Sean's Stories

Posted by sean on 30/06/2017 at 1:38 pm in Holiday with No Comments


Today was a busy day. We visited the Spanish city of Barcelona. The excursion was a trip to The Nou Camp, home of the cities world famous football club, FC Barcelona. By the time I got back to the ship, I felt as if I had played 90 minutes for the Barca.

The early start didn’t help with my fatigue. I had to wake up at 7am, and eat a quick breakfast delivered to the cabin. Attempt to make our way to the ship’s exit, without knowing where we would need to get off. The ship was running late, so was yet to properly birth. Problem was, our excursion was due to leave at any moment and we were still stuck on the ship! Eventually we got to the coach, where we were met by a slightly annoyed tour guide.

The original tour of The Nou Camp was very extensive, including visiting to the away team dressing room, press box and pitch side dugouts. Due to Barca playing a game this evening, these attractions were cancelled. Tonight’s match involves Barcelona legends against Manchester United legends. Typical Man United – ruining my day. They actually didn’t… the tour was intense enough as it was, I don’t think I’d have coped with anymore!

Before arriving at the stadium, we were given a coach tour of part of the city of Barcelona. An impressive city. Very large, and although modern in places, it still maintains its historic roots throughout, unlike Alicante, which I thought had become very modern in areas.

The coach park at The Nou Camp is the furthest possible place away from where we had to be. I had to walk for what felt like miles (It wasn’t miles) to the museum. Trophies adorned the building, dedicated to the football club’s history. We even got to see part of the ground itself. The stands seem to go on forever. It is fully believable that the stadium capacity is over 100,000.

Bought a couple of souvenirs. A model of The Nou Camp, complete with grass from the pitch. Apparently, the turf, which was picked in up 2012, never needs to be watered. This sounds all too good to be true, we shall see in if it hasn’t all dried up and died by Christmas. Having had our photo taken at the entrance to the museum, we also bought a book with our mugs imposed into various locations across The Nou Camp and with the team. I am sure everyone back home will believe we actually met Lionel Messi.

The coach took us back to the shipping terminal, through another area of the city, where every other advertisement on the street was for McDonald’s home delivery – a luxury yet to reach UK shores. Stopped in duty free, to collect soft drinks and crisps, which we have struggled to buy on board away from the bars and restaurants.

Had an evening meal in the restaurant, of southern fried chicken, which one waiter found funny because we were from the south of England. There was no show we fancied attending, so spent lots of time and money on the slot machines in the casino. It wasn’t really lots of money. We spent £10; £4 of which we cashed out after spending an enjoyable hour watching the ocean, while drinking vodka and lemonade.

Met a Liverpool fan on the way back to put cabin. He was very nice. We discussed The Nou Camp, Liverpool, Leeds United and our mutual dislike of Manchester United.

Bed was most welcome, after the long day, with lots of walking.

Posted by sean on 29/06/2017 at 1:34 pm in Holiday with No Comments


Awoke to a very hot morning and to find our ship had arrived and birthed in Alicante. Our offshore excursion was not due until late morning, so to avoid the inevitable large queues of people, wanting to leave before us and therefore getting an early breakfast, we had ours delivered to the cabin. Coffee, fresh orange juice and pastries are wonderful to wake up to!

Got off the ship. The weather is very hot! Luckily, Britain had its own heatwave the week before our cruise, so my body is used to it. Boarded the trolley train – all too familiar from our honeymoon. And sped through the streets of Alicante – the driver doing his up most to replicate Alton Towers by appearing to accelerate over the speed bumps in the road, causing us to bounce violently on our seats.

A police escort lead the train, while another local officer followed closely behind on a motorbike. As we were both sat at the rear of the train, we had a great view of the roads and policeman. I wanted to take a photo of him, but feared arrest and being thrown into an overcrowded, Spanish jail for the rest of my days. Plucked up the courage to get a photo, making it look as if I was photographing Santander Bank.

Our tour guide shows us the location where the locals go to celebrate the many achievements of the national football team. She adds there isn’t much to celebrate with regards to the local football side.

Alicante is a modern city, with many shops you would expect to find back in the UK. Dotted in between branches of Vodafone and Burger King are monuments, statues and historical buildings. Alicante does have a more traditional ‘Old Town’, but there are no suitable roads in those areas for the land train to drive down.

Claire and I thought we recognised various filming locations from the TV series Benidorm – something our tour guide proudly boasted was filmed locally. Stopped for drinks in a traditional Spanish bar, although as we were on a tight schedule, I barely had enough time to drink my bottle of Coke.

We are planning on skipping our evening meal, in favour of getting decent seats for the evening entertainment – Strictly Come Dancing. Therefore, had a cooked lunch, consisting of peas, chips and a Spanish omelette – well, when in Rome… or rather, Alicante.

