Day 12 – Thursday 7th July 2022 – Cadiz
Awakened just as we are approaching Cadiz. I think it is the pilot coming aboard that wakes me as it all happens below my cabin but many decks down. Another lovely sunrise, heralding a warm day. The forecast on the TV says 85°F today for Cadiz, but I read it is in a natural wind tunnel that makes it several degrees lower than the surrounding area. Down for breakfast and I decided on a slight change of menu, I will stick with my Rice Krispies but it’s smoked haddock with a poached egg today.
Believe it or not, of all the cruises I have done and holidays in Spain I have had, I have never been to Cadiz or this part of Spain, so I have booked an excursion that is called an “Andalusian Drive” and takes me through the city, to several typical villages, through the countryside, with stops for coffee and then an hour in a seaside resort. Long enough to get something to eat and not get bored.
The coach took us through the town where we were shown all the highlights like the town hall, the railway station and the new tram line to San Fernando and Chicana (reminds me of ABBA songs). The tram’s service was due to start in 2012 and is now promised to start before Christmas, and we thought the Elizabeth Line was bad! We travelled to a pretty white-painted village called Medina Sidonia, which was high on a hill and had marvellous views, but we couldn’t stop as there was nowhere to park in the narrow streets. So it was photos out of the coach windows. On to the coffee stop, lovely bar with hams hanging everywhere, but nothing in the village worth a photo.
The coach driver then went the wrong way so we got a detour through a seaside town called Barbate (pronounced ‘Bar Batty’). Apparently, General Franco used to holiday there. I am not surprised, a lovely town with a stupendous beach. Then on through a National Park, 4,800 acres of pine forest. Then past Cape Trafalgar, where the battle was in 1805. Then to another pretty seaside town called Cornil del La Frontera for lunch. Another place with a magnificent beach. This is a real Spanish seaside town and full of Spanish tourists. No English bars and ‘tea like your mother makes’, but lots of tapas bars and wonderful ice cream parlours. I struggled with my minimal Spanish but managed to get a Spanish omelette and a beer. On the way back to the coach I even managed an ice cream cornet. Before you ask vanilla and pistachio.
A quick run down the motorway back to Cádiz. I am told that the accent over here means the letter is emphasised so it is pronounced “Car div” almost like the capital of Wales! In Cornil the locals indicated it had got to 37°C just after lunch while it had only got to 33°C on Britannia according to the sailing announcements.
I thought I would be clever and try something different at dinner this evening, tortilla soup. Well it was so spicy it made my eyes water, nose run and I could hardly speak. I managed about half the bowl before I had to give up. I won’t be having it again! However, the roast pork for mains was fabulous. As my throat was still suffering I had two servings of ice cream to calm it down. The usual trip to the Crows Nest bar for a nightcap. I must admit it is my favourite bar, quiet, comfortable, a pianist tinkling well-known tunes and a 180° view ahead of the ship through the wide expanse of glass.
Day 13 – Friday 8th July 2022 – At Sea
I awoke to the most tremendous sunrise, the whole eastern sky was red and the sun soon popped above the horizon. During the night we have moved out of the Straits of Gibraltar and into the Atlantic turning north to run parallel to the coast but some forty miles out. There is a traffic separating scheme so we are among ships heading north but as we are making a steady 20 knots, we are whizzing past other ships.
As I have mentioned before, my cabin is on deck 16 (lido deck) forward where the main swimming pools are and the full-service breakfast restaurant is on Deck 6 aft. To get breakfast I have to walk nearly the full length of the ship past the pools and Horizon Buffet to get to the aft lifts down to the restaurant. I discovered we are heading into a 10-knot wind, add that to the 20 knots we are doing means there is a strong wind over the open deck and people around the pool were all wrapped in towels. I shall not be joining them.
I was on one of the normal breakfast tables with the regulars again this morning. I learnt a lesson last night, don’t go trying out things you are not sure of. So it’s Rice Krispies, followed by fried egg, bacon, sausage, black pudding and hash browns, you can be sure that little lot is going to be good. Of course, I also had several cups of coffee and rounds of thickly buttered toast. Off for a read, the sun is on my balcony and I can tuck myself in the corner out of the breeze.
I read until about 10:45 when a sudden thirst came over me so I made for the Crows Nest, a beer and a bit more reading while watching the world drift by outside. 13:00 and time for lunch, I fancy a little bit of salad today so off to the buffet. I trot through the breeze on the open deck. Just a little bit of cold meat and salad should keep me going until tea time. When I might have a cup of tea and a cake. Mustn’t eat too much, it’s the last formal night and I am told there is Lobster Thermidor on the menu. I shall be disappointed if my informant is wrong. The 12-noon announcement by the ‘officer of the watch’, said calm seas are expected all today. I hope he is right because we cross into the Bay of Biscay at 20:30 this evening just as we sit down to dinner.
A very easy afternoon as it was a bit windy out on deck this afternoon. Read my Kindle until it gave me a “low battery” warning. When I put it on charge I switched to reading the book on my iPad instead. Bloody clever how you can swap from one platform to another.
Anyway, I had to get ready for dinner, last formal night of the trip, so I have to get the dress suit on again. Lovely meal tonight, asparagus and poached egg starter, chicken and sweetcorn soup. Then Lobster Thermidor for mains, apple tarte tatin dessert (with extra ice cream), coffee and loads of chocolate truffles. I feel quite full, I might need an indigestion tablet!
