3rd November 2014
Embarkation was mainly good fun and trouble free as usual, only this time we were known by the few members of the crew who were wandering around the lounge selling dreams and promises (well actually they were pushing the wine, spa treatments and cream teas, but dreams and promises sounds much more exotic and holiday…ish)
Our fellow passengers look like the usual mix of the weird and wonderful, but it noticeable that there are a lot of furtive and suspicious glances being flashed in our direction……..hmmm I wonder what kind of crowd this is?
To be honest we’ve been saying that as we’ve been very fortunate with our travelling companions during the last few trips, then maybe it’s our turn to have a crappy table this time. Looking around the embarkation lounge I was really tempted to get on the phone to the folk from 106 and bribe them to hurry on down to join us…….ah well, let’s see.
The cabin is no too bad, although it’s a lot smaller than the last one despite being the same grade. But a nicer bathroom with a solid shower screen instead of the plastic curtain that sticks to you throughout your ablutions. So all good here.
Muster drill done…….check
Safe mastered………oh dear.
The room safe usually requires a four digit code but this one needs six, what a tricky dilemma….I’m on holiday to relax not fret about two extra bloody numbers.
In the meantime it’s dinner time….cross your fingers and hold your breath.
Well we were wrong and first impressions of our table are good, it all seemed a bit strained at times but I’m sure things will settle down after a day or two.
Ah well let’s see how things go…….and so to bed perchance to dream of white sandy beaches and balmy romantic moonlit nights…..absolutely no chance of that then.
2nd October 2014
Sea Day – a final word about sea days!
It’s inevitable that a cruise will involve a large amount of travel across open water (obviously) and this will include a varying number of days at sea in order to reach the destination of your choice (you can tell I’ve really got the hang of this cruising malarkey)
For us though, sea days are a very important part of the cruise experience.
It is really great to explore all the new ports we visit, but for us sea days are an added bonus, something special. A chance to relax, or be active, read, write, explore the ship or just sit, as Cheryl often does, watching the ever changing motion of the ocean (‘and the sun in the sky’ for all you Hairspray the Musical lovers) hoping to catch an occasional glimpse of the wildlife as it passes us by
Now you may be surprised to learn that not everyone feels the same way as we do and for some of our fellow passengers the section of travel between ports is a living nightmare and the long journey home is worse. The sea is the enemy and the ship’s presence merely annoys it into a turbulent rage, and these mindless sheep follow suit.
Like maritime werewolves they howl and bay at the sea. It disturbs them, it hurts their eyes which redden as the mist descends. But the sea is not perturbed by their rants, nay its vast power would easily overcome and destroy them, so they turn on each other.
Patience is lost, tempers flare, a mere seed of irritation rubs quickly to a blister of immense rage, and as the ship gently rolls with the lazy swell of the ocean it seems that personal characteristics become enhanced. While the normally positive, relaxed individual becomes almost comatose, the irritating git transforms into, well you get the picture.
So with this in mind, I have a solution to deal with these obnoxicants (as you can tell this is not a real word, but it should be)
It is with great pleasure I give you……………………………….
“Toss the Tosser”
Good afternoon everybody and welcome to this ‘cruise lines’ new sea day activity “Toss the Tosser.”
Is there someone on board who is particularly obnoxious, odorous or just clearly a waste of space, then this is just the activity for you. Enjoy consequence free retribution and while away the long hours at sea by ridding the world of one annoying little git.
The rules are simple.
Between 09.00 and 10.00 on ‘Toss Day’ everyone on board gets to cast a vote and the passenger who receives the most votes becomes the designated ‘Tosser’
The Tosser is now given 10 minutes to hide somewhere on the ship. Any Tosser caught leaving the ship during the ‘hide time’ will automatically forfeit any onboard credit they have and will also waive their rights to any later rescue attempt by the crew.
At the end of the ‘hide time’ the ship’s whistle will sound, this will signal the start of the ‘Toss’ phase of the activity. The remaining passengers now have around one hour to locate the ‘Tosser’ and ‘Toss’ him or her from the ship.
