Thursday 6th September 2007
Ive had 4 hours sleep and Mr C is hovering at my desk insisting we should have been driving down to Dover hours ago. But I have work to do, then I have to finish packing, oh and I need to get dressed. A bit of stress later, Im ready, in the car and in desperate need of a sleep. That’s not going to happen though as Mr C has set sat nav up and she wants to take us via the M25 the wrong way around and Im not having that. So I have to stay awake until Im confident sat nav woman has sorted herself out. Yes, I know it would be easier to reset the sat nav, but Mr C likes to challenge her.
The drive to Dover is a boring one. Most exciting bit is watching the planes take off at Heathrow and passing the balloon that advertises Leeds Castle. I do get excited though when we get to Clackett Lane services – ooh just the name makes me giggle. So it’s a pitt stop at Clacket Lane services. £6.50 for two coffees and one muffin!! That’s not so funny though.
We got to Dover at 1.30 and I spotted the little ship as we came over the famous white cliff. Ooh she is just a baby! We were directed to drive into the shed and unload the luggage. Mr C decides it looks like a Victorian train station – that’ll be because it is then!! Porter took the case away for us and we drove back outside where we were redirected to park the car. The suns shining but the baby ship is hiding behind the terminal. Mr C catches a glimpse of it as we go up the escalator to check in. oh hes got a fit of the giggles, he thinks its funny to be able to see a whole ship, top to bottom through one window!
Check in was painless, extremely polite lady, cruise cards were issued and we were done. Into the departure lounge which is full, but they haven’t started to embark yet.
We took a seat and I looked around me, it was like gods waiting room. No buzz that you would expect to find of excited passengers about to embark on a cruise. No they are either, drinking tea, motionless and expressionless, or reading a book! Mr C decides its smells like an old folks home but I tell him that’s because of the new plastic seating and nothing else!! Ooh I cant stand this. I have to send him to the bar. Thank goodness we didn’t arrive any earlier, or I might have given up the will to live. Are these people really going on a haoliday? A cruise at that? Don’t think they have actually served any alcohol but I can see some. Maybe all will look better with some wine inside me?
Embarkation begins with the Gold Oceans Club members, all 6 of them, so that took longer for them to get off their seats than anything. Despite arriving pretty late we actually embark in the 3rd group of people. Past the smiley photo man and who do you think is next along the windy gangway? The flippin sanitize your hands man! In my hand I have tickets and cruise card, phone, handbag and Im pulling my wheelie case. So down it all has to go while I cleanse my hands!
Ooh I blinked and we are onboard. We embark on Main deck and that’s our deck. Three or four paces and we are on the other side of the ship, a stewardess gets very excited when she realises we are in one of her cabin and we are escorted 3 doors up and given a full run down about the cabin and kettle etc.
Im impressed with the cabin. I had looked in the brochure, and had also been advised that although the ship had a refurb the cabins had appeared to have been forgotten and were looking tired. But not the case. I could see that it was all freshly painted. New art work was hanging on the wall. The bed has a new pale blue and silver throw over. The bathroom is trendy and very up to date. With new fittings and a brand new shiney full size bath. Yes I like what I see so far. The case is here so I insist we unpack and get sorted out.
Unpacking took only a few minutes so we venture out to explore our new ship home. Well exploring the ship only took a matter of minutes because she is only a baby. We ended up in the Secret Garden because they are serving food and tea – I would like to point out at this stage that we had food but declined on the tea! The food was scrummy. I had a couple of little ham and pineapple baquettes, and could have quite happily ate a few more, but I need a drink! We checked out our dining table, table 112, it’s a table for 4. I wonder who the other two are.
Another little walk around and we end up in the bar at the front and top of the ship. Mr c is quite happy to sit in the window peering at the fishermen with the aid of the binoculars that are dotted around the room. I have a southern comfort while I study cocktail list. Im impressed, most of them look like they have been made up, but it should be fun sampling them. I decide I need to sample a Braemar Explorer, for no other reason than it has a lot of alcohol in it. Flippin heck it has got a lot in it!! it takes some drinking.
