Fire and Ice Part 50

Cruise Change Day Southampton

Well, I must say the change of cabin went very smoothly. We left cabin A136 at 8:00 after breakfast with two suitcases of summer clothes and things we had accumulated over the last 55 days. Behind us the cabin had a wardrobe of clothes, and several suitcases with other things in them.

… and a pair of crutches

The six of us then met at reception to get our new cruise cards, and were off the ship by 8:15. The trip through the suitcase hall, and customs was easy, and even the pair of sniffer dogs seemed happy.

Outside the three men loaded the suitcases into a taxi and set off for the hotel. The ladies waited for the crew bus and went into the city to go shopping.

At the hotel, the taxi waited 10 minutes while we loaded the summer suitcases into the cars, and Robin recovered a pair of winter cases to take back to the ship. By 10:00 Richard and I were back in the city shopping centre and meeting up with our wives. Robin went back to the ship with his luggage and returned to find Rosemary soon afterwards.

It was so simple.

After Deb and I had done a little shopping, we caught the 11:00 crew shuttle back to Aurora, found our way through the crew gates and back to our new cabin.

The wardrobe was full of our clothes, the suitcases were ready to unpack, and yes, the crutches were waiting for us as well.

It was time for a drink, and then we began the suitcase unpacking.

Just after midday we went to the Medina Restaurant for the loyalty welcome on board drinks and nibbles. Almost immediately Richard and Angie joined us.

The second half of our adventure had begun.

The afternoon concentrated on putting our clothes and bits away in the cabin. There is a little less drawer space than our previous cabin, but the wardrobe is adequate. I think we will be comfortable here, at least we will do when we remember where the cabin is.

Our dinner time was now gone back to the familiar 6:30 and we have more time to relax at the end of the afternoon before getting ready. Finally we could have a drink in Anderson’s and finish it before walking to the restaurant. Of course, it was the first night of the cruise, and the queue stretched back along the corridor for further than we can remember.

The menu was very familiar, but we all found something to tingle our taste-buds. Sadly our waiter was not as fast or friendly as Joseph, and he has made enemies on another table for the slowness, and from someone complaining about a lack of choice for those with special needs.

I understand their annoyance, but it is the first night, and it takes time to meet everyone’s expectations.

After dinner, Deb and I went to the theatre to watch ‘Destination Dance’ for the third time on the cruise(s). It was superb as normal and even with the familiarity of the show, we still enjoy it.

From the show we walked along the corridor to Champion’s for the late-night quiz.

We won!

Someone moaned that we had been on the cruise last week, but the questioner pointed out that this was a different set of questions. Yes, we had remembered some of them from the previous quizzes, but many were new to us.

That was it for the night, and the six of us parted for the night.

It was calm, and I mean really calm, with virtually no wind, so things looked positive for a peaceful sleep filled night.

Thursday 28th February – Sea Day

It had been a good night with no bumping, jiggling, or wind whistling through the balcony doors. The morning Aurora was sailing alongside the coast of Suffolk somewhere to port. It was cool outside, but the sun was shining, and the sea was almost flat calm.

After breakfast in the Medina restaurant we planned our morning. Deb has Fit Steps, and although I wanted to take part, I realised my weaknesses of my joints and stayed away. Instead I sat in Champion’s reading until an individual quiz started. I was second, behind another passenger from the previous cruise. He got full marks, and I was surprised at such a score.

From Champion’s it was a dash to the theatre for the first port talk on the town of Andelsnes. The pronunciation of this Norwegian town is proving complicated. We arrive there on Saturday morning, and we have a tour that gives us a look around the nearby Fjord, and mountain areas. It includes Waffles, which was one of our ideas to reduce the cost of coffee and snacks in this rather expensive country.

With dozing in the theatre over, I met up with Debs and we had a cup of coffee in the buffet, plus a muffin to keep us going until we have lunch.

Deb then made her way to the Battle of the Sexes, where she did NOT get chosen as the captain. The ladies lost by just 5 points.

Meanwhile I had a go at archery. This has been going on in the sport’s nets on the last cruise, but has now been brought inside in Vanderbilt’s.

No, it does not use pointed arrows. They have suckers on the end, and a solid wooden target. There were over a dozen of us attempting it… and I won by some ‘beginner’s luck’ fluke.

Lunchtime.

After eating we had less than an hour to recharge our batteries before starting again with a port talk on Tromsø at 2:00. Aurora arrives there on the 4th and we again have a tour booked already. The talk is to give us a little more background of the town and what we will be doing.

I managed to stay awake in the port talk for about ten minutes before the darkness and uninteresting elements of the talk convinced me to close my eyes. Sometimes Deb gave me a nudge, and sometimes something said grabbed my attention, but it really is a waste of time for me to try and learn anything.

When it was over, Deb took me up to tea. It was then that I noticed that we were enveloped in fog, and when we walked back on the open decks, it was obvious that the temperature had dropped. Perhaps it is time I considered wearing a jumper instead of just a T Shirt.

The navigation channel shows the temperature to be just 10°C at 3:30, with a Force 4 South Easterly wind. The sea is still remarkably calm as Aurora makes gentle progress at 16 knots.

Tonight, is the first of the formal nights, and we also have a ‘Welcome on Board’ cocktail party to listen to Captain Pembridge, and drink his wine budget. We have also received our loyalty pack to confirm we are now in the top tier and have one extra perk of having my suit pressed.

The entertainment features a comedian called John Evans in the theatre. He appears to be new to us, so we will enjoy (hopefully) his fresh act after dinner.

Elsewhere there is a classical guitarist called Adam Wescott in Carmen’s, and a new resident band called ‘Next Step’ taking over in there later in the evening.

Our plans for after the comedian are to have a go at the Syndicate Quiz in Vanderbilt’s at 10:30, but there is also a movie quiz in Champion’s an hour earlier. It would be really good if I can add some more stickers, or even a bottle of wine, after my archery success.

Tomorrow is another sea day as we head northwards to Norway. Perhaps soon the new passengers will get familiar with the ship, and stop wandering around in a mist of confusion. It is strange to be so confident amongst so many hundreds of new people.

Fire and Ice Part 49

Tuesday 26th February- Final day of this cruise

What a good night. Sleeping was so much easier without the creaking of bulkheads.

The kettle was on at 7:30 and Aurora is plodding along at just over 17 knots. The ship is approaching the English Channel with Cornwall a few hundred miles away on the port side, and the Brest Peninsular on the starboard. It is misty, with a little bit of cloud. The sea is described as ‘Slight’ accompanied by a Force 5 wind from the south east. We are close to home, and the temperature of 10°C reflects that. Weather information suggests it is quite warm in Britain, but it is so very much cooler than we were little more than a week ago.

