Tuesday 22nd July 2014 – still in Constanta
We spent the morning in the exclusive spa area at the front of the ship, and for most of the morning we had the place to ourselves, but it eventually filled up. The thalasotherapy pool was bliss, it was like being massaged all over. I fell asleep at one point but I woke myself up at the fear of drowning. We had two of the single beds with canopies, but doubles were available. There is also the heated stone beds indoors, steam room, sauna and relaxation room.
I do love a nice quite port day whilst everyone is ashore. Not quite sure where they go from here, but I think a lot have gone off to the Danube. Certainly wont be in Constanta from what I hear as it has little to offer.
After lunch in Waves, which again was rather yummy, I had an appointment for a hot stones massage and Mr C had an appointment for a deep tissue massage, so we headed off to the Canyon Ranch Spa, where we were taken through to the relaxation area and then met by our therapist. I think Mr C got a bit of a battering from what he tells me, lol, but I’m sure he deserved it. My Hot Stones massage sounds like the total opposite and was extremely soothing and relaxing. I felt very chilled out and relaxed afterwards. Wish I could afford such luxuries every day.
All this lazing around had made me very sleepy so I opted for a lie down on my princess and the pea bed in my Penthouse Suite. I’m loving the extra space this suite gives us. I feel I have served my time over the years in inside four berth cabins. Its mad when I think about it. I used to cram two adults and two growing children into a four berth cabin with bunks, and now I have all this space to call my own. Love it!
Its a good job Rozario pops in with the canapés or I might never wake from my afternoon naps. He comes in at about 5.00pm so I know I need to wake myself up and start getting ready for the evening ahead. Don’t want to be missing my Martini time! The steak in the Grand Dining room was yet again superb. This has to be my favourite main dining room at sea. Love the comfy big throne like seats and the general ambience of the place.
We nipped into the onboard shops for the first time this cruise, but they only seem to open at night due to being in port all day. Mr C was not a happy bunny with my little retail therapy diversion. Why do men have to be such spoil sports when it comes to retail therapy. I took him into the fine jewellers but he was having non of it, so we headed back to the bar.
It was Mowtown up in the Horizon Lounge this evening. Firstly in the form of cabaret from one of the show singers doing a solo spot and then with music from the live band. It was yet another extremely busy night in there, but we looked on from the bar stool, and chatting to fellow passengers and regulars at the bar.
Wednesday 23rd July 2014 – at sea
Clocks went forward an hour during the night so we are now 3 hrs ahead of the UK. But as usual I am wide awake at 6.30am, so that translates to I had approximately 3 hours sleep. Yes I could have turned over and gone back to sleep, but I rarely possess that ability, plus the ship is bouncing around all over the place so it wasn’t a good feeling. And of course I have to think about Mr C’s belly that can’t survive without food every few hours.
There was an absolute gale blowing across the open deck and some people had attempted to reserve sun loungers with their belongings while they went for breakfast. I could blame the Brits but more on that later.
We had a very windswept breakfast out on the aft terrace, but it blew the cobwebs away. I made myself an amazing sausage n egg McMuffin – even one of the waiters looked impressed. He could see exactly where I was coming from. Hangover food is sometimes the best.
Out on deck we got our usual spot at the end of the row by the pool. This happened to be next to the double day beds, which had been reserved with some ones bag. It was blowing around all over the place. I was so tempted to lift the stuff and go and place it on the naughty table (table where items are placed from unmanned sun loungers) Then a group of women came along and reserved six sun loungers on the other side of the pool and left. I felt sure the pool butlers would remove all of this stuff but they were far too busy trying to set up the chairs for the day ahead. Eventually three women show up for this double day bed next to me. They must have been the loudest Italians in the universe. Did they not know I had a bad head this morning and would have appreciated some peace and quiet? Incredibly loud, and arrogant. Then one of them put some really bad music on her iphone and was blasting it out. Not even my best Paddington Bear glare was working on her! Then another woman arrives, even louder than the first three, pulls over a sun lounger and lays down. Next thing I know there is a very polite English lady coming over to her from the pool and politely asks if she has just taken the chair from where she was sat. “Yes, yes” came the reply, and she gestured as if she was going to get up and move. But she didn’t, she put her head back down. So, polite English lady advices that she really would like her chair back. Up jumps the Italian and the English lady attempted to drag her lounger back to her spot. Oh heck, all hell let loose. So much so that the barman had to run from behind the bar to sort it out and calm down the loud Italian woman. Another chair was found for her, but jeeze she was so rude. After that the music got louder, the Italian women got louder. Then they start a conversation with the other Italians and the other side of the pool, some Italians behind us, and two Italian blokes on the opposite side. I was ready to flip, but Mr C suggested I might have a horses head in my bed if I did.
