Category Archives: Cruise Blog


Tuesday, 25th October, 2022

So today is a special day – it’s Phil’s BIRTHDAY!

Today we docked at St. Maarten, which is both Dutch and French territories. We have been here before about 15 years ago when we cruised on the Queen Mary 2, but we couldn’t remember much about it. I am half Dutch, so it was of interest to me to see the Dutch side of the island.

We went up to the top deck and admired the view, one thing we did notice however, that there were lots of butterflies on the ship, we wondered if it was mating season for them or something like that?

We had booked a trip on an open top double decker bus, which will take us around the island stopping off at a fishing village, the beach where the airplanes land almost on top of your heads, a rum factory and a Dutch shop.

The tour guide and bus driver were very friendly and after a quick introduction we were on our way. There was a lovely breeze when the bus got moving, which was very welcome as it was an extremely hot day.

As we drove along the sometimes ropey roads, we noticed how friendly everyone was, stopping and waving to us, you did have to keep your wits about you however, as some of the branches of the trees on the kerbside would whip past your head.

Our first stop was a little fishing village, which coincidentally had a market that day, but as we had been remiss and not brought a cold drink with us, we searched for a cafe and bought a mango crush, which was very refreshing.

We did wander around the market, but got a bit fed up with the sellers badgering us to buy something, so we went and sat down and admired the view, it really was beautiful.

Our next stop was Maho Beach, where we were hoping to see a jumbo jet land, unfortunately we weren’t lucky, we did see a small aircraft but it wasn’t anything great. So, I have put a YouTube video below where you can see the big planes landing…

What we were hoping to see…

This sign is a BIG disclaimer…

Back on board and it was time to visit the rum factory. I’m not a great lover of rum, but once inside the factory, there were several different flavours to try, of course we had to try all of them, some of them were very alcoholic, but they were very flavourful.

Our last stop was back on the Dutch side, where we went into a shop and I was in my element as they sold Dutch liquorice. I bought a couple of packets, one for me and one for my brother, fingers crossed I don’t eat both packets before we get home!

Then it was time to get back on board the ship, when we had a quick lunch, not too much as we were going to Alice in Wonderland in the evening, and a Johnny Rocket’s milkshake and went back to the cabin.

It was Caribbean Night on board the boat, so we put on our most colourful tops and headed to Alice in Wonderland to celebrate Phil’s birthday with our friends.

This was one of the best meals we have eaten in a specialty restaurant on board any ship and we’ve eaten in most of them! I even ate a big shrimp, something I have never even been willing to try before. It was simply stunning, the waiter was very attentive, the atmosphere was very relaxed and we even had a visit from the Mad Hatter!

And Phil’s birthday celebrations didn’t stop there! We then headed to the stern of the ship to watch Hiro, the show in the aqua theatre. It was outstanding, my favourite being the two men on the high wire and their incredible routine on the low wire.

After an evening night cap, I think Phil had to agree that it had been a pretty special birthday.

Take a look at the video:

To see a video of what we got up to with lots more photographs and videos, take a look at the YouTube video:

And Lastly:


Monday, 24th October, 2022

Phil woke up feeling 100 percent better, we had arranged to have breakfast in the MDR with Denise and Ian at 9:00 AM, but he couldn’t wait that long as he was VERY hungry and besides he had a lot of catching up to do as he barely ate anything yesterday.

He hot-footed it to the Windjammer and came back with drinks and a couple of Danish pastries to tide him over until breakfast.

We met our friends outside the restaurant and had a waiter-served breakfast, it was a nice, civilized start to the day. I was naughty and had French toast with jam and syrup and fresh cream, while Phil had his favourite breakfast: Eggs Benedict.

We went back to the cabin and couldn’t believe how loud the music from the Carousel was, even with the patio door shut, the noise was still VERY loud. I said that he was probably relieved it wasn’t that noisy yesterday when he was ill!

We had a couple of hours to pass by as we were going to meet our friends at 12:00 noon for the napkin folding in On Air, followed by a 90s music quiz. So we decided to take a walk around The Boardwalk, we had already spied Johnny Rockets and wanted to try their milkshakes which were available on the refreshment package and there was also a sweet shop which definitely needed investigating!

In the top photo I have circled in blue our balcony, as you can see, it was right next to the carousel.

