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Transatlantic Part 4

Our final sea day was cold but sunny so lots of indoor activities. My fifth time in the Bay of Biscay and smooth once again. I’ve been very lucky.

The other day we all had a note slipped under the door about some Covid cases on board – crew and passengers, so masks have been mandatory since then. Princess has not fared well with Covid and the associated negative publicity, but Captain Stenzel seems to have contained things on the quarantine floor.

A little bit more about my friends Randy and Lori. Everything they own is in their cabin. Eight years ago, after working for 16 years as teachers in Japan, they decided to sell everything – clothes, furniture, fridge magnets – the lot. Since then they’ve lived out of a ruck sack each and a carry on between them.

Randy’s rucksack has a 30 litre capacity and Lori’s is just 20 litres. These are not big rucksacks. If they buy a new item of clothing, something has to go. I’ve found their lifestyle fascinating and there’s something to admire about their uncluttered life. As an avid collector of “stuff”, I’m sure I could learn a thing or two from them. Good people, and I hope to stay in contact.

I took part in the final bingo and it will go down as an hour of my life that I’ll never get back again. I sat with my friends, Barry and Deb from Sacramento, who showed me the ropes. I’d opted for the electronic iPad method of marking numbers on 36 cards, which is done automatically. I was two away from the grand prize however I suspect many of the 56 players were in the same position or better. The technology was excellent but it was still bingo causing me to consider what my life had become.

I did however play in the poker cash game in the evening. The table seats 10 players and it’s all electronic. To see the cards you hold your hands over them and press “show cards”. No dealer and no mistakes, although there are time limits for decisions. After spending hours watching the World Series of Poker, I felt educated enough to take on ship passengers. I was wrong. I should stick to Scrabble.

Day 15 – Cherbourg

We docked early in a rather unappealing 50 degrees with grey skies and a rather chilly breeze. Some folks were on an early tour to Paris 187 miles away. Others had a shorter 2.5 hour tour to the Normandy beaches.

I considered staying on board to enjoy the ship felicities. You’d pay a lot of money to have a cruise ship to yourself. But “magnet lure” got the better of me and I took a stroll around town which was only a 20 minute walk away. It was nice to walk amongst the Frenchies on a Saturday morning. I bought some shorts. They’d cunningly made the 7 look like a 1 on the piece tag and by the time I realised, I’d already tried them on and admired their snug fit.

Whilst I was only doing the 15 day cruise to Southampton, almost 1,000 guests were staying on to do the British Isles on the full 23 days. I’ve told them that it ain’t gonna get any warmer in places like Glasgow.

All those staying on have been given another Covid test in the last day or so and there were a number who tested positive. What started as a small outbreak with guests and crew has increased. This morning instead of walking the deck in temperatures that don’t accord with my sensibilities, I decided to walk the inside passenger decks and count the number of Covid cases. Those testing positive have a small table outside of their staterooms – a bit like the mark of the plague.

Food is delivered to them on these tables and they have to stay in the cabins. I walked 5 inside decks and counted 54 rooms, most with double occupancy, with tables. These would-be British Isles cruisers, are no longer able to see the delights of Belfast and Glasgow and other such places. They will be disembarked and put up in hotels before going back to the US or wherever they are from. I heard about one couple, travelling with other people, who will put up at the Radison at Heathrow for 10 days while the rest of their party tour the British Isles. I’m not sure who is paying for the hotel expenses.

The good news is that my early morning deck roaming yielded 5,000 steps. Every cloud…Both weeks on the ship I’ve managed over 85,000 steps which is good going.

I took part in the last trivia events with Jack and Robert from North Carolina. I’ve grown fond of these guys and again, I hope to stay in contact. They’ve been together for 35 years. We didn’t win.

Cherbourg to Southampton is only 60 miles so the last overnight leg was at a leisurely pace. It’s been a good cruise and I’ve met some nice people along the way. Simon has offered to pick me up which is mighty nice of him. Oh, and I’ve been awarded a free cruise by the casino.

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