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Saga Pearl 2 - Med and Canaries 2019

Saga Pearl 2 - Med and Canaries 2019

Postby khkate » 16 Feb 2019 15:56

Another pile of ramblings - compiled from my FB posts - done during our recent cruise on Saga Pearl 2 - our final ever trip on her.

Friday 18th January - Portsmouth
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in Portsmouth. Driver was 45 mins late collecting us due to usual satnav issues. Sharad car with Rae and Bob from Swansea. At port at 1330. They have changed entry, so luggage is dropped off first and then passengers. Booked in, had cup tea from Costa and boarded at 1400. Had some buffet and then cabin to unpack. Muster drill will be at 1615 and we sail at 1700. Capt is Richard Lambert, cruise directors Kayleigh and Resty. social hostess Maja, destinations Peter Hipkin, shorex staff Andy and Grazia.

Saturday 19th January – AT SEA
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in the Bay of Biscay. Yesterday evening going down the English Channel was a bit lumpy and also this morning until we entered the bay. Now its much calmer. Already been told that after leaving the bay tomorrow, it could get a bit windier and lumpier - maybe we should stay here. Weather today, minimum of 11 degrees, some sunshine, some heavy showers. Some shipping visible on the horizon, both sides. Managed a lie in this morning, and late breakfast and then carpet bowls. Just 6 of us, didn’t win. Then took it easy, lunch in MDR. Birthday cake for H failed to happen last night but spoken to maître d’ and should get it tonight. Show this evening is a magician, Ian Kendall.

Sunday 20th January – AT SEA (Formal)
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in Atlantic off Iberian coast. Weather this morning was warm air (12 degrees) but a force 6 wind and lumpy seas as we exited the bay, plus rain. However, this afternoon, the sea has calmed down an temp is up to 15 degrees, bright sunshine and blue skies. Still a stiff wind though, need a blanket to sit outside. Played skittles this morning (L-3rd out of 6). Roast lunch in MDR and played Never Say Die this afternoon (H-2nd out of 6). Now resting before first formal night. Didn’t stay up to watch show last night. H got his cake last night and the singing waiters too. Sat at lunch with a couple who normally used to be regular Cunarders, but said Saga has the edge. Other couple have done P&O (never again) and Fred (similar to Saga but charge you for everything).

Monday 21st January – AT SEA
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in Gibraltar Straits. Our clocks went forward one hour last night. However, this morning, we were rewarded with blue skies, calm seas (wouldn't know you were at sea) and warm sunshine. Ok, the wind is still a bit cool, but managed to be outside for a short time without donning a fleece. Many passengers were up early to see the lunar eclipse - but not us. Temp was 14 earlier, now about 17. Played golf putting this morning (H won), then killer darts (L 2nd). Relaxed in library and lunch in MDR, then more reading, snoozing in library as we turned from Atlantic into Gib straits, more shipping visible, mainly commercial. Played beetle drive (H won, L second). Now in cabin resting before dinner, Robin Hill, classical guitarist show tonight, tomorrow Ceuta.

Tuesday 22nd January – Ceuta, Spain
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in Ceuta, or just departing. We have had a lovely day here. Played carpet bowls this morning and then went into explore the town and thanks to Hazel’s excellent instructions, we found the city walls. Then we walked along the Med shore line and back via the cathedral. We played deck quoits before lunch and then relaxed in the library. Could not believe how visible the Rock of Gibraltar is from here.

It was sunny and blue skies this morning with light airs, but co at about 14 degrees. However, during the afternoon, the wind as strengthened and the storm clouds gathering. The captain has just advised us that there would be a force 8 storm overnight on the north African coast, increasing to force 10 by tomorrow, so the call to Melilla is cancelled and we will instead follow the Spanish coastline, having a day at sea tomorrow and then be in Ibiza on 24th, thus avoiding the worst of the weather. Incidences of the norovirus are still occurring on the ship (we are ok), so the extra sanitising measures will continue. No self service at buffet, no pools or sauna, no launderette, so still free laundry for everyone. We have been warned that the seas will be very turbulent for the next half hour, whilst we cross the shipping lanes and get tucked into the Spanish coast.We went to see Robin Hill perform last night, some of it was good. Its a piano quarter tonight, so unlikely to go see that. We are both tired, so maybe an early night again.

Wednesday 23rd January – AT SEA
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in the Med. Sea got a little lumpy (as forecast) overnight and was still quite swirly this morning, but sunshine, blue skies, air temp of 14, but wind at force 7. Seas calmed during the day, air temp up to 20, but wind coming in from the west still too strong to allow sitting out, especially as it was coming from the west. Tonight, it changes ro the north and will reduce and we have been advised the weather will remain good for the rest of the cruise. Sadly, illness on the ship gets worse, with more cases of the bug. Harry and I are OK and have not encountered anybody affected. Ship is now on code red status, with new hygiene measures being introduced daily.

