Friday, 25 February 2022
Woke up to the depressing realisation that the holiday we had looked forward to for so long was looking a bit sick now. In 48 hours we’d be on the road for home. 😦
Nonetheless, we were still on board, and we determined to enjoy our time on this lovely ship.
Looking out of our window, the sea looked quite choppy and there was a lot of sea spray around, so we decided against going outside. We went up to the Lido restaurant and enjoyed a good breakfast and, because tonight was the last formal evening, we each partook of a Buck’s Fizz to set us up for the day. 🙂
Then we just spent the morning wandering around the ship and pottering about, exchanging pleasantries with our fellow passengers, reading, relaxing and (in my case) updating this blog. It’s surprising how quickly the time goes by when you’re not doing anything in particular!
Soon lunchtime was upon us and, not for the first time, we remarked how cruising seemed to consist of constant eating and drinking. 🙂 We thought we might go for a swim this afternoon to try to burn off some of the vast quantities of calories consumed, but as we walked through the pool area on the way to the buffet, we noticed that the pool and the Jacuzzis had been emptied, and nets stretched over them. So much for that then – our cossies had never seen the light of day this cruise!
After lunch it was up to the Observatory for the “Name that Tune” quiz; we only scored 24/30 this time so no prize for us again. While we were in the large, airy room with its huge wraparound windows, we spent some time looking out at the endless, rolling seascape and enjoying a couple of cocktails. Such a pleasant way to pass the time. 🙂
Then, at two o’clock, we went down to the Neptune Theatre for a session of “Meet the Cast”, where cruise director Taylor McCulloch introduced our amazing Borealis Theatre Company and conducted a very interesting question and answer session with them. Such a talented group of singers and dancers, but then again we have never been disappointed with the entertainment on Fred Olsen ships.
Afterwards we returned to 3326 to relax and get ready in our unhurried way for the Captain’s Farewell Toast at 5.15pm. Farewell toast !! It only seemed a couple of days ago since the Captain’s Welcome Party. On this cruise, however, we had changed captains half-way through the cruise. Captain Victor Stoica had left us in Tromsø to return home for some well-deserved leave, and we now had Captain Rommel Pineda. So in one way it was a hello/goodbye cocktail party as we hadn’t met him before. 🙂
I dressed in a long black dress with cut out shoulders and an eyelet-and-laceup pattern down the sleeves and down the side of the dress. I teamed it with a colourful wrap I had bought in Mumbai, India in 2018. Doing my hair was easy – just put on my platinum blonde wig. As we were walking along to the Neptune Theatre one lady did a double-take when she saw me, as she almost didn’t recognise me! 🙂
The talented musicians were playing a selection of fabulous tunes and some of the vocalists sang for us, so it was an extra show really. Waiters and waitresses flitted around with their loaded trays of cava, sherry, G&T, martini or wine, and proffered us tasty canapés. Then the captain came on stage, did a little speech and thanked us for cruising with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, blah blah blah. It was an enjoyable interlude before dinner.
Afterwards we made our way to the Borealis Restaurant to sit with our table-mates on table #126 for what would be the last time. This is because the six of us were booked in the Colours and Tastes Asian fusion restaurant again tomorrow night, as they change their menu every week. So we enjoyed the scrumptious fare, washed down with the inevitable house rosé wine and finished with coffee and Amaretto, accompanied by the usual friendly and amusing conversation of our new friends Mark, Jan, Andy and Kal.
As we left the restaurant, we thanked our waiter, busboy and sommelier for looking after us so well, and wished them all the best for the future.
Then we went along to the Neptune theatre once again and bagged our regular seats in the front row, as tonight was the Borealis Crew Show. 🙂
We always enjoy watching the crew show. The multi-national crew members, from the guys in the engine room to the decks hands to the hairdressers to the cabin steward/esses perform traditional folkloric dances and songs from their own countries, often wearing costumes they have sewn themselves. The shows are always colourful and uplifting, and the show was great, particularly since none of them are professional dancers of singers.
Then, as ever, we finished off the evening in the packed Observatory, which certainly seemed to be one of the most popular venues on the ship; it was always hard to find a good seat in there. We took part in the quiz in which a win eluded us once again, then enjoyed several cocktails and other drinks served by the ever-present Stanley, while we listed to Funky Blue who really are an excellent group and can play and sing almost anything. The lead guitarist, Oscar, is particularly talented and played some great guitar pieces, including Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits.
