Take time to see the wonders of the world, to see the things you’ve only ever heard of.
So sang the Human League, in their 1981 hit The Things That Dreams Are Made Of. But indeed we are hopefully going to see some more wonders in our latest cruise, to the German Waterways, departing from the Port of Tyne on M/S Balmoral, a fantastic little ship on which we’ve cruised twice before, in 2012 and in 2016.
Yes! It seems ages since we were away in March, so it was with excitement that we woke up this morning ready to embark on our latest nautical adventure. Trevor put in half a day at work and was home by lunchtime, so after a light bite to eat we set off for the half-hour drive to Newcastle.
Check-in was very quick and efficient; in fact from closing our front door to going up the gang-plank of the Balmoral it took little over an hour. After happily making our way to cabin 4137, we dumped our bags and set off to the bar at the aft decks, to enjoy a pint of beer each in the (rare!) Newcastle sunshine. 😊
We are travelling all-inclusive which only costs a supplement of £10.00 per person per day, so after a couple of rounds of drinks the rest is, effectively, free!
At 4.30pm the bars closed temporarily for lifeboat drill, which seemed pretty perfunctory compared to most drills we’ve attended. I think it was because most of the passengers are seasoned cruisers and know the procedure off by heart (seven short blasts of the ship’s whistle followed by one long blast etc.). We were, however, surprised to see quite a lot of children on board; in general Fred Olsen cruises tend to attract the 60+ crowd, but I suppose it is the middle of the school summer holidays, after all.
At 5.30pm the increased vibrations coming up through the decks announced the departure of the Balmoral, as she slowly moved away from the dockside and started to make her way down the Tyne towards the North Sea. We returned to cabin 4137 where I had time to get changed and a wash and brush up before going along to the beauty salon at six o’clock for a pedicure. In the salon they were also giving away free prosecco, so I enjoyed a couple of glasses of fizz while having my feet pampered. It was lovely and relaxing, lying in my reclining chair, watching the banks of the Tyne gliding past as we started our cruise. Just then, the Balmoral gave three blasts of her foghorn, which to me is the symbolic start of any voyage. 😊
Trevor, meanwhile, had gone along to the restaurant and ordered my meal for me, as I knew I would be slightly late. Turning up at the Ballindalloch restaurant, I made my way to table #76 and met our table-mates who would be our dining companions for the nine-night cruise. They are Alex and Marian from Norfolk and Roy and Joanie from Middlesbrough. They all seemed very pleasant, and we enjoyed a tasty meal in excellent company.
Afterwards we were joined by Joanie in the Neptune Lounge, where the cruise director Jennifer Daulby introduced us to the entertainments team. We recognised one of the mail dancers, Julian, from our cruise on the Boudicca last year; he is an excellent dancer and we would look forward to seeing more of him later on in the cruise.
We finished the evening off by going up to the Observatory lounge for the quiz, where we were joined by Alex and Marian from our table. We scored 12/15, not enough to win.
We didn’t stay too long afterwards, as we had to put our clocks forward an hour to German time, so we would lose an hour in bed. We therefore returned to cabin 4137 and settled down, where we slept soundly.