Into the North Sea

Woke up at 8.00am after an excellent night’s sleep. I’d been wearing some industrial-strength earplugs while I slept so nothing disturbed me at all, and I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when I got out of bed, despite the fact that we’d had to put our watches forward an hour to European time.  Looking outside, the day seemed cloudy but dry, with barely any wind; a perfect November day, in fact.

We ate breakfast in the Belvedere self-service, and I enjoyed a selection of cold meats and cheeses with fresh pineapple and melon, washed down with orange juice and good hot coffee.  At around nine o’clock (which felt like 8.00am) a crowd of people came in; it looked as if they’d forgotten about the time difference or were just late risers, either way we were glad we’d missed the rush.

Afterwards we decided to go along to the shopping arcade and see if we could pick up any bargains.  In any case, I’d come out of the house without a coat or outdoor jacket; all I had was my fleece-lined corduroy jeans jacket which would probably be OK as long as it didn’t rain.  However, looking in the shops I spotted some “Right as Rain” cagoules by Joules; they are 100% waterproof and this one was a lightweight one as well as being longer than the usual cagoule length.  It was reduced to £31.00 so I bought it; I will just keep it in the suitcase permanently as it will never come amiss on holiday.  I also bought some Benefit mascara, my favourite brand.

After pottering around for a bit, we took a walk outside on deck in the calm but crisp air.  The Arcadia was only going along slowly, about 11-12 knots, and we could see the hazy outline of land in the distance, probably France.  Of course, a crossing to Zeebrugge can be done from Southampton overnight, but they were just stringing this out into a three-night cruise to give the passengers (particularly the first-timers) a taste of life at sea.

We then decided to go and have a cup of coffee while I did some of this blog.  Then we showed Iris all around the ship; from the Neptune pool deck with its retractable roof, to the well-equipped gym to the spa and hairdressing salon.

The morning passed in its usual pleasant way and, at lunchtime, we thought we’d go to the Neptune Grill on the pool deck where they were serving a light lunch.  I enjoyed a crisp green salad with cold meats and pâté and pickles, while Trevor and Iris had some fish, chips and mushy peas.  We each washed them down with a glass of cold beer, and spent some time just sitting people watching and chatting.  Some people were making the most of the swimming pool and hot tubs, but we hadn’t brought any cossies with us this time.

The noon-day navigational information from the bridge gave our position and the officer of the watch advised that the Arcadia would be dropping anchor at around 5.00pm before continuing into Zeebrugge at 5.00am tomorrow morning.

At 1.00pm we went along to the Rising Sun pub where they were holding a “Name That Tune” quiz.  We found the questions quite easy and scored 37/40; we guessed that there would be a lot of high scoring teams and indeed the team whose answers we marked got 39/40.  There were, however, a couple of teams who scored full marks, so it had to go to a tie-breaker.

We sat in the Rising Sun for a short while afterwards, before returning to cabin A103 for a half-hour power nap to make up for the hour we lost last night.

As it was a sea day, tonight was a formal evening.  There would be no captain’s cocktail party, however, as most cruise lines don’t do them for cruises under five days in length.  Nevertheless we always enjoy a chance to dress up, and it was a chance for Iris to wear her long dress and glam up a bit.  😊

I went up to the pool bar and got myself a glass of prosecco to drink while I was getting ready.  I took a while doing my make-up and I’d brought a lovely platinum blonde bobbed wig with me to save having to spend ages on my hair.  Then, at 6.00pm I donned my lime green and black full-length dress which had a neat little bolero jacket trimmed in sequins; I teamed my ensemble with a pair of gold high heels.  Then we all decided to go and see the official ship’s photographer to get our formal portraits taken.

This brought us nicely to dinner time, so along we went to table #45 in the Meridian restaurant and enjoyed another scrumptious meal washed down with wine and finished off with cheese and a nice glass of ruby port.  Then we had time for a cocktail up in the Crow’s Nest before hot-footing it along to the Palladium theatre for tonight’s entertainment.

The show featured a singer called Jon Fisher, who was a dead ringer for Gary Barlow from Take That, and indeed that was who he was going to perform as tonight.  He sang a lot of the best of Gary’s songs, such as Patience and Let It Shine, as well as some of the classic Take That hits such as Never Forget and Back For Good.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable show, although I think the ladies enjoyed it more than the men.  😊

We pottered around a bit and by the time Iris and I had joined the inevitable queue for the ladies’ loos we arrived at the Rising Sun too late to join the quiz.   We therefore went to the Spinnaker Bar and listened for a short while to the musician there, before returning to the Rising Sun at 10.30pm for Karaoke Hour.  I was on two minds whether or not to get up and sing, as I am still recovering from a cold/cough and my voice is still a little throaty.  I did get up and sing Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinéad O’Connor, but I had difficulty hitting the high notes and it wasn’t up to my usual standard.

Around 11.00pm Iris was flagging and wished us goodnight before returning to our cabin.  Trevor and I stayed longer, and I got up and sang Amy Winehouse’s You Know I’m No Good which I managed a lot better as it’s for a much lower voice.  We then remained in the Rising Sun until around midnight, and had a quick look outside before returning to our cabin.  The Arcadia was at anchor now in the North Sea, and all was calm and still.

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