Emerald Princess & Saga Sapphire
Saga Sapphire returned to Southampton on the 30th September 2014 after the summer in Dover.  Emerald Princess was also in.  I had a date with Sapphy, even though I'd visited in 2013, so took the ferry over, passing Calshot unusually docked in 49.  At least Mayflower Park was clear of Boat Show, meaning Dock Gate 8 was open again - wooooo - and the boat show works were slowly being dismantled.  I just love Sapphy so am happy to spend any time aboard her.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day for almost October and Sapphy looked fabulous with the sun on her.  Then I made my way to Dock Gate 8 and very nearly got no further!  For the first time ever, I was told I couldn't go without paperwork by the guard on the gate yet if I'd arrived by taxi or been dragging a case containing bananas I'd have been waved through.  In the end, since texts weren't good enough, she took my passport into the portakabin as I had visions of Aimee having to come and explain to her the only nutter I am is a ship one but the guard returned.  I was free to get my Sapphy fix - yay!!!  After collecting my pass and going through security, I boarded the ship.  By reception is their fishy centrepiece where you try to find the one with the red eye, which is very difficult, so I took a photo to show there really is one.  We had a little deck wander then met up with a couple of people who were doing some filming for some more exploring before lunch.  And so it was time to be booted off my beautiful Sapphy as passengers were boarding.  As there was meant to be a Spitfire fly over as a surprise for the passengers, I texted my dad telling him to come across and we'd watch sailaway from Mayflower Park then waited for him at Town Quay just as THV Galatea arrived.
There was an announcement from Captain Alistair McLundie after muster about waiting for passengers stuck in traffic until 4.15pm so Emerald went first, making a racket as she did.  Before she'd got very far out of Ocean Dock, at bang on 4.15pm, Sapphy began to let her lines go.  I had a brief feeling of Saga/Grand class Princess deja vu as in the 28th September 2010, I was standing in Mayflower Park with my friend Bill Forsstrom for the departures of Saga Ruby from where Sapphy was berthed and Azura where Emerald was.  There was no sign of the Spitfire, although I had heard Captain McLundie tell the passengers they would be having a surprise then we went to catch the ferry home.
To see photos from my more comprehensive 2013 visit to Sapphire, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 30th September 2014
Not to be reproduced without permission