Sunday, 8th March 2015

We booked the Eclipse cruise with Fred Olsen as long ago as June in 2013. Booking the cruise wasn't the only preparation we had to do, there was booking a hotel to stay at the night before the cruise (we stayed at a Holiday Inn Southampton City in Southampton itself), there was booking a cattery for the cats while we were away, and booking parking for the car while we were on the cruise.

We also did some clothes buying so we wouldn't freeze in the icy wastes of Norway. We got overtrousers and inner trousers and inner socks hats and thermals and gloves, I patronised Rohan. Ironically it was unseasonably warm up in North Norway and I didn't use half of what I bought. I also got Eclipse glasses and again these went unused, not because we didn't see the eclipse but because Fred Olsen provided everyone with suitable eye protection. Even though the cruise was described as seeing the Northern Lights and the eclipse we told ourselves that was far from a certainty.

I loaded up my iPad with books (especially Brandon Sanderson) (as Virginia did her Kindle) and I also loaded up a Korean TV drama The Greatest Love to watch as well. The iPad worked very well as a combined library, TV, diary, and Internet access point (Internet access was a little hit or miss on the Boudicca. I didn't use it unlike some for taking pictures, perhaps I should have done.

One act of preparation I didn't do was tell Virginia that the Boudicca had broken down with engine problems a few weeks before our cruise. I felt this would only cause unnecessary worry when there was already enough to worry about.

The day before the cruise went smoothly enough. Amelia did her best to lurk out of reach inside the spare room bed but Virginia tempted her out with Thrive treats. So Tabitha and Amelia were delivered yet again to the care of Auntie Phyllis at the Grange Cattery in Waterbeach. We stopped at South Mimms service station on the way down, crawled along the M3 where they were making it into a smart motorway (?), and got accurate directions from a helpful dock gate guard at Southampton to the Holiday Inn Southampton City when the Satnav mis-directed us.

Wandered vainly around the West Quay shopping centre as it was all closing at 5pm, might have eaten at Frankie and Bennys at a nearby cinema complex but it was noisy, so settled for waiting for ages to eat at the hotel.