We were on Deck 8, which is the same deck as Central Park, but The Broadwalk is two decks down on Deck 6, which took me a while to get my head around as I thought they were both on the same deck!

As we entered the Broadwalk, we immediately saw why the music was so loud today – there was a Dixie band playing right underneath our balcony!

We had a look in the amusements and of course the sweet shop and then had a walk through Central Park. Phil took a video of this walk, something that a lot of people were doing during this cruise.

Walk through Central Park

It was time to go to the napkin folding demonstration – as Phil’s job, pre-Covid, involved at least 40 weddings a year, he was a dab hand at some napkin folding techniques, but forever wishing to expand his breadth of knowledge of this particular skill, we decided to give it a go.

When the instructor arrived, let’s just say he wasn’t exactly who we thought would be teaching us, I was sure I had seen him teaching line dancing earlier, we were really expecting a waiter to show us.

We were all given an instruction sheet (not the one pictured) and of course, a napkin!

Well, from the outset it was very apparent that he had no idea what he was doing, maybe because he said, “This is the first time I have ever done napkin folding, my boss just told me to come here and do this.”

Somehow, he managed to show us the first napkin folding technique, but the second one completely floored him. An American lady managed to do it and he asked her to come down to the front and show all of us how it was done! It was very funny watching him try to do it, he was laughing as much as any of us. I think he was quite thankful when it came to the end of the session and he could go back to his day job.

We stayed in On Air as there was a 90’s music quiz next, we weren’t sure if it would have mainly American hits, but we do like a quiz, so we stayed where we were.

We didn’t do too badly scoring 24 out of 30 and yes, there were some English songs, so we were quite pleased with ourselves.

There was an afternoon showing of Hairspray in the theatre, so I took Phil to see it as obviously he had missed it the day before and he enjoyed it very much.

After dinner at the MDR, we went to watch the ice show, 1977, which was about a time-travelling hero, Tempus and Her Majesty’s Crown Jewels which have been stolen on the eve of the Silver Jubilee.

The ice skating was extraordinary, especially on a smaller ice rink, it was a bit chilly though, so remember to take a jumper or cardigan to wrap up in.

From there, we went to On Air to watch Perfect Partners, a sort of Mr and Mrs show, not with questions, but with games they had to play. But the star of this show wasn’t the couples, it was the host, Carolina, she was very funny and quick witted, even when she had to deal with an overzealous lady in the audience who ran up to the front and seemed to think it was funny to lift up a dress of one of the contestants, not once, but twice?

Now it was gone midnight and after a slice of pizza, (it’s got to be done) and a cup of tea, it was time for bed. Tomorrow is a special day, it’s Phil’s birthday!

Take a look at the video:

To see a video of what we got up to with lots more photographs and videos, take a look at the YouTube video:

And Lastly:


Sunday, 23rd October, 2022

After a restless night with Phil visiting the bathroom on the hour, every hour, it was evident that he wouldn’t be doing anything that day. I stayed with him until about 10.30 AM and decided to visit the Windjammer for breakfast, hoping that it would be less busy at this time – no, I was wrong, it was very busy. I filled my breakfast plate with some corn beef hash, scrambled eggs and baked beans and managed to find a spare table.

I don’t really eat by myself and I felt very self conscious as I sat there, but I soon realised that nobody paid any attention to a Billy-No-Mates sat by herself. The waiters were very attentive and served me my drinks of a green tea (the only tea I drink) and an apple juice.

I took a glass of water back to the cabin, but Phil was fast asleep, so I left it on the side and wondered what I should do? I had tried phoning our friend’s cabin but there was no answer, so I decided to go on a tour of the ship.

My first stop was the Royal Promenade, firstly to see if they had any diarrhoea relief tablets, but the medical supplies in the shop were very sparse. I perused the jewellery shops and filled up my refillable mug at the pizza place.

From there, I went to the running/walking track on Deck 5 and was pleased to discover that this is where the shuffleboard was hiding. There were people playing on it and as this was the only one that could be found, I assumed it would be hit or miss if we could play a game or two on it.

After walking around the track, (there is a great view out of the back of the ship here!) I went back to the cabin to inform Phil that I had found the running track. He is a keen runner and regularly runs 15K a week.

View from the back of the ship.

