A Nautical Nomad

Cruising , Braemar, Fred Olson

Day three of my trip to France and Spain and heading down the coast of France on sea day before arriving at Bordeaux tomorrow evening. Trip from Edinburgh yesterday went well with a faultless airport and flight experience arriving at Southampton Airport at 8.20. Decided to put off some time by having coffee at a costa in the airport as way too early for a check in at the cruise terminal. Caught up on Facebook twitter etc. The usual chaos in Westminster surrounding Brexit making headlines in all the papers and looking at the various reports and social media postings I realized one important thing. No one, but no one, fully understands the EU and the implications of Brexit.

The flight down

Arrived at the terminal building at 11 AM and a wait till 13.00 before boarding which gave me time to assess the age group of my fellow passengers, leaving me with the hope that the younger ones would be joining the cruise later in the day. So boarded and set about setting up an internet connection, having lunch and settling in. I have been on two previous cruises with Fred Olson and in the main been reasonably happy apart from a few niggling problems . This one is shaping up to be a somewhat less than complete experience and it started with finding where lunch was served. I asked two members of staff which restaurant was serving lunch and was told there was no lunch served. This would have been the first ever cruise that I had ever been on that did not serve lunch on the first day. Now I had ,in the past formed the opinion that Fred Olson cruises were very penny pinching by nature but this was ridiculous. However, on my familiarization trip around the ship I did come upon a restaurant serving lunch, obviously a staff training issue.

So, a few problems getting connected to WI FI but to be fair not too expensive at £65 for 7 days , by cruise ship standards, although, as this is an 8 day cruise it will probably cost me another £30 for the extra day. So far so good until later in the afternoon when I decided to have a snack and discovered that there was no facility available apart from three plates of biscuits at the coffee/tea station which has been instantaneously devoured by people who had obviously cruised on this ship in the past. So dinner being at 20.30 and assuming you had lunch around 12 to 1 they expect you to go for seven and a half hours without food. I think the slave ships of the 18th century had better conditions than this one, so I have arranged for the Red Cross to do a food air drop somewhere in the bay of Biscay later this afternoon.

By evening time I was bloody starving and begged the barman to give me some nuts with my drink to keep me conscious till dinner time . He grudgingly gave me a tiny helping of nuts see below.

Total sustenance from 14.00 till 20.00

So dinner at 20.30 and Faulty Towers at sea continued with me being put at a table for two instead of a table for six only then to be told by a concerned waiter that I was sitting at the wrong table. Turns out that they had two tables with the same number on them . So a move to another table and sitting next to a guy who was a compulsive complainer who had an issue with the sound of the propeller and was insisting he speak to the head waiter, whereby he took upon himself the roll of shop Stewart in insisting that everybody was decanted to another table. Eventually I explained to him that this was a ship, the restaurant was at the stern of it , ships have propellers and if he couldn’t hear it where we were, he would have something to worry about . As I had already been playing musical tables earlier I had no intention of moving and would be obliged if he would shut up and let us do what we came here for and be fed as my stomach at that point was beginning to think my throat had been cut. So, with the usual application of astute diplomacy , the situation was resolved and after an inordinate wait we were eventually served the first course at 21.10, heaven. So much to be desired with service and attitude on this ship.

So to the later part of the evening and an uneventful conclusion with a wee bit dancing and the obligatory disco where I transformed into a later day John Travolta, immersed in a Saturday night Fever. I am becoming quite adept at the taking of pulses before asking any of the ladies to dance and differentiating between a state of slumber and Riga mortice.

So onward through the bay of Biscay and a formal night tonight.

Hope you are having good weekend folks

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