231204 – PO Cruise Spain & Portugal


Panic, panic, panic. Forecast 2 days ahead of departure predicts snow. Typical. We get about 4 – 5 days a year when it actually snows and our departure date just happens to be one of them. Yes, Parkinson’s Law of Maximum Perversity (AKA Sods Law) was seen to be observed. Have SUV on standby to get us out of Belthorn down to Kurts to swap to BMW – hopefully less snow. Up and out at the crack of sparrows.

Hang on, wait a moment, it’s raining and forecast now says rain.

Outcome is a very early start in the rain and a smooth trip down to our New Place Hotel for the night.

Learning lesson – don’t rely on weather forecasts, they even struggle to get it right a day ahead, but never mind they can forecast a 2 degree temperature rise by January 5th 2099 – in their dreams.

Call at Costa for a coffee. Yes, thought I’d give them another chance. It’s vile. How anyone can drink this revolting burnt bile amazes me. That’s it, no more chances, rather drink distilled pig swill.

Stop off at a Waitrose to buy tinned figs – bizarre I know. For the first time in 2 years I have my coffee cup with me so go for a free coffee. Two machines, one not working and the other being repaired as I rant. Just typical of the daily persecution I suffer – conclusion, does anything work these days, everything is a crock of shit.

Hotel’s absolutely fine, nice room and such a great service – overnight stay with breakfast; 2 weeks free car parking; taxis to cruise terminal; taxi from cruise terminal back to hotel all for £215.

Evening meal in the grandeur of the main house. Excellent meal but too expensive. £5 for bread and olives. Come on get real and to top it all our chosen dish was off the menu – typical.


After I retired, my wife insisted that I accompany her on her trips to the local grocery store. Unfortunately, like most men; I find shopping boring and preferred to get in and get out. Equally unfortunate, my wife is like most women – she loves to browse – avividly reading the labels and sell by dates on every can.

Came across this list of ideas to while away those boring hours in the supermarket:

Take 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in other people’s carts when they weren’t looking.

Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

Make a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the women’s restroom.

Walk up to an employee and tell her in an official voice, ‘Code 3 in Housewares. Get on it right away’. This caused the employee to leave her assigned station and receive a reprimand from her Supervisor that in turn resulted with a union grievance, causing management to lose time and costing the company money. We don’t have a Code 3.

Go to the Service Desk and try to put a bag of M&Ms on layaway.

Move a ‘CAUTION – WET FLOOR’ sign to a carpeted area.


Our suite for the next 12 days.

Great breakfast, then taxi to ship.

Boarding was very slick, apart from the usual security screening fiasco, perhaps the advantage of priority boarding.

Now we’re on out floating Petri dish and gluttony palace for the next 12 days, battling through Zimmer frame hell. It’s just a floating nursing home. Dodging being mowed down by high speed electric wheelchairs. All these geriatrics, it’s depressing, sadly we’re just two of them but my 16 year old mind is rebelling against this hop on off floating Red Bus tour. What am I doing here? Shouldn’t I be on a Club 18 – 30 sex extravaganza?

For some perverse reason I stand on our balcony for 30 minutes, in the freezing cold, watching the guys cast off. It takes 4 guys to cast off the 7 strings anchoring us to the dock. They patiently wait for the ship driver to give the command “cast off blunt end”. Bizarre delight as the strings go slack and the engines throb into life. Yeh, we’re on our way even if at the imperceptible speed of 1 foot per hour, then 2, then 4.

Time to go in and get the pewk tablets down me.

Ship driver gleefully tells us the dire news that the Bay of Biscay is going to be very rough – typical. But fear not he’s going to speed across the Bay to avoid too much pewk decking the Christmas halls, and we’ll end up in Vigo a day early and get two days there.

Didn’t realise this was a swinger cruise but apparently, according to the name cards in the cabin, we have Wendy Stringer and Tony Spencer joining us. Hope Wendy Stringer has big boobs.

Complete with jacuzzi bath.

We’re on fixed dining and have a table of 5. Typical Brits, hardly speak, dire. Get me on a table with some Americans. They may well regale us with who they voted for; their opinion that the current President is “not my president” and is a total dick head; followed by the gory details of all their illness’s. But a least they speak and are entertaining. Never mind, confirms our opinion of fixed dining, tomorrow we’ll be on Freedom dining.

