Fly cruise N418C 3rd-17th Sept

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Lollie
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Fly cruise N418C 3rd-17th Sept

Post by Lollie » 20 Sep 2014, 07:14

Well, this is my third and final attempt to post a cruise report, somewhat stupidly I did not realise that I lost the first one posting straight to the forum as I had been timed out, did it all again and light dawned as I tried to post the second attempt, so copy and paste it is! As we do not own an Ipad and our laptop needs to stay at home for business use this is a retrospective report rather than live, anyway here goes.
After two very busy final days of cruise preparation in the business, so many things to try to get done to make life as simple as possible for those taking the reins in our absence we fell into bed knowing we had done our very best to help them all. Just a short two hours later the alarm rang and we were up, dressed and out of the house. This time just a very short 20 minute drive to London Gatwick in the then light fog. Thomas Cook check in was swift and efficient, we didn’t even have to queue, the bags disappeared through the hole with a quick prayer from me that they would all arrive in our cabin and we were off to Security. This is where for me the three hour check in came into its own, through the scanner, no bleep, my elation at achieving this state for the first time ever and not having to be frisked was soon deflated when I went to collect my bag only to see it had been diverted down the shute for closer inspection. Goodness me what a long wait in what was a very hot hall, probably made worse because I was panicking as to the reason my bag had been selected, I was sure that there was nothing sinister in there. After nearly an hour my bag was picked up, apparently mine was a random choice for a liquids test, my contact lens solution was checked by machine and with a smile and a thank you we were back on holiday. I did however have an opportunity to see what idiots some people are and what they can attempt to take into the aircraft cabin, one guy had a fancy saw with several very lethal looking fine blades, he was allowed the saw but the blades were confiscated, he was not happy! Anyway our first flight with Thomas Cook was boarded on time but we had a long delay due to air traffic control problems because of the much thicker fog. No matter we were on our way an hour and a bit later, don’t know what strings the pilot pulled but we queue jumped a long line of Easyjet planes waiting to turn out on the main runway. We were so impressed with the slickness of P&O’s flight transfer operation, within forty five minutes of the plane touching down we had taken the coach trip, whizzed through the very efficient embarkation check in, were on the ship and sitting in the Waterside buffet restaurant with our lunch. Before we had finished the cabins were ready so we were able to stroll down, to my delight all cases were there so by 3.15pm we were unpacked and sitting out on deck with a cocktail. Evening Muster drill before dinner in Saffron restaurant, pager collected our choice of drinkies venue was the Red Bar, a bit of mistake as twenty five minutes after we had sat down we had still not been approached by the only bar steward apparently working so we strolled through to the Glass House instead, as soon as we had ordered the pager went so, to wanting to lose the table I checked into the restaurant and Mike followed with our drinks. Dinner was lovely, the waiters were very friendly as they always are when you smile and are polite! Wine package purchased, nice selection and now you can repeat a wine if you chose, it is no longer six set bottles to use as you decide, much better. By the time dinner was finished our long day, no doubt mixed with the evenings alcohol had caught up so an early night for us. See you in the morning..


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Lollie
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Re: Fly cruise N418C 3rd-17th Sept

