Cruise 2005: Ireland, Greenland, Iceland and Norway
Photographs by Gerald England
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This page last updated: 20th May 2006.
The next three days are all at sea.
We start our day with breakfast in the Medina Restaurant. This is one of the three options we try over the course of the cruise. The restaurant opens a little later than the other two so isn't for very early risers. Tables are allocated on a first come first served basis. This has the bonus of eating with and getting to know new people. The menu is mainly the traditional British breakfast of cereals or porridge followed by the usual selection of fried items as well as toast and tea or coffee. As at dinner the butter comes in the form of little bricks that are too cold to spread easily.
The first alternative for breakfast is the Café Bordeaux. This is a smaller, more intimate setting where we are always seated at a table for two. There is a more limited choice for the main breakfast dish, but it is always exquisitely served, and the butter has been allowed to warm to a proper spreadable consistency. In the evenings you can elect to have dinner in the Café Bordeaux but you have to pay an extra £6.50 for the privilege.
The third alternative is the Orangery. Here you serve yourself, which is fine if you don't want a more "formal" breakfast. Sometimes we'd go and have porridge there and come back an hour later for something cooked. It is more flexible and allows you to choose also which side of the ship you look out of.
Much of the morning is spent looking out of the window from the Crows Nest. The ships sails around the Scottish islands of Tiree and Coll before turning West into the Atlantic.
I take a small batch of laundry up to one of the two launderettes on board. The machines are free to use but you have to purchase washing powder. It is available in the shop and is rather overpriced. I notice that those in the know have brought their own supply from home. Whilst waiting for the clothes to wash, I visit the Orangery for a snack. Then while I'm waiting for the dryer I sit near the Lido.
After dinner I experience an excruciating pain in my side and my right chest. I think I may had strained a muscle while leaning into the washing-machine earlier. I cannot get to sleep and am keeping Christine awake. Eventually I call the medical centre and go down to see the doctor. He takes blood and urine samples, rules out anything serious and concludes I've got muscelaskeletal pain. He gives me a pain-killing injection and prescribes Ibuprofin. I finally get back to bed about 1.30am. The bill is just over £300. My travel insurance policy covers all but £35 of this. At least, the blood tests prove there's nothing major amiss, and I get the results straightaway. If I'd gone for blood tests from my GP at home, I'd have to wait about two weeks for the results!
I'm feeling better in the morning so we have a quiet breakfast in Café Bordeaux. Christine visits the salon and I go there later for a haircut and beard trim.
By the following day I'm feeling very much chirpier. Late afternoon finds me in the Crows Nest. A man in the group I'm sitting with says "I'll give sixpence to the first person who sees a whale". No one sees a whale but a few minutes later, a lady shouts out "Dolphins!" and indeed there are about six dolphins following the side of the ship. We are in an area of the North Atlantic known as Irminger Havet. One of the group has a portable satellite navigation gizmo. It seems we are at 58° N, 42° W. 15 minutes later, about 4pm. we sight our first iceberg. It is 17 miles away. In its vicinity as we approach are several smaller ones known as growlers or bergy bits.
There are also some birds flying alongside the ship. I've no idea what they are. They have a stubby gray body, white heads and long gray wings about twice their body length with round white marks on their wing tips. They fly very quickly low down over the water.
Tomorrow we arrive in Greenland.
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