Astoria - Springtime Break & River Seine Experience
Well, despite worries each Cruise and Maritime charter of Astoria would be the last, the 71 year old beauty had another for March and April 2019.  I just adore this ship and despite commitments, just need to sail on her at least once a year while I can so had to book the three night from 7th-10th March.  The itinerary was the second half the 2018 cruise I did, even with the same title.  Ironic really since the first half of 2018 was the ports I'd visited in 2017 when I fell in love with her.  I didn't mind returning to Rouen and Honfleur or anywhere I'd been as long as I was on her.  No London this time but Poole.  Our guarantee inside was upgraded to Standard Twin 616 with an obstructed view.

Early start.  Due to the hassle with trains the previous September, I booked the coach this time, which got in at 12.15pm.  As our check-in time was 1.20pm, that gave plenty of time and luckily a taxi pulled up to drop someone off.  When we got there shortly afterwards, we were told to collect our cruise cards after handing back the health form and go to board.  We started preparing for the security scanner but were waved straight through for some reason.  We waited for the bus, which takes you across the port to the ship and thankfully it had stopped raining by the time we got there.  It was pretty windy, making it difficult going up the gangway.  

Check-in was in the lounge as in September.  Cruise Director Josh Marlow recognised me from Marco Polo.  It was a much smoother process than September as Josh had everyone sitting down and calling by row rather than the huge queue before.  Then we had the cards scanned and were taken to the cabin.  It was the smallest I'd had on that ship, though the bathroom was the same, and the obstructed view wasn't too bad.  I've had worse!  Then lunch.  Due to my dad's cataracts and walking stick, one of the crew helped him, which he was very grateful for.

Our Captain would be Antonio Morais, who had been on a year earlier.  We had been scheduled to sail at 4pm but the Explorer daily paper stated 3pm with muster fifteen minutes later.  We sat in the cinema to wait and wait and wait.  I went on deck to see the gangway still attached, and was found by Stephen Macey, then went back in but less than 20 minutes later, I saw we were moving!  No one said a word so we assumed it was due to the impending bad weather.  I went back outside, still wearing my lifejacket while others carried theirs.  It was incredibly windy.  Muster was rescheduled for 4pm so most of the sailaway was disappointingly inside.  We hit bad weather as soon as we hit open water, the bedside drawers occasionally opening.  We'd decided to eat dinner in the buffet.  Due to the motion, I nearly lost a glass off the table while one couple almost lost theirs plus soup bowls.  Some areas were beginning to be closed off for safety.  After buying some things in the shop, as well as a lanyard for my dad then the boarding photo, we returned to the cabin to watch EastEnders but since the weather was getting worse and my dad didn't feel safe with his cataracts and mobility, we stayed put watching telly.  Our steward, Sandeep, had put the bottles of water and glasses in the safety of the window ledge.

The weather eased around midnight.  We were due in Honfleur at 4.14am but arrived an hour early and heard them mounting the gangway one deck below.  Our departure was scheduled for 12.45pm so we had a lazy day.  It was a pretty windy traverse down the Seine but we stayed out until afternoon tea.


© Patricia Dempsey 7th-10th March 2019
Not to be reproduced without permission