Post by Lollie » 20 Sep 2014, 07:40

Thurs 4th .. we were very rudely woken at 9am by the Captain’s ‘bing bong’ announcing our arrival at Livorno. Only a few days before our cruise I had changed our cabin so a C deck balcony, I blame DTM and his book for this, he reminded me how beautiful the sail into Venice is, possibly more so as very soon Ventura and her larger sisters will not be able to do it along the same route, he also mentioned the early picturesque sail into Kotor. I peeped through the curtains to see beautiful blue sky and sunshine and before long we were standing outside with a coffee enjoying that wonderful ‘cruise’ feeling. We had decided long a long tour was not for us on the first day so armed with suncreams, sunglasses and Kindles, mine ordered just before the cruise to dispense with the need to carry heavy books, we were off to the Retreat for a day of total relaxation. We joined a lovely couple from Scotland at lunchtime and spent a good hour or so chatting and laughing with them Apparently they were on board to celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary, one of their sons had gone to great lengths to surprise them by booking a cruise with them, he had told them he was going to Mexico, text them to say he had arrived and was in the hotel, he received back a text from Mum saying she was busy packing for her cruise and yes he had got the date wrong! No matter, he never told them but managed to book to stay on board so had been sat waiting in their cabin when they walked in! Such a lovely day drinking in the sunshine, dinner again in Saffron, different part of the dining room but again lovely waiters and good food. Wine service was very poor but I am sure due to the number of tables the wine steward seemed to be serving, our wine order was actually taken more or less as we sat down, after our starter and Mike’s soup the wine actually arrived at the table after our main course had been put on the table! No matter we lingered with it as far as the cheese course, I have to say that I had been very happy the night before to find that the Stilton round is still alive and kicking if you ask for it, but you do have to ask, a lady at an adjoining table had asked if there was any blue cheese for the cheese board and her waiter said no! A trip to the theatre this evening to see Gareth Oliver, for those who have not seen him he is a ventriloquist, a hilarious show but one where there is a fair amount of audience ‘participation’, very, very funny indeed as long as you are not the one on the receiving end! The auditorium was full of laughter and we left having resolved to make sure we did not miss his second show.

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Re: Fly cruise N418C 3rd-17th Sept

Post by Kenmo1 » 20 Sep 2014, 08:44

Lollie - I have read your first entry with great interest as we will be doing a fly cruise to join Ventura in Genoa in a few weeks time. I understand the luggage goes straight through to the ship so we will just have our hand luggage. We arrive in Genoa about 9.20 am and then have the coach transfer. The tickets say 12.30 embarkation so will have to carry the hand luggage around with us but I was hoping to see a little bit of Genoa - is the Ventura moored in a position where we could easily have a little potter around and see a few sights or do you get some stunning views from the top of the ship anyway so wandering around not needed. Also, we have to be at Gatwick for a 3.35 am check in so having to leave the Isle of Wight late the night before so tiredness may impact on whether we want to wander around.

Any advice gratefully received. Thanks Lollie.

Maureen


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Lollie
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Re: Fly cruise N418C 3rd-17th Sept

Post by Lollie » 20 Sep 2014, 10:01

I do not think you are near enough to walk in but others who have maybe done the reverse 14 nights might be able to help, you wouldn't even be able to blag your way on to a shuttle bus if you find out the departure/pick up point as you now have your cruise card scanned as you board a coach, a system which does slow down the shuttle bus experience at busy times! The dock appeared to be quite a distance from the 'town', the journey through the dock to the gate was not one we would wish to walk not even sure if you would be allowed, pretty much just road along which coaches and freight traffic were travelling. The journey from the airport was quick and used the motorway system in part. As regards check in time, ours said 12.30 and I guess by the time we were there it must have been that however there were probably thirty check in desks, all manned. well womaned..highly efficient no wait, no queue just straight through. I might be wrong but we are pretty sure that when waiting for our disembarkation time of 10am we spotted a couple who had just arrived as they were carrying hand baggage and airport duty free bags. I know quite a few people had found their cabin and left the hand luggage there so maybe you could jump back on a shuttle bus? I have to say I was watching one of the port presentations and Genoa does look a pretty place, much prettier than I had imagined it to be. It was a lovely cruise, so I will keep posting the report as and when I can but a very busy day today catching up with the grandchildren.

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Kenmo1
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Re: Fly cruise N418C 3rd-17th Sept

Post by Kenmo1 » 20 Sep 2014, 10:17

Thanks, Lollie for taking the time to reply. Sounds like it might be quite a bit of hassle especially if we are tired.

Looking forward to your next instalment .

