I’ve just been spending a few minutes procrastinating instead of working ( I have done some work this morning-honest) when I read this on the cruise critic website about funniest complaints from guests. This one cracked me up, I thought you might enjoy it too.
“The woman complaining at Guest Services about her cabin, as she had booked a seaview and all she could see was a car park. The Manager politely asked her to come back once the ship had sailed, and they would see what they could do then.”
Here’s a salutary tale about a hypothetical woman who might have gone on holiday recently.
Yup, men, look away now because this is wimmin talk but before you go….
Do you know how to make a hormone?
Don’t pay her!
Have they gone? Ok, I’ll carry on.
So, this hypothetical woman who may have gone on holiday recently, has hypothetical hormones that you could set the proverbial clock by. A few days in to the holiday, on a day when the ship she was in port her hormones decided to throw in a flanker and summon Mother Nature to put in an appearance a full week earlier than expected. Off course being a whole week early the appropriate supplies were in short….er….supply. I fact they were none existent. The other important element here is that the ship was in a port – meaning that all the shops on board were closed. A fact that our heroine registered with a cry of, “Oh shit! The ships shop’s shut!!!” Not easy to say under any circumstances, I feel.
To make matter even worse the ship was docked in Russia, a country which doesn’t allow cruise ship passengers to wander round willy nilly. Ooohh nooo, if you want to leave the ship you have to be on an organised tour, the next one of which was the following day. All was looking a bit dire for our heroine.
All meagre supplies were utilised which had the unfortunate effect of causing our heroine to walk as if she was riding an invisible horse. Luckily the tour booked for the following day was one that involved a bit of free time, enough time to buy in emergency supplies. Of course before the free time there was the usual guided tour of the town on a dilapidated bus with hard bench seats for two and a half hours. Two and a half!! Our heroine was distraught.
Eventually the sheep tourists were let loose and our heroine and her handsome beau made a sharp escape from the crowd and down a seedy side street to the nearest proper shop. By proper I mean one that sold real stuff not just faberge eggs and matryoshka dolls. Taking a deep steadying breath she marched (gingerly) into the shop frantically looking round for appropriate ‘lady things’ hoping that there would be no need to speak as she wasn’t well versed in Russian. No such items showed themselves. Nothing else for it then.
She plastered a big smile on her face and walked up to the less than inviting looking assistant who had been sullenly eyeing her up since she came in. It wasn’t an unreasonable assumption to think that she may have been a KGB agent or even a wrestler at one time.
“Er… do you have any er…. lady things,” muttered our heroine in a feeble voice while waving her hands in in a downward motion in roughly the correct anatomical area. It was clear to see when comprehension dawned on the assistant as she recoiled with a disgusted look on her face, visibly shuddered and took a step backwards.
“No! No! we no have thees thing! Vodka! We haf only the vaaaaaarrrrdka!”
By that time our heroine, could have done with a stiff vodka, I can tell you.
Slinking out feeling like a leper she made her way to the next shop, a supermarket. After searching the whole store and being unwilling to ask for fear of upsetting the locals again, the lady things were eventually located -right in front of the checkout.
The choice of items seemed to be limited to either extra large or super plus. These Russian women must have some heavy flow going on. I did eventually discover why the limited choice of sizes though. It later became very obvious that the tampons needed to be super plus because they don’t so much work as an absorbent as much as they do a plug – but you know, desperate times, beggars can’t be choosers and all that.
At the checkout our heroine offered a debit card, Euros, Danish Krone, Sterling and Estonian Kroon. “Nyet. Only rubles.” Sod it!!
Luckily there was cash machine only a few feet away. In went the card. Out came the card. In went the card again. Out came the card with a warning; “next time we see it we’re keeping it now pi55 off.” That wasn’t exactly what it said but it was close enough. Near to tears and becoming more shrill by the second out heroine was saved by her handsome beau who’s card was accepted with no trouble at all, He extracted about 6 million rubles, about twenty quid, and all was well.
After purchasing the aforementioned goods they made a sharp exit, much to everyone’s relief a disaster was averted.
And so to the moral of the story: Never trust Mother Nature, she’s a sneaky little bitch who will creep up on you at the most inopportune times and unexpected places in order to cause as much disruption as possible.
Always remember the boy scouts motto. ‘ Be prepared.’
