Haynes World - ships, ferries, a laugh on the ocean wave, and other interesting things...

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Le Boreal Part 4

Le Boreal Part 4 (the final one)
Friday 29th April 2011
It’s Royal Wedding Day – hooray – so I turned on the flat screen television to watch,

before heading out for breakfast. It seems the hot dishes were not hot, as the burners underneath them had not been turned on, so the meal was disappointing for some. During the night the ship’s clocks had been put back so we were now on Portuguese time, and looking forward to passing through the Straits of Gibraltar this morning. The sky looked ominous and it was soon pouring with rain, but then the sky cleared somewhat and we could see the famous Rock through the mist. Views from the ship’s stern were getting better by the minute, and soon we could see vessels crossing between north and south of the Straits and others berthed near the Rock.

Those chums with the whizzy zoom lenses could identify even the ISLAND ESCAPE berthed there.

The sky clouded over again so it was time to hot-foot it to the Ispahan Grand Salon for another treat – the Royal Wedding on the big screens. We watched the ceremony and when the moment came for the playing of the National Anthem – yes, of course, we six British patriotic friends all stood up out of respect for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

One kind friend had bought champagne so of course we stood and drank toasts: firstly to the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and then to Her Majesty the Queen. It was a spectacular and emotional ceremony to watch and admire, with the morning’s whole events in London perfectly carried out in the British traditional way.

Yet again I was reassured to see that half a million people in The Mall were perfectly happy to be able to walk towards Buckingham Palace at a steady pace behind just a handful of Police Officers, who were there to control the crowds.

On the ship, today’s alternative entertainment offered two morning lectures and tastings; lunch was good and the afternoon was spent by me looking at the Philippe Plisson picture books and the others playing Monopoly, before we attended a Culinary Quiz. Dinner this evening was to be a formal dress event so I enjoyed wearing the ‘posh frock’.

As usual it started late, with the evitable queue and search for a table, but the food was most enjoyable.

Tonight’s French chef explained absolutely everything about the menu, and there was a short prize-giving for the Culinary Quiz winners. The Captain was photographed with the several winners and dinner continued. It had been another good day – lucky us.

Ships seen: Azura (bound for Malaga), Island Escape, MSC Poesia, Oleander, Tarifa Jet, Milenium Dos, Al Mansour, Atlas 1, Atlas 2, and various container ships, but all seen through damp mist

Saturday 30th April 2011
This morning LE BOREAL berthed in Lisbon, after a comfortable sail along the River Tagus from the Atlantic.

The sky was grey but at least it was not raining.

As we waited to disembark, I saw an engineer going through Reception with WARTSILA writ large across the back of his overalls. At 10.30 a.m. the Captain was standing at the top of the gangway to shake hands with every departing passenger, and that was the end of 3 enjoyable days on the ship.

Looking back, I remember the fish dish I had to send back one evening as it was uncooked, the lack of outdoor walking space, and the late dinners every evening, wondering whether our group of six would be able to sit together; but the ship was compact and beautifully furnished and very comfortable, and I was glad to be on her for a short time, on one of her very few short trips.

I could be diplomatic and say that I imagine she might be completely different when on a port-intensive cruise, or in the Antarctic perhaps. The Gastronomic Cruise is apparently an annual event, but I would probably not recommend it to others because of the lack of organisation in the Restaurant, which affected the comfort of our group of six. Was it value for money? I think not, despite being booked many months ago at an acceptable price. I have had food of similar quality, interest and enjoyment on other ships, such as BLEU DE FRANCE and COLOR MAGIC; one of our group suggested that perhaps the Company Management or Chefs ought to go on cruises of other national and international shipping lines just to see the levels of care and comfort given to their passengers, which would make them more aware of what they offered in comparison. I think that’s a valid point.

Once ashore in Lisbon, we took a local train into the central part of the lovely city, and found a local restaurant serving lunch. Aha, back to land-based food again, and choosing Italian or Portuguese cooking. My friends set off for their various means of transport home, but I went into the Ferry terminal to get a return ticket to cross the River Tagus. The weather was warm and sunny so I enjoyed my short ride on PALMALENSE out and LISBONENSE (spacious air-line style seating with no open deck space) back.

I could see LE BOREAL still berthed at the terminal, although it was past her scheduled departure time.

The airport bus took me to Lisbon Airport, to catch a flight home to London Gatwick. I have to record that my easyJet flight landed 20 minutes early, as there was little air traffic around according to the pilot, and so I was home in good time.

LE BOREAL is said to be a chic mega-yacht, for those who want sophistication in a relaxed environment. Of course, I like experiencing all forms of travel and ships in particular, and this trip had certainly provided me with a new insight into luxury travel. I was also lucky enough to share in a lot of fun and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

Ships seen: Express Santorini, Atlantico Line redundant ferry, Palmalense, Lisbonense, Dafundo, Alentejense, Lisboa Vista do Tojo

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