Since boarding, the pools, sauna and launderette haven closed and no self service at the buffets. In the last couple of days, sugar, salt, butter and pepper is sachets only. Today it is paper serviettes only and the verandah and dining room are being fumigated after each meal. Cabins and public rooms are all also regularly sprayed. I suspect back at Portsmouth, we will have to be off the ship for a few hours, to allow the whole ship to be done again. Generally, morale is good amongst the passengers, and even the crew, even though their workload and hours have increased a lot. There are a few grumbles from a few passengers.

Anyway, today, we did golf putting (H 2nd) and then relaxed in the library - my hips have not been good today, so decided d to take it easy. Lunch in MDR and then beetle drive (H 2nd again). Now resting in the cabin before dinner. We are due to arrive in Ibiza tomorrow at 0800 and there for the day, sailing at 1700. We then sail straight to Mallorca to be there overnight and all the following day, putting us back on itinerary. Due to the change in itinerary, it is now 5 ports in 5 days, which will be too much for us, as we had tours booked for Algiers, Cartagena and Malaga. Thus, mutual discussion, we decided to give up the tour in Algiers and spend the day on the ship, thus giving us two ports to explore, day of rest and then another two ports.

Thursday 24th January – Palma, Mallorca
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in Palma, Mallorca. The last 12 hours have been "interesting". Our captain had warned us that heavy seas were expected for a couple of hours from midnight last night, but then would calm down as we approached Ibiza. Well, at 0400, I was awoken as the bottles of water (they don’t have the jugs any more) launched themselves off the table onto the floor, taking a glass and my hairbrush with it. Nothing broken, but it was a rapid wake up. Ship was lurching, so retrieval was difficult. We left them on the floor, just wedged them all, so they couldn't roll around. Things calmed down and we went back to sleep. Breakfast in the verandah, just as the sun was coming up and we should have been docking at Ibiza. However, the map tracker seemed to indicate we were going around in circles and the island was only just visible.The captain came on the tannoy at 0830 to say that at present wind and sea conditions were making it impossible to get into the port. The local ferries were struggling to get in and out and there was only one tug. Eventually, at 0900, the port authorities declared the port as closed, so we had to head off for Mallorca. By this time, it was evident that the wind was very strong (about 80 knots) and the sea was also getting pretty rough too. The captain advised it would be like that until we got to the shelter of the coast of Mallorca.

So, the ship lurched its way across, not many people moving around, so seats were scarce as the restaurants were being fumigated. We managed to play skittles in the cinema (L won) and Rummikub in the briefing room (again L won). Meanwhile, outside, we have blue skies and bright sunshine, but because of the angry seas and the gales, all outside decks were closed, so no way of appreciating the sun, apart from through a window. We finally berthed safely in Palma at 1600 and are here until 1700 tomorrow. It is still very cold out there as the wind is now gusting at 40-50 knots, but is expected to drop during the night.

We had afternoon tea and then came down to the cabin to relax, only to find broken glass all over the floor as the drinking tumblers had launched themselves to the floor during the day - all quickly cleared and replaced. The bug apparently continues its journey; we still are unaffected thankfully. We just hope it clears soon. At tea today, Resty sat with us to have a chat. I was saddened to hear that many of the cruise staff we know have left - Andy Galler (was asst cd), Danielle (fitness), Fernando (asst cd) plus a few others. I gather there are a lot of changes in the ways the ships are being run and many staff are not happy. They also are apprehensive about the new ships. Oh well, we shall see. Resty also said how many loyal passengers have said to him over the last few months "we shall miss you, but this will be our last cruise with Saga".

Friday 25th January – Palma, Mallorca (Formal – BURNS NIGHT)
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl just outside Mallorca. Well, finally, we have had a day of blue skies, warm sunshine and no wind, so proper Mediterranean weather. We had breakfast, played carpet bowls and then caught the 1000 shuttle into town. We were dropped off by the cathedral and wandered around the streets for a couple of hours, exploring little alleys. Very few cars and hardly any people, lively. I know we passed Mallorcan Pearls and the municipal theatre, but other than that, I couldn’t specify where we were. We eventually made our way back to the main highway that follows the coast, but couldn’t see the cathedral. There was a man at a bus stop, and I asked for the cathedral and he pointed us in the right direction. Eventually, it came into view and thus we were able to find our way back to the shuttle bus point. We got back to the ship, just in time for lunch at 1230. We then found a sunny place to sit (and sleep). We played dominoes and chatted for a while. We are now in the cabin relaxing before getting ready for formal night tonight.

