Calmer Crossing

We woke up this morning at 7.50am and looked out of our portholes at sunny weather and a flat calm Atlantic ocean.  Tonight was a formal night, so we knew there would be free fizz on offer at breakfast.  😉

We went up to the Grampian Restaurant and chose the table nearest the prosecco ice bucket.  I enjoyed a breakfast of fresh fruits and smoked salmon washed down with a couple of glasses of the free prosecco and good hot coffee to set me up for the day.  🙂

Then we went along to the Future Cruises booking desk for 9.00am, where we had an appointment with the on-board travel agent.  We had seen a cruise in the new brochure for 2018/19 that we were interested in, so we were here to find out more details.

We ending up booking another cruise!  Whoo-hoo!  We depart on Boxing Day 2018 and fly out to Port Louis, Mauritius, to start a 14-night cruise of the Indian Ocean.  The ship is Boudicca on which we’ve cruised three times before and we will go to Réunion island, the Seychelles, then cross the Indian Ocean to the Maldives, finally finishing at Colombo, Sri Lanka.  We have booked a balcony cabin and it all looks fantastic.  Not only would we see in 2019 from gorgeous sunny climes but we would also cross the Equator, from south to north.  How incredibly exciting.  🙂

Afterwards we went out on deck.  The sea was very calm and there were only tiny wavelets; no white caps at all.  The sky was blue with the sun shining brightly amid the fluffy white cumulus clouds.  It was a perfect day and we sat out at the aft decks and watched the foaming wake stretching out into the distance as the Braemar steamed her way across the ocean.  It was a lovely way to pass the time, and one that I will never tire of.

At 12.15pm we took part in the “Name that Tune” quiz in the Coral Club, but despite scoring 14/15 we still didn’t win!  Only one quiz win for us so far this cruise.

After lunch we spent some more time out in the sunshine.  By now they’d taken the nets off the pool and put all the sun loungers out again, so the decks were crowded with recumbent bodies.  We went to the Marquee Bar and enjoyed a couple of cold cocktails and just passed the time pleasantly until around two o’ clock when it was time for something different – the Braemar’s inter-departmental Tug o’ War competition.  This would feature teams from the engine room, housekeeping, the entertainments team, the galley, the junior officers and the bar staff, with men’s and ladies’ teams.  It promised to be a fun event.

We got a good vantage point at the front of the area which had been roped off for the competition.  Elliot hosted it and got the teams together and warned them against any cheating or other nefarious activity.  Apparently on the previous cruise one team had tied their end of the rope to the ship’s railings and the other team didn’t even notice, pulling away fruitlessly.  I bet that was hilarious to watch.  🙂

It was great fun watching the teams competing amidst lusty cheers from their colleagues and from the spectating passengers.  Some teams were pulled clear across the line by their stronger opponents, their shoes slithering uselessly on the decking.  Other teams were more evenly matched and it was hard to predict the winners.  It ended up being the Engine Room boys being the men’s winners, and the Junior Officers being the ladies’ winners.  It was a really entertaining interlude, standing there on the deck in the sunshine.

We had time to return to the cabin briefly before making our way to the Neptune Lounge to listen to a talk called “Interesting Times” which was about historic events from 1940-2017 which had shaped our lives.  The speaker, however, was inaccurate with some of his dates; for example saying the Berlin Wall came down in 1981 (it was 1989) and that Margaret Thatcher became the first female prime minister in 1974 (it was 1979).  It also sounded that some of the ‘facts’ he was pontificating were just the (not always accurate) generally held views, rather than conclusions he’d reached as a result of his own research.  So I wasn’t really too impressed with the talk; anyone could have done it really, you didn’t have to be a historical expert.

At 4.45pm I went along to the Atlantis Spa to get my hair put up in readiness for tonight’s formal evening.  He guy did a nice job of it; he back-combed it a little to give it some volume, then put it into an elegant French pleat with some little tendrils hanging down to frame my face.  It only cost £20.00 which is far cheaper than an updo costs at home (£28.00).

We then got ourselves dressed and ready; I wore a long burgundy dress with a sequinned bodice and matching sequinned jacket, and Trevor wore his dinner suit with a black bow-tie and cummerbund.  Thus attired, we went up to the Thistle Restaurant for a sumptuous dinner, including a superbly-delicious lobster thermidor.  Yum yum!  🙂

The show in the Neptune Lounge tonight was called “Let’s Swing” and, as its title suggested, was a tribute to the Rat Pack and other swing and big-band music.  It was very good; we always find the entertainment on Fred ships to be superb; considering they are small show companies on small ships it is amazing what they can achieve.

Then of course it was time for the quiz, where a win eluded us once again.  Tonight, however, there was a second show in the Coral Club; the Morning Light’s resident singer/guitarist Luke Palmer playing big ballads while the Revolverlites singer Natasha sang.  They were actually very good together, better than Luke on his own who is not really that good a singer.

Then we just passed the last hour or so listening the Revolverlites’ music and enjoying one more drink before turning in.  We were quite tired after the lost hour last night and the fact we were up fairly early, so we slept soundly, the gentle motion of the Braemar lulling us to sleep.

Saturday, 11th March 2017

We awoke later than usual this morning, around 8.45am.  The sun was still out and the ocean still calm with barely a ripple; I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Atlantic as flat as this.  We had the morning completely at our leisure as there were no scheduled talks this morning because the staff were getting the Neptune Lounge ready for the Braemar’s version of a “Country Fayre” this afternoon, to raise money for charity; namely orphanages in Thailand and the Philippines.