B and me made a booking in the teppenyaki restaurant. Teppenyaki! Food cooked and served by a NINJA!!!! I couldn’t wait.
I forget where we’d been that day but as had quickly become our habit we had a kip when we got back to the ship before showering and dressing for dinner. Now when I say dress ing for dinner, let’s not get too excited about this. B had taken along his dinner suit (tuxedo to you yanks) and I’d taken along a couple of evening dresses. The night for formal dining was announced as…wait for it…. “Dress up, or not. Whatever.”
Excuse me? Whatever?
99% of the people on the ship chose the ‘whatever’ option and didn’t even get out of their jeans and trainers. Some made a bit of an effort and put on a casual jacket. B ended up putting on his DJ and then taking it off again as he felt so out of place. We only saw one man, British, of course, in full evening dress and I congratulated him on keeping up the standards.
Me? I went for the full on bling evening dress. me and B love the formal nights, how disappointing that no one else could be bothered. Wha’ evah.
Anyway, back to the plot.
There was a dance show on in the theatre that I’d wanted to see. Dear oh dear, it reminded me of C’s A level theatre studies project, lot’s of girls prancing in silly costumes and trying to look meaningful. We lasted about 20 minutes in there before we left and realised we’d missed our appointment with the ninja. NNNNOOOOO! Fancy missing a ninja for a crap show like that.
Dashing to the top deck we arrived at the restaurant full of apologies (not least because it was going to cost us $25 if we were there or not) the manager was lovely and told us he’d take care of the fee and to come back on another night. Whta a nice man.
We did eventually make it to the teppenyaki restaurant and it was worth the wait. The chef was brilliant and provided far more theatre with his cooking than that silly dance troupe. He was juggling eggs and caught one in his chef’s hat! Heheheeeee. I’m so easily amused. If you ever get the chance to go to a teppenyaki restaurant you should go because it’s great fun.
Of course B nearly starved to death once again. The snow peas arrived and he looked at them in disgust. The miso soup he looked at, sniffed, stirred and pushed away. The same applied to the salad with the lurid pink dressing. Then the chef arrived and the performance began, he was an engaging young man with a bright smile and and a lovely mannner. He prepared our fried rice as if it was a comedy act. He chopped, sliced, juggled and amazed us with his dexterity – and the fact that he hadn’t lost at least three of his fingers during his career.
I’m happy to report that B did enjoy the steak so he didn’t leave completely hungry. As normal he’d ordered a fillet steak and I was a bit concerned when I saw various oils and seasonings being added to it as he doesn’t normally enjoy food with flavour. To my utter amazement he loved it and devoured every bit. Mind you, he was probably so hungry at that point he’d have eaten a scabby donkey – having turned down everything else on offer. I opted for steak and chicken, I don’t know what magic ingredients that chef put on it while he was juggling and spinning pots and knives but it was absolutely delicious.
Pudding was mango and pistachio ice cream wrapped in rice. Very delicate and the perfect end to a meal that was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
There was another couple in with us, a very nice American couple who told us all about the excitement of the night before. A helicopter had been called to winch a person with appendicitis off the ship. It was all nail biting stuff and it all happened within a few yards of this couple’s balcony. B and me missed all the excitement because we were sat in the observation lounge. I do fully realise the irony of that last sentence.
My favourite destination of the cruise has to be Tallin, Estonia. What a charming place. I haven’t really got a lot to say about it other than we spent a very happy and relaxed few hours there – and I cut my leg quite badly on a pile of slates but hey ho – can’t hold that against it. Here are a few photos:
When we got back to the ship we noticed that a HUUUUUGE great ship, twice the size of ours had parked (docked? moored? berthed??) next to ours. Looking at it though I thought our entrance and exit facilities were a bit more user friendly.
My least favourite destination for all sorts of reasons.
Not least because of the stupidly overpriced tours we had to endure in order to even get off the ship. Basically, you aren’t allowed to roam round Russia on your own. Visas, documentation providing evidence of services rendered from a Russian tour cmpanay, photocopies of passport as well as the actual passport are all required unless you were on an NCL tour. No real choice then, get the tours booked.
