Monday, 29 September 2014

Still on Course!

Saturday evening’s special event nearly turned to disaster had it not been for the quick action of Captain Hashmi.  A new painting, being presented by Whitewall Galleries, decided to unveil itself before the captain could do it formally.

P1060783

As the silk veil slipped downwards on its own he leapt forward and saved the day.  Not that he needed to demonstrate it, but the passengers now have total faith in his abilities.

P1060784

The painting, of Jack Nicholson, although studded with diamond dust, received a mixed reception!

P1060791

Later on during Saturday evening, after our Champagne “do” in the art gallery, we went to the Palladium Theatre (said to be the finest afloat) to see ……..

P1060794

…… a most amazing performance by Fogwell Flax.  His observational comedy and impersonations (of people, but especially of trains and planes!) gave us a wonderful evening’s entertainment.

P1060796

On Sunday morning we awoke to bright sunshine (which was to last all day) and to the maintenance department outside our window giving our lifeboat the ‘once over’  Luckily our windows are mirrored so we can remain private!

P1060797

It’s less than a week that we’ve been on board (wonderfully it seems like we’ve been at sea for a month!) and now Doug has been chosen to help the ship’s company out. Due to staff illness he’s been asked to run the deck quoits as well as the whist.  Here he is dealing with the demands of the delightful “Killer Cathy” – all 4 feet 11 of her (yes, she’s shorter than Doug!).

P1060809

After another great lecture on the future of military intelligence (!) James took  to the Sky Deck where, in the glorious sunshine, there were some tremendous sights to be had (spot the ship in this view):

P1060810

Almost able to touch the ship’s funnel!

P1060818

A panorama across the Sky Deck with all its satellite and communications equipment,  …..

P1060819

….. a view forward across the retractable roof of the Neptune Pool and ……

P1060820

……. looking aft from a great vantage point on the “wing”.   These last few shots show the most amazingly clear horizon that we’ve enjoyed all day…… and as the captain asked; “Can you see land? No! – good, then we’re still on course!”

P1060823

After dinner on Sunday evening we went to see “Blame it on the Boogie” – one of the fantastic shows given by the Headliners theatre company.  It’s a shame we’re not allowed to take photos!  At the end of the show we have chance to show our appreciation with some of the performers.  This is James, one of the singer / dancers (they sing and dance at the same time!)  He’s quite keen to go for a shower and a rest at this point in time!

The rest of evening we spent chatting and having fun with cruise director Christine in the piano bar. Another late night, at least the clocks go back an hour again tonite!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Still all at sea.

It’s Saturday and we’re more than half way to America – we should arrive in New York on Tuesday.

P1060755

Life aboard goes on but not quite as busy as ‘normal’.  This is the longest cruise we’ve done so far and we’re pacing ourselves for a raft of port days along the east coast of the USA next week.  Nevertheless James is attending lots of lectures (this is one of thirteen given by Squadron Leader Derek Clark on his career in military defence) and Doug is hosting the afternoon whist sessions but are getting so popular he will soon need a bigger room!

P1060756

Interspersing with a few shots of the ship’s interior (this is the ceiling above the main staircase) ……..

P1060758

….. and some facts and figures for the technically inclined.

P1060757

James always feels good that “Chance” runs for an hour on a litre and a half of diesel – this display of facts shows that “Arcadia” moves just 58 feet for every gallon!

P1060771

We occasionally visit the' ‘Crows Nest’ in the late evening for an attempt at the syndicate quiz.  Our team of six here on Friday consists of Andrew, Doug, Theresa, James, Marion, and Elaine.  No, we didn’t win!

P1060773

Back in the cabin after an enjoyable Friday evening – a ‘selfie’.

P1060774

Deck quoits is well attended despite the North Atlantic wind which is so strong it stops us from throwing the quoits into the wind!

P1060778

More shots inside the ship – this is the casino (which Doug hasn’t visited yet!) …..

P1060779

……. and the Art Gallery, which we spend quite a lot of time in.  There have been some very informative art lectures …..

