Mediterranean cruise P&O 4- 18 Sept 2022
Well, that’s me on my travels again and this time I am taking a P&O cruise around a section of the Mediterranean, taking in La Coruna, Valencia, Toulon, Barcelona and Seville (Cadiz).
My trip started on Saturday with a 2 AM rise to get into the centre of Dundee to catch the Xplore airport bus to Edinburgh airport. Great service which drops you at the departure door of the airport. We now have two services to Edinburgh Airport, the other being Ember A relatively new company started by a couple of young guys who had this innovative idea a few years back of operating fully electric busses initially on a route from Dundee to Edinburgh and have now added a Glasgow route to with others to follow.
We as a company work very closely with Ember and our connection started a few years ago just before Covid hit. We at the time ran a coach company and a vehicle repair company and were approached by these guys who had, at that time, just an idea, to start and operate these electric buses. They were looking for a company to service and repair these electric buses and we agreed to assist them. Unfortunately, Covid came on the scene and this prevented the start of their venture. However as soon as covid started to recede they were back with a plan and we gave them a section of our yard space, along with office accommodation, and off they went. They now have 8 vehicles and have two routes up and going, Edinburgh and Glasgow and operate a very strict maintenance regime. Best of luck to them.
I digress, so an early trip through to the airport followed by a two-hour delay in my Loganair flight to Southampton, the explanation of which was strange, to say the least. An announcement informed passengers that adverse weather conditions causing a wet runway in Southampton was the cause of the delay, which was complete nonsense as a quick reference to Google showed that, there was a chance of light showers and a wind speed of 10 miles per hour. I feel that this was expectation management and building in a weather excuse in case the delay exceeded the 3-hour mark which would have kicked in the compensation trigger. When the flight arrived in Southampton the runway was bone dry.
Airports are so unreliable at the moment that I decided to go to Southampton a day early. However, Southampton not being exactly the Las Vegas of the south can be quite a boring place to spend an overnight. What I did notice however is that prices were very high. No doubt a combination of expected increases in fuel and power occasioned by sanctions imposed on Russia together with the effects of Brexit on supply chains.
Sunday, and some time to kill before boarding and a chance to wander around the quite extensive parkland in the centre of Southampton, watching the squirrels and rats frolic in the Sun. Yes, rats, I saw more rats than Squirrels.
Then on to the ship which is the P&O Britania. P&O is not my favourite line, but I think I have been with them three times when they were either offering a very good deal or when a particular cruise worked in with my travel plans and this was one of these occasions as the cruise I had planned had been cancelled at the last moment because of mechanical problems. The cruise I was to have taken was a Fred Olson one from Rosyth which is only 50 miles from Dundee and the reason for that one was that I have recently had a wee operation and was convalescing ( no lifting). Rosyth meant I could be taken there, and my case deposited at the drop, with no airports to navigate with luggage. However, as Robert Burns would say, “ the best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley” so in order to sort the luggage problem I arranged for a courier to collect it from the house and deliver it to the ship.
So onboard the ship and no luggage at the door of the cabin and as time went on, I began to have concerns that it had not reached the ship. Anyway, to cut a long story short it did arrive eventually at 11 PM that night. Thank goodness as I was not looking forward to 14 days without luggage.
So, Britania, and a very British ship, which means the food is awful and the general organization quickly turns into disorganisation. I have also found in the past that some passengers seem to think they are in a bubble where everyone has the same prejudices as them. Now they aren’t, and the vast majority of English people you meet on one of these cruises are perfectly amenable people, there are a few who spoil it though and the last time I was on a P&O ship, some of the comments concerning asylum seekers in the English Channel, and people from the EU who have settled here, were just awful. However, up to now ( and this is day 5) I have not seen much of that kind of behaviour. Mind you, the reason for that could be because most of this prejudice seems to come out at dinner tables. Because of the chaotic booking system, I have not been able to get a table in one of the restaurants yet and have ended up eating at the buffet which is of a level commensurate with a works canteen.
There are a lot of days at sea on this trip, and up to now, we have docked at only one port La Coruna which was on Tuesday. A lovely town with lots of narrow streets, a good many of them pedestrianized. There are a couple of nice beaches on the far side of the town. A 40-minute walk will take you to the Torre de Hercules which is the oldest still-functioning lighthouse in Europe. La Coruna is also where the Spanish Armada left Spain to sail to England. The true story of the Spanish armada is a tale worth telling as it is an example of even back then in the sixteenth century that propaganda was rife. However, that is a story for a day when I am utterly bored and have nothing to do.
I have just heard that there seems to be an issue with the Queen’s health. Now I am in no way a royalist and believe that in this day and age, when no one except for the severely mentally challenged, believes that monarchs are chosen by God. I would not take any satisfaction over an old woman arriving at the end of her life. However, monarchs are way out of date and belong back in the dark ages. It is therefore time for the countries of the British Isles to grow up and put the monarchy where it belongs and that is in museums. Or perhaps another way which I suggested many years ago would be to privatize them whereby the public could buy into them.
However, if the queen has come to the end of her life I am not looking forward to the atmosphere on this ship, the quintessence of Britishness, as it will be like sailing in a morgue, but good luck to the old lady.
So, we head up the coast of Spain with the next port being Valencia which I am looking forward to visiting.
Have a good day folks