I had a daiquiri and that help sooth my mood a little. But it was just too busy and loud for me so shortly after noon we headed for a light lunch on the aft terrace. Mr C finds it amusing that every time I go inside for food I get my plate carried back to the table for me, but it is yet to happen for him. Lunch was just divine. I had sweet n sour chicken with fried rice followed by their amazingly scrummy strawberry ice cream. And so, at last, it was bed time for me. Mr C sat editing photos before going to a lecture about marine life in the Black Sea, which I think also included a drink or three at the bar with James, his new buddy from Alabama. I was woken by El Capitain to advise that we were on a slight diversion to allow a helicopter rescue of a poorly lady. I guess I needed to wake up anyway. At least I could get in the bath before Rozario arrives with my canapés. Ooh my bath was lush. I ran the water on my Bvlgari tea bag, and bathed in Bvlgari shower gel – lush!
There was one seat at the bar this evening so I squeezed in there while Mr C stood for a while. It’s always busy until 7.30 when the pianist is playing. Big O and Flirtini for me this evening and spent the time chatting to the couple next to me. As it got to 8.00pm the place had cleared out and was deserted. All that were left was us at one end of the bar and John & Pete at the other end, lol no surprises there because we are all regulars.
Mr C was keen to dine in Terrace Cafe tonight but we went to check the menu and it was a French theme and Mr C is non to keen on the French, so we retreated back to the Grand Dining Room. There was a lady in there screaming that she had been waiting over an hour this evening, she was quite briskly attended to by the restaurant manager and escorted out to calm down. I find it impossible to believe she had been waiting anywhere near that length of time. There was a small queue when we arrived but that is dealt with fast and efficiently, and because we wanted a table for two we were asked to be seated. We couldn’t have sat for more than 3 or 4 mins before we were taken to a table for two. The food and choice was excellent again this evening. The lamb cutlets just melted, no effort involved at all, just enjoyable to the max. I decided to change my choice of wine this evening and the sommelier recommended a very nice Pinot Gris. We were one of the last to leave and it’s always a struggle to get out of there as its all uphill and after a couple of Martini cocktails followed by wine with dinner it all gets a bit wobbly.
We had a little mooch around. The show had finished. We went upto Horizons where it was 70’s night and the place was packed again, but we resisted the urge to sit at the bar and went back to the suite for a relatively early night.
Thursday 24th July 2014 – Batumi Georgia
Oh me and my sleep! I was awake at 4.30am and out on the balcony at 5.00am admiring the lovely pink sky and watching the pods of Dolphins play in the water. The sea was like glass and just rippling in the pink haze. People miss a lot so early in the morning. I sat out there for a while before returning to bed just gone 6.00am, only to be woken my Razario at 7.00am who was delivering our full cooked breakfast. He seemed rushed this morning and he tells me he has 15 suites to look after with two being the front of deck 8 and 2 at the aft of deck 7, and yep non of his breakfast deliveries were located close to each other this morning so he was running back and forth to get it all done.
By the time the coast of Batumi was in view it was red hot blazing sunshine. This is a seaside resort with a beach and fairground rides close to where we dock. We are going ashore to investigate.
Oh boy how hot is it today? The ship is berthed more or less in the street with a lawned garden to the front, all very pretty. We took a walk round to the right and walked along the promenade and along to the beach. Despite the early hour the beach was pretty full of people, mostly locals I think, but to me it looked like a pile of dusty rocks so I couldn’t see what enjoyment they were getting from it other than the cool dip in the sea. There was a big Ferris wheel and I get the impression its a very lively area during the evening. We continued along the sea front before turning towards the town. Oh heck, crossing the road here is ridiculous. The locals just walk out and the cars dodge around them, but you have to have your whit’s about you. I find it really hard to explain what Batumi is like other than it reminded me very much of cruise ports of 30 or 40 years ago when they were less commercialised. It was almost like a land that time forgot, something stuck back in the 60’s if that makes sense. But a really nice place, lots of gardens and interesting buildings. We literally walked for miles in the soaring heat. It was so intense you could almost eat the air around you. Eventually we realised we had walked in a great big circle going right around the back of the town and arriving at the other end of the ship. At one point we wandered into some kind of shanty town which was a little uneasy feeling but nobody bothered us. Then it was back along the prom and back to my beautiful gleaming white Oceania Riviera.