Please note that only the designated ‘Tosser’ (who can be clearly identified by a high visibility waistcoat with beeping and flashing beacons) is eligible for the ‘Toss’ and anyone caught ‘Tossing’ none designated persons will be denied access to the ships dining rooms for a period of 24 hours.
If at the end of one hour the ‘Tosser’ has not been located and ‘Tossed’ they will be allowed to remain in hiding indefinitely until the remaining passengers can no longer identify them as a ‘Tosser’
Following a successful ‘Toss’ the ship’s company may ‘give a toss’ and instigate a rescue of the ‘Tosser’ but no guarantee is offered and the attempt will be solely at the discretion of Dave, the ship’s cat.
No cruise staff are to be included in the vote, search or ‘Toss’ and any passengers claiming to have mistakenly ‘Tossed’ the Captain instead of Mr Pugh of A deck will be required to pose for and purchase an entire album of pictures from the ships photographers.
Please note that this cruise line accepts no liability for any injury occurring as a direct result of this activity and passengers taking part do so at their own risk (except for the ‘Tosser’ of course)
We hope you enjoy this new and innovative activity and if you are voted for then maybe next time you cruise you may consider being a bit more pleasant to your fellow passengers, and a bit less of a ‘Tosser’.
27th September 2014
Sea Day – and no one’s died yet
The staff are amazed that after nearly five weeks of cruising and to date no one has left to roam pastures new in the afterlife. They say that on a cruise this long there is normally at least one passenger who will check out prematurely and permanently.
We’re all eyeing each other in a new light, trying to work out who it’s going to be with just 6 days left?
As usual the crew have opened a book, not on who, but how!
Apparently you can get really good odds on
‘An unnaturally horrific end in the laundry’ @ 15/1
but the smart money is on
‘Over exertion in the gym’ @ 8/1
The gym was unsurprisingly empty this morning and I intend to reconsider my exercise regime.
‘Frying to death on the lido deck’ is @ 500/1
which is not surprising considering the awful weather, however this means that
‘Freezing to death on the lido deck’ is @ 150/1
There are good odds on
‘Being bored to death at dinner’ @ 100/1
with a slightly better price specifically for table 114 where one couple have recently been voted ‘Most Uninteresting Companions Ever’ following their full and frank rendition of ‘Around the world by steam train’ followed closely by ‘Railway carriages I have known’.
Coming in at the top of the list are
‘A fatal seizure brought on after being startled by a photography flash’ @ 3/1
‘Suffering a cardiac arrest after discovering a real bargain in the shops’ @ 2/1
The medical department have been excluded from taking part as it is believed they have certain inside information and it is considered they may try to make a last minute killing (but not literally) by unfairly driving up the odds on ‘by natural causes’.
Historically passengers were allowed to place proxy bets through a member of the crew but following a spate of highly unusual and unexplained deaths on a previous cruise, this privilege has now been withdrawn.
19th-20th September 2014
Bostin’ Boston – Massachusetts
For those not used to Black Country terminology bostin’ means great or even superb. We’ve been here before and this is another place we really like. Boston has a very unique heritage having been the centre for the fight for independence against the oppressive English and the ‘Freedom Trail’ here is very interesting and thought provoking. That aside it’s a very, very, very nice place to visit. There’s a lot of construction going on and it’s very clear that Boston is also looking to build a thriving new modern city as well attracting visitors with its historical past.
So firstly it’s another beautiful day (ye gods are definitely smiling our way) but the bad news is there’s no shuttle busses being laid on and it’s three miles into town. The queue for local transport is huge, so what other choice do we have? Oh well off we go, and to be fair it’s a pleasant easy walk and within forty minutes we’re at central wharf in the centre of town.
We have a whale watch booked with Boston Harbor Cruises, which we booked direct and saved ourselves over £50 compared with the ship tour going with the same company. We are aware that the morning tour was cancelled because of rough weather beyond the harbour (my spellchecker just quit because I keep spelling harbor/harbour wrong) Unfortunately this afternoons event has also been cancelled…….ah well, at least we get our money back. But then there’s so much to see and do here it’s not really a problem to make alternative plans. So we walk the ‘Freedom Trail’ and generally have a great afternoon in the city.
