Marco Polo - Festive Dublin Party Cruise
A cheap deal for a pre-Christmas party cruise on Marco Polo to Dublin from the 16th-19th December 2018 was too much to resist.  A Voyager Inside Guarantee was booked, as well as the Future Inn in Bristol the night before, where I always stayed when in the city, due to the departure being 12.30pm on a Sunday with crap public transport.  We were allocated a Category 3 Superior Twin Inner 543 on Deck 7 near the stern, so uphill to bed!

A train to Bristol the day before and the weather was absolutely foul with cold winds and rain.  The train was on time though but there was a huge taxi queue at Temple Meads.  Due to roadworks and traffic, it took longer so the cost was over a tenner.  We were given room 311, which I'd had with my friend a month earlier.  I only left to get some takeaway from across the road at Cabot Circus and got soaked doing that.

An early start as we had to catch the 9.01 to Avonmouth.  The weather was at least dry.  Surprisingly, the ticket office at Bristol Temple Meads was open so I bought two singles to Avonmouth and we waited on platform 11.  The train was already there so the 0853 had to change platforms.  Information about taxis is ridiculously scarce.  I tried three, two of which were the same company using different names!  They had nothing before 10.30am, she said.  Another had no answer.  Fourth time lucky with Prestige Cars, who happily booked me for 9.30am.  There are no ticket machines along that branch line but you can buy a ticket from the guard.  Our taxi was waiting for us when we arrived and we drove to the port for a fixed £10 fare.

When we arrived, there were porters throwing cases into the back of a van for transfer to the ship.  There was a massive queue and Cruise.co people had check-in priority due to a conference.  Despite requesting assistance, none came.  We were still waiting when Red was called, which was our colour.  Mitch Rutter, the cruise director, returned, and gave me a hug.  Also saw Mark Barnardo, the future cruise sales and solo host from Astoria and got another hug.  Mitch checked us in, as well as some Cruise.co stragglers, security then on.  Lunch was when we were sailing so I went to the Captain's Club for a couple of cans of Coke and crisps.  The crisps were Dutch but the receipt said Walkers Steak and Onion.  Muster was late due to latecomers, including from Cruise.co.  No sooner had it finished than we were off ten minutes early!  It was quite mild.  Lunch in the restaurant afterwards then a drink in Scotts Bar.  The glass for the Grasshopper had shrunk but the price hadn't!  It was raining and getting a bit rocky.  We now had Spanish and Algerian Coke since boarding.  Time for a nap.  One thing I'll say about Marco Polo is, apart from the fabulous flushing toilet as opposed to a vacuum, when you put the aircon on high the cabin became lovely and warm.  Just what you need in winter.  I couldn't sleep so went to see Mark at the future cruise desk.  He'll be on Magellan in April for a month.  I'm hoping he'll be back on Astoria in August.  Someone asked him about a Columbus Club card so I asked about my points and he discovered it was only showing 10.  We tried to work out what they hadn't added but couldn't think.  He emailed the office and said he'd let me know.

We were hungry so went to the buffet at 6.30pm for a quick snackette until 8pm dinner.  We were on table 19, or 8, but only 4 others turned up.  They were travelling together (couple, father and grandfather) and tended to ignore us.  The father was the worst, having conversations with his son and son's girlfriend they'd have already had as he tried boasting about all the travelling they'd done and how rich they were, making sure no one could fail to hear.  Most of hers was through work but that didn't stop him.  For some reason, our waiter served the next courses to us regardless so we were gone just over an hour later.  I'll love him forever!  The sea was rougher and bags for sickie poos put out so we decided not to go to the show or Scotts.  The paid room service was doing well though.  The night was awful.  While I still love being thrown around on a ship, the motion caused so much pain in my back, knee and hernias and for the first time since getting the hernias, was terrified of falling off the bed so really struggled to settle.

Our arrival in Dublin was slightly earlier than the scheduled 8am.  Breakfast in the buffet after clearance then my dad went back to bed while I wandered around the ship.  It was a lovely day and so far, not raining.  Mark let me get a photo of him.  Lunch in the buffet.

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© Patricia Dempsey 15th-19th December 2018
Not to be reproduced without permission