Sailing

My experience of cruises is limited to sailing from Poole to Cherbourg, a five hour trip on the Bar Fleur, for days out or holidays in France, and our one trip to Bilbao, northern Spain.

Poole Harbour – not the Bar Fleur

Our voyage on the Pride of Bilbao was one of their three-night weekend mini cabaret cruises, off peak season in October, with vouchers Cyberspouse got people at work to cut out of The Sun newspaper, a paper I never let him buy! When we boarded at Portsmouth all the other passengers looked like Sun readers. On the Friday night we went to watch the cabaret and were not surprised that when it was finished the entertainers reappeared in their crew members’ uniforms.

Our inner cabin was like a prison cell; I took the top bunk, not wishing Cyberspouse to crash down on top of me.

But the next day was sunny with plenty to do on board; relaxing in the lounges, taking part in Whale and Dolphin watches on deck or from the observation lounge, going to wildlife presentations in the ship’s cinema with the resident wildlife officer from the Biscay Dolphin Research Programme.

After our second sleep came our early arrival in the port for our six hour turn around. On board we could book one of three coach trips; there was a lot of port and industry between us and Bilbao town, so you couldn’t just get off and ‘have a look around’. The fishing village outing was off, not enough takers. We had plumped for the Guggenheim Museum, but regular passengers told us it wouldn’t be opening for another hour, so we changed to the trip into town with hot chocolate and a snack at a quaint tiled coffee house. We spent the remainder of the time wandering around a nice department store near the coach pick up point, because it was cold and also I was worried we would not find our way back or be late for the coach!

That day’s sailing was very pleasant, sitting in the sun lounges, reading or writing and listening out for summons to see whales – we only ever saw distant sprays of water. I decided I enjoyed cruising. On our last night we slept well and were surprised when the next morning the Captain said we had been through a Force Eight ( or was it Sixteen? ) Gale; the Bay of Biscay is known for rough seas. I might have thought twice about going if I had known that, but it seems our inner cabin was far more stable than the better cabins.

The elegant Queen Mary 2 – the world’s only ocean liner, not a cruise ship

We have been on trips to Southampton and crossed Southampton Water on the ferry, so we have seen plenty of cruise ships and most of them look like huge floating blocks of flats, how do passengers find their way around? We never could afford seriously considered going on a proper cruise.

One of the strangest remarks after Cyberspouse died was from the reclusive retired couple in our little road. It’s not that they don’t talk to us, just that they don’t engage much with the rest of the neighbours. Pre Covid He spent all his time in the driveway and garage making things, while She was always out playing golf. He had been over once to say how sorry he was to hear Cyberspouse was ill. I was in the front garden one day and surprised to see them out together and coming over to chat. When he asked how I was getting on I thought he meant as a widow of over a month, but it turned out he had missed the dying part and thought Cyberspouse was still isolating indoors. He then compounded the awkwardness by asking if I was going to do anything exciting… adding like going on a cruise! I can imagine what his wife said to him when they got indoors!

The other day I was watching an item on the news about P&O Cruises offering round Britain cruises for UK residents who have been vaccinated…

Sailing at reduced capacity and with new health protocols, the line will offer round-trip short breaks on Britannia and week-long cruises on its new ship Iona from Southampton from June 27 until September 19, 2021.

For a moment I was tempted, they won’t actually be stopping anywhere. After so long with Covid constraints, many of us will need the security of not being able to do what we like. If the ship never docked anywhere I would also be saved the tedium of queueing up to disembark with lots of old people and their walking frames ( so I have heard ) and of course my fear of getting lost and not getting back to the ship in time. I could stay in my cosy cabin writing or stroll the decks looking out for familiar parts of the coast we have visited. Perhaps I would pretend I was a famous writer going on a great voyage…

Not a P&O cruise ship

Then the presenter asked if the crew would also all be vaccinated and the answer was No, they had crew from ninety ( or was it sixty ) different countries. Then I remembered how in pre Covid days cruise ships were always having outbreaks of Norovirus – yes the vomiting etc one – and I would probably get lost on board; even in Premiere Inns, where the corridors are like being on board ship, I always turn the wrong way out of the room. So perhaps I won’t go, perhaps they are already booked up …a blogging opportunity lost.

27 thoughts on “Sailing

  1. I lost any wish to go on a cruise in the summer I spent as a student working on the cross-Channel ferries. The trips were often rough, especially so on the day one of the stabilisers broke down in a gale. As crew, we were expected to clean up while docked: I was relieved from the duty when I added to the job before I even got my mop out of the bucket 😉

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  2. I took a cruise to Alaska once many, many years ago and I loved every minute of it. It was a very small boat, only about 800 passengers. That probably made the difference. I’m not doing any travel anytime soon. At least not until the world is on a more even keel and Covid is a little less scary.

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  3. We’ve done enough ferry trips for me to know I wouldn’t stand cruising, with its ‘cabaret’ style entertainment and nothing to do except eat and drink, but members of my family love nothing else and look down upon us for meandering all over Europe in a campervan, cycling, walking and exploring. Each to their own!

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    1. I don’t blame you Steve, there are plenty of us who do not intend to go on board, though I have heard others have tried cruising and discovered they loved it. I do know people who have been on ‘the trip of a lifetime’ half a dozen times!

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  4. I feel bad for the next door neighbors; sometimes it’s hard to know what to say in such situations.

    We took a cruise for our honeymoon, almost 40 years ago, and loved it. We always thought we would take another, but we still have not…

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  5. One of my friends and his wife went on a cruise for their honeymoon. They had to reroute due to a hurricane, but he said that tons of people on the ship still got sick. When they finally got to a port, they got off for good because it was so miserable.

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  6. Cruising is my idea of a nightmare. I wouldn’t go on one if they picked me up at home and gave me a luxury cabin free of charge. I can be seasick on a boating lake, and have horrible memories of cross-channel ferry trips spent inside or just outside the toilets.
    And a cruise where you never get off seems like its own kind of Hell to me. 🙂
    My wife is a good sailor though, and keen to go on a cruise. I told her to go with one of her friends, and I will stay at home with the dog.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  7. I’m not the best sailor but I did enjoy a Mediterranean cruise a few years ago. Waking up in a different port each morning was great. You won’t get me on another for some time though thanks to Covid!

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  8. Ha ha Pete, how did I guess you would say something like that. Years ago my uncle had a lovely Elkhound called Rik who made a perfect excuse for my uncle to send my aunt off to see her sister in Australia by herself – twice! I expect your wife would like to go with you and watch out for the introduction of dog friendly cruises! I meant to include a refence to the Suez Canal – sounds like nobody will be cruising through there any day soon!

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  9. Apart from cruise ships being hideously vile for the environment, even before 2020 I couldn’t think of anything worse than being in close quarters with that many people with the only respite being confining myself to my cabin … and now? nope, not the slightest bit interested. 🙂

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  10. Ferries are my limit stuck on a cruise ship doesn’t appeal to me…I have friends who take regular cruises and love them just not for me and when you get sick you are confined to your cabin until you are told different and from what I have seen with cruises it’s not if you get sick but when…Now a charted yacht would be totally different…:) x

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  11. Hello Carol, yes the chartered yacht is a good idea, we have seen a few tied up in Poole and Portsmouth. One day we even looked round one as my nephew’s uncle was the on board chef!

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