Archive for the ‘P&O’ Category


Well, 2020 wasn’t the kind of year anybody had been expecting was it. Just like most people, Me and Mrs Me, had so many plans for 2020. Just like most people, hardly any of the plans came to fruition: I particular the two cruises we had booked, one in March, from the Caribbean back to the UK (a repeat of the March 2019 cruise) and one in August to the Fiords. We also had another cruise in March 2021, from the Caribbean back to the UK. One by one, the cruises were cancelled due to Covid. Hopefully, we’ll get back normal in 2021 / 2022.

There was however somewhat of an upside to this new way of ‘life under Covid’ whereby Me and Mrs Me discovered a website for virtual walks and rides. Using this facility (myvirtualmission.com) we were able to complete two virtual walks, Hadrian’s Wall and the Inca Trail, without travelling outside of the boundaries of Sleepy Hungerford. In addition, I (His Podgeness) was able to cycle, again in a virtual world, Lands End to John O’Groats and The great Ocean Road. In total, Me and Mrs Me walked 142 miles and His Podgeness cycled 1,255 miles. Having now been bitten by the virtual bug we now plan to [virtually] walk The Ring of Kerry walking 124 miles through the mystical Iveragh Peninsula in Ireland followed by The Mount Fuji Virtual Challenge of just 46 miles after which, we’ll see what we can do next. For my part, I plan to [virtually] cycle Route 66 (2280 miles across the USA) and St Francis Way (312 miles from Florence to the Vatican). Why virtual you may ask! well, Podge’s COPD is now rated as severe with overlapping Chronic Asthma with a lung effectiveness of just 44%: Even walking round Hungerford can be a struggle and the virtual rides on a static bike mean I can stop whenever I want / need to. Poor Podge.

I, His Podgeness, also planned to escape Obesity during 2020. Well, I’m here to tell you that [despite all the exercise] Podge did no such thing. Despite walking 142 miles and cycling 1255 miles, and not going on any cruises, Podge is still Podge. Poor Podge. Podge really needs to get Podgeless.

The Dietary Habits of a Cruise Ship Passengers

I wrote this while on a long-ago cruise: Ahhh, happy days.

So, when at home my daily dietary habits include:

  • Breakfast
    • Porridge or cereal
  • Lunch
    • Sandwich, maybe an omelet
  • Dinner
    • In the hands of Mrs. Me there I’m afraid.

Obviously along the way there may be a few drinks involved, a couple of glasses of wine, a couple of glasses of whiskey and of course coffee / tea and yes, even water. And this, along with occasional biscuit, cake, crisps etc. does me quite adequately for any day of the week. So why is it that as soon as I and, I suspect many other people, throw caution to the wind; discard common sense ignore what one’s body is saying and devour anything on offer.

When on a cruise ship however my dietary habits change and might typically include:

  • Breakfast
    • Porridge (maybe), fried eggs, bacon, sausage(s), beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, fried bread, and [sometimes] black pudding, followed by toast and jam and a plate of fruit.
  • Lunch
    • Fish & chips, or curry and chips, or pie and chips plus a chocolate desert and maybe some fruit and a pint of lager
  • Tea
    • Sandwiches (small and various) plus a small cake and a glass of Rosé
  • Fivesie’s
    • Large gin & tonic plus a bowl of nibbles and maybe another gin & tonic
  • Dinner
    • Starter) Prawn Cocktail, Foie Gras or melon:
    • Main Course) Chicken or salmon or steak, with chips, maybe some peas;
    • Desert) whatever is on offer but normally includes cream / custard or, if I’m feeling a little too plump by this time of day, a sorbet.
    • All accompanied by wine and whiskey.
  • After Dinner
    • Retire to see a show or listen to a band to enjoy a couple of glasses of wine / champagne / prosecco / or whiskey.

Obviously along the way there may be a few drinks involved, a couple of glasses of wine, a couple of glasses of whiskey and of course coffee / tea and yes, even water, but, no occasional biscuit, cake, crisps etc. I’m not a pig you know.

I like Whiskey; I like Wine; I just can’t make up my mind which to have; So, I have them both 🙂

Now, taking all this into account, is it really the case that salt water (in abundance on a sea cruise) truly shrinks out clothes or can the be another explanation. Also, in my case at least, adding insult to injury, even my feet need bigger shoes when I go cruising: How on earth does that happen? Does the salt water affect shoes as well?