Food was good and and amazingly the wine not too expensive. We’ve £490 onboard credit to spend on it.

Pass on the raz-amataz show in the Petri dish theatre and go back to our suite for some bourbon and to watch TV on the iPad. How boring can we be.


First of our sea days.

Breakfast in the buffet style restaurant.

Today’s mental stimulation on board seems to be a lecture on Carry on Christmas and that’s it, apart from a couple of obscure quizzes on bizarre subjects such as flags of the world. Other entertainment consists of the usual repatoire of talks on wathches – try to sell you a watch; detox for health and weight loss – try to sell you colonic irrigation no doubt; back pain; build a bracelet Pandora party; Tanzanite renaissance seminar. Best stimulation of the day is going down the list and guessing what they will try and sell you.

Sea is getting rough, time for some pewk tablets – Qwells which seem to work pretty well.

Abandon fixed dining (that was a customer service ordeal and disaster – only took 5 different stops to get it done, should have left it to the butler) in favour of anytime dining. Don’t think I could cope with another dinner with the over stimulation from last night’s table – it was like drawing teeth from a ten year old on their iPad. Put me on a table with some Americans.

Dinner was a tad more stimulating. Only took me 5 minutes to order a glass of wine, amazed they didn’t bring me a glass of, it was that confusing. It seems that whilst most of the staff speak English, their listening and comprehension skills are like those of a 3 year old.

After dinner we go and watch the comedian – very mediocre. Then Noddys gone past Big Ears so it’s time for bed and a couple of episode of “My Family”.

Another day when I closely avoid being mowed down by yet another reckless member of the Hells Angels Electric Wheelchair Chapter attempting a speed record.

Given the rolling and banging from the Bay of Biscay I’m fortunate enough to manage to get a reasonable nights sleep, amazing yet another one of the many benefits of red wine.


Rough in the night, never knew there were so many bumps in the sea. Woke up to the ship listing badly, ready to keel over, and very rough seas. Is this going to be a Titanic / MSC moment. Turns out it was a very strong wind as we raced ahead of the Bay Of Biscay storm.

Arrive early to a rainy day in Vigo.
Breakfast in the Epicurian resturant, reserved for Suite guests, none of the cattle class. Really nothing to write home about. They totally screwed up Wendy’s order.

Go ashore, so good to be on land, even if it’s not dry, and it is peeing down. Rain forecast for the whole day. Just like home but at least it’s not cold.

Have a stroll around Vigo. Yes, just another chicken shit port with an abundance of statues, hills and not much else. Well it is Spain.

Manage to trip over a concrete block as I’m pre-occupied looking at all the shops closed because it’s a bank holiday. Do a face plant, cuts on hands and lip, bruised hands and pull a muscle under my ribs that I never knew I had. Lucky not to break anything or loose a tooth.

Back on board for a very, very frugal lunch and then afternoon watching the 4th Republican nomination debate. OMG I’ve sinned.

At least we’re not at sea and the boat is stable.

A flexible dining dinner – not too bad. But they didn’t have the wine of my choice – typical. Well there’s one good thing at least with these meagre, skimpy portions you’re not likely to put weight on – times are hard.

We were going to the magic show but yet another queue so do the boring thing and go back to the room to watch a downloaded film.


Good news, our Butler tells us Room Service is free to suite guests, along with all the food on the chargeable menu.


Alcohol is not FOC.


More ideas on how to cope with supermarkets:

Set up a tent in the camping department and tell children shoppers he’d invite them in if they would bring pillows and blankets from the bedding department.

If a clerk asks if they could help, begin crying and scream, ‘Why can’t you people just leave me alone?’.

Look right into the security camera and used it as a mirror while picking your nose.

While handling guns in the hunting department, ask a clerk where the antidepressants are.

Hide in a clothing rack and when people browse through, yell ‘PICK ME! PICK ME!’

If an announcement comes over the loud speaker, assume a fetal position and scream; ‘OH NO! IT’S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!’

Take a box of condoms to the checkout clerk and ask where is the fitting room?