The library on board has now gone into lockdown. All the books have been removed, the shelves covered up and when you finish reding a book previously taken out, it gets returned to a box by reception. Thankfully, we both have plenty of reading material. We have now left Mallorca and are on our way to Algiers. Weather forecast overnight is for calm seas, fingers crossed. I went down to the tours office and was able to rebook for the city tours of Algiers, but we will be in the morning rather than afternoon. I also made enquiries about booking the sidecar trip for Funchal. Special menus to keep issued tonight to keep for Burns Night, with words of the “address to the haggis" in English and Scottish. Tables decorated with a tartan band. Bagpiper arrived eventually (everybody was on dessert). Early night as on morning tour tomorrow.

Saturday 26th January – Algiers, Algeria
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in Algiers. Well, another glorious sunny day, warm sunshine and a gentle breeze. We had breakfast and onto the outside decks to get some photos. Then into the discovery lounge to be stickered for our morning tour of the city. We were on coach 4 (two coaches) with Anouk the spa manager as escort and Karim as our guide. So glad we decided to reclaim our tickets. The only downside was because it was a Saturday and a sunny day, the traffic was horrendous. However, the police cars escorting us did a good job. We went to the Martyrs Monument for some amazing panoramic views of the city and the bay. Then back into the city for a drive past many places of interest. Then up a hill on the other side to a church for a look inside. There was a commentary given by somebody, but it was difficult to understand as it was so full of echo. Back to the ship for lunch and then into the outside decks for a couple of hours. Back inside and played Rummikub (L won the 2nd game). Now back in the cabin relaxing, and we are just leaving the port ½ hour late and on our way to our next port, Cartagena. On returning to our cabin after dinner, a letter from shorex to say our tour in Malaga (Private Car Collection) cancelled due to insufficient numbers. So, on board account credited with £78. Also, an email from Felipe (Madeira sidecars) to say we can book directly with him (€100 for the two of us for 3 hours) and sort out payment when we return to UK.

Sunday 27th January – Cartagena, Spain
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl just outside Cartagena. Well, we read reports of the UK getting arctic blasts of wind and snow, today we have had more blue skies, warm sunshine and light airs - temp up to 20 degrees. It was high cloud and plenty of mist about as we arrived in Cartagena this morning. Headed off on our coach (no 3) with Resty and John as our escorts, Felipe as our guide and Antonio as our driver. Felipe knew how to talk, but thankfully, when in the motorways, he put CDs of local music on.

The tour today was Discover Marrazon and The Little Train, which from the description sounded promising. It was a 45-minute drive to Marrazon through some very arid countryside, but with plenty of almond, orange and lemon trees. Approaching Marrazon, you pass the remains of silver mines and the moved earth spoils, quite scenic, plus some very large dry river beds, which when it rains can quickly fill with large quantities of water.

We got to a large car park full of people preparing for a run along the beach, or to do sand surfing apparently. We boarded our land train which took us to one end of the bay where there were some examples of sandstone formations within the smaller bay. Then we turned around and went along the length of the bay to the town of Marrazon. From the tour description, it had said there would be plenty of opportunity to see more sandstone formations and the very impressive long, wide sandy beach. Sadly, the train went along the main road, which was built up on both sides with only occasional glimpses of the beach and even fewer glimpses of any sandstone formations. We went up a short hill to see a church, but it was all covered in scaffolding, so hard to see. At times, the train went quite fast, and being in the shadow of the buildings, it was freezing. We eventually stopped and went and looked round a small roman archaeological museum. The guide talked the whole time and it was very dimly lit, so hard to make out what he was jabbering about. It looked like it was something to do with the mining of salt. Then back onto the land train and a short 5-minute ride to the main promenade where we then had 40 minutes free time - spent it sitting in the sun warming up and thawing out. Then back to the land train and another 5-min drive to meet the coach. Then it was back on the coach and the drive back to Cartagena via the motorways. All in all, a disappointing tour.Back to the ship for lunch and then sat on the outside decks for a couple of hours. Retreated to the sundowner bar for a refreshing glass of lemonade and then down to the cabin. The captain announced that we are almost clear of the bug - no new cases for 24 hours. Hurrah, so hopefully, things may soon return to normal. We have been warned of lumpy seas tonight - 2-metre swells and that we are going into wind. Tomorrow's max temp will only be 15 degrees! Troubadours are the show tonight.

