7 August Sydney to Hong Kong
A good start to the trip after triple checking passports in hand. Checked into the Qantas lounge before boarding. Flight in premium economy was uneventful.
7 August Hong Kong to London
The Qantas/BA lounge assisted with the six hour layover. Another good flight and an early arrival at Heathrow.
8 August London
The early arrival and good negotiation saw us checked in at the Sofitel, London Heathrow before 5am, enabling a good freshening up before heading into the City.
We decided on the Heathrow Express, changing at Paddington for South Kensington. From there we walked to Knightsbridge past Racine and Harrods to The Berkeley (Wilton Place).
School holidays saw to crowded underground platforms and trains.
A refreshing drink and then a marvellous, relaxed lunch at Marcus – our third visit.
We walked to Wellington Arch and through Green Park before heading back to Paddington and then Heathrow for an early night.
9 August LHR to Southampton
Princess issued an ‘emergency notice’ advising of a change from the Ocean Terminal to the Mayflower Terminal due to expected high winds, so we researched the weather to be prepared.
Back to T5 to board the transfer to T3 to meet the Princess transfer to Southampton. We were there around 9.30 to catch the first bus and on-board by 1pm. The winds were up but our 4pm sail away to the Norwegian Fjords was smooth. The Emerald Princess has a lot of Brits and children (school holidays) on board. Beneath our cabin we sighted one lady in a bikini trying to catch the sun during the sailaway!
Our passage out took us past Cowes on the Isle of Wight as we turned north for the Channel. This is the first of three sailaways from Southampton this trip.
We visited the Maître d’Hôtel to check our dining table and he mentioned that the ship was overfull – or at least more than normal sought fixed time dining. He was unable at that time to change our table but lo and behold we were seated at the same window at the aft of the Botticelli dining room as we had on our Baltic cruise last year; table 45 is normally against the wall but Maître d’Hôtel Giorgio had managed to switch 44 & 45 for the 6pm sitting. We celebrated with a very acceptable bottle of Domaine Chandon (Napa).
The ‘Welcome Aboard’ Show entertained us before bed, but in truth we had dozed before then.
Sunday 10 August – at Sea
Today’s Princess Patter gave us the running order for the day and surprised us with the very knowledgeable Hutch being the port lecturer and what’s more covering all four ports on this sea day. So that was a must … as was the Grapevine Wine Tasting (where we learnt that the grapes for the Rosemount Chardonnay are harvested in September/October!).
Breakfast saw us seated at our table – this time cited as 44!
It became extremely difficult to have a coffee as the weather saw most people inside the ship, so they congregated in every possible space on the Piazza for coffee.
The weather was overcast throughout the day, getting worse as the day progressed, but there was very little movement on board. Overnight, the rain intensified and the ship was rocking reasonably well.
Arriving into Stavanger, the weather showed some blue skies with passing showers and was quite cool.