I left home at 10:30 to spend a little time in Westbourne, before catching the 11:25 National Express coach to BoMoH and then the 12:30 service to SoToN. I visited the Nationwide Building Society and the Kentucky Fried Chicken establishments in SoToN, the latter for "Free Fries Friday"! For the third and final time, the assistant had to ask the manager about the free offer! I then walked out to the Braemar moored at the QE11 terminal. I was on board by 3 o'clock ready for the safety drill at 4:00. I then slept for an hour and a half.
At 6:30 I dined on the cottage pie with the team plus Sean. At 7:30 it was too rough to dance, so we just socialised with the new pax. At 8 o'clock Fely and the orchestra came on, which was a much better time than on the previous cruise. At 8:45 I watched the Musicals production show, but it still had the ridiculous OTT ending to the Sound of Music! I stood on wobble watch duty at the door after the first sitting's show, until the second sitting's show started. I then had a luxury hot chocolate and was in bed by 11 o'clock!
I awoke at 6 o'clock, but it was now 7:00 French time. I breakfasted at 7:30 on a cheese omelette with crispy bacon. At 9 o'clock I escorted my first choice walking tour of Rouen City. One couple were late down as the wife couldn't walk, so they had to opt out of the tour near the start of the walk. Another pair needed a toilet within ten minutes, so they opted out. We started and finished at the old market square, going inside the cathedral en route. During the free time, I went in the modern Joan of Arc church and looked for the shuttle bus stop. I went in the Tourist Information Office and, after photocopying my old driving licence, I was able to use their free wi-fi. It drizzled but never really rained on us.
Back at the ship, I lunched with the team minus Keith, who was still out at Monet's Garden. I slept for an hour and a quarter, before Keith returned at 2:45. I then walked into the city, as the sun came out, via a huge volunteer fair. I went in the Dock 76 shopping mall, Saint Madeleine's church, the art nouveau railway station, the historical museum, the natural history museum, and the medieval Saint-Maclou atrium/cloister. I finally found the shuttle bus stop on the quayside, not in the advertised square. I then caught the 6 o'clock bus back to the ship.
Back at the ship again, I quickly changed and went to dine with Sean and the team, where I had both the beef and pork. At the end of the meal I met up with the lovely Carole & James Boxer, who used to be a dance couple. At the 7:30 dance session there were no single ladies, so I had a quickstep, cha cha and jive with the lovely Maureen. I found one single lady to dance the last waltz with. She had been on my tour that morning and said she had last danced with me on Discovery!
At 8 o'clock Georgina taught the Slosh, Cowboy Charleston & Red Hot Salsa. During the comedian's show, I backupped my day's 126 photographs and updated this blog. Thankfully we had three single ladies to dance with between the shows, so we rotated. We watched the comedian's second show, which was rather naughty! I had a slice of chicken tikka pizza in the midnight buffet, followed by a luxury hot chocolate. I went to bed at midnight.
I awoke at 7 o'clock and got up at 7:30. After breakfast, at 8:25 I walked into the city to do some photography. I got back to the ship at 9:50, but the sailaway was cancelled. I watched the departure down the river Seine from the top deck as the sun came out. At 12:30 I lunched with the team in the Palms Café, before going back up to see the magnificent Jumieges Abbey, which I visited last year.
At 2 o'clock the lovely Maureen taught the Salsa to a full dance floor. I danced with Tracey from Clacton-on-Sea. I then slept for an hour and a half, before going back up on to the top deck to see the Tancarville and Normandy bridges. We sailed passed the National Geographic's Orion and the SilverSeas' Silver Muse berthed at Honfleur. At 5:30 I bought Keith a G&T, as I waited to lend James Boxer a blue tie. At 5:45 we had the first of the Captain's farewell cocktail parties. I danced with four different ladies as the Captain's speech was curtailed.
At 6:30 I dined on the cold roast beef salad with chips with Sean and the team. Jeff kindly bought us another bottle of Prosecco. At the second cocktail party, I again danced with four different ladies. I then adjourned to the cabin to pack. I listened to the Velvet Quartet's close harmony singing, but only recognised "Imagine" by John Lennon and "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen. The ladies screeched a lot and a third of audience walked out! Up in the Palms Café I had a small portion of lasagna, followed by a final luxury hot chocolate. I went to bed at midnight, but had stomach ache in the night.
Keith awoke at 7:25, but it was now 6:25. After he had made me a redbush tea, I got ready to go. I breakfasted on a cheese omelette with crispy bacon, sat with an OU Eng. Lit. lecturer from near Winchester and her friend from SoToN. The latter had been on my P&O cruise up the Amazon, but had not come to my lectures.
Back in the cabin the stewardess had already taken the towels and made up the beds. I got off the ship at 8:30, but there was a long queue for the taxis. Keith paid for our joint taxi to the station. I foolishly didn't go for the slow train Poole, but then had to wait 25 minutes for the fast train to BoMoH! I eventually got home at 10:50.
The lovely Maureen later wrote: "Thanks again for your good company Martin & thanks for the photograph. Sorry you are not going to host on Fred Olsen any more, hope we meet you when you are lecturing onboard in the not too distant future."
2 Cocktail parties attended 1 Shore excursion escorted 1 Dance class enjoyed
Free Wi-Fi: Rouen Tourist Information Office