Monday 28th January – Malaga, Spain
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in Malaga, our last port of call within the Med. Well, as predicted by the captain, it did get a little lumpy last night. Thus, decided to give the evening show a miss and head down to the cabin. we put the water bottles and glasses on the floor and slept soundly. We woke at 0600 to see the lights of Malaga ahead of us via the bridge webcam and then back to sleep until 0730. As our tour had been cancelled, we had a quiet day. Weather has been blue skies and plenty of sunshine - temps of 11-16 degrees - but a cold wind. We played carpet bowls abd then headed out for a short walk through the botanical gardens and along the promenade. I took some photos, but the wind was so cold, my hands got frozen. Back to the ship after about 1.5 hours and went to get hot drinks from the sundowner bar. We then sat in the library until lunch. After lunch, we braved the sun loungers on the sun deck for about 45 mins, but it was too cold to stay out there for long and the wind had increased. So back to the library and had a cool drink. Now down in the cabin relaxing. We are due to sail at 1700. Tomorrow is a day at sea and then Vigo, final port of call on this cruise. Finally left Malaga 45 minutes s late due to a lost passenger plus late finish of bunkering. Good news is the ship is finally clear of the virus and the library, sauna and launderette will reopen tomorrow – insufficient water to fill the pools. We exit the Med via the Gib Straits at midnight and then are warned that as we head north up the Iberian coast, we face lumpy seas.

Tuesday 29th January – AT SEA
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in the Atlantic ocean off the Iberian coast. Well, today started off grey, and wet, but there have been spells of sunshine. Its been windy (what a surprise) but temps of about 16 degrees. So, somewhere out of the wind and in the sun, its been lovely. Last night was lumpy until we went through the Gib Straits and then calmer. Gentle rocking at present. We played skittles this morning (L won), then relaxed in the library (books are back). At captain’s lunchtime broadcast, he stated that due to a very big low coming in, the call into Vigo tomorrow is cancelled, as otherwise he would have to stay there for 3-4 days until the depression went through. Instead, we have another day at sea tomorrow, speeding up to try and beat the storm, although we may still catch the edges of it. Thus we will be at sea on Wednesday and Thursday, we will be in Honfleur on Friday and back into Portsmouth as scheduled on Saturday (that is the plan anyway). We have warned that tonight and into tomorrow, the sea conditions will get lumpier.

This afternoon we played dominoes (L tied first) and now in the cabin relaxing before dinner. Serenata are due to perform tonight (cello and violin duo) but I guess that will depend on sea conditions. Will go to watch them if possible.Coming out of dinner this evening and walking past the noticeboard in the library where they show the weather forecast maps, it was full of charts coloured red and purple. Brought to mind the cruise in 2013, when Judy, Kath and Julia were with us and the ship ended up being in Lisbon for 3 extra days. We've just been to the evening show and made it back to the cabin where its a bit rocky. Earlier, I looked at the shipping forecast and it was showing Fitzroy and Biscay as force 9/10! Sweet dreams.

Wednesday 30th January – AT SEA
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in the Bay of Biscay. Well, last night was a bit lumpy, but this morning it eased a bit but now the sea state is long swells of about 4-5 metres. The wind was force 4, is currently about force 7 and set to increase to force 10, but things should calm down after midnight as we get further north. Skies have been very dull and grey and visibility poor with frequent spells of rain. Played ring cross this morning and also indoor deck quoits, in between sitting in the snug. Lunch in the MDR and then managed to get a seat in the library until time to play Rummikub. Now relaxing in the cabin before dinner. Early Evening show has been cancelled due to the performers being affected by the weather, later show is the Troubadours. We did attend Serenata show last night, very good. We have another day at sea tomorrow and also last formal night, then Honfleur on Friday. Tours have been arranged but they are long ones, so we will either stay on board or catch shuttle into town to explore depending on weather.

Thursday 31st January – AT SEA (Formal)
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in the English Channel. Last night was the long swells still, and they did not reduce as promised. Day dawned really grey, murky, wet, windy and still lumpy - we had lost the swells, but the wind was still playing havoc with the seas. We exited the bay at lunchtime and now we have blew skies mainly with warm sunshine but ..... the wind has increased to about 70 knots and very angry seas, so all outside decks are closed for safety, but not too bad walking around inside the ship with care. A few leaks inside the ship by one of the MDR entrances and also on the stairs by MDR but cleared up once the rain stopped.