Barman soon decides we have to leave his bar to go to muster stations. I must be tipsy because I went to muster for the second time in as many weeks. They did a roll call so it’s a good job I did! We all had to shout when the cabin number was called, then we had to be individually checked to make sure our life jackets were on correct. Somehow I had managed to get mine on correctly despite the cocktails.
Time to go to sailaway. Not that anything seems to be planned for sailaway. I don’t like prom deck, its scarey. The railings are way too low for my liking and the sea is so close! We head out to the back deck but the bar isn’t open, so we end up on a big blue sofa in a lounge. Oooh I had a giggle in here. I ordered a long island iced tea and just as it arrived an elderly lady sat down on the next sofa and decided my drink looked nice! It’ll be the umbrella and green cherry that did it! (they do dress drinks up on here a bit 1970;s style!) anyway she asks the waiter to bring her one. He looked at her gone out and then started to chuckle. Ok he says. Oooh she loved it when it arrived, and we couldn’t shut her up. She was so funny. She says she will have another of these tea drinks later on.
Suddenly we find ourselves in some sort of welcome onboard presentation. There is someone explaining how to use the cabin door key – oh that sets me of laughing. I cant stop. Lizy is on the phone listening and im crying into the sofa cushions. Then we pass a boat with a headless man on, now liz is really worried and thinks im tripping on something! What do we have next, oh how to wash your hands lol. I need to get out of here and lie down. The cabin has changed. Someone has turned it into a merry go round and its got a bit of a spin on. I send mr C away to check my work emails for me (need to delegate my work these days lol) some hours later he is nudging me to try and bring me back to the land of the living. Ooh the land of living hurts. He suggests we try room service, but no, I need to see who we are sat with at dinner.
Im dressed and ready to go. Im a bit worried I may be overdressed so I decide not to put my sparkly matching shoes on (I did wear shoes, just not the ones I intended too) or take a bag with me. And go out with out a bag at all, don’t want to over do it! We had to wait a short while for the dining room to open and I feel a bit squiffy! I decide if I don’t have a chair now, im going to keel over.
Our table is not far away so we have to decide if we are going to sit opposite each other or next to. Decide next to is best. Our table companions arrive. Oh deary me, we hardly get a word in, he straight out with those immortal words ‘have you cruised before?’ hes not interested in the answer. He is a pro, he has done this cruising larky before. We hear all about the delights of cruising on luxury liners like Topaz, Celebration, Carousel, Seawing’ I just nod and try and look remotely interested. Wow, there are other cruise ships hey?
Dinner was very nice. Freds are very good at the food side of things. I had fruit cup, cock a leakie soup, steak with peppercorn sauce and a baked apple. Yummy thanks Fred. I feel better now.
There is a ‘Fabulous Thirtys’ show in the show lounge so we go and claim a big blue sofa. Its funny to see a show like this and it reminds me of Canberra days and the old stadium. Its very good but its not Mr C’s cup of tea and he needs his bed. I need some air so we go out on prom deck. oooh it really does scare me out here with the low railing. Maybe all old people are little so they need to be low railings?
Mr C is soon under his duvet, but hey we put the tv on and we can watch the show going on upstairs, cool, just need a cocktail and im sorted.
Oh its like the olden days in this cabin. Remember what old proper cruise ships sound like? Noisy air con, rumble of engines etc? not so sure I can sleep.
I sat up and looked out of the window and there were angels!! Honest they were there. If they weren’t angels they were faries. I had to wake mr c up to check them out. They were dancing around just outside the window, all lit up and fluttering around. Mr c decides they are birds lit up by the light from the ship, but birds don’t fly around at night do they? Anybody have any idea what I saw? Please put me out of my misery! I spent most of the night fighting with the duvet. Mr c has got the air con on cold and its freezing, plus we have two single duvets so a big gap keeps appearing between the two duvets. Need to get that sorted.
