 degrees, and if one can find a sheltered spot, it’s quite warm. We were on bus 5 again this morning, 40 on the tour (Meeting Of Two Nations). Escort was Levine from the shop, guide was Sergei and our (excellent lady) driver was Belinda and it was one of those yellow school buses again. We started off at the museum where you get to discover about the life of the Inoo people, fascinating museum and displays. The only drawback her was the commentary - an Inoo gent only spoke the local lingo and thus there was a lady doing the translation, but she was very soft spoken, so difficult to hear. It ended with everyone sitting in a tent with a 360-degree film about their lifestyle. Then we went onto the reconstructed fur trading post. Again, another fascinating tour and it was sited at the edge if the bay, and so calming and peaceful. Not enough time here to look around properly and then it was a very quick dash and photo stop for the Botanical Gardens, before returning to the ship. As we got off the bus, I saw Leo (shore ex manager) and just mentioned to him that maybe the tour could do with another 30 mins as not long enough at the trading post and way too rushed with the Botanical Gardens being included. Be interesting to see how the afternoon tour get on.

So back on board, dump coats in cabin - luckily gangway is deck 5 today - and then up to MDR for lunch. Now having a short rest, and then we will head up to Drawing Room. We depart at 1700, tomorrow is a day at sea as we progress upriver past Quebec and onto Montreal for two whole days.

We have teamed up for evening meals in Verandah with another couple, Dave and Lynda, and thus things are improving there. Also, lunchtime MDR is getting better too, although last two days, because of tours, we have been almost the last to arrive, so service has been pronto anyway. Au revoir until the next update.

Sat 25 May – AT SEA
Good afternoon from Saga Sapphire as we move from the St Lawrence seaway (saltwater) to the St Lawrence river (fresh water) somewhere near Quebec. According to the captain, this transition means the ship will sit a bit lower in the water. Today has been a lot warmer (15 degrees) and the wind is less strong but it’s very hazy. Another lazyish day mainly in the Drawing Room once we found a seat (like gold dust) but we also sat up on the outside decks for a while. Lunch in MDR and dinner will be in the Verandah. Today selected officers and crew are doing a job swap. The captain will be part of the Explosives Singers this evening and Gemma was an executive chef at lunchtime, proudly displaying her own cooking skills (cheese on toast). Had a bit of a farce this morning with on board account as Britannia club discount no longer identified on statements. We put another bag of laundry in this morning. We were down in the cabin and saw via the bridge webcam that Quebec City was ahead of the ship. Thus, we "popped" up to deck 12 to get some photos whilst the river pilots were changing over. We will be stopping at Quebec on Tuesday, after our two days in Montreal. Anyway, tomorrow we are in Montreal, so au revoir until next update.

Good afternoon from Saga Sapphire in Montreal. Its sunny, humid and 24 degrees! A smooth slow transit upriver overnight and then they had issues with gangways when we arrived, but soon sorted. A quiet morning on board and then we wandered ashore and along the waterfront park. Lots of locals out enjoying the weather too. Lovely and peaceful to stroll along, sit by the lake and listen to the birdsong. Took a few photos and then returned to the ship in time for our lunch in the MDR. May actually sit on the outside decks this afternoon and soak up some warmth. Taking it easy today as we are here overnight, and we have a tour tomorrow morning. Capt. Horne strutted his stuff last night and warbled a few notes with the dancers; local entertainment tonight. Au revoir until the next update.

Good afternoon (day 2) from Saga Sapphire in Montreal. We had our tour (Highlights Of Montreal) this morning and it was a relatively early start - 0815 in the Britannia Lounge. What a difference a day makes weather wise also. Yesterday was hot and humid, today was very overcast, strong cold winds and threats of rain (but we only got a few spits near end of tour). We were on coach 3 (2 coaches for the trip), 25 people, Natalie as escort, Pascal as guide. Traffic in Montreal was horrendous, lots of jams in addition to piles of roadworks and diversions. However, first stop was for the Basilica. From the outside, it was very plain, but in entering (our group went in via the VIP entrance), it was definitely WOW! Just amazing. Were able to take plenty of photos and then through to the chapel behind (but no photos or talking there). Back onto the bus for a tour round downtown Montreal and then up to Mount Royal for a view over the city. Again amazing, but being overcast, the view wasn’t so clear, and it was trying to spit. Then wended our way back to the ship. Thankfully, they had set up the security screening just inside the ship. Into MDR for lunch, then spent some time in the Drawing Room, but feeling tired, so just having a rest.