We ate our breakfast outside and it was very pleasant sitting listening to the “shhhhhhh” sounds of the ocean washing against the side of the Braemar and feeling the gentle sea breeze in our hair.

Then we just pottered around a bit; went to the shop to see what bargains were on offer today, looked in the photo gallery to view our formal photos (we didn’t buy them and in any case we have absolutely loads of formal cruise photos!).  Then, as it was such a lovely day, we went and sat out in the sun at the aft decks and enjoyed a freezing cold pint of Stella Artois each, which really went down a treat.

At 12.15pm we decided to go inside (“mad dogs and Englishmen” and all that) and take part in the “Name that Tune” quiz.  Again we scored 14/15 but still no win!  😦

I decided to eat a decent lunch and miss going to dinner tonight, so we went up to the Grampian restaurant and had a table next to the window with fantastic high-up sea views and partook of a glass of chilled rosé with our meal.

Afterwards we just spent some time back in cabin # 3074 as Trevor wanted to watch the England v Scotland rugby match at 2.00pm.  So I did some crocheting, wrote some of this blog and decided to have a look in the Neptune Lounge at the Country Fayre which was on until four o’clock.

The Neptune Lounge was decorated with bunting and streamers and set out in the style of the traditional “All the Fun of the Fair”.  There was a ‘guess the weight of the cake’ stall, golf-putting, ‘name the teddy bear’, darts, ‘find where the Spanish galleon sank’ (by sticking a pin in a map) and lots of other things.  I had a go at the putting (no good), bought a beaker of Pimms and lemonade, and also purchased a couple of raffle tickets at a fiver each; one to win afternoon tea with the Captain, and one to win a mini-cruise.

Also, Elliot the cruise director was over by the Spa area (where you could pay a pound for a 60-second neck and shoulder massage) and, for a pound, you could put a wax strip on his leg or chest and pull it off!  They had Elliot lying back on the massage table, surrounded by ladies waiting to help wax him, and it was so funny to see him wince or jump whenever a strip was torn off him.  🙂

The other thing that made me laugh was the ‘human fruit machine’.  This consisted of three guys standing in a booth with a lady standing to one side holding a large maraca.  You pulled down on the maraca (the handle) and each guy, in turn, would hold up a fruit – an apple, orange, pear or banana.  Three of the same fruit won you a prize.

It was all good light-hearted fun and helped to raise money for a worthwhile cause.  At the close of the fair there was also an ‘art auction’ in which pieces that had previously decorated the Braemar were being auctioned off.  However, the paintings/prints were HUGE – not only were people worried about how they’d get them home (Elliot said FOCL would have them couriered home for the winning bidders) but who would have the wall space on which to hang them? You’d have to live in a mansion.  So, unsurprisingly, there were few to no bidders for some of the pieces, and the art auction was not really much of a success, apart from one smaller piece, a painting on canvas of a sailing ship at sea, which fetched £190.00.

Then the raffles were drawn, but unfortunately we didn’t win this time.  All in all though, it passed a pleasant interlude before we went into the Morning Light pub for an afternoon drink.

Then we wandered around the decks again, passing the time pleasantly with our fellow passengers and relaxing in a way that only those who have completed a transatlantic voyage would know.  🙂

I skipped dinner again this evening, and instead went into the Morning Light to have a couple of glasses of cava and do some of this blog.  While I was in there The Lovers came in and stood at the bar, making a lot of noise and drawing attention to themselves (and not in a good way).   The woman had on a dress that was far too short as well as some high wedge heels, and her makeup looked as if it had been trowelled on.  She was tittering and simpering and giggling in a really annoying way as the man couldn’t keep his wrinkly hands off her.  Yurk!  😦

I went up to the Thistle Restaurant in time for the coffee-and-liqueurs stage, but enjoyed a melt-in-the-mouth crème brûlée while I was there.  Then we went along to the Neptune Lounge to watch John Lenahan, the comedy magician again.  The lounge was fairly packed so we could only get a view of the stage from the side, but John did move around and show all sides of the room his tricks.  We enjoyed his show better this time; it really was hilarious; his jokes and patter as well as his tricks and illusions.

We finished the evening as we always do on board the Braemar; along to the Coral Club for the quiz with Jackie and Kathy (where once again a win eluded us), then the second performance.  Tonight it was called “Oh, What a Night” and featured the songs and music of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, very well performed by the Braemar Show Company.

At 11.00pm The Revolverlites came back on, and the dance floor soon filled up.  We enjoyed a few more drinks – they do a particularly good sangria here on board, consisting of red wine, brandy, Cointreau, lemonade, fruit and lots of ice.  🙂

At midnight the disco started, and although we said we wouldn’t stay long it ended up being after 1.00am when we left, because a few other people came over and joined us and we got chatting.  Apparently they are all solo travellers and they share the same table in the restaurant, so they’d become shipboard friends.

Then The Lovers arrived and joined the dance floor in a touchy-feely giggly fashion as the woman continued to do her amusing, very-stiff-legged dance.  We decided this was probably a good time to return to our cabin as the clocks were due to go an hour forward again tonight, so it was really after 2.00am.  We’d had a good day.

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