|12/07/2013||Dover||-||Old Royal Naval Dockyard at Chatham|
|14/07/2013||Heligoland||(No tours)||Fantastic bird colonies|
|15/07/2013||Kiel Canal||(No tours)||Improving weather|
|16/07/2013||Rønne||Best of Bornholm||Kippers & lager!|
|17/07/2013||Copenhagen||Seaside town of Dragoer||Charming fishing village|
|20/07/2013||Gothenburg||Tjolöholm Manor||Beautiful Edwardian house|
|21/07/2013||Oslo||Walking in the Heart of Oslo||City Hall not National Gallery!|
|22/07/2013||Mandal||Lindesnes & the South Cape||Scenic|
|23/07/2013||Stavanger||City & Cathedral||Glorious|
|25/07/2013||Dover||-||Home via Harlow|
As with my previous cruise, I left home early to get to the Old Royal Naval Dockyard at Chatham for 10 past 10. I spent another two hours there managing to see the other half of the exhibits which I had missed a month previously! The Antarctic Explorers exhibition on Scott and Shackleton was particularly interesting. I got to Dover for 1 pm and quickly got embarked where I was soon greeted by several of my regular dancers including June, Betty from Frinton and Jenny & Linda from Lincoln. Sleeping until 3:30 pm I missed the embarkation buffet and there was no afternoon tea laid on! The lifeboat drill, the sail-away, the cruise director's introductions and the entertainments staff welcome cocktail party quickly ensued. I dined with another Betty and her two friends from North Staffs, so we were able to reminisce about UCNS and Keele University. For the first time in a number of cruises we had sufficient dancing ladies on the very first night. These included my regulars together with newcomers Pam and Daphne, though most passengers went straight to bed after the classical concert.
After a disturbed first night I breakfasted on a single egg benedict with Jenny & Linda in the main dining room. My first line dance class was packed with 20 appreciative passengers in the Discovery lounge, although a couple of elderly men struggled to keep up with the faster tracks. I was followed by Stephen Prince who gave an interesting talk on the German island of Hel(i)goland. He had been a senior lecturer at Shrivenham like me, but at JSCSC not RMCS! The travelling alone cocktail party was well attended with rather more men than usual. I lunched with Anne and Professor David Nichols from Exeter who was travelling as a passenger and not a lecturer on this cruise. They had been with me on several Saga Ruby cruises in the past. After my siesta I led a ballroom waltz class, ably assisted by June, again packed with over a dozen appreciative passengers in Shackleton's lounge. One couple gave up half way finding it all too tiring and another couple struggled through to the end. The Captain's welcome cocktail party was followed by the formal dinner where I dined with Betty, Daphne, Richard & Sheila from Radlett and a chap from Dorking. We danced both before and after the show given by the lovely soprano Holly Holyoaks.
On the first port day I caught the second tender ashore to the lovely island of Heligoland (Helgoland in German) sat in the North Sea. I took 92 photographs including some good shots of the incredible gannets. The weather was bright and breezy meaning that tendering was a tricky operation. With 24 single gentleman on board Kirsten the maitre d'hotel didn't need our services hosting a table so I dined in the Verandah restaurant with Dorothy, Anne and Professor David Nichols. The evening ended past midnight after a popular deck party.
During the Kiel Canal transit I led both line and ballroom dance classes, though the last was depleted by the distraction of the Holtenau lock passage, as had happened on the previous cruise! I was partnered in the social foxtrot by the lovely Linda from Lincoln. I dined with Geoffrey from Fareham and Pam from Burslem in North Staffordshire so we talked about Keele University and the Victoria theatre in the round.
In Rønne I escorted the Best of Bornholm tour. We visited two fishing villages, saw two lots of glass blowing and ate kippers washed down with Tuborg lager, but didn't stop at one of the famous round churches. In the afternoon I took the shuttle bus into Rønne and walked back to the ship taking 138 photographs for a future port presentation. We were berthed next to the FTI Berlin formerly the Spirit of Adventure!
In Copenhagen I caught the shuttle bus into the city and walked back taking one hundred photographs along the way. I particularly enjoyed the National Gallery which offered free admission! In the afternoon I escorted my first choice tour to the delightful medieval fishing village of Dragoer (pronounced Drow'er). In the early evening a late lecture meant no dancing until 8:45, so I was able to walk along the promenade as far as the Newhaven (Nyhavn) and back.
