Cruise W1526 on the Black Watch to the North Cape of Norway

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

Date: Port: Arms: Tour escort: Comment:
15/09/2015 Avonmouth
Bristol
- Glastonbury Tor!
18/09/2015 Bergen
Hordaland
Bergen &
Steam Train
Great fun!
21/09/2015 Alta
Finnmark
Alta Canyon &
Power Station
Interesting tour!
22/09/2015 Honningsvåg
Finnmark
Sightseeing on
Magerøy Island
Glorious!
23/09/2015 Tromsø
Troms
- Walk to the southern spit!
25/09/2015 Ålesund
Møre og Romsdal
Highlights of
Ålesund
Two viewpoints & city tour
26/09/2015 Stavanger
Rogaland
Stavanger &
Countryside
Pancakes & boulders!
29/09/2015 Avonmouth
Bristol
- 2nd group off ship at 10 am!



Avonmouth, Bristol: Tuesday the 15th of September 2015

I left home just after 9 am and drove via Dorchester to Street in Somerset, home of the Clarks shopping village. I only bought one £3 book and used a Tesco coupon for lunch in the Pizza Express on the High Street of Street. After forty winks in the car, I climbed to the top of the Glastonbury Tor. I drove up on to the Mendip Hills past the famous Ebbor Gorge, but didn't have time to stop. I then drove down through the even more famous Cheddar Gorge. I finally got to Avonmouth at 3:30 pm and was on board by 4 pm, having parked my car in the £133 long stay car park. After the safety drill, we had the entertainers' cocktail party in the Marina cinema. I dined in the Garden Café on beef stew before meeting Margaret Jones at the first dance session at 7:30. At 8 pm Anthony 'Boz' Borradaille introduced us before the production company did their "Port Out Starboard Home" POSH show. I always enjoy the Gilbert & Sullivan patter songs like the Pirate King, the Ruler of the Queen's Navy and the Captain of the Pinafore! I danced with both dance hostesses and various passengers before going to bed at 10:30 pm.


First Sea Day: Wednesday the 16th of September 2015

Me in my Norwegian teeshirt, photo taken by Chris Lowthian

Me in my Norwegian teeshirt, photo taken by Chris Lowthian

On the first sea day, I had the full English breakfast before leading the 9 o'clock line dance class for a dozen people. I taught California Frieze, Texas Waltz & Electric Slide as usual. After a quick change into my Norwegian teeshirt, I gave my first port talk on Bergen at 10 am. At 11:15 I listened to Jane's amusing talk on "Quirks of Norway". I lunched on pork ribs at noon before sleeping for two hours. At 3 pm I listened to Ian's interesting wildlife talk. Afterwards I started work on this blog and enjoyed the scenic passage through the North Channel between Scotland and Ireland. We saw Ailsa Craig, the Mull of Kintyre and Rathlin Island in the bright sunshine. I attended the first Captain's cocktail party at 5:30 and danced with Margaret. I then dined on gammon and chips. During the second cocktail party I worked on this blog and updated my presentation on Alta. At 9 pm I listened to the lovely Jane Beaumont followed by one session of dancing before bed at 10:30 pm.


Second Sea Day: Thursday the 17th of September 2015

I awoke early and after breakfast enjoyed the scenic view of the Suilven and Canisp mountains. Along came a pod of about a dozen common dolphins (the two tone variety)! At 9:15 am I held my second line dance class for fourteen people. I taught Texas Waltz, Just Because & Cowboy Charleston. Afterwards Margaret treated me to a hot chocolate in the new Bookmark café. Unfortunately I missed the turn around Cape Wrath, but enjoyed seeing the scenic northern coast of Scotland. After lunch I had just awoken from my siesta when the ship hit a whirlpool in the notorious Pentland Firth between Orkney & Caithness. The Captain turned the rudder to avoid the 16 knot undercurrent but the ship wouldn't respond, so he had to go with the flow and we did a 360 degree turn listing heavily. Everything went flying! The swimming pool water poured over the side. Plates and glasses smashed. All the items in my bathroom went flying, there was talcum powder everywhere! Fortunately there was only one code alpha medical casualty, but one lady was trapped in a lift for 45 minutes!

At 3 pm I gave my second port talk on Alta. At 4:15 I listened to Simon's piano recital which included several works by Grieg, culminating with the famous Wedding at Troldhaugen written for his wife on their silver wedding anniversary! With an Indonesian buffet on in the Garden Café, I was allowed into the main restaurant. I was placed on table No. 1 in the far corner by the window - the best table in the room! I sat with a nice Welsh couple from Aberaron on Cardigan Bay and enjoyed the lamb shank. I danced both before and after Tara the flautist's excellent show. It was only when she opened her mouth (she was Canadian but now lives in Watford) that I realised I had heard her before.


