Welcome to the official Day 1 of our family cruise.
As I said in the prologue, once we landed in Barbados, the differences between this and our other holidays ave begun to show. First of all, we got off the plane and onto a bus that took us straight from the tarmac to the port where our floating home for the next two weeks awaited us. For me, it was refreshing not having to queue up at the immigration desk and do the awkward formalities of stating your business and intended duration in whichever country you’ve just rocked up in. H, my wife, however, was not so impressed.
Time for a little exposition…
Me and H were once just friends, we went on holiday together and had an amazing adventure. Since then we have been eager travellers, particularly of the East. We fell in love via Japan, we got engaged on a Junk boat in Halong Bay, Vietnam and honeymooned across the length of Indonesia. We go far and wide, from Singapore to Skegness. In short, H has become something of a passport stamp collector and was a little furious that we were not going to receive an entrance stamp into Barbados.
By the time we arrived at what I can only describe as a cattle shed, we were tired and cranky. The aeroplane food had worn off and we were in need of some decent sustenance. My joy at not having to join an immigration queue had lasted only as long as the bus took to arrive at the dock. Here was a massive queue for no purpose other than to make sure you had a means to pay your bill and to give you a card that lets them keep track of your on/off the boat situation and, of course, everything you buy whilst on board. It also acts as a door key to your
cell room. This was also a chance to have a good look at some of the people we would be rubbing shoulders with this holiday. One lady stood out, the poor woman looked like she had been dragged through a hedge as her grey hair was all dishevelled. The line moved quickly, however our card machine miraculously came unplugged and so we had to register twice, mugshots and all. I think The Sister had to register 3 times in all as no one seemed to be able get it right for her. This is what she would refer to as part of our family curse. Things just never seem to quite go right for us.
Formalities over, we strode up the gang plank and joined another queue. Instead of giving us some helpful information, like where the buffet is, we had to queue for our ’embarkation photo’. A professional photo of you looking haggard and moody. H, reaching the end of her tether and rapidly approaching hangry, stormed straight past, as did my sister. I posed for the photo naively thinking that it would be a nice freebie. Nah, it’s just another means for P&O staff to extort money from you. Well, no one actually claims to work for P&O but that’s a different story…
We did get some info before we travelled and one thing we knew was that it can take a while for your case to arrive so you need to pack your carry on luggage with any essential clothes/items you may need. It suggests swimwear etc. What it doesn’t say is that you will need your ‘casual’ clothes in order to be served dinner in the restaurant. What I failed to read about the casual dress code for dining is that the description is much more what I would consider, smart casual. I had focused all my concern on the black tie dress code investing in a tux and dress shirt with bow ties to boot. I only packed one normal shirt and that was only as we came for a wedding.
Regardless, we went to find our room. It was bigger than I expected and the little balcony was pretty cool. We were still hungry and desperate for food so we reconvened with my sister, L and went on the scavenge. The Sister at this point was pretty livid as she had done two laps of her deck with no sign of her room. The corridor was next to reception and the casino and had no signage to tell you there were cabins down there. To make it even harder to find they set up a stand advertising the Sindhu restaurant in direct eyeline of the entrance. At this point, we had discovered that our designated freedom dining restaurant was the Meridian. We weren’t sure of the timings so we went on a roam around the ship to see what we could find.
We found pizza and ice cream on deck but there were prices for some items and not for others. More confusion. Other people, looking as lost as we do, are now loitering with the life vests from their rooms. I put it down to being overly cautious the first time. The second through to tenth times made me think that these people clearly knew something we did not. More confusion, until we got told by a steward that we needed to get ours too as there would be a compulsory safety briefing shortly.
As were were on separate floors, me and H went to one briefing whilst L went to another. It was dull and taught you how to suck eggs. I saw the importance, but a short video on the telly in your room would have sufficed. Regardless, we ventured back to find The Sister and she informed us we would not be allowed to eat in our current clothes as they were casual clothes and the dress code is ‘casual’ which, obviously, means a minimum of tailored trousers and a shirt with no tie. The Wife had a mini mental breakdown as this point. The hunger had gotten to her and she was just hearing ‘no’ a lot concerning being fed. Me striding up to a member of staff with all the bravado I could muster, intended on shouting at him until he let us dine in the clothes we had on. Turned out that he was very understanding and could see we were distressed and showed us to a lovely table where another nice waiter also saw my wife’s dire need for food and literally ran to get the basket of bread rolls. Crisis averted. Temporarily.
We had a lovely meal, I was impressed with the quality of food and presentation, not to mention the choice. It was when pudding came around that we realised we were going to have a recurring problem. H has a mild allergy to nuts. The menu contains almost no information on allergens and so choosing a dessert became a big problem. No one wanted to say for sure whether or not ANY dessert did or did not contain nuts. I don’t blame them either. They take that stuff very seriously. The waiter told us that we had to order her desserts the day before so they could be prepared specially. Being this was the first night on board they obliged her with some they had obviously made up as ‘just in case’ desserts. Ordering in advance simply didn’t fly with H as she likes to be quite spontaneous and go with what she feels like at the time, which I guess is decided somewhat by what she has for a main, totally understandable. Who seriously picks their desert 24rs in advance?
We got back to the room to find our suitcases and retired to the balcony to experience leaving dock for the first time. We didn’t enjoy it much as we were yawning and tired. I did find myself amazed at how quiet the engines are. You can barely hear a thing from our cabin which is pretty much mid-ship. I knew it was time for bed when we couldn’t agree on why Port was Port. Our best effort seemed to be that both port and left had four letters.
Read day 2 here
Go back to the start here