Cruising the Indian Ocean


We got up about 8.00am and went out onto our balcony, where it was already a very fine day, although there had once again been showers of rain overnight.

We went along to the Tintagel Restaurant for breakfast, then decided to go an do a few laps around the deck, just taking our time and stopping every now and again to look out to sea.  As we were in tropical latitudes, we looked out for flying fish, and sure enough we spotted the familiar streaks of silver on the surface of the ocean, as they fled from the approach of the ship.

As we were walking round, we came across the Chief Officer again, and said our good mornings as well as acknowledging other passengers we’d spoken with.  The Indian Ocean looked very blue and sparkled in the sunshine, as far as the eye could see.  I took lots of photos of the Boudicca; with her classic lines and wooden decking, and lovely cascading stern, she is a proper ship and not one of those “big boxes” we’d heard Captain Sartela speak of so disparagingly last night.

After we’d done five laps we decided to go and get a cup of coffee from the Iceni Room, then take it into the Neptune Lounge for 11 o’clock, as the port lecturer Daniel Thebault was giving a 45-minute talk on Praslin Island, our next port of call.

It looked absolutely gorgeous, just as you’d imagine the Seychelles to be. Judging by the photo-slides, accompanied by Daniel’s excellent and informative talk, we knew we’d be in for a treat later on.

The end of the talk brought us nicely to lunchtime, and we had another wander around deck before going into the restaurant for a light lunch and a nice chilled glass of rosé wine each.

Outside the Secret Garden café, we noticed several ornate and intricate Christmas lanterns on display.  It was a competition in which crew members had created a lantern out of recycled items, creatively using a wide range of materials such as plastic bottles, drinks cans, bottle caps, polystyrene packaging, paper and even a lot of old cruise cards.  The imagination and work that had gone into them was incredible, and it was difficult to know which one to vote for.  In the end, I chose a delicately carved polystyrene creation, that featured doves and flowers and Nativity figures – stunning.

Back in our cabin we pottered around for a bit, just relaxing, before we were due to go along to another presentation, where there would be yet more free fizz on offer while Melanie, the Future Cruises manager, tempted us with the itineraries Fred Olsen Cruise Lines had on offer in 2019 and 2020, showing us some short video clips and really whetting our appetites.  We are already booked to go on the Balmoral for 16 nights in March 2020, but this presentation had me wanting to try to squeeze in another cruise in 2019 (we already have two booked!) or book another one for 2020.  So many cruises, so little time, particularly as Trevor and I both still work full time and are limited to the number of days we can take off.  ☹

Anyway, I must at this point explain the meaning behind the subtitle of today’s entry, “Our 30th Wedding Anniversary”.  Regular readers of this blog may remember that Trevor and I celebrated 30 years of marriage on board the Queen Victoria on 15th October.  So how come it was our anniversary again?  😊

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines offer special birthday, anniversary and retirement packages for an additional fee.  However, if it’s a milestone birthday or anniversary (as ours was) and the date falls within three months of your voyage (which it did), then the anniversary celebration package was complimentary on production of a copy of your wedding certificate.

A month or so ago, therefore, I emailed FOCL a copy of our certificate and they confirmed they’d added the anniversary goodies to our booking.  Therefore, in addition to our having been upgraded to a suite and receiving daily fresh fruit and canapés and a free bottle of fizz, we had more goodies to look forward to, courtesy of good old Fred.  😊

Around 4.00pm therefore, a gentle knock on our stateroom (suite!!) door indicated the arrival of another free bottle of fizz on ice, and an exciting gift bag.  Inside the bag was a lovely Anniversary card, as well as a silver-coloured double photo frame, our little gift.  Trevor popped the cork and we each took a cold glass of fizz out onto our balcony, toasting Fred and each other.

We could not help comparing the service we were getting on Fred compared to that which we got from Cunard in October.  On Queen Victoria, despite it being our actual anniversary and a formal evening, we received sweet FA from them, not even the usual serenade and cake at the dinner table.  We’d even told them at the time of booking that we would be celebrating our Pearl Wedding, but all we got was a crappy card, printed off on a computer, with a rubber-stamp signature from the captain and cruise director.  Wouldn’t you have thought, when you spend thousands on a cruise, that they could afford to give you a free cake and bottle of fizz?  I found out afterwards though that, since 2011, Cunard have started charging for birthday and anniversary packages, the tight-arsed buggers.  ☹

It was fair to say though that Fred had more than made up for that, and it added another little special something to our day. We also had the cake and serenade to look forward to at our dinner table tonight, when we could share it with Mike and Ruth, John and Margaret.  😊

Afterwards it was time to start getting ready for dinner, and we took our time, listening to some music on my iPad, and enjoying some more of the cava and the canapés when they arrived around half-five.  Then along we went to the Tintagel Restaurant once again.  Sometimes it feels as if we do nothing else on a cruise apart from eat and drink!  😊

We had a splendid meal as ever, and interesting and amusing conversation, as we worked our way through the different courses and washed it down with chilled rosé wine.  When we got to the dessert stage, I looked inquiringly at Trevor, whispering “where’s our cake?”  Just then, we heard a tambourine and saw the waiters come out of the side-door with their guitar, but they went past our table and went to sing “Happy Birthday” to someone else instead!

The coffee and the liqueurs came and went, and still no cake.  The restaurant was starting to empty out now, and I looked around at our waiter who immediately came over to our table.  I explained we were supposed to receive a cake tonight, for our 30th Wedding Anniversary, but now it was too late as everyone was leaving.  He apologised profusely, as did the Maitre d’ when he came over, but we would just have to put it off until tomorrow night, New Year’s Eve.  It’s not as if it had cost us anything anyway; it was simply a little slip-up.

After dinner we adjourned to the Neptune Lounge where we got up to practise our ballroom dancing, doing the rumba and the cha cha cha (badly!).

The show tonight consisted of a fantastic singer and instrumentalist called Shaun Perry.  He had a gravelly, bluesy sort of voice a bit like Joe Cocker in some places.  We thoroughly enjoyed his show before hot-footing it along to the Lido Lounge for the quiz.  Once again, the floor-to-ceiling doors were concertinaed open, allowing the gorgeous warm sea breeze to infiltrate the room, as people sat out on the rear deck enjoying their drinks.

We were joined by Joe-the-Irishman once again, but we did absolutely appallingly, only scoring 8 out of 15.

Then it was just a case of listening to the pianist and enjoying another drink or two, before going out on our balcony and having a nightcap glass of our free fizz before bed.  Tomorrow would be the last day of 2018, and what a place to be spending it in.  😊

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