Go into a fitting room, shut the door, wait awhile; then yell very loudly, ‘Hey! There’s no toilet paper in here.’


Another day in Vigo – not the most stimulating of places, but so much better than a day at sea.

Weather’s sun and cloud and not too cold. Sadly my free walking tour is cancelled – not enough Brits – so we do our own walking tour after getting Gemini AI to make some recommendations. Get up to the castle, great view, that’s about the highlight and to top it off its bank holiday so a lot of shops are shut. Main shopping centre is lively and awesome Christmas decorations. Splash out and break one of my commandments with a beer, Wendy has a Capucino.

Back on board for Wendy’s lunch.

So far we’ve kept to our cruise rules. Do not use the lifts and no desserts.

Bloody formal tonight when everyone gets tarted up like a dogs dinner. I suppose I’d better not compliment any of the ladies with a “you look like a dogs dinner”. Why can’t they just relax the rules. Those who want to don a penguin suit, that’s fine by me, I’m not offended; but those who want to wear just jeans that’s equally fine, what harm does it do.


Opinion so far:

View from Vigo castle.

Better than expected, although my expectation was one of a P&O Dover Calais ferry, so a very low bar.

Suite is very roomy, comfy with quite a few extra benefits.

Overall I would say good value for money, but certainly not as luxurious as past cruises.

Food is ok, but minute portions, they really should provide a magnifying glass.

Service is ok, but clearly a problem with the crews English comprehension.

Acid test, would I do it again. Yes.


Dock in Lisbon today.

As it’s a major city and we’ve never been before we break our normal habits and book a ships tour “Lisbon by land and River”. Spend an hour driving around the slum housing of Lisbon to get to the boat trip, with very little worthy site seeing or narrative – in fact the river trip was only five minutes down the river front, a complete waste of time and just to fill out the tour. The river trip up and down was ok, got to see Lisbon from the river not a great deal in the way of commentary. Then back on the coach for a 40 minute tour of Lisbon with the sort of commentary we expected.

Did we learn much? Well my most memorable fact from the tour was that Portugal has 1,001 recipes for cooking Cod. What a waste of money it was. Thankfully we’ve no more ship’s tours booked.

Wendy started on a slow infusion of Martinis. This one was dire enough to make anyone jump on the wagon.

Again entertainment was not the least bit enticing so back to our suite to watch one of the many films we had fortunately downloaded.

Learning today – stick with our DIY approach to ship shore excursions.


Day at sea again. Mental stimulation on offer is zero, not even a lecture of interest.

As we’re still sticking to our no dessert and no lift regime, the lack of a deck 13 is really appreciated.

Have a stroll around the deck for some exercise.

In the afternoon we take advantage of our spacious sunny balcony as we pass through the Straits of Gibraltar. Wow, it’s so narrow, what a risk it would have been traversing it in WW2. No wonder Gibraltar was of such strategic importance.

It’s a black tie evening tonight, another formal. At least our Butlers brings us Canapés to the suite. I can’t be bothered even putting my suit on, bugger it, will stick to shorts and tee shirt. These formals really should be banned and let those that want, wear monkey suits every night if they so wish, and leave us lesser beings to our jeans and tee shirts. P&O should remember it’s me paying them.

After buffet dinner we go to watch the Lady Gaga impersonates, wow, something worth watching at last. Quite the entertainer.


Don’t I just love it , 2 bloody formals, and now they’ve added a black tie night.

Anyway I’ve come up with a solution to redress / undress the balance between the “Penguins” and the “Restofus”. It’s oh so simple and equitable. If the only Penguins are allowed in selected bars and restaurants, whilst the Restofus are confined to the few remaining bars and restaurants why not make it that the Penguins are not allowed in the Restofus bars and restaurants. Never the twain shall meet. How can the Penguins object to that, so they’re not offended by the sight of the Restofus spoiling their evening.

Implement this and I bet it wouldn’t be long before formals and black ties are banished to the dustbin of past glories.

It’s simple if you want to dress up then do so any night. You shouldn’t need a formal night to express yourself by dressing up. Enjoy dressing up any night. I won’t be offended by it, nor should the Penguins ever be offended by the presence of the Restofus.

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