I leave these thought for pondering.

Navigare Necesse Est

#38 Part 1

Picture this if you will. Having arisen early (06:30), His Podgeness and The Duchess check in at the airport by 08:30, for our 10:55 flight, and were in the airport lounge enjoying breakfast relaxed in the knowledge that we easily had 2 hours to relax. His Podgeness, out of idle curiosity checked the boarding cards, at 09:05 to see if there was any gate details. It was then that he noticed that the gates open at 09:10 and close at 09:35 before takeoff at 09:55, NOT 10:55. 🥴

So, so glad I checked the card otherwise we’d have still been in the lounge as our plane was taking off (thus missing a trip 18 months in the planning) and His Podgeness would have got a good kicking from The Duchess. 🥵

And here starts yet another adventure of Podge (His Podgeness) & Tubbs (The Duchess).

Well, they visit Dubrovnik…

One of the many benefits of cruising is that one gets the chance to see so many friends, as yet unmet: One also get the chance to see friends have already met, such as one the bartenders from a previous cruise who had already advised the staff minding the Champagne Bar that Podge & Tubbs had claimed as their haunt for this cruise, that Podge had a penchant for Laphroaig while Tubbs liked Bombay Sapphire. But that’s a by the by.

It is always fascinating to meet new friends, and so it was for Podge & Tubbs, especially on this cruise as approximately 50% of the passengers were virgins and Podge & Tubbs are always willing to shine a guiding light for virgins and advise on what’s best, what’s good, what’s not so good: Obviously such views were subjective, which they were always keen to point out. The virgins are of course first time cruisers.

On the eve of the cruise, their table companions for the evening were virgins and they were keen to hear about Dubrovnik as Podge & Tubbs had already been there before. The companions were particularly keen to know if there was far to walk to get to the town. Oh don’t worry about said Podge. The boat parks just outside of the harbour and it’s just a short tender ride direct into town.

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These pictures were taken in 2005 with a very tired camera showing the boats ‘parked’ just outside the port and a shot of the port itself from where the gate to the town is passed through.

Given the obvious frailty of a couple of the virgins, Podge & Tubbs felt good being able to tell them that all they would have to do was get onto the tender from the ship and straight across into the two harbour and town gates. If there was a better way of arriving in Dubrovnik, nobody knew.

At the end of what had been a fine evening both Podge & Tubbs retired to their quarters, Tubbs went to bed, Podge went to the balcony for one more nightcap before retiring himself.

The Boat’s Going The Wrong Way

Come early Morning, Podge, feeling groggy from his breathing but with significant improvement, got yup and made himself his early morning coffee and went out to the balcony to watch as they sailed into the port / harbour of Dubrovnik. But wait, thinks Podge, “where are we going” as he watched the Oceana sail past the old harbour and continued onwards until eventually turning to starboard, again and again and entering into what transpired to be a Cruise Terminal. Podge checked his location on Google Maps (below) and found they were parking some distance away. The information they had given to the virgins had been incorrect. The trip into town would have to be by bus. “Bugger” thought Podge. “Think I’ll lie low for a while” he mused.

Dubrovnik

The Cruise Terminal did not in any way reflect the old town that Podge & Tubbs remembered.

The Duchess was double unhappy!

Their extensive investigations and research indicated that the trip into town via the shuttle bus was around 20 minutes so they had no need to rush. And rush they didn’t. They did in fact just about make breakfast before it was shut and reopened for Brunch. Now as it happens, Brunch is almost exactly the same as Breakfast from Podge’s perspective, so he wasn’t worried anyway.

Eventually, with hunger sated, they gathered the necessary paraphernalia for a shore trip: Inhaler(s), drugs (all legal), camera, Kangaroo Poo Baseball cap for Podge, pink handbag for The Duchess and of course wallet / purse. All loaded up they joined the next available shuttle bus and set off for the town of Dubrovnik.

As soon as the arrived, their first port of call was to be ATM: Podge always likes to extract money from an ATM at every port. Nobody knows why, not even Podge: He doesn’t even keep the receipts as mementos. One can only assume that the oxygen starvation from Codgers Old Puffing Disease )Poor Podge) causes him to do irrational things. Who knows, but that’s what he does and that’s what he did this time. Unfortunately, The Duchess saw how much he had withdrawn and made a mental note for calculations during their time in town.

Money sourced, camera at the ready, cap on, wallet secured, on the opposite side to The Duchess, Podge led the way down into the town.