When I arrived at the cabin, Phil was sat up in bed, so we decided to go to the Windjammer for some lunch, but when we got there, he wasn’t feeling up to it, so after I had some fruit and he had a glass of water, we went back to the cabin. He fell asleep on the bed and I sat on the balcony people watching: they were walking along The Broadwalk, going on the carousel and I even caught the waiters dancing outside of Johnny Rockets.

I then had a snooze in the cabin (I was still a bit jet-lagged) and when we both woke up, I started to get ready for the evening. We were due to see Hairspray tonight, which we had booked through the App, but Phil definitely wasn’t up to that, so he told me to watch it with our friends and then to have dinner with them.

Hairspray was a wonderful production, I had never seen it and it had never really been on my list of musicals to watch, but I enjoyed every song, every dance, especially Mama, I’m A Big Girl Now and I felt gutted that Phil wasn’t able to see it.

We went for dinner afterwards and as we hadn’t booked, joined the ‘Without Reservations’ queue and were seated fairly quickly.

I ordered the steak tenderloin and it was one of the best I have ever eaten and it was followed by a Grand Marnier souffle, which was divine.

After the meal, I went back to the cabin, Phil was asleep, so I joined him, hoping that he would feel better in the morning.

Take a look at the video:

To see a video of what we got up to with lots more photographs and videos, take a look at the YouTube video:

And Lastly:


Saturday, 22nd October, 2022

We were a bit worried about how long it would take to board the ship, there seemed to be hundreds of people milling around, but we were pleasantly surprised by the quickness and efficiency of the Royal Caribbean staff and in no time at all, we were boarding the ship!

As luck would have it, we spotted Denise, our friend, straight away and she led us to her husband, Ian, who was busily booking our specialty restaurants, as we had pre-paid for the specialty restaurant package which entitled us to eat at three restaurants during the week. The main one we wanted to make sure we could do was Alice in Wonderland on Tuesday, as that was Phil’s, my husband’s, birthday. We were in luck, we could book it, but the other two restaurants were already quite full up, so we had to settle for five o’clock sittings, which was a bit frustrating.

As we hadn’t eaten at all that day, the first stop was the Windjammer – we have cruised with RC on a few occasions and were familiar with the setup and we have never been disappointed with the food or the service before.

Windjammer done, it was time to explore the ship and we couldn’t resist a game of crazy golf. The game was a bit flawed though, as every time we hit the ball, the wind took it further by a couple of feet, normally in the wrong direction! We were truly thrashed by our friends, but vowed we would beat them on a re-match!

Phil then spotted the zipwire, as we are all involved in scouting, you can imagine that this was something they wanted to do (not me, I have a bad back, or a china back as my husband would say!) We went to enquire and found out that you needed to be wearing a covered t-shirt and closed-in trainers or shoes, which Denise and Ian didn’t have, but Phil did, so he had a go.

On the zipwire….

After this excitement, it was time for a Pina Colada cocktail. We didn’t buy the alcohol package, we bought the refreshment package as we’re not big drinkers, but you need a cocktail to start off a holiday!

Sorry, couldn’t resist – one of my favourite songs!

We then went our separate ways to find our cabins as it had just been announced that the cabins were ready. We were on Deck 8, cabin no 293, overlooking the Boardwalk. We knew that the carousel was underneath our balcony and we were a bit concerned about the noise, but on entering the cabin and opening the balcony doors, the sound from the carousel wasn’t at all loud.

It was a nice change to have a different view than the sea, but I do love watching the ocean and waves at the end of a busy day.

At about 4:45PM the Symphony of the Seas left Miami, it was very hot up on the top deck but the views were incredible. We are used to sailing out of Southampton, so this was a treat for us to see the amazing hotels and buildings and especially the beach.

We arranged to unpack and then get ready for dinner, we had already booked this on the App before we had boarded as we were Any Time dining and Denise and Ian came to have a look at our cabin. We made our way to the Main Dining Room (MDR) and sat down for our first of many meals on board.

I have to say it was a little bit manic, our waiters seemed to have quite a few tables and a very demanding table sat behind us. He forgot one of our drinks and brought me the wrong starter. This was rectified and he was very apologetic, but when my dinner arrived which was roasted chicken with vegetables, the gravy was very spicy, which obviously it’s not supposed to be. I think the wrong sauce was put on this dish, because I’ve never heard of a spicy gravy!

Again, he was very apologetic, offering me a new meal, but I had eaten what was not covered in the sauce and couldn’t have possibly eaten another plate full of food.

