Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Ultimate Cruise! Second attempt!!!!!

After spending 25 minutes at 65cents per minute trying to upload this I gave up. I’m guessing it’s because of all the huge photos I inserted so. I will try deleting them and just upload the text. Will add photos when I get home.

Right. let’s see if this works any quicker. 5…4…3…2…1….

Sunday 13th February.

Packing all done yesterday just a few bits and pieces to add. Having put all my shoes in the cases in their tidy boxes I decided to decant them as they were taking up too much room. Needless to say they were in the bottom of the case which meant ??? Yes, you guessed it – everything had to come out!

Repacked, zipped up both cases and Mike put them in the car. After the usual checks around the house, all plugs removed from sockets, blinds drawn and radio switched on to foil the burglars along with the light ready to come on with a timer.

As we left it was raining heavily so we were pleased to be getting away.

Uneventful journey stopping at Winterbourne Abbas for coffee and mindful that was where Mike got a speeding ticket last time. Arriving in Southampton we followed the signs to the docks and the traffic became very heavy due to an accident at a set of lights. Slowed us up a bit but we soon saw the sign saying Independence of the Seas next right and off we turned. Only to be turned back at the port gate and redirected, back in to the traffic .Look for Dock Gate 8 we were told. Every other gate number seemed to appear but that one.

Of course we eventually saw it, followed the directions to the baggage drop and left our cases with the porters. We then parked the car, not far from the terminal but by then there was a howling gale and horizontal rain which rendered the umbrella useless.

There was the usual snake line in the terminal which moved very quickly and before we knew it we were through security, been given our Sea Pass and were in our Stateroom  by 1.20 having left home at 9 15. Impressive eh?

Right – off to the Cafeteria  for lunch. We had forgotten just how much food and the variety which was on offer. We had salad!

Before we set sail there was a the compulsory emergency muster and our station was comfortingly right beside several large lifeboats but, it was out on deck in the wind and rain. Last time we mustered in a lounge  but that was some way from the all important lifeboat I told myself.

We set sail at 5.30, half a hour late as they waited for an old couple who had been delayed at Glasgow airport. They were on our table for dinner and very pleased to have arrived. He was 97 and looked about 77 – amazing.

We were warned the weather would be bad in the Bay of Biscay but it was pretty choppy when we were still the channel and it got steadily worse as we approached the Atlantic.

We were sat on a table of 10 for dinner and some friendly people all retired apart from two. He sat down next to Mike and asked if there was only 1 started!!! that really endeared him to Mike and we couldn’t believe our eyes when they chomped there way through onion tart AND soup.With the main course he ordered a separate salad and left most of it. This was totally unnecessary, the portions are ample, in fact we could certainly eat less ( but we manage somehow!).

Did you have your red wine Jean? I hear you ask. Umm, it IS expensive but, as members of the Crown and Anchor Society I got a coupon (Very American ) 2 : 1 so it only cost $4 and  saved the other until the following night. Mike has a coupon too so that’s 4 nights taken care of.

After dinner we went to the Theatre to the welcome show, it was absolutely packed even though it holds 1400 and was more of an introduction to various members of the crew than a show. The theatre hold 1400 and is packed every night.

To be on the safe side we both took a seasick pill when we went to bed.

The O so comfortable bed was just as we remembered it but it had not been split into two as I requested which meant there was a bit  if a squeeze around the dressing table on one side.

PS – sick bags appeared on the stairs – ominous.

Monday 14th February – Valentine’s Day

No problem, next day we came back to our room after breakfast and the beds had been separated.

Going to have to stop now as getting a bit dizzy!

Wow, what a crossing! Thank God Jan and Paul did not come with us. With 5 to 10 meter waves even this ship bounced. Everyone was walking around as if they were stoned;those that were not seasick that is. We were fine and it did not stop us enjoying breakfast – fresh fruit followed by scrambled eggs and bacon with whatever accompaniment you fancied.

We braved the upper deck and there was a howling gale, strong enough to blow you backwards. We chickened out and decided that fresh air was not all it’s meant to be!

We familiarised ourselves with all our favourite  places and, on a ship of this size it took us until lunch.

Even less people in the buffet as the seas were getting bigger and the rocking was a real challenge, especially with a plate of food in your hand. We stock to salad Mike had cheese with his and I had ham. Desserts??? they looked very tempting but thank goodness I don’t like sweet stuff so I refrained. Mike had a couple of TINY cakes which were sugar free – allegedly.

Back to our stateroom – me for a rest and Mike to track the ship’s course. With every few miles the seas grew bigger so we went and found a seat to watch the power of the ocean and wonder, if all the creaking was normal.We also watched Elizabeth 1 movie – very good with Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh. We  both enjoyed it.