After a return to the ship to shower and change it’s time for our first theatre trip to see ‘Blue Man Group’ at the Charles Playhouse. But first let’s get some food…..erm Chinatown here we come. We stroll up and down for a few minutes and choose the busiest place, which is more like a canteen than a restaurant. But we’re not disappointed, the food is great and more importantly cheap (how do they do it?) Yes the attitude of the staff is a bit gruff and there is a great discussion and pointing in our direction when we refuse the offer of knives and forks, but the deliciously mounded plates of food makes it all worthwhile.
Following the food comes the show…….and what a great show. I admit I’m not a one for the theatre but this was nearly two hours of very cleverly choreographed fun. It’s simple but complex and appealing to old and young (and grumpy gits) alike. Definitely worth the money, and the walk which of course is a useful way of burning off all those ‘sweet and sour’ calories, but there’s a small price to pay for our energetic enthusiasm and as our second day dawns over Boston we can hardly move…….oh the joys of older age.
After a quick rub down with an oily rag (have you seen the towels recently?) we head off refreshed into the centre. Today the mission is most definitely food, more specifically Quincy Market food. A good long walk into town certainly improves the appetite and after enjoying a couple of the street entertainers the fun begins with some pizza slices. Mmmmm, mmmm. Then we share a bread bowl of delicious clam chowder and finish the whole thing off with a disgustingly large ice cream from ‘Sprinkles’. What more can I say? The food here speaks volumes for itself, and we never got round to sampling the masses of Chinese, sandwiches, wraps, lobster stacks, hoagies, hot dogs and burgers. I’ve said it before but I’m not surprised at the size of some of the locals here, they certainly don’t skimp on the portions. Yes it’s not cheap (compared to last night’s Chinese it’s very pricey) but it’s so worth spoiling any diet, after all we are on holiday J
Well, that was it really. A slow amble back to the ship and a farewell sail away from one (of many) of our favourites. You can bet your bottom dollar we’ll be back, there’s still so much left to try.
Bostin’ Boston with bostin’ fittle…..and that one I’ll leave to your imagination because New York here we come, I just hope the weather continues and we all have a wonderful time in the ‘Big Apple’ (hmm there’s a reference to food again but let’s hope it’s not that healthy)
Goodbye Boston…..we’ll be back
8th September 2014
Sea Day – Ice bucket challenge
I suppose after yesterday’s hectic day in St John’s it’s nice to have a sea day to recover, you could say that after the transatlantic crossing they’re gradually introducing us back to ‘terra firma’ very gently.
I still find the sensation of the land moving under your feet after several days at sea very unnerving. I don’t mind the ship rolling with the sea but somehow the feeling that the land is swaying is somewhat worrying. Anyway it’s been a nice warm day at sea travelling into the St Lawrence Seaway with the sight of land on both sides of the ship. It’s even prettier in the evening with all the lights shining from the shore, all different colours and patterns to keep the simplest of minds amused for hours (yes I am talking about myself)
I have been quite surprised to have avoided being nominated for the ice bucket challenge so far, and since we’ve been on the ship I was staring to assume it was beginning to fizzle out somewhat, after all I think most of the population of the world have taken part. To my amazement I’ve been nominated by my brother in law Nigel in the last couple of days, so I suppose I need to get something organised. Talking to some of the staff in the restaurant I’m surprised at just how far round the world this idea has travelled. Thailand, the Philippines and many of the pacific islands have taken part and for me that is a true testament of the generosity and good will of (the majority of) mankind.
Unfortunately most of the folk I know have already taken part, so my own nominations can only stretch to those of you who read this who have not yet been involved in this crazy but highly successful phenomenon. Please if you’ve not already done so donate a dollar, a pound or a euro to help find some sort of help for those affected by ALS, or Motor Neurone as we know it in the UK. But having said that my good friend Peter is just about to receive a text to tell him the good news, and he’s my main choice.
I’m not able to upload a video as it would take too long using the satellite internet on the ship, so you’ll just have to settle for a photo of the event instead.
It was the only way I could get any ice or a bucket………..honestly.
