En Route to Belfast

Woke up around 8.00am and thought “are we really into the ninth month?”  How the year had flown.  Beyond our glass balcony doors we could see a calm Irish Sea; the sky was overcast once again but the forecast was for it to be sunny later on.

We just did the usual things today; had our breakfast in the Oceanview, then had a walk around deck to see if we could see anything interesting.  Indeed we could; we spotted a couple of cruise ships on the horizon. One was going the same way as us, while the other was going in the opposite direction.  A quick look at the MarineTraffic app identified them as the Bolette and the Queen Elizabeth.  The Bolette, like us, was heading for Belfast but she was due to dock later on today and stay there overnight, while we were spending the day loitering in the Irish Sea once more.  😊

The Bolette (left) and the Queen Elizabeth taken from on board the Silhouette

At 11.15am we went along to the theatre where Chris Wall, the destinations specialist, was doing a talk called “Belfast – A City of Surprises”.  The talk covered things such as Belfast’s great shipbuilding history, as well as the Troubles and the city’s culture and cuisine, such as the famous Ulster Fry breakfasts and the potato farls, soda bread and wheaten bread.  This was great because my mother is from Belfast and I have visited often over my lifetime; in fact I lived there for several months as a toddler with my mam and my grandmother whilst my father was at sea.

We spent the rest of the morning pottering around the ship – there wasn’t anything on the programme we particularly wanted to do, so it was nice just to do whatever we wanted without having to stick to a timetable.

Once again we went to lunch in the Oceanview and I had a selection of dishes from the Indian section; it was very tasty.  Then we went out on deck for another wander around; there was just so much empty deck space on a ship that was carrying circa 2,000 passengers less than normal.

At half-past two Trevor went along to the theatre to listen to the matinée performance by the MacDonald brothers, while I just rested in our cabin; reading, doing some of this blog and just gazing at the mesmerising sight of the endless seascape passing by outside our floor-to-ceiling glass doors.

Much as it is just SO great to be back at sea again this year and we were enjoying this cruise on the beautiful Silhouette, I couldn’t help wishing she was completely different from the Eclipse, so that I wouldn’t keep comparing a pre-pandemic cruise to a post-pandemic one. It was just so hard not to get nostalgic and not to think of how things were (and how we hoped they’d be again).  We missed sharing a table in the restaurant and spending interesting and fun dining with like-minded passengers; we missed doing the karaoke, several of us gathered around one microphone and standing three-deep at the bar in the Quasar; we missed having a great quiz-team of six of us and we missed the fantastic production shows and aerialists in a packed theatre.

But at least we were cruising again – that was the important thing, and it was as normal as it ever could be while Covid-19 is still very much in our midst.

At three o’clock I went up to the Sky Lounge for the music trivia, as today it was based around 1980s music (you might recall we scored 30/30 on the Borealis in the 1980s music quiz).  There was no sign of James, so it was just Trevor and me.  As usual, there were 20 questions and you had to name the song title as well as the artiste.  We were going great guns for the first 10 questions, but when they started to play rock music such as Def Leppard, Aerosmith, Motorhead etc. I fell flat on my face as this isn’t a genre of music I listen to very much.

So we ended the quiz with an appalling score of 28/40 – the winners scored 38.

We stayed for the general knowledge quiz afterwards, and this time we scored 12/20 which was actually the winning score!  (The questions are pretty hard on this ship!)  This time, our prize was a Celebrity Cruises lanyard each, very handy for keeping our sea pass cards.

The afternoon passed in its pleasant and relaxing way, then we returned to 7227 for a half-hour power nap, after which I got showered and shampooed and blow-dried my hair.  Then we got ready to go down to dinner for around 6.30pm.  By this time the evening sun was bright and low in the sky and some passengers asked for the blinds to be closed as the sun was getting in their eyes.  It seemed a shame to shut it out when we hadn’t seen so much of it recently.  A quick look at the Celebrity app told us that sunset tonight was at 20:12 hours, so I wanted to go up on deck after dinner to catch some fantastic photos as the sun went down.

We went up to Deck 14 where a brisk sea breeze was blowing, making it seem colder than it was.  The westering sun caused the sky to blaze orange and it cast a golden glow on the waves. You really cannot beat a sunset at sea!  We watched it for about 10 minutes as the great glowing ball sunk lower and the last of the rays disappeared below the horizon, heralding the end of another day.

The show in the theatre tonight consisted of the Silhouette Orchestra who accompanied the saxophonist Oli Nez.  It was an excellent show as ever, and afterwards we hot-footed it up to the Sky Lounge where they were holding the ship’s version of the Liars’ Club (what is known as Call My Bluff in Britain).  The words, as ever, encouraged many a double entendre and inventive definitions, and it was a very amusing show.  We sat at the bar and enjoyed some of the delicious cocktails and passed the time pleasantly with the friendly barman and other passengers. It was after midnight when we returned to cabin 7227 and we went out onto the balcony and gazed into the blackness of the night as we listened to the sounds of the sea washing gently against the side of the Silhouette.  Then we climbed into our big comfortable bed with its plump pillows and rustly cotton sheets and settled down, looking forward to whatever tomorrow would bring.

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