Just after 8:00 we were in the Medina for breakfast, but it was a light one with no fried food. It has been a pleasure on this cruise to use this restaurant for breakfast, even though we hardly ever ate very much. The atmosphere is so much more relaxed than the buffet, and the hot food is prepared so much better.

After servicing our stomachs’ needs, there was a short break before Deb trotted off to the final Fit Steps session of this cruise. She came back an hour later with a certificate for her attendance every sea day. It will start again in two days from now, and I am threatening to join in, although the movements might give my joints a few issues.

Coffee time in the buffet, and we both had a muffin to keep us going. Deb has the Battle of the Sexes finale just after midday, and I will be going to the cinema at 1:00 meaning just a quick lunch break.

This morning the cinema is showing ‘The Greatest Showman’, followed by a repeat of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. I considered going to both films, but thought that would have been far too much in a darkened room. I would probably doze, and it seemed unfair to let Deb do all the packing while I spent nearly five hours away. So, I decided the Queen story really was superb, and I wanted to see it again. It could well be repeated during the next cruise, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of getting my fill of so many memories.

As we came back from coffee, Deb checked the laundrette and a washing machine was available. She now has the chance to put a load of dirty clothes through, meaning there may be no need to do any more before we go home.

The chargers are going mad getting our bits and pieces fully charged before we move. The mobile phones may be important tomorrow as we go our own ways in Southampton.

Later

It is 3:15 in the afternoon. I have just got back to Debs in the cabin after 2 hours and 10 minutes of self-indulgence watching Bohemian Rhapsody. Although fresh in my mind from the first time, this video really hits the spot for me. It covered some of the best years of my life as I discovered this style of music. During this period of my life I met Deb who became the love of my life. The film culminated with the Live Aid concert which was one of the most memorable days of my working life at Goonhilly. I played a tiny, weeny part in the amazing day looking after my section of the equipment at the Satellite Station that transmitted that concert to places all over the world.

… oh, and I rather like Queen as well.

Back down to reality again, and we went for a cup of tea. This afternoon it was a chocolate moment in the buffet with all kinds of chocolate cakes, and even a chocolate fountain. Sadly it was dinner time in less than three hours, but you wouldn’t know that from the piles of cakes that some people were carrying around the room.

While I was away at the cinema, Deb finished packing everything that could be put away before tomorrow morning. The cabin is now significantly smaller with a mountain of cases at one end of the room. Tomorrow morning, we will be up to get to breakfast as soon after 7:00 as we can. That will give us time to complete packing the last-minute bits, empty the safe, and then grab the cases I am taking to the car and waiting for the chance to get off.

We have to be out of the cabin by 8:00, although the suitcases and clothes in the wardrobe stay, and get moved by housekeeping. After 8:00 we can swap our cabin keys for our new home for 12 days, but we won’t get in until the housekeepers have made it up again after the previous occupants have gone. That is expected to be 9:00 at the earliest.

By then me and the other lads should be on the way to the hotel to drop cases, and check that our cars start and run properly. Once satisfied we will return and meet up with the ladies either in the city, or back on the ship. Deb, Rosemary and Angie have shopping lists for the things we have run out of, and perhaps a few treats as well.

Anyway, for now we can relax a little before the final evening of this cruise. All the lifting of cases has made Deb’s back hurt and is currently soaking in a hot bath.

At around 5:00, Aurora was about level with the border between Cornwall and Devon, in a lovely calm sea, with sunshine making it feel rather spring like. The temperature is 12°C and the wind is a chilly south easterly Force 5. The captain has slowed the ship down to below 16 knots and we will no doubt be in Southampton well before we wake up.

The evening entertainment is the three Soul/Motown singers called ‘Soul Kinda Wonderful’ in the theatre. They were quite good in their first show, but the Americanised ideas of forced audience participation, put us off. I am not sure if we will bother.

There is a quiz in Vanderbilt’s at 9:30, and at 10:00 there is a Pub Fun Night in Champions, or the Syndicate Quiz up in the buffet. Carmen’s has The Choice band early on, and then the various musical acts get together for the latter end of the evening.

… mmm, I wonder what we will do?

The times has now moved on to nearly 8:30 in the evening. We had a pleasant dinner with everyone enjoying their choices of food. It was then time to say “Thanks” to Joseph the waiter, and to Jo his assistant. In the old-fashioned way, we handed over a small envelope with something to enhance their very small wages. Although we should be back in the same Alexandra restaurant tomorrow evening, Joseph is being moved to the Freedom dining room (Medina). It seems they rotate the waiters on a regular basis, and some enjoy one restaurant to the other.

With dinner over, there was a lull in the entertainment. The first show in the theatre was already in progress, and the second show time brought forward as well. The suspicion is that they want to get as many people as possible in Champions for later in the evening, so that the pub fun session is busy with drinkers, rather than quizzers, who have been moved to Vanderbilt’s.

After much consideration, the six of us are going to meet up for the quizzes. We are hoping some of the teams will not turn up for the Syndicate quiz tonight, as most of them have long journeys to look forward tomorrow… well it was a theory anyway.

Deb and I spent half an hour in the Crow’s Nest finishing off the soft drinks card with a final Pepsi, and then returned to the cabin to admire our suitcases. Actually, it was to rest our aches, with Deb’s back being very bad, and my knee deciding to remind me that I am getting old.

So, in the morning the six of us are meeting at 7:00 for breakfast in the Medina restaurant. From there Deb and I will have a final wash, and trundle the suitcases for the car, down to reception by 8:00, where we can swap cabin keys to the new one. The others will join us there in readiness to leave the ship as early as is feasible.

Us men can then organise our taxi, while the ladies will jump on the first crew shuttle to the West Quay shopping area to enjoy an early morning look around Southampton.

Hopefully we will be at the hotel quite quickly and then ensure our cars are in a healthy state. With suitcases stowed away, we can have a taxi back to the shopping area to find our wives before the shops part too much money from them… only joking, I trust Deb.

At some stage of the morning we will part company with Robin and Rosemary who want to explore Southampton a little more, and have lunch in the city. The rest of us will get back to the ship where me and Deb will have our new cabin ready, and a lot of suitcases to unpack.

At around midday, we will meet up with Angie and Richard again, and go to the Medina for lunchtime snacks and drinks.

Then the new cruise will begin. There will be some new crew including four of the entertainment team, and about 1700 new passengers. There may even be some children.

Aurora will set of in the evening, and turn left at the Isle of Wight, and eventually sail north towards Norway. There will be two sea days before we reach our first destination, and a new adventure can begin.

Hopefully we will have internet service again soon to update you all on our slightly different adventure.

Thanks to all the many readers who have been keeping an eye on our progress, and I hope you continue to read about what we are up to.

The fire has gone out, and the ice beckons.