Tomorrow we’ll be visiting Gaspe for the first time (that’s us not the ship) and the weather promises to be good once again so we’re really looking forward to another pleasant day ashore.
7th September 2014
St John’s – Newfoundland
Right……time for this blogger to get serious…..why?
Well because St John’s is a seriously good place to visit.
We docked fairly early and as usual we waited for most of the rest of the ship to disembark before we headed ashore, mainly because it takes so long to get all those going on the ships tours off the boat it’s easier to have a lazy breakfast and take our time. Anyway the weather is fantastic, a lovely warm and sunny day but quite humid, still mustn’t grumble.
We set off toward Signal Hill, the place the first transatlantic cable came ashore back in the 1800’s, and a great lookout spot for the troops at the time to place their big cannon to protect their settlement. On the way up the steep hill we came across the Geo-park and took a detour to explore the history of the area via reconstructions of the structures and dwellings of the first settlers. Very interesting even if there was no running water, wi-fi or memory foam mattresses.
There were quite a number of people around us but we were surprised to note that we’re the only tourists, everyone else was a local resident busily picking the plethora of wild bilberries for their tea.
So we pressed on up the hill, now having to work harder to battle the strengthening wind near the top. The views were amazing, only spoilt by masses of other tourists clamouring for the best spot overlooking the bay.
The real beauty of the place is that from this spot several coastal paths have been meticulously constructed and for the next two hours we ambled around these boardwalks admiring the wonderful sights around each corner.
We return to the road leading back into the town via the estuary path which would have been quite treacherous in the past, but now it’s been made so easy and enjoyable to walk along with the construction of a meandering wooden pathway. We stopped to peruse a map we’d been given at the terminal (there is that awful word again) and several of the locals stop to show concern that we may be lost or even worse not enjoying ourselves in their town. They point us in the direction of the local lake (a short walk away) and tell us there’s a quaint fishing village at the far end of the lake with a pub which produces its own ale. Before they have time to wish us well on our journey we’re off, after all who can resist local brew. However on reaching the lake we realise that reaching the pub before the ship sails is very unlikely…….considering this lake is almost the size of Wales. Ah well, maybe next time.
We finally made it back into the town centre and visit the cathedral where you have to be careful of falling masonry pretty much everywhere inside the main sanctuary???????? I reckon back in the UK the whole place would have been condemned until the whole of the roof was replaced.
The walk had taken its toll and we needed refreshment. More locals had obviously noticed this fact and we were swamped with recommendations. Most of them cited ‘The Duke’ as the best purveyor of fish and chips in the region so once again off we set, hoping this time our goal was still in the northern hemisphere.
Fortunately it wasn’t too far away and we’d just made it into ‘The Duke’ when the heavens opened and what can only be described as a deluge continued for around an hour. Lucky or what??
Now I’m not the greatest lover of fish, for me it’s all a bit too fishy, but it is fair to say this was fish so fresh it melted in the mouth, just delicious. The beer was really good as well and after the rain had finally abated we set back off for the ship, our faces bathed with the broadest of smiles following a truly special day……..Thank you St John’s.
The verdict…….this is a great place to visit but be warned the hills are steep and bountiful. The wind when it blows is nothing short of a hurricane and if the locals direct you somewhere assume it’s on the other side of the world. Oh and one more warning, don’t stop and stand too close to the edge of the pavement unless you intend to cross the road. Why? Well because all the drivers we saw slammed on the anchors if any pedestrian was within spitting distance of the kerb. On more than one occasion we weren’t intending on crossing but felt obligated to when cars stopped in unison, from both directions, whenever they saw us even deviate slightly as we walked down the road. Really considerate but so bloody annoying.
6th September 2014
Sea Day – Inside Out
Much better day as far as the fair weather cruisers are concerned and the sun is back out, and therefore so are the brown wrinkly bodies. I’ve commented before about how much sun some of our older companions expose themselves to and although it’s not the prettiest of sights there is the more worrying aspect with regards to the potential risk of melanomas. But then maybe as we age we care less about certain things, and mainly do we worry less about what happens to ourselves? In the fullness of time I may be able to give you an answer but I’ve still got a long way to go before I know………..I HOPE.
