Friday, August 23, 2013

Cruising the North Sea and the UK Coast - Day 2

While the forecast for the last few days kept fluctuating between rain and clear skies we are very fortunate today. We woke to beautiful blue skies and... SUN! We are very lucky. I imagine the pool area will be buzzing this afternoon. In addition to the wonderful weather I was also blessed with (finally!) a good night's sleep.

Brilliant Sunshine
Well rested and ready for the day, I took some photos of the England coastline from the balcony before showering and getting ready for breakfast. It was a bit windy outside but otherwise glorious. We have a full sea day today. Tomorrow morning the ship will dock outside of Edinburgh for a 2 day visit.

After my relaxing shower and checking email (wifi worked fine) it was time to go down to the Lido for breakfast. This room is canary yellow and very cheerful looking, but almost over-powering.  I am probably in the minority as I really don't like yellow. I forgot all about the room decor when I noticed the large oval plates at the front of the buffet. I almost burst out laughing as these are quite funny! I guess Princess assumes the average person wants to pile on the food. However, as I abhor trays the large oval plates worked wonderfully.

We both found items we liked and had no difficulty selecting a table. My mother was approached again (same person as at dinner last night) by a crew member asking if she wanted to purchase a wine card. She declined last night and this time said, "what don't you understand about no, no and no?" I guess he got the message because she was never asked again! I know he was just doing his job but it can be a bit obtrusive when you are trying to enjoy yourself and keep getting pestered to buy something.

There must have been a lot of sleepy heads on board as we enjoyed the quiet serenity of the Lido by ourselves while nibbling our salmon and fruit. When we were finished we walked through to the pool area. The teak flooring was sopping wet and I was surprised the crew wasn't mopping it up.

Wet Deck
We found a couple lounge chairs and relaxed while watching the swirling puddles slowly dissipate. The sun was strong even at this early hour so in a short time the floor would probably be completely dry.

When I checked the Princess Patter last night for today's activities I unfortunately didn't find anything of interest.  Princess offers no lectures or enrichment on this cruise with the exception of some port presentations. There is an Edinburgh presentation at 10:00 am which I will attend. My mother has opted to skip it though.

We both have spa appointments this morning. I am having my hair colored at 11:00 am and my mother is having a pedicure at 10:15 am. These are the only activities (besides eating) we have planned for the entire day. We have been moving around nonstop since we landed in the UK, so we are grateful to be taking it easy today.

It was soon time for my mother's spa appointment and I had to make my way to the theatre for the Edinburgh talk. We left the pool area and went our separate ways. The ship seemed so quiet as I walked toward the Cabaret Lounge.

Heading toward the Cabaret Lounge
I brought my camera and camcorder with me this morning. With no one around to annoy it was easy to take photos and do some video recording. Eventually I will edit the videos and post them to the blog.

There were about 60 people in the theater for the Edinburgh discussion. I chose to sit in the back since I would not be staying for the duration.

Edinburgh Presentation

Quiet in the back
The woman speaker had a very pleasant voice and presentation style. However, she incorrectly said that you cannot use Scottish pounds in other parts of the UK. That is incorrect. We had no problem using them during our overnight stay in England.

The speaker discussed the transportation options from Rosyth, where the ship will dock, and how to get to Edinburgh. A free shuttle bus is required to get from the ship to the port entrance. From there you can take a taxi, another bus, a train or other private transportation to Edinburgh. We will be taking the train on our own so this info was minimally helpful. She did provide fare estimates for a taxi, bus and the train. The audience seemed very appreciative.

Items also discussed included the sightseeing bus, shopping, historic sites to visit and using taxis and public transportation.
Edinburgh Map
The overview was well done and it was nice that there was no hard sell about where to shop or what to buy. I had done a lot of research online of what to do in Edinburgh during our two days there. I have 2 guidebooks with me so I am all set. The talk was more reassuring than informative for me but probably helpful to others.

It was soon time for my hair appointment so I departed the talk prior to its completion. I love how small the ship is and it only took a few minutes to walk up the stairs to Deck 9 where the spa is located.

Hair Salon
The salon was empty and I was quickly escorted to the light filled room with a comfy chair facing the ocean. I confirmed my request for a double pigment #4 with my stylist Leoni and she quickly got to work on my tresses. Leoni is from Ireland, outside of Belfast and has been on the ship for 3 months. She told me she is very much looking forward to leaving the colder weather in the UK and heading for the Med and then the Middle East. She has wanted to visit Dubai for a long time.