Departure time changed from 1700 to 1930 because of tides and extra high-water levels in the river due to late thaw and also recent heavy rains. Sun has come out, but it’s still chilly. Some new passengers arrived last night and some more joining today. Health and safety inspectors also on board causing chaos. Tomorrow Quebec. au revoir until next time.

Good evening from Quebec. We finished last night by going to see Return of Mary Poppins film in the "cinema" last night. Only 4 of us and while we got the gist of the film, the sound quality was awful and picture kept breaking up, so will have to a proper screening some time. Thus, it was a late night as the film didn't finish until after 2300 - the advantage being it was only 1 deck up to our cabin. A relatively smooth transit downriver overnight and I watched the approach to Quebec via the bridge webcam - water was like a mirror. Weather was bright and sunny and promises of a warm day ahead. Captain warned of gangway issues - he was right, especially as local workers seemed to arrive and needed to have a coffee break before doing anything.

Our tour was not until the afternoon. We had thought about going for a little DIY wander in the morning but decided to take it easy instead - this proved to be a wise decision. When we first berthed, the gangway was in deck 7, but captain had advised that as the tide dropped, it would have to be changed to deck 5 (difference between high and low tide here is 5 metres). He had announced it would probably happen at 0930, bur that announcements would be made to confirm.

We spent the morning in the Drawing Room reading or watching the river traffic go by. At 1030, the officer of the watch announced that the gangway would be moved at 1100 and the operation would take about 45 mins. However, everybody on the ship had failed to allow for that coffee break scenario. Finally, at 1130, another announcement, that as the crane operators had now finished their coffee break, gangway change would commence at 1145. It was finally completed at 1225! We were having lunch in the MDR and quite a few people came in looking very stressed. They had been out doing a short wander and on returning to the ship, had to wait until the gangway was changed - this meant a very rushed lunch before their afternoon tour. The first afternoon tour was due out at 1300.

Our tour (Quebec Old Town and Countryside) was due to meet in Britannia Lounge at 1345. We were on coach 8 (just one coach for the tour), 43 passengers, Rolando as the escort and Marilyn as the guide. A luxury executive coach with seatbelts and plenty of legroom and space. First, we drove out towards the Laurentians, to the Sugar Shack for a demonstration of how maple syrup is made, then a taster, chance to buy the stuff and then into their cafe to be served with maple and apple pie with tea or coffee. That was the highlight of that part of the tour for us. The rest was just a commercial conveyor belt and hard sell. Then back onto the coach and back into the city for a drive around the commercial area. We then went up Horizons Observatory, the highest building in the city - 31 storeys and 221 metres high to get 360-degree view of the city and surrounds. Being such a clear day, the views were stunning and well worth the visit. Then back on the bus and a drive through the old town area before a short photo stop in Battlefields Park in the Plains Of Abraham. Sadly, the sun had gone behind cloud, so views not so good and also blocked by tree foliage. Then, more of the old town as we returned to the ship.

I forgot to mention that when leaving the ship, we had been told to go through the gap in the fence and then turn right towards the cruise terminal to pick up the coaches. Well, from the bottom of the gangway (which is near the mid to back end of the ship), to the gap in the fence, it was right beyond the rear of the ship and then walk back towards the cruise terminal which was at least three ship lengths the other direction. We didn’t have to go through the terminal, but around it and then another good ships length to the coach - so a good 15 minute hike for us. Thus, when at the end of the tour, we were returned to the terminal at 1800, it was another 15-minute hike back to the ship, and then they had added an obstacle - the security scanner in a little tent and they were thorough. So, we didn't actually get back on board and in our cabin until 1830. We had a quick shower and change and got up to the Verandah for dinner at 1910. The other half of our usual table was taken, we shared instead with Ian and Kathy, the dance instructors. A very pleasant chatty meal and both feeling shattered, we retired to the cabin.

