La Manga &
|Hot on coast,
I awoke at 6 o'clock and finished packing, before popping into Winton to get my hair cut at my favourite barber. I left home just after 10 o'clock in a Streamline taxi. The driver remembered me as the person who had left my mobile phone in his taxi two years or so ago! At the railway station it was just over £10, so I gave him £20 and told him to keep the change as a thank you for handing my phone in, but he insisted on giving me all of my change!
I caught the 10:22 train to SoToN and was at the QEII cruise terminal by 11:20. After checking my suitcase in, I set up my laptop in the downstairs waiting area and started work on this blog. At 11:30 I ate my packed lunch of chilled southern fried chicken. Check in AND boarding started at noon, but I was already registered as David Lee with my brother's date of birth! After a phone call to FOCL head office in Ipswich, a new ship's card was printed.
I was on board by 12:30 and the cabins were released at one o'clock. After unpacking, I lunched at 1:30 on the braised beef and chips in the Thistle restaurant, but the kitchen wasn't doing their hall mark ice cream sundaes! I then slept for an hour and twenty minutes, before having two mugs of de-caff coffee in my cabin. I do love having my own kettle and carafe of drinking water in the cabin, and I had remembered to bring a plastic jar of coffeemate whitener with me!
After the safety drill, we had the entertainers cocktail party where I met up with CD Nick, DCD Brendo and Conie. Gerald checked out my laptop within ten seconds and I said hello to comedian Andy Rudge. I met dance couple Carolyn & Malcolm Mills and singleton dance host Keith Tomlin. After the meeting, I showed my first two lectures to Kay, who was doing the port enrichment lectures after me. Out on the deck and then up in the Observatory, we passed the brand new aircraft carrier QE2 going back into Portsmouth harbour, with P&O's Aurora just ahead of us.
At 6:30 I dined on the cullen skink (killin' skunk?) smoked haddock soup, the escalope of pork with chips (again!) and the coffee mousse with extra chocolate buttons on the side. It was good to be back on Braemar, my favourite Fred. Olsen ship! At 7:30 Malcolm DJed the first, very thin dance set, followed by Cheryl and the band at eight o'clock. I did all my favourite dances with Carolyn including a proper samba and a party samba!
At 8:45 I watched the Non-stop Europa production show, which is one of my favourites with singing and dancing from Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Ireland, Scotland, Wales & England. I had my first lime soda of the cruise, but forgot to ask for twiglets! The next dance set was even thinner than the pair before the show, so I just did a few dances with Carolyn. When Malcolm stopped DJing at 10:15, I retired to my cabin to update this blog.
I awoke at 5:45, but it was now 6:45 on continental time. I took my time and enjoyed my two mugs of de-caff coffee, as breakfast didn't begin until 8 o'clock. I had a freshly made cheese omelette, but the chef was rather slow, come back Rey all is forgiven! I had one glass of cranberry bucks fizz as it was a formal attire day. At 9:45 I gave my 40 minute port talk on Málaga.
At 11:15 I listened to Kay's 35 minute enhancement talk also on Málaga. At noon I dined on the tandoori chicken in the Thistle restaurant, sat with a couple from Liverpool. I began with the dahl soup and finished with the peaches & cream sundae. I then slept for an hour and a quarter, before attending Malcolm & Carolyn's cha cha class at two o'clock. They taught the basics, New Yorks and spot turns, before partnering us up at 2:20, when I danced with Valerie. They continued with the hand-to-hand figure, but didn't teach the underarm turn. At 3:15 I gave my 36 minute lecture on Barcelona.
At 4:30 I did six lengths of BOTH small swimming pools in the sunshine, but both jacuzzis were still closed off. At 5:35 we had the first of the Captain's welcome cocktail parties, where I danced with Jean and Carolyn. At 6:30 I dined on the asparagus soup, the turkey steaks and the passion fruit mousse. I then updated this blog.
At 8 o'clock I was on duty again in the Captain's second party. When that ended, I headed back to my cabin to update this blog. At 9 o'clock I listened to Steve V. King's excellent Drifters show. I sat in my favourite naughty corner with Jean from Witney, but nearly fell asleep. There was only 20 minutes of dancing between shows, so I only managed to dance with Jean, Anita and another lady. I went to sleep about 10:45.
