Monday 8 September – Southampton, England 0500-1700
We docked bright & early at the Mayflower Cruise Terminal – a slightly inconvenient location to catch a bus to the airport; the dock is more remote than the Ocean Cruise Terminal where the Queen Mary was docked.
After collecting the car, we headed to Brighton some 60 miles east. Weaved our way into the city and the beachfront, then found a car park on the esplanade.
We walked some distance back to the pier and were amazed at the sounds of footsteps on the beach stones. With the weather being so warm (22C), the some sunseekers were out on the beach.
At the pier, there was filming of a dance scene being done for ‘Foxy Bingo’. We walked on looking for coffee, and found ourselves in
The Lanes – a series of small interconnected laneways. Then on to the Brighton Dome & Pavilion – an amazing building of apparently Indian architecture featuring Chines style interiors; a task to find out more. We did not take the tour and headed back to the car after some two hours.
Stuck in traffic for awhile, we abandoned our plan to visit the historic Plymouth Naval Dockyards and headed for the airport and a taxi back to Ruby Princess about one hour before the appointed ‘all aboard’ time.
We headed to Skywalkers for the sailaway only to find that the venue had been moved to Club Fusion due to the number of Platinum/Elite members onboard – some 1,600 of the 3,000 passengers; some 200 Australians are sailing this sector, 200 Brits, 500 Canadians, and some 1,700 Americans; 700 continuing passengers like us stayed onboard. Barrie & Lorna didn’t read the notice either as they joined us until dinner. We were the only customers in our section of the restaurant!
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.
At Sea – Friday 12 July
Our last day at Sea this cruise! We had an easy day, took in the cooking demonstration and the technical presentation, missed the back stage tour and avoided the life at sea presentation. Champagne and nibbles in Grapevine where we found out that Mallory had been promoted to Cruise staff for her next contract. Dinner with the Baked Alaska parade followed by the Cruise Show, a re-visit to the ventriloquist (same show!) and bed.
London to Copenhagen – Saturday 13 July
We arrived in Southampton along with five other cruise ships, including the Queen Mary 2 which we sailed past as we docked.
An orderly transfer to Heathrow, an ordeal with security, and a flight to Copenhagen that was one hour late. Arrived in Copenhagen in the middle of a baggage strike and waited two hours for our bags.
Just as well our wait-listed reservation at Restaurant Geranium did not come off!