We queued with the other sheep tourists to get on to one of the many coaches lined up at the dock. We were issued with stickers saying which coach we were to board and one poor woman got really shouted at and told she would NOT be leaving the ship until she was wearing and properly displaying her sticker. Suddenly I felt like I was six again. I wondered if we should form a crocodile and walk hand in hand.
After a lot of faffing about the buses left for their various destinations. For us it was the Imperial St Petersburg tour. First stop Peterhof for the Grand Palace. Our tour guide, Tatiana was a lovely girl. When she learns English she’ll be great. Her high pitched, constant stream of information had my head buzzing within about 20 minutes – and this was a nine hour tour.
We were whizzed through the Grand Palace, practically made to jog through the wonderful gardens while all the time she shouted: “Watch me, watch me, hydrofoil at 12.00 please watch me hurry, hurry we must keep moving.” Worth £500 of anybody’s money, that.
Inside the palace we had been told not to take photos. Well, as a pro photographer I am used to being told where and when I can photograph and it really wasn’t a biggie for me, rules is rules, as they say. However, once we rounded a corner into the most magnificent room you’ve ever seen, most people whipped out their camera’s and started taking photographs. Well, what a hoot. Tatiana nearly had a heart attack. “No Photos, I told you no photo,” she yelled as half a dozen burly Russian women appeared from nowhere to put a stop to it all. The tourists were not happy campers. Tatiana was almost apopleptic. “Pliz, pliz no more photo – I told you. Come, watch me, keep eyes on me, we must go. Hydrofoil.”
So that was that. Hydrofoil it was to a grim, modern, hotel back in St Petersburg where we had a spartan lunch with the one glass of wine we were allowed to have. B damn near starved to death. There wasn’t a trace of chocolate.
The afternoon stint took us to The Peter and Paul Cathedral. Again we were whizzed round it all while a constant stream of high pitched information in pidgin English assailed our ears through our headsets. I had to laugh at one point when one woman had got herself attached to the wrong group and complained bitterly that she couldn’t hear anything through her headset. Tatiana kept trying to tell her she was with the wrong group but the woman wouldn’t have it. I think they took her away and locked her up eventually.
Tatiana was getting into her stride by now and getting a bit over confident. She looked me straight in the eye as she informed me that :”No executives were allowed.”
I looked at her puzzled and shook my head so she tried again: Executives you know, when they keel peoples.”
“Executions! Got it! Everyone else in the group just shook their heads and moved on, as exhausted and pissed off as I was with the whole thing.
Day two was even worse. Svetlana, big, bolshy and very confident was our guide. She did at least speak good English. Good enough to inform everyone that they should show their gratitude to her and the driver in the usual way. Bad move, Svet.
TWO AND A HALF FOOKING HOURS we sat on that bus. Two and a half!!!!!!!! Were we pissed off or what?
We saw St Petersburg from every angle and every direction, several times. It felt like we were being driven round and round in circles. LET ME OFF!!!!!
The highlight of the trip was being let loose for a couple of hours to wander, get lunch and explore on our own for a bit. It had been drummed into us that we must watch out for pickpockets everywhere so we were probably looked a bit shifty as we gave everyone the evil eye as they went past us – just in case they were baddies, you never know!
We had a brilliant time, shopped in a Russian supermarket (but that’s a story all to itself), ambled about and thoroughly enjoyed our little selves – once the steam had stopped coming from my ears.
The afternoon stint took us to The Hermitage. I’d really been looking forward to this to see work by Da Vinci, Raphael, etc etc. The queue was enormous, it snaked round the building for at least a couple of hundred yards. We were kept well entertained though by the numerous traders hawking all sorts of things. I bought a big fur (fake) hat for C. They were jolly and fun. Up for a good old haggle and not in the least bit imtimidating. that was nearly the best bit of the day.
The Hermitage deserves a whole day to itself. It’s massive and we hardly even scratched the surface. Rushed through, we were literally taken in to a room and told: “Look left. This is blahblah. Look right. This is Blah blah. Look ahead. This is blah blah. Ok. Come with me to next room.” There the process would be repeated again.
Snap, snap snap, went al the cameras but I don’t think anyone actually saw what it was they were photographing. It’s a good job they did take the photos really, at least they could have a good look at home because it wasn’t going to happen on the day. COME ON. KEEP UP. FOLLOW ME, ONLY ME!!!!