We are berthed here overnight, departing at 0800 in the morning and then have a couple of days journeying back downriver towards Corner Brook, Newfoundland. So, its bon nuit from me until my next update

Wed 29 May – AT SEA (FORMAL)
Good afternoon from Saga Sapphire as we head back down the St Lawrence seaway. A lazy morning in the Drawing Room reading or enjoying the view from the windows, another lovely sunny day, light airs. Lunch in MDR on another awful table of 8 - tried to make conversation but failed miserably. Only animated discussion for a whole two minutes was about the Sugar Shack, love it or loathe it. Then decided to head onto the outside decks and were just in time to witness several pods of beluga whales passing very close to the ship and quite visible (but not to get photos of). Headed down to listen to Hazels talk on our last two Canadian ports - Corner Brook and Halifax. Having been in the sun, had trouble staying awake (no reflection on the quality of the talk). So now in the cabin having a rest as tonight is formal night no 3 and also tonight is the first stage of losing hours!!

Thu 30 May – AT SEA
Good afternoon on a flipping chilly Thursday from Saga Sapphire in the Gulf of St Lawrence. Its brilliant blue skies out there, but a force 5 wind and max air temp of just 5 degrees, hardly any swell on the sea. Ship is cold and has been since last night - sitting in Verandah in formal wear was not pleasant. Spent most of the day in Drawing Room reading and trying to keep warm (unsuccessfully). Lunched in MDR and put at a table for two in a poky corner at the rear. Had to purchase some disposable razors from the shop as H's razor has packed up and reception were less than helpful. Retired to cabin to get warm. Only positive note today is that no more cruises on this ship - managed to change future cruises over to new ship. Whilst eating dinner tonight, we noticed suddenly the water had gone flat calm and next thing we were in a fog bank. Lasted about 20 mins and then back into the clear skies. Also, decided to be brave tonight and had Canadian Beaver Tail for dessert. Very tasty but very sweet. Hasten to add, no cruelty to animals involved - it’s based on a doughnut with caramelized banana and maple syrup added. Clocks are advancing by another 30 minutes tonight.

Last day of another month and here we are on Saga Sapphire in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. A beautiful sail in between snow-capped mountains and fjords watched via our bridge webcam with the sun rising over the land. Of course, the presence of snow means air temps were low, about 3 degrees according to the captain, and a stiff breeze too. We took some photos of the area from the outside decks first, then headed out, with hat, gloves, scarves, thermals. We had intended to go and look at the railway museum, but seeing that bit of road had no pavement and huge trucks coming by, we opted instead to walk to the town. Just 10 minutes and we were there, a level-ish walk and a short wander around before catching the shuttle bus back.

The welcoming group of ladies for the town were wonderful and so full of information, and just utterly charming. We were given some Newfoundland kisses (local candies) and on being told this was "cuddle weather", we even indulged in some hugs - human, and with the lovely Newfoundland dog, Maggie (lots of licks too).Back onto the ship, warmed up with a hot drink and then the inevitable snooze in the Drawing Room. Then lunch in the MDR and now having a short rest in the cabin. We lost half an hour last night, tonight, we get it back again! We are due to depart this port at 1600, and then tomorrow, we will make another attempt at Sydney.

Greetings from Saga Sapphire having just departed Sydney, nova scotia, Canada - the port we had to miss earlier in the cruise. A beautiful sail out of Corner Brook yesterday and winds were a bit fierce as forecast (outside decks closed), but the seas remained steady. When we woke this morning, it was to thick fog, but the captain arrived at the berth a hour ahead of schedule. I gather that those passengers on higher decks had the foghorn sounding since the early hours, but we heard nothing.

We were the last tour out this morning, (Sydney on Foot), stickered as no 6. There was 24 of us in total, but we were split into two groups and each group was led by a guide in period costume. Just to add to the drama, as we were leaving the ship, an annual run for kids was due to set off. It is called the Fiddlers Marathon as it starts from the giant fiddle located adjacent to the cruise terminal.

We were in the second group and our guide was Wilfred, with Nicki from the tours office as our escort, and also had Sam, one of the photographers with us. We went first into the St Patrick's Church Museum for a brief history of the site and the area - also enabled us to get clear of the race route. One of the local musicians also "taught" us the local national anthem. We then headed off to the Cossitt House Museum for a rapid tour (bit too rushed), then onto the Jost House Museum. Whilst at this museum where each room was dedicated to a different area of life and history, Sam discovered a photo that was of Saga Sapphire in one of her previous guises (MS Europa). We then walked up to see the exterior of St Georges church. We then went into the Sydney Museum where some local ladies served us with tea (proper bone China cups and saucers) and homemade oatcake cookies (delicious). Then it was back to the ship.

We had lunch in the MDR and then headed up to the Drawing Room. Now in the cabin having a rest. Next stop, Halifax, tomorrow - which will be our final port of call in Canada - and then we head back across the Atlantic via the Azores.