Might get some sweets

Coming into the Old Town from the other end was alien to Podge & Tubbs and it took them a while to get their bearings but heading down what Podge termed as the main drag, they soon enough came to the gateway to the harbour. At leat, they knew where they were. But, the walk had taken its toll on Poor Podge. Podge was struggling. Podge needed to rest but he also wanted to see around the harbour. They slowed down, stopping every few steps to admire the view as they slowly worked their way round the harbour past the Aquarium and out to the lighthouse. Here were some convenient seats to rest and allow Podge the get his breath back before they headed back to the the town centre to find a nice bar for a nice glass of local beer, just don’t ask Podge what the beer was. He can’t remember. He just knew that as he sat there enjoying his beer, that the Duchess, while enjoying her G&T , was calculating. Calculating how much had been drawn out against how much the drinks were (no food was to be allowed) so that the scale of future purchases could be calculated. Quietly, The Duchess worked out the exchange rate and was dismayed when she realised the 500 Croatian things was not much more than £50 . Bah, thinks Tubbs (the Duchess has regressed), might get some sweets but that’s about it.

Maybe not that many sweets

“Do you fancy another?” asks Podge. Humph thinks Tubbs, then thought ‘why not’. ‘OK” she says, “Just one more” she said emphatically. Podge made a mental note of the emphasis on ‘Just one more’. ‘Uh oh’ he thinks. ‘maybe should have drawn out more money. ‘Old Scrooge’ thinks Tubbs. ‘Well there maybe not that many sweets to be sourced but what will be, will be my choice’ mused Tubbs.

Eventually, their thirst was sated, Podge realising he wasn’t going to get away with a third one so up they got and away they went. Slowly, and slowly was the operative word here, Tubbs, trailed by Podge, made their way back towards the pick up zone all the time looking out for what could be purchase with what meagre funds remained. Eventually, Tubbs espied what she had been looking for and in they went.They both gazed around in wonder at the array of sweets and biskwits, sorry, biscuits. They so wanted to spend their money, what money was left that is, but they were stuck behind a bunch of, as Podge put it, ‘Squeaky Squealing Schoolgirl Grockles”who giggled and squeaked every-time they picked up an item looked at it and then put it back. After what seemed an interminably long time, they finally settled for a single small chocolate bar that smaller than a small bar that serves no purpose at all. Well, that’s what Podge reckoned anyway.

Eventually, it was their turn and they chose this and they chose that and they put back this and selected those, and put back those and select them and repeated. Eventually with some glee and air of arrogance, Podge announced that he did have some secret money so they could if Tubbs so desired, have this, that, those and them and they could event have a new fridge magnet. Tubbs was happy: Tubbs loved Podge and so Podge was happy and let’s face it, we all know that Podge loves Tubbs. Happy Podge. But, his breathing was still bad, if not a little worserer (Podge speak) and was by now struggling so the next port of call (get the nautical term?) was to be the coach pick up point and the trip back to where the boat was parked (another nautical term) and Podge just collapsed into his seat on the bus. Poor Podge.

Back on the boat at last, Tubbs knew that Podge just needed to rest so she made him sit down on the balcony where he could relax, enjoy the fresh air and have ‘small’ G&T or a chilled Chablis or maybe a beer (it was too early for Whiskey / Whisky). Naturally, he wasn’t going to be alone and soon enough Tubbs was with him with a nice G&T, Podge had opted for the same, and together they sat and relaxed.

And so, as the afternoon meandered slowly towards evening, His Podgeness and The Duchess sat and relaxed and watched as the boat untied all its strings and gently pushed away from its parking spot and head course back to the Adriatic Sea and turning right to head for Venice.

And, as the Oceana meandered her way Venice’wards (Podge speak), Podge checked out his photos. Today he had elected to take just Canon 5D with 40mm Pancake (making his digital SLR a point a shoot camera) so was interested to see how the pictures turned out. Podge was reasonably happy with the results.

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Having left Florence (from Livorno), Podge and Tubbs were now looking forward to another much anticipated stop – Naples. Not so much because they wanted to visit Naples (they really didn’t)  but more because the Duchess wanted, so much, to take a drive along the Amalfi Coast.

His Podgeness loved The Duchess so much that he explored all possibilities.