Driving back to the ship we went past a block of flats. I was a bit surprised at the street furniture:
It was completely at odds with all the palaces, cathedrals and parks we saw.
Warnemunde, Germany. What a brilliant place, I loved it. Not only that but I managed to pick up the perfect blingy flip flops for me and B’s re-affirmation of vows in October. I don’t want to say renewal of vows because they don’t need renewing – they haven’t worn out!
As I said in an earlier post, parts of Warnemunde reminded me of Saujon/Royan there was a lovely atmosphere. It was still bloody cold though, we ended up buying very nearly matching his and hers anoraks just to keep the chill out. We obviously weren’t the only ones who bought coats in town. We realised that dozens of other people had the same coats on. It was starting to look like a uniform. Oh well, I suppose it made it easier for the crew to spot anyone who went missing on a tour.
The Americans were dead easy to spot in any case, the starts and stripes emblems on their clothes, the gleaming white trainers and the slightly too short, crimplene or velour slacks in pastel colours that the ladies favoured all gave a way their nationality.
Here’s a pic of the ‘sun deck’ on the ship that morning:
That poor chap running for cover sums it up beautifully, it was foggy, windy and perishing cold. Oh well, can’t have everything I suppose.
The food in Warnemunde was ace. I loved this chippy. Then when we got peckish again, there was always the smoked fish. The fish were being smoked right there on the dock, they smelt delicious, much better than they looked actually. The whole market was a gorgeous mix of smells, accents, shops which included as you’d expect an abundance of tourist shops and also a few artisan shops and of course the market for the locals. I could easily have spent a couple of days there. Put it on the list!!
The poor sods who signed up for the trip to Berlin spent three hours on the train each way, had to get up stupidly early for the privilege and paid an arm and a leg to be raced around the city. I think we had a much nicer time.
After we strolled round the market and the old town we headed off to the beach. I loved theses little changing huts. By this time the wind was whistling round our ears but at least the sun had come out – a bit.
We eventually made our way back to the ship. At the port we noticed lots of sand sculptures, some of which were being worked on as we went by. They were amazing! The artists just worked from a sketch drawing and were so precise – and quick. They obviously had had lots of practice at making these. I was sooooo impressed!
I could have watched them for ages but hunger and cold got the better of me so we went back on board for afternoon tea in one of the many excellent eating places.
In the cabin was a little mouse made from a flannel. Sweet!!
I was really taken with it till I saw the little sign tucked underneath it saying, ‘your cabin steward has delighted you so why not delight him and show your appreciation by giving him money.’ Ok, that’s not a direct quote but it was near enough. Um, did we not ‘show our appreciation’ to the tune of £78 each before we even got on board?
Tipping became a real issue for lots of the brits on board. We all thought the £78 each we paid was supposed to cover all tips but it seemed that it only covered the cabin stewards. I want more than a sodding mouse for 156 quid, mate! Everything else we did or bought had an extra 15% autogratuity added to it. “For your convenience.” For who’s convenience? Not mine, I think.
When prices are already three times (and a couple of times 10 times higher) than you’d pay at home to have an extra 15% added to everything was more than a little irritating. Lot’s of people, not just Brits, felt that we were being robbed blind as only a captive audience can be. Feedback has been sent. Not only feedback but several people we spoke to had already started to compose their ‘strongly worded letter’ to NCL to post on their return home. Joke of the week was to come up with an alternative acronym for NCL. That caused much hilarity in various bars late at night. Favourites included:
So, having dashed from one end of the country to the other to get on the ship we needed a day at sea to recover.So really the title is totally misleading, it’s actually day two I’m telling you about.
As I’ve already told you we quickly discovered that it was ludicrously expensive on the ship. A complaint that we were to hear time and time again as the trip progressed.
B opened one of the courtesy bottles of water that were in our cabin so he could take his tablets, only to return two hours later to find a bill for $5!!
Here are a few pics from our first stop in Copenhagen which was closed for a public holiday.
It always makes me laugh that people stick a few tables and chairs outside cafes and pretend it’s Italy. It’s northern Europe, and 5 degrees, not exactly basking weather. It’s perishing for goodness sake, get real!!
And get real they have. The Viking tenacity came up with the perfect solution.
