We entered the canal at about four in the morning. We were not up quite that early but we were established on the balcony not long after eight. With a cabin on the 11th deck and on the Port side we were in a brilliant position to enjoy the day, the starboard side presenting, mainly, views of the Sinai.
We brought up breakfast from Kings Court and then spent the whole day reading on the balcony and watching Egypt drift by. It was fascinating and varied – sometimes desert, often-busy roads and railways and the city of Ismailia – and we loved it. We were greeted warmly by so many on land, particularly at these ferry crossings, which we passed every mile, or so:
We had not used the bottle of champagne given to us at embarkation so we got Alex (our excellent Steward) to bring us a large ice bucket and as the sun came on to the balcony at about 1pm, we enjoyed that along with the last of my (nicely chilled by the ice bucket) Tiger Beer.
It was a perfect and relaxing day and we were a little sad when, at about 5pm, we left the canal and entered the Mediterranean:
Neither of us had visited Cyprus before. We docked at Limassol at about eight am the ship was soon cleared for disembarkation. We had not booked an excursion; instead, taking advantage of the excellent Shuttle service (consistently outstanding on this cruise) we were dropped in Limassol, just near the promenade, at about ten. This was a Sunday (and a Sunday in April) and the town was very quiet but for Cunard passengers. However nice people or couples might be individually, the group swamping of smaller or less busy ports can detract from the day. Everywhere we went, on the beach – where we hired beds for a couple of hours – or in restaurants, we were surrounded by others from the ship. That was a shame because Limassol was pleasant and the weather very kind. The harbour, a real one with a mixture of pleasure craft and working fishing boats was attractive:
We had breakfast in one promenade restaurant (Bruschetta and Greek Cheese Pie) and lunch in another. I had mussels, accompanied by an excellent Cypriot beer, Keo.
Wonderful as this cruise has been, the number of scheduled ports we have failed to visit has been significant. Our Auckland stop went first, being replaced by a second night in Tauranga. The weather drove us away from Darwin (although a smaller P and O ship successfully docked that day) and immigration difficulties prevented us having our day in Bali. The Brunei authorities, we were told, had failed properly to prepare the harbour to allow us to dock. Now we have been told that Naples has similarly failed and our visit there is also cancelled. That’s five ports in all. The various announcements from the Captain have been quick to say these omissions have been anyone’s fault other than Cunard’s. But in truth, it suggests a lack of forward planning and a failure properly to liaise with various ports.
Those of us looking forward to seeing Pompeii will still get there because, instead of docking at Naples, we shall anchor off Sorrento. But it’s still an irritation and those intending to spend the day in Naples, are entitled to feel disappointed.
More Sea Days
Today, May 1st is our 69th sea day. The proportion of days at sea has fallen as we have sailed closer to home. But, clearly, as we hear frequently around the ship, the number has become to feel a little wearing for some. A couple at our table want to go home, as does one of our neighbours. By contrast we have really enjoyed this last bunch of days at sea, and have been conscious that they, and the cruise in its entirety, are soon to finish. Cunard have helped by serving up some excellent speakers. Anthony Horowitz, the author, has been very entertaining in a very self-deprecating way. And Eric Flounders gave two fascinating lectures about the Carpathia (the tiny Cunard ship which rescued the Titanic survivors) and The Lusitania, which was torpedoed by a German U Boat in 1916.
And we’ve had a couple of breaks from routine in terms of dining. Jo on our table had a birthday to celebrate and twelve of us took over the Captain’s Table (the second time on this cruise having done so to a couple of months ago to celebrate David’s birthday). We had a lovely evening. Jo was generous in providing plenty of excellent wine (the white and the bubbly all from Tenterden in Kent). She asked me to propose her birthday toast, which I was pleased to do, and after, most of us, went to the Commodore Club for after dinner drinks. It was one of our best evenings. A couple of days later, on 30 April, and to celebrate the one year anniversary of David’s heart surgery, most of us from our table and a few other friends, gave The King’s Court pop up Indian Restaurant a try. The food is very mildly spiced and, even with a few fresh chillies, which the waiter brought me, it wasn’t brilliant. But the service was excellent and we had a lovely evening, finishing, once again, in the Commodore Club.