The day has arrived. And both of us were just about well enough this morning despite Jan shaking off the residue of tonsillitis and my going to bed and waking up shivery. We said goodbye to our daughter, her husband and, most of all our grandson, and set off for the 80 mile drive from South London to Southampton. We made good time and arrived at Penguin Parking – highly recommended – at about 12.15. Our welcome there could not have been better: the receptionist rushed out to greet us, explained what they’d be doing to keep the car in good order rather than letting it stand for four months, and within minutes our 8 cases and numerous suit and dress carriers were transferred to their vehicle and 15 minutes later we were handing over the same cases to Cunard.
We were an hour early for our embarkation slot so we read and stocked up on the complimentary magazines in the terminal (we have a lot of reading time ahead of us) before being called forward exactly on time. Checking In and Security were painless and at two thirty we were in our cabin, which is beautiful. Alex, our Steward, introduced himself and has promised to clear the mini bar so that we can fill it with our own alcohol (some Bourbon, Gin and Spanish Brandy) which – we hope – is finding its way through security.
We had some lunch at Kings Court (Thai Green Curry), had a quick view of one or two of the bars and restaurants, including a pleasant lounge at the front of the ship which is exclusive to those of us doing the full cruise, before returning to the cabin to await and unpack our cases. We have an evacuation drill at 5 and then sail shortly after. It’s all very exciting and very pleasing.