Maureen


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Lollie
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Re: Fly cruise N418C 3rd-17th Sept

Post by Lollie » 21 Sep 2014, 01:35

Friday 5th and a leisurely day at sea, the Ships Company Ice Bucket Challenge led by Neil Oliver, reading, relaxing and just generally 'chilling'' Dinner tonight in a packed White Room, beautiful food, quiet, calm service, a lovely experience. Due to a later table time we had missed the start of the shows and after a walk around the decks we strolled into Havana and caught the end of the show by comedian Rudi West, what we saw and heard was very funny and not offensive but we were told a couple of days later that people had walked out of the show earlier in the evening.
Saturday 6th, our arrival in Naples was early and under what looked to be rather dubious looking clouds. We had booked the afternoon tour to Herculaneum so after a leisurely breakfast we made our way back out on deck for another morning of reading and sunbathing, all around the ship there appeared to be clouds but somehow most of the morning the ship was under sunshine, really not quite sure how as there were black clouds looming and Vesuvius was shrouded in heavy cloud and mist, must have been a huge disappointment to those on booked on tours to visit the crater. Off deck at 12.30, down to shower, change and meet onshore for our departure to Herculaneum, it was whilst waiting to board the coach that I began to learn there are two sorts of passenger, ‘I am so special you will do as I say’ and ‘the rest’, oh my goodness we deal with the public and are used to all sorts of behaviour but I have to say we were very impressed at the way the tour escort handled the obnoxious behaviour of the husband of the couple concerned. On the coach we were introduced to our tour guide for the afternoon, it transpired that he had worked on the BBC documentary on Herculaneum, his knowledge was just incredible and he was so enthusiastic in his delivery of information, we learned so much that afternoon, even the fact we got a little wet during a sharp shower didn’t matter. Whilst walking around the site we could hear the thunder rumbling and rumbling in the distance and it seemed it would only be a matter of time before we got soaked, as the tour concluded we hurried back to the coach just in time to miss a tremendous downpour. The coach drive back to the ship was very, very wet and the car park at the terminal was like a lake. Sadly the Tropical Sailaway was cancelled as the deck was so wet but by the time we did sail the skies were much brighter, I have some beautiful pictures of a rainbow arching over the ship and touching down Sorrento way, gradually as we sailed out of Naples and along past Capri the sky tinged pink, then red before the most beautiful sunset.
The Glass House for dinner tonight and it was packed, it was only later we realised that it was the Wine Tasting Menu meal for those who had booked. We had decided to give it a miss as when we looked at the menu it was the same as on Azura two years ago but for those who have never done it the evening is definitely worth booking as a one off, we thoroughly enjoyed the food, wine, company, service and staff interaction. The down side was that service was a little slow for us, not that it mattered too much but again our wine arrived with our main course, as I had chosen the food paired wine flight it was mildly annoying. For some bizarre reason I was given a spoon to eat my main course salad so had to ask for a knife and when the bill came I must have had a sixth sense as I said to Mike to check it carefully before signing and we had been charged for the starters served to an adjacent table. Having said the above they were extremely busy and the food and wine experience was lovely, we will just make sure in future to avoid the tasting menu evening!
We finished the evening in the theatre for the second show by Gareth Oliver, again hilarious, he played to two packed to capacity theatres this evening, he had everyone in stitches and Paul, the gentleman ‘invited’ on stage to work with Gareth on a sketch turned out to be an absolute star!
As a footnote to this I have to say that we do not do many tours these days, we pick very carefully but the two we have done in Naples, this one and two years ago one to Sorrento and Pompeii have been excellent, we were blessed with having superb tour guides on both trips, their knowledge just incredible.


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Lollie
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Re: Fly cruise N418C 3rd-17th Sept

