A Travellerspoint blog

Day 16 - Southampton

We awake at 6am and Adventure of the Seas is already docked in Southampton. It's a beautiful, crisp sunny morning. P&O's Oriana is silently making her way up the channel to her berth behind us. I can see bleary eyes passengers from that ship looking over at ours. No doubt mulling about their journeys home.

We shower, dress and head down to the Vivaldi Dining Room for breakfast. As it's the last morning it's served buffet style rather than waiter service. After that we head up to deck 12 for a walk around in the early morning sunshine. Feels strange to know we have travelled from the new world back to the old without getting on a plane.

As it's still too early for us to disembark we head to the Windjammer for some coffee and pastries to pass some time. We then head back to our cabin for the last time to ensure we have everything before leaving Adventure of the Seas. All being well we will be boarding her again in exactly 117 days time for a 2 day mini cruise to France with family.

We head down to deck 4 and within minutes we are collecting our bags and hauling them through border control. There are a lot of mean looking guys on duty pulling people aside left right and centre. We were warned security would be heavy as the ship had come in via the Caribbean, a known thoroughfare for drugs from the central and southern americas. Focusing on the exit you feel sure you are going to be pulled aside but we don't.

We have a little wait for our cab to arrive as we disembarked a little earlier and easier than planned. We see a few familiar faces from our 14 days onboard and say goodbye to them. Before long we are in our taxi and heading for the airport. I think a large percentage of fellow cruisers are also passing through Southampton Airport as we see a lot of familiar faces again.

Once checked in we head upstairs for some lunch. Mhairi and Tam are there also doing the same. We see Jennifer (Bloody Mary) and Dougie in the departure lounge just before we board. Our flight onboard the small Dash 8 turboprop only take 45 min to fly to Manchester and we touch down around 1.15pm. We are in the car and home at around 2.10pm.

And so ends one of the best cruises we have taken so far. Sure there were a few things that didn't go to plan but they did little to spoil a great trip. We saw some great places, did some great things, made some great memories and most importantly met some lovely people along the way.

P&O's Oriana follows us into Southampton

P&O's Oriana follows us into Southampton


Peter just before disembarking

Peter just before disembarking


Adventure berthed at City Terminal

Adventure berthed at City Terminal

Posted by Patch64 17:00 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Day 15 - At Sea

Feel decidedly lacklustre this morning. Is it the fact it's our last day on the ship? No. I think it's more a case of over indulgence last night with both food and drink. A shower and a nice breakfast makes me feel a whole lot better. It chocolate themed breakfast today where you can have everything from chocolate cereal, chocolate pastries and even choc waffles/pancakes. I stick with just Eggs Benedict and no French Toast.

Peter does his cycling at the gym early today. I head for the Solarium with my iPad and a coffee to blog. On the way back I notice a few people are out on the sun loungers despite the chill breeze. They must be hardy Scandinavians. I cut through the Royal Promenade and notice there is a giant cake that the culinary staff have prepared to celebrate the Atlantic crossing. I take few snaps but doubt I will get a slice.

Peter returns from the gym and we head up to the Diamond Lounge which is busy. We sit outside and notice there is a big increase in shipping around us. We are close to the English Channel now, one of the worlds busiest sea lanes. It's mostly cargo ship and tankers but we know P&O's Oriana is slightly behind us also making her way to Southampton.

We lunch in the Windjammer where we spot Rick from the roll call. We met him on day one of the cruise at the sail-away on the pool deck back in Miami. This is the first time we have seen him since that day. apparently his wife Bobby has been poorly but is feeling better now. When they get off the ship they are heading for a river cruise down the Rhine.

The afternoon is spent doing the dreaded packing. We take less care and curse a lot more than when we are going away on hols. Not as much fun at all but got to be done. It doesn't take too long and it's nice to get it out of the way.

