|05/09/2013||Stavanger||Ebb & Flow(ers)||Colourful|
|06/09/2013||Jondal||Folgefonna Glacier Hike||Wet and windy|
|10/09/2013||Dover||Home at 1:30 pm|
I drove down to Dover and parked in the old railway station on the quayside. On board it was good to meet up again with cruise director Jo Boase, shorex assistant Dan Watkins and cellist Sarah Westley. I also received a lovely welcome letter from officer cadet Lawrence Perkins, son of Cunard's Captain Perkins. After the passenger drill in the hot sun, we had a scenic sailaway past the white cliffs of Dover. After the cruise director's welcome in the card room, I dined in the Verandah restaurant with Jean, Nancy, Eve & Roy. Dancing ladies were scarce both before and after the Rock 'n' Roll showtime, but I did manage to dance with Mary from Essex and Margaret from Bath.
On the first sea day, I breakfasted with Audrey and two other ladies, again in the Verandah restaurant. Julie led her first line dancing session teaching Mamma Maria and Texas Stomp. I attended the Singles Mingle, lunched on roast beef and then danced at Julie's second line dance class of the day. She taught Flobie Slide and recapped the two morning dances. I immediately followed with my well-received lecture entitled "Welcome to Norway!" The captain's welcome cocktail party was heaving as the ship was full, and then I dined on steak in the Pole to Pole restaurant on a square table for eight. We then danced both before and after the Country & Western singer Sandy Kelly from Ireland.
In Stavanger I escorted the boat trip for a second time to the Ebb & Flow(ers) garden (Flor y Fjaere). I had Captain Philip and Mrs Helen Rentell in tow so I had to mind my P's and Q's!
On my first visit to Jondal in the Hardangerfjord I escorted the Folgefonna Glacier Walk. This was advertised as a one and a half mile hike along the glacier edge nature trail. In reality we donned crampons and walked 500 yards on to the glacier itself. There was cold, driving rain both before and after, but not actually when, we walked on the ice. I was the tail end Charlie anchoring the end of the rope. One of my crampons broke so the guide had to detach himself from the front of the party and come back to repair it. I had to balance on one leg on the ice whilst he used duct tape to effect the repair! One of the passengers fell into a snow hole and had to be hauled out. A very exciting tour indeed!
I had a quick walk around Jondal taking photographs and using the free wi-fi outside the closed Tourist Information Office. They obviously don't get many cruise ships calling here! The dress code for the evening was Informal/Country & Western, so we wore our cowboy outfits for the Britannia Club cocktail party and the evening's Hoe Down. Julie, the so-called Country & Western line dance instructor, hadn't even brought a C&W outfit with her! I led two sets at the Hoe Down but she was only given one! In my first half hour set I called five line dances and one partner dance (Tempted), the latter only attracting three couples. So in my second set I did a quick teach of the Barn Dance which filled the floor and we danced it to the extended mix of Escape Club's Wild, Wild, West.
In Olden at the head of the Nordfjord I escorted the all day tour to Geirangerfjord for a second time. The ascent of Dalsnibba was in cloud but it cleared for five minutes at the top for our photographs before closing in again! The lunch at the Union Hotel was magnificent and this time there was no confusion over the included drinks, with beer and sodas already on the tables. I was able to use their excellent free wi-fi to update my FaceBook status. The difficult-to-find basement classic car museum was open, as was the visitior centre opposite. The ferry ride to Hellesylt was as dramatic as ever past the Giant's Face and the Seven Sisters waterfalls. We had another lovely sailaway down the Nordfjord to the sea. I led my only line dance session in the Drawing Room, teaching California Frieze, Texas Waltz and Lindi Shuffle. The production company's "Music Legends" was similar to, but not entirely the same as, those on the Olsen ships.
At our last port of call, Bergen, I walked into town via the free internet terminal in the Thon hotel on the wharf. I bumped into Sally Lamb from Milford-on-Sea who invited me to have a coffee with her. In the afternoon I escorted the tour to Edvard Grieg's villa. We had a delighful half hour piano recital in the new music room. The pianist began with the well-known Prelude to the Holberg Suite and ended with the Wedding at Troldhaugen. The middle lyric pieces were less well-known. We had limited free time after the villa tour so I walked down to the composing hut but missed his waterside tomb. I had Captain Philip and Mrs Helen Rentell on my coach again so I had to mind my P's and Q's! I thanked him for signing my seaman's book and he asked who the Captain had been on my last Queen Mary 2 cruise, so I told him it had been Commodore of the Cunard fleet Christopher Rynd. He had to rush off the coach at the end to oversee our departure and then get ready for the farewell cocktail party. The weather cleared for a sunny sailaway. I dined on a table for eight including Mary and Maureen (Mo) from Essex. Sandy Kelly gave her second Country & Western show consisting entirely of Patsy Cline numbers. I was surprised how many I recognised - so many classic songs.
On the final sea day I gave my well-received lecture entitled "The Story of the North Sea". The production company's Beatles show "All you need is love" was as good as ever, but the large Union flags at the end were replaced with large black Beatles flags instead, however we did all have little Union Jacks to wave. In the final dance set of the cruise I bagged a jive with Jo Boase the lovely Cruise Director!
Back in Dover I breakfasted on 2 Eggs Benedict for the last time on this cruise. I was allocated baggage tag number 2 and so was off the ship by 9 am. Sally Lamb, who had baggage tag number 3, asked if I would give her a lift back to Milford-on-Sea as she might need several comfort stops en route! I dropped her off at her refurbished bungalow and got home by 1:30 pm. I did the shopping, washing and ironing and left the next day for London and my flight to Venice!
One lady later wrote "It was great to meet you and to have lots of dancing, I enjoyed it very much"
Scorecard: 4 Tours escorted 3 Cocktail parties attended 2 Lectures given 2 Sets called in the Hoe Down 1 Line dance class led 1 Partner dance called (Tempted) 1 Partner dance taught (The Barn Dance) 1 New port visited (Jondal)