Post by Lollie » 21 Sep 2014, 17:38

Sunday 7th… I woke at 4am just as we were sailing through the Straits of Messina, pretty twinkling lights along the shore and a very early dawn view of Mt Etna, another pleasure of the balcony! Back to sleep again until a much more civilised hour. A second day at sea and another day of ‘busy doing nothing’ planned, guess which plonker sprayed her hair with sun tan oil by mistake instead of the special ‘soleil’ hair spray she had with her? To be fair it looked much better than it felt so I ignored the error, we spent a lazy day reading, chatting and laughing, just what the doctor ordered. The first of two deck barbeques in the sunshine and Mike totally forgot that he was going to go to one of the lectures, Martin Carlin’s In Plain Sight, the death of J F Kennedy. Strangely after the deck bbq it was the ‘enhanced chocolate afternoon tea’, I would have thought these would have taken place on different days although I suppose this tea is not as popular as the old Chocoholics buffet. Going down to change for dinner and there was a strong breeze across deck 16, we walked outside and down to the Laguna Pool where it was still beautifully warm in the early evening sunshine. Before long there were more clouds than blue sky and the hint of rain perhaps! Formal night tonight, black and white, it was interesting to see the shift away from the traditional Black and White nights not too many years ago although it could possibly be that the make up of these Med fly cruises makes for a slightly different approach given that any one week can be made up of people on three different cruises. There was certainly not the old ‘formal’ air and certainly quite a break away from the colour scheme although I did my best by sporting a black and white number! I have also read a few times that ladies are the ones who tend to let their men down and sadly I have to agree, the trend towards the very comfortable maxi dress for holidays has been a lovely fashion move for those of us who like to look elegant and feminine but a beach dress does not look right on formal night, especially with no attempt to dress it up a little. Before anyone says it, this is not a comment about how much people spend, it is purely about dress sense and style, I have a friend who could dress up a black bin liner and make it look fabulous!
Dinner again in Saffron so pager collected and off to the bar for drinkies, again very slow bar service and our pager went between ordering drinks and them arriving. A fabulous meal but during dinner a bridge announcement for first aiders to go to the laundry on deck 2, presume a fairly serious accident but we heard no more about it. Show this evening was Reel to Reel which I know has been going for a while but somehow we have managed to miss until tonight, have to say it was one of the best Headliners shows we have seen for quite a while.


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Lollie
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Re: Fly cruise N418C 3rd-17th Sept

Post by Lollie » 21 Sep 2014, 19:01

Monday 8th.. we were woken in the night by thunder and lightning, quite a dramatic lightening display but somewhat bizarrely no rain, well at least when I stepped out on to the balcony to watch for a while. The Horizon paper had a warning that the passenger launderettes would be closed for the duration of our stay in Venice, I assume this is the case on every visit as it is to do with the holding of grey water and the fact that it cannot be discharged there. A quick decision to drop a washer load in to wash this morning whilst we went into breakfast before collecting it to deal with later after our day in Dubrovnik. A very serene sail into the port in the then morning sunshine and our prayers were answered as we docked and we were not tendering in.
Well, Captain Carr needs a weather forecasting lesson as only ten minutes after his forecast for the day which he said promised of sun and cloud in the morning and the chance of showers in the afternoon, the heavens opened, thunder, lightning and torrential rain! On the plus side whilst the weather did its worst I finished the washing trip just as the sun peeped back through the clouds. A quick change out of the planned maxi dress and into something more suitable if another storm and off to join the shuttle bus with fingers crossed. Our aim in this beautiful city today was to shuttle bus in and just walk around the town reacquainting ourselves with the delights Dubrovnik has to offer. A long queue for the shuttle bus but due entirely to the fact we were all getting off the ship at the same time following the earlier storm, scanning cruise cards as you get on to the bus does not really make a lot of difference time wise although maybe if it were to be raining and everyone hurrying it might be a different case. We actually had a long queue in traffic to get around the town and to the drop off point by the Pilar Gate, as usual a very slow walk down and through the gate but once inside the walls we were able to escape the crowds and start our exploration through the small streets. We walked up and down very steep steps, in and out and found some lovely spots to take some really pretty photographs. What a beautiful morning weatherwise it turned out to be, having heard about it so many times we actually found the famous Buza Bar which you approach through a door in the city walls completely by accident, maybe a little early for a drink but even at that hour the atmosphere was relaxed and chilled, lovely music playing and it was obvious to us how beautiful the sunsets must look from the terraces. Down by the old town harbour we stood watching a group of three young boys fishing from the quayside, they were having a great time and not an I-pad or a mobile phone in sight, indeed no parents either to take control of the safety issues, it was a delight to see children playing so innocently by the water. We sat and had a drink at what was probably a more costly bar down near the harbour but the ambience was lovely, there was a quartet playing and the local wine was actually quite good, one of my resolution this holiday was to take the ‘local’ option when on shore and a good decision it was as we found several good wines that way. A slow meander around and then back to the ship in time for tonights Great British Sailaway, the last one to be hosted by Neil Oliver before he disembarked in Rome for a break and then his work setting up the entertainment on Britannia. Our ‘Spa under the Stars’ invitation was a bit weird as we were the only people there, a completely different experience to the one we had on Azura, in a way a bit of a let down but our mini treatments felt much more like midi treatments and although no champagne we left with an Elemis treat bag each with three good sized Elemis products as well as the body scrub goody bags. Back to the cabin and a quick change before dinner in the Beach House, a slightly longer wait than we had anticipated but that time was spent in Metropolis, my meal was lovely, the Beach House Sizzling Plate with prawns really tasty, have to say I did not eat it with the suggested chips but was offered rice instead, a much better option.