Currently in the cabin, relaxing. The ship is still docked. Outside a port walker keeps shouting instructions to his colleagues. It sounds like there is a lot of swearing in his rant too, although I don’t speak the language, so can’t be sure. It just goes to show that Spanish Dockers are just as rude as those in England.

The captain has just informed us that we will be unable to attend Cannes on Saturday. This is because of poor weather in the region, which would make getting ashore by the small tender boats dangerous. We are therefore going to Ajaccio, in Corsica instead. We stopped at this port two years ago, on our honeymoon. Claire and I didn’t like it much, and shortly returned to our ship at the time. Therefore, this time around, the plan is for us to stay aboard and not venture ashore.

Am stood at the front of an ever-growing queue to enter the Headliners Theatre to watch Strictly Come Dancing. We’ve only been here 20 minutes and my legs are getting tired. The doors don’t open for another half an hour. It’s either take this option, or battle for a seat come 8 O’clock. We still had to battle for a seat – as soon as the doors opened, the people behind us charged through, like the stampede of wildebeest in The Lion King. With a bit of luck, determination and help from Claire’s parents, we grabbed front row seats. Then proceeded to laugh at all the latecomers, looking for seats of their own. Given the fact I’m not a fan of the TV series, I was surprised to actually enjoyed the Strictly show aboard. The dancing was very good, as you would expect, and the production was excellent. Has the experience converted me to watch the new series with Claire later in the year? No.

Posted by sean on 28/06/2017 at 8:24 pm in Holiday with No Comments


Had a much better night and slept well, although am still struggling to getting up and ready in time for an 8am breakfast.

Spent some of the morning in the fragrance shop, testing out all the products by spraying all over both arms. I now smell like a walking branch of The Body Shop.

Weather is getting hotter. According to the map on our in-cabin television, we are approaching the stretch of sea which separates Morocco from Gibraltar, where you can find Europa Point – the southernmost location in the whole of Europe. Think I’ll enjoy a couple of hours on our balcony.

Sat on our balcony now. It’s so peaceful. Land is approaching, which I am pretty sure to be Africa. As on our previous cruise, I am always fascinated when I see this continent. Having never visited before, I always associate Africa with lions, zebras, hyenas and David Attenborough documentaries.

Before today, the last stretch of land I saw was a Southampton industrial estate, on a grey Sunday evening. The white sand beaches and impressive mountainous range of Morocco, surrounded by a lush blue ocean and caped in sunlight is very different indeed.

Claire has just showered and sprayed herself with all manners to perfume, to go alongside mine from earlier. As I sit outside, lots of floral aromas emanate from our cabin. She has now left our room, to walk to another area of the ship, in order to meet a couple from Strictly Come Dancing. I believe it is the same two who she had her photo taken with, and today is a chance to get it signed. Back home I am a serial autograph hunter, and have celebrities ranging from Murray Walker to Peter Kay in my collection. However, as I am not a viewer of “Strictly”, let alone a fan, I didn’t see the point in getting their signature for myself.

Try to see if I am close enough to Gibraltar to use one of their mobile phone networks. The phone connects somewhere, but I don’t think it is in Europe. Quickly stick flight mode back on my phone, for fear of incurring huge charges for using the ship’s network, or one based in Africa, which I am told is not included in my roaming package. Guess I’ll have to be more patient and wait until we are in Spain tomorrow.

Ordered room service for lunch. With the weather so hot and the views so stunning, it would be rude to abandon our cabin for a buffet with little chance of getting a window seat. A pizza was delivered – totally free – ok, included in the price of our cruise.

Due to my large lunch, my evening meal was only small. Gammon, chips, egg and peas. That may sound a lot, but not when you consider I gave Claire’s Dad my entire steak.

Spent the remainder of the evening in the Live Lounge, drinking a very nice cocktail called a Woo Woo. I’ve heard of these, but never tried one until today. A Michael Buble tribute act called Kai McKenzie performed of the Canadian singer’s greatest hits. He was good, although Claire and I saw Kai on our honeymoon cruise in 2015 and not a lot had changed. As my chair was cleverly pointed away from the stage, I couldn’t see the performance, so while enjoying the music, I people watched. One man and his wife stood close to us, with a face like thunder. I don’t know why they were so pissed off – maybe they were fans of Brian Adams. Tonight was supposed to be a black tie evening, where passengers dress up. I was therefore surprised when an older man staggered into the bar, wearing a baseball cap, scruffy cardigan and dirty jeans. It was clear he was looking for the toilet. Instead of asking one of the many helpful waiters, he tried numerous doors, before pulling at a wall decoration, he clearly believed to be an entrance to a lavatory.

Back in the cabin now. We have our first trip ashore tomorrow – Alicante in Spain. To avoid the added stress of getting up early too, we’ll be getting breakfast in bed – all gratis, of course.

Posted by sean on 27/06/2017 at 8:20 pm in Holiday with No Comments


Had a bad nights sleep. I kept being awoken by my legs twitching. The clocks were put forward by an hour, to stay in line with the ports we will soon be visiting. I was therefore very tired when I woke up at 7am (which my body clock thought was 6 O’clock).

