Astoria - Weekend Summer Mini Cruise
After returning to Tilbury in March 2018 after another wonderful time onboard Astoria, I suffered terrible withdrawal symptoms so ended up booking the two night repositioning from Portsmouth to Hull on the 30th August 2019, getting the same solo cabin I'd had twice before, 406.  An email came on the 25th July saying my ticket was available for download.  That's new!  I liked that you still received it and luggage labels from them.  All this print off yourself uses far more paper so worse for the environment.

Early start to get to Portsmouth for the 5th cruise on my favourite ship.  My coach was at 11.55am, taking 50 minutes to get there.  I'd only booked a single as I had no idea what time the CMV coach would return on the 1st.  The coach was 20 minutes late, which was okay since my check-in time was 2.20pm.  My friend, Stephen Morton, met me as I arrived.  He was on the previous two night cruise as well, lucky sod.  My other friend Maureen had booked it about a week before and not only paid over £100 less with free coach (mine cost £40) but had an upgrade to an oceanview!  I wouldn't have minded an upgrade but do love 406 and its location next to the forward stairs.  I always book it when I travel on Astoria solo.  And with Maureen being in 421, it as just round the portside corner.  We could drop off our luggage but there were no signs telling us where.  It turned out to be quite a walk away from the terminal.

Mitch Rutter was the Cruise Director - yay!  I hadn't seen him since Marco Polo at Easter.  He's absolutely the best.  He said he would get Maureen and I to a check-in desk when the queue died down but everyone was joining it so his deputy Callum did it.  We went through to security but no scanners were in use so it was straight onto the shuttle bus to the ship.  Thankfully they had the airbridge so it was much easier to board.  Shortly afterwards apparently three coach loads from Hull turned up and were queuing out the door.  We went to lunch after dropping our stuff and sat on the aft deck.  It was such a gorgeous day.

The case turned up shortly before the 4.15pm muster, which is the longest I've ever had to wait for it since cruising with CMV.  It's always been there when I went to my cabin at Tilbury, Cardiff, Bristol and Poole.  Sailaway was 5pm but we went slightly early.  We had Captain Antonio Morais, who had been in commanded during my March 2018 and 2019 cruises when we ended up docking late on the last morning.  Dave Oates and Kim Viktor were there too.  ;We were followed by the ferry Cap Finistere, Independence of the Seas and Ventura before they all veered off in different directions, even though we were going to sail the same way as the cruise ships. Instead we went south for a bit west of the Nab Tower and they went east.  Dinner was at 8.15pm.  Stephen had got us on the same table, which also had Maureen, Stephen's friends Hugh and Stuart and someone else we never met before.  Afterwards, some of us went to the Welcome Aboard show, which was excellent.  Savannah Shepherd, a young Soprano, sang the Montserrat Caballé part of Barcelona with Freddie Mercury on the screen behind and was absolutely brilliant.  Then it was bed only I ended up watching the film, Bohemian Rhapsody, on the telly which was okay but all the established fact changes annoyed me.

Our only sea day and I slept in until about 11.30am.  I found Maureen on the aft deck with Andrew and Donna Cooke.  The Captain's noon announcement panicked everyone when he said we would arrive at "14:15" the next day!  Maureen and I went to the restaurant for lunch, as everyone goes to the buffet as soon as it opens.  Every time I've been in the past, it was self-service but this time there was a menu with the salad in the buffet area.  While Maureen rested her leg, I went for a wander and spotted Celebrity Silhouette on the way back to Southampton.  There was also a sailing ship in the distance.  Stephen and Hugh were enjoying the beautiful day.  I went to the quiz in the Sirenes Bar with Maureen but only got 7/20, which wasn't bad considering the winner only had 11/20.  Mitch and Callum were doing a cabaret, which was excellent.  Shopping at 6pm and the bloke shouted at a passenger because she'd gone to pay at the wrong place even though it was his fault for sitting there instead of going to where you actully do pay.  Formal night dinner and the Baked Alaska parade.  I skipped the show to put my case out then went to bed.
And so the end of the cruise was imminent as we sailed along the windy Humber towards Hull.  Breakfast was had before we got to the lock.  We had to be out of the cabin by 7.30am so I left Maureen on deck 4A and went back out to watch us sail in, locks open all the way.  We did have a bit of a bump but I hope my baby is fine.  Maureen got off when three other colours were called, as someone invited her to queue jump.  I waited as ours was next anyway then joined the queue as it became shorter.  My friend Vitor Francisco had been on the Pride of Hull ferry behind us then boarded to visit the Captain, so we had a quick greeting before I had to go down that ridiculously higher than normal gangway, get my luggage then find Maureen, who was already on the coach and told the driver to look out for me.

We had two stops and the coach driver was lovely, which is more than could be said about that selfish twat in the seat in front of Maureen who reclined without asking.  I have zero tolerance when it comes to morons so told him to move it.  Apart from Maureen's mobility and tray crushing her legs, I wouldn't be able to get out with my hernias.  When we returned to Portsmouth, the staff expected Maureen, an 80 year old with mobility issues, to walk to the parking garage to collect her car, despite the fact she had valet parking.  Talk about lazy!  They got someone to bring a cart over and he took us.  Apart from that it had been another great cruise.  I wish I could have stayed on for the following cruise.  It's too long to wait for my next on her.

To see more photos of Indy and Ventura following us out, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 30th August-1st September 2019
Not to be reproduced without permission