We dress for dinner. It's casual tonight so just jeans and a shirt. We meet Sue and Malcolm in the Imperial Lounge and are joined by Jennifer and Dougie as well. We enjoy our final dinner in the Main Dining Room. I have Spanish tapenade followed by Lamb Shank (which is amazing) and some Lemon Sorbet. After dinner we say our goodbyes to Sue and Malc. They will be off the ship very early in the morning so we will not see them. For the rest of the evening, all over the ship, we see this repeated. People saying goodbye to old and new friends alike.

We make our final donations to the casino and a last drink in the Schooner Bar before heading back to our cabin. We can see lights to the south of us and realise is mainland France, Cherbourg to be exact. We have a taxi booked to pick us up from the cruise terminal at 10am tomorrow so ewe don't need to rush off and can take it easy first thing.

Atlantic Crossing Celebration Cake

Atlantic Crossing Celebration Cake

Posted by Patch64 17:00 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 14 - At Sea

I could leave today's blog blank as I did very little other than relax and read. It was definitely not outdoor weather as evident by all the empty sun loungers on decks 11 & 12. At least it was not raining and the sea was nice and calm.

We had breakfast a bit later than usual as we were slow to rise this morning. Fermin was cleaning the room as we returned and so we went and did others things for half a hour whilst he finished. There was a $10 sale on the Royal Promenade which is always something of a bun fight. It take a brave soul to venture into that and so I skirt around it. I find a quiet spot outside in the Diamond Lounge which is sheltered from the cool wind coming in off the Bay of Biscay. People are now all wrapped up in fleeces and long pants rather than shorts and t-shirts like me, I refuse to accept the change in climate.

Back in the cabin I spend many hours reading my kindle, snoozing and watching some TV. Total relaxation. I glance through the cruise compass to see if there are any activities going on that might take my fancy. There wasn't. I thought for a while I might start the packing process but decided to leave it to the last full day at sea and just relax as much as I could today.

Lunch was soon calling. After a full circuit of Windjammer we spy a two seat table right near the window and grab it. Fellow cruisers will understand what a coup it is to bag one of these babies on a sea day. I enjoy a beef curry which is really tasty. On some of the other Voyager Class ships (and Freedom Class) they have a section of Windjammer called Jade which specialises in Oriental and Asian Cuisine. They don't have that on here but still provide that type of cuisine which I always find delicious. Peter never, ever tries it. I think he is weird.

After lunch has gone down Peter hikes himself off to the gym. I watch a movie on my iPad. The weather outside is still pretty much the same. It brightens up a little but the cool breeze never let's up. Determined to sit out on my balcony I exchange my flip flops for trainers and cover myself up in beach towels. It's quite pleasant on the lounger whilst I read more of my Kindle. I'm reading The Thousandfold Thought by R Scott Bakker for the umpteenth time. I love the Prince of Nothing series which has now overtaken both LOTR and Game of Thrones as my fave novels.

After Peter returns we do a little retail therapy on the Royal Promenade. Being Diamond status means we can get various discounts on certain things which we like to utilise when we can. There is always some promotion on the promenade. Today it seems to be watches which always attract a lot of attention. You can make some big savings on some of the famous names like Tag Heuer or Tissot.

Tonight we have reservations at Govannis again. We wanted to fit in one last visit before the end of the cruise. It's just Peter and I tonight as Sue and Malcolm have gone to Windjammer. There is a Beatles show in the theatre tonight with performances at 7pm and 9pm. We don't go to either as the first clashes with drink time in the Imperial and we will be at dinner for the 2nd show. Apparently we missed out on a really good show. Maybe next time.

Govannis is once again excellent. I have the Filletto de Manzo for my main tonight and it's as good as any steak I've ever had on Chops Grille. We enjoy brandies in the Champagne Bar (CB) which turns out to be gay central. A few of them comment that they have not seen us all cruise. We knew very well that the CB holds a daily Friends of Dorothy group which we never attend. They seem to congregate there in the evening as well. Am not sure why that is. I suppose the CB is a little more decadent and stylish than the other bars onboard? We don't mind the company of other gay people (we do after all know a lot of gay people) and the ones we meet tonight are very nice and friendly if a little high octane...perhaps that's it? Too much drama.