After an overnight stay in Copenhagen, we had a morning at sea with one line dance class sandwiched between two lectures. The Captain wrote in his blog: "In between the lectures, dance host “Doc. Martin” had led another popular line dancing class in the Discovery Lounge." In the afternoon I escorted the Helsingborg City Tour, the highpoint of which being the fortified tower on the hill.
No tour in Aalborg so I went into the delightful city in both the morning, when I ventured as far as the observation tower on the hill overlooking the Modern Art Gallery, and the afternoon when I walked for a couple of miles along the Limfjord promenade to get to the Maritime and Defence museums. The locals provided a free hot dog stand, so I had one in the morning and then another in the afternoon! In the evening I was on duty in the Britannia Club cocktail party and then I dined with Jenny and Linda from Lincoln and three others in the main dining room after several nights eating casually in the Verandah buffet restaurant.
I was escort on my first choice tour to Tjolöholm Manor (pronounced Shula Home - didn't Shula Archer live in Home Farm?), a charming Edwardian Scottish baronial stately home. The gardens and vistas were beautiful. In the afternoon I took the shuttle bus into Gothenburg city on my first visit there, taking 98 photographs in one and a half hours of frenetic sightseeing! I was thus able to author a suitable powerpoint presentation. A few days later one of my agents phoned asking me to do the port lecturing on Boudicca's cruise to Gothenburg in September. Unfortunately I was already committed then!
The next day I escorted the "Walking in the heart of Oslo" tour. Unfortunately the guide took us to the City Hall rather than the National Gallery. After some frantic phone calls it was decided to extend the tour. However, six of my charges wanted to be taken straight back to the ship for an early lunch and an afternoon tour, so I missed out on seeing the famous Munch paintings! In the afternoon I walked back into the city for yet more photography.
In Mandal I escorted the Lindesnes Lighthouse and South Cape tour accompanied by Neil Horrocks the Cruise Director. On checking the itinerary with the guide it transpired that they had decided to cut out the photostop at Åvik fishing village. I queried this with Cassie Edmundson the Tours Manager who insisted they change our coach for one that could reach this place. The coffee and muffins at 11 am in the Lighthouse café were lovely, but the former put paid to my after lunch siesta! I caught the shuttle bus into the charming resort in the afternoon. That evening culminated in another deck party when I was able to wear my Norway tee-shirt for the first time.
In the final port of call I escorted my first choice Stavanger City & Cathedral tour. After my siesta I again walked back into the city for some more photography. That evening saw the Captain's farewell cocktail party and the formal dinner. Paula kindly asked Kirsten the Maitre D' if I could sit on her table including another lady from Dorset.
The final sea day included my third ballroom and fourth line dance class, the latter again sandwiched between two lectures. I gave a private presentation of my new lecture "Hamlet: Prince of Denmark" to Jenny and Linda from Lincoln in the Briefing room, there not being space in the main programme for it. In the evening I dined with them both for one last time.
I was off the ship by 9:20 am but was half way to Folkestone before I remembered that I still had my cabin key. So I had to drive back to Dover to hand it back in! I avoided the long queues for the Dartford Tunnel by driving past the Bluewater shopping centre in North Kent. I briefly visited the Lakeside shopping centre in South Essex before lunching with my brother and sister-in-law in Harlow. My father's bungalow having been sold, they presented me with a fat cheque! In the afternoon it took me half an hour to get past Heathrow on the busy M25 and another half hour queuing for an accident in the New Forest, so I didn't get home until 6 pm after a very long day!
One lady later wrote "Thanks again for your lovely company and dance lessons" My colleague Chris wrote "Many thanks for your mentoring and for being a great cabin mate. I hope we sail again together at some stage."
9 Line dances taught 8 ? 7 Tours escorted 6 New ports visited 5 Passengers hosted at dinner 4 Line dance classes led 4 New PowerPoint presentations written 3 Old PowerPoint presentations updated 3 Ballroom dance classes taught 3 Cocktail parties attended 3 Favourite Ports revisited 2 ? 1 Super cruise enjoyed!