A quick change and we were outside to the tranquility of the pool, I needed a long cool cocktail and I needed it quickly. You should also note that I had been drinking water whilst ashore and downed another large glass in the suite. There were very few people on the deck due to it being so hot and maybe the fact that the heat was unbearable. We had a little bit of a medical emergency next to us. The lady on the next sun lounger had a dodgy knee, went into the pool and it slipped out of joint. She couldn’t get it back in and attempted to get up and go back to her stateroom, but we could see she was in pain. Mr C asked a waiter if it were possible to borrow a wheelchair and within two minutes one was there, and the waiter took her back to her stateroom. I thought that was impressive service. Ask for a wheelchair on many cruise lines and it wouldn’t be permitted unless you had a full medical diagnosis and huge medical bill to go with it.
We weren’t on deck for much more than an hour before retreating out of the sun to Waves for lunch. I had a lovely pasta salad with tuna, rather yummy!
Time to go cool down in the comfort of our suite. Within minutes I was asleep due to lack of sleep last night. But oh heck when we both woke up how rough did we feel? We were on the verge of sunstroke and neither of us felt good. I dragged myself in the shower, but it was too much and crawled back under the duvet. I had to call Red Ginger and cancel our reservation for this evening. I was gutted. I drifted in and out of sleep a few times but was wide awake when I should have just been going to bed.
Friday 25th July 2014 – Trabzon
Guess who was in breakfast before 7.00am this morning? We were starving. Mr C tells me he nearly tested out room service in the early hours but thought better of it.
The port area isn’t the prettiest looking of places and we were just about berthing as we finished breakfast.
I needed to go and see about getting a replacement reservation for Red Ginger, which was eventually achieved.
We decided to go ashore and investigate a cab to the Monastery. It was 70 euros per cab, and we could have shared but I don’t like waiting around for others. It was a fast 50 minute drive along main roads, and then the climb up the mountains started. I lost count of how many times my ears popped. So, had I considered the dress code this morning? Well I went as far as making sure my shoulders were covered and I had a wrap in my bag if need be. But that really was as far as I went and didn’t for one second consider the logistics of how exactly you get to this monastery on the side of a cliff. I thought maybe the taxi took me lol. Wrong, it’s literally a hike through what resembles a rain forest at times, over rough terrain and tree roots. Oh and the steps! How many steps? Lots and lots of steps, someone said 2000 and it certainly felt like it! I was in need of a sit down and a bottle of water when I got to the top. It was 15 euro for both of us to enter the monastery, which yes, was up the most steepest, narrowest flight of stairs I have ever seen. So up I went, and guess what? You need to go down them again when you get through the arch! But it was what it was. Very clever how on earth they ever built it there, or why, but yes I was all cultured out. We did the full tour and I confess to saying a few unholy words at one point when I little lizard dared to appear in front of me and do a dance wiggling its tail about. I covered my mouth with both hands and Mr C shoed it out of the way, but being on lizard watch on the steepest steps ever encountered wasn’t my idea of fun. I was glad to get out of there, and I didn’t wait for Mr C. And I still had the rain forest trek to encounter before we got back to the cab. Mr Taxi seemed in a bit of a hurry to get back and we followed his mate most of the way, at speed. At one point he put his seat belt on which was worrying in itself, then he took a phone call and he followed the other taxi off road through some dirt track which ran alongside the main motorway. I thought we were about to be ambushed, but we think he was trying to avoid a police car that was on the motorway on the stretch we avoided. Anyway we made it back to the ship safely and were back before lunch. It’s not so bad this cultural malarkey.
After a swift and cooling cocktail at Waves Bar we headed to Terrace Cafe where I had a lovely pasta meal prepared freshly in front of me, followed by a little fresh strawberry tart.