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Lollie
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Re: Fly cruise N418C 3rd-17th Sept

Post by Lollie » 23 Sep 2014, 13:09

Tuesday 9th and nearing the end of the first of our two weeks, this has been a beautiful cruise in near perfect sea conditions, you would never have known you were on a ship it was so calm. Blue sky and sunshine every day, what little rain there was did not impinge on our enjoyment one little bit, spectacular thunder storms most nights but again over night. We were woken in the night twice by Code Alpha calls to a cabin so fingers crossed all was ok.
Again the sea was like a millpond, a beautiful blue against the sky so a leisurely warm sail towards Venice, breakfast and then back out to soak up rays and to read. As we entered the lagoon we were picked up by the first tug and at that point we escaped to our balcony to sit and relax, cameras poised and room service lunch ordered! We were tempted to join those out on the observation deck above the bridge but decided to make full use of the balcony especially as it was on the ‘right’ side for viewing. Classical sail in started at 12 noon or there about’s, a glass of something chilled and we were ready. Ventura sailed serenely through with virtually no wake behind us.
With an evening After Hours St Mark’s Basilica trip booked, our third attempt with P&O to visit after two previous tours were cancelled at the last minute. we had decided to remain near the ship and to check out the people mover in readiness for our full day in Venice. Although I had heard about it we had never investigated further so a stroll around the dock and then out to the station. A lot of people were having problem validating the tickets that they had bought in the kiosks near to the terminal but it appeared all of the tickets purchased in the machines there worked without problem and as we had euro coins with is and as the tickets were valid for travel the next day we purchased ours at the time. Back to the ship to get ready for our tour, knees and shoulders covered and we were ready to go….
I just do not know quite what to say about this tour other than it was absolutely fabulous, incredible! We are so pleased we booked, a short transfer to the station near to St Mark’s where we were met by our English tour guide, who started our evening by telling us all about the building between the boat station and the entrance to St Mark’s Square, a full description about the old ‘city gates’ and the Doges Palace and off we went. On our arrival at the Basilica we were admitted by the custodian, there were just the two groups of passengers, 20 people in each group and the door was closed behind us. It was just so surreal, knowing how busy it would normally be inside and knowing that under normal circumstances there would be precious little time to absorb the atmosphere. We started our tour in the outer part, viewing the murals and ceiling pictures, again with great narration by our guide, then after another door was opened for us we were allowed into the main body of the church, this was so strange, an almost eeire feel as we were hushed through and sat down in our little group. It was dark, so dark that you really couldn’t see anything, another hushed talk during which Mike said to me how weird it was that we could see nothing. Then it started, one by one by one we could hear light switches being thrown and gradually areas of the roof became illuminated, in front, then behind, then to the right then, to the left, it was truly awe-inspiring, as all the lights were on we were told that we were allowed to take photographs as long as we did not use a flash and the shutter sound was turned off because of that I was designated photographer for the entirety. We now have the most stunning photographic reminders of our tour, we were even allowed access to parts that normally not seen by the general public, including the crypt which I have to say was extremely light and airy. At the end of our tour we had decided that we would have an evening stroll around the square but we managed to miss the direction to split up and followed our guide through the backstreets before we popped out of an alleyway just opposite the shuttle stop, no matter though this detour came in very useful the following day! Back to St Mark’s Square and somewhat unusually I became a man magnet, I would have been flattered but it was only the guys hawking their wares, I kept being offered roses and eventually I did suggest to Mike he could buy me one but that fell on deaf ears even in such a romantic place! Eventually we caught the shuttle back to the ship, could have been very interesting as there were several very inebriated passengers who had staggered up the walkway to the boat but fortunately all went well. Such a pretty picture Ventura made as we sailed into the shuttle terminal ear the ship, it is rare to catch a glimpse of your cruise ship illuminated and twinkling in the night sky. A quick meal and drink in the Glasshouse before retiring for the night. Overnight storms on a mammoth scale, torrential rain, thunder, lightning and winds so strong that the following morning the Captain apologised if anyone was woken during the night as they had to use the side thrusters to keep the ship against the dock!
So ends the first week of our very lovely cruise. Strange that some things are dealt with on a cruise by cruise basis so for instance tour tickets are delivered at the beginning of each week but other than that and the fact that baggage is being put out in the corridors and you are not packing everything else is the same.