Busy day for us - played carpet bowls (H -2nd), Wii bowling (H-3rd), indoor shuffle board, lunch in MDR, brief rest in library (watching birds circling outside in warm air currents from the funnel), then beetle drive. Had tea in verandah and now in cabin to rest before formal dinner. Have collected passports from reception and bought some more euros, plus also collected map and shuttle bus timetable for tomorrow in Honfleur. Laundry is all back nice and clean too. Only uncertainty now is arrangements for Portsmouth, we still haven’t been told, but should get a letter tonight. Formal night tonight, but we wont be going to cocktail party, and probably an early night, feel tired after being so active. H managed to have an argument with a table during Wii bowling, nice bruise on hand, but otherwise ok.

Friday 1st February – Honfleur, France
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in Honfleur. Well seas finally calmed down at midnight. I still had a poor night of sleep due to aching shoulders; rather overdid it on the games front yesterday. As we arrived in Honfleur this morning at 0745, still dark and raining/sleeting. Decided we would stay onboard, especially as Saga had still failed to communicate what arrangements were for Portsmouth on Saturday. The captain announced on his welcome broadcast that there were blue skies and it was dry - liar - although that was the case by mid morning. We went for breakfast and then to reception to find out what was going in. Still no info, awaiting a decision for om head office, so I decided to email my mate Nigel, which worked. We then played skittles (L won), then back to cabin to return passports to reception. Still no official news.

Sat in library for the morning, lunch in MDR and then cinema to watch Mamma Mia 2 . Finally got our letter to confirm that we could stay on board tomorrow although some services would be disrupted. Decided as weather was not looking too clever for Portsmouth that we will stay warm and cosy on the ship tomorrow, another easy relaxing day. Played Never Say Die(L came 3rd), tea in verandah and now in cabin resting before dinner. Serenata final show tonight and we put our clocks back one hour tonight, back to UK time.

Saturday 2nd February – Portsmouth, UK
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl just outside Portsmouth. Well best laid plans went awry this morning for Saga - glad we had decided to stay on board. Weather today has been blue skies and glorious sunshine, but a keen wind. We berthed at the first berth on time at 0700, but there was a long delay getting the special equipment on board. We finally moved over to the right berth at 0930 and disembarkation started at 1000. Discovered, this last cruise had 380 passengers on board and 20 staying on. Saga did well to get 360 passengers off in one hour - I am sur it was chaos in the terminal though.

We sat in the library until 1130, when we had to move to the verandah, so they could fumigate the public rooms. Down to the MDR at noon for lunch, Caesar salad and a lovely dessert we only see on turn around day, Textures of Chocolate. I said to the maître d, that it should be available during cruises as it was so delicious. He asked for our cabin number and asked when we wanted it, I said tomorrow. As we left rhe dining room, he told me it was all arranged.

Sat in the library as new passengers started filling the ship. Muster drill at 1530 and then onto outside decks to get some photos and enjoy some hot chocolate at sailaway and our next cruise - Canaries in Bloom- commences. Capt Nick Sunderland, cruise directors Jemma, and Resty, destinations speaker Jack Wilson, entertainment 4Ds, a violinist, comedy magician and piano entertainer. Guest speakers Chris Beardshaw on gardens and at least another two floral themed ones. Saw Andy (tours office) and it was agreed he would book the sidecar for us and we would pay direct. (Didn’t tell him I had already arranged it)So now relaxing in cabin before dinner. Weather forecast and seas good for next 24 hours.

Sunday 3rd February – AT SEA
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in the Bay of Biscay. Today, the seas, sun and wind have been kind. The bay is like a millpond, there have been some blue skies and warm sunshine, about 10 degrees. We played carpet bowls (L 4th) and then got a hot drink from the verandah and sat outside for a while. Then sat in the snug and then the library. Finally caught up with friend Pam. Lunch in MDR an then library for a read, snooze, watch the sea. Played beetle drive and now in the cabin resting before dinner. Magician act tonight - Danny Buckler. May go and see what he's like. Got our special dessert for dinner tonight - Textures of Chocolate - as as previously arranged.

Monday 4th February – AT SEA (Formal)
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl off the Iberian coast (sounds familiar). Well, it got a little lumpy last night and the winds certainly got stronger too, up to force 6. Grey, cloudy skies too, but it is supposed to be 15 degrees if you can shelter from the wind. Played skittles this morning (H -4th, L- tie 2nd). Then into destinations talk on La Palma. Hot drink from the verandah and then to the snug to read. Lunch in the MDR, another real oddball at the table, so again we didn’t linger (normally sails Costa). Library for the afternoon to read and snooze, joined by 3 ladies who were all knitting. Played Never Say Die in verandah and now in the cabin relaxing before first formal night. Didn't make the show last night, tonight is violinist, Hazel Ross.

