We were up bright and early and very excited ready for our journey to Southampton, very excited when the Volvo Estate pulled up outside the house shortly after 9.00am. Our eight bags were loaded and we were off leaving Hayley videoing us as we left, a quick jump out to retrieve the camera and then the journey really started. Our driver was very professional, he had driven down from Bristol to pick us up and he chatted most of the way. We learned that he was ex-army, 42 years old and lived between Bath and Wells where he and his wife were rebuilding an old barn. The journey was swift other than a couple of hiccups when he insisted on using his SatNav when commonsense would have shown him that he was going wrong. We stopped at Prince Charles’s new estate at Poundbury so that he could stretch his legs and before we knew it he was saying “That’s Oriana over there!”
Embarkation was equally smooth but the butterflies really reached Hilary’s tummy when we actually boarded the ship. It is huge! None of the cabins were ready for using as we had arrived very early (around 12.30pm) so we were offered a buffet lunch and we both chose a nice white fish in a wine sauce, Sam also managed to sneak a cream horn ,for dessert and a couple of cups of weak tea. We managed to chat up Pearl – a lady travelling alone on the San Francisco leg – and Ruth and Monty, a couple from London, and Caroline and Roy who like us are doing the whole tour.
We got to our cabin shortly after 3.00pm but only one bag arrived initially, a short wait followed and by 4.15pm all the bags were safely stowed under the bed – one of Hilary’s bags has been torn and will need mending – and then we were off for Lifejacket muster at 4.30pm. Now that was a shambles, we waited until the official time and went with coats and hats as suggested by the leaflet and found that the muster took place next to the casino. There were no seats left and it was baking hot. The fear was that Hilary would pass out at one stage but she sat on the floor and fanned herself with a leaflet until the drill was over. I was not given a great deal of confidence about the lifeboat drill and I hope that we do not have to participate at the start of each leg. Our cabin steward is a little Phillipino girl called Geraldine and she seems to be the jack of all trades, even lugging heavy suitcases along corridors.
We took our lifejackets back to the cabin before going outside for the departure celebrations. This was a mistake as by the time we got back all the rails were full of people and we had to video the band and the fireworks over the heads of other people. We saw tickertape, we were given a union jack to wave, there was flashing lights and inflated tubes and the fireworks were absolutely brilliant. Finally we were back in our cabin taking sea sickness pills on the advice of the captain who is expecting 3metre swells.
Our cabin is going to be OK for us, we got everything packed away but of course there is not a drawer or cupboard that doesn’t have something in it. I did discover that as I unpacked everything that I have left my reading glasses and the book I was half way through by the side of my bed in Middle Chub Tor. Ah well I will just have to start another one tonight.
We decided that the ship was stable enough for us to go to our first dinner, this one was casual and was our first chance to meet the other 6 people on our table. We have Peter and Christine, Richard and Keuiko, and Bill and Alison. These 6 all have connections with Scotland in one form and another. They seem a good bunch to travel with and only Bill and his Japanese wife are not going all the way round as they get off in Singapore where they hope to meet their son. Dinner was great, we had the vegetarian option for starter and main course and Sam managed a small portion of bread and butter pudding with cream for dessert. As we are in the first sitting for dinner at 6.30pm we still had time afterwards to go to the Chaplin cinema to see Mama Mia – it was packed! Great film and I would be quite happy to see it again. We just have to wait until we see tomorrow’s itinerary to see what to do next. So far not a sign of sickness for either of us but it is early days yet. I am actually typing this offline at 11.00pm and hope to post it as soon as they get their internet connection sorted out. There is no chance of Skype as they don’t have the bandwith to supply it and being online costs £40 for 250minutes. As soon as this becomes available I will buy it. OK that’s it for day one, Hilary is already in bed and asleep and I will shortly be joining her.