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Friday 2 and Saturday 3 September 2016

Friday is spent entirely at sea as we head back down the North Sea and through the English Channel to berth at Southampton, right back where we started from.

A day at sea allows the shipboard team the opportunity to arrange extra events.  We have a look around the specialist restaurants and will probably take advantage of them if we ever come on the Celebrity again as they break up the dining.  Jackie usually partakes in a bingo session on a sea day, although I do not always accompany her I do this time.  Just as well as she enjoys a small win on this trip, mainly because one number flashes up but was not announced by the caller – although I spotted it!  Lucky!

The evening entertainment has been pretty good throughout the trip – a Freddie Mercury impersonator one night and an excellent girl singer who has worked on UK X Factor and won (I think) the Dutch version.  I am told we will be doing a Celebrity cruise again in the future, it is more relaxed than Cunard and the entertainment is better – of course the ships are much larger which gives greater capacity but the ratio of staff to passengers is not so good – but the service seems pretty good to me.

On Saturday morning we cannot be sure when we are disembarking as it is done in stages and we are given estimates of when it is likely that we can go and collect our luggage.  The more expensive staterooms tend to disembark first.  We have time for a breakfast but they are ahead of schedule and we are about half way through breakfast when we are told we can go.  Finding luggage is always fun in the adjacent “warehouse” and unlike when we arrived we have to walk back to the car – when we arrived the luggage was collected at the car and that was the last we saw of it until we were in our cabins!  Luckily the wheels on the cases work and we are not in a great hurry.

Steve and Veronica have definitely enjoyed the trip and are looking at what might be worth booking for the future.

Route segmentDistance in Nautical miles
Southampton to Bergen805
Bergen to Flam100
Flam to Geiranger (approx)256
Geiranger to Alesund (approx)65
Alesund to Stavanger250
Stavanger to Southampton635
Total (approx)2111

And with that summary another holiday comes to an end.

Sailing Outwards

Friday 26 and Saturday 27 August 2016

Another holiday starts here.  After a period when Jackie implied that she was not keen on cruising – largely due to the unpleasantness in the Bay of Biscay – here we are off on another cruise and we are joined by Steve and Veronica.  This time we are not with Cunard but we are travelling with Celebrity in one of their largest cruisers – the Eclipse.

The background to the Eclipse can be found here.  Compared to Cunard ships she is larger and with many more passengers and less staff to passengers but the entire atmosphere is far more relaxed.  We embark at Southampton and as usual once the bags are handed over life is easy.

We sail away on the Friday afternoon in bright sunshine and the sea is dead smooth.  We take what seems an unusual route to the west of Cowes before turning to port, obviously staying right in the deepest channel and then heading along the south coast.  The Spinnaker Tower at Gunwharf Quay can be seen in the distance and we head east as our destination is Norway.

There are some photographs of our initial departure to be found here.

Saturday is entirely at sea as we are heading north, although to be honest we do not get to see any land on either side as we sail at a steady rate, probably a little below the top speed on 24 knots (28 mph).  We do see numbers of oil platforms as we get further north.

Our cabin is outside with a nice balcony on which to sit and very close to the nearest lifts.  The balcony seems untroubled by wind and we are able to sit out there at times for a read quite comfortably.  Noise and vibration is non-existent and we have a very good night’s sleep.  It was the tour consultant’s suggestion and it definitely seems to be good.

Dining times are not fixed for us.  We can wander down to the restaurant and if they do not have a table for us they give us a little box which lights up and buzzes when our turn comes up on the system.  It all seems to work and they have a pretty good idea of how long before a table is free.  And there is bar not far away for a drink.

And the sea remains pretty smooth and we continue heading north!  According to my check it is about 800 nautical miles (which itself is 1852 metres – about 15% more than a UK land mile) from Southampton to Bergen which is our first port of call on Sunday.