My first cruise. Left London on Wednesday morning at 0830 and arrive in Dover at 1100 by National Express. Driver took us to the cruise terminal (it almost seems that they all do although obviously this is unofficial). Embarcation a breeze. Porters took big bags, filled out a quick health survey, checked in and waited with a colored boarding pass till my color was called.
A bit disappointed as I had booked a guarantee hoping for an upgrade but got what I paid for. Oh well. Cabin was fine. After all, it was only for sleeping and big deal, I could watch the sea on the web cams on television if necessary.
Directed to Lido for lunch and that became my usual (when not on port excursions) lunch spot. Had it down pretty pat by the end. Breakfast in Lido, early riser, omlette station first with bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and shrimp. Added bacon, some smoked salmon (lox to us NY people), fruit, found a sea side table picked up two orange juices, water and coffee. Very substantial. Went up to explorer lounge to read the NY Times (I would not pay their outrageous fees for internet; NY Times was available for free). Then did whatever (port excursions or some workshops). Lunch was usually at the Lido with sushi, whatever was at the station, and salad. Surprised on last day at sea when they had shrimp cocktails and lobster tails for lunch. Dinner usually at 1830 (open seating) in main dining room. Always paired up with other couples. Food was fine, portions a bit small but service was often disgracefully slow. One night it took 2.5 hours to eat and the waiter had to come back to re-take our order for main dish. Complained abut it and got a glass of house wine out of it and then they sent chocolate cover strawberries to my room as a gesture of apology.
Did a couple of lunches in MDR when Danielle organized singler solo lunches. Got a free soda each time. Here may come a small complaint which many might laugh at. I am a coca cola person (which is one reason I did HAL and not Norwegial for this itinerary). My favorite coke drink is coke zero which by now should be standard, it's not really an out of the way drink. In any event, MDR and Lido never had coke zero forcing me to drink Diet Coke. And on several occasions, I asked for Diet Coke and was given a Coke Light. But before you tell me that Coke Light and Diet Coke are the same, they most assuredly are not. Interestingly enough all the bars had coke zero. Coke zero should be standard at all restaurants.
After dinner, did a few of the music trivia contests with the DJ Dave and saw the all the shows then it was upstairs for the late night snack. The last night they had BBQ ribs!
The illusionist sorry magician was good (not as good as Lance Burton of course) and they had this Roumainian piano/accordion player who was a hoot with an instrument he called the dracula phone. Singers and dancers were good too.
One night I remembered was the Warnemunde stop. It was an all day thingh and we got back at about 1945. That was the night of the USA/England football match which they showed on the main stage. Ran upstairs for their German meal, would have liked longer with the Oomp Pah Pah band but got to see the whole game. (Eat your hearts out England; if you had beaten the USA you wouldn't have played Germany!).
Didn't seem many people did much swimming. Weather was not great and roof was closed the whole time. Did none of the other athletic activities.
Port reviews done separately. Did somehow manage to fall and hurt myself on my private tour in St. Petersburg (my fault) and the ship doctor took xrays and said it was negative but my arm still hurts a bit and will have to see orthopedist in the next day or two.
BTW I should mention here, on the second day we were informed the stop in Stockholm was cancelled because of the impending royal wedding. They substituted Goteborg on the west coast of Sweden, gave us credits of $50 for port substitution and refunded $24 in port taxes. Disappointing but what are you going to do. Reading some other reviews, perhaps Stockholm is more trouble than its worth as they described their stop in Stockholm requiring use of tenders which I take it is not really pleasant.
Disembarking was handled great. They asked you when you wanted to get off the ship and gave you color coded baggage tags. They collected your luggage during the night and when they called your color, off you went and baggage was easy to find. Taxi to bus stop, National Express back to London and spent the week in London before heading home.