German Bight, Dogger, Tyne

We would spend today crossing the North Sea in the famous shipping forecast areas, hence the title of today’s blog.  We would try not to get too depressed that this was the last day of our fantastic cruise and tomorrow afternoon we would be back at work!  ☹

In the Ballindalloch I enjoyed a substantial breakfast of egg, bacon, sausage, mushroom and hash browns.  Then we ventured out on deck to see what the weather was like; the North Sea was amazingly calm, barely a ripple and certainly no cresting waves.

At 10 o’clock we went along to the Neptune Lounge to listen to a presentation about the Vikings in northern Europe, where they settled and how they shaped the future.  Then we stayed in our seats for the following talk, which was called “Tales from the Thin Blue Line” and featured personal anecdotes given by a retired policeman with 30 years in the force, who was one of our fellow passengers.

This took us nicely to 11.45am, so we decided to go along to the Morning Light pub and have a couple of pre-luncheon drinks before the Captain’s noon navigational announcement.

It was pleasant in the Morning Light as we sat on stools at the bar and passed the time with our fellow cruisers, some of whom we’d got to know.  That is what we enjoy about smaller vessels; the fact that you can make new friends (and sometimes meet old ones!) rather than travel on these gigantic mega-ships with 6,000 passengers and never come across the same people twice, as they are swallowed up in the anonymity of the crowds.

At around one o’clock we pondered whether or not to go to lunch, but we’d eaten a good breakfast so we decided to give it a miss and have some roasted nuts and Twiglets to nibble on with our drinks instead.

In fact, we didn’t really do a lot else today.  Looking out of the window we could see that the sun had come out, so rather than waste it by being inside, we went up to the Marquee Deck and took advantage of the lovely weather and gentle sea breeze, enjoying some cold cocktails whilst turning our faces to the sun.  Ah… this is the life!  😊

We sat there for most of the afternoon, just watching the world go by and making the most of Fred Olsen’s all-inclusive drinks package.  Then, as the afternoon progressed into early evening, we reluctantly made our way back to our cabin to get sorted out for the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail Party at 5.45pm.  How the time had passed quickly!  How could it be the ‘farewell’ party already?  A nine-day cruise is far too short.

Nonetheless we pottered around and started tidying up and putting the odd bits and pieces in our cases as we had the chore of packing to do later on.  Then we made our way to the Neptune Lounge for the usual cava and canapés, to listen to the excellent Balmoral Orchestra and watch the ballroom dancers.

Then along we went to the Ballindalloch restaurant and table #76 for the ‘last supper’. All six of us were there tonight; Roy and Joanie and Alex and Marian and us.  We had a tasty meal as usual and lingered over our coffee and liqueurs at the end, so much so that the waiter gently had to usher us out so they could get the table ready for the next sitting!

Tonight the Balmoral Show Company were performing their original show, “Rainbow Cascade” which, as its name suggests, featured songs about colours, such as Yellow Submarine, Paint it Black etc.

We finished the evening by going up to the Observatory for the quiz, but we completed our duck this cruise by not having a single win.  Then we just stayed together talking and laughing and enjoying the music of Adam Reece on the piano.  Slowly the Observatory emptied out as, one by one, people went back to their cabins to finish their packing.  We were reluctant to go back as it would officially be the end of our cruise.  In any case, we would gain an extra hour tonight as the clocks went back to British Summer Time.

Eventually, around 12.45am, we said our goodbyes to the members of ‘table 76’ and returned to our cabin, where we just threw everything into the suitcases and put them outside the door to be taken ashore tomorrow.  Then we settled down for our final night on board the Balmoral.

In the morning, we found ourselves back where we’d started, in the Tyne.  Another very interesting and varied holiday had come to an end.  Can’t wait until the next one!  😊

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