Last night I didn’t bother going to bed at all. We had to be up at 3.00am this morning and, given our usual bed-time of around midnight, I decided I’d no sooner be in bed asleep when it would be time to get up again. So I didn’t have to get up and get ready, because I was already up and already ready!
The reason for our early start was because we had to drive down to Manchester Airport in time for our 09:35 flight to Bridgetown, Barbados. Yes! Once again it was holiday time, and we would be joining M/S Adonia to start our fortnight-long Caribbean cruise. 🙂
We have been on the Adonia before; in May 2013 when we did a cruise around the British Isles. She is the baby of the P&O fleet, at just over 30,000 tons and 900+ passengers. We liked the balcony cabin we were in last time, B117 starboard side aft, so we’d booked it again and looked forward to being back.
Of course, we have also been to Bridgetown several times before. It is probably the most popular starting port for Caribbean Cruises and its tropical familiarity always brings a happy sense of anticipation of a fantastic, idyllic holiday. We would be leaving behind the cold, wet, frosty, dark British climate to jet off into blue skies, sunshine and temperatures into the high 20s (Celsius). We couldn’t wait! 🙂
We negotiated the run down to Manchester Airport in good time, and parked in the adjacent Jet Parks car park, before awaiting the shuttle bus to transport us to Terminal 1. We didn’t have to wait too long which was just as well; I’d already dressed in anticipation of a tropical climate and the frigid, early-morning February air was nipping at my exposed toes, clad in flip-flops.
Once inside, the queue to check in moved pretty quickly and, having rid ourselves of our cases, we eagerly made our way to the executive lounge to enjoy a few drinks and wait the 90 minutes or so until we’d be called to board. 🙂
Our Thomas Cook aeroplane was quite a modern A330 Airbus, and we were pleased to see that the seats were of the type that cannot be reclined. Yippee! This meant we wouldn’t get some inconsiderate person pushing their seat right back into our laps, something we’ve experienced far too often in the past.
The aircraft had quite a lot of empty seats around, including the one next to me, so I was able to spread myself over two seats and snatch the occasional nap to make up for missing my sleep last night.
We passed the time in the usual way, and eventually the captain put on the “fasten seat belts” sign for our final approach into Grantley Adams Airport, Bridgetown. It was brilliant to be back. 🙂
We disembarked the aircraft into a blast of tropical heat; we had already been told that the temperature was 29ºC. About 30 degrees warmer than what we’d left behind in Blighty.
We made our way to the waiting shuttle buses; our cases would be delivered directly to our cabin later. It was about a 40 minute ride to the cruise terminal, and as the bus rattled its way along familiar routes of lush greenery, palm trees and here and there a glimpse of the sparkling Caribbean sea, the driver put on some Bob Marley music and I had to resist the urge to join in and sing along at the top of my voice. 🙂
Eventually we arrived at the cruise port. We could see most of the space dominated by the behemoth P&O ship Azura, an ugly-looking floating apartment block. We also spotted Fred Olsen’s Braemar, a lovely little ship we’ve had the pleasure of cruising on twice before, and are already booked for another Caribbean cruise on her next year, March 2017! 🙂 Braemar looked as if she’d been given a makeover; instead of an all-white hull, she now had the lower part of the hull painted grey, followed by a red stripe with white above it.
When we arrived at the check-in the queue moved pretty quickly and we were given our cruise cards; it was at this point we were advised we were in cabin A006 and not B117 as expected. We’d been given a free upgrade! However, the cabin is more or less identical, apart from being a deck higher and being on the port side for’ard.
It was lovely to be back on Adonia again; she hasn’t changed at all in the three years since we last cruised on her, so it felt almost like visiting the home of a friend, such was the familiarity. After dumping our hand-luggage in cabin A006 our first quest was to spend some time sitting up at the pool deck, enjoying the tropical sunshine with an ice cold drink. I enjoyed a refreshing mojito while Trevor had a pint of John Smith’s. Britain and work and the daily grind seemed another world away, as we sipped our drinks with the sun burning down, and our hair gently ruffled by a cooling sea breeze. Ah… this is the life. 🙂
Afterwards we returned to our cabin and decided to try to snatch some sleep, as we were slightly jet-lagged and tired after our early start. We only emerged when it was time to go to lifeboat drill.
We have a female captain on this ship! In all the cruises we’ve done (this is our 38th) this is a first – we’ve never had a female captain before. Her name is Captain Sarah Breton and she looks fairly young, so she’s done very well. Girl Power!! :-
Once lifeboat drill was over, we returned our life-jackets to our cabin and went up to the Conservatory buffet for something to eat; I enjoyed some cold meats and salad, some cheeses and a portion of kiwi Pavlova, washed down with good strong coffee. While we were enjoying our meal we watched the Braemar slip her moorings, turn around, and glide past us on whichever exciting voyage she was beginning.
Our appetites appeased, we went back to cabin A006 to find our suitcases had arrived, so we spent the next half-hour or so hanging all our clothes neatly in the wardrobe and drawers. That was the chores over and the holiday could now being in earnest! 🙂
Back up at the Crystal Pool bar we enjoyed another couple of drinks whilst listening to the mediocre musical entertainers, the “Amethyst Duo”. It was supposed to be the “sailaway party” but “party” was hardly the word for it; there were only a few small groups of people dotted here and there around the pool; I think most people must have been tired and gone back to their cabins early.
Around 20:30 hours, just as the Amethyst Duo started murdering a Dire Straits number (Romeo and Juliet) the Adonia gave three blasts on her foghorn which signalled the start of the voyage. Shortly afterwards, we felt increased vibrations from the engines underfoot, and the lights of the port of Bridgetown started to recede. We were on our way! 🙂
We enjoyed another drink sitting in the balmy evening air, and listening to some crickets chirruping; they sounded more in tune than the singers! Adonia‘s previous cruise had been down to the Amazon, so the crickets had probably hitched a lift on the ship, and their exotic sound reminded us that we were well into tropical latitudes.
After our second drink tiredness was now starting to catch up with us, so we made our way back to cabin A006 around 10 o’clock, and settled down for the night, after first opening our balcony door to let in the fresh ocean air, and the soporific sounds of the sea.