Fire and Ice Part 48

Continuation of Monday 25th February – Sea Day

Well, the Battle of the Sexes was virtually a draw with maybe a point between the ladies and gents, but overall, the men are way ahead before tomorrow’s final round. At least the contest has been polite. On the World cruise two years ago, it was not a pleasant atmosphere with taunting and quite nasty comments flying around.

Deb and I met up again at about 1:00 for lunch in the buffet. When we returned to the cabin the open deck around the Riviera Pool was almost empty, apart from some very hardened fresh air lovers tucked away in sheltered sunny spots…and of course the smokers. They now have an electric heater installed to allow them some comfort as they smoke themselves to an early grave.

The afternoon didn’t afford much entertainment except for the Aurora choir performance. I didn’t go. It is a disappointment that the imagination of the pianist does not stretch to some new songs. Paul is very talented with musical ability, but the songs are the same as for many previous performances. They stretch the amateur singers, but singing the same song does not excite regular singers. More importantly the audience for these performances deserve better.

That performance was followed by a talk from the Ukulele teacher on the merits of the Beatles verses the Beach Boys. I am sure that appealed to many passengers, but having lived through it, I prefer to remember my own thoughts of the time.

We went for afternoon tea at 3:00 as usual. The buffet was packed. I do like the changes to the service provided up there now. At breakfast Andrew parades around offering the choice of “Hot, hot special tea and coffee” enhanced over the last few weeks with his desire to fetch fruit juice for his customers. At lunchtime he now insists on distributing “Special cold, cold water” as the people take their seats. Afternoon tea has another tea and coffee waiter making the event similar to downstairs in the restaurant, but with self-service choice of snacks.

Anyway, after our tea break, it was hardly more than a brief period to relax before it was time to prepare for the evening. Tonight, it would begin with a final cocktail party to round off this wonderful cruise. The captain reminded us how he at the opening party he said we would have an adventure, and although there had been a few awkward moments, it certainly has been that adventure.

The six of us from the dinner table made the most of the free drinks and chatted to various people who have shared our seven weeks, and made it yet another memorable cruise. A great deal of our enjoyment has come from the hard-working entertainment team, especially Scott and Georgie who are leaving the ship when we get back to Southampton.

Good luck to you both, and I hope we end up on the same ship together again soon.

After drinkies, it was dinner and although the Marco Pierre White menu wasn’t very interesting, we all found something to eat as we chatted and laughed away the hour and a bit. As we got up to leave, our waiter brought over the bundle of menus to take away as yet another souvenir, and then begged us to wait a moment. He went to his little squirrel store and came back with three napkins full of…Turkish delight chocolates. He (and his assistant) have been wonderful. They will be moving to the Freedom Dining restaurant on the next cruise, and he will be missed.

None of us bothered with Mike Doyle’s comedy act.

It is difficult to offer an entertainment programme that satisfies every passenger’s taste, but on the three long cruises we have been on in the last ten years, the choices of acts have been so very similar. Solo singers with tributes to other singers. Comedians who have entertained audience for many decades with acts that have hardly altered. So many acts that failed to win the ever-increasing number of television talent shows. These extended special cruises deserve better. We pay a premium to sail on these cruises, but don’t get the variety of acts that the run of the mill fortnight in the Mediterranean bargain cruisers receive.

Ok, rant over for now. We fought valiantly in the quizzes and were one point away in the early one, and then second in the Syndicate to round off the night.

We will try again on the next cruise, in the hopes that there are slightly fewer amazing trivia teams compared to the Glums and others who have pipped us at the post so often.

Defeated but happy the six of us made our way to bed. Deb and I walked across the open Riviera Pool area for a final gasp of fresh air before our penultimate night in cabin A136. The sea has calmed, and the wind softened its attack on Aurora. Tomorrow it will be all about temporarily packing our bits before the move down three decks to our new cabin.

Goodnight.

Fire and Ice Part 47

Sunday 24th February – Sea Day (continued)

Our afternoon ended with another rocking and rolling shower, although not as bad as it was before the Azores. Then we took on the Individual Quiz, that was in Champion’s for a change. There was a Beetle Drive in Vanderbilt’s. I’ve not heard of those for decades.

Almost every night to round off our dinner, the waiter gives us treats of extra chocolates. Tonight, it was Turkish Delight chocolates, and he knows these are the favourites. On the last occasion we had them, he found a bag full of them to take away with us, but tonight a different waiter had got the spares, and we missed out. Never mind, we eat enough chocolate anyway.

After dinner we lost the early quiz. Along with Robin and Rosemary, we went to Carmen’s to watch Debra Stephenson. She is good at the voices and her singing is also good, but the bits in between are rather dis-jointed and spoils what could be a superb act.

After that, the six of us re-united in Champion’s for the late-night history challenge. Yet again we talked ourselves out of correct answers, but would still have been beaten by a superb team that win most things – as long as the Glums are missing.

When we returned to the cabin, we discovered a piece of towel art of a rabbit. This is the first time for many cruises that we have had one of these.

Aurora was steadily making progress north east towards Southampton, and although still jiggling and rolling, it is comfortable enough to hopefully get a good sleep.

Monday 25th February – Sea Day

Just two days at sea now before we reach Southampton.

We gained another hour during the night, and that brings us back to British time, but it meant we lost an hour of sleep.

Aurora is galloping along at about 17 knots, and at 10:00, although some way west of the Bay of Biscay, we are about a third of the way across this stretch of water.

It is a grey day with mist in the distance, the wind is still bashing us from the south at Force 7 and the sea is described as Moderate.

Deb and I had breakfast in the Medina with Eggs Benedict as the special. We didn’t stay there long as deb had to get to Fit Steps again. Meanwhile I spent nearly half an hour fixing the website again. I had exceeded my backup file storage limit, and it took ages to remember where I had to go to delete old files. What a stupid system that saves all the backup files for ever, until the limit is exceeded. At that moment the website will no longer accept new posts, and you get an email telling you off, and suggesting you buy more data space.

Having read the news this morning, it seems I have watched two Oscar winning films on this cruise:

Bohemian Rhapsody and First Man, and as I suggested yesterday, Bohemian Rhapsody was far superior.

I could also have seen the Green Book (best film) which was shown on the ship just a few days ago.

When Deb returned from Fit Steps we had a coffee in Raffles to finish our Costa Card, and then reclaimed a bottle of wine we bought in the Dominican Republic that was confiscated when we came on board there. Strange really, as we had brought three bottles of rum onto the ship several days earlier, and they were allowed to stay with us.

One final task for the cruise was when Deb returned the library book she was attempting to read. It didn’t appeal so went back unfinished. The only outstanding task now (apart from the move) is to finish off the Soft Drinks Card. That should be no problem over the last two days.

