We had only booked this cruise on a morning in mid November as we were about to leave home for our Fred Olsen mystery cruise ( see previous blogs) and it was such a good deal that we couldn't turn it down we only paid .......... No, I'm sorry I can't divulge that.
So come the Friday before we left, we decided to book a hotel for the Sunday night, so that we did not have to fight the M25 / M3 etc. in the Monday morning rush hour. Plus there had been a few accidents on the A12 last week, closing it for a time.
I first looked at the Premier Inn, which was £78 for the night, but you had to park away from the hotel ( not sure where).
I then looked at the Grand Harbour Hotel ( ex De Vere ) a hotel we had not stayed in since 2010, and they had a winter warmer deal, of bed, breakfast and evening meal for £99 for the two of us, so a bit of a no brainer.
So after a very pleasant, non rushed drive down on Sunday afternoon, we arrived at the hotel. A point to note if you travel on the north section of the M25, it seems they have installed speed cameras along the whole north section, and very busy they were too, as all you saw were continual flashes from the cameras, so you have been warned 😀
Arriving at the hotel, we found out that we had been upgraded to a king delux room, so a pleasant surprise to the start of the cruise. The new owners have spent £4M on a refurbishment so it was all very tidy, and the food was good as well. Our room had a balcony facing the Ocean Terminal, so we watched the Saga Sapphire depart on Sunday, and when we rose on Monday, she had been replaced by Oceana.
We left the hotel at 11am for the very short drive, and were on board by 1140. It's the first time we have been to the Ocean Terminal since they completed the road works at the entrance, and the right turn into the entrance of the terminal, instead of the one way system is a great improvement.
The sail away on deck was well attended, even though there was a chill in the air.
So here we are on the first of two sea days as we make our way south to our first port of Lisbon, our entertainment tonight is a comedian called Jeff Stevenson. Regular readers of my blog will know that I am a great fan of social media, and have been a Twitter follower of Jeff for quite a few years, but until now not managed to be on the same cruise ship as him.
So I look forward to his show tonight, and of course will report later on his show.
The begining of the second sea day saw us leave the BOB, and I have to say, it was very kind to us, calm seas and no rain. The weather has slowly improved the further south we have travelled, and we even managed to sit out on the prom deck this afternoon, but we did need our coats.
Back to last night, we ate in the Horizon Grill ( inside ) with excellent food, with special mention to the salt and pepper Tiger prawns, after which we saw the late show from Jeff. A consummate professional with good family entertainment.
Tonight (Wednesday) is the first formal night and the Captains welcome party, so I will need to scrub up and get the dicky bow out ( self tie of course 😜)
Tomorrow we dock in Lisbon, where we will just go ashore and have a wander and post this blog.
So until then, bye bye