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Everything posted by Eglesbrech

  1. Quick question. Do P&O still go into central Amsterdam?
  2. Yes, I wouldn’t enjoy eating at that time of the night. Like you we enjoyed the entertainment and they did well to keeping going through the rough day in the Bay of Biscay. A lot of very ill passengers. Some of the waiting staff looked a little green as well, poor souls.
  3. I’m curious, did you eat early? We sat in Anderson’s mist night sand every second person had a pager but that was 7.30 or later.
  4. It’s raining men / the weather girls Why does it always rain on me / Travis (watch the Glastonbury video)
  5. Le Harve is walkable if you dock in the normal port and dont mind a 20 minute stroll into town. The shuttle for most ships drop off in the centre and you miss some of the nicer shops on the way in. It’s not the prettiest city IMO but there are some nice pavement cafes to sit and people watch. La Courouna the pretty old town is right opposite the ship with nice one off shops, tapas bars etc. just go across the main road and you are there. The new town with the bigger department stores is off to the left of you have your back to the ship. La Rochellle is an industrial port so everyone needs a shuttle which takes about 25 to 30 minutes each way traffic dependant. Just your luck which drop off you get on the day. We love it here and I can highly recommend Bar Andre on the harbour near the tower if you like seafood. Most lines also offer a trio to Conac which is also a nice day out. Bilboa is a long shuttle if the traffic is bad but the drop off point is usually near the Guggenheim which is lovely to see if you haven’t been before. The little local town is up the hill and you can’t actually see it. Walk along the beach promenade (left at the end of the walk from the ship) and about 10 minutes along on the right is a funicular that takes you up into Gextco which is now free. The town is small but there are some shops and local tapas which is exceptionally cheap. We had 2 nice local beers and 3 tapas for under 10 euro. There are also some bars and tapas at the harbour if you are not a walker.
  6. Yes La Rochelle is always a favourite of ours. I think some of the issues on this cruise stemmed from it being completely full and staff being diverted to the H&S audit. We tend to eat later so I would never go at 6pm as, if we were called quickly, it would not suit me to eat then. I’m sure people who went at that time and got the first tables of the evening would be fine but for later diners there was certainly a long wait. I found the food strange as there were some things in the MDR that were really rather good but others that just were just not. Curates egg really.
  7. We did the Ireland round trip last year and it was brilliant. We really enjoyed both the ports and the scenic part as well. We paid nothing like that price, they must have really ramped it up. We did however book when the drinks package was included. Perhaps worth a phone call to see if they can do anything for you price wise. All they can say is no.
  8. Craghoppers do double layer trousers with a fleece lining and waterproof outer layer. They do them in long regulat and short lengths so handy. They are very cosy and less of a faff than longjohns and trousers.
  9. We have only ever travelled in the MSC Yacht Club so I can’t comment on the MDR food. Hope you’re wife,s dentist managed the broken tooth. Never good.
  10. If you can get bookings for them. 😀
  11. Try MSC yacht club. MSC do a loyalty match and the food is great, very Italian (the entertainment is not as good if that is important to you). We only do the odd P&O cruise now mainly because of the food. That said we eat lunch out in ports or speciality restaurants onboard which is fun and affordable as the P&O prices are competitive. There are a lot of adverse comments about the MDR food from perfectly reasonable people. We can’t all be wrong.
  12. Of course it is, delighted to have people join in the conversation. You are most welcome.
  13. I’m so sorry to hear that re her parents behaviours but great that she is happy.
  14. I always go on any holiday with a view to enjoying it unless it is really poor, which this was not. As I said we had a good embarkation / disembarkation. The cabin was clean. The entertainment was very good. The ports were enjoyable. Sindhu was excellent etc. The biggest fly in the ointment was the food and we didn’t starve. Once we moved restaurant to fixed dining the service was great (even if the food choices were still limited). The issue with the crew change was probably some lack of experience and training. Add to that the H&S audit.
  15. Good news Graham, I’m so glad. How is Sarah doing?
  16. I’m just off Aurora and would agree. The food was a really mixed bag. but then the food on Iona was just adequate as well. The food is much better on Fred IMO (accepting that you pay much more for it). It’s not just the food on Fred though. Lots of nice little extra touches. The big thing is the regional departures which means the cost is much more comparable if you live in Scotland or the North of England, taking account of travel, hotel stays etc.
  17. Hello all, just back from Aurora yesterday (I have shared some thoughts on another thread if anyone is interested). Just been catching up on all the news. Best wishes to those who have been poorly or are waiting on results. Jane I’m so glad you avoided a fractured skull, had one - no fun at all! Had a good laugh at the offerings from our resident funny men, thanks. Enjoyed the lovely pictures of where people have been, the robins etc as well. This thread is a joy.
