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Everything posted by twotravellersLondon

  1. In Praia da Vitória, there's a great wine shop in the Forum shopping centre. It's called "Wine Expert & Gourmet." Not inexpensive but some pretty good stuff. If you get into Porto, Touriga Vinhos de Portugal is a wine shop in the heart of the town that does lots of local wines. It's possible to book a wine tasting in advance. If you're going to take something home, it's always best to get something just that little bit more special that folk just can't buy in the local off-licence or supermarket at home. Hope you have a good time.
  2. It's a good morning today! We have 6˚C, cloudy conditions and a little wind... and bright sun. Lots of field-mouse activity this morning... so no wonder there's no Elephants in the garden today! Hope all have a good day.
  3. We were in a very similar presentation by Sir Roger de Haan in March 2023 when he also confirmed that a third ship was hight on the company's priorities. Sir Roger said at that time that before plans were put in place the two current ships had to be full... the last results gave a loading/occupancy rate of about 88%... so that's now more or less been achieved. The idea of a partner may well resolve the problem of finance. Certainly agree that a third ship would be a good move to enable Saga to extend its range of itineraries.
  4. A c🥶ld night for the time of the year but a bright day with blue skies and a shiveringly invigorating "feels like 3˚C!" Our local Squirrel (We official call him Michael... as in Michael Bentine... because he carries his own flea circus with him everywhere he goes.)... busy nibbling the buds off our favourite grape vine... a gently jet of water from the garden hose ... misses as usual... results in him ambling just out of range and giving us a "look" that's hard to define. The morning garden's full of adolescent birds doing their thing... learning the right twigs to use in the light breeze, working out how best to use the feeders, discovering how to poop on our newly cleaned garden chairs and practicing the look of utter disdain anytime we dare to open the patio doors. The "baby" Bluetits dash through the branches like a school infant-class class released from a lesson... and have already learned how to mimic their parents by discarding five bird-seeds for every one that they eventually choose to take... such fussy eaters! Our newly fledged Robins are strutting their stuff in fresh plumage. Fidgety little Dunlins are still just yards away from their hatch-place in the hedge. The tiniest of tiny-weeny little Wrens is clumsily darting from bush to bush and a very, very laid back Nuthatch (nicknamed him "Kevin"... those who know why... know why) has decided that a place on the vine two feet away from the patio table is just ideal to keep an eye on his nuts in his birdfeeder in his garden. Our Kevin Meanwhile Mrs Robin is playing hard to get... delicately pirouetting on tip-claws on top of a tiny garden solar-lamp demanding that her suiter feeds her... not just any worms... but only the tastiest very finest morsels of the best worms that the garden can provide. So... nothing to report... just another boring morning on the fringes of suburbia... next job... wash the "summer-seat!" 😇🥶 Hope all are well!
  5. And perhaps add some pressure to the waistband by debarkation time. 😇😊
  6. The World Record for cooking up bacon rolls is held by Primo Food in Australia... 2,091 rolls weighing well over 13 kg cooked up at the same time in 2014... Not a lot of people want to know that! Gregg’s, Victoria, will need an advanced order if anyone needs that many early one morning! Better add an extra cup of coffee as well... 😱🥵
  7. Reasons to be cheerful... 1, Sun Shining✔️ 2, Birds singing✔️ 3, Sky blue✔️ 4, Not a cloud sight✔️ 5, Blood Pressure perfect✔️ 6, Blood Sugar superb✔️ 7, Weight on target✔️ 8, Complete Grocery Delivery confirmed✔️ 9, Nuthatch on bird feeder✔️ 10, Bluebells beautiful✔️ Hope everyone has their own very special list!
  8. OOOps! Never considered a career as a Governor's supply of ink!
  9. In that case you're the person to tell us... if a shepherd spy is caught... would s/he be a bit sheepish! And... in answer to the interrogation, would the replies be a bit wooly? And finally... is a meeting of shepherd spies called a flock?
  10. It's 10˚C and overcast here today. (For the wiser readers that's 50˚F and dull!) Been awake since 6.00 am wondering... just wondering... do shepherds have a good night's sleep? Hope that all are well...
  11. But the ships are beautiful, well organised, clean. tidy and well managed! That's some of the reasons why more and more people are booking and are will to pay more for the privilege! We have three cruises booked with SAGA while there is still space on the ships... there have always been those who've cast doubts about SAGA for whatever reason... but the fact is that more and more people are booking with the company, the ships are fuller and fuller, advance bookings are surging ahead and those folk who like SAGA's offer are willing to pay more for it. After all... we buying holidays... not trying to play the stock market. So, like most folk, we're far more interested in ports of call, food, entertainment and quality of service.
  12. We currently have 5˚C and partially cloudy... off out to pick up some seaweed so we have a more accurate weather forecast. Hope all are well.
  13. That unattributed gossip is all a bit eclipsed now by the new thread..."Cruise boosts Saga’s profit, search continues for strategic partner." 🙃😇
  14. Very encouraging... Again many of the usual negative rumours based on ill-informed gossip, speculation and supposition about SAGA have proven to be fantasy. For the year ending 31 January 2024 the key facts are... For SAGA as a whole...The underlying profit has more than doubled and there has been significant debt reduction. Ocean cruises are sailing 88% full... up from 75%. Spend per passenger per diem is £331... up from 318. River cruises passengers have increased to 57.8k... up from 47.2k. Revenue is £43.8million... up from £28.8 million. And... SAGA wants to expand the SAGA Ocean cruise sector... looks like the model may be that in order to speed the growth of the ocean cruise sector, SAGA would like a partner to finance new-build ships while SAGA operates them... but that's not been confirmed... as yet.