Day 14 – Saturday 9th July 2022 – At Sea
We crossed into the Bay of Biscay overnight, the sea got a bit lumpy around midnight as I bounced off the wall on the way from the bar to my cabin (no I wasn’t drunk). But this morning is a quite calm. Anyway, it’s the last full day of the cruise, we are due in Southampton at around 6 o’clock tomorrow morning. The sun is out and the sky is quite clear, if it wasn’t for the breeze it would be a lovely day.
As it’s a sea day, breakfast in the restaurant is at 8 o’clock and I was there a couple of minutes after. I was shown to what has been my regular breakfast table for the last few days. I was the first of the normal breakfasters to arrive. There are probably four of us every day and perm any two from six for the remaining 2 places on the table. Anyway, I had my first cup of coffee and order taken before anyone else turned up. Rice Krispies and a P&O Breakfast today (basically a full English without baked beans) then toast and more coffee.
I read on the balcony for a while before the ship changed its heading and the sun disappeared off it. I made for the Crows Nest bar where you can always get a comfy chair and read until it was time for lunch. I was very good, I only had a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a buttered roll. I have a job to do this afternoon, packing. If my suitcase is outside my cabin door before midnight it will be taken ashore for me to collect in the terminal and walk it through customs. Not strictly true as the suitcase has wheels. I find packing to go home easy as nearly everything is dirty and can just be thrown in rather than carefully folded.
Had yet another chat with reception about my onboard credit account. I was supposed to have £200 onboard credit added to my account for this cruise (a present from P&O), but they managed to charge me £140 for internet access that I had already paid for in the U.K. I finally managed to get the £140 refunded to my account this afternoon but it has left me in a use-it or lose-it position as it isn’t possible to take it in cash. So I have treated myself to a P&O waterproof/windproof/insulated jacket which should come in handy for my Christmas cruise crossing the Atlantic. Add to that 3 giant Toblerone and I have enough left for a bottle of decent Champagne at dinner tonight!
Packing is done as much as possible. Only my washing things (they can go in my hand baggage), what I am currently wearing, and clothes for tonight and tomorrow remain. Current stuff will be packed after my pre-dinner shave and shower. When I come back after dinner I can stuff tonight’s gear in and stick the suitcase out for collection. I am 95% ready.
Last dinner eaten while creeping slowly up the Channel. White onion and potato soup. Tiger prawns in garlic, with rice and green beans. Coffee and hazel cake with ice cream. All very nice. Accompanied by a couple of glasses of Tattenger, an excellent end to the cruise. Suitcase outside my cabin by 10:30 so I am nearly ready to go. We get an extra hour’s sleep tonight as the clocks go back to BST. We are supposed to pick up the pilot at 03:30 at the pilot station off the Isle of Wight and dock in Southampton at 06:30. Breakfast on board and I have been given an 09:40 time to disembark.
Day 15 – Sunday 10 July 2022 – Southampton and Home
I heard the pilot board but managed to go back to sleep until about 05:30 as we were heading up a mirror-like Solent. I lay there for a bit watching as the land slid by and the sun came blazing in the balcony door. The restaurant was due to open early so I washed and dressed, then watched the rope handlers and the first cases coming off. Before going for my fry-up. As I was supposed to be out of the cabin by 08:00, I made my way back there to pick up my holdall and give the stewardess the second half of her tip before going to the theatre to finish my Jack Reacher book and wait for my allocated disembarkation time. Jack Reacher has become a softie, he only killed 9 and crippled 8 baddies.
The officer in charge of my disembarkation meeting point announced that things were going well and they were running about 30 minutes early. Two people on my dinner table were supposed to have the same disembarkation time as me but were nowhere to be seen. At 20 to 9, one hour early, we were told to make our way to the air bridge. Into a big “shed” where the suitcases were laid out by deck, there being only 30 cabins on my deck it was easy to find my case and head for the “Green Channel”. Not a single Border Farce person or passport officer to be seen so straight out and across the road to the hut to get my car keys back. The woman says, “It’s parked in row F2,” sorry you were wrong missis it was in F1!
I was on the road before 9 and home about 10 past 10. Very little traffic about except a queue on the opposite carriageway on the Chichester by-pass. I have nearly finished unpacking and got a load of washing out in the hot sun. As the Little Girl Next Door is out I have put the chocolate she requested in the fridge as this temperature would make it melt. It is a pack of 32 little bars of Kinder Chocolate, that’s one a day for a month!
I have had an email from the two people on my table. It seems that they were still eating breakfast at 09:15 when an announcement came over the ship’s tannoy saying that any remaining passengers were free to disembark immediately!
A most enjoyable cruise, although I had been to all the ports of call, except Cadiz, before, I managed to go on excursions that showed me new aspects of each one. Despite there being some Covid cases on board the company deal with them very well. I was talking to a couple who had tested positive and were confined to their cabin for six days, until they produced 2 clear tests on 2 consecutive days. They were given free internet, and could order from the same menu as we had in the restaurant. But best of all they have been given £1000 each off another cruise to be taken by the end of December 2024.
If you ask me nicely I just might send you another postcard when I go on my long Christmas and New Year cruise.
© WorthingGooner 2022