All Aboard!

Up like larks this morning and the nice man from Enterprise Car Rental came and picked Bob up to take him to the office in Dover. Bob was back within the hour, at the wheel of a very snazzy Hyundai i40. It had 14 miles on the clock! The luggage all went in perfectly and we were on the road by about 930. Easy enough drive down to Southampton. Bob dropped me and the luggage at the Ocean Terminal and went off to drop the car at the Enterprise office there. It cost us £75 for the journey which was cheaper than any other option and quite painless.
WOW! Caribbean Princess is HUGE. So much bigger than many of the ships we’ve sailed on in recent years. The last one we sailed on as big as this was in 2010 when we were on Ruby Princess sailing the Med. You can see it from miles away, towering over the dock. We had priority boarding because we have sailed so much with P&O/Princess and were whisked through…. To the first snag! “oooh” said the check in lady, “they’ve found something in your bag that needs explanation.” Looking shocked and wary, “Have you brought a knife on board??” Slightly baffled we were escorted down into the luggage area of the terminal by security where one of our bags was waiting. “Open this please sir. We can see the offending knife in the bottom of the case”. Bob opened it up and there it was! The knife!!!! It was a Swiss Army multi-tool set that he carries everywhere, a gift from friends, Penny and David, years ago. The blade was extracted and examined and measured and deemed to be within limits on type and blade size and we were allowed to keep it and board. In fact, we were jumped through the rest of security and ended up aboard much quicker than usual! Everyone was very nice and after the initial concern that Bob was going to lose his favourite multi-tool, we were pretty impressed that they’d found it. Note to those interested: they weren’t in the least interested in any alcohol in the cases.
Our cabin was all ready for us. We are inside on this leg of the holiday. In all honesty, its not the most scenic of trips. For most of it, there will be nothing to see but… sea. So we decided that an inside cabin was both the economical choice and will actually give us brilliant sleeps. These cabins on Princess are not huge, pretty standard seasize but big enough. The hanging and storage is excellent. It ate our 4 cases and we still have drawers empty. Like the Tardis, it all just goes away. Bathroom is small but adequate. The bed is amazing. Quite the most comfortable bed on a ship ever. Really heavily padded mattress that feels like a cloud and really nice sheets and duvet. They had also kindly given us some perks for being regular cruisers: 250 internet minutes each, an upgraded bag of bathroom goodies and a fully stocked mini bar, mainly a large variety of spirits, soft drinks and water although there were 2 Dos Eqos Beers. Bob promptly drank one.
We met our steward, Pedro, and then finished unpacking and ran up one floor to the buffet for a light bit of lunch. Did I mention that I’m on a diet??? Finally got totally disgusted with myself after 2 years of eating and drinking too much and started the Dukan 10 days ago. Have lost 9 lbs already which I’m pretty pleased with. So, we’ve brought some weighing scales with us for the cabin and we’re going to keep going. Yes, ‘cos Bob has done it too! The first diet he’s ever done and he’s lost 9 lbs! Of course he only had about 12 to lose in the first place, the swine, and it’s fallen off him. I have loads more than that to lose to get back to my 2011/12 weight and it will take ages, but….. onwards. I’ll get there. Anyway, had poached white fish and spinach for lunch washed down with …… water…… 😊
Had a walk round the outside decks in the sunshine. It was a really lovely afternoon in Southampton. Then it was time for lifeboat drill. Goodness, they take it very seriously here on Princess. You get scanned as you enter your muster station and if you don’t attend, they know, and call you to a second drill. If you don’t attend that, you get removed from the ship!!!!!! So, of course we went and practised putting our lifejacket on and off, adopting the stance and action for “Abandon Ship” (hold nose, secure lifejacket, step out. Do not jump!) and the other procedures.
Shortly after that the ship sailed, passing down Southampton Water led by tug boats and with the pilot aboard. We sat out on the stern terrace pool for a while. Ah, forgot to mention that…. There are 2 very large pools on the deck above us midships and another smaller pool on deck 14 in the stern. We are on deck 14 about 4 cabins from the stern so it is all very convenient. We have had a cabin here before so chose it this time for its convenience. One deck below the big pools, the buffet and the seafood restaurant. Same deck and a short stagger to the quiet pool and a nice terrace bar. Good location.
We’re on Anytime Dining, which means we can go to dinner in one of two main (ie no cover charge) full service restaurants at any time we like between 545 and 915. We chose the Coral Restaurant tonight and arrived at about 8. They always ask if you want to share a table or if you want a table for two. We generally choose to share – you meet interesting people that way. Tonight, we shared with a couple from Vancouver, Canada who had been visiting relatives in England and a man from Florida who had many relatives in Northern Spain (he had been born there) and who went back and forth all the time. He was quite a traveller and very interesting, if a bit odd. He looked like a cross between Lou Reed and Keith Richard and must have been 70 but had suspiciously jet black hair for a man of his age.
For dinner I had a shrimp cocktail (no mayo) followed by a slab of prime rib with a tomato. Washed down with……water….. Bob had a Caesar salad and also prime rib but he had a jacket potato too. I was still quite hungry, I must say. Portions were not massive at all.
After dinner, we went up to the pool deck where they show Movies Under the Stars. There is a massive screen built into the infrastructure of the deck there and at night special mattresses are put on the pool loungers that are super padded and have built in pillows. There are piles of blankets and you just snuggle up under them and watch a different film every night. There is also free popcorn but we didn’t have any of that. The film tonight was “Going out in Style” with Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin. It was an amiable tale about 3 pensioners in New York who having been swindled by their invidious bank decide to rob it to recompense themselves. Nice film without being thrilling. I think the experience will get better as the evenings get warmer. My nose was like a chip of ice by the end of it.
Well…. And so to bed about half past midnight. Tomorrow we are in Zeebrugge for Bruges and Belgium. To be honest we have been to Bruges a number of times – it’s nice – but we are of a mind not to get off tomorrow and just enjoy being aboard, relaxing. The internet, by the way, is particularly woeful at the moment. Just terrible. I am going to have trouble uploading pictures by wireless while we are at sea.