Jul 302013

As the Barley Sheaf Players held their annual banquet, Gina and I headed to the Philly airport for our overnight flight to London Heathrow. I got news of a couple of won awards (more on that in another post), we had dinner at the Sky Asian Bistro (repeating our honeymoon lunch), and we were on our way with little difficulty.

Since we had an overnight flight, we attempted to sleep on the plane (with much difficulty). We arrived in London early Sunday morning, and we were lucky enough to be able to check into our hotel (at Heathrow) upon arrival. A quick wash-up and we headed out for a bit of sight-seeing.

Bug BenLondonOur first stop was for a one-day Underground ticket for us to get around: excellent system, though the hour-plus trip from the airport to central London was a bit annoying. On that first day, we managed to get to see Parliament and Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace… which may not sound like much, but it rendered us pretty exhausted given travel, time change, and walking. So, another tube trip back to the airport (probably some lunch in there somewhere), a quick dinner at the hotel, then off to sleep!

Westminster AbbeyOutside Buckingham PalaceMonday started with a quick transfer to a different airport terminal to pick up our shuttle bus for the two-hour trip to the ship at Dover. Uneventful (good for listening to a couple of podcasts), as was check-in, then we were aboard and on our way!

This was a much smaller ship than we’ve sailed on previously, and for me, far less desirable. At maybe a quarter of the size, gone was the sweeping, majestic, three-story atrium. The large, multiple shops were replaced by one jewelry store and a multi-purpose one. There was a single main dining room, and while both specialty restaurants remained, they were never open at the same time. There was no promenade deck, no vast theatre, only one real bar (and a couple of small lounges), no coffee shop, and several different help desks were combined or shrunk down to a tiny cubicle. The ship also showed its age a bit, though things were generally clean and freshly painted. Ridiculous to complain about any of this, perhaps, but I personally vastly preferred the larger ship. This became abundantly clear the following day.

Embarkation Beverage!Everything went fine with embarkation, dinner, etc. (Though our eight-person dinner seating comprised us, plus a British woman and her young daughter). We were scheduled for our first port of call—Guernsey—the next morning. We woke up to breakfast and an announcement that, due to poor weather, we would be unable to go ashore at Guernsey and would continue to our next port. Fair enough—disappointing, certainly, but an extra day at sea wouldn’t kill me.

And then, it felt like it was trying to do just that.

I’ve taken two previous cruises, and while I may have had minor, fleeting issues, I wouldn’t say I got “seasick.” But this trip… yeah, to say I wasn’t happy would be a vast understatement: I truly felt like I was going to die, or maybe just wanted to. A trip to the ship’s infirmary followed, as did a shot of anti-nausea meds and a box with more. Once the shot kicked in, I was done for the day, out cold, and Gina was on her own (which she seemed to make the best of, including a martini demonstration).

I more or less recovered on the days that followed, but relied on the pills daily. I attribute my issues to the smaller ship and the poor weather that plagued us at the start. Thankfully, Guernsey was the only missed port… the cruise could still be salvaged.

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