Saturday Sep 22 – Boarding the Sapphire Princess in Southampton

Oceans and Seas » Atlantic » English Channel
September 22nd 2018
Published: September 22nd 2018
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Today we wrapped up Phase-2 of our vacation. We have concluded our visit to London and have started cruising again. But let’s take the day in order as it happened.

We got up at 7:45 with most everything already packed in the suitcases. We went down for the usual breakfast and then said goodbye to the lady who has prepared the food and cleaned the room all week. There are 4 people who do almost all the work in this small hotel, so we have gotten to know her. The menu has been pretty much the same everyday, but it was better than some European breakfasts we have had, and the lady was always very friendly to us.

We went back to the room and found an e-mail from Stephanie. She said they had tried to call yesterday but either the person did not know how to transfer the call or else we were out. It could have been the later but we suspect the first. That’s because this morning there was a new person at the desk, who had worked the previous night shift. Happily Stephanie was just calling to say hello and everything was well. Abigail’s collar bone is mending and doesn’t have to wear the sling all the time, just the brace. But when she doesn’t wear it then it reminds her that it is still hurts. We infer that she does not have pain when wearing the sling.

We got a taxi to pick us up at 9:30 and we loaded the luggage in his cab. This is the 7th taxi we’ve used and the first one to show us how to lower a ramp which made it easier for Janet to get in the taxi. Getting in and out of taxis was a challenge – let’s just leave it at that. We’ve seen the metal plate on the cab floor before, but didn’t know what it was. This guy showed us something new. Another coincidence was that the cab driver had cruised on our ship last January in the Far East. He had a wonderful time.

We arrived at Victoria Coach Station about 10:00 and a porter helped take the luggage to the Princess gate, where they took charge of it thereafter. Since there were only 19 people signed up for the bus transfer, they had to wait for everyone to arrive and some folks had been told the bus wouldn’t leave until 11:30. As it turns out, everyone was there by 11:00 and we boarded and headed to Southampton. With so few people on the coach we had plenty of room to spread out and had 2 seats each.

It started raining after we got on the bus and it rained the rest of the day. That made traffic slow, but we got to the ship around 1:45. However “in processing” went very smoothly and was not a very long walk, so we were on-board and in our cabin by 2:30. That’s really fairly good time for bus-to-cabin (including the official “coming aboard photo”). We are in Dolphin 624 – yes we upgraded to a mini suite again. Our luggage wasn’t there yet so we went up to the Horizon Court buffet and got some lunch. They shut down the buffet at 3:00 for other reasons so it is good that we did not wait too long. Anyway, we had our first of many Princess meals.

Back in the cabin we found the luggage had arrived. We also met our Cabin Steward – Christopher. He brought us two glasses of “welcome aboard champagne” and we worked on unpacking. At 3:30 the obligatory Muster Station Drill was held and we had to go hear about how to wear a life vest again. Our station is in the Photo Gallery which has no seats and in Sabatini’s Restaurant which is small but does have some seats. However the restaurant was full and they wanted us to stand in the hallways or sit on the floor for the 20 minute presentation. We told them that Janet could do neither and that we would come to the “makeup drill” instead. Suddenly they found another seat in the restaurant so we did our duty and the ship was able to sail on time.

At 4:00 the Sapphire Princess left port as scheduled. David tried to get some photos as our ship sailed out to sea, but there really wasn’t anything very photogenic and he would have gotten drenched to go outside to take pictures anyway. So we left England with the worst of the weather we’ve had all week – we were actually pretty lucky. The captain came on the speaker and explained that traveling down the channel may be a little bumpy tonight because of the turns in the channel and the gusts of winds which were expected.

At 5:00 we found our way to the Stargazer Lounge. You take the aft elevator to the top deck (16) and then take an escalator up to the 17th deck. This would be a pretty good vantage point with views in almost every direction, except the rain and low clouds made the view fairly dreary. But we got some snacky things and David got a beer. We will probably visit here frequently in the evenings before dinner – it has been a nice habit on previous cruises. Then we were off to dinner.

There is only one escalator but they showed us a special elevator to get back to 16, from which we were able to take the main elevator on down to deck-6. We will be eating in the International Dining Room for the rest of this cruise. We are at a table for 6 and curiously both of the other couples are from Utah. For appetizer Janet had the melon balls and David had the Pina Colada chilled soup with a shrimp cocktail. We both had the Prime Rib dinner with baked potato and corn-on-the-cob. It was actually too much food that soon after our late lunch, neither of us ate all our dinner. But we did save space for Janet to have Chocolate Chip ice cream with chocolate syrup and David had the flourless chocolate torte. It was a delicious dinner for each of us.

After dinner we went to the Princess Theater for the 8:00 show. Eventually there were people standing along the side, so it will probably be a competitive ticket in the future too. The Cruise Director (Paul) told some jokes and gave some statistics about the passengers. The 5 highest participation countries are 15 Ireland, 23 Australia, 43 Canada, 221 USA, and 2362 UK. So we are the largest minority group, but that’s probably not too surprising. Full capacity is supposed to be about 2670 (2 per cabin), but there may be a few with extra people using the bunks.

The guest act for tonight was Peter Howarth who is the lead singer of “The Hollies” and starred in the West End show of “Only the Lonely - The Orbinson Story”. He sang some really good songs that we even recognized. He answered the question of whether the Hollies are still touring and the answer was YES – every year for more than 50 years. This guy was actually the second person to be the lead and has only had the job about 20 years.

After the show we returned to our cabin and settled down for the evening. There really wasn’t much to take photos of today, so watch for some pictures maybe tomorrow. Good night.

If anyone is a “map enthusiast”, here is the web address which will show our location (similar to the QM2).


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