Cruise W1405 "Highlands, Islands & Ireland" on the Black Watch

(Please scroll down to see my photographs and read my report)


Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
16/06/2014 Dover, England - Easy run down
17/06/2014 Guernsey Herm Island Day trip to lovely, unspoilt island
19/06/2014 Tobermory, Mull Western Mull Panoramic Scenic
20/06/2014 Stornoway, Lewis Far North of Lewis Bright & breezy!
21/06/2014 Kirkwall, Orkney South Island & Distillery Again!
23/06/2014 Killybegs, Ireland - Two walks into town
24/06/2014 Belfast, N. Ireland Giant's Causeway Wet!
25/06/2014 Dublin, Ireland Beaulieu House & Gardens Lovely house & gardens
27/06/2014 Dover, UK - Home by 11:30 am!

Here's my report on the cruise:

I drove down to Dover via Ashford and lunched on a Subway submarine roll at the port gates. I had to wait over an hour before embarkation and then met up with Margaret Jones for the first time in over two years for a cup of tea in the Braemar Lounge. After discussions with Adela the tours manager, I had to rush around making last minute changes to my first two port talks to be given at 5 pm. Unfortunately that meant that I missed the cruise director's welcome talk in the Marina cinema. I talked on St. Peter Port Guernsey, where we would be the very next day, and gave my "What's the Story, Tobermory?" lecture ready for three days time. I dined on skirt steak and chips in the Garden Café with the dance hosts and lovely dance hostess Elaine. I was able to dance the waltz, cha cha and samba with her both before and after the production company's swing time show. We also all got involved in a walk on before the show itself. I danced with Margaret and another passenger but, after a long day, I went to bed at 10 pm and slept for over seven hours.


Lighthouse in St. Peter Port, Guernsey

Lighthouse in St. Peter Port, Guernsey

At anchor off St. Peter Port in Guernsey, I breakfasted in the Garden Café before escorting my first choice tour to the lovely island of Herm. We tendered into the harbour then transfered to the Herm Ferry for the 20 minute crossing. We walked around the north of Herm Island to Shell Beach where we ate our packed lunches. We then crossed back from Belvoir Bay to the harbour via the manor house and chapel. Back on Guernsey, I just had time to visit the tourist information office to use their free internet terminal, before catching the last tender back to the ship. I dined on Mexican vegetarian fajitas before dancing and listening to the lovely Jane Beaumont singing in her first show. I also danced after the first show with Elaine, Margaret, Ann and others before going to bed at 10:30.


Martin & Elaine

Martin & Elaine

On the first sea day, I led my first line dance class teaching California Frieze, Texas Waltz & Electric Slide at 9 am to 21 people. This was immediately followed at 9:45 am by my double port talk entitled "Let's get away to Stornoway!" & "Kirkwall: Capital of Orkney" with me still wearing my Doc. Martin polo shirt and jeans! I then attended the amusing murder mystery lecture in preference to going to the travelling alone party. I lunched at noon, slept for an hour and then gave another double port talk on Killybegs and Belfast as we transited a dense fog bank after a lovely morning. At 4:15 pm I danced with Margaret at Elaine & Ron's first dance class teaching the social foxtrot and the cha cha. In the glorious sunshine I swam and jacuzzied on the aft deck before dressing for the Croatian Captain's welcome cocktail party. I chatted with a friendly couple, even though some people were dancing to the trio. I dined with the dance team on lobster bisque, gammon & lamb, including white wine generously donated by Ron Bowen, before listening to Sam & Louise the Aviva duo musicians.


Len, Ron, Elaine, Ron & Martin

Len, Ron S, Elaine, Ron B & Martin

At anchor off Tobermory, I escorted the Western Mull panoramic tour. We stopped at the viewpoint above Dervaig but not in the village itself. At Calgary Bay we crossed the machair (pronounced 'macca') grass covered sand to the extensive white sand beach beyond. We then drove back the long way to Tobermory. I whizzed back and forth along the main street, before catching the 2 pm tender back to the ship for a late lunch. At the café above the Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) ferry terminal I bumped into two Scottish chaps who I had met on the Queen Mary 2 en route to South Africa in January! I slept for two hours before watching the 5:30 pm production show and then dining with Sam and Louise on salad and cherry cheesecake. We circumnavigated the island of Staffa viewing Fingal's cave in glorious sunshine. At 8 pm the England-Uruguay world cup football match was being shown in both the Neptune and Lido lounges so I had an early night.


At anchor off Stornoway, I escorted the Far North of Lewis tour. We stopped at the Port of Ness for a photo opportunity in the bright sunshine. We then visited the Butt of Lewis lighthouse, but it had clouded over. The last stop was at St. Moluag's chapel which is Episcopalian/Anglican not Church of Scotland! I took advantage of the free wi-fi in the ferry terminal before catching the 1 pm tender back to the ship. I lunched on fish and chips (it was a Friday) with Ron Bowen before sleeping for two hours. With an Indian buffet in the Garden Café, Margaret Jones invited me to dine with her and four other ladies at the circular table in the apse of the Orchid dining room. I had the beef stroganoff for dinner. In the evening I enjoyed dancing to the Good Times Duo before listening to Tony Wallace the comedian.