Great story has emerged today about the lady who has complained that the inside cabin she booked doesn’t have a window overlooking the sea, or any window for that matter. When the guest relations manager explained that only outside cabins have windows she got really shirty and asked why a cabin outside would need a window when it’s already…….well already outside. It took a while for the crew member to explain that the outside cabin wasn’t actually outside but rather outside on the inside, whereas the inside was in fact inside the outside cabins and therefore if it did have a window then it would be looking directly inside an outside cabin and not outside.
As a gesture of goodwill she was then offered a complementary upgrade to an outside cabin. She thanked the manager for his kind offer but said she’d prefer to have a cabin on the inside which had a window looking outside rather than being in an outside cabin with a window looking outside, which she considered was actually impossible. When it was pointed out again that the cabin wasn’t actually outside but rather inside, outside the inside one she already had, she asked if she could have one with a sea view instead.
I believe the guest relations manager is flying home on long term sick leave tomorrow. Talking of which we’ll actually be on dry land tomorrow, Newfoundland to be exact and the town of St John’s. Hopefully then some sanity will return both to the passengers and this blogger, but I guess there’s a good chance for one but certainly not the other.
5th September 2014
Sea Day – how much longer the cry goes out
The weather has cut up a bit rough today and many have taken to their cabins to lie down for the duration of the less than perfect weather. Now I just love this because I actually want to feel the ship move (but not too much hopefully) I find that the movement of the ship as it follows swell of the ocean reminds me how powerful the sea is and how completely awesome and dangerous nature can be.
I also love it because the ship is lovely and quiet without everyone milling around moaning about this and complaining about the other. I’m not sure if it’s an age thing or whether it’s just the type of folk who cruise, but boy oh boy do some of these geriatrics know how to whinge?
It’s too hot or too cold in the cabin and despite the fact they have a thermostat they can control the temperature with they can’t be bothered. The foods too this or the entertainment is too that, the swimming pools not open (and even when it is no one goes in it) Nothing escapes their attention and no one is immune from scrutiny. Now here’s the interesting bit. In my experience those who complain the most are the biggest pains in the universe. They cough and sneeze without putting up a hand to capture their escaping germs, they refuse to queue, they talk with mouths full of food, they witter on incessantly about themselves and always load their plates with the last of the bananas, yes even if there are twenty left they take all twenty…….
So there you have it, the downside of cruising, but hey it’s not that bad really because it gives me loads of inspiration……….just like this –
All my life I’ve been perfect
And have always been one
To look up to and get good advice
I’m humble and caring, with generous streak
And I’m honest and truthful and nice
I’m always on time
And I’ve never been known
To be grumpy nor glare with distain
Unbelievably happy whatever life throws
And I’ve never been heard to complain
I never jump queues
And I keep my mouth shut
Whether chewing my lunch or some gum
Never leave the seat up
Never lewd or unkind
With my comments
And always such fun.
And I’m always polite
Unlike some I could name
Highly polished and cultured, so sweet
I am never too loud
And prefer just to sit
Never argue or boast to compete
So as you can see
Good as gold I have been
The ultimate husband and son
A model employee
An incredible friend
Unbelievably loyal, loved a ton
So when I go cruising
I feel duty bound
Not to act as my usual self
It’s a must that I let down what’s left of my hair
Leaving manners back home on the shelf
I must whinge, I must moan
And quite often I do
After all I’m just here on a break
From my usual life, it’s not easy you know
Cause it’s so very hard being this fake
So I’ll grunt a ‘Good Morning’
Cough and sneeze on your food
Fuss and moan like I don’t give a rat
You just have to accept that I’m playing a game
This is not really me
It’s an act.
Because unlike the rest
I’ve been perfect for years
This my chance to have oodles of glee
But then I’m assuming you’re doing the same
And being a pratt, just like me?
WELL THAT’S WHAT I THINK ANYWAY (AHEM)
3rd September 2014
Sea Day – A bright and sunny day
More importantly it’s our 35th wedding anniversary and I can’t believe where the time has gone. But I am grateful to the lovely lady who’s put up with me for all those years. Happy Anniversary Cheryl xx
There used to be a very popular TV show that claimed ‘Animals do the funniest things’ the grammar implying nothing else could be funnier. But I have to totally disagree with that statement because I’ve yet to see an animal acting as daft as some of our fellow cruisers do.
