Trans Atlantic Cruise
24th October - 7th November
We set off from MAN at 07.20 and landed at LHR at 08.30. Our luggage was with us quickly and we were met and taken to the waiting bus. We left LHR by 09.15 and had an uneventful journey to Harwich, which took just 2hs. This had been the one aspect that I was nervous about, as I had been unable to find anyone reporting on this transfer.
Embarkation was speedy and we were sitting at the rear of the ship, the outside section of the Ocean View Café by 11.45, having ordered our first drink from the Classic Package, which came as part of our booking. This proved excellent, if only for the 2 litres of water which we ordered daily. If we had used the one left in our cabin, it would have cost us at least $150 for the 14 night cruise. It just meant that I had to pick up a bottle from any bar on the ship.The cabins were ready by 1.00 and although I knew we had an extra large balcony, on our FV, I was impressed, as we had a bedroom and lounge.
Sail away for us was from the same bar, where we met previous cruisers from the Century (Hawaii) & the Eclipse (Caribbean) It was good to catch up.
We met our table companions, a couple from New Hampshire and a couple from Halifax ,Nova Scotia. We got on very well
1St Sea Day
We had a very early start, I had not slept well, due to the movement of the ship. I began to think that I shouldn’t have upgraded to the corner FV on Deck 9 starboard.We went to the C.C meeting, held at 09.30 in the Constellation lounge. Here we met fellow C.C’s one of which had been put in the Royal Suite. ( They had booked concierge, but had noted that guarantee suites were less than they had paid, so asked to be transferred to a suite, after final payment day) She took a group of 10 of us for a ‘viewing’ I liked the Jacuzzi on the balcony and the large table in the dining room especially.
Before we set sail on Sunday 27 th October, we were warned by the Captain of the impending storm and to take care as we walked around the ship.I do not have any pictures of the horizon rising & falling 40 ft, from top to bottom of the 2 story dining room window, nor of the broken window, which according to the Captain cracked due to the ‘flexing of the ship,’ - a spontaneous shatter.They apparently carry replacements panes on board, but it hadn’t been replaced by see through glass, when we saw it on the last morning.
Our ports of call were :
La Rochelle (France)
We were 3 hrs late arriving into Vigo; we have been twice and been late on both occasions. It was interesting to watch our approach. I wasn't impressed with the town, I think that it's main claim to fame is due to it’s proximity to Santiago de Compestella.
I heard later, that Indy missed the port, due to remaining in Southampton an extra night,as passengers could not reach the ship, because Heathrow was closed and trains were not travelling south beyond Peterborough. They were sailing direct to Lisbon.
We were told that seas on Monday 28th October, would be 2m less than the previous night, oh joy, I might get some sleep, beyond 3am.
We were to change the clocks yet again. We had already:
Put them 1 hour forward for France and Spain, who are BST +1hr.
Put 1 Hr back, BST to GMT( Daylight Saving Time)Always the last Sunday in October, in Europe.
Put 1 hr back as Portugal is on GMT.
Over the cruise we put the clocks back a further 5 times.
Yes, we gained 7 hrs in all, a 7 hr longer cruise, but my body still worked on UK time!
It became such a problem, that once we left Lisbon, breakfast was 1 hr earlier each morning, as elderley passengers wake early.
Theatre lectures also started at 9am instead of 10am.
The 7 days at sea were spent going to 'Beyond the Podium' lectures.
Our favourite was Jim Kennedy, recently retired director of Kennedy Space Centre. We were given 2 different Nasa 'pins, ' by him.
We also listened to the Discovery of America , was Christopher Columbus the first adventurer to arrive in America and the Mutiny on the Bounty, by an ex University Proffesor, but I cannot remember his name!
Ian White ( a photographer employed by Scunthorpe News) detailed his memories of the Beatles. We only attended one of his lectures, as I was not impressed with his delivery.
I attended 5 (free) iLounge lectures, which were interesting, but nothing could be done to improve the overloaded sattelite connection.These were very popular and were eventually moved from the Gamma Conference Centre to the Rendevous Lounge, as seating was at a premium. In fact the 1st 2 were repeated due to popularity.
My husband (DH) went to the gym approx 7 times and we both went to the Elite Happy Hour nightly, where we were given 3 vouchers each to use between 5-7pm, as there were over 1000 Elite passengers on this TransAtlantic sailing.
We both attended all the evening Theatre shows, but the 3 productions shows weren't put on until the last week of the cruise, due to the rough seas. Even though the 1st Formal night was on our 1st Sea day, they had already decided that these would not be performed until after we left Portugal ( even later eventually) I think my favourite performance was by a fellow Welshman, Mike Doyle . He was a baritone and comedian.
We spent enjoyable hours on our balcony and were very appreciative of the extra space in our room. It will be a shock when we go back to a 'normal' sized cabin.
We woke to clear skies on Sunday 3rd Nov, and I was lucky enough to capture some reflections of the Partial Eclipse of the sun. I didn't have protective shades for my eyes, or filters for my camera, but by chance, as I was trying to focus on a hawk, who we think was living on the ship, I captured a reflection. In all I have 6 of the various stages of the Eclipse. A real added bonus for those of us who live in cloudy U.K.
We also attended a Brunch on the morning of the last Sea Day.We went early, as DH had a final rehearsal for the Celebrity choir at noon. The performance was during the Infinity guest & staff show, which was on the choppy afternoon of the final sea day.
Our last day and final port came too soon, but it was HOT. We took the local boat over to Paradise Island in Nassau and walked around. Not many of the shops were open and as I was feeling unwell, we didn't stay for too long ( I had picked up a chest infection on the ship) We were able to see the new Norwegian Breakaway arrive just before we left. I wasn't impressed.
We arrived in Miami early morning on Thursday 7th November. I tried to get photos of the Pelicans that were flying near our balcony, but they were too quick for me. We were unable to partake of the Elite breakfast on the final day. Coffee in the ocean View Cafe was a rarity, as were cups, hot water and tea. I did eventually manage to find some cardboard cups , but with out the collars to hold them.
We gathered in the S.S United States Restaurant, to wait for our number to be called, but then had to go up to the Theatre Entrance to disembark. We would have been better sticking to our original assigned room, rather than wait in the Elite Lounge.
Once on dry land, we found our luggage without a problem, as it had been placed on a carousel in 3 different rooms.
We were through immigration in Miami, without a problem, but I still have the Customs Form that I had to fill out - never mind there only being 3 Officers on duty, there were NONE, only Immigration Officers and they didn't ask for the form!
Our only problem was trying to find the transport to the Shereton hotel, where we had a room until 4pm. Here I was able to upgraded my i-Pad in the tranquil gardens, which just happened to have free wi-fi access. What joy, after the truly dire internet service on Infinity.
We had a quick flight back to LHR, but had to wait for a plane to go from our stand. I asked to be fast tracked so we could get on our plane which was leaving in just over 1 hr.
We made it and were in MAN on time! All travel arrangements fortunately went without a hitch.
It was good to be home, even though the weather is colder, its not windy, and my bed is stable.