We went for a wander and ended up at the On Air Club, where there was a karaoke session in full swing. There were some very good singers and some not so good ones!

We then decided to call it a night as Phil wasn’t feeling too good, so we said our goodnights and headed back to the cabin. Phil was up all night with a bad stomach, so not much sleep was had by either of us. Hopefully in the morning, he will feel better.

Take a look at the video:

To see a video of what we got up to with lots more photographs and videos, take a look at the YouTube video:

And lastly….

Cruise Blog: The Symphony of the Seas

22nd October – 29th October, 2022

Thursday 20th October, 2022

Travelling to Miami

We decided to drive to the airport and leave our car with a Meet and Greet service by Blue Circle from Holiday Extras which included a stay at a hotel the night before.

We arrived at the Mercure hotel and booked into our room and discovered that we had been upgraded to a Privilege room, excitedly we looked to see what our perks would be: a carton of orange juice and can of Fanta in the mini-bar and dressing gown and slippers in the wardrobe! I did make use of the orange juice in the morning though…

We were travelling with our friends who we were spending the first week on board the Symphony of the Seas with and then they were spending a further week on board the Explorer of the Seas, whilst we were travelling back home.

We had spent £32 on a pre-paid dinner package, which included starter, main course, pudding and a drink, so we went down to the restaurant to see what was on offer. The meal was okay, but both Phil, my husband and Ian, ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala which by all accounts was very, very hot!

After a couple of drinks, we all headed back to our rooms as we had quite an early start. Having booked our flights through Royal Caribbean at different times, we had different flights, so wouldn’t be seeing each other again until we were on board the ship.

Friday, 21st October, 2022

The next morning, we drove to Heathrow Airport and left our car with the Blue Circle Meet and Greet, which when we found them, was quite painless.

From there we headed to Terminal 3 Aspire Lounge, which was very full and people who hadn’t booked were being turned away. It was difficult to find a seat, but once we had settled down we tucked into hot breakfast and coffee.

We were travelling with American Airlines and I found their app very useful. It gave you the latest information about the flight, the gate number and even your boarding pass, so checking in with the suitcases was easy and quick. On board the plane, they had many films, TV shows, etc., to watch and I found myself enjoying Mrs Harris Goes To Paris and the BBC’s comedy, Ghosts, (even though I’ve seen them all a few times before!) Phil enjoyed Oasis at Knebworth and Top Gun Maverick.

We arrived at Miami at 5.30 PM local time which was 10:30 PM, England time and we searched for the shuttle bush to the hotel we would be staying in, which was The Hilton, Blue Lagoon Hotel. Eventually the transport turned up and we boarded the vehicle to take us to our hotel and which only took about 20 minutes. This was free of charge by the hotel.

After being told we were too late to book on the 10:15 AM shuttle to the port, we decided to get a taxi in the morning and headed to the pool bar for our evening meal, by this time it was about 1:00 AM England time and we were shattered. As soon as the meal was finished we headed back to our room and we were asleep before our heads hit the pillow!

Saturday, 22nd October, 2022

The next morning we went down to the lobby to check out and went to the concierge to book a taxi, to be told that we could go on the shuttle for $13 each! So, we didn’t need telling twice, we paid the driver (who seemed a little stressed with a couple of the women who didn’t have their luggage labels) and then we left for the port!

After what seemed like ages, we arrived at the port and after dropping people off at different cruise ships, it was our turn, we turned the corner and there she was: Symphony of the Sea in all her glory, we were nearly boarding after two days of travelling!

Take a look at the video:

To see a video of what we got up to with lots more photographs and videos, take a look at the YouTube video:


After having to cancel our cruises over the last 18 months, we are now booked on the Iona, sailing on the 11th September from Southampton, for a seven day staycation.

This isn’t the first time we have sailed with P&O, in fact this will be our sixth cruise with them, we have also cruised with Royal Caribbean, Cunard and Princess Cruises.

So, as this next cruise will be a little different from our normal cruises, no stopping at ports, Iona’s first set of staycation cruises after her maiden voyage, different ways of booking restaurants and entertainment etc., I thought I would keep a diary of the days leading up to sailaway and also days spent on board!