Bergen, Hordaland: Friday the 18th of September 2015

Bergen old town

Bergen old town

On the next sea morning I taught Just Because, Slosh & Party Samba to sixteen people. At 10 am I gave my next port talk on Honningsvåg. Unfortunately the listing episode the previous day had prevented my Alta talk from being recorded, so I had to give it again to an almost empty Neptune Lounge at 11:30 as we berthed in a damp Bergen. After lunch Sandra kindly allowed me on to the Steam Train tour. One old lady was very apologetic for holding us up when she had to go back to her cabin twice! We were driven to the old station at Garnes but most pax didn't have time to visit the souvenir shop there. The 18 kilometre journey was taken at a stately pace to the terminus at Midttun. We then rejoined our coach for the panoramic tour of the city but with no photo stops. After dinner, Elizabeth and I won a bottle of real Cava in the elimination waltz! Since she doesn't drink I was able to take it home along with a slopchest bottle of Baileys. I had to miss Lee's comedy show as there were several changes needed to my port talk the next day, but I went back for the middle dance set. It was getting a bit choppy and most pax went to bed, so I was able to alternate between the lovely Linda & Sue.


Third Sea Day: Saturday the 19th of September 2015

I taught Slosh, Ziggy & Lindi Shuffle to seventeen people before giving my port talk on Tromsø. Just before introducing me, Boz the Cruise Director asked me not to talk about free wi-fi ashore in case it impacted on the ship's revenue! Before lunch I updated this blog. I lunched on tomato soup, prawns and small bits of four main courses in the buffet with John, Phil, Linda and two pax on my favourite table in the Garden Café. I then slept for two hours. At 4:15 pm I enjoyed Jane's talk on the Aurora Borealis. In the evening I danced both before and after the production company's Composers show. I was expecting classical composers but it was actually George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin! When the dancing finished in the Neptune Lounge I caught the end of Gaz's cabaret in the Lido Lounge. At 11 pm I partook of the supper club for the first time this cruise. I gorged on several scampi, one hot dog and one onion ring!


Fourth Sea Day: Sunday the 20th of September 2015

Fjord

Fjord

I breakfasted with the lovely Jane & Jackie. With a church service on at 9 am, there was no line dancing. I was sat in the Observatory watching the dramatic secenery of the Lofoten Islands sail by, when we saw a white-tailed sea eagle. At 10 am we entered the famous Trollfjord. We hadn't left the fjord when my next port talk was supposed to begin at 11, so Boz announced a 15 minute delay to the start. I then gave my lecture on Ålesund: the Art Nouveau City. I lunched with Adele, Helen and another lady from Guernsey before sleeping for an hour and a half. I worked on my presentations and this blog before watching the scenery from the top of the ship. I then enjoyed my first soda and twiglets up in the Observatory. I dined on lamb shank again, this time in the Garden Café buffet with the dance hosts and hostesses. We all danced both before and after the big band concert.


Alta, Finnmark: Monday the 21st of September 2015

In Alta I escorted my first choice Alta Canyon and Power Station tour. The trees were all red, gold and green as the autumn had begun. We had John from Oregon, USA as our knowledgeable guide. Unfortunately he neglected to send the sign-up sheet around the coach. He said the balcony was too slippery for us, but the next group were allowed out on to it for the fabulous view of the dam. He was unable to arrange suitable transport, so that all the pax had to climb back up the steep, dark tunnel through the hillside, despite what the tour description and my lecture had said! The dam was very impressive but we didn't get to see the famous turbine hall lower down the valley. After lunch back at the ship I dozed for an hour, before walking around Elvebakken village. I got as far as the post office but didn't get to the parish church. Back at the ship I swam in the warm outdoor pool and luxuriated in the jacuzzi for the first time this cruise. I then had my second soda and twiglets as we sailed away from Alta with a lovely sunset. I dined on the extensive International buffet with the five dance hosts/esses. We danced both before and after the Jane and Tara double bill.


Honningsvåg, Finnmark: Tuesday the 22nd of September 2015

He's behind you!

He's behind you!

