Monday, 9th March 2015

Soton HiSoton HiSoton Hi

We checked out of the Holiday Inn Southampton City hotel (£7 to rescue the car from the car park, another incentive to not use that hotel), then had breakfast at the nearby Frankie and Bennys Southampton. We were the only patrons there, nice and relaxed, Virginia chose best with her sausage muffin rather than my Eggs Benedict. The restaurant had a machine you entered your licence plate into for the Leisure World car park.

We then trusted our Satnav again to get us to Beaulieu. As luck would have it the attraction was infested with school children. We admired the vintage cars and recreated period shops, a Chitty Bang Bang car from the film. Virginia braved the vintage monorail system too, and we saw the staff in costume at the Palace House (period kitchen, portraits on walls, stuffed birds), dipped into the Abbey, and had soup at the Brabazon Restaurant. Worth visiting once.

Boud GangwayBoud GangwayBoud Gangway

Time to venture to the cruise terminal. A confusing process of stop car in one place, lose the luggage, then guess one was meant to move the car to another place where one handed over car keys in exchange for a piece of paper. Impressively our luggage all made to our cabin before us (thanks to our cabin stewardess Atitaya), often we get on board and worry if we will see our suitcases again. Things got better as the cruise terminal was being improved, and we were actually processed all crammed together in a temporary tent. The chairs all touched so you felt it as someone else sat down. A labyrinthine process of checking in and security culminated in a walk through a real labyrinth of colourful plastic sheeting and glass and metal. Which happily ended on board the ship!

The cheerful and helpful staff, lined up by the lifts, guided us to our cabin 4050 which atavistically has portholes (quite heavy to manipulate). Plenty of coat hangers though we didn't find them at first. Plenty of seats at the muster drill, I did wonder if the ship wasn't completely full as often at muster drills there doesn't seem to be enough space. Next event was the first sitting for dinner in the Four Seasons restaurant. We met our dining companions Roy and Margaret and Shirley and Barbara who made a a good table to be on. One of the plusses of the Boudicca being a smaller ship is we more often bumped into them onboard.

Boud EntryBoud EntryBoud Entry

Went to the Neptune Lounge for the resident theatre company to dance and sing songs by Queen, Elton John, etc. They were lively and energetic and not pretentious. The Neptune Lounge isn't ideal for shows as few people have a clear view of the stage. On the Fred Olsen ships a lot of the music and sound desk is done by non-Europeans who are also the waiters and cabin stewards. To me they're just as good as Europeans.