Well Poppy, it was a mixed bag, but mostly nice.
We went to northern Spain and Portugal fora week long cruise. The day on the ocean en route to Spain was fine. The ocean was pretty kind to us. It was flipping cold in Riga though. And I don’t care what AD says, Spain can be cold (snowmen wearing sombreros or not). We didn’t do much in Riga, too damn cold to do much other than have a quick look at the town. Plus it was Sunday, so the town was virtually shut. We (OH and me that is) aren’t much for organised ‘excursions’ plus they cost a bomb for the disabled. We did have coffee in a nice little cafe that was of a proper strength, unlike anything on the boat.
The cruise ship was pretty nice. We went with P&O on Ventura, a fairly large ship, it holds about 3200 passengers but you don’t tend to notice the number of people most of the time. It being Easter school holidays, there were quite a lot of children but they were no trouble at all, even for those of us who are not very keen on most kids. (I did have quite an interesting conversation with a couple about being in Charlies Great Glass Elevator though while in the Perspex lift in the middle of the ship!)
The next stop was Lisbon. A much warmer day. We left the ship and found ourselves a nice taxi driver who took us for a longish drive about the city. He was a well informed chap, talked a lot about the history, showed us the April 25th bridge, the monument to Vasco de Gama, the royal palace, the Basilica, and his favourite coffee shop, where he bought us a super strength espresso. (Unheard of, a taxi driver paying for the coffee!)
He talked about his family and his life generally. A really nice man. He kept apologising for his English, which was excellent.
We should have gone to Porto the next day, but there was a high swell of 4.5 metres which meant we couldn’t land there, so stayed in Lisbon overnight. A fact that probably pleased both the stag party and the bar staff of the ship. (There was a wedding on board two days later, so there was a hen night and a stag do. Neither of which we saw anything of.)
So we left Lisbon the following day at lunchtime and went straight to Guernsey. This is a port that is only reachable by tender, so we always knew I couldn’t actually leave the ship here. Mr Sssue did for a while, but I think was bored without me so didn’t stay ashore long.
The sea on route to Guernsey had been pretty wild. To start with it was fine, just a bit rough, but more interesting than nauseating. Later that changed to more nauseating than anything. The Bay of Biscay did what it’s rumoured to be famous for.
The ship arrived back in Southampton the next day. En route we saw a few dolphins, but they didn’t put on too much of a show sadly.
The food on board the ship was mostly excellent. Mr Sssue and I aren’t really keen on formal dressing, so avoided the ‘formal’ nights. In fact, we only ate one lunch and one dinner in the main dining room. We tended to eat dinners in the speciality restaurants for which you pay a bit extra, but the food (and wine) is fabulous. Our room/cabin was great. We had a suite, it gives more room, a larger balcony, services of a butler (who brought us ice and limes every night for gin & tonic), and also means we could eat breakfast in a smaller, posher restaurant.
It was our second cruise, the first was last June to the Fjords of Norway and we are going back there again in June. The Fjords are so beautiful, you could never get bored of the scenery. It’s a brilliant way of seeing different different places without flying. The staff on board ship are excellent. The service is superb and as a wheelchair user, it provides all the necessary essentials for comfort and safety.
The thought of a cruise scared us silly before we did it, partly on account of formality and partly because of the sheer numbers of people on board. But honestly, neither were a problem. In general, the fellow passengers are pleasant enough, friendly without being annoying. Usually ready to shuffle up in a lift to fit us in (you do end up spending quite a lot of time in lifts) and friendly enough.
I recommend it as a means of travel. It is particularly handy for us as we live only about an hour from Southampton so it seems like we’ve hardly left home before being settled on board with a glass of wine and some lunch.
A nice trip, and we’re looking forward to the next one.