Tuesday 5th February – AT SEA
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in the Atlantic Ocean. Today is 15 degrees, sunny-ish, light airs and the ocean is flat as a pancake. Still failed to make the show last night. I had felt a bit under par yesterday and took things easy. Feel a lot better by getting almost 10 hours of solid sleep last night. Put a bag of laundry in this morning (and back by the evening). Played golf this morning, then sat outside verandah on outside decks for a while. A "garden" has appeared around the pool, plus another one outside sundowner bar! Apparently, Saga gave rhe lady a budget of €30,000 to purchase the plants and stuff to create it - hmmm! Sat in the snug until lunchtime, lunch in MDR, sat with 2 other couples whose husbands both had more advanced dementia than H. A bit unsettling for us both. Library this afternoon, caught up with friend Pam (busy bee). Beetle drive (14 of us) and now resting in cabin before dinner. Tomorrow we arrive in Funchal where we are booked to do our sidecar experience again. Temps forecast to be 18-21 degrees.

Wednesday 6th February – Funchal, Madeira
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in Funchal. Well, a truly spectacular day weather wise, blue skies, warm sunshine, light airs and the mountains had no clouds obscuring them. We were up and had some breakfast as the ship berthed at 0800, and the temp was already 17 degrees. Some photos of the sunrise from the ship and then we headed off to find our motorbike and sidecar. We soon met with our transport and our driver, Felipe. I was a bit surprised to see two motorbikes. It transpired another couple had booked, then cancelled, but the shorex manager, Andy, decided to have a 1-hour taster trip.

So, all dressed up in warm layers of clothing, leggings, thick socks, pullovers, fleece jackets, gloves and scarves, we climbed aboard - me in the sidecar and Harry on pillion - and climbed out of the city. We were soon glad of our warm clothing, especially as many areas were still in shadow. Felipe stopped at a few viewpoints in the way up, so we could slowly acclimatise to the change in altitude, plus just enjoy the scenery. We went to the Eira do Serrado - 1.095 metres – ( the viewpoint over the Nuns Valley) where there is a restaurant, hotel and souvenir shops, plus a good path (partly slope, partly steps) to a viewing area to look down into the valley below. Then back onto bike and headed down into the Curral das Freiras (Nuns Valley); we had not been there before. Felipe took us to the end of the village, an area not often visited, even by locals, but the views are stunning and peaceful and you get to see a slice to true rural life, plus you get a good view of the whole valley, the river, the local farming and also all the towering peaks around. Apparently, all this valley was formed by glaciers and erosion. The viewpoint we had been at (before descending to the valley) had been an altitude of about 4000 feet above sea level. Within the valley, we were at an altitude of about 400 feet above sea level. The valley is very productive for farming of chestnuts, cherries, oranges, lemons, wines and many of the original inhabitants of the village never saw the sea, even though it is only about 10 miles away, as it was so inaccessible due to the surrounding mountains. We really appreciated the chance to enjoy the natural scenery and the peace and quiet too. We then headed a short way back to the village where we stopped at a cafe for a coffee and a chance to relax in the very warm sunshine on a balcony overlooking the valley. Sadly, soon we had to retrace our steps and return to Funchal, and then to the ship.

We got back at 1330, just in time to catch a light lunch. We were joined by friend Pam, who had also just returned from her coach tour. We then sat for a while in the sun on the aft outside decks, before coming down to the cabin to rest. We are now just about to depart Funchal and head further south towards the Canaries - tomorrow La Palma.

Thursday 7th February – Santa Cruz, La Palma
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in La Palma. Another early night last night and 10 hours of solid sleep after yesterday's adventures. Should have been clear skies and 20 degrees today, but we woke to cloudy skies and a chill breeze, so too cool to be outside, although pleasant behind glass. Played skittles and Wii bowling this morning, then sat in library until we arrived in Santa Cruz, La Palma - one hour early - at 1100. We stayed in the library until 1230, to allow those going off on tours to get their lunch. Saw Pam, as her tour was due out at 1300. We went into the MDR at 1230, then went onto the aft outside decks as the wind had dropped and the temps in low 20s. Spent the afternoon relaxing and now down in the cabin ...... relaxing, as its getting cool outside, plus they have started up a generator on the sun deck, so it sounds like a chopper sitting there. Hazel the violinist doing a performance tonight and we are berthed here tonight. Hope to go and explore the town in the morning - we don't sail until 2000 tomorrow.

Friday 8th February – Santa Cruz, La Palma
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in La Palma (day 2). Well, the seas outside the breakwater got a bit lumpy last night, but being tied up and inside the harbour, we had a peaceful night. We made it to the show last night - excellent. She and the magician have gone home today, new acts join the ship for the last week. Almost hard to believe that this time next week, we will be back home. Temps today started at 17 degrees - sunny, cloudy but very humid.

