Monday, 23 December 2013

The Two Hour Cruise From Hell

We booked a two day cruise on the Ventura leaving on Friday 13th September. Well, there's a clue about how it went, even though paraskevitriskaidekaphoibia (fabulous Greek term) is not something I'd normally worry about. It's a good day to travel, you can get cheap air fares.

It was effectively a free cruise since we'd used a voucher P & O sent us after an inordinate number of things went wrong on our previous cruise on the Arcadia. So it was looking good ...

We normally arrive at the terminal at about 3pm after a ten minute drive from our house. Since it was only a short cruise we thought we'd leave earlier and have lunch on the ship.

Huge mistake. Huge.

It was the first day of the Boat Show and three other ships were in. To make it worse there were roadworks by the dock gates. So it took at least 40 minutes for our neighbour to drive us two miles to the Ocean Terminal. I was dying for the loo...

We then entered Hell. I'd never been in the Ocean terminal before so it came as a shock to realise that some bozo had designed it without any ventilation. Basically it's a giant shed with no air. It must be ten times worse in summer. It was heaving with people and there was nowhere to sit. Not good for someone still recovering from knee surgery. Worse, it was full of hen parties who'd already been imbibing for several hours. Many were wearing T-shirts with very explicit rude designs and were being told to put their coats back on by some of the security staff. It's a family ship, for goodness' sake. Maybe P & O should have the no-same-sex parties over four rule that decent hotels have.

When we finally got on the ship about 1.30pm the cabin was still not ready and passengers were "encouraged to make use of the restaurants". Good luck with that. The buffet restaurant upstairs was packed with people and their luggage and there was nowhere to sit. Clearly not many of the cabins were ready. By this time it was becoming crtitical for my diabetic husband to get some lunch and we squeezed into the restaurant. The food was cold by the time we found somewhere to sit but we avoided a hypo for John. Yes, we could have avoided this crush if we'd left later and we will never try to get on a ship early again. But then we'll never again go on a short cruise...

We got to our cabin. Tiny and inside but that was no problem. The problem was the same one we'd encountered on our previous cruise - no air conditioning. And when we say no air conditioning in a small inside cabin we're not just talking about the inconvenience of being too warm. We're talking  about NO AIR TO BREATHE !! Hoping that it might improve we decided to take a look around the ship. We met our steward on the way out and I asked for a flatter pillow. I've never had trouble with this before, the staff have always brought me a flatter pillow. Our steward did not know enough English to know what we were talking about. There seemed to be no option of any other pillow so I was faced with a bad neck for two nights.

Looking back we could have phoned Housekeeping Services but by this time were were both feeling ill due to lack of fresh air and the delay in getting lunch for John was beginning to have a bad effect on him. This was not helped by discovering that our idiot GP practice had prescribed the wrong bolus insulin (he was due to start pre-dinner injections that weekend).

We decided to get off the ship. That is quite a trick when you've gone through many layers of security to get on it. Those layers have to be undone. It meant more standing around at reception and lots of walking because - being "airside" - we couldn't use the lifts. My knees were killing me by the time we got to the taxi rank, indeed they were agony for weeks afterwards.

Want to hear the worst bit?? Five days later it was obvious I'd caught a cold from that crowd of unwashed drunks in the terminal and then a chest infection that dragged on for weeks!

It did at least give me material for a scrapbook page (click on it to see a larger version):

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Thursday, 16 May 2013

When the boat comes in - on a lorry

I love this photo, taken by Paulo Massa. It did the rounds on Facebook. The ship is the Azura, according to a friend with better glasses than me. Azura's home is Southampton but we haven't been on her yet. We're on the Ventura soon which is apparently the same design.

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The song has dozens of versions but this is the one my Dad used to sing. He was a Geordie and "When my boat comes in" was a standard response to kids asking "Can I have ...?". The page was made with a stacked paper background and other elements from Cruisin' by Natalie's Place Designs.

Friday, 19 April 2013

On the ship's rail. Literally.

The seagulls in Vigo follow the ships out of port for several miles. I'm not sure if they get extra food like that. It seems to be a game in which seagulls try to out-position each other. Needless to say it's tricky getting a good photo of them. Last time we were in Vigo I got about 100 shots of sky with an unidentifiable blurry object.

This page was made with the Seaside Cottage template in Studio-Scrap.

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Here's the seagulls are bedecked with bunting as befits a page in my ABC of European Cruising album and we have humans on the rail vying for space:

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Cluster from At The Beach Groupies 2 by Meryl Barto.

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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Our very first cruise

You always remember your first!

We spent a week on the Odysseus, a tiny ship compared to the modern fleets. There were a few worrying aspects that might have put us off cruising for life. For instance one corner of our suitcase appeared to have been dunked in water and we spread socks out on the windowsill to dry. This didn't quite work since we were below the water line while the ship was moving and water was coming in through the closed porthole. Eeek...

We sailed from Athens and our first port of call was Alexandria in Egypt. The cruise director's voice came over the PA: "Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome to Egypt" and it was magical to go on deck and see the famous old station building through the haze across the water.

We didn't get off as we'd heard far too much about cruise passengers in Egypt. Thereby hangs another tale. The ship disembarked passengers for tours to Cairo and we stayed on the ship all day while it sailed to Cairo to pick them up. It was our first taste of a day on board without many passengers, something we always enjoy.

Here's a scrapbook page of our first trip to Egypt. You will rarely see "ordinary" photos on this blog. Photos are for making scrapbook pages.... excuse what my husband calls the "bouncing bombs". I like adding bling!

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CLICK HERE to see the rest of the Odysseus album.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Welcome to my new blog!

This blog will be all about cruising, if you hadn't guessed. We're lucky to live two miles from the main UK cruise terminals and it takes us ten minutes to get from house to ship with the help of a kind neighbour who drives us there. I have photos of that ... those who know me or read my other blogs will know that no blog is complete with scrapbook pages.