October 13th – At Sea, towards Athens.

I’ve just turned on the ships TV channel to see where we are on the map, we’ve transited the Straits of Messina during the night, and rounded the toe of Italy, we have travelled exactly 2400 nautical miles. The clocks went forward another hour last night, so getting out of bed for my 7am run was difficult. (It’s actually 04.50 in real money). The run was hard, really hard but I managed to grind out 5km, stretch out, and do a few weights, before heading back to the room with a cup of tea for Jane.

On our way down to breakfast we met Gina and Pat, our dinner companions. So we had a table for four. Pat seems to be Jinxed with service, if anyone isn’t getting what they asked for it has invariably been Pat, this morning his prunes didn’t arrive, it was soon sorted though. I was back on the good stuff, kippers and poached eggs. Once that was finished, it was off to the Queen’s Room for Jane’s line dancing class. My fencing class followed, much better attended today, there were five of us, so managed to get several bouts in.

I followed this with the last of Nigel Vardy’s insights lectures, this time it was about him finally completing climbing the highest mountains on the world’s seven largest islands. This one was in Madagascar, again, very interesting.Lunch followed, I had a goat’s cheese salad, followed by Moroccan vegetable Tagine, all very tasty. Once lunch was over we made our way to deck 9 and the sun beds by the Lido pool. We were steaming at 20 kts with a headwind of 15kts, so we had a breezy time on deck, with an apparent wind of 35kts. Still, it was sunny and warm and we had a couple of hours snoozing in the sun before having tea and biccies on the balcony. The homemade biscuits were very good.

And so to our usual five o’clock haunt, the Commodore Club where Jane’s cocktail of the day was a Watermelon Martini, cruiseluvva recommended it, and it was indeed delicious. I had another mocktail, Red Apple Fizz, I just fancied a refresher rather than a beer to start.

October 12th – Continued

Nigel Vardy’s insights lecture was very interesting, it covered his failed attempt at the Himalayas and his misreported demise. During his attempt at the Himalayas, he and his climbing companions were reported missing after being incommunicado during a spell of severe weather. Obviously this was much exaggerated, he failed on his attempt to scale the mountains after contracting frostbite, and discovered the kerfuffle an his return to civilization.

Once the lecture was over, it was time for sunbathing on the sun decks, that, and a spot of clothes washing, before heading to the MDR for lunch. I had a seafood salad, which would have been nice if it wasn’t for the inclusion of grapefruit. Grapefruit is the work of the devil and shouldn’t be allowed in any cuisine. This was followed by Confit Duck Gnocchi and the Raspberry Panacotta.

After lunch we went back to our stateroom where Jane found a leak from the sink, the purser was informed and a maintenance man appeared, fixed the issue and disappeared again. All very efficient. A little bit of relaxing on the balcony, followed by finishing off a film we’d started yesterday and it was time for the Commodore Club. Jane’s cocktail of the day today is a Breakfast Martini, gin, Tripple Sec, lemon and Marmalade! 

She doesn’t like Marmalade, which seems like an oversight when ordering, apparently it’s bitter. Ooops second opinion, she quite likes it in the end, but she’s not ordered another one, ordering a Strawberry Daiquiri instead. Bloody hell, it’s huge!

We’ve a good view of the north coast of Sicily, it’s about 20 miles to the south of us as we lounge in the Commodore Club. We’re losing another hour tonight, moving onto Greek time. It’ll be hard dragging myself out of bed for my 7am run.

Dress for dinner was informal again. We are a table for 10, so we mix it around each evening and tonight I was sat next to Peter, an elderly gentleman, who is about Jane’s dad’s age, from East Herts. And like Jane’s dad, he was a good talker, and like Jane’s dad, we got to explore the same subject several times ?

The meal was the usual high standard. I started with tempura prawns wich really were delicious and had Beef Bourguignon for my main. Dessert was Bana Foster, that was a bit too sweet for my taste, but I ate it all.