Friday 7th September
I woke up and looked out of the window and what do you think I could see? Aurora was sitting there right outside my window, teasing me! I knew she was on a charter and should have guessed she would be anchored off Guernsey, but it never really registered with me until now.
Mr C checks out the daily news sheet to find out what time breakfast is. Well it finishes at 9 in the Secret Garden and 9.30 in the restaurant. Crikey better get a shift on then or we will miss out. Feels a bit to organised for my liking, but if we want feeding we have no choice.
We are shown to a table in the Four Seasons Restaurant and straight away I knew the other couple at the table were trouble. She immediately piped up and informed us that we would sit there all morning if we didn’t go and fetch our breakfast ourselves. Looked like waiter service to me, but apparently we had the choice of self serve or waiter service. We opted to go and check out the self serve. The queue for cooked breakfast was huge, probably because we had all rushed in at the last minute. But they had a good selection of fruit cereal and pastries, and oh wait, as well as the juices there is a bottle of champers! I’ll have a glass of that then with some fruit. On return to the table, the passenger lady was having a whinge about the waiter, but he seemed ok to me. The waiter asked me if I would like a cooked breakfast and when I said yes, he went off to get me one. She didn’t like that at all!
I thought breakfast was most enjoyable, especially with the champers – it helped to block out whinging lady anyway!
We need to go to Neptune lounge to wait for tenders.It is tenders ashore to st Peter Port, but it’s a bit of a lengthy process to wait for our tender ticket number to be called. Oh well, it all adds to the fun, apparently one of the tenders broke down earlier on but they are trying to fix it.. Our tender number is called and guess who is there at the front of the queue, complaining that its not like this on all the other cruises he has been on. Yes it’s the couple from our dinner table, expert of all things cruise related!
We had a lovely walk around the town, checking out the shops as we went. Seen some fab shoes in a sale but I knew I had nothing to wear them with, so I had to leave them where they were.
We found a great beer garden overlooking the harbour and sat and had a drink in the sun deciding which restaurant we were going to choose for lunch. We settled for Le Cru Spice Restaurant. It was very nice with lovely views across the sea and we had it all to ourselves for two hours. Highly recommended for food and service.
A gentle stroll back to the tender and I have to stop to chat to the officer at Auroras tender station. Its like she is there just calling me. He was a nice chappy and he updated me about who was onboard etc.
Had a scarey moment as the tender berthed alongside the ship. The stupid people got up off there seat way too early before we were properly tied up, then a bit of a swell came along side and the momentum of the rocking just got worse and worse until I had visions of us dipping so far under that we would become trapped under the tender platform just as I had witnessed happening on Aurora in Grenada a few years ago. Mr c has a few nail marks in his arm! I was gald to get off there once that happened.
A quick change and we were up on the deck lazing in the sun. We ended up by the Marque bar. Oooh they were serving some yummy looking burgers and chips. Very tempting indeed. No trouble finding a sun lounger or having a bit of space between us and the next people. The Pina colada was very nice! It was so hot I needed a little dip in the pool which was very pleasant and warm from the sun.
All the time Aurora is sitting there just tormenting me more and more.
As she leaves we head down to the cabin where I run myself a lovely big bath loaded with the molten Brown bubbles.
It’s the Captains Doo tonight, but I cant be doing with all the queuing and standing around nodding politely sipping naff house wine, so we head up to the bar at the top with the binoculars. Oh its very civilised. Unfortunately the sun has already set but its still a lovely view of the still calm sea. The pianist is playing some lovely soft music and a kir Royale goes down very nicely. Im quite happy to sit in a nice dumpy sofa and watch the people come and go. The waitresses all look very smart this evening, not that they don’t always. During the day they wear cream skirt and waistcoats with a pale blue stripe shirt, but during the evening they have lovely long cream skirts with a side split and cream blouse. Service is excellent, and they always ask if you would like peanuts and twiglets rather than just putting them in front of you.
