Bound for the Boudicca

On disembarking the aircraft, if we’d thought our destination was minutes away, we had another think coming.  We may have arrived in Mauritius but, as it would turn out, we still had a long time to go until we boarded the Boudicca.

What can I say?  Here we all were; tired, dishevelled and disgruntled, impatiently eager to start our long-awaited holiday.  Instead, we were met with immense queues, and no-one seemed to know what to do or where to go.  Apparently, five flights had arrived at the small airport more or less at the same time, and it was utter chaos.

After joining a queue and not moving at all for 10 minutes, we spotted another queue that was moving, so a group of about eight of us went to join that queue.  At that point our queue stopped moving as well; in fact, the place got even more crowded as more and more people arrived in the immigration building. One of the five aircraft that had arrived was an Airbus A380, those absolute giants that hold over 500 passengers, so there wasn’t a lot we could do.  Needless to say, after a 12-hour overnight flight quite a lot of us were grumpy and disgruntled, and our patience was tried to the limit.

To cut a long and extremely boring story short… we eventually got through, out of the airport and onto the shuttle bus, where it took a further hour’s travel before we spotted the familiar grey-and-white shape of the Boudicca moored up in a sparkling azure Indian Ocean.  It was three trying hours since we’d disembarked the aircraft, but now we were here at long last, and our fantastic cruise could begin right now!  😊

We happily made our way up the gang-plank and were directed to the Neptune Lounge to collect our cruise cards.  Trevor and I had booked a balcony cabin on deck 7 (number 7043) but when we checked in, we were allocated cabin 7038 which turned out to be a junior suite! We’d evidently been given a free upgrade!

Our room was massive!  It was 260 square feet, 100 square feet bigger than the standard balcony cabins.  When you opened the door there was a little lobby with a bathroom to the right and large walk-in closet to the left.  Another door then led to the main cabin, which contained a king-size bed with crisp cotton sheets, settee and armchair, coffee table and huge dressing table and chair.  The dressing table had a large mirror above it, adjacent to a flat-screen TV fixed to the wall.  Floor-to-ceiling patio doors opened onto a balcony terrace, which contained a couple of chairs and a small table.  It all looked fantastic and was decorated tastefully in shades of turquoise and pale grey, with bright pictures on the walls.  😊

On the coffee table awaiting us was a vase containing a hand-tied bouquet of colourful flowers, a fruit basket with apples, oranges, pears, bananas and grapes, and a bottle of Cava on ice with a couple of flutes.  There was also an Oceans Club gift of a 2019 diary and pen, in a smart presentation box.  If first impressions counted for anything, then we knew we were going to have an absolutely memorable voyage.  😊

Our cases had not yet arrived, so we still only had the clothes we were standing up in, so we decided to go up top and enjoy a long-awaited, refreshing freezing cold beer.  We sat up on the deck with the sun warm on our backs and took a deep breath and relished that inimitable feeling of just starting a new cruise.  This is our 47th cruise and it is something we never tire of.

We enjoyed our drinks so much we had another one, then made our way back to our fantastic cabin (suite!!) 7038 to see if our cases had arrived.  We spotted them in the Deck 7 lobby and brought them to our stateroom ourselves.  It was getting on for dinner time by now, however, so we didn’t have time to unpack or get washed and changed.  We therefore decided we’d apologise to our table-mates for our somewhat scruffy appearance.

We have been allocated table #31 in the Tintagel Restaurant. It’s a table for six, and the other two couples have already been on the Boudicca for two weeks; those lucky people are doing the 28-day cruise instead of the 14-day cruise.  As Trevor and I both still work (it pays for all our cruises!!) we can’t take 28 days off work at one time, so we have to make do with a fortnight.  ☹

The other couples seemed very pleasant; there was John and Margaret from Norfolk, and Mike and Ruth from (believe it or not) County Durham!  In fact, Mike used to live in the next street from us, and we discovered, during the course of the ensuing conversation, that we knew several people in common.  What a small world it is!

Our meal was, as ever, delicious.  I only wanted a light meal, so I had a vegetable terrine to start, followed by a salad of cold cuts and crisp fresh vegetables.  We washed it down with a couple of glasses of rosé wine (Free! Because we’re travelling all-inclusive!) and finished with coffee and an amaretto each.  By this time we were really flagging, and feeling tired and grubby.

After dinner we returned to our stateroom and emptied out the cases, hanging everything up and neatly putting everything away.  We decided we’d end the evening by going along to the Lido Lounge for the evening quiz at 10 o’clock, then go straight to bed as, not only were we jet-lagged, but we had to be up at 7.45am tomorrow for a full-day excursion.

The Lido Lounge wasn’t crowded, and it had the large glass stern-facing doors opened all along the width of the room, allowing the gentle tropical breeze into the cheerful venue.  We decided to sit at a table on the terrace, enjoying another drink while we took part in the quiz.  There was only the two of us in the team tonight.

Well, we scored 10/15 which we didn’t think was a winning score, but there was a four-way tie, with three other teams also scoring 10.  For the tie-breaker, we had to give the length of the Suez Canal in nautical miles.  We estimated 200, which was incorrect but was the nearest answer.  We’d therefore won the quiz!  😊

The prize, as usual, was a bottle of fizz.  As we already had one on ice waiting for us in our cabin, we shared it with a very pleasant couple who were sitting at a nearby table.  They introduced themselves as Dave and Julie, and we enjoyed their company and conversation along with the free fizz, until well after midnight!  So much for getting an early night!

Back in cabin 7038, we sat out on our fantastic balcony for a short while, before settling down in our big, comfortable bed for a good night’s sleep, the first time we’d been in a bed since Christmas night.  We looked forward to what tomorrow would bring.

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