To the Canary Islands & Azores- April 14th - 28th 2012

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To the Canary Islands & Azores by Fred Olsen

Off for a cruise on this lovely Fred Olsen ship we have been on before with Ken lecturing on classical music but this time, as pax.

The MV Braemar, photoed at Santa Cruz, Teneriffe

You can fly to Lisbon in 100 mins but it is 35 times greener to go in this big tin village.

There are hourly trains from London Bridge to Dover Priory. Our neighbour, Philip offered to run us down to London Bridge, an offer we couldn't refuse! But we were consequently early & the train was flagged up in an unexpected way (should be Ramsgate, was Minster). Still, we got on it & it eventually split at Ashford, eventually as it stopped at every station from Sevenoaks. It was a nice day, unlike last year & the Braemar was in port, even though it had had to call in at Spain with a health problem.

The trip took us from Dover to

Lisbon, Portugal
Arrecife, Lanzarote
Santa Cruz, Teneriffe
Santa Cruz, La Palma
Praia Da Vitoria, Azores
We never made it to Ponta Delgada, Azores

& back to Dover

Leaving Dover on a really nice day

Saturday 14th April 2012 - Boarding

We got a courtesy bus straight away from the station & had a snack at the Cruise Terminal. This was a mistake, note. It is smarter to get one's boarding card first & snack after, as the loading on was tedious & we were nos. 129 & 130. But we already had been given our bus passes & been photoed at check-in, which is an improvement. Imee, a colleague from last Summer's trip, was on duty & we greeted each other. We dumped our stuff in the cabin, Ken went to the Cruise Office with his letter for the Director, offering his lectures if anything went wrong, we greeted our cabin steward, then tea. Our luggage came, first, the rucksack, then a bag but until after dinner (thankfully, we are first sitting), no bag. Ken asked at Reception & some bags had had their labels torn off. This was Avis', so she was quite anxious & had half unpacked before the floor show. The lifeboat drill was a lot more thorough than previous Fred's trips, with us going out to the boat in a Conga, this doubtless thanks to the Costa Concordia.

Lifeboat Drill - very thorough

The show team are good but the direction of the show could have been improved. This is the fault of Boot Camp (Explosive Productions Ltd, in this case), not the ship's or the show team. Avis finished unpacking & we crashed.

Sunday 15th April 2012 - Day at Sea

We were a bit near the stern in the Palms for breakfast & the following wind kept getting in. We did a couple of turns round the deck before the Port Lecture, which was by Sandra, who remembered us. (So did Ivana yesterday). We had to wait for the Godly to finish. Having no faith, we had spent the time working out how the inflatable rafts worked. Just before Sandra's very long (70 minute) port talk, rather repetitious, Ken made himself known to Alan, the Cruise Director, who made the usual grateful noises about having backup & told Jackie, still Deputy Boss on this ship, how he had been sacked for his 'bad behaviour' last Summer. She later told Avis that she had known the agent to be 'difficult' before she worked for Freds & had looked very shocked when Ken told her what had happened. After the ports, Avis stayed for a cartoonist, which she enjoyed. Ken walked round the deck much with a chap, Richard, who knew about Rushton by reputation, although he was an engineer. Ken worked on his string quartet until Avis came to the Library & we had tea, then it was lunch time. This was interesting, as we found ourselves next to a couple: he was born in Islington, Vick, who was a lorry driver & told Ken stuff he did not know, such as that both David Shepherd the cricketing vicar & George Carey, the mad archbishop, had ben the vicar at St. Mary's. His wife Jean chatted to Avis.

Avis in formal evening finery

While Avis checked out the gym, Ken tried to do more to his music but got into a discussion about the Siblius Program with a couple who's composer son uses it. We went for tea & then, it was time to get into our posh for the formal dinner, with the Captain's introduction of the crew before. Carol is a right scream & Ken teased Margaret over her not eating up her food ('there's a war on' as is his usual gag). Then, to the Coral Club for the show team doing late 50s songs very well. We did go to the Neptune Lounge after for a so-called singer, who's lowest point was Andrew Lloyd-Webber's Phantom & highest (not very high by him) was Nessun Dormar. Ken was just prevented from walking out, as he did not quite deserve that. Avis went off to the cabin while Ken got a tea & found himself talking to a couple from Worcester but she was French. We talked Elgar & Joseph Saltzmann.

Monday 16th April 2012 - Still at sea

We went to the port talk. Sandra, the Tour Manager, apparently always does Canaries & West Mediterranean. I wondered if they were short of port lecturers as Ken had gathered they are gold dust. After, Avis went the gym & Ken walked round the deck, going up above but could not see Spain or Portugal. He did find an old ornithologist with a GPS, who was working out that we would get to Lisbon at 0730 BST. After lunch, Avis went to a talk about bad hair (not that that is what it was called) while Ken peregrinated, which we both did after tea, when the wind had dropped.

The sharp end & a smooth sea

You're never too old for the Sun

Quarter deck revels

Lauren Rees & Jen Welding, of the Braemar Show Team, ambushed us outside the Thistle for the benefit of the photographer, dressed in their feathers costumes. (Knowing what Ken knows about the space in the Green Room, it is a wonder that six of them can get into these costumes, let alone do quick changes out of them). There was a reasonably good group in the Coral Club & a good funny man, Phil Melbourne, (if a bit iffy on marriage) in the Neptune.

Lauren, Avis, Ken & Jen

Port 1 - Lisbon

Port 2 - Arrecife, Lanzarote

Port 3 - Santa Cruz, Teneriffe

Port 4 - Santa Cruz, a Palma

Port 5 - Praia Da Vitoria, Azores

Next Page - Lisbon

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