Friday, 10th September, 2021

1 day to go…

I had an exciting email from P&O yesterday, no, not an upgrade, but because we have booked the Ultimate Celebration Package, they wanted us to tell them which specialty restaurants we wanted to book and the date and time! So Sindhu and the Epicurean are both booked!

So packing will start today and finish probably just before we get in the taxi tomorrow. I know that people approach this task in very different ways. I had a colleague at work who kept a spreadsheet of clothes she and her husband were taking and then created another one which detailed which clothes they were wearing on what day! This was printed and put up in their wardrobe. I am split between huge admiration for someone who can be that organised and horrified with the amount of planning this involves!

Hubby is the packer, he is great at cramming rolled up socks, pants and just about everything into the suitcase. Once packed then it is the search for the padlocks, you know the ones you put somewhere safe after your last holiday and which are never to be found again!

I love it when the suitcases are packed though, they are locked with the baggage labels on them, in the hallway waiting to be loaded into the taxi and then you turn around and spot the pair of shoes that you have forgotten to pack!

So I wish my fellow cruisers luck with their packing today, those that have already packed, well done and those who are like us, welcome to the club!

Thursday, 9th September, 2021

2 days to go…

Days at sea:

Love them or hate them, days at sea are a necessary part of your cruise, I mean, how else would you get from one place to another? We love sea days and have cruised across the Atlantic on a number of occasions.

How do we keep ourselves amused?

We both love playing cards, Rummy in particular. We have an ongoing game throughout the holiday with a continuous score sheet and playing with the “Williams Rules” our scores go up and down, until the last day when the winner is announced.

I like to take the opportunity to read on sea days, relaxing in a sun bed and drinking a cocktail. One thing that I do when I’m walking around is, I like to see what people are reading, I’m not sure why, maybe it’s like peering into a stateroom when the door is open, just natural curiosity.

The book I am taking with me is Richard Osman’s, “The Thursday Murder Club.”

I have been wanting to read this for a long time and seven days at sea is the perfect opportunity.

There is a book that I would recommend which is perfect for lazing around the pool and reading…. Love and Chocolate Biscuits written by, ahem, ME.

You can buy it from Amazon, it probably wouldn’t arrive in time for this cruise, but for future cruises…

CLICK to buy Love and Chocolate Biscuits.

Hubby isn’t a big reader, so he likes to go off and join in the deck quoits and shuffleboard competitions, he meets new people whilst doing this and we usually end up sharing a drink or two with some of them!

Wednesday, 8th September, 2021

3 days to go…

It’s getting nearer!! Three days and it’s time to complete the Health Questionnaire. In fairness, it’s only a matter of checking off some boxes, so it only takes about a minute to complete, then to print off and add to my ever-growing pile of documents to take with me on Saturday morning.

I have printed off:

  • Covid Declarations
  • E-Tickets
  • Boarding Passes
  • Luggage Labels
  • Travel Insurance
  • Health Declarations
  • And don’t forget our passports!

But I am trying to get organised and put it all into plastic sleeves, so it will be ready for inspection on Saturday!

So I suppose the next thing we need to do is pack! We are very much packers and probably won’t pack until Saturday morning and as our boarding time isn’t until 3:45 PM and we live in Southampton, we will have plenty of time to do that!

Monday, 6th September, 2021

5 days to go…

So after trying yesterday to contact P&O, together with trying to purchase tickets for the Abba Avatar concert, (a long story!!) which both amounted to a fair amount of stress, today I phoned P&O on the stroke of 8:30 AM and after waiting for 40 minutes actually got through to an advisor.

The purpose of the phone call was to purchase the Ultimate Celebration Package, cost £399. I admit when I first looked at it, I did a double take on the price, but when you break it down, it’s not so bad as it includes dinner for two people in a Select Dining venue, (which is probably about £100), choice of a 50 minute facial or massage, (the cheapest is £63 per couple) bathrobe and slippers, (which you can take home), sweet canapes delivered to your stateroom, chocolates, flowers and a bottle of champagne, and as we are celebrating our anniversary, we thought it would be a nice way to celebrate.

While I was in this mode of buying packages, I took a deep breath and ordered the Ultimate Drinking Package for us both. Again, as I have mentioned before, I have been reading lots of pros and cons about this package, but as we do like cocktails, a glass of wine with dinner, evening nightcaps, coffees in the morning, spirits and ciders and beers, we decided that we would go for it, as we said to each other, “Let’s try it out and if it doesn’t work, then we won’t get it again.” I will let you know if it was worth it for us when I do my review of the cruise!