We head down to dinner just after 8.30. Im busy checking out the dress code and on the whole it is upheld very well. Its always a concern of mine that people wont bother on shorter cruises. Mr & Mrs Cruise Expert arrive and already he’s twining! His latest gripe is the sanitizing of hands. Shock, horror, he has had to cleanse his hands 4 times since he came back onboard at lunch time, which he feels is too excessive! I point out that it’s a preventative measure and I think he realised that he wasn’t going to be drawn into that gripe of his. We had all the usual conversation about when he was on Costa, when he was on this, when he was on that la la la. Dinner was very good. Giant prawns, beef consommé, grilled salmon and lemon meringue and crepes if you cant make up your mind like me! Coffee arrived at the same time as a lovely big tray of chocolate dipped fruit, I had a strawberry but I hear the cherry cup was nice too.
After dinner we went for a romantic little stroll around the deck. Its only a baby deck so it doesn’t take long. Its very spooky around the front of the ship so that doesn’t take long to trot around. We head inside to the lido bar which is lively with people dancing to a duo. We take up a couple of barstools and I ordered a strawberry daquari. I confess that I didn’t really expect much as they don’t seem to put that effort into the cocktails, other than trim them with cherries and umbrellas 1970’s style. Oooh I was wrong the bar lady made me a lovely frozen strawberry daiquiri. It was really nice and didn’t last too long, but she was on the ball and she was ready to make me another. Despite Micky Zany being on in the show lounge, this room was actually very busy, but once the show kicked out there was a surge of people. People were even sat outside in deck. The dj came on and he knew how to keep a room going, he pulled every classic tune out of the bag.
A man from a London fashion house came over to tell Mr C what a fantastic looking woman he had with him and how he admired my stunning dress sense lol. Well, it was very nice of him to say so and we all like to be paid a compliment.
Bedtime is approaching and as much as I would like to party the night away I just cant do it. Anyway the clocks have to go forward an hour so that’s an hours sleep I don’t have already. Ooh while I mention putting the clock forward, I heard a man in the bar discussing this pre dinner. He was totally confused by the whole concept of putting the clocks forward and wanted to know if you change the time before or after breakfast? What?!!
We stepped outside on our way to bed and it is such a lovely evening, really mild and calm so I just sit and chill out for a while, before strolling along the open deck and heading for the cabin. I open the curtains to check for ‘angels’ tonight but I cant see any.
Time to get under the duvet and try and re adjust myself to that ‘old traditional ship’ noise. Its just like it used to be in the olden days! But I think I told you that?
Saturday 8th September
Oh why do ships do that? Judder so violently when the Captain wants it to do something other than go forwards. I was woken by the ship rattling and shaking and juddering so bad I thought we were going to fall apart. He was obviously turning us or something for docking but I couldn’t be bothered to keep my eyes open for long enough to find out. The next time I looked out of the window the sun was shining and the buses were lined up on the quay to take us into Honfluer.
We decided to have Breakfast in the secret Garden this morning, so we needed to be there be for 9.00am. Way too early for my liking, but we get up and dressed and head for breakfast. Its very much more civilised in here with no queuing or hassle. Breakfast was self serve and it was all hot and fresh. Hot toast and coffee was served at the table and we were done and dusted in a flash. Mr C has a plan. He was back off to the cabin to climb back under his duvet and finish his sleep! So Im sat here typing away.
I decide to go for a little look around the ship at the nooks and cranies that I haven’t discovered yet. Oh I had to laugh when I saw the pitch and putt. On Navigator a couple of weeks ago it was the full monty wrapped around the huge back deck, on Boudicca it was a little green mat with a hole at the end LOL. There was loads of sunbathing space up on the dizzy heights of deck 10, with loungers everywhere you looked. Mr C has read somewhere that topless sunbathing is allowed up here, but that just conjures up a pretty gruesome sight in my minds eye!
The view of Honfluer is so pretty, it’s a lovely day, time to go and kick Mr C out from under his duvet.