We took a walk into town this morning, just as another cruise ship - Aida Stella - arrived. This is the first time in a month we have seen another cruise ship in port. (No doubt tomorrow in Tenerife we will see a few). We had a walk around Santa Cruz for about an hour, never found the wooden ship - replica of Christopher Columbus’s ship, the Santa Maria. Sat in the library until lunch in MDR and then a couple of hours on the outside decks, now in the cabin relaxing. We sail tonight at 2000, and head for Tenerife. There is a pop-up alfresco dinner this evening outside sundowners, but we will dine as usual in the verandah.

Saturday 9th February – Santa Cruz, Tenerife (Formal)
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in Tenerife. Smooth sailing overnight and 16 degrees of humid cloudy heat on arrival. Norwegian Spirit and Aida Stella already in. Morning on board, played carpet bowls (L 2nd, H 3rd). Then drinks from verandah and sat outside on aft decks. Got too hot, so retreated to library until early lunch in MDR. Sat with interesting gent who apparently was 94 (looked 74), but he's a Chelsea pensioner, ery interesting to hear about life there.

Down to cabin to get ready for tour - Tea at the Orchid Gardens. Coach no 5, escort Susan from the shop and 44 on the tour. Views very hazy as winds from the east have brought dust from the Sahara. On the motorway for half hour, bit slow due to traffic jams. Stopped at Humboldt viewpoint for views of Mt Teide and Peurto de la Cruz. Then down into Puerto de la Cruz itself and finally to gardens. Walk down a steep alleyway and were told we had an hour there, which included tea and cakes. Trouble was it took 15 mins to walk to the terrace where tea was to be served. Two ladies doing the serving were totally disorganised. Their tea pots were normal small domestic ones, that only served up 3 cups per pot. They were going around with plates of sandwiches first before doing the teas. Limited shade, so very hot for many. Then the owner gave a talk on history of the place, before finally at 1615, we had a chance to quickly look round. We had to be back up the top of the alleyway by 1630. Got a few photos but could have done with more time there. Then back on the coach and straight back to the ship. Its formal night tonight, so a quick shower and change. Its Britannia Club party so will show our faces as its last one for us on this ship. We were due to leave at 1800, but there is some work in the engine room that wont finish until 1930, when we then set sail for Lanzarote.

Sunday 10th February – Arrecife, Lanzarote
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in Arrecife, Lanzarote - our last port of call in the Canaries and penultimate port of call on this cruise. Day dawned bright and sunny with clear blue skies and temps already at 17 degrees, but the warm winds blowing. Put a bag of laundry together this morning. Fully intended to go ashore today but got talking to friend Pam and then it was too late to think about it. Quite glad actually as it would have been too warm, and my hips were playing up a bit after the coach tour yesterday. Spent the day taking it easy on board alternating between keeping cool in the library and soaking up same sun on the outside decks. Now just relaxing in the cabin, we are due to depart at 1700 and set sail northwards to La Coruna.

Monday 11th February – AT SEA
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in the Atlantic. Clear blue skies with temps of 17 degrees, but only if you can find a sheltered spot as we have force 6 winds and slightly lumpy seas. H has the beginnings of a cold today, so been taking it easy. We did golf putting and Wii bowling this morning. Just had lunch in MDR, now resting in cabin.

Tuesday 12th February – AT SEA
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in the Atlantic somewhere off the Iberian coast. Last night was quite lumpy, all the water bottles moved to the floor by the cabin stewardess. However, we both slept well and this morning, the seas had quietened, the skies were blue, the sun was shining, air temp was 16 degrees and the winds were lighter. Put another bag of laundry together as H had used a pile of hankies. We played carpet bowls - biggest turnout so far, about 20 of us. Found a seat in the library and stayed there for the morning. Captains fish n chips in MDR at lunchtime, then back to the library. H had a haircut booked (use up some of our on-board credit). Got back to the cabin to find an invite to dine with the chief engineer (Ciro d'Allessandro) tomorrow at last formal night. Went to reception to accept. Now in cabin relaxing. We have to put clocks forward one hour tonight, prior to arrival in La Coruna in the morning. Tonight’s show is the piano man and 4Ds. Received Disembarkation letters, tag 2 at 0910!

Wednesday 13th February – La Coruna, Spain (Formal)
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in La Coruna. Well, a truly beautiful day weather-wise for our final port of call. Smooth seas overnight and the day dawned to blue skies, light airs, brilliant sunshine and 14 degrees - its now about 18 degrees. Played skittles this morning (H joint 4th, L 3rd). Then along to the cabin for coats and camera and exited the ship at 0945.

