All at Sea

Woke up early to a bright and sunny day and, guess what? That’s right, tonight is formal night so that meant free ‘champers’ at breakfast time again. 🙂

We hot-footed it up to the Palms Café and once again I enjoyed some fresh fruits, smoked salmon, coffee and a couple of glasses of the gratis champers. As it was such a lovely morning we took the glasses outside on to the aft deck, by the swimming pool, and enjoyed them sitting in the sun. We also each indulged in another couple of glasses. 🙂 People walking past did a double-take and asked where we’d got the champagne or some made comments like “It’s a bit early for that, isn’t it?” When we told them that it was a traditional Fred Olsen touch to have champagne breakfasts when it was formal night, they went into the Palms Café with a single purpose. We’d set the precedent. 🙂

At 9.30am we went along to the Neptune Lounge where Susie Millar was giving a talk with a difference; this time about the last remaining White Star Line ship, the SS Nomadic, which is currently on display in Belfast. The Nomadic had served as a tender ship to the Titanic and was just like a little scaled down version; in fact it was known as Titanic’s “little sister”’. When the Titanic went down, Nomadic had continued to serve as a tender ship to the Olympic and then had been taken to Paris and moored on the Seine, where it had its funnels and engine removed and had been changed into a floating restaurant and bar, and eventually fell into disuse.

However, the city of Belfast had been saddened to see what had become of one of their ships that had enjoyed such as illustrious history, so they arranged for the Nomadic to be towed back to Belfast, where she is currently being refurbished to her former glory and once again has the White Star Line pennant flying high from her masts. Next time we go to Belfast we’ll definitely have to go and have a look.

After the talk we spent some time wandering about on deck before going up to the Observatory for a light lunch of soup and sandwiches, and listening to the Captain’s noon announcement.

Apart from that we spent the day in our usual leisurely sea-going way: attended the talks, had an afternoon nap, enjoyed a couple of drinks and just relaxed. I did a bit of kumihimo braiding to pass the time, then went up to the salon to get my hair put up for the final formal evening.

Once we’d got all dressed up in our glad rags, it was time to go along to the Neptune lounge once again, this time for the Captain’s Farewell cocktail party. One thing we’ve always appreciated about Fred Olsen cruises is that they always give away a fair amount of free booze. If it’s not champagne breakfasts then it’s deck parties with prodigal quantities of rum punch. 🙂

Captain Robert Bamberg did a really good speech; at one point his mobile phone went off and he removed it from his pocket, looked at the display and said “From the bridge, all is well” to tumultuous applause. He then echoed the thoughts of all of us when he’d said it had been quite some voyage, and one that we’d never experience again. He touched all our hearts when he said that, in 16 years of being at sea, this was the best cruise he’d ever had the privilege of sailing on. 🙂

The Captain thanked us and left the stage; it was a pity he left a bit too quickly to see the standing ovation all the passengers gave him.

Then it was off to the Ballindalloch restaurant for the “last supper” as it were. Tonight was a sumptuous meal of mixed seafood platter of salmon and herring, followed by fresh lobster tails and vegetables. They did the traditional baked Alaska parade and we took some photos of our table mates; David and Joanna and Donny and Barbara. As a memento, I gave each of the ladies a kumihimo bracelet I’d braided during the cruise. 🙂 We also left them our calling cards and we promised to keep in touch.

The entertainment this evening was hilarious; it was the Balmoral Crew Show and featured crew from the housekeeping department, purser’s office, restaurant staff, deck hands and guys from the engine room. There was quite a lot of talent among them; some of the did traditional dancing which was superb; others sang and some of them did comedy dancing. The engine room guys had dressed up by putting their overalls around their hips and shortening the arms and legs; they then had their bellies painted to look like faces and they’d covered their arms, uppers bodies and heads with black bin liners to look like “hair”. The overall effect was of a very short man with a big face and big afro hair. They danced around to the “Crazy Frog” theme and it really was very funny.

We ended the evening as we usually do; going up to the Lido lounge for the music quiz; we got 16 out of 20 and still didn’t win. Then one of the singers, Gavin Murray, did a Queen and Freddie Mercury tribute; I really enjoyed his show as I love Queen music.

We then went along to the Morning Light pub for a nightcap before turning in for the night. Tomorrow morning we were due to wake up in the Big Apple.

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