Tuesday 11th January 2011 – Dominica
I woke up to see us approaching Roseau and a Celebrity ship in the berth. That means we were going around the corner to the berth with the ‘tat shed’. Dominica is not on my list of favourite ports but it is a little better when we berth in the town and you can come and go easily. Its not the best of mornings weather wise either. very overcast and the heavens opened just as the butler had laid the table for breakfast and we had sat down. We soon retreated inside!
After breakfast I had my quiet word with our Restaurant Manager, and he knows I wouldn’t complain for complaining sake, so hopefully normal service will be resumed this evening.
We decided on a walk into town, which was a fantastic idea when the sun was blazing, but we had no sooner got on the main road and the heavens opened again! It persisted it down all the way into town. I did have a brolly with me but it only kept my head dry as it was coming at us from all directions. Mr C was like a drowned rat. But of course as soon as we approached town the rain stopped and it was glorious sunshine again. I did stand and ask myself why we had made the effort to get into town today? Don’t know the answer to that one, but at least i had a brisk walk. Its about a mile into town. There were mini coach shuttle services into town at $2pp which is a tad confusing as someone did point out that it had been stated all shuttle buses would be complimentary in future? Maybe that starts in April? I will investigate. We didn’t get very far in town before the rain came again and we took shelter in my favourite bar there, CocoRico. I love their rum punch, so I had a couple before moving onto cola. Really potent stuff! Phil and Sandra came in to take refuge too so we reminisced about our entertaining evening at Birmingham airport which seemed like light years ago. Food was required to soak up the alcohol. Mr C had the jerk chicken, which again is some of the best in the Caribbean. I just had a plain tuna wholemeal baguette which was good! Outside the rain was coming and going all the time so we decided on a cab back to the ship. We had no sooner set foot out of the cab and the heavens opened yet again and this time it was torrential. We were completely drowned and squelched up the gangway in fits of laughter. The cabin turned into a Chinese laundry with wet clothes hanging all over the place. I climbed into bed, while Mr C showered and by the time he came out I was comatised. He used the opportunity to slope off to Brodies for a swift ‘arf!
I woke up just as we were pulling off the berth and I hadn’t got a clue where I was, what time it was or if I was supposed to be in breakfast! Don’t you just hate it when that happens! I somehow managed to drag myself out of bed and start to prepare for the evening ahead. At one point I was well ahead of myself with plenty of time to spare and then next minute I was chasing my tail and late for pre dinner drinks in Sindhu. Not over impressed with drinks menu in here. We were expecting something really nice, like the rose petal martinis, but they didn’t exist. Im not very impressed with the cocktail list anywhere on the ship to date. Poor selection and not very creative.
Sindhu bar is an excellent place for people watching as they all pass by the photo gallery which brings me onto the much asked question about semi formal dress code in the Caribbean. Being a ‘traditional’ cruiser I do like the semi formal evenings and would normally like to see more, not less, of them. But I, like many others, have questioned the need for them on a flycruise Caribbean cruise. I was not too impressed to have to use up valuable weight and space in the case for Mr C’s suit jacket – it could have meant another couple of pairs of shoes for me! That would be my only personal issue with semi formal evenings on a fly cruise. I often wear cocktail dresses on both semi formal or smart casual, to me there is little difference. I tend to dress up not down, so for the ladies I don’t think its so much of an issue. Looking around the ship, I would say the majority of men did wear a jacket on the semi formal. I don’t think there were any less without a jacket than you would find on a Southampton sailing. We did see a fair few walk past Sindhu as we sat there, but I have no idea where they were choosing to dine. I had a really good look around the restaurant and could only see a couple in shirt sleeves. There are signs outside the main bars and the restaurants reminding passengers of the dress code before entering.
Dinner this evening was a whole new experience. The lads are lovely and the service 110% better. They made a real effort tonight and it showed. Hats off to them for being so professional,after no doubt, they got a little bit of talking too from their seniors. Even the section waiter came to see us, did the full introduction that he should have done nights ago, and again he was happy and chatty and that’s all we ask. So, it should have been the perfect dining experience but, there’s a but! I somehow got talked into ‘Gestapo’ soup, which I know is chilled soup, and that always seemed like a good enough reason to steer well clear. I did warn Wilfred I was having it out of sheer curiosity, which amused him. It was disgusting! Nice if you like that sort of thing, but for me it would have been better with a whizz round in the microwave. So that was starter – a non starter! Next I opted for the slow roast beef in ale. It was not how I pictured it. I was expecting a braised steak type dish, but instead it was 3 rather dried up looking slices of beef with some sauce over the top. I put the first mouthful in and it was gristle. That didn’t stay in for long and was dismissed to the side of the plate. I moved onto the next slice and it had a very unique crunching sensation between thee teeth. Lynn tried hers and it was declared the same. I will give it the benefit of the doubt. Maybe we were unlucky and got the same end cut or something but I couldn’t eat it. Lynn chose to push her meat to one side and eat the veg, but Claude had spotted my knife and fork were down and his little heart must have sank. It was discreetly whipped away and a sirloin steak and fries was produced within minutes. Much better. Baileys Bread and Butter pudding for desert, yum! So I had made it all the way to coffee, not without event, but I think someone from the ‘Gestapo’ planted a hand grenade in my coffee cup, because one minute I was sat happily chatting and then there was an almighty explosion in my coffee cup and I was covered top to bottom in warm coffee. Not a drop of coffee survived the explosion and the coffee cup was sat smirking at me from its saucer. Thankfully nobody else was injured or splattered in the incident, but I had coffee where coffee should really not venture. Not wishing to create a drama I continued to sit and chat while the rest of the table finished their, when they managed to calm their hysterical laughter that is! Thankfully my dress was not one that showed the cup off coffee easily and I was able to walk from the aft of the restaurant, all the way along deck 7, and upto deck 11, without anyone knowing the difference. They might have wondered where the whiff of coffee was coming from, but nobody knew it was me. Luckily I was in the boys scouts so had a spare semi formal in my vast wardrobe. After another shower, reapplication of body lotion and perfume, I hung my cocktail dress in the shower and blasted it with cold water to rinse out the coffee. It will have to wait to be dry cleaned at home because dry cleaning is not available on Azura. 3 2 1 and I was ‘back in the room’ and enjoying a drink in the GlassHouse doing more people watching and observations of dress code. Let’s just say in most cases the men scored higher than the ladies.