We are told that the walk into town isn’t far but the shuttle bus is there so we hop onboard. Its only round the bend and along a short country lane and Honfluer is there in front of us. It is such a pretty little port that I wonder why more ships don’t call here? Maybe it’s a shallow port? Not sure? I think I read somewhere that Honfleur was one of the places that escaped the bombings of the second world war. La Rochelle has always been my favourite little French port up until now, but I have changed my mind now and this far outweighs it (yes, that’s how nice this place is) There is a little square harbour surrounded by tall thin old fashioned buildings. The cobbled streets are lined with pavement cafes. The sun is beating down from the lovely blue sky and I could quite happily just take a seat and people watch for the day. There is a little street market on selling everything from local crafts, clothes and local food produce. Loads of fish and shell fish too, which fascinates Mr C. The back streets are full of character with little old quaint wobbly buildings. The shops are lovely little individual shops selling all sorts of unique items and are just fascinating to walk around and browse. Mr C wants his Moules Marnier so we head back to the waterfront to find somewhere to dine. Oh the choice is too much, and we have to have a little wander around to choose. All the restaurants look equally as nice, but the decision making is left to me and I select a nice restaurant with a table for two right on the water front overlooking the giant old fashioned carousel. The sun is beaming down on us, so some nice chilled wine would be good. I admit that neither me or Mr C are very continental in language skills despite all our travels, so when the waitress sees that we are struggling she speaks to us in English and offers a translated menu. There are plenty of choices for me to have, but I really would be eating for eatings sake, so Im happy to have wine and pick at the bread while Mr C has his muscles cooked in wine and fries. I could sit here all day it really wouldn’t bother me. The French are just coming and going as they do, with their little doggies in tow. The boats are in the harbour and just below me there is a boat flying and English flag. He has just been away to buy his newspaper and now he is at in his deck drinking wine and reading the Daily Mail. One day, wouldn’t it be nice to think that we could do that? Get the boat out, sail over to Honfluer, buy a paper and just sit on my own teak deck reading the paper to see whats happening at home! Oh one day!!
We decide that we need to try some of the local cider that they produce in this part of the world so the nice waitress obliges with a jug of said drink. Mmmm yummy! Im not a cider drinker but that was nice. We pay our bill and set off back around the harbour, but we don’t get very far. I would like a nice ice cream. Its so hot and sunny that you hardly get chance to eat it but my lemon sorbet was most refreshing. We are supposed to heading back to the ship but im distracted by yet more back streets that I haven’t explored and we are winding our way over coble stones again.
Eventually we get back to the main front road and walk along the river to investigate some River Cruise ships. Very long and low they are too, but they do look as posh as I have heard. Cabins seem as adequate as anything you would see on any other cruise ship and there looks to be one main lounge plus the dining room which also looks very good. The top deck is all sunloungers and I could quite imagine that cruising along the rivers of Europe would be quite fascinating from the sunlounger.
We decided to walk back to the ship as it wasn’t far, over the river, up a country lane and around a big bend. There was some sort of bicycle race event going on and we past the marquee set up for the celebrations later on in the day. The bike racers were also passing us, which didn’t look too comfortable on the cobbles. We had to pass over a dodgy little bridge which wouldn’t look out of place on ‘Ello ello’ I just had this vision of a few german soldiers trundling over it on those old noisy motor bikes..
Funny thing was that in the time it took us to walk back to the ship, a shuttle bus never passed us.
Boudicca is only a baby settling there all by herself infront of a wood store. I had to smile at the lifeboats, only 3 hung on each side of the ship. The amusing thing was that they all looked as if they were lifeboats through the ages. The front one was a right little open tub that must of needed oars and held fifty people, the next one wasn’t much bigger but it had a bit of a roof and looked like it might have had an engine, the third one was getting a bit more upto date and held 100 people, but the fourth one at the back was a twin hulled brand new upto date model that held 150 people. It just seemed amazing to compare especially after I am used to seeing large cruise ships with loads of modern tenders hanging along each side.
Up the ganway and a sharp left and we are in our cabin, not that any cabin is very far away from anything on this ship.
