Thursday 28th April 2011
Here we are still at sea, sailing from Marseille to Lisbon, with sunshine outside.
Two of us had a rather disturbing time just before breakfast, as we ventured up to Deck 5. One of the dancers gave us a briefing on how to use the Gym and Fitness equipment – and not just the more usual items, but also whizzy computer-generated individual assessments and programmes. Very kind of her but I think I’ll stick to walking and swimming…
Breakfast was plentiful and I loved seeing a huge bowl of prepared sliced pink grapefruit on the buffet table.
There was a lecture in the Theatre by Michel Escoffier, talking about his great-grandfather Auguste Escoffier. This was followed by a cookery demonstration by another of the chefs on board. We decided to take advantage of the open Bridge policy and visit there.
Visibility was still good outside and as the watch keeping Deck officers showed us the radar we could see two ships visible towards the horizon. We were then shown information of their names and the destination for one of them.
I had taken pictures of Ponant’s new ship L’AUSTRAL being completed in Ancona last July, so I gave copies of the photographs to the Deck officers. One of our group also handed over a gift for the Captain of a copy of “Cruise Ships Third Edition” by William Mayes, which we thought would be well received. No acknowledgement was ever received on board and, at the time of writing this, still hasn’t been.
Lunch was followed by an afternoon lecture and red wine tasting (which I didn’t attend) in the Theatre, by a gentleman described (in English) as ‘best wine Expert in the World’.
After lunch we walked in the sun on the top deck,
and noticed a large white container up on the non-public deck above the stern.
It was only when we saw an engineer going into the side of it that we realised that it was not the usual kind of container. We subsequently asked and found out that it contained a motor generator, which was needed for the ship’s use following her problems in Antarctica a few months ago, when one cruise had to be cancelled in January.
Tea in the Main Lounge Ispahan was enjoyed as we watched a promotional film from Compagnie du Ponant about the arrival in Marseille of LE BOREAL and L’AUSTRAL just the other day. Now we know what the helicopter was doing, flying over Chateau d’If whilst we were there! The film was made by Philippe Plisson, the renowned photographer of the sea and lighthouses. I have admired his work for a long time, and some years ago I was lucky enough to meet Monsieur Plisson himself, on board a Transatlantic liner. I remembered that he also has a small business in St. Malo. The Library on board this ship has several of his books of photographs so I enjoyed looking at them one afternoon, while the others played Monopoly.
The pre-dinner entertainment was a classical/jazz piano concert in the Theatre, which most of us saw and enjoyed. Again, it started later than advertised and so did this evening’s Gastronomic Dinner, but at least a public announcement had been made about the new dining time. This is not really a problem, but it is so disappointing then to have to queue for an unknown length of time outside the Restaurant, knowing there is no allocated seating and there is no guarantee that six friends can even sit together for what should be the highlight of the day.
Dinner was again wonderful to see and enjoy, despite the lengthy French descriptions from the Chef. Luckily two of our group speak fluent French so were able to describe the dishes again this evening, but in précis (!) form.
My daily programme told me that the final entertainment of the evening was to be a showing of the film ‘Ratatouille’. I loved seeing this film in my local cinema but didn’t quite expect to see it on a Gastronomic Cruise! (For anyone who hasn’t seen the film, it’s about a rat that wants to be a French chef, in France, and succeeds!)
Ships seen: Tirranna, going to Setubal, Portugal, and Torm Fraya.
To be continued...