At sea, between Southampton and Edinburgh

Thursday, June 18: We’re on the North Sea this morning, heading towards Edinburgh, passing many offshore oil drilling platforms (a helicopter was landing on one as we cruised by to the west). It’s partly cloudy, chilly and quite windy, with some sea motion.

Our bus transfer to Nautica was uneventful yesterday, taking about two hours from the hotel to the dock in Southampton. Check-in was quick, but security was not very fun. My knees, of course, set off the metal detector and I had a full body pat down that spared no areas (good grief), had to remove my shoes and go through again, but of course I set it off again. This time, the security person broke out the wand and did, indeed, confirm that my knees were the culprit. I was afraid for a few minutes that they would want to see the fading scars, meaning I would have to drop my trousers right there on the spot. I so much prefer the millimeter-wave scanners because artificial joints are not an issue, but I guess they would be expensive for port security. What is completely ironic is that they screen the people getting on-board, but none of the luggage (there’s a comforting thought) or supplies.

Our cabin was ready when we boarded so we went there for a while and put away stuff from the carry-on bags, waiting for our main luggage to show up. To kill a little more time, we went to the Destination Services desk and bought two excursions for Narsaq, Greenland from the friendly young man behind the desk, then had a light lunch at the Terrace buffet. When we came back down to our room the bags were there, so unpacking began in earnest. A lot of our clothing was damp, likely from the bag transfer between planes in Keflavik (it was raining like crazy there Tuesday morning). The closet is completely crammed because of jackets and sweatshirts. This is our fourth cruise in two years where we needed to bring layers, so our cruise from Rio to Miami will be quite welcome next year (no jackets required!). However, we will trade off the chilly conditions for the need for more vaccinations and anti-malarial drugs on that cruise, which includes several days on the lower Amazon.

The safety drill was quite thorough and included instructions at our muster station (Grand Dining Room) and a visit to our lifeboat station outside. We sailed out right on time at 6:00 pm, heading south towards the Isle of Wight, then turning into the ship channel to the east. It’s not a very interesting departure from Southampton, but we did see a lot of small sailboats in a sailing class.

Dinner time! Back to the Terrace we went, getting some grilled items (lamb chops for me, steak for Steve) and a salad and side of potatoes. Dessert was a yummy pistachio and chocolate torte. My lamb chops were great, and my side dish of Au Gratin potatoes was delicious; Steve thought his steak was just so-so and the baked potato he had was merely adequate (looks like I made the right choice).

Several times yesterday we overheard people wondering if we would see the Northern Lights on this cruise; considering we are going to have almost 24 hours of daylight every day as we go further north, of course the Aurora Borealis is impossible to observe this time of year. I guess I will reserve judgment (nah, not really), but I do find it sad how little people actually research the information about places they are traveling to, like the folks who thought they would see polar bears in Antarctica last year. Sigh…

We went to bed fairly early. I had difficulty getting to sleep initially because our cabin has more vibration that I would expect for its location (just aft of the rear elevators). We are pretty close to the stack, however, so the engines are probably located several decks down beneath our location. We set the alarm for 8:30 am, then changed it to 9:00 am. During the night, our gizmos must have switched to Paris time, because we actually got up an hour EARLIER than we had planned (no wonder I felt like I was dragging when I got out of bed).

Well, this was a pretty boring report and we have no interesting new pictures to share yet. Later, we have our first team trivia competition, our Cruise Critic Meet and Greet (we did little or nothing on the Roll Call and are not sharing any tours with anyone, opting for ship excursions this time), happy hour with free drinks for two hours because of the Captain’s reception, and then dinner, maybe in the Grand Dining Room. We have an early morning tomorrow in Edinburgh; our excursion to Scone Palace near Perth meets at 8:45 am, departing at 9:00. Scone Palace is not a giant bakery as some might assume, but rather an historic palatial home that used to be an Abbey and became the crowning place of Scottish Kings, including Robert the Bruce. We decided to do this tour because we have not visited this place and have already spent time in Edinburgh on a couple of previous driving trips through Britain. If the wind and tides are not favorable, we may not make it to the dock area in Rosyth (this has happened on other cruises here). Saturday, we stop at the Shetland Islands and I have already been told I cannot purchase a pony and bring it back on board (bummer); I suppose if I did buy a pony, Icelandair would balk at letting it on-board anyway. All these regulations are just thrill-killers ;-).

More updates soon!

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