I need to get out and catch a few of those rays so I do a quick change into my bikini and im out and up on the marquee deck and relaxing in a lounger. The Marquee is still serving food, mmmm Im tempted, so I send Mr C to order be a tuna sandwich, and a drink of course! The pool side café is very busy but its not long before th waiter is heading my way with my lovely fresh sandwich and the unexpected surprise of fries. Oh the sun is lovely, so I need another drink. Another drink means Mr C needs feeding again and he orders a hot dog! That too is very nice in its toasted baguette.
Im so tired, but as usual Im too nosey to sleep on deck so after a while I decide to head for the cabin and my duvet. Mr C has a hair cut appointment booked for 5.00pm as he is just too buy to fit one in when we return home. I snuggle under my duvet and slip straight into a lovely little snooze. But not for long ‘urdy gurdy’ Captian comes on the tannoy to inform us that we are all ready to set sail, but unfortunately the pilot cant come out to assist for another hour, so we are going to have to sit and wait! That amuses me greatly as there is no sign of any other ship for miles and I just have this vision of him being sat at home eating his tea and saying to his wife ‘Im not going to take that ship out until Ive had my tea’!
Time for more snoozing then before he cranks the engines up. Mr c goes out to get his hair cut and puts the new hairdresser right on why her clippers and hairdryer aren’t working properly? It was her first time on a ship and she had bought them new in Dover, but hadn’t realise that ships run on a different voltage circuit etc so they run slower, bless her! His hair looked good and it was £2 cheaper than at home so no complaints there!
I have to pull my self out of bed to do some packing, before climbing into a big Molten Brown bubble bath. It was great because the bathroom was up a step anyway so it was raised from the cabin, then the bath was raised, so I left the door open and looked out through the cabin and straight out of the window to watch a lovely picturesque sailaway from Honfluer. It was almost like being in one of those posh swanky suites on an NCL ship with a picture window at the side of the bath – fab!
Packing is complete. We are ready for a night out again. We head up to the Observatory (crows nest binoculars place) but its pretty packed. Just as im about to give up hope of finding a seat the doctor indicates to us that they are about to leave so we take up a seat next to her right at the front. She has bought her mum on for her first cruise and we enjoy a few minutes chatting about the lovely port we have visited today. Then we get onto cruising in general and the doctor cant get her head around how many cruises I have been on or more to the point how many more we have booked in the future lol.
As the doctor and her mum leave another 3 people ask if they can take the vacant seats. A lovely family who cruise equally as much as we do, but again I can see she is confused at trying to work out how we do it so often, as they are much older than us. They have just returned from Aurora – oh that ship is haunting me this week!
Its just gone 8.30 and Mr C is concerned that Mr & Mrs Cruise will be sending out a search party for us. I really would prefer not to dine with them tonight, but as it’s the last night it just looks bad, so reluctantly I am led to the restaurant. Despite being late they aren’t there yet! Oh but we knew when he was. We heard all about Honfluer (yes we were there too if you care to ask) then we discuss his old football injury for the third night running (he would have been famous you know if someone hadn’t have kicked him in the shin and ruined his career!) then we heard all about his caravan – if anyone wants to know what the décor is like just let me know! Oh but it wasn’t long before we had to hear all about his past cruises again. Costa this, Thomson that etc etc. I had to smile when he was expressing his disappointment at last nights show. Apparently on all the other ships he has been on they have a bit of a raised stage! Only about 9 inches or so but it makes all the difference apparently. Oooh really, a stage hey!! Blimey he would faint if he saw a revolving stage and I dread to think what would happen if he saw a real theatre over 3 floors! I wonder how many times I have nodded politely and put in the occasional ‘ooh really ..’ this cruise? I know I could have blown him out of the water at any stage but I really couldn’t be bothered. I just let him think that he had educated into the big world of cruising and hey, you never know I might try this cruising larky again one day!! I really don’t think im into this sharing a table with strangers lark. I don’t know how some people do it for two weeks. Please if any of you ever get stuck with me and Im that boring just throw me overboard!
