The next 4 days were enjoyed at sea, heading across the Atlantic and towards Ponta Delgada. I spent one day reading a book about Titanic and its connection to Halifax. I know, I could have picked a better subject, but I was eager to learn more about the ships’ connection to the port we had just left. over the years, I’ve read and heard so many stories about the disaster, but I wasn’t aware of half the things noted in that book, It was incredibly interesting. Once I finished, I moved on to another book on the same subject, but it was about survivor stories and originally published in 1912. Did you know that a pet pig survived the sinking?
During one of the sea days, there was an onboard auction to raise money for The Silver Line. Up for grabs were some very interesting opportunities, including steering the ship, starting the engines and inflating a liferaft on the deck. Captain Horne and Dame Esther Rantzen were in charge of the auction and proved to be quite the comedy duo. It was a fun 90 minutes, although I’m sure it would have gone on for much longer had the Cruise Director not told them both to get a move on. We all got the chance to participate in the liferaft inflating, but I’ll get to that later.
One thing I always look forward to when sailing with Saga is the BBQ, but more than that, the live Jalfrezi cooking demonstration on the Verandah Deck. I do enjoy a good curry and this time, we had the choice of chicken or prawn. Obviously, I had to sample both, it would have been rude not to! The chicken was my favourite and the chapati bread (freshly made chapati bread) was incredibly light. The whole meal was delicious. I sat with 5 other people for lunch that day and I don’t think we spoke two words to one another until our plates were empty, we were completely fixated on the food. Yes, I went back for seconds, I’ll hold my hands up to that!
We arrived in Ponta Delgada slightly later than planned because of an issue with one of the engines, but no one really cared. The sun was shining and for the first time, we felt hot! I enjoyed the morning watching the numerous dolphins playing in the ships wake and then got myself ready for my afternoon panoramic tour.
‘Scenic Sete Cidades’ was the highlight of my time in Ponta Delgada. We drove through the western part of Ponta Delgada, via the coastal route, before we arrived at Feteiras, where the road climbs to Sete Cidades (Seven Cities). We stopped at the crater for a photo opportunity and were greeted with a rather incredible sight. The crater is 1,900 feet above sea level and eight miles in circumference, and from our view point on the craters edge, we could see two distinct lakes below, one green and one blue. The blue lake reflects the sky and the green lake reflects the lush vegetation of the crater walls. From here we drove to another view point on the island, from where we could see the east and west coasts.
It was a short tour and that suited me just fine. I wanted to get back to Saga Sapphire and soak up every last second of the day, and the 4 sea days we had to come.
We sailed from Ponta Delgada at 10pm and enjoyed a lively deck party until around midnight. Everyone was having a good time and it was nice to be outside, with live music, delicious drinks and for a while, no coat! I know, how lucky were we!
As I mentioned earlier, there had been an auction onboard several days earlier to raise money for The Silver Line. One of the prizes was to inflate a liferaft on the deck. The excitement wasn’t limited, however, to just those that would be doing the inflating, the ship made a show of it and everyone lined the aft decks to watch. It was great fun, but incredibly noisy! I had thought at first that it wasn’t going to inflate, but once a few crew members helped out, the plastic soon popped, and the raft began to inflate. It was left on the deck for a few hours so everyone could have a look and take some photos. I’m glad no other ships were close enough to see what was going on, they must have thought we were crazy! I love things like that. Something different that you definitely don’t get on many, if any other cruise ships. I’ll post the video to my Facebook page in the coming days, so make sure you’re following.
In total, passengers & crew on this cruise raised a massive £15,957.90 for The Silver Line! This was by way of the auction, donations and during the last few days of the sailing, a country fayre that was held in the Britannia lounge. I could hear screaming, shouting, laughing and cheering from 2 decks above, so I had to go along and see what was going on. Everyone was having a ball and the crew were getting right into the thick of it. It was great fun and such a fab idea to raise more money for The Silver Line. I’d never seen so many people walking around with bottles of wine, there were clearly a lot of happy winners.
The food throughout the cruise was exceptional, as it always is with Saga. The choice and quality is always first-class and there’s never a dish that I don’t want more of, especially in East to West. I was going to share a few photos with you of my favourite dishes, but I’ve decided to put them all in one blog so you can enjoy everything, and maybe get some ideas for home cooking. Watch this space…
Saga Sapphire is one of my favourite ships and although I enjoyed every second of the cruise, it was bittersweet and honestly, quite emotional. It’s likely that was my last time to sail on her before she leaves the fleet and it makes me sad to think that I’ll never travel with her again. She has left with with some wonderful memories and amazing friends and I will miss her.
I met some lovely people on this sailing and came across some familiar faces. A massive thank you to each and every one of you: Jay, Julie, Anthony, Liz, Geoff, Verity, Pauline, Joan, Captain Horne, Jemma, Maja, Dianja, Diana, Genesis, Danny, Ryan, Chelle, Mary-Hazel, Boyet, Rey, Rolando, Francis, Chef Francis, Executive Chef Gavin Baxter, Bernard, Felix, Richard, Mark and the amazing team of SuperCrafters, Hazel, Jackie, Brian, Diane, Margaret, John, Pat, Tony, Norma, Steve, Ramel, Becky, Sam, the Explore Ashore team, Santosh, Vishal, Frederick, Jose, Judy, Lucito, Joven, Reinier, Dion, Nikko, Adelino, Abel, Kelvin, Alvin, Limuel, Jimoel, Estelita, Irene, Walter and Reymel. I’m sorry if I’ve missed anyone off the list, but thank you, too!!
Last but by no means least, a huge WELL DONE to all of Saga Sapphire’s crew. During this cruise they had a rather intense and brutal inspection, but as we all knew they would, they aced it and sailed away with a score of 98%.