|-||On board by 2 pm|
|City & Canal Cruise||Wet afternoon|
|-||Sunny morning in North Amsterdam|
|-||Ashore at 10 am|
Warren's Taxis weren't answering their phones, so I had to fall back on United Taxis again. I left home at 9 am and caught the 9:20 train to London. This gradually filled up with Arsenal supporters going to Wembley and Bath supporters going to Twickenham. Unfortunately Waterloo East was closed for engineering work, so I had to make two changes of trains. However it did get to mean that I saw a different route to Dover via Rochester rather than Ashford. They didn't open the doors of the rear five carriages at Clapham Junction so many people had to queue the entire length of the front five carriages. I thought I wasn't going to be able to get off! I only had a five minute wait at both Clapham Junction and Victoria for my connections, so I was in Dover before 2 pm. At the station I gave a lift in my taxi to Dr Tony and Mrs Waltham formerly at Nottingham Trent University. He was going to lecture on geology on the Saga Sapphire. The last time I had worked with him had been on the Discovery in the Indian Ocean in 2009.
On board the Braemar, I got settled in to my cabin and had a lie down. When Saga Sapphire was towed out of Dover harbour backwards, Captain Philip Rentell shouted across to me saying: "Martin, you're on the wrong ship!" Later the lovely Elaine Stillwell wrote on FaceBook that she was glad to know that they were on the right ship with Captain Philip! Our joining instructions had said we would depart at 8 pm but in the event we left Dover soon after 5 pm, so I was glad I arrived in Dover early. I dined on skirt steak with my new colleague Dave Bailey from Corby and the lovely Maureen & Jeff Errington from the North East. I had last sailed with them on my very first cruise as a port lecturer back in 2010 on the Boudicca. Not being a dance host on that cruise meant that I had danced extensively with Maureen for most of the fast dances that the old single men couldn't manage! The team danced both before, between and after the two performances of the production show "Let's Swing". After a couple of dances in the Coral Club, the floor filled with disco dancers so I went to bed.
The next morning the breakfast chef (Rey the singer from the Philippines, not Robin from India) recognised me immediately and started cooking my cheese omelette! Having arrived early in Amsterdam, we outnumbered the pax at the singles party. Off the ship by 10:30 am, I walked into the city via the tourist information office. I headed for the Bejinhof (Beguinage) my favourite place in Amsterdam. I went back to the ship for lunch before escorting the City & Canal Cruise tour for a second time. Unfortunately it started to rain as we boarded the canal boat, but the pax still enjoyed the cruise. In the evening we again danced both before, between and after the two performances of the production show "West End to Broadway". Again the Coral Club was full of disco dancers with this being an atypical FOCL cruise with lots of young people and several hen and stag parties!
No tour on the second day in Amsterdam, so I caught the free ferry to North West Amsterdam and walked through to the ferry in North East Amsterdam. This second free ferry neither left not arrived where the tourist map said! I then walked back to the ship via the Haarlem street shops. Thankfully the weather brightened up after the previous day's rain. After lunch back on the ship, I was awoken from a deep sleep after over an hour and a half by Simon the ACD phoning to say that a sailaway deck party had been arranged for 4:15 pm. Unfortunately one lady was late getting back to the ship (if she did at all), so the deck party didn't actually start until 5 pm when the sailaway commenced. The daily programme featured no dancing, so one of our regular dancers complained! I watched the new "I haven't stopped dancing yet" production show at 7:45 pm and the comedian Stan Johns at 9 pm. In the Coral Club at 10:45 I listened to singer Idreiss and danced the slosh and one couple dance when he asked. Back in the Neptune lounge at the end of the comedian's second show, we had our farewell dances. At 11:45 pm we watched the production company's "Oh what a night" Jersey Boys tribute show before saying our final goodbyes. I have never known the production company have to put on two different shows in the Neptune Lounge on one evening!
After a rough night in the North Sea we were late getting back into Dover. It was blowing a 45 knot gale, but with the help of two tugs we got into the harbour. I couldn't get off the ship until 10 am when I walked into town. I was back at the ship for lunch in the Thistle restaurant with my colleagues at noon. I then had another long siesta ready for the next cruise to begin!
1 Tour escorted