Im keen to leave dinner sooner rather than later and we just want a quiet uninterrupted drink, so we head back up to the Observatory and occupy the big sofa with a nice champagne cocktail. Its pretty much deserted up here as everyone is in the show or the quiz downstairs. The waitress is doing her hard sell with the cigarettes as I think she wants to earn a bit of commission, but im sorry to tell her we don’t smoke. She upsells the next bloke though who ended up with 400 to take home.
We decide on one for the road in the Lido Bar. I can tell its going to be a busy night in here and everyone is up and dancing. I have one final strawberry daquarri, which is delicious but then its time to call it a day. Im so tired and I just want my bed.
Back at the cabin we open the case and put in the final few items. Then Mr C has to work out a way of getting the suitcase out into the corridor for collection without any clothes on. We are both helpless with laughing before we realise that he has a pair of jeans hanging in the wardrobe ready to go home in.
The bed always amuses me. Its never turned back so that you can just climb in, instead she removes both duvets, and folds them into tiny squares on the end of each half of the bed. But ive just about got it sussed now, if I lay out Mr C’s duvet so it overlaps my bed and then lay my duvet on top, I have far less chance of any gap appearing.
We are just chugging along doing 12 knots this evening so not much rumbling going on, and im just gently rocked off to sleep.
Sunday 9th September.
5.45 and the Captain has just put the ship into reverse again. The cabin is shaking like its going to fall apart around our ears. I look outside and that boat is along side us again – the one that we saw on departure with the headless man on!! Hey maybe I didn’t imagine those angels after all?!
Somehow I manage to get back off to sleep for an hour, but as soon as I wake again Im up and dressed and ordering Mr C about. I just want breakfast and to disembark. Not because I haven’t enjoyed it, but because I can never see the point in delaying these things.
We had breakfast in the main restaurant before most people had ventured out, so it was very civilised without any queuing. Two cups of lovely fresh tea – yes I quite like a cup of tea now whilst cruising and I have put it into my daily routine!
After a breath of fresh air on the top deck we return to the cabin to collect our bags. We were supposed to disembark in deck order and they haven’t even started disembarkation yet as the coaches haven’t arrived, but a polite word to the girl on the gangway and she is quite happy to let us go as the baggage is all off loaded. A few minute later we are on the road.
I don’t even remember getting as far as Folkestone before my eyes closed and I was gone! The next time I woke up we were at the roundabout at the end of the M40 heading onto the Warwick bypass, good old Mr C and sat nav lady did it all by themselves today!
All in all Fred Olsen cruises are excellent. I loved the Traditionalism of cruising, just as I remember it as a child. There wasn’t any 24 hrs dining or even the facility to have a cup of coffee or tea when you wanted one, but there is tea and coffee making facilities in the cabin. Meal were served at the advertised times, and dress codes must be adhered to. Polite notices were outside every restaurant and I think more cruise lines should uphold it rather than just ‘suggest’ it!
The ship was very clean and tidy despite her age. She had a full refurb in 2006 to a very good standard. The décor was quite trendy and contempory. All of the cabins seemed to have undergone a recent refurb too.
We had a B grade Superior Outside cabin with picture window on Main deck. Our colour sceme was blue. Beds were new, with cotton sheets and duvet, and a blue and silver throw over. Small bed side shelves to the side with trendy little lamps. Not a huge amount of room either side of the bed but it was adequate. Good size dressing table with large mirror. I had moaned for the 3 days that the lighting was too dull to apply makeup, but on the last night Mr C showed me whaere the other light switch was, so it was fine! 4 decent sized draws in the dressing table. One long wardrobe to the side of the dressing table and then a single and double wardrobe opposite, plus floor to ceiling shelves, so plenty of storage space. Our big samsonite suitcase also fitted under the bed, which it doesn’t on many ships.
I was very impressed with the bathroom as I had feared it might be as old as the ship. But we had a brand new full length bath, with trendy taps and shower above. A nice trendy vanity unit and sink, with excellent mirror lighting and shelves. Molten Brown soap dispensers were on the side of the bath and at the sink. We also had two lovely little bags of miniature toiletries.