I awoke at 7:20 having slept for eight and a half hours. The chef again took a long time to cook my cheese omelette, which I enjoyed with crispy bacon and tinned tomatoes. Back in my cabin, I updated this blog and prepared my presentations. At 9:45 I gave my 43 minute talk on Marseille wearing my French stripey shirt, bandana and beret! At the end, one lady said that my lecture was magnifique!
That morning I received a text from my sister-in-law Pam saying that my brother David had passed away just before noon yesterday. When I had visited him in April he appeared fine, but he had gone rapidly downhill in July, being unable to walk. I went to visit him last Sunday afternoon in Princess Alexandra hospital in Harlow, but apparently he had not been aware of us. That evening he had been placed on the Liverpool Pathway for terminal care. He had diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, suspected kidney failure and probable motor neurone disease.
At 11:30 I lunched on one bratwurst with bolognese sauce, followed by the ice cream sundae sat at the Captain's table in the top deck Grampian restaurant. I then slept for over an hour. At 2 o'clock I joined 16 pax at Malcolm & Carolyn's rumba class. They covered the basics, New Yorks, spot turns and hand-to-hands from yesterday. They then introduced underarm turns and the shoulder-to-shoulder figure. I danced with Valerie again.
At 3 o'clock I gave my 35 minute talk on Mahon, Menorca. I then did six lengths of BOTH top deck pools in the hot sunshine. I spent 10 minutes in the jacuzzis chatting to a lady from Milton Keynes, but had to go inside for fear of burning! I touched base with Sarah who said there was a new trike tour in Cartagena to add, so I went up to the Observatory to update my presentation. I had my first and second jars of twiglets and my first jar of Bombay mix with my lime soda!
At 6:30 I dined on the carrot & coriander soup, two pork steaks with chips & green beans and Jarlsberg cheese. We danced both before and after the magic show, which I watched sat in the rear alcove with Jean. When the band finished at 10:15 I retired. I watched my Málaga talk on TV until 11 o'clock.
I awoke at 7:20 and watched my Mahon lecture on the TV, before breakfasting on a cheese omelette with tinned tomatoes and crispy bacon. At 9:45 I gave my 38 minute talk on Cartagena. I stayed on for Ian's interseting talk on Gardens and Plants to look out for on our cruise, but it was more plants than gardens. At noon he hadn't finished when the Captain came on the tannoy, so I slipped out.
I lunched on the fish & chips followed by the delicious Eton mess ice cream sundae, sat with a lady from Cornwall. We talked about Ian's talk as he was also from Cornwall. When Anita and her partner joined us at the Captain's table I made my excuses and slipped out. I then slept for an hour and a half, missing most of Malcolm & Carolyn's social foxtrot class for 14 pax.
At 3 o'clock I gave my final port talk on Lisbon for 38 minutes. I stayed on for Bill's interesting talk on his life in athletics with some famous personalities. I then did six lengths of one of the top deck pools and spent 15 minutes in one of the jacuzzis. Unfortunately it was a little cloudy with only odd flashes of sunshine, but it was warm.
Back in the cabin, I updated this blog whilst watching my Barcelona talk on the TV. At 6:30 I dined on the cottage pie sat with Carolyn, Malcolm & Keith. At 7:30 we danced to the band, but when Malcolm took over the DJing, I slipped out to utilise the Spanish mobile phone network as we passed Tarifa in the Straits of Gibraltar. There were some large dolphins riding our bow wave, the Captain announced that they were the largest he had ever seen in his entire seafaring career!
At 8:40 I slipped back into the Neptune lounge for the production company's excellent musical theatre show. I danced twice each with just Jean, Anita, Pat & Carolyn between shows. At 10:15 when Malcolm finished DJ-ing again, I retired to update this blog and deal with a Crystal Cruises bid.
I awoke at 6:25 ready for the full English breakfast in the Thistle restaurant just after 7 o'clock. I was one of the first ashore at 8:10 to photograph Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior berthed near to us.
Back on the ship, I got organised for my first choice tour to the Nerja caves (£50). We had a one hour drive east along the coast to the charming cliff top town of Nerja. During our free time our guide Sophia got me in to the lovely museum for free. It covers the Phoenician, Roman and Arabic history of the town, with interesting displays on the famous caves in the basement. I treated Sophia to an orange juice and a slice of broccoli quiche, whilst I had a Tinto de Verano (Summer red wine & lemonade - you mustn't call it Sangria)!