"Reading between the lines" - letters between early residents of nova scotia and uk were done with double spacing and the replies were written between the lines of the original correspondence, to save on paper which was expensive.

"Night, night, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite" - bed bases were made of rope, so you had to tighten them up before getting into bed each night and the mattresses were made from straw, which housed a lot of bugs.

"Tying the knot" - again based on those bed bases of rope; making sure the new bed has been made as firm as possible by pulling the rope as tight as possible and securing with knots

Just some of the info passed on during our visit to Jost House Museum today.

So, we are on Saga Sapphire in Halifax, last port of call in Canada – I’m celebrating my 60th birthday - the main reason for booking this momentous cruise - and the only day where the weather has been so awful. First, many thanks to friends and family for birthday wishes, had plenty of cards and presents to open on board. Saga have also remembered and tonight, the celebrations will continue with the help of a few singing waiters I am sure.

After leaving Sydney yesterday, we had the foghorn going all night, although of course being in the bilges, we didn't hear it. It had cleared by the time we berthed here in Halifax, but the captain said rain was on the way. Sadly, he was right, and the wind was cold and strong too.

We were on departure 1 of the Halifax Harbour Hopper, sticker no 4, about 20 of us, the escort was one of the girls from the Lirica Quartet, drivers name was Rachel and can't remember the guide's name. The “bus” was about 30 minutes late arriving – apparently caught in traffic – and then they had to carry out safety checks. They didn’t put the roof up on the hopper but we were all issued with disposable ponchos, which kept most of the wet off our upper bodies, but didn’t stop the wind or the cold.

After a quick safety briefing and demonstration of how to don lifejackets in an emergency, we rumbled off. We headed off to the other end of the harbour on land and being high up off the ground, we got battered by the icy winds partnered by sleet. We popped into the harbour water right close to the casino and a navy warship. I managed a few photos, but visibility was rapidly declining. We popped out of the water and back onto terra firma to do a land tour of the city. Again, got a few photos, but by now, my hands were so cold, I couldn't operate the camera. The tour was only an hour long and had the potential for being good, but with the weather conditions, it was b*****y awful! Why they hadn't put the roof canopy up either, it would have made it a bit more tolerable. As a footnote, apparently, the 2nd departure was curtailed - they didn't even get the water part of the trip as passengers had had enough. The final departure was cancelled.

Got back to the ship and straight into the cabin to remove soaking wet clothes (mainly trousers as the ponchos had kept the upper half dry) and then a hot shower to warm up. I then opened all my cards and presents and then we headed off to the MDR for Sunday roast.

We spent the afternoon in the Drawing Room reading, snoozing and gazing out at the weather - varied between being able to see right across the bay to seeing nothing at all. The captain brought departure time forward as there's some nasty weather around. We will have about 36 hours of fog, 3-metre swells tonight and then things will improve and as we head further east towards the Azores and our final port of call, Ponta Delgada, some warm sunny weather! Tonight, we are dining with Hazel and Phil, and we also have to put our clocks forward by one hour. So farewell Canada, but still another 10 days of adventure to go.

Mon 3 June – AT SEA
Good afternoon from Saga Sapphire in a very foggy Atlantic heading ..... who knows? A very enjoyable last night with Hazel and Phil, and a bunch of singing waiters too. A lovely chocolate cake and then down to the cabin. A knock at the door and a "man in black" (room service steward) with a birthday greeting card and another very large box of chocolates from Nigel (Saga). Went to put them in the fridge, only to discover another 2 bottles of spritz! Clocks went forward an hour. Breakfast and then up to the Drawing Room to read for a while - still thick fog outside and the horn sounding every minute. Headed down to hear Hazels final port talk on Ponta Delgado. As we headed back to the Drawing Room, the captain came on the blower to announce that the weather forecast for fog was not looking good and was beginning to impact on schedules and services, so we are now heading further south to try and escape the fog earlier (like midnight tonight). My immediate thought was Madeira maybe, but we will have to see. Fighting for seats again, only table available was outside gents toilet (ugh), and it as like Piccadilly Circus. All outside decks closed due to strong winds, but amazingly, people still persist in going ng from back to front of deck 11 via the pool area, which causes cold blasts of air - far easier to go down two decks to 9 and walk through. Just had lunch in MDR and resting in the cabin. Another hour forward on the clocks tonight.

