This cruise was scheduled to be a 12 day visit to Norway to hopefully see the Northern Lights instead we stayed on the North Sea. Our planned itinerary was to visit Trondheim (replacing Andalnes), Tromso, Alta and finally Stavanger.
Day 1 Wednesday 11th March: Southampton
The M3 was clear all the way to Southampton. Our only hold up was the under repair Redbridge roundabout as we left the M271. After leaving our car with CPS, we walked to the terminal where there was a small queue outside. Everybody was being given a form to fill-in about recent countries visited and and their health.
After entering the building we had our temperatures taken and these were then noted on the forms. It seems if your temperature was too high you would’ve had to go and see someone and may even have been refused entry to the ship.
Our problems before boarding
Our problems started as we went to check-in and discovered that we had our grand son’s passport rather than mine. This meant a rather urgent call to our local family to ask them to pick up my passport and drive down to the port as soon as possible.
While we waited we picked up new forms filled them in again and had our temperatures taken again. We had over an hour to wait and I took the opportunity to buy an expensive beer and a packet of crisps while we waited.
Once my passport arrived we were quickly through check-in and on board Aurora our suitcases were outside the cabin and we made a start at unpacking.
We double checked to see if there was a Peninsula Club lunch. There was and we headed off to hopefully have lunch. We arrived with just 15 minutes to spare so good timing.
I had a glass of house red wine to accompany my breaded prawns. This was just what I needed to start to relax.
After lunch we headed off to the Curzon Theatre for the mandatory safety drill. This was the usual P&O drill except they didn’t seem to be any mention of vaping as well as smoking only being allowed in certain places.
We finished our packing and discovered that our suitcases would not go under the bed unless they were folded open. This was OK for the cold weather gear but for my camera gear we had to find ways of fitting them into the wardrobe.
Aurora has had a refit and where the small TV was over the refrigerator there were now two UK 13 amp sockets. Plus the usual UK 13 amp socket above the dressing table.
Afternoon out on deck
Later we went to join our friends at the stern of the ship on Deck 12. The bar there was closed. The wind fairly whistled through where we were sitting. They had taken advantage of their free sailaway drinks and it did look incongruous as the four of us sat huddled in our overcoats watching Southampton slip away behind us.
After a few minutes, or maybe longer, we decided it was too cold and we moved inside to sit by the covered pool. A waitress came and asked us about the restaurant bookings and we took advantage of an easy booking and booked a meal at the Beach House on the third night.
While we sat and finished our drinks we checked our emails and noticed one from P&O that offered an extra £400 OBC (on-board spend) for anyone not cancelling their cruise in 48 hours time. After seeing this email we quickly realised that this perhaps would not include this cruise.
Back in the cabin we met our cabin steward and we asked him to deliver us our usual ice and skimmed milk and to empty the ‘fridge of the P&O booze. We promised faithfully to tell him when we were going for dinner so he could clean the room. He explained that he had cabins on our deck, Deck 9, and cabins above on Deck 10 so we might not see as much of him as we wanted.
First evening meal onboard
We had booked second sitting for this cruise and P&O have changed the time from 8.30 pm to 8 pm. This in our opinion was a good change. Once at the restaurant we made our way to the back of the restaurant by the windows that looked out at the stern of the ship.
We were on a table for eight and after a few minutes four other people joined us on the table. Just to see how small a world it is on cruise ships, our server had been with us on an earlier cruise on Arcadia and he remembered us as we clearly remembered him!
It was not a special menu for the first night. I started with the sliced beef salad and for mains had a chicken which had a reasonably spicy corn sauce which was very good. My desert was my favourite ice cream of honey and ginger.
As this was the first night we all decided to go to the theatre and see the group of singers that that were performing. These were Triptonic.
Tiptronic in the Curzon Theatrte
Back in our cabin we settled down for our first night on this cruise. After first watching Sky News and becoming increasingly worried about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that was sweeping the world.