It was a lovely day in Honningsvåg and I got to escort the Sightseeing on Magerøy Island. We began at the Skarsvåg fishing village where I had a cup of gluhwein and some disappointing cake at the Christmas shop. The next stop was at the art gallery in Kamøyvaer another fishing village. The weather was glorious and the best I've ever had near the North Cape. Back at the ship the Garden Café was closed so I ate in the main restaurant. I dozed for an hour before modifying my final port talk on Stavanager which I gave at 4:30 pm just before our departure. I then watched the sail past the North Cape from the Observatory bar. We danced both before and after the Cinematastic production show. This was interrupted halfway through by an announcement that the Northern Lights were now visible, but I couldn't see them! I could see the Plough/Big Dipper/Great Bear constellation which points to Polaris the pole star. This was nearly overhead here at 71 degrees north!


Tromsø, Troms: Wednesday the 23rd of September 2015

In Tromsø I was off the ship at 8:10 am and photographed all the sights en route to the fort and back. Back at the ship at 10 am, I dumped most of the leaflets that I had picked up and then headed out again. This time I walked three miles to the southern end of Tromsøya island in the sunshine. Here was a lovely seaside path and park. I then walked back to the city via the Tromsø Museum and the upper road. After lunch I slept for two hours before swimming and jacuzzing for a second time this cruise. I then watched the sailaway south from the Observatory where I pushed the boat out and had a can of Strongbow cider! I dined as usual with the dance hosts and hostesses in the Garden Café, before dancing in the Neptune Lounge. That evening it was another double act variety show, Matthew Rose's first ever performance in the Neptune Lounge, together with slightly naughty comedian Lee Carroll!


Fifth Sea Day: Thursday the 24th of September 2015

At 9:15 am I taught my fifth line dance class. After a break of a few days, I recapped California Frieze, Texas Waltz & Electric Slide to fifteen people. About two thirds of the way through the session the Cruise Director announced a surprise destination! A third of my class and the technicians immediately left the lounge, but I ploughed on with ten people! At 10 am we went outside to see the magnificent Svartisen ("Black Ice" but actually beautifully blue) glacier. At 11:15 the Crossing the Arctic Circle ceremony took place. The Captain, members of the Entertainment Department and the dance hosts were all thrown in the pool! After lunch I slept for two hours, thus missing the Seven Sisters mountains. I then attended the Tea Dance wearing my rock & roll outfit. I then swam in the aft pool, but the jacuzzi was still boarded over from the morning's ceremony, so I had to run up three flights of stairs to the top deck jacuzzis! The sun shone and I luxuriated in the hot tub as we passed the famous hole in the mountain, actually an elevated sea cave. After dinner we danced both before and after the Entertainments Team's variety show. This was the first time that I had see "If I was not upon the sea" performed on an Olsen ship, having seen it many times on Saga ships.


Ålesund, More og Romsdal: Friday the 25th of September 2015

The next half sea day began with breakfast with Margaret, before leading my sixth line dance class. I taught Texas Waltz, Just Because & Cowboy Charleston to fifteen people. At 10 am I listened to the Future Cruise talk and at 11 am I heard Ian's wildlife talk. I had to leave early for the sail-in to Ålesund and lunch at 11:30 in the main restaurant. I had the main course from the buffet and then ordered the Jamaican pineapple sundae! I slept for an hour after lunch before rushing around Ålesund taking photographs. At 3 pm I escorted the Highlights tour. We began at the famous Aksla viewpoint before touring the city. Unfortunately it began to drizzle, the first time we had had any rain all cruise! We then had another viewpoint across the bay for photographs of the ship. Back at the ship, I changed into my new Black Watch tartan 8 yard kilt bought from Lidl's for only £40! I had a soda in the Observatory as we sailed away and then dined with the dance team in the Garden Café as usual. We danced both before and after the production company's Britannia Rocks showtime. During the singalong before the show, I joined the Ents team on the stage for the singing of "I belong to Glasgow"!


Stavanger, Rogaland: Saturday the 26th of September 2015

Stavanger old town

Stavanger old town

I breakfasted with Margaret again, before taking my seventh line dance class where I taught Just Because, Slosh & Party Samba to fourteen people. I listened to Jane at 10 am and Ian at 11 am before watching the sail-in to Stavanger. I lunched in the Garden Café with Phil & Linda at noon, before escorting the City & Countryside tour. We drove for nearly an hour into the mountains. We had pancakes, strawberry jam, sour cream and coffee in a grotto carved into the mountainside. We then had half an hour at the candlemakers. The final stop was at Europe's largest boulder field, before coming back to a quick sightseeing tour of the city. I watched the sailaway with a soda in the Obervatory, before dining with Margaret in the main restaurant on veal thus avoiding the Asian buffet in the Garden Café. We all danced both before and after the variety show, but during the Mr & Mrs game show I updated this blog.

