Journal of a July 2005 Cruise

Cruise 2005: Ireland, Greenland, Iceland and Norway
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This page last updated: 20th May 2006.
12: Stavanger

Stavanger It is wet and cloudy as we arrive in the sardine capital of the world, Stavanger. We are berthed right outside the edge of town overlooking the marina in one direction and the quaint wooden houses of Old Stavanger in the other.

In the morning I go into town, past the boats moored in the marina. The fishmarket is close by and sells all manner of things that I don't recognise. Further on there are numerous market stalls of which more than half are selling fruit, mostly strawberries. The odour makes my mouth water. One of the stallholders has put a bird-feeder on a lamppost and it attracts feathered customers in spite of the throng of shoppers. The town seems to have a number of quite modern shops but delving deeper into the cobbled streets I find lots of smaller ones. There is even an Irish pub! I get a bit disoriented but eventually find my way back to the marina.

We have lunch in the Medina Restaurant after which time the rain has stopped. We both go out. The cobbles don't make it too easy for the wheelchair rider, but the outskirts of town are at least relatively flat. Beyond the fish market we pass under an underpass and find ourselves in a park with a large lake and a fountain. We spend our last bit of Norwegian money on a mantle-clock which is at least a practical souvenir.

In the evening we attend the last of the classical concerts of Geoffrey Haydock and Penelope Smith. For once it is packed out and to get a seat I have to turf someone out of one the reserved for companions of wheelchair users seats! The probable reason for the full capacity is that the alternative show is another appearance in the theatre of the old comedian who boarded in Reykjavik. His previous show was so awful, few want to hear a repeat. Indeed, after the concert, when the compare announces that the second showing of his act will be starting later, there are actual groans heard from parts of the audience! The classical concert is again excellent and afterwards we are happy to buy a copy of their CD for a tenner.

There is a full day at sea after leaving Stavanger. Now we are in the North Sea and the ship is rolling a bit. These are the roughest seas we seem to have encountered. We start packing our cases as they have to be left outside our cabins this evening. In the afternoon I watch the film Phantom of the Opera. According to the more seasoned cruisers, the selection of films available has been disappointing previous cruises have presented many more newer releases not being a film buff it didn't bother me.

After dinner we go off to the theatre again for The Good Old Bad Old Days a musical romp that ends with us all waving our union jacks.

We'd requested an early disembarkation, but when our details arrive outside our cabin, this isn't the case. We go down to reception and they change it for us.

The ship docks in Southampton about 6.30am but disembarkation doesn't begin until 9.15. Only the Orangery is open for breakfast so of course it is fairly chaotic. My mobile-phone now has a signal, so I phone Airportcarz and arrange for the taxi to take us to the airport.

We are told to gather with other mobility-disabled passengers in one of the lounges. We get there fairly early. The lounge is probably not the most suitable for lots of people with wheelchairs and scooters. The person in charge seems a little out of her depth and is clearly harassed. As we need minimum help and are getting off with the first batch, we just wait until the call comes and make our way to the designated lift.

I get a porter to help us find our cases and take them to the taxi waiting area. In due course we are transported to the airport. We have about an hour only to wait before our plane to Manchester. A stewardess find us and we follow her out on to the tarmac. Before long we arrive at Manchester airport. Here Christine is met at the plane by an airport-worker with one of their own wheelchairs. He takes us through to the luggage-reclamation area where her own wheelchair awaits her.

We come into the terminal and head towards the office of Airportcarz. We are expected and soon escorted to a waiting taxi. Before we know it, we are home.

We've had a lovely time and will be going again in June 2006. This time, we've chosen a cruise with fewer tender ports, and an outside cabin. We'll be sure to let you know how we get on.

Photographs Journal page 1