There is a party on the Royal Promenade tonight called Rock Britannia celebrating all things British. It's all good fun with people singing Knees Up Mother Brown in the street. We finish off the night with some wine in the Viking Crown. The singing duo are there again and I know I must be a little drunk as I recall commentating how good they are. I was definitely saying the opposite at the start of the cruise. I must get their autographs before I get off the ship. Think they are gonna hit the big time.

Empty pool deck - Brrrrrr too chilly

Empty pool deck - Brrrrrr too chilly


from Left. Me, Sue, Bloody Mary, Malcolm & Dougie.

from Left. Me, Sue, Bloody Mary, Malcolm & Dougie.


Same crew, almost. Diffrent photographer

Same crew, almost. Diffrent photographer


Rock Britannia - Royal Promenade

Rock Britannia - Royal Promenade

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Day 13 - At Sea

Adventure of the Seas in on a heading of 52 degrees as she makes her way toward Southampton. The coast of mainland Portugal is roughly 500 miles east of us at present. The sea is very calm although it is very cool (bordering on cold) out on the balcony first thing. There are some light clouds blocking the sun but looking ahead of the ship it looks a lot brighter. I spy some dolphins making there way southward. To warmer climes if they have any sense.

We breakfast in the main dining room. A nice couple from Somerset are to our left and then another nice couple from Essex are seated to our right. Topic of conversation? Mostly cruising...no surprise there then. Peter decides to head to the gym earlier today. I grab my Kindle and head down to deck 4 to read. I find a quiet spot but the gusty breeze is just too chilly for me and so I head up to the Solarium which is more enclosed and much better. The sun breaks through late morning and so I head up to the pool deck. It's surprisingly warm in the sunshine. Peter joins me later and we order some frozen cocktails as this might be out last chance to enjoy them out here in the sunshine. At 12.05 we forward clocks on one hour for the final time. We are now back on UK time.

We lunch in the Windjammer. It takes us a little while to find a table which we share with a couple from Canada (ex-Sheffield) who happen to leave near to Niagara Falls. You meet all kinds of people from all walks of life on ships. We head back to the pool deck after lunch where Sue and Malcolm also are. We manage an hour. With the time change the afternoon has lept on quicker than it should have done. One of the staff tries to arrange a Lady Gaga dance class on the main deck which I am glad fails to materialise as there are no willing participants.

It's the last formal night of the cruise tonight and so we dress accordingly. We join Sue & Malcolm in the Imperial Lounge and Jennifer (Bloody Mary) and Dougie join us shortly afterwards. Everyone is in good spirits which probably has something to do with the spirits consumed. We are slightly late heading to dinner which is very good again. Highlight for me was the Hot Harisa Soup.

There is a Black & White Masquerade Ball in Studio B tonight. We had brought our own masks with us as we had heard about this event prior to boarding. Seems not many others had. They were handing out cheap plastic masks at the entrance but no-one seemed keen to participate. At least our Venetian Masks drew some comments. The event was a bit of a let down. One comment was it was full of 'coffin-dodgers'. It was big band music with ballroom type dancing which did favour the older cruiser. Not our scene at all and so we left pretty early to head to the casino.

Frozen cocktails in the sunshine

Frozen cocktails in the sunshine


Main dining room from deck 5

Main dining room from deck 5


Masked ball time

Masked ball time

Posted by Patch64 17:00 Comments (0)

Day 12 - Ponta Delgada, The Azores.

After five days at sea it is strange to awaken and look out of the cabin window to see land. The nine islands of the Azores are dotted across the Atlantic Ocean some 900 miles west of mainland Portugal. Even though they are officially part of Portugal they are completely autonomous, a fact the Azoreans seem quite proud of.

We dock in Ponta Delgada, the biggest town, on the largest of the Azoreans Islands, São Miguel, at around 7am. Our breakfast we ordered the previous evening is delivered to our room shortly afterwards and we enjoy this on the balcony as we watch small fishing boats set out from the harbour into the open seas.