  18. I agree Jean. I really hate cigarette smoke but have never found it an issue on any of Fred’s ships.
  19. A few notes from our recent cruise. Embarkation We arrived at the dock 10 minutes before our appointed time but as CPS were a bit on the slow side arrived at check in after our time slot. Check in was friendly, quick and efficient and we were onboard within 15 minutes from start to finish. Our luggage was at our cabin by the time we got there so all good. Disembarkation was equally efficient. Cabin All as expected. The cabin was clean and kept that way throughout the week by our efficient cabin steward who also provided ice every day, as a requested. The bathroom fittings are showing their age to the point that they really do need replaced. The bottom of the shower should be dimpled but it is now so old the dimples have been worn away over the years and can only now be seen round the edges. The shower was fine, decent pressure. Main Dining Well we started off with “freedom” dining and that lasted one day. Freedom seems to now be the freedom to wait in a queue for a pager, then wait for an inordinate time to be paged. We were initially told 30 to 40 minutes, this was extended again and eventually we were double that time. We didn’t eat until after 9pm which was far too late and we were not the latest by any means. People next to us had been waiting longer and we were paged first (they may have wanted a 2 top). Others reported being seated immediately so all a bit of a cluster bourach! I am aware from having done many, many cruises that the first night can be a bit of struggle but this was shambolic beyond any past experiences. We did comment on the length of the wait and were told “it will be worse tomorrow as the formal meal takes longer to serve” and that if we didn’t like it “we could eat at the buffet!” in an offhand and frankly quite cheeky manner. At this point we asked to speak to someone more senior, requested a change and were moved to fixed dining which proved to be much more relaxing. We had excellent waiting staff who looked after us extremely well. The ship was full so this probably contributed to waiting times. That said I have never been presented with a pager for breakfast on any ship before, ever. We were happy to share a table and still told the wait was 30 to 40 minutes (Bilbao port day). We gave up and went to the buffet, which I don’t particularly like. Food The food was a very, very mixed bag. While we had some really excellent dishes we also had some that were frankly inedible and full plates were removed with no enquiry as to why (lunchtime). There was far too much repetition on the menu for example fish and chips at both lunch and dinner and roasted lamb on the menu virtually every evening along with steak removing 2 choices unless you wanted them every day. The starters and soups were good and for example the terrains were always very tasty. Again there was a lot of repetition, while I enjoyed the tomato soup it was on the menu a lot. I really enjoyed some of the lighter dishes like the prawn fajitas, the bean wraps, bean chilli, satay etc. . The food on the formal nights was a strange mix, don’t expect the the traditional beef wellington or lobster (the lobster byriani at Sindhu was however excellent). The chicken ballatine was a pleasant change and very enjoyable. I certainly found enough to eat but had to pick around the menu very carefully and ask for extra if required. Some portion sizes are very small for example at lunch the mezzi platter consisted of a portion of humous was about the size of a ten pence piece, 1 small dolmade cut in half about the size of my pinky (and too vinegary) a tiny falafel and one lettuce leaf. Several people at the table had ordered it and we all burst out laughing when it came as it was a supposed to be a main meal “large plate”. I’m not a dessert person but saw them on the table with commentary from OH and others, again they went from the inedible (burnt, dried out treacle pudding) to the very pleasant Tart Tatin. Buffet We only ate there a couple of times. The first day we went up for a late lunch and the choice was woeful. There had been a roast of gammon and various curries etc (the tags were still there but not the food and it was not being replaced, I asked). This was an hour before the advertised end of service. So if you want lunch on the first day get there quick! Breakfast was the usual selection and absolutely fine. The buffet areas were kept clean and tables cleared quickly which was good to see. Afternoon Tea We went to the sit down afternoon tea on the last sea day. Not worth the effort or the queue. We were at a table for six and there were five sandwiches. The scones were cold, the cream was artificial and the cakes looked woeful. Again synthetic cream: most got left. I had a cup of stewed tea. The company at the table was however enjoyable. Speciality Dining Sindhu was really excellent, one of the better iterations of this venue both for food and great service. I thoroughly enjoyed my black chickpea and spiced humous massala starter. The other dishes were all equally good and we tried a range of them. Tried the Indian cocktail, a nice hit of spice but too strong for me. If you are a spirits drinker you will probably enjoy it. Beach House Dreadful, no other word for it. We waited 45 for our starter and when it came OHs chicken wings were cold and tasteless but he ate them as by that time he was ravenous. After an hour and 15 minutes we enquired about mains (the bottle of wine was long finished by then). We were told, quite sharply, that it was just coming. 