Rather than posting on Cruise Critic or here I will be posting regularly when I am away on this site
I am unable to post that link on Cruise Critic as the moderators insist on deleting it for some reason.
My apologies to you for the extra work involved but you can subscribe at Cruisemeet and you should receive emails when new posts are made, I believe that you click on the follow button at the top of the page. 🙂
I thought that as I live close to London I should take advantage of the Paralympics being held and some tickets becoming available last week. I went online and was offered tickets to the Athletics on September 5th but they were in the upper stand and almost as high as you can go. Slightly tongue in cheek I repeated the exercise and this time I was offered 2 seats in row 3 of the lower level at the south end of the stadium for £30 each, I bought them.
The day dawned this morning and my son and I left home a little after 6am and drove the 30 miles to Stratford, we were there in a little over an hour and as I had pre-booked a parking spot I was ushered into a security bay. The people there proceeded to examine the car minutely, the bonnet and boot were searched and the underside examined by mirror. They even swabbed the interior for explosives. First rate security precautions!
I was then directed to the car park at the Westfield Shopping Centre where my slot apparently was sited. Within 5 minutes I was climbing the almost endless spiral roadway that eventually led to the parking level and I was able to leave the car and we headed down in the lift to the ground floor and walked out into the sunshine.
The crowds were already building as we walked along the raised walkways that lead from Stratford Station to the Olympic Park, 10 minutes later we were at the security checkpoint and having got through that we moved to the entrance of the park where our tickets were scanned and we were admitted. What a sight awaited us, it is fantastic and there are so many helpers and staff around that it is easy to find where we needed to be. We got some coffee in the food area and sat in the warm sunshine to drink it just beneath the Orbit and worked out our plan of action.
Some others asked and joined our table and we were chatting with them as though we were all on a ship, not at all like London! We headed over Bridge A and passing all of the refreshment concession we duly arrived at the entrance of the Stadium, our tickets were scanned again and we were in. Once you are admitted there is no going back, re-entry is forbidden for some reason but it doesn’t matter as 95% of the concessions that are out in the park are inside as well.
We walked around the perimeter to our gate and as we came to it someone spoke to us about the Olympic Flame which was visible through the glass doors, she was wearing a track suit kind of thing and I am almost convinced that it was Paula Radcliffe the runner. She wasn’t taking a leak at the time so I am slightly unsure.
The view as we entered the stadium was marvellous,
As I said we had seats in row 3 and the view from them was pretty special,
The television coverage doesn’t do the stadium justice and it is really spectacular inside, the seats are comfortable and there is good leg room. Of course it would be better if late arriving spectators weren’t sitting in the centre of rows and didn’t disturb everyone as they made their way to their seats; the same can be said for those people who are inflicted with sudden pangs of hunger and tiny bladders. We are only there for three hours so I fail to grasp why they are unable to wait. Nonetheless we had a great morning and there were 12 or so races on the track and 5 field event finals. One of the 800 metre heats featured Dave Weir
And he duly won it. There were also at least 12 medal ceremonies which were held about 50 yards from our seats, one of them was for Weir’s 1500 metre success last night and it was lovely to sing our National Anthem for a change. These ceremonies are an intrinsic part of the Olympics and are good fun the first couple of times but in truth they do become a little tedious unless it is Team GB picking up the gold medal.
It is quite difficult to see the field events that take place at the far end of the field and it might be a better view from the upper level seats.
Our session was due to finish at around 1pm and as it ended we left and queued for a while for a Cornish pasty, the most memorable thing about it was the cost! £4.50!
We returned to the car and drove home, it took a little longer but we avoided the rush hour traffic.
Having said all of this and taking everything into account, the whole trip was fantastic and I am so pleased that we went.
Well it isn’t fair to say that I am avoiding them but rather I am using the money that Lord Coe and his apostles wanted for four tickets to the diving event at the Olympics. I thought that £450 per ticket was a little bit steep for a 3 hour event, so I put the £1800 towards the fare for this trip. The bonus is that I am not affected by the horrendous traffic throughout London and I will be able to watch the whole thing on TV on the ship.
It might seem a little odd but these 2 transatlantic crossings will be my 5th and 6th trips this year. I started with a repositioning cruise from Miami to Barcelona on NCL, I followed this with a BTB TA on QM2 later in April and I returned 5 days ago from my first trip on Celebrity, I was on the Eclipse to Iceland, the Faeroes and Norway. Here we go again!
I slept very well with the gentle rocking and now at 6am on Friday July 20th the sea state has reduced somewhat although there is some residual shimmying on board, it is not at all unpleasant and serves as a reminder that we are actually at sea on a ship. The weather looks likely to be sunny for most of the day although at this moment there is a lot of light coloured cloud up in the sky that should clear away to let the sun shine through.