I went to bed early because of the time shift, and Jane went to the show with Gina and Pat, it was the singer, Zach Winningham. We had heard he was very good, and according to Jane, he was.

October 12th – En Route to Athens

I’m aching this morning after the Palma bike ride, but I did sleep like a baby which was good. It was all a bit of a rush this morning because the fencing classes were at 08.45, so I was in the gym nice and early and did my 5km, I must be getting better at it as I didn’t bang my head today. I got down to breakfast after a quick shower to find it wasn’t open yet. How sad is that? You should be too late for breakfast when on holiday, but too early……Anyway I ended up in the Lido and had kedgeree again, there’s something very nice about curry for breakfast.

I got to fencing nice and early to find it was only myself and the instructor, Janet. Luckily a third person turned up, but unfortunately she was new and rather timid, which isn’t an asset when getting stabby. We ran through the basics again, before the new person cried off, this left just myself and Janet to have a couple of bouts. It was fast, furious and very hard work.

Another quick shower and I popped down to the Queen’s room where Jane was taking a line-dancing class. It’s still carnage out there, but they are getting better. It must be difficult being an experienced line-dancer as most on the floor look to be at Jane’s level.

I’m off to see Nigel Vardy’s insights lecture at 11am, the first I’ve attended on the cruise, all the others have clashed with fencing, so I’m looking forward to being educated

October 11th – Leaving Palma

Even though I had sorted out the Three data sim, the internet was bloody slow, I only had a 3G connection and it took ages to upload the photo to the previous blog. It took that long, that I had to order another drink, Pedigree for me this time and a Black Bellini for Jane. We sae the first bad weather of the cruise, a squall passed over while we were docked, and it bucketed down for about 5 minutes, the proverbial stair rods. But as soon as it started, it was over and we were blessed with blue skys again.

This meant that we were a little late leaving the Commodore Club, breaking the dress code by at least 30 minutes. After a shortened nap, it was off for dinner. Tonight was an informal night, which gave Jane a chance to wear her new black and white cocktail dress. It looks like it will be the only outing for this dress, 5 days in and things are getting a little tight. 

Dinner maintained the excellent standard of meals we have had so far, I had fish cakes (prawn and salmon) followed by steamed sea bass. Jane was very pleased to see her favourite dessert on the menu tonight, Chocolate Volcano cake with white chocolate icecream. After petit fours we were off the the Royal Court theatre for an extra portion of cheese. The Cunard singers and Dancers were performing their interpretation of “Palladium Nights”. I quite enjoyed it, but I couldn’t be telling Jane that ?

October 11th – Palma de Mallorca

I had a good sleep, waking about 20 minutes before my alarm. After puffing my way up 6 decks, I got to the gym to find two old boys on the treadmills having a walk. Surely  it’d be a damned sight more interesting walking around deck 3 (three laps is 0.9 miles) than walking on a treadmill. Running is bad enough, but I’m not allowed to run on deck 3 before 8am and after 8am, dodging the mobile chicanes is hard work. Anyhow, I was doing quite well, but must have been getting tired as at about 5km, there was a slight swell and I ended up nutting the corner of the ceiling. I was covered in blood where I had cut my head. The Spa staff obviously hadn’t pulled the machines back a bit. It wasn’t too bad, so I finished my run and the it was off to breakfast.

I was bad, very bad. I had my first “Full English” and suprisingly they had black pudding, lovely. My excuse was I needed the calories because today is our first shore excursion. We were off on a Scenic bicycling tour of Palma Old Town.