We had letter this morning to explain the process when we arrive in Southampton and change cabins. We can swap key cards after 8:00 and the new cabin will be ready by mid-morning. Bags can be left packed in the old room, and clothing left hanging in the wardrobe. The housekeeping team will then move bags and hanging clothes to the new cabin.

While that is going on, us three men will get a taxi back to the hotel to drop a couple of suitcases into our cars, and return to the city to meet up with the ladies, who will be shopping for essentials, and more booze.

The six of us will be back on Aurora by mid-morning, in plenty of time to get good seats in the Medina restaurant for the welcome on board buffet and fizz.

Simples!

Highlights for the rest of today include the Sue Holderness having a face to face chat with Richard from the entertainment team this morning, the Aurora choir performance in the theatre during the afternoon, and Mike Doyle in the theatre this evening.

It will be the final Formal dress code of the cruise with a Gala dinner including the Chef’s Parade.

Well, the morning is whizzing by, and Deb will be off to the penultimate Battle of the Sexes humiliation very soon.

Fire and Ice Part 46a

Saturday 23rd  February Evening

As Deb and I were walking down the corridor to the Alexandra dining room, the captain made his announcement to bid farewell to the Azores, and to begin the final thousand or so miles trip back to Southampton. For about 1700 of Aurora’s passengers, this was the last three days of a wonderful voyage where they have seen the delights of the Amazon, the beauty of the Caribbean islands, and a snapshot of some central American countries. The other hundred or so of us, who would be staying on board, saw these three days as a chance to recharge our batteries before beginning the second half of our winter adventure.

Captain Pembridge warned us that the wind is still blowing, and the seas would be lively overnight with swells of up to 9 metres. He suggested this was not as bad as we had experienced for the crossing from Bermuda, but it would make the ship move around. Tomorrow the sea would relax a little and the voyage to Southampton should be quite comfortable.

As expected, the six of us rejected Mike Doyle and the Headliner singers. We camped in Champion’s and took on the exceedingly good quizzers that are on board Aurora on this cruise. Winning scores are always high, and it is not just the Glums who are showing how good they are. We were close in the early evening quiz, and then excelled in the next one to reach a tie break with two other teams. The first tie break left two of us, but we then lost in the second tie break… to the Glums.

We actually felt quite satisfied with our efforts, but knew how close we were.

Buoyant, we went up to the Horizon Buffet for the late-night Syndicate Quiz. Gallantly we tried to compete, but we succeeded in talking ourselves out of several correct answers, and came bottom but one. Robin really wants to win this quiz one night, but I suspect our only chance will be early on the next cruise, before the other teams have sorted themselves out.

By the time we left the buffet, Aurora was jiggling and rolling quite erratically again, and the sound of falling and broken glass was heard again. It was not going to be the calm and peaceful night in the port of Praia de Vitoria.

I think all the passengers enjoyed that treat after four nights of pounding, so thank-you Captain Pembridge for the early arrival.

Sunday Morning 24th February – Sea Day

It is first of the three-day crossing from the Azores to Southampton. At 9:00 Aurora was nearly level with the northern coast of Spain, but a long way to the west. The temperature is about 15°C and with a Force 6 wind, and a moderate sea, the ship is rolling a little, but nothing to upset the sea legs of the passengers who have been on here for nearly two months.

Deb and I were up and having tea in bed by 7:45, and we went to the Medina restaurant for breakfast.

Deb has just gone to the Fit Step session, and has an earlier than usual Battle of the Sexes this morning. This means we can have lunch at a decent time today.

Looking ahead, Mike Doyle is going to have a chat with John Bartram on the theatre stage at 11:15. I am sure he will get a good crowd, but no thanks.

The Ukulele group who have been practicing each sea day, are giving a performance this afternoon, and although the idea of learning to play this instrument is appealing, I don’t think I will be going to listen to this.

The Aurora choir are actually singing at the church service. And no, I am not sad that I won’t be there.

This evening Debra Stephenson will be back in action in Carmen’s, but we will probably go and watch the Headliners with their new show (Applause) in the theatre.

As an alternative to the normal quizzes, there is a game show called ‘The Pursuit’ in Masquerade’s this evening.

Throughout the day the entertainment team are having a special day, where there are double stars for winners, and various games and challenges to win prizes, with even some Prosecco on offer.

Deb and I are planning to spend some of our day sorting out summer clothes to go back to the car in Southampton, and winter clothes to go in the wardrobe for the colder weather to come. Hopefully we can move a fair amount of the things we won’t need anymore to the car on Wednesday to lighten the eventual suitcase mountain at the real end of our adventure.

Well, it is nearly 10:00 so Deb will be back from Fit Steps soon, so coffee time approaches.

Before Deb went to the Battle of the Sexes, we sorted out some clothes, and bits, that we will take to the car on Wednesday, and packed them into a couple of suitcases. The space made in the wardrobe was then used to hang the winter clothes that have been hiding under the bed.

By the time the packing was completed (for now anyway) I was feeling the movement of the ship more than I have done for some time. The physical looking down and grovelling in the wardrobe is always a problem time for my stomach. I left Deb in the cabin while I went and sat in Champion’s to settle my brain down again.

Deb came down a few minutes later for the ‘Battle’ and let me know that someone from the housekeeping team had been and explained the arrangements for Wednesday morning, when we change cabins. It sounds pretty straight forward.

The gents beat the ladies yet again, and are now looking unassailable.

It was time for lunch, and today we just had soup… plus a little pudding.

The afternoon for me was a trip to the cinema to watch ‘The First’ following the story of Neil Armstrong going to the moon. It lasted well over two hours, but I did stay awake throughout.

As a critic who rarely sees films that are this new, it was OK, and better than ‘Jackie’ that we saw a few days ago, but nowhere near as good as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’…

… but I don’t award prestigious awards, and will probably be proved to be ignorant by the Oscar award team tonight.

Well, we have had a cup of tea plus a sausage roll, and now it is almost time to have a shower and a shave in readiness for the evening.

I will be so much happier when we revert to a 6:30 start time for dinner after Wednesday.

Fire and Ice Part 45

Update for Friday 22nd February

Well, as predicted by the Captain yesterday, the winds did eventually drop in strength to a Force 6. The Atlantic rollers also reduced a little, and by Friday afternoon most passengers were beginning to feel a little more comfortable.

Aurora continued its course eastwards towards the Azores at around 20 knots, and an update from the captain suggested he was still hoping to dock in Praia de Vitoria late on Friday night. We all continued to search for things to do about the ship. In the morning Deb enjoyed the film about Mary Queen of Scots, and I just relaxed and updated my blog.

Just after midday Deb returned to the cabin for a brief say before going to the Battle of the Sexes. I watched from a distance as the ladies fell even further behind the gentlemen who have a far wider span of knowledge.