The afternoon was spent relaxing away from any hint of sunshine. I wasn’t having a repeat performance of yesterday!
Pre dinner drinks in Martini Bar. We do mean to try somewhere else but Daniel is so entertaining and I like to listen to the cocktail pianist, plus we always find nice people to chat to.
Our final chance to dine in Grand Dining Room for evening meal and we had a nice table for two as always, with lovely waiters. I had the dover sole which the maître de came and de boned for me, and was delicious. This has to be one of the nicest main dining rooms at sea. The ambiance in here is indeed Grand! And the chairs are like comfy high backed armchairs, but I think I might have mentioned that before. After dinner we had a stroll around and a browse of the shops before heading back to see Daniel for a nightcap of chocolate Martini. After one of those you need a lie down!
Saturday 26th July 2014 – Sinop
Ive not missed a sail in yet and of course I was wide awake long before land was in sight. In fact we were in breakfast dining on the aft of Terrace Cafe at just gone 6.45am. It’s a nice way to arrive in port over a long leisurely breakfast. After breakfast we had a long stroll around the ship and checking out the port of Sinop from the high decks. Mr C has a plan. In the form of a route march by the sound of it.
We were one of the first ashore and the port itself had hardly woken up. There were a few locals sitting in the square drinking their apple tea but it was all quite sleepy. We walked along the waterfront, past all the fishing boats and little restaurants and followed the old city walls almost out to the next bay to a beach. The sea was full of jelly fish so there was no way we had any intention of going in. And then came the next part of Mr C’s plan for the day. He pointed to a steep set of steps along the side of a prison type fortress thing and advised we were to clime it to the top. Compared to the Monastery steps it was nothing, but as I approached the bottom step the longest lizard thing I had seen in a while came out to greet me. I was in full blown panic mode and wanted to cry. I can’t explain it but they scare the hell out of me. I’m sure they can’t harm me but the fear and panic they instil in me turns me into a three year old that has just met the boogie man! So what to do? Trek back the way we came or climb the steps. After a lot of talking round, Mr C convinced me to do it. But I could have cried. By the time I reached the top my heart had nearly stopped beating as I had held my breath practically the whole way up. Thank goodness for the bottle of Oceania mineral water that is available as you leave the ship. The top of the steps bought us out into the car park for a mosque and to the fortress and prison museum. Well I got some funny looks as this gasping woman legged it through a car park of coach and mini bus drivers. We were now on a main road which eventually led into town, but it was quite a walk. We past some nice clothes shops en route but I was so very, very hot my dress was just clinging to me. I needed to get back to the comfort of my air conditioned ship. By the time we arrived back at the ship most people seemed to be just heading ashore so it meant I had a good chance of having my ship, my way – to myself.
We settled by the pool but it was so intensely hot. I had to make myself a make shift veil out of my sarong in an attempt to protect my head. Mr C was at the bar chatting to his buddies and came and asked if I would like to go ashore to a fish restaurant. Oooh I don’t do fishy things of much variety so I declined but I gave Mr C a pass out and he was allowed ashore to enjoy some local seafood. He said the restaurant come fishmongers was excellent and they all came back praising the place for friendliness, quality and value for money. Meanwhile I opted for some in-suite dining and ordered an original club sandwich and glass of chilled sauvignon blanc to enjoy on the balcony. Not for long though, it was sooooo hot!
This evening we were to dine in Jacques at 8.00pm which cut into my Martini time, so I made extra effort to get there a little earlier. Daniel was full of compliments as usual, and I now leave my choice of Martini to him. He hasn’t got it wrong yet and he mixes a mean cocktail.
We arrived at Jacques just as our table was being prepared, a lovely table for two in the window. The menu is quite overwhelming, and takes some deciphering but I knew what I wanted. After Amuse Bouche, I had the pumpkin soup – served from the pumpkin followed by the pork loin and apple, then lemon and orange crepes suzette. Oh I needed a lay down. We went upto deck 14 and had a stroll along the deck and then took up residence on the double day beds under the canopy. Perhaps a bad move as Mr C took full advantage of the situation, closed his eyes and proceeded to snore his brains out for an hour. Tempted as I was to leave him there, I eventually woke him up. And so to bed!