It’s an undeniable fact that there is enough food on the average cruise ship to……well to ‘sink a ship’ (if you’ll excuse the pun) But there always seems to be a number of individuals on board who feel the cruise company is laying down some sort of a challenge and are determined to do their very best to try eating their way through several tons of delicious fare. But in order to attempt this seemingly impossible feat they are forced to spend all morning charging round the decks at a million miles an hour in the hope that they’ll burn off most of the calories they consumed at breakfast in order to prevent themselves from actually exploding during lunch. This activity is then repeated in the afternoon for the same reasons, but only if they manage to prize themselves off the toilet first, which out of necessity is where they tend to spend most of the day.
Now please don’t get me wrong because I certainly enjoy a stroll around the promenade to treat my lungs to the clean ozone rich air all around us and to feel the fresh sea breeze and salty spray on my face (please leave the room if you had a little giggle to yourself over that last comment, shame on you.) But just lately this healthy ritual has almost become a near death experience for those of us who merely amble around at a leisurely pace as the self proclaimed ‘professional foodies’ have no choice if they don’t want to become comatose from hyperglycaemic shook and have only one goal in mind, and woe betide anyone who gets in their way.
So we’ve discovered it’s far more entertaining (and safer) to sit around the back of the ship watching the mass of wobbly bodies panting at break neck pace around the promenade deck in hunting packs. The weak are trampled, the slow are tutted and moaned at until they concede room for the bullies to pass. They have to willingly punish themselves in order to abuse their poor overly distended stomachs further with indescribable amounts of grub at every possible opportunity, and trust me there are many, many opportunities.
And I’m reminded of a very famous poem. Here is my version……………
The Charge of the Cruise Brigade
(Influenced by ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson)
Twenty laps, twenty laps, twenty laps onward,
All around Balmoral’s decks
Strode the six hundred.
Forward the Cruise Brigade
Charged you the food displayed
Now on the decks parade
Strode the six hundred.
Take heart the Cruise Brigade
First sitting almost laid.
Crew still in shock, amazed
How lunch was plundered.
Theirs not to give reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs just to make more pie
For the six hundred.
Burgers to the right of them,
Teacakes to the left of them,
Spare ribs to the front of them,
Tempted by custard.
Bombarded with bacon roll,
Boldly they scoffed then stole
Down to Palm Café with bowl
Starving six hundred.
Flashed knives and forks they bare,
Flashed as they feasted there.
Stunned all the waiters stare
Greedy six hundred
Straight through the buffet broke
Spurred on by rum and coke,
Sous Chef and Commis choke
Their tears greatly numbered.
Then as a savoury treat
Cheese trampled under feet
Cheddar and stilton eat
Down to the final plate
Chef is in such a state
Supper club would now be late
Damn you six hundred.
Burgers to the right of them,
Teacakes to the left of them,
Spare ribs behind them,
Where were those hiding?
With so much food in store
Rest there could be no more,
Pride has to win, for sure
Turn back six hundred.
Sound aloud that tea-time bell.
Bravely face this living hell
Till none are left to tell
Of the six hundred.
With thanks to Alfred Lord Tennyson for the original poem
2nd September 2014
Embarkation day (yesterday) was mainly good fun and trouble free. We’ve used ACP this time for parking and it was easy to find and only a short minibus ride from the terminal (there’s definitely something quite worrying about setting off from a location called terminal!)
When we arrived at the City Terminal our minibus stopped briefly at the side of the building where a group of jolly stevedores took our cases and carried them carefully to the loading area whilst whistling a happy tune, after all luggage football is never played in full sight of the customer. But in some ways I wish it was because when I’m finally reunited with my cases I really would like to be able to put a face to the bastard who managed to tenderise a brand new Samsonite into something resembling minced liver.
