MEIN SCHIFF 4, 7th September 2015, Part 8, the final one
Friday 11th September 2015
Today is a sea day, as we sail from Oslo down through the North Sea back to Hamburg. Again we enjoyed 'trolley' breakfast in one of the restaurants.
This morning we decided to attend a Concert with Declaimers, in the Klanghaus. This is the concert hall on board, built with perfect acoustics. There was some music, quite a lot of Declaiming in German, and a few pleasant pictures on the screen behind the stage, but I felt the occasion was somewhat wasted on me.
Lunch was booked in the Hanaimi Japanese restaurant, which had lovely views out to the sea. It seemed to be quite windy out there but of course there were intrepid shuffle board players on the deck, well wrapped up again the elements. It wasn't raining but looked as if it might soon.
Meanwhile inside the restaurant we watched the preparations for our meal with great interest. It is many years since I went to a Japanese restaurant so I was happy to have help with choice of food.
The presentation was beautiful to watch and the quantities seemed huge, but it was all very interesting. I was offered a small taste of a starter from one friend, which I accepted as it looked innocuous, but it reduced me to an eye-watering state. Phew - glad I didn't choose that one myself.
I had tuna for my main course and enjoyed that with various vegetables.
Just as we were finishing our meal the Captain stopped to speak to us, having finished his meal at a nearby table. He asked how we were enjoying the ship and trip and seemed happy as he listened to our replies.
Outside the weather had improved so I went for a sunny walk on a breezy top deck which was exhilarating and enjoyable. People smiled at me whilst eating ice-creams, others raised their champagne glasses (plastic) to me from their hot tub as I went past (it was someone's birthday celebration at a nearby Bar), others smiled sleepily each time I went past them, and others were fast asleep under a mound of blankets: we were all happy with our lot.
The day continued with a drink before the evening's show, called Blue Elements, which was enjoyable even without live music in the theatre, followed by another delicious dinner in one of the restaurants. Once again the restaurant staff were able to seat us at a table for 7, which made for a convivial time.
Some of us were out on deck at 11 p.m. to watch the Pilot come aboard as we prepared to start our journey to Hamburg on the River Elbe. In the darkness we could see the Pilot mother ship, which we had last seen in her berth at Cuxhaven on Saturday.
Ships seen: distant ships as we sailed from Oslo to Hamburg, the Pilot launch and mother ship at the entrance to the River Elbe
Saturday 12th September 2015
Back in Hamburg at the end of our trip, the weather was cool and damp. Three friends had left the ship as soon as we berthed, but four of us had breakfast together and waited in one of the lounges as advised. We were to join coaches outside the terminal building to be taken to the main city railway station. At least, that was the plan.
When we arrived outside the terminal building it was to discover crowds of fellow passengers all waiting for non-existent coaches. We found out that there were demonstrations going on in the city centre, all traffic had been stopped or held in traffic-jams, and our coaches were not allowed to go there. It seemed as if local taxis were not prepared to go into the city either, and we couldn't see one anyway. There appeared to be no alternative plan. Being enterprising folk, we four went for a local bus to a local station, and caught a train straight through to Hamburg Airport. We had to cope with our luggage (little in my case) and lots of steps, but at least we were on our way and didn't need to panic.
Once at the airport and with our luggage checked in with British Airways, all was well and we could enjoy a light lunch and wait for our flight to be called.
I flew with the other three to London Heathrow airport, then said my goodbyes and continued my own journey home.
I had really enjoyed the TUI and MEIN SCHIFF 4 experience, especially with the pre-cruise add-ons as I called them, and would be happy to sail on one of their ships again.