SOVEREIGN 24th September 2016 (part 8, the final one)
Friday 30th September 2016
Today we expected to arrive in Toulon, in France, but it was not quite as we know it. Several miles away across the bay I could see yellow hulls of two Sardinia Ferries & Corsica Ferries but the area we berthed in was called La Seyne-sur-Mer. This is in the Var Department of south-east France, to the west of the city of Toulon. The weather was beautiful outside but it seemed there was no easy method of transport away from the ship at this remote berth, other than a very long walk to a local bus stop, to go into the far away city of Toulon. We could have taken a ship's excursion, but most of us decided to have a ship day and walk on deck rather than ashore, and it turned into an excellent choice.
One big grey-hulled ship was manoeuvring slowly nearby with help from a tug, and we noticed her name was ANWAREL SADAT.
At 11.30 a.m. our group were taken for an arranged visit to the Engine Room, which initially involved many security problems. I think at one point the females were separated from the males of the group, but that proved to be because we might all need to be 'patted down' for further security purposes. Then it appeared that we could not leave Reception because of some mis-communications, but eventually we were allowed to set off with escorts to go to the Engine Room. We were all amazed at the possibility of doing this, but of course it was not to be! We were to visit the Engine Room Control Room, which was still a fascinating experience. In fact the Master of SOVEREIGN, Captain Ivo Botica, came to join the Chief Engineer, Risto Sisic, during our visit. We enjoyed seeing the Alsthom Builders Plates from 1987, and various camera shots of parts of the workings of the ship. One long table had a set of deck plans, with a separate one headed 'Viking Crown Lounge', which cheered several of our group.
Back in the public rooms we went for lunch, then ashore for some photographs in the limited space allowed on the quayside. There were local stalls on the quayside and many of us were pleased to buy hand-made soaps, lavender articles and pretty china.
After departure we went down for our final dinner on board SOVEREIGN, followed by star-gazing up on deck. The Milky Way was bright and easily visible as it had been on several evenings on board when viewed from a darkened upper deck.
Ships seen: Sovereign, Mega Andrea and Mega Express Five over in Toulon port, Anwarel Sadat, A631
Saturday 1st October 2016
Here we are at 9 a.m. arriving back in Barcelona port, and viewing all the other ships lined up along the quay. STENA NORDICA with her GNV colours could still be seen at a distance, and a Grimaldi vessel was leaving. We passed the other cruise ships, and noticed six new locomotives sitting tidily on the quayside.
Then it was time for final goodbyes and disembarking SOVEREIGN for me to head home to the United Kingdom. I had time to stroll up La Rambla and make for the station and airport. I flew home with Norwegian Air on one of their very new B737-800 aircraft, which was very comfortable.
Ships seen: Stena Nordica in GNV colours, Carnival Vista, Mein Schiff 5, Costa Favolosa, Sovereign.
Once again I had enjoyed my annual cruise with the Ocean Liner Society in very congenial company, on the good ship SOVEREIGN.