We had a short run to the caves just inland. These were really tremendous with huge stalactites and stalagmites, but lots of standing around and stairs which caused some problems for some pax.
Back at the ship I slept for just half an hour, before having a smoked salmon bagel, a ham & cheese wrap and a jam scone with cream in lieu of lunch at 3:45. After phoning my sister-in-law Pam and emailing one of my agents with my Crystal bids, I swam just six lengths of one of the top deck pools, before spending ten minutes in one of the jacuzzis chatting to a Norwegian man and his New Zealand wife in the hot sun.
Back in the cabin, I watched my Marseille talk on the TV. At 6:30 I dined on the chicken chasseur sat with Malcolm & Carolyn. Back in the cabin again I watched my Cartagena lecture on the television. The first and the last dance sets were very thin. I listened to Andy's comedy show time from the far corner sat with Jean.
After the show, just four couples did mainly sequence dancing, so I danced with Jean, Anita, Pat & Carolyn. We did the Tango Sereda, the White City Waltz, the Sally Ann Cha Cha, the Melody Foxtrot, the Rumba Number One and the Square Tango amongst other dances. I did a proper Samba with Anita, but Malcolm and Carolyn said that I was leading with the wrong foot!
At 10:30 I went to the production company's excellent Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tribute show. Such classic pop songs! At 11 o'clock I went to the late night supper club for the first time this cruise, but managed to avoid eating anything!
During the day and evening, I had done over 16,000 steps, that's over six miles of walking!
I awoke at 7 o'clock and enjoyed my two mugs of de-caff coffee in my cabin. At 8 o'clock I had my favourite cheese omelette with crispy bacon and tinned tomatoes. Fortunately the chef had learnt to turn up the electric hot plate at last! Up on the top deck in the early hot sun, I managed to connect to the Spanish mobile networks, with the Benidorm skycrapers just visible on the far horizon.
At 9:45 I went to Kay's interesting talk on the art and architecture of Barcelona. I didn't know about Joan Miro's trilogy and I had forgotten about his famous World Trade Centre tapestry, destroyed in the 9/11 attacks on New York City. Back in the cabin, I updated this blog.
At 11 o'clock I went to the future cruising presentation by Adela, sat with Jean. I slipped out at 11:30 for an early lunch of roast beef (it was Sunday!) sat at the Captain's table in the Grampian restaurant. I finished with the delicious Black Forest sundae, before sleeping for eighty minutes. I used the Spanish mobile phone signals again as we sailed past Denia.
At 2 o'clock I went to Malcolm & Carolyn's Samba class with a dozen pax. They taught a sequence of four basics, three whisks, four walks and one whisk, starting with the gent's right foot. I danced with Sue.
At 3 o'clock I enjoyed Ian talk on plants. After studying at RHS Wisley, he worked at the famous Abbey Gardens on Tresco in the Isles of Scilly. He moved to the National Trust's Vyne stately home near Basingstoke, before moving back to Cornwall to garden at Trengwainton. He now covers the whole of the south west region for the National Trust, advising all their gardeners.
At 4 o'clock I gave the piano concert a miss to do six lengths of the pool and spend 20 minutes in both jacuzzis. The sun was awfully hot, but the wind was cool, so I was afraid of getting burnt! Back in my cabin, I watched my new Marseille talk and old Barcelona lecture on the TV again. At 5:45 I had a lime soda and two jars of twiglets up in the Observatory.
At 6:30 I dined on the lobster bisque, pork & chicken with chips, followed by strawberry mousse with extra chocolate chips. We danced both before and after the excellent Piano Magic production show. I recapped our Samba and did a Waltz with Sue, amongst others. At 10:45 I went to bed.
I awoke at 7 o'clock ready for the full English breakfast sat at the Captain's table in the Grampian restaurant. At 8 o'clock I collected a shuttle ticket from Darren outside the Coral Club. I was on the first shuttle at 8:30, but it didn't get away until 8:45. I walked over the Rambla de la Mar to the Mare Magnum shopping centre.
I went past the aquarium and the Catalonia history museum to get to the Barceloneta beach. There were free toilets, showers and wi-fi here. I walked along to the St. Sebastian's beach, which had a nudist section! I went in the huge W hotel on the front, before doubling back.
