Having been left some money by my late adored mother I decided to spend some of it on a cruise ,something I hadn't done since about 1979 when I took a party of school children on the Uganda to the eastern Med. That had been amazing and I wondered if cruising was still as good as it had been then.
Well, the ship may be more modern but the atmosphere was just the same and heavily dependent for success on having a happy and efficient crew. No probs there as it would be impossible to be better looked after.Three cheers"and one cheer more" for an amazing crew.
We had booked the Southampton to Venice via almost everywhere cruise from 6th June but at the last minute were offered the previous cruise to the Fjords at an unmissable price so took that as well and so were away for 28 nights.
As followers of cruising will probably now know we never got to Norway because of a pilots' strike and so had to make do with an ad hoc tour of N. Germany,Denmark ,Sweden and Belgium. Disappointing of course but nobody's fault and I still enjoyed it as an hors d'oeuvres before the main meal.
Apart from severe gales in The Bay of Biscay, fog ,which meant we never saw the Rock of Gibraltar, and being late into Almeria(well worth missing in my opinion!) and Tunis everything else went like clockwork and the weather was glorious.Wonderful , eye opening visits to Corfu, Dubrovnik,
Split, Venice( is there anything in the world as miraculous as sailing into Venice as the sun bursts through the morning mist?) No I didn't think so!Sicily, Malta,Ibiza and Lisbon completed the itinerary of a fabulous voyage and I was seriously reluctant to leave the ship even after a month (oh the joy of retirement.)
Nothing to fault about the food(close at times to haute cuisine) and the cabins, we had lovely cabins on Coral deck for the first cruise as well as our super SS for the second.
Only niggles might be a couple of poor value excursions and a few tour guides with "interesting" english and an inability ever to stop talking and allow us to watch the scenery pass by!
Oh, and the presence of The Daily Mail "highlights" as ship's newspaper.Why does Fred Olsen assume that we are all right wing bigots? In real life I'd rather take poison than read that apology for accurate news.
Anyway I'm hooked! Apart from The Fjords in August 2013 I've already booked The Canaries and Azores on Black Watch in November this year and I can hardly wait. I've at last found my dream holiday style that means I can take plenty of stuff with me and I NEVER HAVE TO DRIVE!!In the second we dined in the Spey restaurant which I thought magical as one dines while watching the sea and land pass by. And we had wonderful table companions in a couple from Brisbane which meant every evening had good conversation as well as good food. We also enjoyed the "special" food nights,Indian ,Thai, Chinese and Spanish in The Palms Cafe.
On Coral deck the double cabin for one meant plenty of room and was perfectly comfortable.Loads of space for clothes and luggage and excellent shower.
The SS on deck 9 was roomy even for two fairly big people with comfy seating area and lovely bath and shower. Eventually got fed up with our regular canapes as they seemed to come at the wrong time as we were getting ready for dinner.