10 minutes on again, I asked again. Out came the food and it had clearly been sitting under the heat lamps for a while as it was as dry as two day old toast. I asked to speak to the maitre,d at this point and waited, and waited (taking pictures of the food eventually got his attention). After been told it would be another 20 - 30 minutes wait we walked out, requesting a refund. Again there was a complete lack of coordination. Tables that came in after us were being served before us and tables before us, after us. We were not the only ones to walk. This may just have been one particularly bad night but it was on our holiday and the night we were there. Health and Safety Audit I will add at this point that the health and safety auditors were on the ship, this was announced by the Captain and he apologised for any inconvenience. This definitely had an impact on the staff. There were many additional drills, everything from lifeboats being lowered, a simulated evacuation where cabins all had to be checked as “clear”, to the power to the lifts being switched off to test emergency processes. You could see this was adding to the work load and stress. Entertainment We really enjoyed the entertainment onboard. A nice mix with something for everyone. The resident company were wonderful singers and dancers, a very talented cast. Their last show in particular was extremely slick and professional. Guest speaker actor Jim Whelen gave two very interesting talks on his childhood and acting career. Classical guitarist Stephen Burnham was mesmerising and gave a nice mix of both popular and classic pieces. The Elton John tribute by Steve Hollington was extremely well done. He did another show in Carmens which we also enjoyed. There was jazz in the Crows Nest most nights and one evening a big band doing Glen Millar which was very well done with a narrator providing the history of the music. Bar Service & Drinks Service was mixed with a bit of a wait and heading to the bar to be served on some occasions and others super efficient. Cocktails were a bit hit and miss as well eg passion fruit martini brilliant the first time and watery the second. I don’t like the fact that the beer is all served in nonic tumblers. Even our small local pub has the proper glass for the beer and it does affect the taste and bubbles. Some of the staff lack training. One young lad opened our bottle of Champagne and lost about a glass of it as it poured all over him and the carpet. We had to ask for a cooler for it as well. On other evenings, opened and poured beautifully and a full ice bucket provided by a more experienced waiter. As we had 3 days in Spain the 10% Spanish tax applied and it applied well after the ship left the harbour, so be aware of this when ordering. Ports We have been to most of these ports many times so know what we can do and what we enjoy. La Couruna we walked off, shopped and had tapas. A nice port to just mooch around. Gijon was a first for us so we took the shuttle in and just walked around the pretty little port town ( the port where we berthed is industrial). We had no problem and no wait for the shuttles in either direction but we are early risers so off early. Bilbao we docked extremely late and I didn’t hear the explanation as to why. This had a knock on on shuttles to the city so the ship put on a shuttle to Gextco train station as well as direct to Bilbao. We just walked up the town, enjoying the stroll along the promenade, more tapas and the lovely views. La Rochelle we were again on an early shuttle and the shuttle stop this time was extremely handy, just across from the market and next to the Cathedral with a short walk to anything. We had a lovely day here eating at a local harbour front restaurant which served the best fish soup I have had and an amazing seafood platter. As three of the ports were shuttle there were a lot of complaints about waiting times (full ship). Personally we didn’t have any issues but we go early as advised in the Horizon. General The ship looks a bit rusty in parts from the outside. We docked next to Sky Princess in Getxco and the comparison was not good, Sky looked so fresh. Aurora is an older lady but a lick of paint would not go amiss. Public areas were kept clean and there was always someone sanatising lift buttons and handrails but surprisingly the ladies toilets were in need of attention eg no liquid soap left in either dispensers. Some of the staff were a bit offhand to say the least to the point of rudeness and others an absolute delight. I am always courteous and polite to staff so their issue, not mine. The Captain was informative and he was visible, wandering round Anderson’s of an evening chatting to guests. Dress codes were well adhered to on formal nights, well at least by the gents. Some of the ladies were somewhat basic compared to their male companions in nice suits and DJs. Conclusion All in all we had a most enjoyable cruise. While there were some niggles nothing that detracted for the overall experience. As I said in another thread P&O is much more basic than it used to be but you dine, you are entertained and taken to interesting places, all for a decent price.
  20. Balmoral is a nice little ship. Everything you need but no long walks from place to place. Its a little more old fashioned than the newer Fred ships but it has personality. The comfortable outdoor seating areas under pergolas are a great place to sit and enjoy a good book and a glass of something. The extra pay restaurants are both very good (and cheaper if pre booked). Im glad you got something sorted. Have a great cruise.
  21. I’m wide awake as well. We leave at about 9am but I’ve been up half the night. I often listen to podcasts through the night. BBC sounds has a great choice, everything from politics and comedy to history and health. Or a book on audible. Hope you are asleep now.
  22. I’m off on my travels tomorrow so just finishing packing. No WiFi this time so I’ll catch up with all your news in 10 days. Have a blessed Easter and I hope the weather where you are for the holiday weekend is better than the dull wet day I have here.
  23. Do you have Scottish ancestry by any chance (or Yorkshire)? 😀
  24. It’s really cold here today and blowing a storm. Feels more like winter than spring. The Easter weekend looks like a bit of a washout, which is a shame. There was an interesting article on the radio this morning about Easter. Apparently people are buying more decorations than ever and Easter markets are popping up. They were suggesting that it is becoming more like Christmas in terms of buying and holiday events. I always put up a few bits and pieces and have a bowl of daffodils out front and of course the Annual Easter Egg Hunt Cup, which is fiercely fought for each year!
  25. It’s not “veggie bashing”, its a discussion about menus but you know that. The menus have changed so people discuss it. If you choose to take that as a “bashing” then that is your choice. You feel how you feel but please don’t impose motives on others that are absolutely not there.
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