Woke up at 8.00am and looked out of the window at a restless and choppy Irish Sea. There was no sign of any land in sight, and my phone was still on the ‘Telenor Maritime’ network. At least there was no rush; we didn’t have to be out of the cabin until eleven o’clock.
After getting washed and dressed and packing the last of my cosmetics, hairbrush etc. into my rucksack, we made our way to the Buckingham Restaurant, thinking (incorrectly as it turned out) that it would be less crowded than the Borough Market self-service. People were criss-crossing to and fro and around the buffet, and you had to watch that you didn’t trip over bags and rucksacks left beside chairs and tables.
As I’d spent the last eight nights over-eating and -drinking, I just had a bowl of All-Bran and a cup of coffee for breakfast before we returned to 9187. We saw our cabin steward who asked us if he could strip the bed ready for the new passengers who’d be joining the ship later today. As there was no point remaining in our cabin any more, we collected our bags, had a last look around to make sure we hadn’t forgotten anything, and left the cabin steward to it.
Taking our bags along to the Clifton Bar, we sat at a table and I used the extra time to do some of this blog. Trevor went out on deck to have a look around, and came back in and said he could see land in the distance. We ordered a cup of coffee each and, when we showed our cruise cards, the waitress said they weren’t valid any more as we were disembarking today, so we had to pay cash for them. A bit unfair when we were going to be late off the ship, through no fault of our own!
Around 10 o’clock there was definitely “land ahoy” and, indeed, I had the “3” phone signal. We decided to call the cat hotel and let them know the score; the lady very kindly said that she would allow us to collect Cedric even though the cattery had closed. That was one thing less to worry about. 🙂
It looked as if the Captain had managed to make up a couple of hours during the night, meaning that we shouldn’t be as late arriving at Liverpool as we had at first thought. That was better news.
Soon we noticed, by the change in colour of the water, that we were at the mouth of the Mersey, as the Ambition manoevred her way slowly along the river and into the famous port of Liverpool around 10.30am, the banks of the river coming closer and closer as Beatles songs blared out loudly from the port to welcome us in. 🙂
However, looking at the estimated disembarkation times of each deck or coach transfers (there were return coaches to both Newcastle and Dundee) we saw, with dismay, that the coach transfers would be disembarking last; the rest of the disembarkation would be according to deck number. This was ridiculous; some people (such as our table mates Paul, Carol, David and Chris) didn’t have far to go home, whereas we had a coach journey of at least four hours; even longer for the Dundee passengers. They really should have arranged it so that those on the coach transfers disembarked first! 🙁
In addition, it was a ‘silent’ disembarkation; that is, it wasn’t announced throughout the vessel; you had to wait in the Palladium theatre to listen for any announcements. Again, a ridiculous decision as it meant that you didn’t dare go to the loo or to get a drink or something to eat in case you were called to disembark (the times we’d been given were approximate).
Anyway… it was 1.20pm before they called the Newcastle passengers to disembark, and we thankfully made our way down the gangplank and dockside. As we’ve cruised in and out of Liverpool several times before (and will be doing it again in November) it all felt very familiar. Rows of coaches were lined up and we ensured we boarded a coach bound for the Port of Tyne and not Dundee! Our cases were loaded onto the coach and then we took our seats.
As we waited, it seemed there was a discrepancy with the number of passengers and the number of cases. The driver therefore did a roll call to find out if a Matthew Williams was on the coach; indeed he was. “Why is your suitcase still waiting in the baggage collection hall?” a porter in a high-vis jacket asked Mr. Williams. “It looks as if you’ve got someone else’s case, mate”. “I’m 100% positive I’ve got my own case” announced Mr. Williams indignantly. However, he alighted from the coach and had to eat his words when the porter showed him his case! 🙂
Everyone gave a sigh as it meant even more delays as the driver got off the coach and opened the hold to seach for the case that Mr. Williams had thought was his. Turned out it was an identical case, and the moral of the story is… always check the blimmin’ label! We have some bright red tape stuck around all our cases so they are easily identifiable.
Once the cases and the passengers were all correct, we could finally set off. Our driver informed us we would only have a 15 minute comfort stop en route to try to keep to schedule and avoid him going over his time on the tachograph. As everyone was equally anxious to get back home a.s.a.p. we were all in agreement with this.
I would like to be able to write that it was a straightforward run back home after that, but it was not the case. Part of the A1(M) was closed at Wetherby, which meant there were traffic diversions and HUGE traffic jams, where our coach, if it was moving at all, crawled along at walking pace. We soon lost the two hours that the Captain had managed to make up crossing the Irish Sea last night, and we were all hot, tired, grubby and fed up – we just wanted to be home.
I called the cattery again to let them know it would be nearer 8.00pm when we got back (three hours after it had closed!) but the lady was OK about it – we are very good customer after all; Cedric is a regular.
Eventually we arrived at the Port of Tyne and, as the driver pulled the coach up opposite the car park, everyone broke into applause. We alighted from the bus, trundled our cases across the car park to our Vauxhall Corsa, loaded all the bags and thankfully set off for Durham, collecting Cedric on the way.
Finally, we arrived back in the house just after 8.30pm. What a long and tiresome day it had been, all because of high winds in Belfast!
It was a less-than-ideal end to what had been an unexpectedly excellent cruise, but now we were home and we could start the count-down to our next exciting adventure. 🙂