Southampton, UK – 07:00 to 20:00
Wow, what a great day, well actually it really is a truly monumental day. For those of you following our travels, you may ask, what’s so special, as it is only Southampton!!!
First, the obvious one, it is day 52 of a 104-day cruise, or the mid-point, so tomorrow starts the journey back to Sydney. Not really a big deal on this cruise, but on a 7 day round trip to Alaska it is depressing to reach Skagway on day 3 and then head South. Thirty five years and still going strong; yes, you guessed it, today is our anniversary. How better to celebrate what started as a shipboard romance aboard SS Oriana in the South Pacific, between a young British Officer and a young Canadian passenger. Little wonder they called it the, “Love Boat”.
It is almost a homecoming of sorts for me, returning to the country of my birth, but also I spent many days in Southampton while working for P&O/Princess.
Temperature: High 19C/66F, Low 15C/59F
Wind/Weather: Completely overcast with intermittent light rain.
Clox: Z+1 (clox back an hour last evening)
Sea Princess maintained generally N’ly courses across the English Channel towards the pilot boarding station. The pilot boarded about 04:00 and the vessel navigated through the Solent towards her assigned berth, the Queen Elizabeth II Terminal. Arriving off the berth about 06:30, Sea Princess turned around and docked port side alongside, being secured shortly after 07:00.
On a very damp evening, the Captain let the lines go about 20:00, thrusting Sea Princess off the berth before moving ahead down Southampton Water, towards the Solent. We navigated down the Eastern channel around the Isle of Wight, dropping the pilot about 23:00 and setting SW’ly courses along the coast through the English Channel, towards our next port of call, Cobh in Ireland.
Located at the end of the Solent and Southampton Water, Southampton is a major British cruise port and the head office of Carnival UK. Southampton Water is the mouth of rivers Hamble, Itchen and Test.
The adjacent town of Hamble has one of the major marine colleges in UK and many years ago was the home of British Airways pilot training school.
I sat on the balcony for a couple of hours, on a dull, overcast and rainy day, as we navigated along the Solent and Southampton Water towards our berth, at the QE II Terminal. Since this was one of my old stomping grounds, it was a pleasant couple of hours seeing the sights that I passed many times; oh, so many years ago.
As today is our 35th anniversary, I booked a special occasion package online, which includes champagne breakfast in the cabin, a bottle of champagne, box of chocolates and plate of canapés. When Judi awoke, we stayed on the balcony watching the securing and start of disembarkation, until we decided that the champagne breakfast wasn’t coming, so off to the dining room. Yet another chat required with the Customer Service Manager. Today, we are meeting friends ashore at West Quay Mall, so we met Bruce and Viv and headed ashore on the ship supplied shuttle. Didn’t know where it headed, other then downtown. To our surprise it stopped a short distance from the Mall, so we headed in that direction to find a mobile (cell) store and Starbucks.
Although not open until 11:00 the tea/coffee stores and mobile stores were open when we arrived at 10:00. First stop was the mobile shop to re-activate our UK phone, which needed a new SIM card and some time. Great young man accomplished this quickly and off we headed to find Starbucks, where we were meeting friends. Pleasantly surprised that in UK they have real teas – English Breakfast and not the weird names we get in Canada and the U.S. So armed with 2 large steaming hot mugs of tea we headed upstairs to access the complimentary wi-fi. Tried to change our return flights in British Airway’s Manage my Booking, but could get access, so grabbed the cell phone and called. After a 20 minute wait, got a lovely lady, who as usual was most helpful. Unfortunately, can’t get flights on Sept 5th or 6th, so we depart Sydney on Sept 7th, via Dallas. This will require a 3 night stay at the Sydney Airport Hotel, where we will relax before the 24 hour sojourn back to Vancouver.
We met Francis and her new beau John at the Starbucks, then we phoned David and Penny, who live on the Isle of Wight. They jumped on the next ferry and we all agreed to meet at the Cowherds Pub on the Common for lunch. Unfortunately, while the beer was excellent, the ship must have phoned their cook and advised that we have experienced cold food for the previous 52 days. Yep, you guessed it, the meals were stone cold and one piece of meat was so tough you couldn’t cut it with the knife. Regardless, we spent some enjoyable hours with greats friends and company, enjoying a few “Wets”.
Francis and John dropped us back to the ship, at the same as Bruce and Viv arrived in a taxi, so we returned onboard together and arranged to meet for dinner at 19:30. Surprise, surprise on return to the cabin they had delivered a bottle of champagne, with ice mostly melted, a plate of canapés and a box of chocolates. A quick phone call to room service and we quickly received a cold bottle of bubbly and removed he canapés, as who knows how long they sat at room temperature. It was rather pleasant sitting on the balcony, sipping cold bubbly and nibbling on chocolates, as we departed the berth and sailed down Southampton Water.
We headed up to Horizon Court to meet Bruce & Viv, and also found Bob & Christine, so the 6 of us grabbed a table and enjoyed another dinner together. Reasonably tasty, but as usual more than a little devoid of heat.
As another day closes, we bid you farewell, till tomorrow and hope for fair skies and following seas.