For lunch we slipped our standards and hot a hot dog and chips plus a glass of diet coke each.

In the afternoon we went to the theatre for the final show from Stephen Frost and his gang with their ad-lib scenes based on the audience’s topics. Once again, they were hilarious and it was a pleasure to see this very unusual act.

The evening entertainment had the comedian (Richard Gauntlett) in Carmen’s for his second show, and in the theatre, it was Debra Stephenson who has and impression act with singing.

We went to see Debra Stephenson and although it was a bit of shaky start, it was very good with some very good imitations of singers through the decades.

After that we all met up in Champion’s and waited for any sign that we were arriving in Praia de Vitoria. By the time we had failed in a game of ‘Majority Rules’ and a quiz about Politicians, we could at least see the lights on shore, and knew it wouldn’t be long before we docked.

It was after 11:00 before Aurora finally managed to tie up on the dockside, but there was nothing to see at that time of night.

We would have to wait until the morning to see what this port has to offer. But at least it was going to be a much quieter, and stationary night, and hopefully we will all get some decent sleep.

Saturday 23rd February – Praia De Vitoria, Terceira

The sleep fairies were very generous with us, and I didn’t wake until after 8:00.

We are in the port of Praia De Vitoria on the island of Terceira which is one of the larger of the Azores archipelago.

It is raining.

The wind is blowing at Force 8.

The dockside is so potentially dangerous (because of the wind) that no shuttles are running to and from the town, and no-one is allowed to get off the ship.

The announcement from the Deputy Captain suggested that the weather might improve after lunch, but there was no possibility of anyone getting off the ship because of the possibility that the buses and/or the containers might move in the wind.

Just after 10:00 John Bartram announced a new entertainment programme for the day to keep us amused, but many passengers seemed unable to understand the situation, and simply sat with their coats and bags waiting for a weather miracle to occur.

At about 11:00 I finally managed to see some of the island from our balcony window. Up until then it had just been a raining mist. All I can say is that it is a grey scene with some slightly greenish hills in the background. There are a few white (or grey) houses, and to be honest it could be a scene of any coastal town in Britain in winter.

Yes, this cruise is into the final stages, and getting us ready for Southampton in just four days from now.

I am unable to update my blog site at the moment because something technical has occurred and the site is blanked out. Trying to resolve this using the snail pace ship’s internet is almost impossible, and the next update to the site could be when we return home.

The evening entertainment is comedian Mike Doyle in the theatre, and the Headliner Singers in Carmen’s. I don’t think we will be bothering with either of these shows.

12:00 Midday – An announcement is made to say that we can go ashore, and a number of shuttle buses arrive on the quayside.

The message also warned people that most of the shops are shut, and there has been some flooding, and the wind is still blowing, and it is still raining.

Deb and I decided to have lunch before making any plans to step onto Portuguese soil.

1:00 – It is a long way from the dock to the nearby town. Deb checked the information, and shops shut here on Saturday at 1:00. It is still raining, and the wind is awful, so we decided to stay put on the ship.

During the late morning, and early afternoon I spent about an hour buying some reading books from Kindle, and then downloading them to my kindle reader. This is not easy as I cannot do it direct from the kindle reader – well I probably could, but it doesn’t have a proper keyboard.

Hence, I had to buy on my tablet, and then deliver it to the kindle. Then I had to go onto the kindle reader and log in on there and request the delivery is made.

Why don’t you use the tablet to read the books, I hear you ask”.

Well, that is the easy solution, but I prefer the reading screen on the little old-fashioned kindle reader.

… Yes, I am stubborn.

With that little task finally sorted out, I gave our children a phone call. Today, as we are in Portugal, my mobile has free minutes to use. For the cruise so far the charge has been £2.70 a minute, so would only be used if really necessary. We managed to speak to our daughter and at least we know everything seems fine at home. Our son was not available however, and perhaps watching football somewhere, or even the rugby.

Never mind, I am sure someone would have told us if there was anything we needed to know.

Well, it is after 2:00 now and the wind is still whistling through the tiny gaps in our balcony door, and outside it is misty and drizzling. It would have been nice to go ashore and stretch our legs, but there is no pressing need.

We will set off again this evening for the final leg of the cruise back to Southampton. The weather isn’t good to begin with, but the hopes are for a reasonably comfortable three days to Britain. Of course, we still know that it is winter, and we are sailing through a cold Atlantic Ocean.

Some good news is that the blog website has been restored. When a good number of passengers went ashore, the internet speeded up sufficiently for me to get to the host server people and had an online chat to one of the agents. He fixed it in less than 2 minutes by updating my ‘something or other’ to version 7.2.

Totally ignorant of what he did, I said thanks and goodbye.

Thank-you very much Mr Host Papa support person.

So, now I am able to post this section of the diary for the world to see what we are doing.

I am sure there will be at least one more update on here before we arrive in Southampton, where we are changing cabins, and clothing, before setting off towards Norway.

Fire and Ice Part 44

Friday 22nd February – Final Sea Day to the Azores

The clocks were put forward again during the night, and we are just one hour behind UK time. That time change meant that many passengers (including us) were reluctant to wake up this morning. I finally gave up the warm comfortable bed at 7:45 and made a cup of tea. We drank that in bed with our pills, and Deb downloaded her newspaper, and I dozed again.

Now, what about the weather?

Yesterday morning the captain finally came on the PA to update matters. He reported that the storm that was causing us so much discomfort was moving away, but it had stirred up the Atlantic Ocean so much that we would be continuing to feel its affects for some time. The wind at that moment was a Force 9, and by lunchtime our navigation channel was showing Force 10 which equates to a serious gale.

The sea looked as if the waves were totally out of control, and seeming coming towards us from all directions. Many of these waves were huge but difficult to equate real size. Aurora was riding up and down the roller-coaster of an ocean, and progress was a corkscrew motion as she pitched and rolled at the mercy of the wind and waves. The sea remained an angry grey with foam between the waves, and spray flying away from the tops.

That was bad enough, but every few minutes the monster waves would appear, and Aurora would keel over even further. That often resulted in crashing sounds around the ship as glasses, and display cabinets gave up clinging to their surfaces.

It was now the third day of these conditions, and Aurora’s passengers had gone into hibernation mode in any relatively stable lounges. Anderson’s was the most favoured spot and almost all the tables were surrounded by people reading, or simply sleeping off the uncomfortable motion. Champion’s is always a popular spot in these conditions, but the shops had taken up occupation of this lounge with their latest selection of expensive bargains.

Deb did go to Fir Steps although it was very much a gentle revision session. I went to the talk from Paul Stickler about the ‘Green Bicycle Murder’ and just as the day before, I fell asleep several times and completely missed the plot.

