No, not the Timothy Spall TV show “Somewhere at Sea” that I bought the DVD of recently, (& very good it is too) but day two of our round Britain cruise.
I awoke at around 4am and switched on the TV in our cabin and changed channel to the nautical map that showed where the Astoria was in real time. We’d just about left the Bristol Channel and were making a right angled turn along the North Pembrokeshire coast.
Now as any of you who knows me well on long haul flights (especially on United) this was my favourite video channel when going transatlantic, even better if I could tune into the pilots conversation with air traffic control. Now there is a difference between the nautical map experience vs. the aeronautical, not just because there’s no audio, but because the ship only does about 15 knots compared to say over 500 for a plane!
Well, let’s just say in summary that on the aquatic version nothing much changes that quickly & so after about 1 hour of watching we’d only made approx. 0.25 cm progress on the screen so I decided to go back to sleep….
To be honest we both slept well on our first night aboard. You could hear the throb of the engines deep below Atlantic deck but in some ways that was comforting, so when we eventually got up for breakfast & left the cabin about 9.30am we only had 30 minutes left of the buffet service. Here followed a routine that lasted the rest of the voyage, Debbie on her low fat sensible diet (yogurt, fruit, toast) and me on my all you can eat cooked breakfast buffet (sausage, bacon, mushrooms, scrambled egg, toast).
After my eating marathon Debbie decided to go to the bow, or the front of the Astoria as she called it, but it wasn’t possible to do a “Titanic” together as the front section was cordoned off, so this is as close as we got!
The weather was calm and the sun started to shine which boded well for the rest of the cruise, or so I mistakenly thought!
Our day 2 agenda had been posted under our cabin door overnight and three things immediately caught our attention.
First that at 19.30 we were invited to the Captain’s Welcome Party where he would formally introduce us to his ship’s officers and there would be a photo opportunity for us with him (presumably so we could identify him in the event of the ship’s sinking, only kidding) as well as cocktails of sparkling wine to celebrate.
Rather amusingly his second in command was from Cuba, his engineering officer from Greece and the head of “hotel” was from Switzerland, but the largest applause from the audience came from the sole Brit officer who’s role alas I can’t remember!
To be fair the Captain and his whole crew really impressed us both throughout the cruise, as it seemed a “happy ship” to serve on, as well as have a holiday. Sadly, the Astoria is being transferred to serve the French market shortly & most of the entertainment staff will move to other CMV ships. Incidentally the majority of serving staff were from Mauritius so I guess linguistically this is sensible although everyone spoke perfect English.
Second, immediately following on from this reception the entertainment team (including Simon) sang for about an hour a medley of ABBA songs. Their accompanying dance moves and dancers made the show really special, my favourite being their rendition of “Take a Chance on Me” which was excellent.
Third and last Debbie made a fast exit towards the 70’s Strikeout music quiz which she won hands down (with very little help from yours truly) to win Cruise & Maritime Voyages logo’d bookmark & shopping trolley coin fob!
Very satisfying and only the start of our treasure haul to come, in fact we became rather notorious about our wins and were called the “Quislings” (Quiz-lings?) later in the cruise…
As the night drew to a close, we returned to our cabin and glanced at the TV map to see we were halfway along the coast of North Wales, heading for Scotland and our first port of call at Tobermory at around 9am the following morning.