…… but the main gallery attraction is the bubbly, lovely and very clever Jess who runs it and, with assistant Ben, presents the lectures and, more importantly, regularly lubricates her customers (us!) with Champagne.  Captain Aseem Hashmi is as amusing as he is competent (being a commercial pilot as well as a ship’s captain!) and, after his hour long presentation into the technology and practicalities of navigating and operating the ship AND his midday broadcast, we had an hysterical half hour in his company here in the gallery.

P1060781

Doug, Captain Hashmi and Jess.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

All at Sea.

Our 7 day crossing of the the Atlantic has started very well and we’ve settled in as if we’d not really ever left the ship.  Meeting up with so many entertainment team members, waiters, cabin stewards and even some passengers from the past has been so exciting.

P1060737

The weather has been superb so far and the sea conditions excellent.  Three times round the promenade deck is one mile and James (skiving off and standing at the stern instead of walking!) saw his first whale on Tuesday. 

P1060738

The ship’s props are powering its 84,000 tons through the water at an average 18 knots at the moment as the captain is trying to outwit a storm and keep us all comfortable.

P1060740

P1060744

Mornings generally start off with a game of deck quoits or shuffle board while the North Atlantic air gets rid of the cobwebs.

P1060749

James won the deck quoits on Tuesday, with Doug winning it on Wednesday.  Here’s Doug whiling away some time with Tom, one of the entertainment team, who has to organise about forty competitors each day.

P1060752

Wednesday evening saw the Captain’s Gala party around the Neptune Pool.  It’s a good time to chin-wag with some of the ship’s officers and crew and find out what they get up to while we’re enjoying ourselves.

P1060753

This cruise sold out quite quickly (and we weren’t quick enough off the mark to get a place!) but at the last minute a few cabins became available again.  This time we were quicker off the mark but, naturally, we didn’t get much choice.  Hence we have a lifeboat outside our window.  We’ve laid claim to it in case of an emergency and James has gone down to the deck below and familiarised himself with the launching instructions!

P1060754

James is also tall enough to see over the top so, for him, it’s no great problem and, although it might be fun to drive a lifeboat, we’re not expecting or wishing for the chance to try it!

On this trip we’re aiming to walk at least two miles around the ship each day and at the moment the North Atlantic weather is good enough to do it shirt sleeves -although nobody’s getting much of a sun tan!

Monday, 22 September 2014

On the High Seas again!

This morning our neighbour Nigel spirited us from home to Southampton’s Ocean Terminal …….

P1060721

…… where, at 12:30, we boarded the P&O ship “Arcadia” (for the second time this year!).  This time we’re going Trans Atlantic with her and in seven days we’ll be in New York for our first port of call.

P1060722

Within 45 minutes of being dropped off at the terminal we were in our cabin with cases delivered and unpacked.  It’s a far cry from the ordeal of flying!

P1060723

After a spot of light lunch we went up to the Crow’s Nest to meet our friend and bar tender Dolreich who we haven’t seen since our Iceland cruise in June. 

P1060724

It’s great to catch up with him again!  The sunshine has been wonderful today – let’s hope it stays with us.

P1060726

As an extra little treat before we left this afternoon the paddle steamer “Waverly” was docked next to us.The last time we were on this lovely vessel was on the River Thames in London earlier this year.  She’s a special little craft.

  P1060728

At 4:45 we set sail from Southampton with a Great British Sail Away party……..

P1060733

…. where we enjoyed a complimentary glass of Champagne (which always goes down well), sang a few songs, jumped around a bit ….

P1060734

……… and made instant friends with Judy and Brian.  It’s going to be a good cruise!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

All over the place!

On Thursday last week, while Doug was taking Manel to the airport, James took “Chance” to Brinklow  marina for a few weeks “storage”.

