A Rainy Day in Dublin

We awoke this morning to yet more grey skies and windy weather as the Queen Victoria glided through the Irish Sea on her way into Dublin, Ireland’s capital. We were not due to arrive until 1.00pm, so we had the morning at our leisure.

After breakfast we ventured out onto the aft decks, but as expected it was too cold and windy to make it a pleasant experience. A few intrepid joggers were going through their paces around the pool area, but we didn’t stay out long at all. In fact, I remarked to Trevor that this cruise must have seen us spend the least time on the open decks of any cruise. Quite different from the Caribbean, where it is a waste of the fantastic sunshine to be inside! 🙂

At 10.00am we went along to the Royal Court Theatre where a lady called Margaret Ryan was giving a presentation about her time spent working for Cunard as a purser on those great ocean liners Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. The talk was excellent and gave a fascinating insight into life on board the old ocean liners before air travel really took off (pun intended).   🙂

How luxurious those ships were, and how interesting it was to see how passengers made their own amusement and entertainment in the days before the internet, email, wi-fi – even television was a new phenomenon then. A far cry from the ghastly Royal Caribbean ships of today with their climbing walls, wave pools and Disney parades.

We looked forward to Margaret Ryan’s next talk, which would cover the Queen Elizabeth 2 as well as the current Cunard Queens – on all of which we have had the pleasure of sailing.

Around 11.45am we went along to the Golden Lion to be sure of getting our lunch for 12.00 noon; we were due to go on an excursion at 2 o’clock and we would probably not be back in time for our dinner at six, so we decided to eat a substantial lunch before we went. Trevor had the steak and ale pie and I opted for a chicken tikka masala, washed down with a glass of wine. 🙂

Afterwards we watched the Queen Victoria making her way into port, while the rain lashed down outside (typical!). We passed a number of other cruise ships, including the well-known and much-loved Marco Polo. We have done three cruises on Marco Polo and she is a proper classic ship from the old days – in fact she celebrates her 50th birthday this year.

Once the Queen Victoria was alongside, we went back to our cabin and gathered together our stuff (including cagoules and umbrella!) and went along to the theatre to await the call for our excursion. We have been to Dublin twice before, but each time we’ve just looked around at our own leisure (including visits to the Guinness Brewery) so we thought we’d do a city tour and riverboat cruise on the River Liffey today.

When our group was called to disembark, it was a mad dash in the rain across the tarmac to the waiting buses. Once we were all settled, the bus set off through the rain-lashed streets of Dublin. There was also a horrendous amount of Friday-afternoon traffic, and we crawled along at a snail’s pace as we watched the water pouring down the windows of the bus in torrents. Each time we paused for a photo stop, no-one made any effort to get off the bus.

Our guide told us all about the early beginnings of Dublin, from its time as a Viking settlement to becoming Ireland’s principal city following the Norman invasion. The city expanded rapidly from the 17th century and was briefly the second largest city in the British Empire before the Act of Union in 1800. It ended up being known as ‘Dublin’ because no-one could pronounce the Irish name of Duibhlinn.

As we made our way through streets broad and narrow (see what I did there?) there was no sign of the rain, or the traffic, relenting. We eventually pulled up at a large park that was being set up for the “Bloom 2015” flower festival, an annual event that attracts lots of visitors. On our way we passed a number of wild deer in the park, and the young trees and saplings had wire mesh around their trunks to stop the deer eating them.

Here we would take a comfort break. There was a café, toilets and souvenir shop and the guide said we had 30 minutes. We went inside to have a cup of tea, and the array of cakes and scones looked so tempting that we had to have one – it was the biggest fruit scone I’d ever seen.  🙂

Back on the bus we continued our sight-seeing tour. Our next stop was to the banks of the Liffey where we would take a 45 minute river cruise. However, as we were running late (and due to the inclement weather), some of the passengers said they just wanted to go back to the ship. It was therefore decided that they would drop us off at the river cruiser and take the others back, returning for us at the end of the cruise.

The riverboat ride would have been excellent if it hadn’t been for the rain, which prevented us seeing out of the windows properly. Our guide was friendly and had a fun Irish sense of humour. We glided along the river, going under several bridges, and the guide explained how grey seals sometimes came into the Liffey and he’d spotted one with a fish in its mouth just yesterday.

When the cruise finished we were running very late and we had a wait of about 15-20 minutes before the coach came back for us. It was after 7.00pm when we got back on board the Queen Victoria, so we only had time for a brief wash and brush up before going up to the Lido buffet for our dinner. As we’d had a substantial lunch and the giant scone, I only had a little salad.

After getting changed into something a bit smarter for tonight’s show, we made our way to our usual centre front seats in the Royal Court Theatre. Tonight we had some special guests on board – a group of Irish singers and dancers called “Gaels Afloat”. There were four musicians/singers, and three dancers and their show was brilliant. The group played the keyboard, guitar, banjo, flute and Northumbria pipes and the songs were lively and catchy; I could see people tapping their toes and clapping their hands.

The three dancers – one male and two female – were superb and did typical Irish dancing in the Riverdance tradition. We enjoyed the show immensely and were sorry when it was over.

After the show we went, as we always do, to the Golden Lion to take part in the quiz. We were joined by the same couple who were in our team the other night. We only scored 23/30 so we didn’t win.

As the Queen Victoria was due to weigh anchor around 11.30pm, we decided to go up to the Commodore Club, which has panoramic views from high up above the bow, to watch the sailaway. The Commodore Club was dimly lit with sumptuous leather sofas and chairs; a pianist played gentle background music.

I ordered a Manhattan cocktail from the extensive list while Trevor stuck to beer, and we watched as the Queen Victoria slowly moved away from the dock, so imperceptibly you couldn’t be sure if she was moving or not. We watched the lights of Dublin recede into the distance as we left our last port of call in this cruise.

Tomorrow we had a day at sea to look forward to, so we hoped the weather would improve.

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