The Leaving of Liverpool

Our friends and family say we are mad. They can think of no other explanation as to our choice of holiday destination. After all, northern Britain in November – a month where autumn hovers uncertainly at the edge of winter – is cold and dark. So where are we going for our holidays? Somewhere even colder and darker. 🙂

Yes, we are once again setting off on a cruise, this time on the Boudicca, a Fred Olsen ship on which we have sailed before, in July 2008. We are leaving from Liverpool to head north, up the coast of picturesque Norway and ultimately to 70º north, well above the Arctic Circle. Our aim is to catch a glimpse of the elusive Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. 2014 is supposed to be a good year for aurora, due to a lot of solar activity this year.

We got up at 6.00am and finished our packing and sorted ourselves out in time for our taxi, which arrived at 7.00am exactly. One thing I will say for Paddy’s Taxis, they are (and always have been) extremely reliable.

It only took five minutes to get to Durham railway station where we were pleased to see that our train to Liverpool Lime Street was on time. Boarding the train and making our way to our reserved seats, we pulled slowly out of the station as dawn broke over the distinctive silhouette of our own impressive and awe-inspiring Durham Cathedral. For visitors to Durham, the best view of the cathedral and castle is from the train station, and it is a sight I never, ever tire of. 🙂

After 50 minutes we arrived at York, and decided it was a good time to crack open the bottle of chilled cava we’d brought, along with some orange juice, to enjoy a couple of glasses of Buck’s Fizz each, along with the snacks we’d brought to keep us going.

The three hour journey to Liverpool whizzed by, and it seemed no time before we were pulling into Lime Street, bang on time. It was then just a case of getting the Metro a couple of stops along, to James Street, where a lively pub “The Liverpool”, was conveniently situated next door.

After whiling away the hours in the pub, and enjoying a few drinks, it was time to go to embark the Boudicca. The cruise terminal was only about a quarter of a mile away, so it was a matter of minutes to trundle our cases along to the check-in desks.

Embarkation was very quick and efficient, with no waiting around. We left our cases with the luggage handler, got our boarding passes and happily made our way up the gang-plank and along to our cabin on Deck 5. On the way, I stopped off at the hair salon to book in for my hair to be put up for the formal evenings. Then we went to our cabin, number 5050, to dump our bags and change out of our walking boots into some lighter footwear. We’d worn our boots instead of packing them, as they’d take too much room up in the case.

Our cabin is a superior outside one, with a window instead of portholes, twin beds, a dressing table and a couple of chairs. The bathroom has a bath tub as well as a shower. This would be our ‘home’ for the next 16 nights. 🙂

As we are cruising all-inclusive, we decided to go and have a drink (free!) so we went to the Lido Lounge at the stern of the ship, where they had some comfortable settees on which to relax. Trevor had a couple of pints of Boddington’s and I enjoyed some sparkling wine.

We then heard the announcement for passenger lifeboat drill, so we went back to our cabin, got our lifejackets, and proceeded to our muster station. Then it was the usual rigmarole; listen to the distress signal (seven short blasts of the ship’s whistle, followed by one long blast), practise putting on our lifejackets etc, then back to cabin 5050, where we enjoyed a half hour power nap before it was time to get changed for dinner. We have been allocated table number 32, a table for six, in the Four Seasons restaurant.

In the restaurant we met the two other couples who are to be our table companions for the next couple of weeks, David and Jill from Shropshire, and Trevor and Eileen from Chester. So there are two Trevors on table 32. 🙂

As on all Fred Olsen cruises, dinner was delicious. I started with smoked salmon and avocado, followed by Caesar salad and a tasty lamb korma. Then I finished off with some cheeses and a nice glass of amaretto. 🙂

At around 7.30pm Boudicca slowly started to make her way down the Mersey, heading for the Irish Sea. Our voyage had begun.

Our hunger well appeased, we then went along to the Neptune Lounge, where we procured a table at the front to watch tonight’s cabaret, a performance from the Boudicca Show Company. It was very good indeed. Then we finished the evening off by going up to the Lido Lounge to take part in the quiz (we got 17/20, not enough to win) and enjoy a few more gratis drinks.

Around 11.30pm the day (along with all the drinks we’d had!) caught up with us, so we made our way back to our cabin for our first night on board the Boudicca. 🙂

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