During his announcement, the captain also outlined our progress towards the Azores. Aurora has been steaming at around 20 knots since we left Bermuda and the plan is that we will be arriving off the Azores early tomorrow evening. He wants to give us a night without motion so we can have a decent sleep. The ship may not get clearance for passengers to get off, but at least we will be tied alongside.

Of course, this still depends on sea conditions. There is a window in the weather between stormy conditions, and it is hoped that will be sufficient to get into port. My concerns are that when we leave the Azores, we will be back in another major storm for a bumpy ride back to Southampton.

We have to trust the captain will do his best for us.

It seems that Ventura is having a worse time than us on its voyage south towards the Caribbean. Being larger, its shape is a huge sail, and is being pushed around far worse than Aurora.

Anyway, Deb and I met up after the Battle of the Sexes and had a bumpy lunch up in the buffet. The movement was making it difficult to move around the ship, and sometime downright dangerous as the waves pounded our home. I saw a nurse in the lift at one point, and she said that there were lots of accidents around the ship, but fortunately no one had been hospitalised.

Lunch over Deb and I went to the theatre for a show from a group of radio people from the ‘Whose Lines Is It’ programme. There were four of them led by Stephen Frost. They had performed the day before as well, and the show was heralded as being marvellous. So, the audience was swelled today, and yes, it was hilarious. Based on the four of them ad-libbing a scene to subjects suggested by the audience. The farce was made even funnier by the antics on stage being affected by the ship’s motion.

They will be in the theatre again today, and we are certainly going back to watch.

At dinner the storm’s affects were seen again. The wine glasses had been removed from tables, and only brought out when someone ordered a drink. Twice the giant waves came along during the meal, and the first time resulted in crashing bottles, and any unused cutlery on the tables sliding off to the floor. The second time was similar and our waiter just managed to get his hand on a pile of main courses before they found a lower resting point as well.

With dinner over, we went to Champion’s for the early quiz. There was more crashing around us but Aurora’s passengers were now accepting most things and ignoring odd items sliding around beneath their feet. After the quiz the other four went to the theatre to watch a tribute to Annie Lennox. We made the most of a chance to have a rest in the cabin.

In Carmen’s there was a return of the male singing duo.

When we returned to Champion’s we felt the power of the waves again. Deb and I were sitting quite happily on chairs, but one of the freak waves moved the chairs and us across the floor for about a foot. This was not concerning, but very amusing.

By 10:30 our evening was over, and the six of us made our way to bed. I think the 1800 passengers were really hoping the wind would drop, and the waves would relax a little. For most of us, a decent sleep was really overdue.

So, this morning (Friday) it was quite a pleasant surprise to realise that the worst was over – even if just temporarily.

The wind has dropped to a Force 7, and the sea state is now simple ‘Rough’ rather than ‘Very Rough’ which we have suffered for 2 days.

Deb and I had breakfast in the Medina. The waves are still making the ship rock and roll, but nowhere near as much as the last three days and nights. Huge herds of white horses are still dancing on the sea around us, and the wind is whistling through any open door. People have finally been allowed to go on the Promenade Deck to get some exercise, but I can see them staggering at times past the window adjacent to where I am typing this.

Deb missed Fit Step this morning, as she has gone to the cinema to watch ‘Mary Queen of Scots’. As This didn’t appeal to me, and I have also decided not to go the Murder Talk to avoid the embarrassment of falling asleep again. We will meet up later when Deb goes to the Battle of the Sexes, and then we can have lunch together.

After lunch we plan to go and see Stephen Frost and his merry men again as they perform in the theatre.

Hopefully the captain will also announce some good news soon about the proposed arrival in the Azores. It will be so good to be able to move around the ship without our leg muscles fighting to maintain our balance and our dignity for a few hours.

Fire and Ice Part 43

Thursday 21st February – Sea Day 3

Sorry I have not posted anything for a day, but the expected bad weather arrived.

It is Thursday morning now and I am sitting in Charlies which is my favoured spot on the ship when the sea is angry.

… and yes, the sea is really angry.

When I last posted the diary on Tueday, the wind was showing off its power at a Force 6 and making the sea annoyed and producing some quite large waves. Yesterday (Tuesday) the wind gathered strength and reached Force 8, and the sea was making little Aurora pitch and roll around rather seriously. Passengers were looking for quiet spots where the sea was not visible, or making the most of the theatre for talks by anyone and everyone. Dancing lessons were becoming a bit of a comedy act, and any thoughts of using the outside decks had been long forgotten.

Secret stores of blue towels were thrown into showers and baths. The sun was occasionally putting in an appearance, but the temperatures were now well below 20°C and getting cooler by the hour. Meeting people in the corridors was a lottery as to where the person coming towards you would go left or right, and rails or handles became very popular for even the steadiest of salty sea dog.

The wind could be heard inside the ship, and it was a constant roar that was accompanies by creaking of wooden panels and random clanking of bits of metal in the bulkheads.

On Wednesday afternoon I was reading in the comfort of Charlies watching the shop workers attempting to convince passengers to buy their special offers. The ship was rolling quite erratically by now, and a sudden lurch that tilted Aurora even further was accompanies by crashing sound that sounded expensive. In the shop, all the drawers of jewellery had opened and the stand of sunglasses had fallen over.

At dinner we could see the amazing power of the sea through the window, and the waves were enormous. There were more crashes as the rolling action continued to worsen, and this time the crashing sound came from the nearby galley.

As the six of us made our way to the theatre we discovered our way was blocked. On one of the rolls, the waves had actually got to Promenade deck level and water had flooded in via one of the sets of doors. The carpet was sodden, and the corridor was temporarily closed. This happened again a little later, and there were two patches with drying blowers were attempting to restore main passenger corridor.

I said earlier about the popularity of the theatre, and I spent much longer in there that day. In the morning while Deb did Fit Step, I watched a talk from Paul Stickler about infamous murders, and most of the theatre seats were occupied. I didn’t hang on for the following talk by Sue Holderness as I already knew what it would be about, but more people were coming into the theatre as I was leaving.

Paul Stickler’s talk was interesting enough that I decided I would go to more of them over the coming days.

The only problem I had with the talk, was that being so tired from a lack of sleep during the bumpy night, I was quickly dozing and missed a couple of important bits of the talk.

In the evening we all went to watch a Soul/Motown act and enjoyed the relative stillness of this venue. The singing was very good, but the orchestra was overpowering the three men, and the production was awful with gaps between the singers cueing the music, it began. They also showed their attempts to be American and demanded a standing ovation. Yes some of the sheep did stand on command, but the majority of us will give such high praise when we think it is deserved. And once again my tiredness made me doze, even though the volume was incredibly loud.

I am not sure if we will go to their next show.

Wednesday evening ended with us just missing out on a quiz win, but we are relatively satisfied this week as we did win the night before.