I caught the 11:15 shuttle back to the ship, ready for an early lunch. I had the lovely steak and ale pie followed by the peach melba sundae, sat with a lady about to have her knee replaced!
At 12:40 I was on my coach ready to escort my third choice Gothic Quarter walking tour (£62). We began in Catalonia Place before walking down to Cathedral Square. We entered King's Place and the square between the city hall and the Catalonia parliament building.
After Royal Place and the Guell Palace, we entered the Boqueria market hall to sample some small pieces of cold meat and have a small drink stood outside a tiny bar. I demanded Summer Red Wine (Tinto de Verano) which was provided, but most people had orange juice.
Having walked a little further down Las Ramblas, we went in the TapaTapa bar. We had potatoes with spicy mayonnaise, croquet potatoes, ham on baguette slices and tomato paste on toast. Jugs of Sangria appeared and a couple of the men chose beer. I had two glasses of the former and the ham of one lady as well as my own. In the bar, I picked up an electronic card from my sister-in-law with the date for my brother's funeral. Thankfully this is the day before I am due in Dover, so this will help break the journey for me.
Back at the ship, I had time for a quick swim and ten minutes in the jacuzzi with a couple from Felixstowe. At 6:30 I dined on the escalope of veal, before picking up my next day's tour details. The first dance set was exceedingly thin and I had just one Samba at the end with Anita. The second set was a little better as the other dancing ladies started to appear, including Maria and Sue.
I watched Steve's second (MoTown) set sat with Jean at the back, but he failed to get four gents to volunteer to be his backing group as he had done on the Black Watch some weeks ago. This meant he had to add an extra Nat King Cole song to cover the time he would have taken training his new quartet!
We danced mainly sequence dancing after the show, including a Balmoral Blues for the first time this cruise at my suggestion. I also did my first Slow Foxtrot with Anita. When Malcolm finished DJ-ing at 10:15, I did some more FaceBooking out on the deck as we sailed up the Costa Brava. I then updated this blog and went to bed at 11:10.
During the day and evening, I had done over 28,800 steps, that's over eleven miles of walking!
I awoke at 6:45 ready for the full English breakfast, this time with back bacon, sat at the Captain's table in the top deck Grampian restaurant. I was one of the first off the ship at 8 o'clock. I got to the tourist information office just after it opened at 9 o'clock, before continuing around the old port to Fort St. Nicholas which was closed for building works.
I came back via the old town with magnificent views of Fort St. John, which unfortunately was closed as it was a Tuesday! I went in the huge Major Cathedral, where I bumped into dancer Maria.
Back at the ship, I updated this blog over a mug of de-caff coffee, before lunching. I had the pork goulash followed by the rum and raisin sundae sat at the Captain's table with a magnificient view of the Major Cathedral.
At 12:45 I escorted my second choice Marseille Highlights tour (£40). We had a twenty minute stop at the Notre Dame de la Garde basilica. I rushed up the 150 steps to the church, but only had time to go in the crypt.
Back at the coach, a gentlemen fell down a kerb, so the driver and I rushed to haul him up. He was not on my coach, so the driver and my guide led him slowly back to his group. We had a thirty minute stop at the Long Field Palace (Palais Longchamp). The fine art gallery was open, but the natural history museum was closed for renovations. I climbed up to the top of the magnificient fountains to explore the park behind. I photographed the observatory and the water supply aqueduct which the palace commemorates.
Back at the ship again, I slept for an hour and a quarter, until awoken by the Captain's departure annoucement. After a quick de-caff coffee, I rushed out on to the aft deck for the sailaway party. I danced twice with Anita and once each with Maria and Pat. I then did six lengths of one of the top deck pools, before spending fifteen minutes in the jacuzzi.
At 6:30 I dined on the Bergen fish soup, the chicken and the mixed berry mousse. At 7:30 and again at 9:45 we danced on either side of the Carnaby Beat sixties production show.
At 10:30 I went to listen to deputy cruise director Brendo in the Coral Club singing mostly Matt Monro songs. At 11:15 I had some meatballs with chips followed by a slice of Black Forest gateaux, sat with Martin & Deborah Sharpe the Mah Jong instructors. I didn't get to sleep until midnight.
During the day and evening, I had done over 29,000 steps, that's nearly twelve miles of walking!
