Episode 271 – Our Last Days on the Star

May 10, 2022.

#my vikingstory

Yesterday we took the passenger ferry from Tilbury to Gravesend to spend a couple of hours wandering around in the sunshine and enjoying a hearty delicious pub lunch and English draught beer on a patio overlooking the Thames. When we got back to the ship, I realized that my neck and shoulders were red. Imagine! Not a spot of tan or burn in 108°F/42°C in Egypt, but I get sunburned in England!

What’s in Gravesend, you ask?

Gravesend has the world’s oldest remaining cast iron pier, built in 1834.

Gravesend is where Pocahontas is buried, but apparently not under her statue. An absolutely charming local lady told us that Princess Pocahontas (a title given to her by the English) was likely actually under the new 3-story carpark, built on what was once part of the churchyard. Folks in Gravesend are not very happy about it, but the North Americans who arrive to celebrate Pocahontas each year simply do so at her memorial.

The Three Daws Pub, where we ate and drank, is over 500 years old, and may be the oldest pub in Kent.

These are clearly not Viking restaurant pictures, but are our pub lunches yesterday. Ted had malt liver, with fried onions, mash and gravy. I had the day’s pub pie, which was lamb and sweet potato (and delicious), with WAY too many sides. Neither of us were hungry at dinner time.

Beyond it’s “tourist” sites, the town itself is just plain charming, and we enjoyed walking around its residential areas and parks before taking the ferry back to Tilbury.

Top centre and right: we’ve never seen a war memorial quite like this one, and were really impressed. Centre left: a 2018 statue of Queen Elizabeth II. Bottom centre: this buoy ship simply sits on the mud at low ride, but you can clearly see the water mark and imagine it afloat.

Today’s sea day was the only portion of our trip about which I was initially hesitant, although way back when we booked this trip we had no idea we’d be making an Atlantic crossing. The North Sea is notoriously rough, and I am notoriously prone to seasickness, but after 120 days on board, this should be a breeze, right?

Soave sia il vento
Tranquilla sia l’onda
Ed ogni elemento
Benigno risponda
Ai vostri desir.

Gentle be the breeze,
calm be the waves,
and every element
respond kindly
to your desires.

Cosi fan tutte
Mozart

No one sang Mozart’s aria today, but the sea remained calm at least until noon when the sun broke through morning’s grey skies and the wind kicked up a bit, creating 7-10 foot waves. We’d had so many days in a row of smooth sailing that Captain Lars actually reminded us to hang onto the handrails around the ship,

With only 148 passengers still on board (and a staff:passenger ratio of about 3:1), the 930-passenger capacity Star feels eerily empty. General Manager Wendy and Cruise Director Kate had the wonderful idea to make these final days special for the little world cruise “family” still on board, so we had a lovely cocktail reception at our sail-away last night (everyone fit into the Explorer’s Lounge), breakfast this morning was in Manfredi’s so it wouldn’t seem so lonely, and dinner tonight was served family style in the restaurant with all the senior officers sharing our tables. It really did make our last day special.

Even more special was our last lunch with friends Karin & Al. We’re feeling very thankful for the technology that will make it easy for us to stay in touch until we can meet in person again – wherever in the world that may be.

Of course, final laundry and packing needed to be done, and one last PCR saliva test. Suitcases go outside our doors by 10:00 p.m. tonight to be retrieved in the terminal in Bergen for transfer to our hotel. “Check out” time from our cabin tomorrow morning is 7:00 a.m.

The weather prediction for Bergen is cool and rainy, but after 4-1/2 months of cruising the world and only 3 days of rain (in the Magellan Strait, and in Istanbul), it’s hard to complain. Plus, maybe our luck will hold and we’ll arrive to sunshine tomorrow!

We ended our day with just one other couple in the Explorer’s Lounge, having what amounted to almost a private concert by the Star’s outstanding guitar entertainer John Perez Esquillo. We make no secret of the fact that we regularly fall in love with musicians, but John truly is a special person – not only musically talented, but with an incredibly big heart. Spending our last evening with him was both a pleasure and an honour. His final song, a sincere rendition of Thank You for Loving Me had both of us in tears.

I expect our departure tomorrow will be very emotional as well. This truly has been a wonderful adventure.

More await.

19 comments

  1. That night is one of the most unforgettable moments in my life. Wishing you all the best with your adventures Rose and Ted. Hope to see you again when our ship reaches Canada by August. Love you both!

    “… may the Music be with You.”
    – John Solo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s been a pleasure reading your blog and sharing the adventure. You and Ted certainly made the most of this cruise. I too enjoy your optimism and general outlook on life. I’m sure you both left those who crossed your path with wonderful memories. Thanks again for the dedication and hard work to share your travels.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rose and Ted, thanks so much for sharing your adventure. Lynn and I are booked on next year’s WC and we just loved your pics and the details you were willing to provide, both about the locations and cultures but also about the experience aboard and the people you encountered. We could ‘feel’ your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t believe your cruise of a lifetime is over! I wanted to let you know how much we’ve enjoyed your record of your adventures! I’m already looking forward to your next chapter ☺️

    I particularly like how appreciative you are for the people who have made your trip such a pleasure – both staff and new friends. That kind of attitude will ensure you will always get the most out of life. I hope your paths cross with many of those people again.

    Please tell Ted that , along with always enjoying his photos, I loved his blog post a few days ago. I found it very touching and interesting. You two are obviously meant for each other!

    Wishing you all the best!
    Donna

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Absolutely wonderful! We enjoyed every day of your visit! Please please please keep us posted a future Travels that we can share from your beautiful educational experiences. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This was a fantastic trip ! I so enjoyed your blog Rose, and Ted, your pictures were stellar ! I think the only thing that would have made this voyage better was to see a picture of Ted with a smile ! Just one, that’s all.

    Toronto is all a buzz with the maiden voyages of 2 new Viking cruises on the Great Lakes. They are nearly sold out so I’m guessing it’s from people who have read your adventures.

    Anxious to see what’s next !

    Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So enjoyed tagging along on your cruise! It was always fun to hear when your route suddenly changed and so much fun that you just went along with it! Enjoy the summer! And I look forward to your next adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

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