Wet carpets were forgotten and it was time for bed. Aurora was still pitching and rolling and after 48 hours of this we were getting tired of fighting the movement while we attempted to go on with life as normal.

Thursday Morning

The wind has increased even further and the navigation channel showed that we were experiencing Force 9 since 3:00 in the night. The sea that had been colourful blues just a few days ago, is now a dark grey and it is boiling with froth everywhere. The waves are relentless and the view from the window is of the sea half way down the Promenade rails for a moment before rising to nearly the top of the window as the ship rolls.

Deb is in Fit steps again and I will be off to the theatre soon to watch Paul Stickler, assuming I manage to keep my eyes open long enough.

This is the sort of day when the entertainment team show what they are made of. Yesterday the only extra thing put on the programme was an old film in the theatre during the afternoon. I really don’t think they are doing very well to occupy the lives of nearly 2000 passengers who are struggling to find something to do.

I know they work hard, but they were warned of the extended bad weather, and the response has been almost zero.

We have another day tomorrow at sea, and there is no suggestion that the weather will improve very much. Many of us doubt we will stop in the Azores on Saturday, as the forecast is for bad conditions at the planned port with very strong winds.

Of course, to put the situation into context, we have had nearly 50 days of superb weather and this final week of less than wonderful weather is a price worth paying for the holiday we have had.

I will speak again soon about the remainder of Thursday, and Friday.

Fire and Ice – Part 42

Sea Days to The Azores

As Aurora set off from Bermuda in the middle of Monday afternoon, the passengers to start getting used to being at sea for four days. To make matters slightly less positive, the captain announced that we were sailing into a Force 9 storm that would dominate our weather for the trip to Praia De Vitoria.

Considering how much good weather we have experienced since January 4th, I accept that our luck had to run out eventually.

I actually checked the sea conditions online for the next few days, and this storm was being shown as a ‘Developing Hurricane’.

… I think I prefer the captain’s storm.

Back to now, and the evening began with a slightly less interesting menu for dinner, then a failure of a quiz. The other four trotted off to the theatre to watch ‘Il Destino’ (Italian for ‘fate or destiny’) in the theatre. It seems they walked out after a few minutes because it was not overly entertaining. From the theatre they grabbed some good seats in Carmen’s for the Crew Show. That turned out to be very good, and far more popular than ‘Il Destino’.

We didn’t bother with either. Deb was interested, and I had a headache and was overheating, possibly from the hour in the sunshine.

At 10:00 we all met up again for another attempt at the Syndicate Quiz. We started atrociously, but came back strong to be in the pack behind the eventual winners.

… no, not the Glums

Bedtime.

Aurora was jiggling and rolling a bit, but I was quote confident of a quiet sleep.

Tuesday 19th February – Sea Day 1

Well I did sleep rather well, and was reluctant to get up at 7:15. This was due to he clocks going forward again during the night. We are now just 3 hours ahead of home.

We had breakfast in the Horizon Buffet, and it was quite obvious now that the weather is getting a little lively. The navigation channel started the morning saying it was Force 6 and the sea was slight, but by 10:00 it was changed to Force 7 and Rough. The wind is blowing us around, as it is coming from the North west quadrant, and we are sailing just north of east.

The sky is cloudy, and it hadn’t risen above 20° by the middle of the morning, and got even cooler as the day went on.

It was time today to refill our medicine pill pots from the supplies in our First Aid cupboard. I have now begun the final set of prescription pills, and the cupboard is beginning to empty.

Deb had her Fit Step session before we had a mid-morning hot drink. After that we relaxed for 30 minutes before I went to the theatre to watch Sue Holderness describe her career that was mainly her time with Only Fools and Horses.

I had seen it before on two occasions, and won’t be bothering with her later shows.

Life in the cabin is a little up and down, and back and forth. The wind is not getting any better but I am surviving quite well with the movement.

I watched the Battle of the Sexes, and watched as the ladies slipped even further behind the gentlemen. I know it is all pot luck as to what questions you get, but the question setter is definitely asking more on subjects that the men have a better chance of knowing, and sometimes the ‘hard’ question option (with higher number of points to win) is extremely simple.

It was time for lunch, and we visited the buffet again. We had soup today that was quite nice, and far healthier than the hot dog or pizza and chips from the grab and go counter. Sadly, I also grabbed a hot ‘jam roly poly’ pudding with custard.

After lunch, there was nothing to grab our interest, and Deb put on a load of washing. Once that is completed, there will be sufficient to last us the remainder this 55 day element of our adventure.

It is 2:00 now, and Deb has just gone back to the laundrette. The drying and ironing will probably take another hour yet.

The sea is pretty dramatic with quite high rollers lifting Aurora as she ploughs on at over 20 knots. Y head and stomach are still happily in sync, but if this continues for the many hours forecasted, it might get a little too much for me.

The entertainment tonight is the Headliners in Carmen’s performing their Queen tribute show. In the theatre is a multi-talented man called Richard Gauntlet, may well be someone we have seen before. I thin Deb and I will go to that show.

There is ‘Spin it to win it’ back in Masquerade’s, and a Factual TV quiz in Champions. I don’t expect we will make our mind up until after dinner, as what we will be doing.

The clocks are going forward again tonight, so this means less sleep again.

Fire and Ice Part 41

Bermuda

Aurora gently arrived in Bermuda at about 4:00 in the afternoon of Saturday 16th February. It was damp and misty making it difficult to fully appreciate the beauty of this island. We were docked at The Royal Naval Dockyard and were the only cruise ship for the duration of our extended stay. There was a bit of a breeze, and the sea was a little lumpy, but I think all of us were looking forward to a couple of still nights, and comfortable sleep.

We were going to have a cabin party this evening – just because we could – and that would be followed by a meal in the Beach House for the six of us.

It was a wonderful evening with our little band of friends chatting, laughing, and generally enjoying the ship’s life. It is now over two years since we met on the 2017 world Cruise, and we remain friends, and while we make our own entertainment in the daytime, the evenings are very much spent together.

After the meal, where we all ate too much, we camped in Champion’s for a late night quiz based on song intros through the decades. Of course we lost, but it was to someone whose knowledge of music deserved to win.

It was time for bed, and hopefully a still night’s sleep.

Sunday 17th February – Bermuda

Yes it was a good night. We woke as our neighbours (noisily) had their breakfast delivered, and the sun was shining onto our balcony. It was blindingly bright from a blue sky, and we hoped for a dry and warm day.

Breakfast was in the Medina Restaurant and after that we could begin to truly appreciate this port.

