Tabitha and Amelia safely stowed in Country Cattery. Check. Decrepit suitcase repaired with sticky tape. Check. Passports and tickets in the plastic folder in the laptop bag. Check. Boiler turned off. Check. Yes it's time for another cruise! This time with Fred Olsen rather than P&O. We were going to go to the Canary Islands in November, but my Dad decided on one last holiday to see the Hermitage in St Petersburg. So Virginia and I also booked on cruise W1111 on the Black Watch to the Baltics to help him along.
Dad hired friendly talkative Mr Nelson senior to drive us all to Dover on Saturday July 30th, and to collect us at the end of the cruise. Both coming and going there were problems at the Dartford Crossing so not smooth. Mr Nelson collecting us from Dover at 10am on August 11th didn't work so well as we had been waiting nearly two hours in poor conditions. That contributed to the flu I went down with after the cruise. But I'm getting ahead of myself here!
We arrived at Dover Cruise Terminal 1 to find it was an old railway station! Like stepping back in time, and perhaps cruising is about stepping back in time, its main attraction. Back to the days when time moved slower, and there was space for friendliness. A certain amount of queueing ensued at the cruise terminal, less than at an airport. We were attacked by the ship's photographers as we boarded the Black Watch as expected.
Our cases and us both arrived at cabin 5073 on the Main Deck, and we were ready to sail! Well ready for the first entertainment of the cruise, the muster with life-jackets. Crew members we would see in other guises shouted off cabin numbers like jobbers in a stock exchange as they checked we hadn't lost anyone yet.