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Lollie
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Re: Fly cruise N418C 3rd-17th Sept

Post by Lollie » 28 Sep 2014, 11:59

Wednesday 10th full day in Venice... up and off the ship early, so weird hearing disembarkation announcements for homeward bound flights in the middle of your holiday, goodness me some people were off the ship early. After last nights storm the morning brought watery sunshine and very suspicious looking clouds but we set off, fingers crossed for our first trip on the People Mover and our walk into the city. Yes it is so easy, wish we had done it last time but we didn't, one of those things I guess that until you have done it you just don't realise how simple it is! The Rialto and St Mark's signed all the way and what a lovely leisurely walk through a slightly different area of this beautiful city. As we walked we photographed and then ended up in the market, it was really busy as were quite early, fascinating to see the array of different fruits, fish and veg, I reckon one stall had about ten varieties of fresh mushrooms! Spent a lovely hour or so checking out the market and the little shops behind, found an absolutely beautiful light fitting for the villa in Portugal we will buy when we win the lottery, plus of course all the matching lamps etc ;) . At the Rialto bridge we tried our very best to sort out an American couple who were wanting to get to St Mark's Square, I think after ten minutes the lady understood but the man definitely thought his plan to walk back the way they had come was right, I reckon they had gone up the bridge, stopped to have a look down the canals, swapped sides and then gone back the way the had come. It was just a little frustrating and after they had left Mike did actually say ' now just remind me, how did the Americans win the war for us?' Our stroll through from the Rialto to St Marks was very pleasant, the city no where near as busy as it can be. When we arrived at the square we found it flooded! It was by then a beautiful sunny day, all the tourists were paddling around in bare feet with their trousers turned up, we have some lovely photographs which are very different to those we have from previous visits. At this point our detour through the back streets on last night's evening tour came into its own and we set off to find somewhere away from the square for lunch. As luck would have it we had timed it perfectly and having sat down at our chosen restaurant and ordered the place was full. It was a wonderful lunch, ate far too much and washed it down with water and wine, alfresco so within the atmosphere of Venice, people watching and just drinking in the ambience. After our long lunch an afternoon stroll along the back streets and out opposite the shuttle stop for the journey back to the ship, it did seem odd getting back to the ship as people were embarking! Early evening and I was strolling back down the corridor to our cabin as the muster drill announcements were being made, as the 'do not put on your life jacket/ make sure the lead is not trailing along the floor' part was being said a cabin door opened, out came a lady who went through to the lift area, a few seconds later the door opened and out came a man, wearing his life jacket with the long lead trailing behind him between his legs! A slam and the cabin door closed with the fastener part of the strap trapped on the inside of the cabin door! I don't know what was funnier, his face as the strap pulled tight between his legs and brought him to an abrupt halt or the cabin stewards face as he realised the guy was keyless and stuck! Little things amuse sometimes, a very funny way to meet your cabin neighbour, just hope he got sorted out and through the drill without feeling the need to abandon ship. Several calls tonight for missing passengers and a slight delay to departure but I believe that eventually everyone was safely back on board, last time we had cruised to Venice we left four people behind including a member of crew! Tonight's dinner was a pre-booked visit to East, what can I say, the food and service were excellent, one slightly amusing moment as Mike ordered his meal and for some inexplicable reason asked for 'fish fingers' instead of Thai fishcakes, wonderful training here as the waitress did not flicker and he did get his fish cakes, I wouldn't have minded but we do not eat fish fingers, goodness knows what she thought, it did cause quite a bit of merryment around the tables closest to us though, a good ice breaker!!!

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