Sister Ann and brother in law Michael were going to celebrate their wedding anniversary on the Pearl so we decided to join them. Not a good start because a passenger had picked up the wrong passport when he left home so had to go back to get the correct one! Therefore left late. Anyway, no big deal and we went on our way to Amsterdam, through the Kiel Canal to Kiel and on to Sonderborg, Hundested and Gothenburg.
Day one: Excellent journey down, arrived at Dover about 13.55 and were on board by 14.20! Our fixed dinner table was (head) waited by Jonathan, who we had known for some years. A definite plus. In the evening went to see Stuart Anderson (keyboards, singer, cocktail pianist and a bit of a comedian - we'd seen him several times on the Sapphire and are fans). Clocks forward so an early night, a rough one weather wise!
Day two: We should have reached Amsterdam about noon but one of the gates on the North Sea Canal malfunctioned so we were held up for several hours and didn't get into port until about 17.00. Didn't go ashore but watched the classical concert by the Victory Piano Quartet, who I had recognised when they played in the departure lounge at Dover (had seen them twice on the Sapphire). Excellent! Overnight in Amsterdam.
Day three: Amsterdam. The dance hosts went ashore and did not make it back before sailaway! They WERE OK so had to be the butt of many jokes when they rejoined in Kiel (If staff/crew are not back by sailaway time it is their responsibility to get back to the ship - discipline is almost like the Royal Navy, they are all responsible for their actions).
Day four: Sailing through the Kiel Canal. The last time we went through the Canal it was hot, this time (this is October remember) it was warm enough to sunbathe (I didn't bring my shorts!). Lovely weather and a nice day. The Quartet again at 18.15 and Stuart in the evening.
Day five: Kiel.
Day six: Sönderborg. The entertainment tonight was a HUGE Welsh Bass Baritone named Anthony Stuart Lloyd. Very good but he did a bit of Opera - Carmen - which (in my opinion) he would have been better doing Carmen Jones. Didn't quite make it as an opera singer.
Day seven: Hundested. Also Ann and Michael's anniversary. In the evening we had a table for six and Hilary (Social Hostess - the best!) and Stuart (entertainer - the best?) joined us. A terrific evening, could not have been better. Edna and Michael went to see Elektra (a violin duo who they thought were brilliant). Ann and I stayed in Shackleton's Bar to hear Stuart.
Day eight: Gothenburg (overnight). Another Concert with the Victory Quartet (Hilary announced that it was Viktoriya's birthday). Stuart and Hilary did a musical quiz - we won! Honestly, no collusion!
Day nine: At sea. Tonight's entertainment was Anthony Stuart Lloyd doing a tribute to Howard Keel. Absolutely excellent! Edna is the Musicals fan but I know class when I see it and this was top class.
Day ten: At sea. Stuart gave a taster of his CD in Shackleton's at noon. We'd seen it more than once and bought the CD but, nevertheless, wouldn't miss it. A Classical quiz with the Quartet and Hilary later (we had most of the the music they played but, at our age, couldn't remember them!). Joint winners only. Edna and Michael saw Elektra again in the evening (stunning they said - next time?) and Ann and I stayed with Stuart. When Edna returned from the show Stuart played (as a parting gift to us, we'd told him it was "our song") "The air that I breathe".
Day eleven: Docked on time and home before 11.30!