Discovery - Oslo and the Magic of Norway
Back in March 2013, Rob O'Brien from Facebook said he had booked Discovery and asked if I could help him find a cabin mate.  Well, you know me and my lack of willpower, not to mention Oodles of insatiable curiosity....  The cruise was to Norway on the 25th August and not cheap but hey, she's an old lady whose sister is knackered so get on while she's around.  He added me to the booking.  I booked the Premier Inn in Harwich for the night before, having been there twice in 2009.  We got our cabin number, 5121, which is an inside twin M grade.  Would the upgrade fairy work her magic????  Well she hadn't by the time I set off to Harwich on the 24th August.  Rob had tried to get us an upgrade to G grade since the fare had dropped a LOT and was about what we were paying for an inside, but the US office wanted $3000 for an A or B, despite the fact they were still selling G online for about what we paid for out inside - sod off!  After crossing London by taxi and sitting on chewing gum (ban the bloody thing!), I made the 1pm train from Liverpool Street.  Rob had got the one ahead of me.  The last time I went to Harwich in 2009, it was direct.  Now Greater Anglia had the route and you had to change at Manningtree.  With one train per hour, no lift to help you get to other platforms with heavy luggage and five minutes for your connection, it would be a pain.  We passed the Olympic Park, which was preparing for the start of the Paralympics.  The carriages were cramped, unlike the wonderful space previously when National Express had the franchise.  I had help getting my case off the train from a lady the mother and daughter I'd been talking to knew then a man carried it to the platform for me.  The Harwich train was waiting and I JUST made it.  A couple from Kentucky had a lot of luggage, also heading for Discovery but would be travelling afterwards.  Rob was waiting at Harwich International, we got a taxi and headed to the hotel.  After a late lunch, jet lag caught up with him.
A beautiful Saturday morning, contrary to original weather reports saying rain until at least 3pm.  It had rained during the night, quite heavily at times, but was now cool but dry and sunny.  I popped out to see if Discovery was visible.  I had seen Vision of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas in 2009 but they were much bigger.  Yes she was and looked gorgeous!  After breakfast we went to the port and got told off for going to the fence for pictures.  Told we had to be wearing the luminous jackets, yet they didn't yell at some old woman who did the same thing.  Inside was packed as people were waiting for check in to open.  Thy have ship plaques on the wall, something Southampton ought to do!  Lots of lovely ones there but strangely Celebrity Constellation had two for inaugural calls.  How is that then?  Are they counting having added the Celebrity prefix as a new ship or did someone just forget?  There were two queues - newbies and returnees.  The newbie queue was shorter!  More waiting to then board, which we did as loads of people arrived.  The gangway is like walking a mile to the ship and even that had a queue.  Once we got onboard, we were escorted to our cabin.  How sweet!  Miss that little touch from Cunard.  It wasn't a bad room and the showerhead was detachable - result!  Our steward Tony had been on the ship since 2000.
Rob had the brilliant idea of taking a look at the other cabins before they became occupied so we went exploring around the ship, even finding an observation deck forward of 8 Deck, which looks like it's a crew entrance.  For an old and small ship, she has some good sized cabins.
Lunch would be finishing in the buffet at 2pm so we went for some before registering the credit card.  On the desk was a sign offering 12 hours of internet for £21 - wow!  I thought I was imagining it but it was true.  So cheap!  the bloke behind the desk asked if he could direct people to me who say it's very expensive.  Muster at 2.15pm was a thorough affair, including things the others have dropped in the yak and also having to put our life jackets on.  Then sailaway!  It was 3pm and pretty windy, though thankfully was still dry, though did take about twenty minutes to get off the side.  Once we turned the corner to head into open sea, the wind whipped up.  After the pilot was dropped, we gave three blasts on the whistle and continued on our way.  Inside by the bridge are port plaques, including, to my surprised, those from when she was Island Princess.  That's a really nice touch and I wish more would leave them since it's part of the ships' history.  On the Discovery side was one from the Port of Southampton, but no date.  High time we put it on them.

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© Patricia Dempsey 25th August-3rd September 2012
Not to be reproduced without permission