Jane was starting to panic, how many years was it since she’d even been on a bicycle, 40? Oh dear! Given the demographic of Cunard cruises it was never going to be that strenuous. There were 15 of us climbing on to the shuttle bus that would transfer us into Palma to pick up the bikes. After a quick safety talk, we saddled up and set off. The tour was uneventful, no major injuries, and only one person fell off into a hedge and shredded his skin. The tour itself was very informative and we would do it again. Four hours after setting off we returned more than a little knackered, for a well deserved lunch in the Lido. Jane got her pizza craving fixed, a lovely, made to order pizza. Me, I had a burger and a brattie from the Lido grill with a salad.

I then spent about a hour trying to sort out the roaming data on my 3 data sim. That was fixed just in time to repair to the Commodore Club where I’ve had another Atlantic Mist, and Jane’s cocktail of the day today is the QE2 – nice apparently, a heady mix of Cognac, Gran Marnier, Vermouth, lime, lemon and Greadine.

October 10th – Continued

Two of our dinner companions turned up in the Commodore Club, Pat and Gina, so we chatted with them while dolphin spotting out over the bow of the ship, we were rewarded with our first sighting of bone fide dolphins, proper jumping out of the water ones. The previous sightings we’d had on this trip were so far away they could have been anything. Anyway, dolphin spotting is thirsty work, so Jane needed a refresher, Rhubarb Daiquiri this time.

We had another full house for dinner tonight, and the chatter around the table was lively and interesting. I had Pea and Ham Hock Bisque, which tasted just like pea and ham soup, followed by a Caesar salad and the pork chop for main. Dessert was a New York cheesecake.

The show was a magician today, so we gave that a miss and went to bed ready for Palma tomorrow.

October 10 – En Route to Palma

I had set my alarm for a hour earlier today, to avoid the missed breakfast fiasco from yesterday. I hopped out of bed at 06.50 and set off for the gym. The climb up to the Spa on deck 9 isn’t getting any easier, so I was puffing again when I got to the treadmill. There was an old boy having a play on the running machine I’d used on my previous two visits, so I chose one nearer the middle. This highlighted a flaw in the setup of the gym. There is a low ceiling above the treadmills, and they’ve created a cut out in it so the taller runners don’t bang their heads on it. The flaw is the treadmills in the centre are too far forward so when the ship pitches down, I’m pitched forward and bang my head on the front of the cut-out. It wasn’t a major issue, but I ended up moving to a different machine, which was better. Anyway, 5.5km down the road and I’m back in the room for a gorgeous sunrise over the Moroccan coast. I called Jane over to come and have a look, well, I was shocked at the language. Apparently it was far too early to be looking at things.

Breakfast was back in the MDR today, I had stewed fruits followed by smoked haddock and poached eggs. Then I managed to show myself up by catching my finger in my water glass, and in trying to save that I had forgotten that I was holding a cup of tea. Needless to say, tea and water went everywhere.

We made our excuses and rushed off and went to Jane’s line dancing class, followed by my fencing class and then sunbathing up on deck 9. Lunch today was in the Golden Lion pub. Jane had the fish and chips and I had the Ploughman’s coupled with a pint of Hobgoblin.

After lunch we took a stroll down to the Purser’s desk to check on my missing OBC, and there was the 900 USD, it had been credited that morning. With our minds at rest we went back to the stateroom where the balcony was in full sun, so we decided to stay there and catch some rays. It was very hot out there, so I only lasted about an hour before I had to go inside. We realised it had been at least an hour since we’d last eaten, and it was 15.30 so we went down to afternoon tea in the Queen’s room, very civilized.

We followed the afternoon tea with another hour in the sun, by which time the Commodore Club was calling. Jane’s cocktail of choice today in a Ginger Cosmopolitan and because I’d had a pint with my lunch, I fancied a mocktail, so I had an Atlantic Mist.

October 9th – Afternoon and Evening

Jane has spent the afternoon on the balcony, sunning herself. I know the balconies on deck 4 are metal fronted, but they are huge. Much bigger than the balconies we had on deck 8 on the Victoria. I don’t see any reason to be put off by not having a glass one, it’s not as if there’s anything to see except for sea, sea and more sea!
We’ve migrated from lounging on the balcony, to lounging in the Commodore Club. Today’s cocktail of choice is a Dark ‘N Stormy. Gosling’s Black Seal rum, freshly squeezed lime juice, Syrop de Gomme and Ginger Beer. Apparently it’s lovely. 

