My second Canary Christmas cruise started with an early shared transport pick up at home and after 5 hours arrival at Southampton after two short stops.I had immediate boarding and delivery of luggage was quick to a cabin on M grade deck 5.Ferdinand introduced himself as my cabin steward for this cruise:he was friendly and efficient:I ordered tea each morning and it came despite the rough seas.The ship was full with over 700 passengers with an average age of 76.The captain Phlip Rentell said that the sea down to Lisbon would be "lumpy" although I thought that pretty rough was more appropriate.It turned out to be uncomfortable across the dreaded Bay of Biscay.We were offered sea sickness tablets which I gratefully accepted.The first full day at sea was memorable for the high seas-nothing like the height en route home.The third night was devoid of sleep until dawn and I was grateful for the cruise staff providing a variety of deck games to keep me awake in the morning.Liusbon at last and a walk from the shuttle bus to explore this delightful city and flowers.We had several concerts by the excellent Trinity Trio and the piano playing of Martin soothed the pains of travel,which had already included an ill passenger being helicoptered off the ship to hospital.
Sunny in Casablanca and a good walk from the shuttle to the partly restored church with its impressive stained glass.I had been here before so I was soon back on the ship and next day bound for Agadir where I stayed in the ship.Enjoyed the sun of Arrecife Lanzarote and a stroll along the long clean beach.
Next day was Christmas Day and the ship looked really good with all the decorations and an excellent formal Christmas lunch:I had this in the Veranda as I have never really enjoyed the main restaurant.The Queen's Speech and a Trivia Quiz completed my day.Boixing Day was at Tenerife and my only booked Saga coach trip:exoensive but a chance to see three lovely gardens in fine warm weather.Next was Gran Canaria and a very short walk to a so-called market and back to the ship for a tour of the Bridge:the ship had been built for a German company as Europa and is 32 years old already.So to La Gomera although it was at a berth in the main town and not as advertised.I enjoyed my 3rd visit here to visit the old keep,two churches and the Columbus house:it was lovely warm weather.We could not leave port that evening due to excessively high winds and we stayed at berth until the morning of the next day.We were on our way to see the fireworks at Funchal across increasingly rough seas and high winds which rolled the ship and also at one stage brought much water from the pool over passengers enjoying the sun and fish & chips.New Year's Eve and calmer waters to berth at Funchal-the programme suggested a tender transfer.I had a visit by service bus to the beautiful Botanic Gardens with superb views over the bay.That evening it was formal again for New Year and the haggis was piped around as a wonderful firework display appeared over the town and surrounding hills of Funchal.Memorable as always.We then sailed for Leixos Portugal in choppy seas again:you woulkd imagine we should be used to these conditions but Mother Nature had a surprise in store.A 4 mile shuttle took us into Porto on the Douro river:I had a river cruise here a few years ago.I enjoyed a red top bus tour before returning to the ship.
The next intended stop was La Corunna BUT we were told that we were to miss this for a direct sailing to our home port due to the very low pressure system coming from the Atlantic.We entered the Bay of Biscay during the night and I was thrown out of bed by the very high swell and ship movement:we heard that the two other Saga ships were staying in Lisbon-but we rolled on in seas that became very uncomfortable and resulted in much illness and the hope of Southampton as soon as possible.I had meals in the evening in the cabin.Next morning I managed to get to the restaurant when the ship lurched again and deposited broken crockery and food all over passengers and floor.What a holiday!
Saturday and a day away from home port:we had a quieter day and enjoyed the talks,games and quizzes.A sunny Sunday in Southampton:thank goodness that journey was all over-I have even cancelled my Saga cruise next Christmas,although naturally it could be fine.
The highlights for me were the excellent friendly crew,the cruise staff who looked after the activities (thank you Jay and Resty),the recitals in both Drawing Room and main Lounge,excellent display at Afternoon Tea with music (Perfect Mood and Martin).