Our cabin was in small inlet corridor with just one other cabin opposite.
Also on Main deck was the photo shop with the usual display.
The Harding Brother shop, selling nothing different o any other ship, the port shop selling toiletries and essentials.
Reception Area was nice and light and airy with some trendy seating. The tour office and future cruise office were also in the same area. Reception staff were always really helpful and polite and very efficient.
Up one deck to Lounge Deck. The Main Restaurant was split into 3 sections, all open plan but all individually decorated with separate colour schemes. The Four Seasons, Tintagel and the Heligan – which is where we were seated. During breakfast and lunch there was a central circular buffet area which you could help yourself from or you could order from the menu. Dinner was just waiter service. Food was very good. Always hot and service was very attentive. Its advisable to pre order wine before dinner because tryng to catch the wine waiter was not easy as he covered a large area.
The Secret Garden Café is self service with oriental décor. We nipped in at tea time a couple of times and they served some lovely fresh rolls and cakes. It also looked a very nice place to eat in the evening. It stayed open until midnight for snacks.
The Iceni Room seemed to be a bit of an unofficial smoking room. Black leather sofas, no bar.
Neptune Lounge and bar was the main show lounge. Big band played most evenings in between the shows. Lovely big orange sofas in the bar area which were nice if you wanted to just sit and listen to the show in the back ground. Main lounge area was orange and blues with big blue comfy sofas in the windows, which made t a comfy way to watch a show.
One deck up to Lido deck, the main promenade deck. I think they had been working on cleaning up the deck for some time as it seemed to be an ongoing project on our cruise to sand back the teak deck. It was very narrow at some points on the deck, but it fascinated me because again it was like it used to be years ago.
A large library with a good selection of books and plenty of seating looking out to sea. The casino was really just two tables, roulette and Black Jack in the entrance to the Lido lounge. It was always popular in the evening. There were no slot machines onboard at all, so Mummy wouldn’t have liked that at all!
The Lido Lounge had a lovely bar area with colour changing light panels. Plenty of big red sofas again and seaing at tables in the centre of the room. Usual entertainment in here seemed to be a quiz, a duo and the DJ. A popular room that was well used.
The Observatory up on deck 9 the Marquee deck. The bar are was on the smoking side and I couldn’t help feeling a little cut off on the non smoking side by the round wall in the centre of the room. A grand piano was also on the non smoking side which was just a little too loud for the size of the room. Binoculars were in pockets under all of the windows so if you wanted to do some observing you could!
At the aft end of this deck was the Amarquee Bar and pool. It was nice and quiet and less used up here. The pool was a saller round plunge pool full of salt water but it was warm each time I dipped my toe in it. The Marqee Bar opened at very set times and also served hot snacks such as sandwiches, fish and chips, burgers and hot dogs etc. at 3.00pm daily it closed during our cruise no matter how many people were still on deck. But you only had to nip down two decks and place an order and they bought it up to you. I helped keep the waiter fit by sending him up and down stairs.
The other Pool and bar area was down on deck 6 at the aft. A larger pool, plus two Jacuzzis and a small ‘exercise’ pool, which seemed to be the kids pool on our trip. The pool side buffet area also served continental breakfast and lunch at set times.
There was plenty of additional sunbathing space up on deck 10 but nobody seemed to venture up that far.
Down on deck 4 there was an very well equipped gym which surprised me. The salon was very good and offered good value for money if Mr C’s hair cut was anything to go by. I also found the ‘craft room’ which appeared to be more of an aerobics room with full length mirrors all around, but it also seemed to double up as the kids playroom as there was a cupboard full of toys, no sign of any kids though.
All in all it was an excellent, well run little ship. Facilities were very good for its size.
I wouldn’t have any hesitation about recommending a Fred Olsen cruise to anyone who wanted to experience a traditional cruise. We had a great time onboard!
as always my photo slide show can be seen here and you are more than welcome to leave any comments below