When we woke up this morning and went out onto our balcony, the sunshine was already bright and the day was hot, even at 8.00am. The Boudicca was at anchor in the turquoise water, and we could see a small island in the near distance.
There were no excursions scheduled today, because the island of Utheemu was small enough to explore on foot. Therefore, after enjoying our breakfast and walking around the deck for a while, we went along to get a tender ticket, then awaited our call in the Iceni Room.
Once our number was called, we descended to deck 2 and embarked the liberty boat for the short ride across. The sun was very hot and I was glad I was wearing my sunhat.
On arrival, there did not seem to be a great deal in the immediate vicinity, so we walked along the wide, sandy track to explore. There were a lot of individual private dwellings along the palm-fringed roads, and the only traffic seemed to be the ubiquitous scooters or pushbikes; we didn’t see any cars at all.
We saw one or two shops, and a place selling ice-cream, but nothing appeared to be open. Once again, no bars or anywhere selling beer was in evidence.
As we walked along, we spotted a guy who had set up a makeshift stall selling green coconuts. I quite fancied drinking the thirst-quenching coconut water so we went over and asked how much it would be. He asked for 75 rufiyaa, which is nearly £4.00, for one coconut! We could buy them cheaper at home, so we told him it was too expensive and started to walk away. He was not prepared to negotiate, so he didn’t get our custom. Four pounds indeed!
After walking from one side of the island to the other, we came out at a wide expanse of the most pristine and beautiful beach you could imagine. The sand was white and powder soft, and the water was in shades of turquoise and bright blue as the waves gently lapped the shore. The beach was not crowded, in fact the main thing you could see was space, so it was perfect.
We had been advised that there was a strict dress-code here; no bikinis or brief swimsuits – swimmers were expected to cover up in shorts and t-shirt on the beach. So we hadn’t brought our cossies, which was unfortunate because the sea looked SO inviting.
Instead, I rolled up the legs of my cotton cargo pants as far as they would go, and went up to my knees into the gorgeously-warm surf – the sea temperature was 30˚C.
It was just so relaxing and idyllic to be in such a beautiful part of the world, but it really was extremely hot (we learned afterwards it was 34˚C, phew) so as the time edged nearer to noon, we wisely sought refuge in the shade of the palm trees. I was really thirsty by now, and we’d forgotten to bring a water bottle, so after looking around in vain for somewhere to get a cold drink, we decided to take a slow stroll back to the ship.
As we ambled along, we noticed that there were quite a lot of unfinished buildings and a lot of building work going on; breeze-blocks and timbers were piled everywhere. Utheemu also looked as if it had a problem with discarded plastic bottles, as they were all along the roadside. Whether or not they were discarded by the locals or whether they’d been washed ashore (as was the case with some other islands in the Maldives) was debatable, but there was clearly an urgent need for some sort of plastic recycling plan.
So as far as the tiny island of Utheemu was concerned, it was perfect for swimming, sunbathing or snorkelling, but there wasn’t a lot else at all. We decided we’d spend the rest of the day back on the Boudicca.
While waiting for the liberty boat to return, there was plenty of iced water and orange juice on offer, so we were able to quench our thirst which was certainly welcome in the heat.
Back on board we went, as usual, to the Poolside Grill and enjoyed a light meal, washed down with a nice big glass of freezing cold beer. We sat in the shade and watched those out by the pool burn themselves to a lobster red; for some people it would have been painful later on.
We spent the afternoon just lazing around and relaxing, walking around the ship and watching some of the crew lowering and raising one of the rescue boats, then getting up to speed on the sea. There is always something going on on the Boudicca, always something to see and do.
Around 5.30pm we returned to our stateroom (suite!!) to get washed and changed and ready for dinner. In the meantime, the guy arrived with another selection of tasty canapés then, at 6.15pm, we went along to the Tintagel Restaurant for yet another meal and more wine, while listening to Mike and Ruth, John and Margaret tell us their tales of what they’d been up to today.
Mike and Ruth had been out on one of the RIBs. These are Rigid Inflatable Boats and have only recently been obtained by FOCL and carried on three of their ships. At certain anchor ports you can book a ride on a RIB, which held 12 passengers. We had wanted to go, but had been told the only time they were launching the RIBs was when we were snorkelling yesterday. However, as we saw the RIB out today that was not quite the case – if we’d known, we could have booked it for today. It did sound (and look) fun, although the RIBs go quite fast and bounced along the waves, so I think your bum would have been sore afterwards! 😊
After dinner, we just did the ‘usual’. First of all, we joined in with the dancing in the Neptune Lounge, when one lady came over to look at my shoes! Tonight, however, I was only wearing a silver sparkly pair with a modest heel; there was nothing way-out about them. She asked me if I could wear my Playboy Bunny shoes again, as she said she wanted to see me walk in them!
Tonight’s evening showtime was called “Dance Fever” and featured the Boudicca Show Company performing high energy dancing in colourful costumes. As ever, it was excellent, accompanied by the superb orchestra. We certainly cannot fault any of the entertainment we’ve seen this cruise.
Then it was along to the Lido Lounge for the usual – Colin James the pianist, dancing, the quiz (nope, we came nowhere near winning) and drinks and cocktails, all in the lively company of Joe, Gary and Angela. Finally, Trevor and I returned to the peace and quiet of our balcony, and enjoyed our nightcap while reflecting on the day. It was quite sad that our next port of call, Colombo, would see us leave the Boudicca, but for now we had a full day at sea to look forward to tomorrow, and we determined to make the most of it.