Day: 28 November 2021

Southampton At Last – Sunday 28th November

I woke before my 07:00 alarm with lights twinkling through a gap in the balcony curtains as we sailed up into Southampton. It was nice to be on calm waters again after the last few stormy sea days. It was also nice to have a phone signal.

We were scheduled for departure at “Cowboy Time”, so we didn’t need to rush up to breakfast. The PG restaurant was open for an early sitting from 07:00 to 08:30, so after a final shower it was nice to be able to go straight up in Lift C to deck 10 and walk across the deck to PG. We were greeted by a lovely sunrise and clear blue skies, it was very chilly though, so I was glad to be wrapped up warm.

Fully fueled I was now ready to get off the ship, so we said a final farewell to Sachin and Karen who had, so ably, looked after us for the last 13 days and headed back to the soon to wait for our departure time. We have been instructed to leave directly from the room, which is the same as our August disembarkation. Unlike August though the Air Bridge seems to be working.

We picked up our hand luggage and after checking the room for one last time, headed down at 09:45 to finally leave the ship. Departing was painless and after collecting all our bags, we had the short walk to CPS to collect the car and head off.

Disembarkation, Not! – Saturday 27th November

We had everything packed and shipped out ready for disembarkation last night and were taking advantage of the extra hour in bed as the clocks had gone back overnight. We’d decided to have a late breakfast as our disembarkation time had been put back to 13:00, so after a relaxed shower we headed up to the PG for one last time for food and collect the menus that our waiter had been collecting for us. After breakfast, we said our goodbyes and on leaving the restaurant Ionel, the Head Waiter said see you later which I thought was a little strange.

Back in the cabin, Jane set the timer for 30 mins as she wanted us to do a lateral flow test before going to her Dad’s. While waiting for that to happen there was an announcement from the Captain saying that it was far too dangerous for us to enter Southampton and that we would now not arrive at the Mayflower Terminal until tomorrow morning. This isn’t massive issue for us, we’ve not a long drive to Jane’s Dad’s place, and the dog is with a friend plus I’m not back at work for a week. I can imagine it is a real issue for others though.

I’ve heard tales of a Canadian couple for whom this is really problematic because of COVID test timings and having to reschedule flights.

They are making calls for people requiring their luggage to collect it from the Queen’s room.

I grabbed a couple of ours so that I had a Jacket for dinner and Jane wanted a complimentary top for her slacks. I nearly had a heart attack carting them up three flights back to our room wearing a facemask.

Jane wasn’t feeling well as the swell was bringing on her nausea, so I was dining alone again. While in PG the ship was canted right over with the cross winds with the horizon just sitting at the top of the PG windows and my glass of water showing a distinct tilt

It was a pain not to have a phone signal, but as one guest observed we were sailing outside British waters to allow the shops to open. Every so often we got within range of a phone mast and we got occasional service, but not enough to make a difference. The afternoon Trivia quiz was on as usual in the Garden Room so we headed up to meet our table mates for that at 4pm. We made a fairly dismal showing, only scoring 14/20 made worse since we’d recognised some of the questions from August and still got them wrong!

The outside decks were closed and had been pretty much since leaving Gibraltar, so crossing to the Commodore Club was made more awkward by having to descend a deck to be able to go from Stair B to Stair C, so we went to the Grills Lounge for drinks. Jane had a Dark and Stormy, but found it tasted strange. It smelt like it had been made with Whisky to me so she had a chat to the barstaff and it was replaced with a much better one made with Dark Rum.

After a rest back in the room it was back to the PG restaurant for what was hopefully our final dinner. Jane was feeling queasy as it was getting lumpy again so only had soup and salad. I, on the other hand, was feeling fine so started with ham hock terrine and pepper steak.

Final Sea Day – Friday 26th November

That was a lumpy old night. The wind had really got up and coupled with quite a heavy swell we were rocking back and forth all night, accompanied by crashes and the ship’s bow ploughed into the heavy seas. 5001 is a lovely suite, but not one for travellers that are sensitive to noise. Jane never made breakfast, but I popped up to Lido to grab her some Danishes to keep her strength up. Me I headed up to the PG restaurant for a proper breakfast before today’s lectures.

It was the final round of lectures, first up was Dave Mallinder speaking about Frank Sinatra. The second lecture was Cathy O’Dowd who talked about her attempt to conquer the last unclimbed ridge in the Himalayas, Manga Parbat, Pakistan’s infamous “Killer Mountain” She certainly has a flair for the dramatic, and the talk was very entertaining.

Lastly came Dr Sheona Urquhart, who went off on a tangent to her usual Cosmology lectures to talk about a life without satellites and on pre-industrial navigation.

I managed to leave my Kindle in the theatre and by the time I had realised the doors were locked for rehearsal. After a bit of a faff and with help from the Purser’s desk I retreived it in time for lunch in the PG

The weather had taken hold with the outside areas all closed off with red barriers in place at all of the doors to the deck. We decided to sit in the Grills Lounge to chill for a while, but the lumpy seas were making Jane feel unwell so we headed down to the stateroom where Jane could lie down. We missed the 4 O’clock quiz, a combination of sea sickness and last night’s lack of sleep catching up on us.

We decided that since both this and Commodore O’clock were wash outs, we should make the effort and have pre prandial drinks in the Grills Lounge. This allowed Jane to have a Ginger Cosmopolitan, as it would settle her stomach. I rather boringly had my usual.

The menu wasn’t very inspiring for a last night, so I had the Crab Scotch Egg from the A La Carte menu paired with fillet steak. Jane had soup and had a punt on Coconut and Pineapple encrusted Prawns, a good choice apparently.

We got some more news of tomorrow’s arrival, breakfast will be available 8 to 9:30 and the Grills Lounge will be open from 10am. Then it was back to the room to pack up dinner clothes and put the  cases out for collection.