I didn't wake up until 8 o'clock ready for my usual two mugs of de-caff coffee. I had a cheese omelette cooked by a new chef who was also very slow, so I wasn't off the ship until after 9:15. I headed south east along the quayside intending to walk to Fort Marlborough, but just past the marina it was already too hot, so I doubled back along the upper walkway.
I discovered the scenic elevator above the marina, which I must have walked past several times without noticing. I continued back into town along the high level promenade. In town I photographed the usual sites again and went in the free Tutankamun exhibition in the basement of the Oliver History Museum. The mansion and lookout tower itself were now chargeable, so I gave them a miss having done them two months ago when I was here on the Black Watch.
Back at the ship I lunched on the pork followed by the fruit cocktail ice cream sundae sat at the Captain's table in the Grampian restaurant. I then slept for an hour, before heading back into town for one hour's worth of photography.
At 4 o'clock I went to the sailaway led by the Morning Light troubadour, but no one danced. In the Palms Café I had one small open salmon sandwich with some potato crisps, followed by a Bounty Bar cake. I tried the cold fruit teas for the first time, as we sailed down the long estuary.
Out near the front of the ship, I connected to the mobile phone network for the last time that day. I then did half a dozen lengths of the warmer of the two pools, followed by fifteen minutes in the jacuzzis, together with a gent who was using the water jets to massage his calves!
Back in the cabin, I updated this blog as I listened to my Cartagena talk on the television. At 6:30 I dined on the stir fried beef sat with Keith, before picking up my tour sheet ready for tomorrow. We danced both before and after the excellent Big Band show with the Braemar orchestra which I listened to sat with Jean on the far side.
At 10:30 I went to Sammie's cabaret in the Coral Club, her impressions of Adele and Karen Carpenter were spot on! At 11:15 I had 2 small chicken nuggets in the supper club sat with Anita & husband. I didn't get to bed until 11:45.
During the day and evening, I had done over 22,600 steps, that's nine miles of walking!
I awoke at 7:40 ready for my two mugs of de-caff coffee in the cabin. I had a cheese omelette with crispy bacon and tinned tomatoes in the Palms Café. I then updated this blog and downloaded my photographs from yesterday.
At 9:45 Jess(ica) and Hannah taught the Electric Slide, Slosh, California Frieze and Country Walkin', calling the latter Walkin' Cowboy, to 16 pax. I then watched some more of my presentations on the cabin TV.
At 11:15 I went to Bill's talk on his Olympic Games friends - names to conjure with! At 11:45 I slipped out to watch the sail-in to Cartagena passed the Nativity Fort.
At noon I lunched on the lovely roast lamb, but it was a hectic bun fight as we had arrived early in Cartagena and the Grampian restaurant was closed. I had finished my meal by the time water had arrived and I gave up on getting a sundae.
I was soon off the ship and was one of the first into the tourist information office in the city hall. I rushed along the main street to get to the excellent Military Museum with free admission. They had a lot of displays and some large pieces of artillery together with some tanks. In the main courtyard was a lovely little chapel too. I don't know why I had never been here before, though I have always mentioned it in my port talks!
I hurried back to the ship to escort my seventh choice tour to La Manga, which was better than I had expected. We drove out via the mining district which I had never been through before, past the Minor Sea lagoon (Mar Menor) to the famous 20 kilometre long sand spit.
We had three quarters of an hour a third of the way along the over developed sandbank. I went in a big hotel to use their loo and grab a tourist map, before heading to the calm beach on the lagoon side. I sat under a shade to do my FaceBooking. A hundred yards away was the seaside beach which was less calm but much wider.
We then drove back along the motorway to Cartagena for a fifteen minute panoramic tour of the city. We stopped off on the promenade and walked through the city hall square to the main street (Calle Major), where we went in the Columbus café for their famous Asiatic coffee. This consisted of sweetened condensed milk, espresso coffee and the local Licor 43 liquer. I made the mistake of having two glasses, so I was hyper all evening.
In our free time I walked the length of the main street and then doubled back past the Arsenal and the new Naval Museum, which is closed in the afternoons. Those few pax left then took the two minute drive back to the ship at 6:20.
I quickly filled in my form and changed for dinner. Having enjoyed the stir fried beef yesterday, I had the stir fried pork tonight. We danced both before and after the magician's second show. He was very funny at the expense of some of the pax in the front row!