We walked along a bit of the promenade by where all yachts are moored and then wandered into the narrow streets of the town onto the boulevard that overlooks the beaches and hills on the other side and then back into the maze of streets and somehow found our way back to the promenade. We wandered along by a little park and took some photos before walking back around the marina and back to the cruise terminal and the ship, boarding her again at 1145. Down to the cabin to leave coats and camera and then find a seat in the library and I went off to get some drinks. The excursion into the fresh air seems to have helped H's cold abate a bit. Lunch in the MDR and then a siesta in the library whilst soaking up some warm sunshine. Now in the cabin relaxing before our final formal night. The ship is due to depart at 1800, next stop Portsmouth after a day at sea. Enjoyable dinner – table of 6. Was sitting next to Mrs “engineer”, a lady from Sweden, who we have spoken to a few times around the ship.

Thursday 14th February – AT SEA (Valentine’s Day)
Good afternoon from Saga Pearl in the English Channel, my last post from this little ship :( the seas calmed overnight, and we woke to another day of cloudless skies, light winds and lots of sunshine, temps about 12-14 degrees. Played carpet bowls and deck quoits this morning. Collected passports and returned the two bottles of J20 to the ship, rather than taking them home. Lunch in MDR, sat in library for a while and then went an interesting talk by Jack Wilson about Southampton and its liners. Played Rummikub (L won 2 games) and then down to cabin to pack Box of chocolates from the captain and there's a special Valentine's menu tonight. Clocks will go back one hour tonight and then tomorrow, we leave this ship and her lovely crew for the last time.

Friday 15th February – Portsmouth, UK
Good afternoon ..... from Wadswick! Yes, we are home again. Seas were dead calm again last night. Woke at 0600 this morning, to find the world was thick fog. This caused a slight delay in getting safely into Portsmouth - as the captain announced later, it was zero visibility! Looking out of the windows when we were apparently alongside, the red lifeboats of the adjacent ferry were just about visible. However, the ship was only 30 minutes behind schedule. Lots of hugs and tearful farewells this morning - with fellow passengers and plenty of the crew. We were off the ship and in the car by 0930, so in fact not far behind schedule. Saga finally came up trumps with the car service - we had a car to ourselves and the driver lived local to Wadswick (and he has driven us before), so there were no issues about finding our way back. We got home by 1145 - bright sunshine and clear skies - and are now unpacked, got a load of washing on (from before we went away) and have had a light lunch. We have waded through all the piles of mail and are now relaxing and catching up with things. At least, Harry seems to have finally kicked his cold into touch!
Future Cruises - Canaries Canada, Iberia, Med, UK
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Re: Saga Pearl 2 - Med and Canaries 2019

Postby Carwalsick » 16 Feb 2019 16:14

We had a chat with Fernando on our last cruise and he told us that now in his sixties he was looking forward to spending time with the youngsters (presumably grandchildren) at home.
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Re: Saga Pearl 2 - Med and Canaries 2019

Postby rdw123 » 17 Feb 2019 10:39

Thanks Lesley. A good read for a Sunday morning. Your friend Pam is she originally from Canada? If so believe I met up with her each day for dinner on one of my previous cruises. Wonder what the new ship will be like. Will find out next January meanwhile I have 2 on Sapphire to look forward to. Happy sailing. Ruth
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Saga Pearl 2 - Med and Canaries 2019

Postby grannyM » 17 Feb 2019 11:15

Thank you Lesley - agree with Ruth - nice read for a Sunday morning. :thumbup:
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Saga Pearl 2 - Med and Canaries 2019

Postby Gillzajoker » 17 Feb 2019 13:04

A wonderful 'saga' from the Saga, Lesley - enjoyed it all! :D
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Saga Pearl 2 - Med and Canaries 2019

Postby Mungo » 17 Feb 2019 14:12

Thanks for sharing! :thumbup:
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Re: Saga Pearl 2 - Med and Canaries 2019

Postby cruisemad » 15 Mar 2019 16:43

Thank you for an interesting read.
We disembarked Sapphire a couple of weeks ago and sad to say Norovirus was present and carried on thru to the following cruise as well in spite of the best efforts of the crew.
We have 3 cruises booked on the new ships and are really looking forward to sailing on them.
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Re: Saga Pearl 2 - Med and Canaries 2019

Postby Camela » 15 Mar 2019 23:00

Cruisemad, glad to see a newbie on the forum. Let us know your cruise history/experience.
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