The temperature is 11/53 degrees and the wind is gusting between 22 and 29 knots from the same direction. The ship sails well and seems quite stable although it is difficult to judge accurately because we have only encountered light seas. We are making 19 knots and are due east of Newcastle upon Tyne, in the middle of the North Sea steering south south west.
It is nice to be back on UK time but it does remind me that I get off tomorrow and that today is that dreaded packing day. It shouldn’t take too long to be fair and I will delay it until this afternoon. Luggage needs to be out in the corridor by 11pm on here apparently and our arrival time at Southampton is estimated to be 6am, I think that it could well be earlier than that as some passengers that I have spoken to have told me that they are disembarking at 6.30! The Captain has just made an announcement and whilst I didn’t totally grasp what he was saying he did say that our arrival would be 5.30am.
It is 11.35am and the weather is much better, most of the clouds have gone and a weak sun is shining down. The temperature is a chilly 13/56 degrees and the 19 knot north westerly wind isn’t helping much, it is still pretty nice though. The sea is moderate and we are passing through a field of gas platforms. There are a number of other ships around us as well but it is a fairly busy sea so it is no real surprise. We are now due east of Leeds and are heading south.
This will be my last post on this trip, unless something noteworthy happens later on. I have enjoyed the cruise, Celebrity have met and in some areas exceeded my expectations. Having said that, there are things that I don’t particularly like but their presence wouldn’t necessarily deter me from travelling with them again.
I hope that you have enjoyed travelling along with me and I thank you for your supportive comments, we must do this again soon!
It is just after 6pm and I am heading down for a pre-dinner drink, as I have used my wine credit I will probably go to the Martini Bar. I did indeed have a couple of Martinis and while I was sitting at the bar the barman did a trick with 9 Boston Cups which are the metal bottoms of the cocktail shaker. He mixes 9 different drinks, 1 in each cup and then sacks them one in another. He arranges 9 martini glasses on the bar and then whilst standing on the lower area of the bar proceeds to curve the cups and pour the drinks from one end to the other. It is quite a feat and pretty impressive. Speaking to the other barman he told me that the maximum that he has seen was 24 which does seem incredible.
Dinner was very nice and was only marred by the interruption of the Cruise Director with the traditional parade of chefs. On this ship he chats on interminably introducing various senior staff members rather than the actual people who do the work. I am a great fan of the parade and always applaud enthusiastically but tonight was rubbish compared to other ships. I had Oysters Rockefeller, a Caesar salad and Beef Wellington and all the dishes were excellent. After the meal I was tempted to return to the Martini Bar where I met up with Marlene and Adrian and sank a few cocktails.
It is 11pm but we gain 1 hour tonight so we are back on UK time of 10pm and are due east of the very top of Scotland, just south of Stavanger. The sea finally looks like the sea, it has small waves and the wind is making some white horses. There are not enough to get excited about but it is an improvement over the calm seas. The current temperature is 11/52 degrees, there is a 28 knot force 6 northerly wind and 3 metre seas. I should be rocked to sleep tonight.
The café that I found was called Café Holbar and is at Vagallmenningen 1,it is very good but a coffee still costs at least 30 NOKs and a large beer will need 100 NOKs. We didn’t eat there as I didn’t want to take out another mortgage. I had to have that last beer and so left the café/bar just before 1pm and arrived at the shuttle bus with throngs of others. We all boarded and got back safely and I am back in the cabin and can relax. Bergen is a very pretty city and the buildings always seem quite Lowryesque as most of the houses are tall and look narrow with sharp angles. It is probably just my over-active imagination. Bergen was very crowded with tourists today as a Thompson and an Azamara ship arrived so there were 6 ships in total. It is 1.21 and the clouds are beginning to build so we may get a little rain later. The temperature is a pleasant 17/64 degrees and there is a light breeze.
We departed at exactly 2pm and pushed back turning 180 degrees and then a Hurtigruten ship bade us farewell with 3 whistles but again there was no response from our bridge which was quite surprising as it is a standard practice and a common courtesy that is extended between ships. The time is now 4.30 and we are heading slightly west of south at 20 knots into a 29 knot force 6 strong wind, the sea is moderate to rough and there is a little movement on board. Despite the clear blue sunny weather it feels cold at 13/56 degrees. Tonight is the final formal night of this cruise, the vast majority of people that I have seen on the previous two were suitably attired in Tuxedoes or dark suits and the ladies were all dressed very elegantly. I know that some people dislike the formality of dressing for dinner but in my opinion it really adds to the atmosphere on board and I believe that once people have made that effort they seem to enjoy themselves.