We should have spent today at sea, but because of the change in itinerary we awoke to find ourselves docked in Invergordon, on the Cromarty Firth. Once again the day was bright and sunny – we really have been very lucky, considering how fickle the weather is in Britain.
Our excursion today would take us along the coastline to Loch Ness, famous world-wide as the alleged home of “Nessie”, the Loch Ness Monster.
The tide was low and the Marco Polo had placed the gang-plank at Deck 6 instead of the usual Deck 5, as we were so low in the dock. We set off on the bus alongside the Cromarty Firth, where one other small cruise ship was docked. Our first stop was at the Drumnadrochit Hotel and visitor centre, where we would learn all about the phenomenon that is the Loch Ness Monster.
Loch Ness is 0ver 755 feet deep and contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined, and is the largest body of water on the Great Glen Fault, which runs from Inverness in the north to Fort William in the south. In 1933 it was alleged that an eye witness had seen a large, dark serpent-like shape in the water.
The term “monster” was reportedly applied for the first time to the creature on 2 May 1933 by Alex Campbell, the water bailiff for Loch Ness and a part-time journalist, in a report in the Inverness Courier. On 4 August 1933, the Courier published as a full news item the assertion of a London man, George Spicer, that a few weeks earlier while motoring around the Loch, he and his wife had seen “the nearest approach to a dragon or pre-historic animal that I have ever seen in my life”, trundling across the road toward the Loch carrying “an animal” in its mouth. Other letters began appearing in the Courier, often anonymously, with claims of land or water sightings, either on the writer’s part or on the parts of family, acquaintances or stories they remembered being told. These stories soon reached the national (and later the international) press, which described a “monster fish”, “sea serpent”, or “dragon”,eventually settling on “Loch Ness Monster”.
The people who had allegedly seen the monster were of sound mind, quite rational and adamant about what they had seen, and there seemed no reason to doubt them. They were not lying, but detailed scientific studies show that there’s a good chance they were mistaken about what they’d actually seen.
Of course, there are also the many hoaxes that have occurred, by pranksters making the most of the legend. Nevertheless, it has proved to be great for the tourism industry at Loch Ness, and the Exhibition Centre we were visiting gets many visitors every day.
When we came out of the visitors’ centre we had a look round the nearby souvenir shops and sat out in the sun with a refreshing cold drink. Then we boarded the bus for the return journey to the ship, via Inverness.
When we arrived back at Invergordon, the tide had come in and the Marco Polo had risen in the water. They were therefore in the process of replacing the gang-plank with a longer one, so we had to wait a short while before we could board. Then we went back to cabin 602 to dump our bags before making our way to the buffet for a light lunch.
Tonight’s dress code was formal attire, so at 4.30pm I went to have my hair put up before getting dressed in a black and red velvet Goth dress, lace necklace and black wrap. Unusually, there was no Captain’s cocktail party, so we wouldn’t have the chance to be photographed with Captain Antonellos as we were 24 years ago. We later found out that Cruise & Maritime Voyages only have Captain’s Cocktail Parties for cruises over five nights’ duration which is a bit mean really; after all, we’ve been on three-day cruises and had them; a little bit of glamour really adds to the experience.
After dinner, however, the waitresses did come round with trays of sparkling wine, which was nothing to write home about, being a cheap demi-sec brand rather than the proper Brut méthode traditionnelle which is true of Spanish cava and Italian prosecco as well as champagne. This stuff tasted more like Lambrini (and probably was). Never mind, it was free. 🙂
In the Marco Polo Lounge the show tonight was called “Go, Go, Go Joseph” and was the showteam’s version of the West End hit Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. It was very well done as usual; the music, acting and costumes were great. Then it was along to Scott’s Bar for our last night on board Marco Polo. 😦
The game show tonight was “Mr & Mrs” (or the Marriage Game as it’s known in the USA) so Trevor and I volunteered to take part. There were two other couples participating, and each person was asked four questions. The ladies answered first, then the gents. After the first round, in which Trevor correctly gave the same answers as me, we were in the lead with maximum points, 40 out of 40. 🙂
Then the gentlemen had their questions. I correctly answered three of Trevor’s, so we ended up with 70/80, by far and away the top score. We had won again! 🙂
So it was another free cocktail of the day each and when the guy gave us our CMV medallions, he said to Trevor, “That’s the fourth one of those I’ve had to give you”. Actually, no – it was the fifth, ha ha. 🙂 I’m sure everyone in Scott’s Bar knew us by now; the entertainment team certainly knew our names! 🙂
The evening finished with some songs from the 60’s and we went to bed late again, despite still having our case to pack and the fact that we had to be up and out of our cabin by 7.30 in the morning.