Thursday 18th November - Sunday 19th December
Gibraltar, Cadiz, Madeira - then
across the Atlantic
to the Caribbean
This was our longest cruise yet and also our first on our own.
We were upgraded twice having originally booked on Bali Deck. Our first upgrade was to Cabin 5136 but days before we left we received a telephone call asking whether we would like a further upgrade to 7124! This latter cabin had a bath and was much larger than the two we had occupied on previous cruises. It was a vast improvement and had a fridge which emitted enough heat to provide us with an airing cupboard in the wardrobe area above it. We liked it very much!
There was a "Welcome Back" poster from Waveney and Milton who we had met during the Iceland/Greenland cruise - they also arranged for balloons to be put in our cabin. It was extremely kind of them and we much appreciated it.
This cruise was two legs back-to-back. Although we had requested early sitting and a table of 6 or 8, we found that we were to be on a table with just two others. These turned out to be Trevor and Anne from Harwich who knew folks from our past - Chris and Gavin. We greatly enjoyed their company and were sad when they left after two weeks.
Our waiter was Joel on this leg of the cruise and our bus boy was Theo. Both were really welcoming and friendly and we got to know them well - especially Joel who is married to Joy. They have a little five year old daughter, Frances, who is looked after by a grandmother back in the Philippines.
We were pleased to see that Alex, our bus boy last time, has now been promoted to being a waiter.
This time our Cabin Steward was Gilbert who thoroughly enjoyed performing in the Filipino Folkloric Show. He and Joy were those who performed the "Pole Dance" where they had to leap between the moving poles as the ship moved over the waves - no mean achievement! Gilbert proudly came to the Palm Court on our last morning to show us his new "Oficer's uniform" as he has a 2 month promotion to being in charge of other Cabin Stewards.
As the first cruise was a repositioning one, there were many sea days - including 6 across the Atlantic with very rough weather conditions at times. However neither of us was ill so we must now have gained our sea-legs!
Again there was Choir on offer but Jill decided not to join on this occasion as there is such a time commitment involved.
During this cruise we had a visit to the Bridge where an Officer Cadet showed us around and explained all the instrumentation. Adrian also went on a backstage tour whilst Jill was being taught how to make origami boxes by Milton and Waveney.
After Trevor and Anne left for home, we transferred at our request to a larger table. We found that we were the only Brits out a of 8 on the table - all the rest being Aussies. There was Keith and Helen from the Sydney area, Ken and Faye from Melbourne and Joy and Peter from just north of Brisbane. We became partners in the evening quiz with Joy and Peter and managed to win on one occasion. Our collection of Discovery pens is mounting!
Those joining from the UK for the second leg had horrendous weather conditions to negotiate to get out, with deep snow affecting many areas. Some only just made it and we believe that others may not have been successful at all.
When it came time for us to leave, further snow had fallen back home and the Virgin charter flight was unable to leave Heathrow on the right day. The passengers coming out for a "Discovery Christmas" had a dreadful time waiting on the flight for hours before having to leave the plane and stay overnight in a hotel. The next day it looked as though they were not to be any more successful. They had boarded yet again but it was hours before clearance came for the flight to leave and it seemed as though the crew might be out of time. However, in the nick of time, permission was given and the plane left.
Meanwhile, we had to stay onboard - retaining our cabin and still being able to have free meals. If the plane had not gone when it did, we would have had to remain on until Mexico and the new passengers would have found that their charter flight was re-routed there.
As it was, we left the ship at 9.30 p.m. on Sunday 19th and landed (after being stacked) at about 4.30 p.m. the next day - a day and a half late. We were delighted to find our Ace Taxi driver waiting for us and we shared the ride home with a local Traffic Warden (Chris) and his wife who had been forced to abandon their planned holiday in Australia because of all the cancellations. They had been at the airport for several days.
We thoroughly enjoyed this first cruise on our own but will be glad to travel again with Brian and Ann in February.
This trip was in lieu of the first part of a voyage around South America that we had originally booked from 3rd January - 20th March. We were permitted to alter the first part when we learned that we were to be grandparents for the first time. The second part of the original cruise is from 18th February - 20th March.
We made lots of new friends this cruise: Philip and Elaine from Porchester, Agnes and Edgar from near Manchester, Tony and Susan from Norfolk, Trevor and Anne from Harwich and lots of Australians - amongst many others.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience!