Saga Sapphire Maiden Voyage & Balmoral
Saga Sapphire, the new flagship for Saga Cruises, was becoming Saga Pain In The Bum for her owners.  Not only had her original 26th March 2012 maiden voyage been put back to the 2nd April due to striking shipyard workers in Palermo, meaning she arrived that day instead, but her next date passed too!  The 5pm turned to 9pm which then became the 3rd at 6am, 12pm, 2.30pm, 5pm, 4pm, 5pm and finally confirmed as 4.45pm.  This all smacked of being detained, though it may have been mechanical since the AIS was off for days.  Balmoral was also in, having arrived after 9am and would be heading off on a pre-Titanic mini cruise, calling at Liverpool and Belfast.  Her time was also changed, first to 4.45pm then 5pm.
About 5.05pm, there was movement from Balmoral as she silently and slowly moved away from the berth, got herself into the Middle Swinging Ground and did a perfect pirouette despite the wind.  Nearly twenty minutes later, Sapphy also moved with the aid of the tug Vortex, who had come down from Fawley - yay!  Party time, baby!  She gave three long blasts and, a few minutes later, six short parps as the heavens opened and the wind whipped up.  Thanks a lot!
To see arrival photos of Saga Sapphire, click here and with Saga Pearl II, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 3rd April 2012
Not to be reproduced without permission