Decided to have a lie in, while Claire and her parents went to the restaurant for breakfast. Awoke sometime later, feeling much better and refreshed. Went to an on-board Costa Coffee for my morning caffeine fix and breakfast (a Danish pastry). A young boy walks past the coffee drinkers, pointing at random elderly women, most sporting bushy blonde hair, asking “Is that Donald Trump?”.

Costa was followed up with a moctail on the upper deck. Am trying to keep this afternoon’s food intake low, as we have a special Indian meal this evening.

Spent a couple of hours in our cabin, enjoying the peaceful, sky blue ocean go by. The weather is starting to heat up, so more drinks were ordered, this time through room service. Was addressed as “Mam” on the telephone. When our drinks did arrive, there was no bottle opener. Advised Claire against using her hands to remover the cap, as didn’t fancy having to deal with accidental slashed wrists, simply for a bottle of Pepsi.

Had a really gorgeous meal in the Indian restaurant Sinduh. The quality of the food was only equalled by the excellent service. Instead of piling a mountain of rice and tikka masala only my plate, like you might get back home, we were given a number of small dishes, many of which I had not tried before.

All curried-out, we went to the nightly show at the theatre. Tonight a number of children’s fairy tails were told in the style of song and dance. The highlight of the show being a giant spider, which managed to crawl off the stage and above many audience members, before spraying web everywhere. It had to be seen to be believed.

Back in our cabin now. The weather is heating up. It looks like tomorrow will be the first day that we will be able to do a spot of sunbathing on our balcony.

Hoping to have a less disturbed night and make it down to the restaurant for breakfast.

Posted by sean on 26/06/2017 at 8:14 pm in Holiday with No Comments


Awoke shortly after 7am, following a very good sleep. The movement of the ship on the ocean waves certainly helped me rest well. I am not a morning person, so awakening so early on holiday would normally be considered obscene. However, after the great sleep, I actually felt fresh and ready for the day. Struggled to find my sea legs when I first got out of bed. We were going through the Bay of Biscay, which is notorious for bad weather. I think today was rather mild compared to some conditions experienced on this stretch of water. After getting dressed, I had more than got used to the choppy conditions.

We for breakfast in a restaurant, which, like last night, was very nice and luxurious. There was fresh coffee aplenty, which pleased me greatly. My order of scrambled egg on toast, tasted as good as it looked.

After enjoying breakfast, we explored the local shops. I ensured I purchased a replica model of our ship, Britannia. We already have a model of the vessel we sailed on for our honeymoon, Ventura, and I have been telling Claire about buying a second ship for our bookshelf since booking this holiday a year ago.

Have spent the last few hours back in our cabin. Relaxing as the ship sails further south. It is still too cold and close to England for me to sit out on the balcony, although in the last hour, the sun has come out, so hopefully there will be a lot of lounging around tomorrow. Watched a documentary about penguins by David Attenborough on the television hung to the cabin wall.

Claire and her parents have gone to the lower deck for a question and answer session with some of the stars of Tv’s Strictly Come Dancing. As I do not watch this, I am staying upstairs, although will soon be getting cleaned and changed into a black tie suit, as it is the Captain’s Gala this evening.

The main restaurant menu did not really appeal. They had pushed the boat out for the Gala night, the food was very posh, including the likes of quail eggs, caviar and Dodo breast. We therefore decided to attend one of the many other on board restaurants, The Beach House. Ate an amazing starter of Nachos, followed by chicken and vegetables, on a hot rock. When dining out back home, the waiter or waitress may tell us not to touch the plate, as it is hot. I always see that as a dare, and give it a quick prod with my finger. This never results in pain. I was wise enough not to touch the steaming rock holding tonight’s meal. Had I done so, I would be rushed to the medical centre with third degree burns. Finished the meal with an exceptional fruit salad and ice cream.

Following the meal, we headed to the other side of the ship, in order to watch the captain’s speech. Busting a gut to get there on time, after eating a three course meal was not the best idea, and I had to slow down to avoid feeling sick.

The captain welcomed us, telling us of the wonderful ship we are aboard, before introducing us to the senior managers of the many departments of Britannia. There was almost as many managers as Leeds United have had in the last three years.

Headed back to the cabin after, feeling tired after a long day. We missed the night’s entertainment, but apparently it wasn’t one of the holiday’s showcase events.

Watched some television in bed before sleep. A comedy show that we had not seen before called The Job Lot. Claire and I tried to work out if one of the women in the show had also been on Car Share. We later established that it was a different person.

Sean's Stories

On this website, you’ll find me blogging (almost) daily about everyday life, living in Bath, working with computers, and the occasional bit of football stuff thrown in.

If you're expecting The Man Booker Prize, you've come to the wrong place. If you want to read a collection of sometimes eccentric, often disturbing and rarely amusing ramblings, gorge your eyes on this.

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