Built by the British Navy the harbour area was a naval garrison with a sheltered bay for the ships. It is built from the local Limestone and is truly spectacular. With the ships and sailors gone, the area has been converted into a busy tourist haven along with a ferry terminal going to and from the island extremes. What was barracks is now a complex of shops, restaurants, and a museum. The only bit not in use appears to be the old prison which is derelict, but I am sure that will eventually be used to make money from the regular cruise ships.

Deb and I were on a tour and we trotted off the ship and along the dockside at about 9:30. We were going on a mini-bus trip almost completely around the island to the Crystal Caves. The drive took almost an hour, and we passed through the parishes with British sounding names on the single track bendy roads of the island. Our guide pointed out the highlight houses, beaches, villages, churches, and even popular restaurants on this sleepy Sunday morning.

Once at the caves we left our guide’s care for about 45 minutes, and were left in the hands of a local knowledgeable guide as we walked down a slope, and a lot of steps to the cavern below.

It was a spectacular visit. The cave was discovered in1907 by a couple of boys who had lost their cricket ball. It has now become a major tourist attraction.

The cave has been lit up and shows off the thousands of limestone stalactites and stalagmites that have formed over thousands of years. At the bottom there is a sea water lake that lifts and falls with the tides, and a floating bridge allows the visitor to see the beauty of the limestone features that are submerged in the crystal-clear water. It is not just pillars and icicle like spikes. Some have grown sideways like whiskers of limestone and others look like coral with vertical and horizontal sheets with holes and crinkly edges.

The water also has lighting to create a magical sight, and the guide alternating between the main lighting, and just the water lights. He also turned all the lights off for us to experience total darkness.

With our tour of the cave over, we spent a few dollars on souvenirs, and then returned to the mini-bus for the drive back to Aurora. We went along a slightly different route and were introduced to some other parts and spectacles of the island.

The island is not high rise. Houses are low and vary in size small to the amazingly super ones for the richest. Nearly all of them have tiered white roofs, and the guide/driver was asked what they were made of. It seems almost everyone uses limestone tiles that then painted with a sealing layer. The tiles are arranged with tiers to form water ways that guide the rain into a drain-pipe. That takes the clean water to storage tanks that houses are built in the basement areas. This water is then pumped around the house as necessary. There is no piped water as standard.

As well as the countryside, we drove through a quiet Hamilton where Sunday means most things are closed.

Further on we stopped outside the island’s aquarium where there was a pond with turtles swimming around. And I mean large turtles a metre or more across.

Near to this pond was a road bridge with the sea on either side. The ocean sea is to one side, and flows through a gap in the rocks as the tide rises, to fill what appears to be a lake on the other side. Then as the tide drops, the water rushes out again towards the ocean. This is quite a spectacle.

We moved on again. Our guide continually beeped his horn and when asked why, he explained that the island is small, and everyone knows everyone. The beeps on the horn are just like a wave as friends see each other on the road. We even passed his young son at one point, and as he beeped, we all waved to him. He gave a wonderful smile of enjoyment at this simple gesture.

His older son is a yacht’s man and helped during the recent Americas Cup race held by Bermuda. He is only 14 but has been invited to New Zealand twice to help with crews out there.

We had one last stop at the lighthouse which is apparently the tallest metal lighthouse in the Western world. This was just a photo opportunity to capture images from all around this long thin island.

By 2:00 we were back at the docks, and returning to Aurora for lunch.

It had been a simple, but delightful morning’s trip on this beautiful island.

After lunch Deb and I had a walk around the dock area looking at the shops. This was when we discovered just how expensive this island is. On the earlier drive we had been told how very expensive the houses on the island were, and now we saw evidence that everything is similarly highly priced. We didn’t buy anything to add to our morning’s fridge magnet, and souvenir.

Back on board our ship, we relaxed until dinner time. I was exhausted, and my hip has been really painful for a couple of days now.

Our dinner table just had us, plus Angie and Richard. The others were on an evening tour on a glass bottom boat, that we would be going on tomorrow morning.

Later we met up for a game/quiz called Hullabaloo. It was just twenty questions where the answer had to be taken up to a desk within 60 seconds. We had an awful beginning with questions on films and television, but came back well. We didn’t win and nor did the Glums.

That was enough for the day. It was time for a second night of still sleep.

Tomorrow we have a tour in the morning, and then Aurora will be setting sail again across the Atlantic to the Azores, before the final leg to Southampton.

Monday 18th February – Bermuda again

Yes it was another lovely sleep. We woke early – yes breakfast next door again – and we slowly came to life with a cup of tea and our morning pills.

Breakfast was taken in the Medina again (eggs Benedict for Debs) and then we had an hour before going away on our trip.

The sun is shining again, and the temperature was trying to make us feel warm. We walked along the dockside in plenty of time for our boat trip, and enjoyed the comfortable temperature in the beautiful setting.

Our boat trip took us for about an hour’s relaxing trip along the coast of Bermuda before turning out towards a coral reef. We all began the trip sitting on the top of the boat while the guide talked about her home, the economy, the coral reefs, and lots of other bits and pieces about Bermuda.

Then as we approached the reef, we went down to the lower part of the boat where there were glass panels allowing us to see what was beneath us. There were all kinds of coral growth with different textures and colour. Some were like stems of a plant, while others were similar to balls of cactus. There were fish moving around below us, but as the water is much cooler than in the Caribbean, the fish were not the multi coloured tropical ones we have seen in the last few weeks.

Our boat then moved to a wreck site where there were more fish, and coral that over the decades has grown to cover the ship.

As the boat moved back into deeper water for the return trip, the guide now became a barmaid and sold us the Bermuda equivalent of Rum Punch called a ’Swizzle’. It was very nice, so we had a second. For most of the trip back to the dock, Deb and I stood on the top deck of our boat and simply enjoyed the beautiful scenes of Bermuda passing by.

It is a wonderful island, but not somewhere we could envisage living with the cost of living. One fat our guide told us, was that Bermuda had recently had the accolade of having the most expensive cost of living in the world.

We boarded Aurora again having spent nothing except for the 12 dollars on two drinks each.

It was lunchtime again.

After nourishment we spent an hour on the top deck in the sunshine. We suspect this will be one of the last opportunities to give our skin some warmth from the golden globe for a few months.

Tonight is another formal dress code evening, so before very long we will be showering and choosing some of the finest from our wardrobe.

The entertainment in the theatre this evening is two male singers called ‘Il Destino’ but I doubt we will be in their audience. There is more chance that we will go to Carmen’s for the traditional ‘Crew Show’ where we can laugh at the antics of the boys and girls who have looked after us for many weeks.

John Bartram has just tempted people to come to the sail-away party as we leave Bermuda.

… I don’t think so!

There are four days at sea now, before we reach the Azores, and the port of Praia de Vitoria.

Our holiday in the warmth is now winding down, and before we realise it, we will be setting off from Southampton again towards Norway.