We ended the night in Brodies in possibly the bounciest sofas at sea. They reminded me of the inflatable’s you see out at sea on a Caribbean beach. Its hard to sit still on them. One minute Mr C was threatening to fall asleep, but long after the duo had finished he got his second wind and was playing pool! We ended up being some of the last out of there again. The evening ended in total hilarity with us scattering in all directions as we raced to our cabins in fits of laughter. I could tell you why, but you had to be there!
Wednesday 12th January 2011 – at sea
The sun is out and we head for breakfast on suite balcony. The sun is out, the fish are flying and all is well with the Caribbean world. That is until the Butler laid out the breakfast on the balcony table and we sat down. We had literally two drops of rain warning and then whoosh, down it came, torrential rain from nowhere! (well it might have been out of the sky but it was early and we were too hung over to tell) retreat inside and all food was successfully rescued by the boys. I took advantage of the suite facilities and set up the iron and ironing board in the annexe to iron my evening dress for tonight. I had sent it to be pressed, but for the first time ever I was not impressed with the finish. I could hardly send it back and criticise the standard of finish if I didn’t know if it was the materials fault. I confess the design of the actual dress was not the easiest to navigate and it took two of us to hold and iron, but the finish was much more acceptable. So maybe next time I wont be so lazy and will save my £8 pressing fee for cocktails!
Gold Portunas lunch in the Meridian at noon today. Mr C accepted the invitation when we were telephoned to enquire if we will be attending. He will be in the doghouse later if I don’t enjoy the event! I will report back.
Portunus lunch was a success. We had a lovely host, Christina Assistant Crew Officer. Christina was absolutely charming. A perfect host and a credit to P&O. Interesting conversation flowed, and so did the wine. I was rather excited to see cream of tomato soup on the menu, but when it arrived it was cream of asparagus! Spelling mistake apparently! We were the last table to leave, which again is a good indication of how good Christina was at keeping us entertained. Other than that it was pretty uneventful. No words from the Captain and no visit to the table. The gift had changed at long last, but you will have to cruise to find out what it is!
We went out for a recky out on deck and it was rammed in the main pool areas and around Breakers bar etc. I didn’t venture upto the goldfish bowl or the bit on top of Planet bar so it could have been quieter up there. We stumbled across Lynn & Co tucked it up in a corner at the back of the big screen. Im not a lover of this area. Cant really see the point of playing films during the day. Looking around it seemed that the vast majority were not watching it anyway.
Formal night this evening, and we had pre dinner drinks in Blue Bar overlooking the Atrium. Plenty of frock watching opportunities and some interesting sights, but mostly all good. The dance floor below was pretty busy pre dinner and there always seems to be a few dancing when we walk past later in the evening too.
Dinner in the Oriental and I checked the table before being seated tonight. Didn’t want to find any hand grenades in my coffee again this evening. I had the pork, not a lot of it, and fatty just as Wilfred advised, but non the less very tasty and for me the best choice on the menu. Spoilt for choice on the puds too.
The boys admitted defeat tonight and headed straight t bed after dinner for an early night. That left Lynn and I to a night out alone. First port of call was Brodies but it was rather busy and there was a quiz on, so not our scene. We decided we needed to find somewhere cool, and as Planet Bar is usually chilly so we headed up there. I can only imagine that there is something wrong with the air conditioning because it was warm and muggy and everyone was complaining. We sat at the bar and I started to feel ill from the heat, so I asked for a glass of water. There were more staff behind the bar than required, and my request seemed to be no bother, but it took a good 10 minutes and a second request for the water to materialise. Perhaps they were in shock that I was asking for water! We needed to get out of there and find some air. A walk through deck 15 found the required air and we stood in a little wind tunnel for a shirt while just cooling off. There was one family of 3 watching Wizard of Oz on the big screen, so that seemed a bit of a waste. There was a disco out by the next pool with the DJ standing playing tunes to a few sat up by Breakers bar. Maybe a formal night isn’t the best time for a deck party?
Down to Brodies and as usual it was busy in there. I have never spent so much time in a P&O pub type bar, but it seems to be the happening place. The duo were singing, known to us as Jedward, and a few were gambling. We were joined at the bar by a man (Mans name escapes me) we were chatting to at Planet Bar who lived very close to Lynn, and we sat nattering until the early hours.