Tue 4 June – AT SEA (FORMAL)
Good afternoon from Saga Sapphire still in the Atlantic. We were out of the fog this morning, but it still keeps creeping back. However, air temps are rising, but stiff winds keep the outside decks closed, even for the ORCA team. We are definitely going to the Azores - one of the engines has developed a "technical glitch" which cannot be resolved until we get there. A quiet morning in the Drawing Room - I actually had a good night’s sleep last night (first one in a while) as we finally get back nearer UK time, (last night we lost another hour). Went to see if photos from Sunday night were ready (still waiting) and changed my Canadian dollars back to sterling this morning. H now sleeping and I have just put away all our returned clean laundry. Heard a few people this morning saying they were glad there was only another week on the ship. I might be hating the ship, but sad the cruise is almost over. We passed our dinner companions on the stairs earlier and they did their best to ignore us, so I think we will find a new table tonight - "she" has got increasingly unfriendly over the last week and sits turned away from me. Their loss! Formal night no 4 tonight. Ended up with a lovely couple on table adjacent to where we normally were. They were quite new to Saga but done many other lines and doing Iceland in July, so plenty to talk about.

Wed 5 June – AT SEA
Good afternoon from Saga Sapphire in the Atlantic, I think. Blue skies and blue seas from horizon to horizon, and yes, it’s warm too - about 23 degrees. We have had a quiet morning in the Drawing Room reading, or in H's case, sleeping (and he is asleep again now). We had a noon time change (clocks forward by half an hour), one more time change before we get to the Azores on Friday. The "engine glitch" continues to affect the schedule a bit, speed down by 2 knots and currently expected to be about an hour late arriving in Ponta Delgado. I suppose departure time might be affected by how the repair goes. We are in no rush. There is a country fayre in the Britannia Lounge this afternoon, but I think we will take the opportunity to sit outside. Otherwise, all quiet as we steam gently eastwards.

Thu 6 June – AT SEA
Good afternoon from Saga Sapphire and would you believe it, we are still in the Atlantic steaming towards the Azores. We lost another half hour in time today at noon, so now we are on GMT, and just one hour behind the UK. Apparently, it is 21 degrees outside, inside the Drawing Room this morning it was freezing. Needed plenty of hot drinks to thaw out.

Last night sat with another interesting couple who have also cruised with Saga for many years. We also popped down to the photo gallery and the birthday photos were finally available. We also popped in to see Jackson and paid the deposit for the May cruise, and requested up-to-date invoices for the two changed cruises (Oct and Feb).

This morning has been spent quietly in the Drawing Room, now just having a rest in the cabin after lunch in the MDR - I had thought of eating lunch outside at the Beach Club, but when I had gone to the loo, there was a long queue (and this ship seems to have a lack of ladies loos), so decided to come down to our cabin, and thus MDR was closer.

Capt. has given his daily update and it seems we have made up some time, expected to now only be 45 mins late arriving at Ponta Delgado - we shall see. We are not booked on a tour, just be doing a little wander, so no worries for us. Frayed tempers this evening as H has lost his comb. One of the waiters had found his pen which had dropped on the floor when he pulled a hanky out (suspect the same happened with his comb).

Good afternoon from Saga Sapphire in Ponta Delgada, Azores! Our final port of call on this cruise and it’s definitely calm seas, blue skies, warm sunshine and an occasional cool breeze. We had a quiet morning partly in the Drawing Room, but then took part in deck quoits - 18 people and H came 2nd, as part of a doubles. Then sat out by pool, which had finally been filled with water for first time this cruise but remained closed for swimming. We had fish and chip lunch at the Beach Club; they are certainly mean with portion sizes since we were last on Sapphire - had an extra basket of chips between us.

We arrived about 1415 and meandered ashore. We walked along the promenade as far as the fort and then wandered into the cooler side streets. The captain had said the temps were 22 degrees in the shade, so guess who felt hot very quickly as he was wearing an undershirt, long sleeved shirt, zippy cardi and lined trousers (he doesn't listen when I advise him to wear less layers). Even I felt warm with just a t-shirt! Now back on board relaxing for a while, then we shall have an early shower and change and relax in the coolness of the ship. We are due to sail at 2200 with another four days at sea before Dover.

Sat 8 June – AT SEA
Good sat afternoon from Saga Sapphire in the Atlantic steaming towards diver having departed the azores last night. The calmish seas continue (2-metre swell today), but more cloud about, and a force 6-7 wind, still warmish (18 degrees), but not the most comfortable conditions for sitting outside.

