Marco Polo - Easter Break to Ireland & Isles of Scilly
Another trip on the gorgeous Marco Polo beckoned from the 19th-22nd April 2019, which was Easter.  Cruise and Maritime had a BOGOF deal, so I booked Category 1 inside cabin 256, which was just £449 for two.  When the ticket arrived, we'd been upgraded to Category 4 Premium Twin Inner 705 which sleeps four.

Getting to Bristol was fairly easy from Southampton but due to it being Good Friday, the prices one way were a joke so I booked the 0823 at £8 per person.  Thankfully, Bluestar were running a Saturday service on the buses so we were able to get there in plenty of time.  Due to our 2.30pm check-in time, we hung around a while, catching the 12.03pm to Avonmouth, which was delayed at Clifton Down by nearly 10 minutes  Mitch Rutter was still cruise director, now with beard.  He was finally going to have a break May/June after 14 months!  He told me he will be back on a CMV ship but he didn't know which one.  Andrew and Donna Cooke arrived, their boarding time after ours.  I had never seen so many police, real and PCSOs, as I had at Bristol Temple Meads and the terminal.  Mitch called embarkation early and a group of about 50 Norwegians were among the first batch. We were black labels so weren't far behind.  Only one security scanner was working so we had the bag search then boarding photo and on.  The security guard on the ship remembered us from December.  We were taken to the cabin and there at 1.55pm, our luggage waiting for us.  A letter was there too, explaining that, due to impending bad weather, the calls to Ringaskiddy and the Isles of Scilly had been swapped.  Afterwards, we went to reception.  My dad has his right cataract done on the 8th April and was given eye drops, one of which needed to be kept in the fridge.  I'd emailed CMV beforehand and was told he could leave it in the medical centre or at reception so he opted for the latter.  Lunch out on the aft deck in the sunshine and my friend Carol was there, who I'd met on Astoria in 2017 and she was on my cruise in 2018 too.  She had booked the previous cruise too.  Afterwards a drink in the Captain's Club.

Muster in the show lounge and I helped many around us with their life jackets that one said I should be paid and another remarked it was just like The Generation Game.  I asked if I get a cuddly toy.  We were taken to the lifeboats as usual with CMV (unless the weather is bad).  Sailaway was 6pm so we went to the buffet then sat outside.  We were in the lock by the time we got outside.  A large group from Bristol saw their friends as we passed Portishead and yelled loudly at them.  The Captain blew the horn - yay!  The first time out of three cruises on her and I finally heard it.  We went forward for the sunset then back inside.  Unfortunately, an early night after such a long day was out of the question due to the lounge two decks below.

We decided to have breakfast a bit later due to tours and those wanting an early tender so it was outside for our arrival to the Scilly Isles.  Andrew Cooke was telling me the buffet was packed as they waited for it to open.  Tickets would be available but I decided to wait for it to be open tenders.  Once we'd anchored, the boats they were using as tenders came out.  Sapphire, Surprise, Kingfisher and Britannia were all anxious to get started.  I was glad we'd made it, especially since two days earlier they'd missed it.  Not many lines call there, which is a shame.  CMV appear to have the most.  A relaxing morning after breakfast while I waited for the tenders to be a free for all.

I decided to go before 11am but waited for the tour ahead to go first.  My dad opted to sleep until his 12pm eye drops, being a bit unsure of getting on and off the tender.  My boat was Kingfisher and, being used to the Hythe ferry, was the only one on my feet to take photos.  As we arrived at St Mary's, my dad made the correct decision staying put.  The concrete steps were wet in places and you had to twist to get off the boat, onto the next step and grab the rail.  It reminded me of my childhood before the current buildings on Town Quay were built, except those steps were covered in algae.  The skipper informed us he'd be going half an hour later.  Due to my hernias causing all sorts of problems, I couldn't do much so had a little walk then headed back, catching Kingfisher back.  There were even less aboard and again, I got strange looks as I went from side to side with my camera.  It was a lovely day, hotter than I'd imagined.

Lunch after my dad had done his eye.  I couldn't believe the huge queues at the buffet so we had a burger from outside instead.  The sun was so strong we grabbed a vacant shaded table when we'd finished then went to watch the Scillonian III arrive from Penzance.  Changing the itinerary around gave us the chance to see her since she doesn't sail on Sundays.  Instead of going straight into the harbour, she circled around us, giving her passengers lovely photo opportunities.  We headed back in for a while then when I returned outside, there was a loud noise followed by lifeboat 2 swinging.  I went to get my dad so he could see it but they'd got the swinging under control by the time we emerged.  Scillonian III slipped out early so we missed her departure.  A drink own in the Captain's Club where they had the quiz, which we just listened to.  Sailaway with more horn blowing and when we returned to the cabin, found two Easter goody bags waiting.  Dinner in the buffet and they had such an amazing chicken tikka masala I went for seconds!


© Patricia Dempsey 19th-22nd April 2019
Not to be reproduced without permission