A Flash of Flying Fish

We woke up early this morning once again, looking forward to a whole day at sea.  After a good breakfast in the Waterside buffet we went out on deck, where the sun was already bright and the day promised to be another scorcher.

We decided to spend a couple of hours or so up on the pool deck, swimming and soaking up the sun.  At 8.00am quite a few of the sun loungers were occupied already; with over 3,000 passengers you had to be early to be sure of getting a sun bed in an ideal spot.

We changed into our swimming things, got our sun tan lotion, towels and books and got a decent sun lounger next to the pool.  After about an hour’s sunbathing we took to the cool waters of the pool and enjoyed a leisurely swim.

We allowed ourselves to dry off (which didn’t take long in the tropical heat) then went back to our cabin to change and sit out on the balcony for a while.  The ship’s pub The Exchange was showing the Sunderland v Man City game at 11.00am local time (3.00pm back home) so we wanted to go along to see that.

Sitting out on the balcony we caught a flash of movement on the water – flying fish!  We often see them in the Caribbean; it’s a common sight and the first clue as to their presence comes in the great number of sea birds who swoop and soar above the waves, before going into a steep dive into the water to catch the fish.  The flying fish are fascinating; they skim over the surface of the water using their large lateral fins as rudimentary wings.  Some of them can go for a surprising distance.

At around 10.50am we went along to the Exchange, which we were soon to nickname “Wetherspoon’s” due to its similarity, in style and layout, to establishments belonging to that well-known pub chain.  We managed to get a table with a good view of one of the large plasma screens in readiness to watch the game.  We noticed that, along the top of the bar, a little model steam train was running along, passing the names of stations on the East Coast Main Line.

There were quite a few other Sunderland supporters there as well as one or two Manchester City fans and a lot of impartial fans who’d just come to watch a Premiership game.  As Man City are top of the league, we thought we’d do well to get a point out of them.

A couple of pints later, and a fairly good game, the match reached the 90th minute of play with the score at 0-0.  We would be happy with a draw.  The board went up to show that three minutes of stoppage time was to be added, and Sunderland decided to bring on the substitute in the shape of Ji Don-Wong.  Within seconds of coming on the pitch he scored!  Sunderland 1 Man City 0.  Unbelievable, but the Sunderland fans went off to lunch very happy with that final score.  🙂

We spent the rest of the day pottering around the ship, watching the birds and flying fish, and enjoying some cold beer and cocktails.  Tonight was the Captain’s Gala Party and was a formal evening, so we had to be ready at 5.30pm which is a bit on the early side to be attired in formal wear, but that’s the way it goes.

I went along to the hairdressing salon to get my hair put up, then spent some time getting ready.  I wore my long black and lime green dress and bolero and Trevor had on his black dinner suit and dark blue bow tie and cummerbund.  Off we went to the Captain’s party.

Well!  What a farce.  It had to be the most inappropriate venue ever.  Unlike Cunard ships, P & O vessels don’t have a dedicated ballroom, so they don’t really have a proper venue large enough to cater for the numbers of passengers on these big ships.  So they tend to have the Captain’s cocktail party wherever they can fit the most people.  On the Arcadia that was up on the deck next to the pool which was bad enough; but here on the Ventura the party was held in the atrium area, in and around reception and the staircase, over three levels!  How ridiculous.  As it was an open area in the centre of the ship and included the Purser’s desk and the shops, in tended to be a ‘through’ area for access from one end of the ship to the other.  That meant, while we were in our formal glad-rags, passengers on the later sitting were walking through in shorts, flip-flops, and even swimsuits and sarongs.  Were they taking the Mick or what?!

When the Captain arrived to give his little speech and introduce his senior officers, he had to do it on the stairs.  How daft.  However, Trevor and I did, as ever, manage to position ourselves near the table of free drinks, from which we replenished our glasses more than once before dinner.  😉

In the Bay Tree restaurant later on, we found we only had Don, the 85-year old solo traveller, for company – there was no sign of Peter and Kate, so maybe they’d gone to one of the other restaurants or decided to give dinner a miss.

The show in the theatre tonight was called ‘Destination Dance’ and featured the Headliners Theatre Company showing off their choreography of different dances from different eras and nations.  The costumes were very good and it was an excellent show.

Then it was off to ‘Wetherspoons’ where we were just in time to make the last 15 minutes or so of the karaoke.  I got up and did a rendition of These Boots Were Made For Walking by Nancy Sinatra, but I only had time to do the one.  Perhaps later on in the cruise.

Afterwards we went into the Havana Lounge to see Paul Eastwood, a comedian.  The place was packed and we could only sit on bar stools near the back.  I couldn’t hear very well because of the noise of the barmen taking customer orders and mixing drinks, but what I did hear was very funny.

Then it was off to bed in B238 – tomorrow we were due to reach our first port of call, Curaçao in the Dutch Antilles.

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