Sunday, 5th September, 2021

6 days to go…

Cruise anxiety has definitely stepped up a notch this weekend, I am getting worried about the dining arrangements in particular, maybe I’ll even come off this cruise lighter than when I boarded? I know Facebook can either be the font of all knowledge or the devil incarnate, but on reading people’s posts the MDR’s are either easy to book, with no waiting around or it’s hell on earth to get a table past 5.30 PM.

This morning hubby and I were laying in bed, wondering what we’d be doing this time next week, “Probably trying to book our breakfast!” was my husband’s reply, which was followed by laughter, slightly manic laughter I might add!

I am quite savvy when it comes to all things electronic, so I’m hoping that the My Holiday app won’t stress us out too much and I have read very mixed reviews about this app, but when all else fails, it’ll be trips to the Reception desk to try and book specialty meals, etc.

Holidays are supposed to be relaxing and stress-free, but if the lead up is anything to go by, I’m not so sure it’s gonna be!

Thursday, 2nd September, 2021

9 days to go…

Well, we’re into single figures!! From booking it up in March, when we had over 100 days to go, to finally getting to single figures. It’s time for that little bit of shopping; toiletries, new underwear (does anyone else buy new knickers for holiday?), a couple of shirts for hubby and a pair of not too high, not too low, evening wear shoes for moi!!

It’s also that danger period where the dreaded C word is around, no, not Christmas but COVID. I work from home so won’t be in contact with many people, but hubby is a Restaurant Manager who has five restaurants, so he is under strict instructions to wear a mask everywhere he goes. We have the lateral flow tests, so will be doing those next week and on the morning of Saturday 11th, and hopefully everything will be fine.

This is how I would like hubby to dress for work over the next nine days, but he might scare the customers away!

Tuesday, 31st August, 2021

11 days to go…

I found out that Sonia will be performing in the Limelight Club on this cruise and loving a bit of 80’s and 90’s music, we will be trying to book this. Sonia even Tweeted about it:

Sonia’s first hit was, “You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You,” released in 1989 and she represented the United Kingdom in the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest where she finished second with the song, “Better The Devil You Know.” She had 11 UK Top 30 hits, including” Listen To Your Heart” and “Only Fools (Never Fall In Love).” She also starred as Sandy in the West End revival of Grease.

Sonia’s first single reached number one.

If you like a bit of a boogie (strictly chair dancing of course), then I think this is the show for you!

Saturday, 14th August, 2021

14 days to go…

So spurred on by the Facebook posse advising to book the entertainment on board just after midnight, I set the alarm for 11:55 PM in readiness to hit the Book Now button on my cruise personaliser. As my computer clock rolled over to midnight, the advisory note that you can only book entertainment until after the 28th August disappeared and I clicked on the Entertainment tab, but there was nothing there. After a few minutes of searching the whole personaliser and then resorting to looking on Facebook, I found out I was 24 hours too early!!

Take two , 24 hours later, a bit like Groundhog Day, alarm was again set for 11:55 PM and this time success, I managed to book both shows, the comedian and the singer for 8.30 PM each night. But that was it, that was all we could book, the Limelight and the specialty restaurants are to be booked on board. So was it worth it? Probably not, but we are booked in now and we do love to watch a good show!

Tuesday, 24th August, 2021

17 days to go…

When it’s a sea day on a cruise, people often go to the shops to buy books, souvenirs, indigestion tablets, watches, jewellery and even that famous bar of Toblerone! But where do we head? Well, we head towards the art gallery. There is normally a get together at the start of the cruise, at the Whitewall Gallery, where you can have a free glass of champagne and a walk around the exhibits, but we always end up back there and more often than not, end up buying a piece of art.

Above is a selection of our art collection bought on board, all are Rebecca Lardner art and the price is cheaper than on land as you can apply your discount to these purchases!

When we return home from a cruise, the first question we get asked by our children is not, “Did you have a lovely time,” but “What art did you buy this time?” I think they are worried that we’re spending their inheritance!

When I see the picture hanging on the wall at home or the sculpture sitting on the shelf, it’s a lovely reminder of our cruise, albeit a bit more expensive than a fridge magnet!