Stavanger cathedral

Stavanger cathedral


Sixth Sea Day: Sunday the 27th of September 2015

I breakfasted with Margaret yet again, before working on this blog and my powerpoint presentations. With a Sunday service on, line dancing was moved to 4 pm. I watched the passage through the Pentland Firth from the Observatory, the sea was swirling, but this time the Captain powered us through the maelstrom without mishap! I lunched on half a lobster; fish, chips & mushy peas; and a trifle, before sleeping for an hour and a half! At 4 pm I led my eighth and penultimate line dance class teaching Slosh, Ziggy & Lindi Shuffle to sixteen people. At 5:45 I attended the first of the Captain's farewell cocktail parties. I danced with Margaret and some others before dining with the dance team in the Garden Café. At 8 pm came the second cocktail party with fewer dancers present. There were a couple of new acts in the crew show: a Philipino stick (not log!) dance and a Gujerati dance too. We then danced after the show with the usual suspects.


Seventh Sea Day: Monday the 28th of September 2015

I breakfasted with Margaret before watching the full moon and pink sun rise as we traversed the North Channel between Scotland and Northern Ireland. At 9 am I held my ninth and final line dance class for seventeen people. We danced eight of the nine line dances that I had taught, all bar California Frieze. At the end I was presented with a Black Watch mug filled with chocolates! I said my goodbyes to Sandra & Maja, the latter of whom I will see again on the Braemar mystery cruise next spring! At 10:45 I listened to the passenger choir, before working on my laptop. I lunched with Margaret before sleeping for two hours. I then had a swim in the bright sunshine, but the jacuzzi was only luke warm, so I spent most of an hour in the swim-ex machines which were lovely and hot! I then packed before having a soda and twiglets in the Observatory bar. After dining with the dance team, we danced both before and after the Musicality production showtime. I was so taken with this new show that I sat through the second house as well! There was no dancing when the second show finished at 11:15 pm, which apparently had been a common occurrence. After snacking at the late night supper, I went to the Lido for the first time. After one dance with Sue, the disco started and I went to bed just after midnight.


Avonmouth, Bristol: Tuesday the 29th of September 2015

Black Watch

Black Watch

I awoke at 6:45 am but that was now 5:45 am and couldn't get back to sleep, excited at the prospect of going home. I breakfasted at 7 am with Margaret for one last time, before moving my bags up to the Observatory to watch the transit of the Avonmouth lock. After the Miles Morgan group had been called to disembark, I was surprised to hear Deck 4 even numbered cabins called forward. So I was off the ship before 10 am. I stopped off for some shopping in both Taunton and Yeovil, buying three shirts for £6 in the PDSA charity shop in the latter. I was home by 2:30 pm after another super cruise!

The Cruise Director later wrote: "My sincere thanks to you for your vital input into last cruise." One lady later wrote: "Thank you for being a part of the team that made our trip such an enjoyable one. Thought we might teach the pensioners in our keep fit class 'The Slosh'. (See we are up to teaching standard now!)" One host wrote: "Many thanks for the blog which is a very good summary of a very good cruise!"


Questionnaire Results:

No.    %      Wt. Class
--- ------- ----- ---------

113  53.30% (100) Excellent
 64  30.19% (80%) Good
 27  12.74% (60%) Fair
  8  03.77% (20%) Poor
--- ------- ----- ---------
212 100.00% (86%) Total
--- ------- ----- ---------

Key Performance Indicators (KPI):

My   KPI   85.85%
My target  85.00% (beaten!)
2014 KPI   79.65%
Improvement 6.20% (over last year's average!)

Score card:

9 Line dances classes led
6 Port talks given 
4 Tours escorted
3 Cocktail parties attended
2 Dance hostesses danced with
1 Cruise enjoyed!

Good points:

  1. Outside twin cabin all to myself
  2. Leading the line dance classes
  3. In-cabin tea & coffee
  4. Two dance hostesses!
  5. Bedtime at 10:30 pm
  6. Siesta most sea days
  7. Giving six port talks
  8. Fine weather
  9. Slopchest
  10. Twiglets!

Updated Powerpoint presentations:

  1. Bergen
  2. Alta
  3. Honningsvag
  4. Tromso
  5. Alesund
  6. Stavanger
  7. Welcome to Norway!

Line Dances Taught:

  1. California Frieze
  2. Texas Waltz (1 wall Waltz))
  3. Electric Slide
  4. Just Because (Rumba/Mambo)
  5. Cowboy Charleston (Quickstep)
  6. Slosh
  7. Party Samba (1 wall Samba)
  8. Ziggy
  9. Lindi Shuffle (2 wall Cha cha)


For the record ...