Thursday 14 January
All packed and ready to go. Mel had some heart thumping moments last night but is at work, phoned Doctor and has an ECG tomorrow morning, nevertheless takes us to airport for Gatwick flight and overnight at Premier Inn.
Friday 15 January
Hired car for drive to Coleford to choose new carpets for upstairs at Clearwell. A long journey just for about 30 minutes in the showroom but worth it as we have also chosen vinyl for bathroom and kitchen floor. Have some time to spare before meeting Flic & Gary for dinner in Reading so it seems strange looking at things to buy in shops without any intention of buying!
Dinner in the Waterfall, Indian Restaurant near their house and back to Gatwick for bed just after 10pm.
Saturday 16 January
Room 470 was not exactly soundproof, especially when a load of excited kids off load from their coach at about 4am before they embark on a skiing holiday. Alarm set for 05:45 and by the time we get to the airport, the checkin-queue is long. It takes us another 50 minutes to get checked in.
Boarding the plane involves another queue, this time of about 30 minute just to get into the departure lounge. Onboard we find our seats near the back. Some passengers not happy as they are some way away from their other party members. One, Row 11 & 39 swaps with one Row 12 & 39. Organisational chaos.
No chance of person in front putting their seat back – the seats don’t recline at all but a relatively comfortable flight with another plane nearby to add to the day’s entertainment.
Only free drinks are water, tea & coffee but both the lunch and the afternoon tea are good, Sausage & Mash, a nice mouse, cheese & biscuits and a mini ice cream for lunch and filled roles and scone for tea.
Apart from Emirates business class, probably one of the best airline meals I have tasted. Lily O’Brien’s mini ice cream also served later on.
Arrive at Bridgetown about 15 minutes early where the captain announces the weather as “hot”. We have to wait about 20 minutes to disembark as there aren’t enough coaches to take us to the ship as the Manchester flight had just arrived. Once off, transfer to the waiting coach was seamless and speedy and in a mini bus of about 20 people we are transferred the 45 minutes to the port.
Past some reasonably sumptuous houses and some shacks, reminiscent of Antigua, roads not bad but the most notable thing was the use of the horn by the driver as he passed virtually all his cousins and the rest of the fleet of mini buses. Not a lot of room in the mini buses.
We now have to wait a good 40 minutes on arrival just to disembark into a shed for check-in onto the Britannia. 6 or 7 coaches are in front of us disgorging passengers into this shed, which, when we get there is devoid of seats or toilet facilities. One fellow passenger struggles with his wife who is suffering severely from dementia. Not a holiday for her at all but he is patient.
At last we are on and can relax in our room. Luggage takes another 75 minutes for mine and a further 60 for Sally’s to arrive although bizarrely we are asked if two cases are ours even before mine arrives. They have our cabin number on them but are not ours. Perhaps they were belonging to the people in the cabin before us? I didn’t particularly fancy a foursome though.
Sally’s case is minus a padlock so could easily have been opened, though nothing appears missing. Will have to find another one before we return. 😠
Not a brilliant dinner in the Horizon Restaurant tonight but we should have gone to the Meridian, where you get service.
Good sunset but get to bed early, we don’t bother going to the show tonight, it has been a long day, now renamed Q day.
Sunday 17 January – sea day
Wake by about 5:30 which isn’t bad bearing in mind we are 4 hours behind the UK. Calm seas, breaking up cloud as we pass St Lucia on the left and then Martinique & Dominica on the right. We will be stopping at Dominica on the way back.
Breakfast in the Peninsular restaurant just after 8 and it is relatively quiet. By 9 people are queuing to get in. Library visit followed by, for Sally, a Cookery demonstration whilst I catch up with blog. Not a particularly well stocked Library after our experiences on the last two ships.
Britannia is the biggest ship have been on so familiarisation is the order of the rest of the day interspersed with port talks on Antingua, Sint Maarten/Saint Martin and Tortola.
For Dinner, we decide to opt for the Limelight for a small supplement. A throw back to the 1970s supper and entertainment but nicely done with a Morecombe & Wise tribute act as the entertainment. They both looked the part and in many cases, the voices were not too dissimilar but it demonstrates how comedy has moved on over the years. Yes, they are funny but somehow it wouldn’t necessarily command a big paying audience nowadays.
Food good and although we didn’t sample it, the special wine was from the Wiston Estate, near Steyning where we lived all those years ago.
Monday 18 January – Antigua
Our 2nd visit in 9 months and as we had seen the sights last time, opted for a leisurely walk around St John’s, the capital and some internet access at the Ice Cream shop.
First stop was the Cathedral of St John the Divine, which is in the course of restoration. I think we managed to tag on to a tour as it is more than likely the church is not normally open.
Inside, the cathedral looks clean but with much work still to be done. Only some pews in situ but we are told the floor is new and just waiting for some finishing touches to it before flooring and pews can be inserted.
I think I gathered that the destruction was caused by termites but certainly although the roof was said to be finished there is a lot of work still required on the outside.
Next stop, downhill, is the museum which is small and has a good account of the history of the island and houses, outside, a couple of Diesel engines that used to be used in the sugar plantations.
Some very intricate carvings into clay and rock were amongst the exhibits.
Back to ship managing to avoid the various potholes in the pavements and expecting to be able to watch Watford’s game at Swansea but the Satelite is turned off so not able to pick up the result until after dinner, they lost!😟
A walk out to the town after lunch for more internet connection near the main souvenir shops.
After dinner, the Headliners (the entertainment group of 13 energetic youngsters) gave their usual energetic song and dance routine but this time with a very elaborate LED 3D show as a back drop.
Much better show than we had experienced previously on the P & O ships. Next stop Sint Marten & Saint Martin – see you there in a day or two’s time.