I have just returned from a 24-night mystery cruise aboard Saga Sapphire and I’m incredibly excited to tell you all about it. I had wanted to blog live throughout the cruise, but unfortunately the internet just wasn’t on my side – I’m here now, so let’s get started…
We spent the first few days at sea and it was much appreciated – a chance to relax and once again enjoy being aboard this wonderful ship. I took part in a few of the quizzes, although I didn’t do very well, and I enjoyed 2 evenings in Cooper’s listening to Ben playing the piano. I also had the pleasure of bumping in to several crew members and passengers that I met on my previous Saga cruises, so we all had a good catch up and chatted about where we thought we were going on the cruise – speculation was spreading like wild fire.
Our first port of call was Cadiz in Spain and our included excursion was a visit to the Gonzalez Byass Wine Cellars. I was only in Cadiz a few weeks previous to Sapphire’s visit, so decided I would go with the included tour as I’d never been to Jerez before. I admit, the tour wasn’t something that I would usually choose myself, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the sherry tasting – I am definitely a ‘sweet’ girl! I also found the tour of the various cellars and function rooms quite interesting, and the story about the mice – they leave a glass of sherry out for the mice and prop a small ladder up against it (so the mice can reach the top of the glass). Turns out mice like sherry just as much as humans do. The visit there ended with a show from some Andalusian horses and a flamenco dancer. It was a nice way to end the tour and I think everyone left feeling like they’d had an authentic taste of Andalusian life – it was a nice start to the mystery cruise.
It turned out that we were also in port the following day and this time we had a stop in Motril, Spain. The included tour here was ‘Flamenco and Wine Tasting in Hacienda Senorio de Nevada. As much as I’d enjoyed our tour in Cadiz, I’d had my fair share of Flamenco and alcohol tasting, so I decided to jump on the shuttle bus and head into town. I enjoyed the stroll, but it’s not one of the best places that I have been. I think our stop here was a way of throwing us off balance with regards to where we were going, and briefly, it worked! As we sailed, we were treated to a wonderful BBQ on the open deck. The food was incredibly good and everyone enjoyed dining al-fresco beneath the warm Spanish sky. It’s these little touches that set Saga apart from some other cruise lines.
Our third port of call was Tangier in Morocco and as it was another new port for me, I was raring to get off the ship and explore. I do like Morocco, very much, but I’d previously only ever visited Casablanca. Our included tour here showcased a Tangier Folkloric show at a local hotel which was good, but it went on far longer than it needed to and eventually the ships tour escort’s made the decision to move us outside for a display of tribal horsemanship. The setting was very impressive and I was eagerly awaiting a fun show, however, it wasn’t quite what I’d expected and I was slightly disheartened by the treatment of the horses. After a few minutes, I left my chair and moved away from the field. I found a black and white kitten that was clearly looking for some attention, so while the other passengers enjoyed the rest of the horse show, I played with the kitten – I was tempted to try and smuggle him onboard, but I didn’t! Once the show was finished, we got back on the coach and enjoyed a drive through the city, up to Cap Spartel (where we met a gorgeous baby donkey) and then had a walk through the Old Medina. The latter part of the tour was wonderful, I absolutely loved the city and would have appreciated more time there. Our guide, Hassan, was fantastic. He knew everything, he waited for everyone and he was simply a pleasure to be with. Thank you, Hassan, I enjoyed my time in Tangier and I can’t wait to return!
We awoke the following morning to a sea day and as the sun was beating down on us, I spent most of the day on deck, relaxing. Only moving occasionally to forage for food! Sometimes you just need a day of doing absolutely nothing and I’d found myself a book in the onboard library that was holding all of my attention. It suited perfectly.
Our next mystery port was Lanzarote and I thoroughly enjoyed our drive around the island. We briefly went through the Tumanfaya National Park; made a stop at El Monumento al Campesino, where we sampled some rather delicious potatoes that were coated in a garlic oil; and enjoyed stunning views across to the island of Graciosa from the Mirador del Rio view point. I love the volcanic landscape in Lanzarote, it’s certainly unique, but you need to venture away from the port area (as we did) to see it and appreciate it – so do some exploring when you visit. Before this particular trip, I wasn’t a huge fan of Lanzarote at all, but the tour Saga provided really did change my view on the island.
Once back onboard, my friend and I went along to the ‘Catch the Killer’ murder mystery that was being held in the Britannia Lounge. I enjoyed these during a Baltic cruise on Saga Sapphire last May, but I’m not very good at putting the clues together – I never get the killer right! We had several more throughout the cruise, including one where crew were the suspects. It was hilarious! Captain Rentell and his lovely wife also joined in and I must say that for me, the star of the show was Mrs Rentell. My sides ached by the end of her performance, she had the entire room in fits of laughter. She owned her part. We sailed from Lanzarote quite late and before doing so enjoyed a fantastic Mediterranean BBQ on the open deck – actually, it was more like a royal banquet than a BBQ and everyone relished in it.
We stayed in the Canary Islands and found ourselves in Fuerteventura the following morning – another new port for me. Our included tour was titled ‘Uncover Fuerteventura’ and our first stop was at an Aloe Vera farm. We all know how good for the body aloe vera is, both inside and out, but it was also interesting to learn what to NOT buy when it comes to aloe products. The lady at the farm told us that if your aloe vera product is blue or green in colour, then it has lost a lot of its properties as additives have been included, the best aloe products to get are either clear or white. You also want to try and get a product that has more aloe vera in it than anything else and some of their products are an impressive 98% pure. The wonderful potions on sale were quite pricey, 20 euros for 1 bottle of aloe gel, but it was so worth it – you could instantly feel that your skin was moisturised. We also made a stop in the village of La Oliva which was nice, and then a stop in the fishing village of El Cotillo which was even better. El Cotillo was beautiful and it allowed us the opportunity to explore on our own and grab some refreshments. Fuerteventura grabbed my inner travel lover with both hands, I was transfixed by the ever-changing scenery and the desert like landscape. It certainly found its way onto my ‘must visit again’ list.
The Saga Sapphire Mystery Cruise will continue with part 2 very soon……