Security involved the usual hectic process of suspicious scrutiny by a group well trained in the art of intimidation. The lady in charge of loading up the scanner belt scowled and sniffed in utter disdain as we approached. We duly deposited all our worldly goods and dignity into her grey plastic tray and she watched me intently for any obvious tell tale signs of deceit as I removed my belt and shoes.
“Have you anything else in your pockets?”
“No,” I reply.
“Are you sure?”
I pat my pockets with gusto, “No, nothing there,” I announce with a smile.
“No…….there’s nothing left in my pockets.”
“No loose change?”
“No…….there’s nothing left in my pockets.”
“No…….as I said there’s nothing left in my pockets.” I think at this point my smile was beginning to fade.
“You still have a hand in your pocket so I thought you were checking for something. Are you wearing a belt?” she asks even though she’d watched me remove it not ten seconds ago. Maybe next time I should do it to music……….
“No I’m not. That’s why I still have my hand in my pocket, it stops my jeans falling around my ankles.”
“So there’s nothing in that pocket?”
“How about the other one?”
“Have you remembered to empty your back pockets…..wallet? comb?”
“Is that no you hadn’t remembered or….?”
“There’s nothing in my pockets.”
“Then please proceed through the scanner sir,” she said with a sarcastic grin, I started to walk away but I’m sure she was still unconvinced about the emptiness of my pockets.
“Just have one final check before you go through please sir,” she called after me, “Otherwise you might be delayed getting onto the ship.”
I’m suddenly aware that one poor guy was being led away to a private room by two burly bruisers intent on discovering the reason he’d somehow managed to make their mystical arch machiney thingy beep. He too must have been convinced his pockets were empty I thought, so like an idiot I stopped and obediently went through my pockets again…..just to be sure.
I’m convinced it won’t be long before they have us all stripped down to our underwear to ensure we’re not trying to sneak (love that word) anything remotely illicit aboard. But I have to ask how much contraband could you hide in the framework of a wheel chair or the battery compartment of a motability scooter? They meticulously inspect and x-ray the heels of our shoes and yet poor old Ethel, who is unfortunately confined to a wheelchair, is automatically waved through as if it would be deemed highly unprofessional to even consider a lady in her position could be a potential smuggler or worse.
Anyway, it’s done and we finally make it onto Balmoral and head straight for our accommodation. 9093 is a large inside cabin and although it shows a fair bit of wear and tear it’s clean and smells pleasant. Later on we’ll discover it’s also in a very quiet area of the ship. The bed is comfy, the bathroom huge, so what more can we want? Oh yes, we want biscuits of course……..but where are they?
CUTBACKS – they seem to affect everything. We last cruised with Freddie in 2011 (in fact that was our only previous cruise with FOCL) On that occasion there was a small organza bag with toiletries, but not this time. It’ll be interesting to see if there are any more ‘savings’ being made here like the ones we’ve noticed recently on P&O. Yes it’s only little things but then don’t they say it’s the little things that make it special? I’ll keep you informed.
So we’re off, with a wish for nothing more than a trouble free time over the next five weeks and a slight hope that we find at least one couple we can get along with (oh and good weather, nice food, black squirrels, nice food, beer and maybe some NICE FOOD)
And so to our table……..
With each and every sailing fresh faces would appear,
Would they all be happy? Would they all drink beer?
Would they be a nice crowd up to have some fun?
Or would they all be nutters into fighting – throwing buns?
With first night nerves all tingling, wondering who they soon would meet,
Jim and Cheryl hand in hand set off to find their seat.
(excerpt from the Ballad of Table 37, J.A.G. Nov 12)
This time we’re on a table for 8 and its number 106. Our fellow travellers appear to be a friendly bunch and quite good fun. Two couples know each other from previous Cruise Encounters (of the third kind) They are all ‘Gold Members’ and well seasoned FOCL travellers….and are definitely going to be the life and soul of the party
The food was just as we remember it, not overly generous in quantity but nicely prepared and tasty (especially the soup) Our table waiters are exceptionally attentive, probably because they appear to know the previously mentioned table companions fairly well.
So all bodes well and finally to bed, perchance to dream of……..……let’s say whales, and lobster lunches and endless walks in the cool fresh air of a glorious Canadian autumn.
Yes that’ll do nicely (donkey)