At 10:30 I retired to my cabin to update this blog and backup my day's photographs. At 11 o'clock I had two ham & cheese wraps sat with Anita and her husband in the supper club.
At 11:30 we had Braemar's first ever Late Night Bar Show. This was a crew cabaret of singers alternating with dancers. The best dance routine was the Michael Jackson tribute. The last singer stole the show with his version of the Andrea Bocelli / Celine Dion duet "The Prayer". The show finished at 12:15 in the early hours of the morning and I had a bit of trouble getting to sleep after my two strong coffees earlier that afternoon.
During the day and evening, I had done over 21,750 steps, that's over eight miles of walking!
I awoke at 8:10 ready for my two mugs of de-caff coffee in my cabin. At nine o'clock I had my usual cheese omelette with canned tomatoes and streaky bacon. At 9:45 I went to Ian's interesting talk on plant conservation, but all those plant diseases were very worrying. At 11:15 I went to Kay's interesting lecture on amazing architecture. When the Captain came on to the PA at noon, I slipped out.
I lunched on the Wierner Schnitzel and strawberry ice cream sundae just after noon sat at the Captain's table in the Grampian restaurant. We were going through the Straits of Gibraltar, but it was misty. I then slept for two hours, thus missing most of Malcolm and Carolyn's Quickstep class for nine pax.
At 3:45 we had the grand tea dance, where I danced with Jean, Anita, Pat, Sue, Julie, Kay and Carolyn, but not Maria who didn't stay. I then went swimming and jacuzzi-ing for half an hour as the sun had come out. I had a chat with Catholic Maria about the afterlife and shared the jacuzzi with the lady who was going to have a knee replacement and her husband.
After changing into my red, white and blue outfit, I went up on to the top deck hoping to pick up a mobile phone signal as we neared Cape St. Vincent. At 6:15 in the Observatory I nabbed a couple of jars of twiglets which had been abandoned, before going for dinner. I had the cullen skink smoked haddock soup, the braised beef with green beans and the chocolate mousse with extra chocolate drops on the side!
Having collected my tour form for Lisbon, I updated this blog. We danced both before and after the excellent Queen tribute show entitled One Vision. I was too tired to watch it again having done nearly 10,000 steps (equal to walking four miles) during the day.
I awoke early ready for the sail-in to the majestic Tagus estuary. I had the full English breakfast sat at the Captain's table in the Grampian restaurant.
At nine o'clock I escorted my third choice tour to Picturesque Sintra & Cascais (£50). We had an hour at the lovely hillside resort of Sintra. I went in the tourist information office to get their maps and leaflets, before exploring the narrow lanes.
I walked all the way round the huge royal palace, before gathering the pax at the bus stop. However a Georgie gent fell over a bollard and was bleeding badly from the forehead, so an ambulance had to be called. I travelled with him and his wife to the Fernando Fonseca hospital halfway between Sintra and Lisbon, as the rest of the tour went on to Cascais.
At the hospital I had to sit in the waiting room for two hours whilst he had a head scan and some stitches inserted. When they emerged from the A&E department they had to pay €150, as they didn't have their EHICs with them! The wife and I had to walk a long way around the hospital in the hot sun to find the main entrance and the cash machine. Having paid the bill, we jumped into a taxi and sped back to the ship for three o'clock. I shelled out €20 for the taxi ride, handing my receipt to Sarah for reimbursement.
I then slept for just over an hour, only to be awoken by the Captain's departure annoucement. I went out on the aft deck for the sailaway, dancing twice with Maria and once each with Anita & Pat.
At 6:30 I dined on the crispy pork belly sat with Keith, Malcolm and Carolyn. We danced both before and after Andy's second comedy show, but Jean and Carolyn weren't dancing. At 10:30 I went to the Abbamania production show in the Coral Club, sat with Malcom & Carolyn. At 11 o'clock I just had a mug of red bush tea in the supper club, before going to bed.
I awoke at 7:20 ready for a freshly made cheese omelette in the Palms Café. Whilst Irene was making up my cabin, I went up to the Observatory, before updating this blog and my photographs. At 9:45 I went to Bill's interesting lecture on his army experiences.