Saturday, 21st August, 2021

21 days to go…

We received our cabin number today and we are on the 14th deck and midship, fairly near to the lifts and a stone’s throw away from the launderette, which I have since found out P&O have now opened – much to my husband’s delight, as he loves to say, “Well, that’s your sea days sorted,” when we pass the launderette room!

On closer inspection of the ship’s deck plans, we are only two decks down from the Horizon buffet, the infinity pool, Sky Dome and the Beach House, which we are pretty pleased about. Obviously it’s a bit of a trek from the Theatre, Atrium and the Main Dining Restaurants, we do try and take the stairs whenever we can, but I think going up from deck 6 to deck 14 might be a struggle. I do think that the views we will get from our balcony will be amazing, we can’t wait to sail past our village as we leave Southampton and raise a cocktail to our friends and family!

We also received our boarding time, which was later than we would have liked, it is 1545 hours – as we only live in Southampton, it’s gonna be a long day before we can jump in a taxi and make the 20 minute journey to the docks.

This sort of brings me onto the subject of cruise anxiety – we have done 10 cruises before this one and I have never felt this anxious before a cruise before. I think the closest is when we fly to Barbados to join the ship there, I do become a little anxious in case we miss the flight or the flight is cancelled – but this is nothing compared to what I am experiencing now. From the stress of the COVID test, to booking entertainment, to figuring out the App, to deciding if the drinks package is worth it, to hoping that there is some speciality dining available by the time we board! Social media doesn’t help sometimes, there are a lot of conflicting reports on the performance of the app, availability at speciality restaurants and even the temperature of the pools!

But I will take each step as it comes and I am sure we will enjoy what Iona has to offer, we are just pleased to be able to go cruising once again!

Wednesday, 18th August, 2021

23 days to go…

Nothing to do with this cruise, but today we received an email from Royal Caribbean to say that we had cancelled our cruise in October! Of course, we knew that we hadn’t done this, plus our friends who we are going with also had the same email, so evidently computer was saying no to us going on holiday.

After waiting for nearly three quarters of an hour on the phone, I eventually got through to a nice man who confirmed that this was indeed the case and they were sorting it out and true to his word, a few minutes later we received confirmation that the holiday was back on!

I was especially worried about our friends as they have never cruised before and I don’t want them to be put off already! I am really looking forward to introducing them to cruising, hopefully they’ll be hooked.

Talking of future cruises, I think we have booked up enough cruises now, these will take us until April, 2023!

Tuesday, 17th August, 2021

24 days to go…

We are still patiently (or rather impatiently ) waiting for our cabin to be allocated. There has been a lot of talk on social media about the cabins on Iona, mainly the Conservatory Staterooms on deck 8, which look out onto a main walkway and which seem to be overlooked, but time will tell, if people don’t like them, then they won’t sell on future cruises.

I decided to take a look at my cruise dresses; over the years I have purchased a few of these, some in sales, some online and some from specialist shops.

I used to wonder how often ladies would turn up to the formal nights in the same dress… This actually happened to me on my last cruise, I wore this dress and as I was led towards a table by the waiter, there was a lady sat down in the exact same dress!

I am not joking, everyone stopped talking on the table and was looking from me to her, I didn’t really know what to say, so I just jokingly said, “Snap!” I wasn’t too worried about it, but I don’t think the lady was very happy, she ate her dinner rather quickly and her party left as soon as dessert was served!

There is only one formal night, or Gala Night as it is now called, on this cruise, so the decision is to be made which dress will I take? But I think that probably the decision will be made for me – it will be the dress that still fits me after my extra bit of Covid weight!!

Wednesday, 11th August, 2021

31 days to go…

We booked this cruise as soon as the bookings were opened, and have a balcony stateroom, because all the prices are Early Saver, we cannot book a particular cabin, it is allocated by P&O for us. So we can’t wait to find out where on the ship we will be!

We have been researching whether or not to buy the ultimate drinks package, which costs £39.95 per adult per day. This includes beers, spirits, cocktails, wines and Costa coffee, a great selection and because we both like spirits and especially cocktails, we will probably be buying this before we board.

I have joined the Iona Facebook Group and there is a special group for the actual cruise we are going on, G131N staycation cruise, for which I am doing a review for on the 16th September.

We do have a special event to celebrate whilst we’re on Iona, it’s our wedding anniversary on the 14th, so we’re hoping to book the Epicurean when we get on board to celebrate!