We put our clocks forward another half hour today at noon. That was after Gemma the cruise director and one of the lady passengers had taken over the helm and steered us into warm sunshine for a while. We also had a couple of passengers inflate a life raft and then they enjoyed a glass of champagne within, sharing their raft with a few officers, including the captain. This took place on the aft deck - quite a spectacle - and we did try to threaten them with throwing the raft overboard, but eventually they were allowed to return to the safety of the decks.

Very frustrated at lunchtime as the MDR were only doing their gala buffet, no waiter service, but we were only told after we had been sitting there for quarter of an hour (not the only ones caught out). Thus, we left and finally got some lunch at the Beach Club, as the Verandah was full! We finally got our updated invoices for our two amended cruises so popped along to see Jackson and settled the difference in costs, so all paid off now. Now having a rest in the cabin before another fun filled afternoon and evening! Sat with two delightful ladies this evening - most enjoyable chitchat we have had all cruise. Received our Disembarkation letters too - tag 6 @ 0950 and have been assigned to Britannia lounge. Apparently, on this ship, you only hear your tag numbers in the lounge you are assigned to!

Sun 9 June - AT SEA
Good afternoon from Saga Sapphire still in the Atlantic. Seas still relatively calm and the weather relatively arm (16 degrees), but a stiff breeze. A quiet morning spent in the Drawing Room reading, although we did manage another game of chess. Just enjoyed Sunday roast in the MDR with churros for dessert (yum). Now resting in the cabin. Crew show tonight. Received statement of on board spend this morning, the part refund for Halifax tour means we have spent almost nothing, probably one of the few with a small amount, as many will have coughed up a bit with charity auctions and the country fayre. Fabulous crew show - some amazing talent. And very emotional as they ended with their wonderful hand mime "we love them all too"!

Mon 10 June – AT SEA (FORMAL)
Good afternoon again from Saga Sapphire in the Atlantic just about. Weather is much more British like today, drizzly, windy. The crew show last night was fantastic and ended with the hand mime. Thus, of course for us one of our latest nights. Mind you, slept like a log. Then this morning H managed to lose his cruise card - thankfully it has been handed in at reception. Our final bag of laundry was returned also. Whilst H was using the bathroom this morning, I did some of my packing. Opening the fridge to remove all the chocolate we seem to have accumulated, I was gobsmacked to find yet another two bottles of spritz had sprouted. Knowing that requests to reception on this ship don't work, I left a note for our cabin stewardess asking for them to be removed and not replaced (crossed fingers, this has worked so far).

We spent an hour or so in the Drawing Room reading and then went down to the Britannia Lounge to hear Hazels talk on Evita. Then it was back to the Drawing Room to get some tea and cake and fight for a seat. Just had lunch in the MDR and now resting in the cabin. A quiet afternoon and evening ahead. Sad that this cruise is almost over, but not sad to leave this ship behind - even though H was convinced we were staying on (I did tell him that he was welcome to stay on, on his own). Until the next update, au revoir.

The riddle of the eternal bottles - Normally, as members of Britannia club, we would get a bottle of champagne (or sparkling English wine) when we embark upon a cruise. As we don't drink the stuff, but we tend to drink J20 spritz, they normally give us that. However, we don't drink it at home, so I have made repeated requests not to have any, quite happy with a box of chocolates instead. When we got on for this cruise, there was a large box of chocolates and two bottles of spritz in the cabin. I asked for the two bottles to be removed. Reception didn't oblige, so I took them to one of the bars.

On the day of our wedding anniversary - we got one box of chocolates, a bottle of sparkling wine and another two bottles of spritz. I asked again for all the bottles to be removed. The bottle if sparkling wine went. So, the bars got another two bottles of spritz. Birthday - another box of chocolates, and yet another two bottles of spritz. Again, asked for them to be removed. They weren't, so took them up to reception and donated them to the bottle tombola. This morning, I opened the fridge and guess what, there are another two bottles of spritz! I despair. When will somebody get the message?

