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Published: July 18th 2019
I’ve been on this boat for 4 hours and we’ve not gone anywhere yet. Apparently we are waiting for crew to get here from Heathrow, but it’s a lovely warm evening and I’m sat on deck supping a Tiger beer with my hubby, enjoying the view of the white cliffs of Dover.
People who know us were very surprised that we chose to go on a cruise; we usually do everything on the cheap and never relaxed! However, I really wanted to go to Svalbard (which is half way between the top of Norway and the North Pole). Flying there would mean 3 flights: to Oslo, to Trømso and finally to Svalbard. It would take longer to get there and back than the amount of days you could afford to stay because it’s Norwegian and Norway is super expensive. My friend Nikki, suggested a cruise and though that is very expensive too, better value and without the bother of all those airports. Plus Nikki used to work on the very same ship we are on, so she pulled some strings to get us a free upgrade from a room (correction: cabin) with no windows (I mean portholes) to a slightly
bigger one with 2 portholes. I each!! Woo hoo!
Normally when going on a trip, I pack as lightly as possible because I have to carry it all, then pack and repack most days as we tend not to stay still - the world is a big place and I want to see it all! On this cruise we are allowed.... wait for it..... wait for it more... SIX items of luggage ..... EACH!!! Exciting, but I don’t have 6 suitcases, and we have to get it all to Dover in our Fiat 500. I still went nuts though and packed more camera gear than one person should ever need (but I do need) plus random ponchos and exercise gear because there is too much food on offer(btw 5 laps of the deck is one mile). And smart clothing because bizarrely some folk like to get dressed up for dinner, to the extent that for the posher restaurants onboard, it’s compulsory. The things you have to do just to eat some posh nosh, but I will cope. I think this maybe the first holiday for Glyn where he doesn’t have to worry about getting the squits, which is a
bonus, but if he still manages to get the usual holiday runny bum, there is a medical centre onboard.
Glyn particularly was worried about clothing. We’re both old punks and as already said, tend to travel rough. So it was very strange seeing my husband boarding with a suitbag suavely slung over his shoulder (more bizarre that he even owns one!) but he did have one of my dresses in it. Yes people, I have brought dresses. I might even go nuts and wear some make up, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Glyn was worried after watching a video about the cruise that he would be expected to wear slacks with a pastel jumper thrown casually over his shoulders. Luckily this is not compulsory and we have not seen much of that yet.
The staff are mainly a mix of young Phillipinnos and older white people. All are friendly and every one of them you pass says hello. Everyone. The passengers mainly are British, most accents I’ve heard are Southern. For quite a few, this is not there first cruise onboard this ship; I overheard a lot of loud comments such as ‘this is where
I took my art class last year’ and ‘I wonder if they’re running a photography competition again’. Glyn and I are most certain that the comments are to ensure that other passengers are aware they’re in the presence of cruise veterans.
Our cabin is small, but there’s enough space to unpack our ridiculous amount of luggage. The bathroom is compact to the extent you could have a poo whilst having a shower. Regular readers of my blogs will know that this kind of thing impresses me. There’s a telly with films and music with genres such as Easy Listening, Crooners and Jazz. Glyn is ecstatic about the Crooners. There’s plenty of entertainment onboard which worries me, so I have brought books. The WiFi costs almost £200 extra for us both and isn’t very good. So we are not bothering with that, as I only want to connect to upload my blogs.
Fred Olsen cruises are obsessed with hand washing. As we boarded, everyone had to use a hand sanitiser after being questioned if we’d recently had diarrhoea, vomiting or a cold. Every eatery has at least one hand sanitiser with a copious amount of signs telling you to
use them. In the public loos, the signs don’t just tell you to wash your hands, they demand you wash them often. Plus there are boxes of tissues attached to the back of the doors where the instructions to use them when opening the doors.
Glyn and I stand out amongst the passengers in that neither of us has grey hair (although if I didn’t dye mine, there would be flecks of silver - some flecks bigger than others). We’re feeling rather young!
Dinner was good although I wasn’t hungry for much and the staff attentive. I do suspect that all of the staff get bonuses for up selling as one barman was waxingly lyrical about various paid for extras and another trying to get me to buy more wine than was necessary even for me. Currently we’re cruising somewhere along the British coast and still too near light pollution for a decent set of stars. It will be a couple of days before we hit Norway. I’m looking forward to reading and chilling.
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