Orkney cliffs

Orkney cliffs

Berthed in Kirkwall on Orkney, I caught the first complimentary shuttle bus into town. The tourist information centre and library were still closed so I used the free wi-fi in the Tesco store. I visited the magnificent St. Magnus' Cathedral before catching the 11 am bus back to the ship for an early lunch of roast beef in the main restaurant. I then escorted the South Island & Distillery tour. We began at the famous Italian Chapel, before sampling the single malt whisky at the Highland Park distillery. We finished outside the cathedral, so in the free time I visited the Poundland shop (renamed Dealz and charging £1.20 here) and the library. In the evening I listened to Amana Jones' "Night at the Musicals", Sam Piha & Louise Garner's Aviva showtime and Jack Townsend's late night cabaret.


On the middle sea day I led my second line dance class and taught Texas Waltz, Just Because & Cowboy Charleston to 27 passengers. In the afternoon I gave my final port talk on "Dublin's Fair City". I dined on prawns and parma ham & chips before listening to the lovely Jane Beaumont's second show.


Killybegs, Co. Donegal

Killybegs, Co. Donegal

No tour in Killybegs in County Donegal, so I walked into town in both the morning and the afternoon. I lunched on veal with the lovely Jane Beaumont before sleeping for a couple of hours. The sun came out in the afternoon so I swam and jacuzzied whilst the band played during the sail-away. I dined on beef strognoff (again!) before watching the POSH Nautical production show. They sang several wonderful Gilbert & Sullivan songs including the Pirate King, the Ruler of the Queen's Navy and the Captain of the Pinafore. I stayed up to watch the whole show again for the second sitting guests. I then partook of the German sausage midnight buffet for the first and only time this cruise.


Victoria Square, Belfast

Victoria Square, Belfast

In Belfast I escorted the Giant's Causeway tour for a second time. Soon after we arrived it started to drizzle and so we all got rather wet. I was given a guide's ticket which entitled me to a £5 lunch, so I tried out the Irish stew. Back at the ship at 3 pm, I caught the shuttle bus into Belfast to post my postcards and pick up some maps and leaflets. As there was another buffet in the Garden Café, I dined again with Margaret and four other ladies in the alcove table of the Orchid dining room. I had the lovely duckling this time. I watched the Big Band Show and comedian Tony Wallace's second performance, before dancing with the usual suspects including the lovely Jane Beaumont and the lovely Elaine Stilwell.


Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle

In Dublin I walked into the city via the towpath of the Grand Canal. I discovered the Iveagh Gardens and free wi-fi in both the Gibson Hotel and in the St. Stephen's Green shopping centre. I caught the shuttle bus back to the ship ready for my noon time departure as escort on my first choice tour to Beaulieu house and gardens near Drogheda on the banks of the river Boyne. The stately home and walled garden were delightful but on returning to Dublin it started to rain. I dined on salmon and chips before dancing for over an hour before the crew show. I also danced after the show but went to bed at 10:30 pm rather than stay up for the grand gala buffet.


Black Watch

Black Watch

On the last sea day I led my third and final line dance class teaching Just Because, Slosh & Lindi Shuffle to 25 people. I then gave my "Story of the Black Watch Regiment" talk. I spent the rest of the morning updating this blog. After lunch and my siesta, I attended Elaine & Ron Stilwell's rumba and cha cha class before starting to pack. After the first Captain's farewell cocktail party, I dined on duckling again sharing a bottle of wine that Margaret Jones had bought for us. At the start of the second Captain's farewell cocktail party Cruise Director Anthony 'Boz' Borradaile thanked me for all my efforts. I then watched the excellent ELVIS/VEGAS production show. I had my final dances with the usual suspects finishing at 10:30.


The next day, back in Dover, I was off the ship by 8:15 am and home by 11:30! The Black Watch ship is looking good with a new Morning Light Pub replacing the Pipers' Bar which used to display some Black Watch regimental memorabilia. The Poolside Café has gone to be replaced with new tables and chairs. New deep pile foyer carpets looked and felt good too. The chairs in the Neptune Lounge have all been nicely recovered in a tasteful scheme of red, gold and green!


Score card:

7 Line dances taught
7 Port talks given
6 Tours escorted
?
3 Line dance classes led
2 Cocktail parties attended
1 Guest lecture delivered

Good points:

  1. Dance hostess all to myself for the fast dances (sambas, cha chas, jives etc.)
  2. In-cabin tea and coffee making facilities
  3. Leading three line dance classes
  4. Outside twin cabin all to myself
  5. Some first choice tours
  6. Cheap slopchest

Good, free wi-fi:

  1. Tourist Information Centre, St. Peter Port
  2. Ferry Terminal, Stornoway
  3. Library, Kirkwall
  4. Tesco, Kirkwall
  5. Bay View Hotel, Killybegs
  6. Tourist Information Office, Belfast
  7. St. Stephen's Green shopping centre, Dublin
  8. Gibson Hotel, The Point, Dublin

Updated Powerpoint presentations:

  1. St. Peter Port
  2. Tobermory
  3. Stornoway
  4. Kirkwall
  5. Killybegs
  6. Belfast
  7. Dublin

Line Dances Taught:

  1. California Frieze
  2. Texas Waltz
  3. Electric Slide
  4. Just Because
  5. Cowboy Charleston
  6. Slosh
  7. Lindi Shuffle


For the record ...


Current Statistics:

  5 Cruise Lines (Saga, Fred. Olsen, Cunard, Seabourn, Voyages of Discovery)
 18 Cruise Ships travelled on (6x Saga, 5x FOCL, 4x Cunard, 2x Seabourn, 1x VoD)
 83 Cruises enjoyed worldwide
310 Different Ports visited
423 Tours escorted
742 Port calls