Once again it was after midnight when we went down to bed and, once again, we slept very well.
Saturday, 26 February 2022
So… this was it. Woke up to the depressing knowledge that this was the last day of our fabulous cruise. We’d seen and done some brilliant things: crossed the Arctic Circle, seen the Northern Lights, gazed upon beautiful rugged snowy mountains and scenery, visited gorgeous little picturesque towns and experienced the exhilaration of Nordic dog-sledding. Add to that wonderful food and drink, excellent entertainment and the chance to mix with like-minded people and make new friends and this is what cruising is all about, and why we love it so much. 🙂
But I suppose all good cruises have to end, otherwise how could we start to look forward to the next one?
After breakfasting in the Lido restaurant as usual, we decided to make a start with our packing, as the more we did now, the less we would have to do later on. We then went up to the Neptune Theatre to listen to a talk about the ‘Middlesbrough Meteor’, where a team of workmen on a railway line in 1881 had a close encounter with an intruder from outer space when a meteorite crashed onto the track. This is one of the most important meteors on earth and can be seen in the Yorkshire Museum. The talk was very interesting and presented in a very entertaining way by the enthusiastic astronomer Martin Lunn.
Afterwards, I went back to cabin 3326 but Trevor stayed on for the next talk, which was about Scandinavia. This took us nicely up to lunchtime, which we enjoyed in the Lido restaurant again. We didn’t want to eat too much as we were booked into Colours and Tastes at six o’clock tonight with our dining companions from table #126.
Then it was up to the Observatory to take part in the Name That Tune quiz. We scored 24/30 but there was a bit of a controversy because they only play the first 10 seconds of each song, and if the song was a cover version of the original, but used the same musical excerpt, how were you to know which version they wanted? As an example, think of the intro to Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie, then think of Ice, Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice (who ripped off exactly the same bass guitar riff). The quiz master shouldn’t mark you down if you put the alternative answer to the one he had!
Anyway, we remained behind in the Observatory to enjoy the cocktail of the day and gaze out to sea. Then we returned to our cabin, dragged out a suitcase from under the bed, and started putting more stuff in. I packed all my Irregular Choice shoes into the case I had brought just for them, leaving out only those I would be wearing tonight.
The afternoon passed in its pleasant way until it was time to get ready for dinner. Once again, we enjoyed a flavoursome and unusual meal in Colours and Tastes, which filled up quickly because it is so popular. Certainly a bargain at £5.00 for the cover charge, but I have a feeling they will put their prices up once they know what other cruise lines charge for speciality dining.
After dinner we finished off the rest of our packing, but as we need to be off the ship first thing in the morning, we opted to carry our own luggage off. This meant we would still be able to put last-minute things in the case in the morning, like toothpaste, toiletries and pyjamas, instead of having to put them into our carry-on bags.
Then we went along to the Neptune Theatre for the last time to see the performance by the Borealis Show Company, called “Hits from the Flix”. We realised we’d seen this show last time we were on the ship last July, but it was an excellent show, full of singing and dancing and colourful costumes. Afterwards, cruise director Taylor came on stage and thanked everybody for cruising with Fred Olsen and wished us a safe onwards journey. Apparently seven passengers were remaining on board for the next cruise, down to the Canary Islands. Lucky people. Well, they’ll certainly notice a difference in the weather, anyway! 🙂
We then finished the evening off by going up to the Observatory for the quiz (which we didn’t win, so only one Name That Tune win for us during the 16-night cruise) and listening to the resident band. There was no featured entertainment in the Observatory tonight, and indeed it wasn’t as packed as it usually was, because many people will have been packing or will have decided to have an early night, ready for disembarkation tomorrow.
As we knew we had to be up in the morning at 5.45am (!!) we didn’t stay too long either. In fact, we thought we’d go down to the Morning Light to see if we could find Mark and Jan, Andy and Kal and enjoy a nightcap with them. When we did find them, they were just finishing off their drinks ready for an early night themselves. So Trevor and I just enjoyed one drink, then I took a glass of cava back to finish off in our cabin.
We settled down around 11.30pm and slept soundly. When the alarm shattered the silence we looked out of our window and saw that we were already docked in Liverpool, right back where we had started.
It was the end of another great cruise.