We had some fun discussing the British names for hair related items like flossing (color) and fringe (bangs). It was then 30 minutes of "resting' before the color was washed out.

Smooth seas while during my hair treatment
It was $70 for the color treatment which is around what I pay at home. I opted not to have a cut or blow dry. She did comb it out and gave it a good towel dry so I was presentable to walk back to my room to style it myself.

I took the stairs again, 2 levels down to our room.

Stairs are very easy to access the other decks
Back at the room, I had the all too familiar scene of my mother resting on the bed and watching TV. She said her pedicure was excellent and even better than at home. I checked the TV to see the ship's current position. We are still along the English coast and will arrive in Scotland later tonight.

Ocean Princess position in the North Sea
After my blow dry and sitting on the balcony for 20 minutes we were starting to get hungry. It was back to the Lido again to see what was for lunch.

This time the Lido was extremely busy! There tons of people all over the place. Okay this may be a bit of an exaggeration as there are only 672 passengers on the ship. However, it seemed very crowded and it was nearly impossible to find an empty table.

Yellow everywhere!
We persevered and it was certainly worth waiting a few minutes for seats as the selection on the buffet was one of the best we have seen. They had an entire area of sushi and sashimi near the rear of the room. They also had decorations too and it was quite festive.

Fabulous Sushi and Sashimi
The quality, variety and presentation of the Sushi and Sashimi was excellent. The rice was very tasty and almost at a perfect temperature considering it is sitting out on a large table. They had 3 different types of soy sauce and good quality ginger. They even had daikon. Can you tell I am excited?! We were very impressed with the sushi.

We also tried a couple other items and they were equally good. I loved the sandwich selections and that they were individually wrapped and labeled. So far the cruise is going great!

My selection was excellent!
The Ocean Princess also had an extensive Chocolate Buffet. However, as a chocolate aficionado, there wasn't much "real" chocolate in the ones I tasted.

Chocolate Desserts
After lunch we went out by the pool and lounged in the brilliant sun. I read one of my guidebooks while mother dozed. They were playing music but it was soothing and not too loud. Some people were in the pool but most of the passengers were spread out on the lounge chairs enjoying the smooth seas and sunny skies along the countryside.

The floor is completely dry now
While it was really relaxing doing nothing, I was still wishing there were lectures or speakers on board. Nonetheless, I tried to convince myself that perhaps with the intensity of the next 2 two days it is best to appreciate our quiet time. As we cruised north it was getting  a bit more cloudy.  After a few hours as gray skies were taking over we went back to the room and I charged my devices again and read for awhile.

Tonight we are eating in the main Dining Room. We like having our own table for 2 near the front of the dining room. So far this is working out very well. Tonight is the Welcome Dinner so the food is supposed to be a little more "special".

We arrived at the entrance to the Dining Room and the Maitre'd and head waiter were there to greet the passengers.

We went straight to our assigned table and our waiters Joel and Budi swiftly produced the menus and asked if we wanted any wine. My mother did order a glass of Reisling but luckily wasn't asked about the wine card again.

For me, the menu was not that impressive and I struggled to find something to order. I ended up with Onion Soup, a salad and the Fish.

The soup was okay but the cheese wasn't baked enouugh on top and the broth was sort of bland. The dining room was very lively though and we enjoyed seeing the other passengers having a good time.

Our salads came and were crisp and fresh.

When our main dishes were served I was happy my fish had a bit of a kick and was quite tasty. I sometimes wonder if I should travel with my own mini spice rack since I like more seasoning that what is normally included in the average cruise fare. The potato was crunchy and more similar to pommes frites. I was very happy with the main course.

We both had dessert and then debated going to the theater.

Ice Cream is a little less melted than last night
We ended up taking a walk around the deck 5 shops instead.  It seemed that most people were eating or at the show.

Deck 5 near the shops
Also located on Deck 5 is the main staircase. On the R Class ships this staircase is very classy and in the style of the iconic one on Titanic.

Iconic Staircase
Since we are getting off the ship at dawn tomorrow morning we made it an early night and headed back to the room. Virgil had piled up my extra pillows on my bed. I perused the copy of the Princess Patter with information for Edinburgh and called it a night.

It was a very nice sunset as we went to bed.

No comments:

Post a Comment