The Commodore Club has a really nice ambience, it’s a fantastic place to sit and watch the sea drift by, while dolphin spotting. I have noticed one thing though, they aren’t as generous with the canapes as they are in the Commodore Club on QM2.

The Dark ‘N Stormy was too much like drinking pop, so Jane has had to try a more sophisticated cocktail, this time it was the Sydney Apple, born, served and savoured at sea, one of the many original “Cunard” cocktails. 

It’s a formal night tonight, Cunard Ball I believe, and also Captain’s Cocktail party. We didn’t bother with the pre-dinner cocktail party as Jane had had her own personal one upstairs, so we went back to the stateroom where the balcony was in full sun and chilled there before getting ready for dinner.

WooHoo! We’re now a table of 10, with a couple who had ended up on their own, being drafted in. The choices for dinner were very difficult as I’d have happily chosen all of the starters and mains. In the end I plumped for asparagus and Roast turkey and a very tasty chocolate dessert.

Ginger and mints are no longer served with the petit fours, but on a platter by the door, so I take that to mean we are no longer considered infectious.

After dinner we sauntered up to the Royal Court theatre for the Cunard singers and dancers interpretation of Vanity Fair. It’s not my cup of tea, but Jane loves cheese, both literally and figuratively, so who am I to complain.

October 9th – At Sea

​I’m settling in nicely, with a much better sleep last night, waking just before my alarm at 06.50. I put on my running gear before heading off to the gym. 5km later and a series of resistance exercises, I did some stretches before shower and breakfast.

We got down to breakfast in the MDR at 8.45 only to be turned away because it wasn’t 8.45 and breakfast had finished at 9.30. We’d only forgotten to move our clocks forward. Anyway we trotted off to the Lido for breakfast in the buffet. I had kedgeree and extra kippers, Jane had a freshly made omelette from the omelette fairy. It was very busy, so I assume we weren’t the only dopey ones.

Being an hour behind, we’d missed Jane’s line dancing class, and with there being no Fencing classes we headed up stairs and lay in the sun on deck 10.

Lunch was in the MDR, salt cod banadade and turkey tagliatelle, 

I’ve been to the Purser’s desk to get a statement, and worryingly I’m missing the extra 900 USD OBC I’d ordered at the same time as the wine package. Hopefully this will get sorted soon.

We also visited the travel desk to arrange extra shore excursions. So we are now going to, Gjiroskra in Albania and Toarmina in Sicily. In addition I’m doing a tour of Olympia while Jane lounges around the ship.

Dinner Oct 8th

​Dinner 8th Oct
Two of our missing dinner companions turned up tonight, two delightful ladies from West London, Gretchen and Thursa. They had had a long day with the embarkation, so had decided to have an early night.

Dinner for me was, Prawn Gumbo, followed by an excellent seared tuna steak, from the Canyon Spa Ranch menu. Jane had Salmon Rillet and Barbary Duck. Other diners didn’t fare so well, the guys who had had the Rib of Beef had dry jacket potatoes, it seems the kitchen had neglected to add the sour cream dressing for them. When it was mentioned to the head waiter all kinds of ructions ensued and eventually someone found the “missing dressing”. Jane had cheese and biscuits, which was the cue to order a bottle of port from the wine package we had ordered. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was a litre bottle, not that I drink it. Jane passed it around the table and Jeff and Pat had a glass, very nice apparently. I had the White Chocolate Panacotta which was delicious.
It was another early night for us, we didn’t fancy the Country and Western singer.
Today has really flown by, it’s been busy, busy, busy- I reckon tomorrow will be much the same.

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