P1060716

It’s just an observation but on the way to Brinklow James passed some fairly major work going on just outside Rugby. The canal is being straightened on the opposite side to the towpath along a hundred yard length, where posts and fabric are being positioned with infill behind.  Not five hundred yards away the edge of the canal at the Rugby water point is positively dangerous for users wishing to fill with water and it has been like that for as long as we can remember. Obviously that is not a priority over this work.

P1060717

Anyway, once settled in at Brinklow, and Doug back from the airport, there was the usual jobs to do and the car to be packed up.  In the evening we met up with John, the marina harbour master, over a few beers (J2O for James!) and a very nice meal.  Deciding to make the most of 24 hours in the day we set off in the late evening for our journey south to Sussex, arriving at 12.30am .  Thankfully we only experienced the tail end of the atrocious thunder storms that night …….

P1060719

…… but the next morning, in true Selsey style, it was bright sunshine again and, not usually photographed very much, the High Street was buzzing as normal.

P1060715b

The weather was so good that we decided, after a load of household chores were completed, to combine resources with our neighbours, Nigel and Michele, and toddle the hundred yards to the beach with a few bottles of wine and some nibbles.

P1060715c

After the shadows lengthened, and the wine had run out, we made our ways home again – Michele, who hadn’t quite finished, also toddled the hundred yards back home gently sipping from her lovely yellow glass.  What will the neighbours think!

P1060715a

James was overdressed for the occasion but as there wasn’t a soul around it didn’t matter.

It’s Sunday, and after a three day turn round at home, we’re busy packing suitcases for another adventure tomorrow.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

“Queen Elizabeth”– a picture tour of the ship.

We’re on the last leg of our the cruise with two sea days, crossing a calm Bay of Biscay and entering the English Channel, so it only leaves for a selection of photos of the inside of this beautiful ship as we come to end of our voyage:

P1080152

This is part of the Grand Lobby with Viscount Lindley’s superb marquetry panel.

P1080154

The Grand Lobby looking from the Lindley staircase - this is an amazing space.

P1080155

The Royal Arcade (of shops), the staircase and Casino (below to left) and The Golden Lion (below to right).

P1080313

The upper section of the library ……..

P1080314

…….. and, down the spiral staircase, to the lower section and looking out towards the Grand Lobby.

P1080315

The lower section of the double staircase of the Grand Lobby.

P1080316

The ground floor of the Grand Lobby from a side lounge.

P1080317

The promenade at the side of the Queen’s Room.

P1080318

The Queen’s Room.  Home to evening balls, other major social events and the glorious afternoon tea.

P1080319

The Red Lion pub …..

P1080320

……. and the bar to the Red Lion.

P1080321

The Queen’s Arcade and staircase with the Casino to the left.

P1080322

One of the three access stairways ……..

P1080323

……. and one of the three elevator halls which complement the stairs .

P1080362

The stunning Winter Wonderland display by the catering department and made entirely of edible products. 

P1080363

The lower section of the Britannia Restaurant ……

P1080365

……. and, in the restaurant on the penultimate evening of the cruise (as is usual) we had the Chef’s Parade, when we are able to show our appreciation of their incredible hard work.  The food is generally a work of art and just how these people are able to produce such things as the most perfect Souffl├ęs and Baked Alaska on a production scale is quite beyond us.

P1080358

The last photo should perhaps go to the iconic Cunard funnel (which has been the most daring to take!).  We had to trespass into “Queen’s Grill” territory in order to get this pic. as this small area is reserved for those who wish to spend their hard-earned dosh in their own way. 

Tomorrow we’ll wake up in Southampton and, as is customary for us, we’ll self disembark as early as possible.  We’ve very much enjoyed the cruise and the company of some really lovely people over the last couple of weeks.  The ship is stunning in it’s appearance and condition (having also had a bit of a refit recently) and, for us, it’s similarity with P&O’s “Arcadia” has meant that we were instantly familiar with it’s layout.  We must try it’s sister ship “Victoria” (also very similar) sometime as she seems to be preferred by quite a few of the passengers we’ve spoken to – and, we suppose, the icing on the cake has been that we’ve missed all the cold weather in the UK!