Tue 11 June – AT SEA
It’s the final time that I will bid you good afternoon from Saga Sapphire and today we are cruising along the English Channel. Temp this morning was 14 degrees but by noon it had dropped to 11 degrees. Weather is reminiscent of Halifax, but without the sleet. Got our cruise questionnaire last night and I filled it in/up with all my comments. A quiet morning reading in the Drawing Room and just had lunch in the MDR. Capt. has just made his lunchtime announcement and did comment that he failed to do a lunchtime update over the last two days (but didn’t say why). We are apparently just passing Cherbourg at the moment and because of tidal restrictions, we will be getting into Dover about 0245 tomorrow, so by the time we wake up, we should be tied up alongside the cruise terminal. Time, I guess to think about the packing (sigh). So, I hope you have enjoyed "travelling" to Canada with me - until the next adventure, ciao!

Wed 12 June – DOVER
Belated good evening from Wadswick - yes, we are home. We disembarked at 0950 this morning and were very gratified to see that Saga had come up with a driver we have had before (and lives very near us), so no problems with getting us home safely. It was a good journey back - we had a lady from Marlborough in the car also. We had a short comfort stop at Reading Services and after dropping the other lady off, we came back via country lanes, reaching home at 1400. I made a quick sandwich and a cup of tea, sorted through the mega piles of post and then tackled the unpacking and also putting a load of washing in (mainly from before the holiday). I popped over to see Jenny and David at no 5 to thank them b for looking after our post and pass a little gift on. The rest of the evening has been spent sorting out some of the nasty stuff from the post - more of it tomorrow, preparing things for our little cat who comes home tomorrow. Now, my eyes are tired, my body aches and my bed calls. Good night all.
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Saga Sapphire - Emerging Canada 2019

Postby Dave » 14 Jun 2019 18:34

Thanks for the report. :thumbup:

We did a similar itinerary way back in the autumn of 2009 on Balmoral and thoroughly enjoyed it. Unlike you though we did the cruise one-way and flew back from Montreal, calling at the Azores on the way and some of the same ports of call including Corner Brook, Gaspe and Quebec. When we got home we (fairly) seriously considered emigrating to Canada. :D

By the way... I was at the cruise terminal in Dover taking photos of Saga Sapphire on the day you set off: Viking Sun and Saga Sapphire in Dover

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Re: Saga Sapphire - Emerging Canada 2019

Postby Carwalsick » 15 Jun 2019 09:09

An interesting read. We did a similar cruise on Sapphire last September/October during the fall and thoroughly enjoyed it in spite, because of storms, no stopovers in either direction so sympathised with the Pilgrim Fathers with so many days at sea. We were really impressed with the Canadians, so friendly. Each to their own opinion, we will miss Sapphire but maybe we've been lucky with many of the people we have met. We will be on her penultimate cruise around Britain next year after trying out the new one this November.

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Re: Saga Sapphire - Emerging Canada 2019

Postby rdw123 » 15 Jun 2019 11:13

Thanks for your review. I read it over my morning cuppa. A bit like you I was not sure of Sapphire on my first cruise on her, however, I have been on her again and got to quite like her. I found everyone very friendly unlike on the Braemar. I am back aboard in 6 weeks to go to St Petersburg and then up to Norway. Right down in the bowels this time on deck 4, I know my place! Booked there in case it’s lumpy, deck 9 was not pleasant for a couple of days in Biscay. Living in a flat I may have to use the lift this time, I don’t usually. Try to get a bit of exercise in but there are limits!
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Re: Saga Sapphire - Emerging Canada 2019

Postby rdw123 » 15 Jun 2019 11:13

Thanks for your review. I read it over my morning cuppa. A bit like you I was not sure of Sapphire on my first cruise on her, however, I have been on her again and got to quite like her. I found everyone very friendly unlike on the Braemar. I am back aboard in 6 weeks to go to St Petersburg and then up to Norway. Right down in the bowels this time on deck 4, I know my place! Booked there in case it’s lumpy, deck 9 was not pleasant for a couple of days in Biscay. Living in a flat I may have to use the lift this time, I don’t usually. Try to get a bit of exercise in but there are limits!
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Re: Saga Sapphire - Emerging Canada 2019

Postby Camela » 15 Jun 2019 15:04

Thanks for posting and also being honest with your 'warts an' all' report! It's always interesting that people have widely differing views of cruise/ships. Good that you have been able to change your two future cruises.
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Saga Sapphire - Emerging Canada 2019

Postby judgegeoff » 16 Jun 2019 00:30

Many thanks for your most interesting and honest review blog Lesley. :clap:

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Saga Sapphire - Emerging Canada 2019

Postby Gillzajoker » 16 Jun 2019 15:47

Very interesting and detailed review, Lesley - thanks for sharing :D
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