  • Option 1) – He could for instance hire a little 2-seater sports car (Maserati GranTurismo sprang to mind) and they could drive the coast by themselves with the warm Italian air rushing by, scarves blowing in the wind and some appropriate music playing in the background. But let’s be honest, the chance of either Podge or Tubbs finding their way along the coast and back in time for the ship to leave was too great to consider. Anyway, the GranTurismo had a roof: That just wouldn’t do. And it was expensive😦
  • Option 2) – He could perhaps arrange for a driver to take them along the coast in a nice drop top again with wind and scarves blowing and music playing. But when he explored deeper, he found the cost was rather more than his teeny weeny wallet could cover and so that idea was dropped
  • Option 3) – Hire a helicopter and fly along the coast! That’s just silly and Podge did of course realise that straight away and discounted it immediately. But the idea has been retained for future visits.
  • Option 4) – Hire two Vespa Scooters and simply ride along the coast at leisure cutting through any traffic that may get in the way, stop to admire views, stop to buy an Italian Gelato, yada yada. The idea sounded good but The Duchess couldn’t ride a scooter to save her life and, she wouldn’t allow Podge to ride one, given his track record on bikes and, they’d probably get lost anyway.
  • Option 5) – Book a P&O excursion in a coach and let them worry about it all: A much safer option… So, that’s what they did.

Option 5 proved to be the best option by far.

This options allowed Podge & Tubbs to enjoy a leisurely drive along the Amalfi Coast, the most famous drive in all of Italy. This gave the added benefit of allowing Podge to relax and continue to get his breathing under control: It was getting better but still wasn’t right but, it was not going to stop Podge enjoy the day.

The trip took them high into the mountains overlooking the Amalfi Coast stopping on the way in Sorrento.  After a quick visit to see some marquetry furniture being made, which, they declared,  was truly something to behold, they we’re set free to wonder at will through the lovely, almost romantic streets and of course the rather imposing Duomo.  Both Podge & Tubbs felt that this town was an absolute delight to discover.

As lunch time drew closer, Podge & Tubbs made their way back to the place from where they had been released after which the whole group was taken to a lovely little restaurant for an Italian style lunch accompanied by wine. The lunch was spinach and ricotta cannelloni with Mixed Salad and yes, believe it or not, Podge ate the lot. Naturally Podge also made rather an impression on the wine stock but fortunately the table next to them noticed their (Podge’s) love for the wine and being teetotal, gave him theirs.

Soon enough and, and not soon enough for Tubbs who was by now worrying about the bladder capacity of Podge, it was time to leave for the coach and the amazing Amalfi drive to guess where? That’s right, Amalfi. Naturally Podge had to make two slight detours on the way to the coach but once aboard, he was nice and comfortable, and very mellow.

Amalfi

The drive to Amalfi was underway and all too soon, Podge realised that for them, the Coach really was the only option: There really was no way Podge and Tubbs could have done this alone. The roads were narrow, especially for a coach and there were lots of coaches, and local buses doing the same trip in either direction. But the views were something else. NOTE: some of the pics below were taken from inside the coach so may be a little fuzzy.

It should be said that there was in fact an organised guided walk to learn of the history and architecture of this quaint town and to get an understanding of the history of the Cathedral of St Andrea and a chance to admire the Moorish and Gothic architecture. Podge however took one look at all the steps and ruled the tour out altogether. so, once in town, Podge & Tubbs were once more free to explore, so what did they do? They found a a little shop that sold Limoncellohaving tasted of course some before hand and found that it was good and so bought some. Next stop was the inevitable fridge magnet and tourist book before finding a little bar to rest and await the return drive back to the ship which again was along the mountain road before taking the motorway back to Naples and the ship.

Back on board, it was time for His Podgeness and The Duchess to head for their fivesies which inevitable because sixies before getting ready for the evening meal and finally returning to their cabin for a relaxing drink or three before giving into the need for sleep. Tomorrow was to be relaxing day as it was a sea day so all they had to do was relax for the whole day and for Podge to gather his strength.

The highlight of the day was to be passing through the Straight of Messina, trouble is, it was at 06:00 but this did’t bother Podge: He liked getting up early and moving to the balcony for his early morning coffee and fresh sea air. Trouble is, the weather wasn’t that good so the pictures were less than inspiring, a bit like the Straight thinks Podge.

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The rest of the day was just one long lovely day of relaxation as they sailed towards Dubrovnik, a great favourite of Podge & Tubbs. And so Podge just relaxed and concentrated on his breathing.

Poor Podge.