Just before 8am we head down to the Lyric Theatre on Deck 4 so that we can hand in our tour tickets in exchange for our group stickers for our trip today. Rebeira Grande & Fire Lake. The trip includes a visit to Rebeira Grande, the 2nd largest town on the north coast of the island, followed by an ascent up into the mountains to see what is called Fire Lake. The trip is to be concluded with a visit to a pineapple plantation before returning to the port at around lunchtime. We figured this was ideal as would then give us time to explore Ponta Delgada itself before we leave port at around 4.30pm.

A couple of the basic requirements for a trip up a mountain is a good guide and good weather. We have one of those and its not the weather. Sadly as we arrive into the Azores there is high pressure building. This is normally a good thing as it means little wind usually bright condition. It can also mean mist and fog which is what we have to contend with. We depart the ship and are met by our tour guide for the day. He is a very old, wizened gentlemen, with as much hair on his head as teeth in his mouth. He introduces himself as George and although he was born and bread in the Azores speaks perfect English. Very good english in fact.

Out coach heads out across the island heading for the northern coast. At only 8 miles wide it doesn't take very long. All the way George is giving a continuos talk about points of interest and the history and politics of the islands. We arrive in Rebeira Grande at around 8.45 where we have about 40 mins to stroll around and take photos. Rebeira Grande means Big Stream in Portuguese and this big stream runs through the centre of town. The town is so diffrent to those we have left behind on the Caribbean Islands. There it was all bars and diamond shops trying to entice you in. Rebeira Grande is very sleepy and quaint. Lots of old buildings and churches.

Back on the coach we head up into the mountains. The Azores were formed as the result of volcanic activity which pushed them up out of the ocean. We see lots of steam rising as we climb upwards and George informs us this is because of geothermal activity which is harnessed and provides 40% of the islands electricity needs. We see lots of power plants dotted here and there where they have drilled down deeply to access the energy.

The road gets increasingly serpentine as we climb higher. São Miguel is a very green and lush island. This is a combination of the fertile volcanic soils and temperate climate. They never suffer from extremes of heat or cold. We arrive near the top of the mountain for a view out over Lagoas de Fogo (Fire Lake). Sadly we can see only about 10 feet ahead of us due to the mist which has descended down over the mountain. It is a shame as this was to be the highlight of the tour. George apologise but points out that the weather cannot be controlled.

We descend down the other side of the island to the southern coast where we visit a pineapple plantation. Its only a short visit and as its started to rain we hop back on the bus sooner than the allotted time given. We arrive back at the port around mid-day. Ironically as we arrive back the weather breaks and the mist lifts. Before long we have clear blue skies and warm sunshine. We look back at the mountain and are relieved to see that it is still mist shrouded so we would have had no better luck had we travelled there in the afternoon.

We spend some of the afternoon exploring Ponta Delgada which is a very pretty, large town. We decide to lunch there as the food and drink prices are very reasonable. We then take a walk out past the ship towards the Marina before doubling back and re-boarding Adventure. Its a gloriously hot afternoon and so we lie out on the pool deck. Its so hot we can only manage an hour and retreat to our cabin shortly afterwards. Before long we hear the ship sound her horn and we depart our last port of call. Our next stop is Southampton on Sunday morning. We enjoy a glass of bubbly as we sail out of Ponta Delgada. As we leave we have an escort of seabirds skimming low over the waves but we soon leave them in our wake.

Cocktails in the Imperial Lounge, Dinner in the main dining room, flutter in the casino, wine in the Viking Crown. Yes you all know the routine by now. Fantastic day though.

Rebeira Grande

Rebeira Grande


Ickle baby pineapples

Ickle baby pineapples


Adventure in the sun - Ponta Delgada

Adventure in the sun - Ponta Delgada


George our tour guide.

George our tour guide.


Mist shrouded mountains

Mist shrouded mountains

Posted by Patch64 17:00 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

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