Cruise to the Eastern Mediterranean
Tuesday, 17th November 2009

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Ease and comfort. The boarding for our cruise to the Eastern Mediterranean on P&O ship Aurora set the pattern. We drove up to the terminal, our bags vanished before we knew it, someone drove the car away, we could sit rather than stand before proceeding to the check in desk. In a few minutes we were in our cabin, ready to spend the days watching the overlapping mathematical patterns of the waves. No need to worry about finding a hotel. No need to worry about finding somewhere to eat.

The staff were polite and helpful. Our cabin steward found a case which was slow to turn up (and later on an earring Virginia lost.) We mainly ate in the Medina restaurant, feeling like the Last Days of the Raj. The food sometimes reached heights such as the souffle (the names on the menu were creative.) Internet access allowed us to keep in touch with back home (very useful as Tabitha had just become very poorly.) Borrowed an interesting book on Jacques Tati from the library.

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The entertainment was quite varied. A young team sang and acted lustily in a series of shows (which did blur into each other.) There was a series of classical / light music concerts for a veneer of culture. We got "Myfanwy" in Welsh, and "Mud Mud Glorious Mud". After listening to quite a bit of sung Italian and French I'm not sure being pseud and elevated is worth it. The bra-strip of the well-endowed mezzo slipped at one point, but she recovered the situation before her low bow. There were good talks on Concorde (did they really have to keep shuffling fuel around the plane to balance it?) and ancient history, the Playhouse venue for those and the films could have been bigger. Saw the latest "Star Trek" film - modern glitz, but the old flaws. Other events included Church services which were from a book (they always finished with "Jerusalem" and the National Anthem) and dos for Freemasons and the WI. Oh and quizzes too. Different strands of passengers went to different strands of events.

The worst aspect was that we were travelling with plenty of our fellow countrymen. Driving down to Southampton we got caught for ages on the M25. The self-service Orangery was a real scrum. Most of our fellow passengers seemed reasonable, pleasant spending time with and getting to know. We dined on a good table of six in the Medina restaurant. But there were families like the one we were next cabin to. Two shapeless individuals pursued by a squealing brat who kicked and shoved anything kickable and shovable. Rather like a poor puppy who was petted at Christmas but had lost its novelty value. The 'parents' (the UK is now so multi-valued that saying 'parents' is an assumption) tended to dump the brat in the cabin and go their separate ways to late-night entertainment.

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The ship was due for a refit immediately after our cruise. The toilets broke down several times on our floor / side - I did get the feeling we were in the lowest class. You do get what you pay for. The Aurora had apparently broken down on a world cruise recently. The captain was very good at parking the ship, it was very maneouvrable with various thrusters. Stabilisers minimised the side to side yawing. There were adequate lifts and staircases - observed a modern superstition that if you press the lift button repeatedly that increases your lift priority.