Astoria - Amsterdam & Antwerp Weekend
Sailaway was 5pm but we were over twenty minutes late.  It wasn't too bad since the weather was glorious again, we watched two things loaded into the cargo hold and the horn blew!  Andrew and Donna Cooke had been on the bridge for a private sailaway party and said the Captain only blew the whistle because the pilot told him every ship does as the pass Centraal Station.  Sergio went to dinner happy while I stayed out a bit longer with David.  Due to our delayed departure, we missed the lock slot so had to wait.  By the time second sitting started at 8.15pm, we still hadn't entered it.  Service at dinner was better than the night before except when Lesley's bottle of wine arrived, there was less in it.  She'd only had one glass.  In the end they gave her a complimentary bottle of house wine.  Afterwards, I went with Lesley and Stephen to the show lounge for the show ABBA - Dancing Queen, which was just singing the songs with backing dancers.  The drummer and guitarist seemed to be enjoying it though.  The waiters standing behind us were ordered to go and serve people.  Afterwards, I went for deck photos.  It was pretty windy but nice to see her lit up.
Antwerp!  The only time I had been here there had been snow and I had the wrong shoes so I was looking forward to this visit.  I had intended to see our arrival but lack of sleep finally caught up with me so I didn't rise until after twelve.  They put an interim onboard account statement under the door which is unusual during a short cruise.  So lunch and I went to the Olissipo Restaurant.  Salad was in the Steak House part and you could order off the menu as well.  Due to an medical issue, I wasn't able to walk as far as I'd have liked. We were berthed a little further down because they were repairing the gangway meaning it was quite a trek.  I noticed above the name on the bow, you could make out Vultur Prima from her illustrious past.  After reboarding, I saw the Scottish couple in the buffet having afternoon tea so I got some sandwiches.  They told me they went to the buffet for breakfast and dinner after the terrible first night in the restaurant, but food was generally cold or frozen.  A bit later I saw Andrew and Donna Cooke in the buffet.  Mutual Facebook friend, Sebastian Peeters was visiting the ship.  Because we arrived for 10am instead of 9am, we sailed half an hour later at 6.30pm.  It was a glorious sunset sailaway as we were turned by a tug.  No blowing the horn though.  I'd arranged to look at Andrew and Donna's upgraded cabin so, after waiting fifteen minutes for my drink, took it with me.  Last dinner then I saw a bit of the Rock & Roll Dreams show in the show lounge.  Case out by 11pm with the pink luggage label for coach transfer then bed.
And so back where we started and sunrise as we sailed up the Thames.  We had sailed out with the sun behind and were arriving the same way.  We were docking at 8am, first disembarkation with tags was 9am yet had to be out of the cabin by 7.30am.  Crazy!  Breakfast was in the restaurant where I shared a table with Sergio and a couple before sitting with the Scottish couple as we waited for our colour to be called, which was the penultimate one.
Disembarkation was just after 9am instead of 10.10am.  As I was leaving, my cruise card flagged red instead of green and I was told to go to Reception.  It turned out to be some sort of mistake and I was allowed to leave.  You went out via the main building and the coach was waiting.  Very smooth return to Victoria Coach Station around 10.20am, passing Billingsgate Market and the entrance to the Tower of London.  Astoria has become a new favourite and it was a shame to leave.  It's wonderful these grand old ladies are around to give us a choice in Europe.  Overall, I really enjoyed my cruise on Astoria but some aspects of service could be improved.

To see photos
of Astoria as Athena, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 9th-12th March 2017
Not to be reproduced without permission