Hello, Little Granny here again with tales of our cruise adventure to the Baltic.
The time had finally dawned for Grumps and I to set off on our cruise. Grumps does all his own packing which pleases me as he can’t moan if something is forgotten. He packed his three (one for overnight stay) suitcases and then asked if I had room in mine! Not a chance.
As we have to travel around the M25 we tend to go down the day before and stay overnight in Southampton in order not to miss the ship. Unfortunately, on looking to book a hotel I found they were all full so we opted to stay at a brand new Premier Inn at Basingstoke, just a 30 minute drive from Southampton.
“Basingstoke – wonder what the shops are like?” mused Grumps.
We set off from Suffolk down to the dreaded M25 and very slow M3. Having driven around Basingstoke twice trying to find the place we finally arrived early afternoon. Grumps is very much a creature of habit and has to be fed on a regular basis so the first question to the receptionist was “Where are the cafes and shops?” (Once when we were staying with Emma we forgot to give him lunch and he sulked for the rest of the day.) Now, foolishly I had been looking at the prospective weather around the Baltic and had commented that it looked as if it were going to rain at all the ports. So, whilst eating our snack in Debenhams, Grumps decided that we should perhaps buy some wet weather gear and he was delighted to discover that Basingstoke had a Blacks so off we went.
You Can’t Take Grumps Shopping
Unfortunately, one of anything never works with Grumps so he bought two pairs of – yes, you guessed it – trousers for wet weather and another rain jacket. Oh, I should mention that the 5 pairs of jeans never made the suitcase as he had already bought so many other pairs of trousers. We went back to the hotel with our purchases and to do some re-packing. Grumps then remembered he hadn’t packed his sea bands (not that he needs them as he never feels queasy) and could we possibly go into Argos. Hmmm. Off we went again and found Boots and the sea bands, and then we went into Argos. Grumps started looking at the watches. He has decided that the fitbit isn’t ideal for telling the time when you are wearing a long sleeved shirt and DJ. He needs a pocket watch – really! His last two (yes, two) were taken in our burglary so I didn’t have the heart to say no. Pleased as punch with his purchase we went off to the hotel to wind down and have dinner. I have to say that the Premier Inn in Basingstoke is the best I have stayed in. The meals are cooked in front of you and everything was very fresh. Of course, you also get that very good nights sleep!
Setting Sail For Southampton
The next day we set off for Southampton and arrived at the perfect time for our car and cases to be taken from us at the ship. We had been given free parking by P&O at the port and it works extremely efficiently. We proceeded through to the embarkation lounge and all the formalities were quickly completed. We were given our cruise cards which act as a credit/debit card when you are on board – no cash changes hands. In no time at all we found ourselves on board P&O Aurora with our suitcases waiting outside the door of our cabin.
Our First Impressions Of P&O Aurora
We had previously been on P&O Britannia and P&O Ventura and loved the size of the cabins and balconies. We were a little disappointed to discover that the cabin on the Aurora was the smallest one we had experienced and with no separate dressing area it meant going to the wardrobe was like navigating the M25 as it was only a single width before you hit the bed. The balcony was just large enough for the two of us. Grumps quickly unpacked, hanging his clothes on the “female” side of the wardrobe which meant that my clothes were draped all over the cases. Give him his due, he gallantly offered to swap his clothes round, which was readily accepted. This was our third cruise so we were getting used to the routine now and know that the first hurdle to complete is the Emergency drill. Grumps always worries about whether he will get his life jacket on upside down so we have to have a trial practice in the cabin and the straps adjusted accordingly. On checking where we have to go to the Muster drill we were delighted it was just two floors down and in the Theatre so plenty of comfortable seating.
A Mermaid And Grumps
With time on our hands we explored the ship. It’s not as grand as the Britannia but the wall sculpture of the mermaid and running water was rather nice. The shops don’t open whilst you are in port but we had a peer through the windows. There weren’t as many as the previous two ships which perhaps was a good thing with Grumps in a spending mood. We then shot up to the top deck to grab a snack from the Buffet because we had not eaten since breakfast. Food is available for nearly twenty four hours a day on board but Grumps had informed me that he was only going to eat the amount he ate at home and he would have to do circuits of the ship to get his 10,000 steps in. Hmmm, this sounded like it was going to be fun. Anyway, he polished off a large salad and a creamy cheesecake so was the threat of extreme healthy living going to be short-lived?
Grumps And His Love For Red
Having completed the lifeboat drill successfully, the ship pulled away from the quay and sailed along Southampton Water to The Channel. We opted for an early evening meal in the formal restaurant. The food was superb and we both kept to the healthy option of fish. However, Grumps decided to wash his fish down with a half bottle of red wine which set the tone for the rest of the fortnight. Me, I just kept to the fizzy water – I know, boring.
More details to follow about the ship, where we went around the Baltic, how we nearly left Grumps behind in Estonia and Denmark plus how I lost him on board one evening as he tried to unwittingly gatecrash the Captain’s cocktail party – I know, you can’t take him anywhere!