At 11:15 I gave my 45 minute enrichment talk on the English Channel. I finished just before the Captain came on to the PA. I gave the girls' line dancing session a miss at 12:15. Instead I lunched on the lovely rare roast beef sat with a posh couple from Malvern at the Captain's table in the Grampian restaurant. I enjoyed the cappucino ice cream sundae, before sleeping for an hour and a quarter.
At 2:30 I had a delicious coconut ice cream, before going in to the end of Malcolm & Carolyn's ballroom jive class. They had taught the basics, the underarm turn, the rotation and the change of place to eight pax.
At 3 o'clock I enjoyed Ian's talk on weird and wonderful gardens. I then did six lengths of the one pool that was still in use, before having fifteen minutes in the two jacuzzis in the warm sun but cool wind.
Back in my cabin, I changed into my formal outfit and updated this blog. At 5:45 we had the first of the Captain's farewell cocktail parties where I danced with Pat, Anita and two married ladies.
At 6:30 I dined on the southern fried chicken sat with Carolyn, Malcolm & Keith. Whilst Irene was doing my cabin, I went up to the Observatory where I sat with the couple from Malvern who I had lunched with earlier in the day. At 8 o'clock we had the second party, but with no dancers present, so I sat with Kay, Ian and his wife.
At 9 o'clock we had the predictable crew show, but with a new Bollywood dance routine. We had only twenty minutes of dancing between shows, when I danced with Pat, Anita, Sue and a new lady Marian. Why do they come out of the woodwork on the penultimate evening only?
At 10:30 I watched the press preview on Sky News, before going to sleep just after 11 o'clock.
I awoke at 6:30 ready for my two mugs of de-caff coffee in my cabin. I worked on this blog before getting showered and dressed, whilst watching dolphins on the Bridge Camera!
At 7:45 I had the full English breakfast in the Grampian top deck restaurant sat at the circular Captain's table. I also tried one multi-grain croissant with cheese and marmite for the first time this cruise.
At 9:45 I went to Kay's 45 minute talk entitled Around the World on Eighty Benches. During the break, I signed off my accident report that Sally had typed up and printed off for me.
At 11:15 I listened to Bill's lecture on Healthy Ageing, which as expected stressed the importance of exercise. I then lunched on the beef & Guinness stew with root vegetables in mushroom sauce but without any potatoes, sat at the Captain's table in the top deck Grampian restaurant. After the lovely tropical fruit sundae, I slept for two hours, thus missing most of Malcolm & Carolyn's revision dance class for six pax.
At 3 o'clock I went to the guest ukulele concert, but it all sounded rather samey, so I slipped out after 15 minutes to go swimming. I did six lengths of BOTH top deck pools, one of which was cool and one of which was warm. I then spent nearly half an hour in one of the jacuzzis in the sunshine chatting to a lady from Cheshire, who was bemoaning the old age profile of the cruise.
Back in the cabin, I started packing and finally got around to updating my PowerPoint presentations. At 6:30 I dined on the beef stew again, sat with Carolyn, Malcolm & Keith in the Palms Café as usual. At 7:15 I went to the second sitting variety showtime. We then danced both before and after the first sitting showtime at 9 o'clock, which I opted out of, coming back only for the production company Sintra tribute finale. At 10:30 I adjourned to my cabin for an early night.
I awoke just before 6 o'clock, ready for my coffee and the full English breakfast in the Grampian restaurant. I carried my own bags off the ship just after 7 o'clock, but just missed the 7:30 train. I then caught the 8 o'clock train and was home before 9 o'clock, after another enjoyable cruise!
Nick wrote: "Martin is a good port speaker. His style maybe a little bit too fast for some guests but the majority liked it." He gave me a score of 3.5 which equals 70%.
Sarah wrote: "Looking forward to having you onboard again Martin – always a pleasure!"
One lady wrote: "I just wanted to say thank you to you for your kindness and all the dancing during the cruise. I hope we will meet up on a future cruise."
One gent wrote: "Wow what a comprehensive report Martin-I don’t know how you had the time? It gives a good description and includes most of the events from this cruise."
34 Titan pax 30 Potters bowlers 14 Evenings dancing 6 Port talks 5 Old ports 5 Tours escorted 4 Cocktail parties 3 Dance host (George Waters missing) 2 Old towns (La Manga & Sintra) 1 New town (Nerja) 1 New port (Marseille) 1 Enrichment lecture (English Channel)