This was our first try at cruising and the local departure and arrival ports were an attraction. Before I go any further I should say that it has not put us off the idea of cruising. It is a relaxing way of seeing lots of different places one wouldn't normally get to. Next time we will choose something larger (not too large though) and more reliable.
Our trip to Hull by coach wasn't particularly comfortable but embarkation was smooth and uneventful. The cabin was clean and welcoming , plenty large enough for 6 nights and more than enough wardrobe space. That night reality hit when we were sailing at full throttle to Honfleur. Our cabin was next to the engines which, in a ship the age of Ocean Countess, are situated midships. It meant that whenever the ship was moving the noise and vibration was deafening. I cannot believe that these cabins weren't discounted because of this but we paid over Â£600 for the privilege.
Food and entertainment were just OK. Having taken many Thomson Gold holidays before we retired, we have been spoiled but this did not in any way live up to any of them. Service at all times was impeccable and the staff were wonderful particularly as they must be used to having to field queries (moans) about changed itineraries, noise and odd leaks and faults.
We had chosen this trip because of the itinerary so imagine our disappointment to be told that because of adverse weather conditions the safe tendering of passengers to and from Guernsey and the Scilly Isles would not be possible but in the flash of an eye they had managed to arrange a day in Cherbourg and half a day in Fowey with associated trips already in place. From the start we had decided we would not go any organised trips because they are very expensive but would do our own exploring. However as we only had half a day in Fowey we cut our losses and went on a trip to the Eden Project which we had always wanted to go and see. How they can charge Â£49 for a half an hour coach trip there and back and entrance to the Project (Â£16.50 for seniors) I don't know.
I have absolutely no issue with itineraries being changed and trips being cancelled because of adverse weather conditions but like the other reviewer "yorkshiretight" we had also heard that of the last ten attempts to get to these destinations, only 3 had been successful. Which begs the question, if the odds are so stacked against getting to these places, why are they even being offered as destinations and what is the legality of it all? It may say in terms and conditions that itineraries may be changed, but if this is happening so regularly, can they really hide behind that? I and many other people would not book a holiday if I was told there is only a 20% or 30% chance of getting there but we'll find somewhere else you might like. The company were obviously very used to these changes as trip from both destinations were organised very quickly and smoothly.
Interestingly enough, in our local paper last night there was a letter from someone who had had the same experience on a later cruise from ours.
The organisation embarking and disembarking always went smoothly and coming in to our home town was a real treat. There are not many places you can sail right into the heart of the city. The new Cruise Terminal although temporary was very efficient and welcoming and hopefully it won't be too long before there is something more permanent and more ships are starting and finishing at the Pier Head.