W1610 – All fired up!

I was rather surprised when I checked the dates, and found that this post is exactly three months since my last post, D1602 – Medical Timeout.

As I left the ship at the end of my last cruise, Island Hopping, I was a little wistful at the thought it would be just over three months until my next cruise, and with it the chance to go exploring the world again. In the event, this long interval was most fortunate, as it gave me time to recuperate from the nasty infection that laid me low, described in that last post.

The time for that next cruise has now arrived at last, and yesterday (Sunday) afternoon I boarded ship at the start of my new adventures. This was a great relief, for up until late Thursday afternoon it was by no means certain that I would be enjoying this cruise – not due to my health as I have now thankfully recovered, but due to the uncertain health of the ship.

Those with good memories might just remember that in one of my very early posts, Cruises in 2015, I described how an engine-room fire on Boudicca had curtailed my first cruise last year, causing us to be flown home from Tenerife.

A  couple of weeks ago history sort of repeated itself, as her sister ship Black Watch also had an engine-room fire, and the cruise it was on was also curtailed, her passengers being flown home this time from Funchal, Madeira.

As this was the ship I was about to sail on, I was rather concerned to discover this on the Internet, and each day that passed I checked for news updates from Fred Olsen, and also the location of the ship from a ship tracking website. Initially Fred Olsen said that the cruise before mine would go ahead as planned, but the ship remained in Funchal, and after a couple of days it was announced that this intermediate cruise was being cancelled and the ship transferred to a Spanish shipyard for assessment. She spent five days in Funchal and five at the shipyard before Fred Olsen announced that she was sailing back to the UK and that my cruise was definitely going ahead. Phew!

Until I got that confirmation I had been reluctant to start my packing, for fear of putting a jinx on things, so then I had a busy couple of days preparing and packing for the cruise.

Usually I select cruises that sail from Southampton, just a short local taxi ride from my home as it is so convenient. This cruise was an exception, the chance to do a dramatic itinerary persuaded me to book it, even though it meant a longer journey to and from the ship. I originally booked to do this cruise last summer, when it sailed from Newcastle, but changed the booking to this year when they offered it sailing from Tilbury (on the River Thames to the east of London) – a much shorter and easier journey for me.

I had looked at driving myself to Tilbury and leaving my car there for the duration of the cruise, but found that due to the high cost of parking, for nearly the same price I could book a shared taxi and not have the bother of driving, which I did. This proved to be a good choice, for when I boarded the taxi on Sunday morning I found out the ship was sailing from Dover instead of Tilbury. We drove straight to Dover, but had I driven to Tilbury I would have been put on a coach back to Dover, significantly increasing the length and duration of the journey.

I am sure you are all wondering where this new cruise is going, to be worth these complications. This map will reveal all:tmp_21453-W1610_map_Web_original-1808536511

It takes me high into the Arctic, to Svalbard far inside the Arctic Circle and the land of the midnight sun, and also to Greenland with it’s icebergs and glaciers, a place I’ve always wanted to visit and photograph – and with the effects of global warming time is of the essence to see it. Over 26 nights we will visit 11 ports of call, of which 7 are new to me, and two more I have only visited once. The scenery and wildlife should be spectacular, so my shutter finger will be working overtime – so be prepared for plenty of posts over the next four weeks, as and when we have an Internet connection in these remote parts.


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