Their way of obtaining the cafe culture atmosphere when it’s f-f-f-f-freezing is to provide patio heaters, nice, warm, fluffy blankets to get wrapped up in and lovely sheepskins to sit on while sipping coffee and watching the world go by.
A country like this I can relate to!
Of course at some point you have to come out from under the blanket, sheepskins and heaters to continue on your way. MY GOD!!! You don’t half feel the cold then!!
My dinner was an interesting smorgasbord of….er……smorgasbord. I couldn’t identify everything, neither did I like everything but it was certainly interesting.
We quite wanted to see the Little Mermaid , we hopped on to the hop on – hop off tourist bus. On the way there we were told that the Little Mermaid has been shipped to Shanghai but we could take photos of the rock she usually sits on – and do you know what? People did – in droves.
We found ourselves at the palace in time for the changing of the guard. They do say it’s a sign of age when policemen look young. These boys were just babies!
I just happened to be stood in the right place for this photo, lucky eh? On the spot coverage!!
Monday morning I did a weeks shopping in my favourite budget superstore (I use the word superstore laughingly).
Monday afternoon as normal I looked after baby E for the afternoon. That was traumatic in the extreme. Grumpy wasn’t in it. She whinged and whined herself stupid all afternoon.
B phoned me to say he’d found a cruise – more than we’d wanted to pay but a really good deal. It was to take in Several Baltic countries but the highlight was St Petersburg in Russia. On and off the phone all afternoon I eventually suggested to him that he make the decision on his own as I’d then discovered the reason for the baby’s grumpness. By then she’d developed a severe case of explosive diarrhoea and I had enough to think about.
Every five minutes or so I’d hear a noise like distant canon fire rapidly followed by a disgusting smell. Further details you don’t need.
Around three o’clock B phoned to say he’d booked us on a cruise leaving the following day – from sodding Dover!
No pressure then.
In addition to the baby sitting stint we had friends due for an early dinner at 5.30 so I was trying to cook their meal: Don’t worry, Kev and Vik, hands were properly scrubbed after handling the baby and before handling food.
I also had to clean up the debris from the half decorated utility room ready for the estate agent coming on the following Monday – why oh why did the cleaner pick these two weeks to be off? – give N his instructions for the week, arrange travel insurance, pack, etc.etc.etc…
OVERLOAD WARNING! OVERLOAD WARNING!!
SENSE OF HUMOUR FAILURE IMMINENT!!!
Kev and Vik came and it calmed me down nicely. Eventually though it was a case of, OK, we love you dearly but: BUGGER OFF!!!!
Getting to bed around midnight, we were up at 5a.m for the journey to Dover. Not a bad journey all in all, it took us about 6 hours and got us there in time to park the car and get straight on the ship. The NCL Sun.
First impressions were good. The cabin is larger than any other ship we’ve been on and B was thrilled to discover that he could smoke in the cabin (over my dead body), in the casino and certain other parts of the ship.
My God! Americans are SOOOOO LOUD!!!!!! Do they all have a built in megaphone? Can’t they find the volume switch?
Fookety fook it’s expensive!!!!!!!!!!
My plan to hit the Spa was scuppered (did you like the nautical reference – very topical) when I realised a basic massage was going to cast roughly £140!! I told Bob I’d give him a massage for £50 and throw in a happy ending!
As I write this, we are sitting in one of the many lounges, listening to the doleful sound of the fog horn sounding every two minutes, it’s a proper pea souper out there! Weather wise it’s more than a bit grim. No warmer than 8 degrees and with a stiff Noreasterly breeze blowing.
That hasn’t stopped a group of people determined to enjoy their holiday jumping in the the hot tub on the deck – that’s ok but at some point they’ll have to jump back out. I hope I’m around to see that, it should be funny – it’s PERISHING!!! We ended up buying coats in Warnemunde yesterday because we were so cold.
Warnemunde, incidentally is fabulous, it reminded me of Talmont, Royan and Saujon all rolled up into one. We had a hysterical 5 minutes trying to buy a sandwich, coffee and cake, the poor assistants tried their best to understand my pidgin German. Laugh? I nearly bought a round!
Well, that’s it for now. There’s loads to tell you so I’ll catch up on our next sea day. Tallin, Estonia next. TTFN
Rants, raves and ramblings about whatever takes my fancy