We went to our favourite bar and I had the cocktail of the day, champagne, Cointreau and cranberry juice, and Mike had a Boddies and then we went, swaying from side to side , to the dining room.Dinner, as it was Valentines day, was formal dress and Mike looked great in his dress suit. I wore my orange patterned long dress with my brown silk jacket over the top. No, no photos!

Every evening there is a low calorie menu called “Vitality” The choices are very good and, as the cruise progresses I think I will be choosing it most nights.

The theatre show was very good, a tribute band to Frankie Valle and the four seasons. Four guys with wonderful voices and the ships orchestra are amazing considering their size.

the rocking and rolling of the ship seemed to get worse during the night and with each roll there was a juddering and creaking which I found quite alarming. I told myself that it had to flex otherwise it would break but I was really convinced.

Tuesday 15th February Day 3

When we got out of bed it was even more difficult to stand up and we checked to see where were were – still in the Bay of Biscay heading for our first port of call – Lisbon.

Then came the announcement from the Captain, As the storm was getting worse with waves of 10 to 15 meters expected he had decide to abandon calling in at Lisbon but would head straight for the Med to seek calm waters. He also said that the forecast for Lisbon was going to be heavy rain and gales so a shore trip would  not be very pleasant.

After breakfast we did manage a walk around the deck as it was not raining and there were a few hardened people playing crazy golf, and table tennis.

At 10.15 we had a Meet & Mingle meeting which I had signed up for on Cruise We met up with Karen and Clive and the other couple who are sharing our car trip down the Amalfi coast when we get to Naples. Both couples very nice. The Australian couple had had a marathon journey from Tasmania, via Melbourne, Singapore ( with an 8 hour stop over, then on to Heathrow. From London down to Southampton via Stonehenge. Yes they looked very tired.

The other couple are on their honeymoon from San Diego. They look Japanese or Chinese but speak perfect American.

We clicked with a couple a bit younger than us, both American but living in Amsterdam. Needless to say there was one person who had been there, done it, got the tea shirt and knew it all – you know the type. We ignored her. Mike won the first raffle prize, a magnetic photo frame – so exciting.

We went to the dining room for lunch – a  much nicer experience than the windjammer. Tables laid with cloths and nice cutlery and an extensive  buffet. The salad bar is great – you choose what you want, the server places it a large bowl, ask what dressing you like, adds that and tosses it for you. Why? no idea but it makes you feel wanted.


Then there is a huge choice of cold meats fish, shell fish – you name it was there. If that was  not enough there are hot dishes such as roast chicken, hot pot , pasta – all sorts.

The waiter keeps filling you water glass, clears the table very quickly and brings you tea or coffee. That will  be our lunch time venue from now on.

After lunch Mike went to the Viking lounge to read and I read in bed – much more comfortable.

Dinner informal so we did not change. The piggy couple did not show so there were only 8 of us. Italian themed menu  but we went for soup and lamb shanks. Very nice!

The Show tonight was a pianist – not my cup of tea as the grand piano was concert tuned and he played ragtime, show tunes and some oldies which did not sound good. After we went to the pyramid lounge and watched the four piece band called Rock & roll. They were good musicians and we decided to stop and had a drink. yes, one lasted all evening but the spirit measures are doubles so not too bad.

Then the compere announced rokyoki – people singing with the live band. One woman and one guy had good voices but the others were good for a laugh. We stayed up past midnight – a first for me in many years. All in all a very enjoyable day.

Wednesday 15th February 2011

Wednesday and it must be Lisbon. But it wasn’t. The weather was so bad that the captain said that he wanted to head straight for the Mediterranean and calm water. It was blowing a gale and pouring with rain so a trip ashore would not have been much fun.

I woke very late – 9.30 and Mike had showered, dressed and been for breakfast. Boat still rolling and creaking but this should be the last day.

We again went to the dining room for lunch and eat with two couples who were related. One woman looked as if she had stepped out of a Dickens novel. Hair swept up and back together with a corkscrew curl in front of both ears. I will try and get a photo if I can.

During the afternoon we sat on nice comfy chairs outside the Vintage bar, I had a glass of Pinot and Mike a Boddingtons. I intend going back as they give you a selection of wines to try ( No, not free) but I might be able to find a white I really like.

There was a band playing on the bridge over the promenade and a couple were jiving. Well I think that was what they were doing. Fred and his Thai bride – lovely.

We then went walk about and the captain announced he was pulling into Gibraltar to unload a medical emergency.

It looked as though the guy had a  broken leg and his family

followed the ambulance in a private car. What a way to end your holiday!

During dinner we noticed that the sea was much calmer and it was easier to walk around without looking drunk.

We went to the theatre to watch a song and dance show which we saw last time- it was OK. Then back to bed and to get used to NOT being rocked to sleep. The clocks went forward 1 hour tonight.

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