  15. It's currently 6˚C the sun was up and the sky was blue about an hour or two ago but that's now ancient history. However better than yesterday when we had rolling thunder at times ... even affected the internet. So it looks like "wrap up warm and carry on refurbing the patio furniture" this morning and then back inside for a warm lunch! As the last word typed... sun has come out through the clouds and is streaming through the window onto the desk... so perhaps looking up after all! How lucky we are in this country to have such an ever-green topic of conversation! Hope all are well!
  16. That may well be because there are new environmental regulations likely to be in place by January 2025. These affect landing, speeds, distance from the shore and lots of other things. Most of the ships affected will be expedition ships... but some of the new regulations are likely to impact cruise ships as well.
  17. Very much agree that FOCL is attracting a more senior demographic from parts of the country that other cruise-lines seldom reach and had that "Fred" has recently been trying to encourage folk new to cruising to take the plunge. Certainly the company is bussing groups from the South-east up to Newcastle to join cruises. The problem is that FOCL have already lost passengers and potential passengers to SAGA and with SAGA's nationwide car service coming on stream next year that may well dent the take-up of FOCL cruises. The average age of UK cruisers is about 56 and the average of FOCL cruisers is about 67... virtually the same as SAGA. So FOCL seems to be falling into the nich category of appealing to canny boomers who don't want to buy into the all inclusive SAGA type package... complete with balconies etc. So that really does beg the question about where FOCL will find enough passengers to fill the upper deck and balcony cabins which are priced at about the same cost as SAGA but don't have the advantage on the included extras. There's a very long video of Peter Deer available where he discusses that rational of acquiring the two old HAL ships as offering the opportunity for FOCL to offer these upper and balcony cabins at a premium... 20% markup was mentioned... the real question for us is why pay a SAGA price to cruise on an old ship where the food, entertainment and lots of other things are just not as good as SAGA. Just comparing FOCL with P&O... we certainly know people who've migrated from P&O to FOCL and are very happy with their choice... because they feel that, although a bit more costly, FOCL's offer is a bit better. But with the help of an abacus, the back of an old envelope that looks as if the average profit per passenger per day is less that £10... that probably means that many people are cruising with Fred at less than cost price. Perhaps... FOCL should ditch the idea of running a virtual ship within a ship without providing those who are paying so much more that the basis "from fare" and aim whole heartedly for the more senior and mature P&O market of special interest cruisers and offer more unusual itinerary’s to attract them.
  18. We had a beautiful start to the day with bright sunshine but it's all gone a bit dull now... 9˚C and a forecast for a bit of wind and some drizzle. Hope all are well.
  19. Invitation received, appointment booked... just a 10 min. walk down the road.
  20. It's 10˚C, wettish and very windy. Garden spiders beware... No cobweb is safe! Weather-wise it's very definitely a Sou-wester day so far! Very seriously... yellow warning... gusts of 60 km/h expected in the next hour or so and up to 40 km/h until late tomorrow... Next-door's automatic outdoor lighting has come on because it's so dark. Our South-west facing windows are flexing and creaking like an ancient ship... "All hands on the drive!" "Take down the garden parasol!" "Batten down the wheelie bins!' Hope all are well... especially the keen kite flyers.
  21. Changing back to what they were in the days that "Fred" was sailing with over 90% occupancy.
  22. We've visited Iceland with several different cruise-lines and several times with FOCL as well as flying up and staying independently. What we've generally found with FOCL is that the time ashore is always too uncertain and, unless its an overnight stay, too short to do the great majority of tours without fear of arriving back late and being fined by FOCL or much worse! FOCL's T&Cs are... "When in port, you are responsible for ensuring that you embark the vessel in advance of the advertised sailing times. FOCL will not delay the vessel’s departure should you fail to embark the vessel at the correct time. In such circumstances where you fail to embark the vessel prior to sailing, you will not be entitled to any refund, compensation, or contribution to or reimbursement of travel costs or expenses, and you will be liable to pay any fines, losses and/or immigration costs." As far as the trips are concerned... We've found that Snafelness Peninsula, Ice Cave, Lava Tunnel, Blue Lagoon, Flight over the Icecap, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Whale-watching from any of the North coast ports have been excellent. The Golden Circle we've found has become more and more rushed over the years and the Whale-watching trips from Reykjavík is disappointing in our view... lots of dashing about, leaping from one side of the ship to another just to miss a small splash or two half a mile away. If we could do just one trip again it would be Flight over the Icecap or the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. Hope that you have a good time.
  23. It's a beautiful day here at 9˚C quite bright and very quiet. Was up and about a copole of hours ago but didn't want to waken you all. 😇🤫 Hope everyone can make the most of such a nice day.
  24. In the past we've found that these pesky black things have come in on kitchen herbs pots from the supermarket... and the pesky white versions have come in on the pots of mint.
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