John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Tuesday 2 February 2016

[Monday 1 February 2016]

Thomson Dream Cuban Revolution[i] (end)
08:00 (arrive) Montego Bay, Jamaica
17:30–07:00 (3 Feb) TOM165 Jamaica, Sangster Intl Airport – Manchester Airport
[i] Between our booking this cruise and actually going on it, the name changed from “Cuban Revolution” to “Cuban Fusion”.

Cruise News, Tuesday 2nd February 2016
It occurs to me that there must be three editions of the “Cruise News” produced on days like this: one welcoming new “guests” aboard; one for continuing “guests”; and the one below, “Farewell from all of us on Thomson Dream”:

I felt a bit rough because of the cold I’ve got when I got up ca.7.30am.… I told Janet that I didn’t really feel up to going ashore. She’d had in mind to get a taxi to downtown Montego Bay and have a look around.… I was surprised to see that Tatiana was still on duty on this, her day for returning home, when, ca.8.30am, we left to go to the 11th-deck Sirens Restaurant for breakfast. Our journey home would take us till tomorrow, but hers the day after: she had to fly to Orlando, Florida, thence to Zürich, thence to Moscow, and even then there was an internal flight to her home in the Ural Mountains. I had Rice Krispies but didn’t follow up with anything else because the queue at the other counter stretched back out of the door. Stolnoyev was having a conversation in Russian with a lady at the next table to ours, and I heard his reply «болгарский»; so I assumed that she’d asked him his nationality and that that was what he told her. He was wearing gloves today and behaving himself, so we assumed that he’d been informed of the complaint we’d made. “We got him! We fixed him!”
 We returned to our cabin, and ca.9.10am, while Janet was making last preparations to vacate it, I went down to the 7th deck to locate the late check-out cabin that had been assigned to us: “7024”. It was an inner cabin on the port side towards the bow, very small compared with “9005”. In fact, the stewardess was nearby, who told me that she’d almost finished preparing it, and let me take away the door keys. So at 9.30am we vacated “9005”, leaving the keys on the dressing table/desk, and carried our hand luggage, winter coats, and the small case we hoped to check in as hold-luggage, down two decks to “7024”. [The rest of our hold-luggage — two large suitcases — had been taken away during the night, and we wouldn’t see them again till we would get to Manchester.]…
 We went and found seats at a table in the Lido Pool area; and because it was before 11am, the time that the Lido Restaurant stopped serving breakfast, and because there were no queues in there, I decided to go in and get bacon, sausages, baked beans and brown sauce, and bring them out. Janet had two cans of Fanta Zero (09:34:18,
[ii] 10:01:02).
 Then back to the cabin, and after a bit out again. The Coffee Port had gone back to having fierce air-conditioning,
[iii] so we went up and sat under cover at the Sirens poolside. I had two slices of pizza and some fries for lunch.[iv] The three-piece rock band set themselves up, and in their repertoire played a couple of Beatles songs. While they were still playing we went back to the Lido poolside. The only seats we could see were at a table occupied by a man on his own, and we got talking to him. It’s quite easy for seasoned travellers to compare accounts of where they have been and would like to go. I decided to have a bottle of Old Speckled Hen; and a bit of alcohol seemed to mitigate the symptoms of my cold somewhat.[v]
 We went back to the cabin, then at 2.30pm, the time that the hire of the cabin expired, we vacated it, and went down to Deck 4 where we left the ship for the last time. We entered the terminal building; passports were checked and the “Immigration/Customs C5 Card” taken off us. We boarded the coach to Sangster International Airport, where instead of following the rest to the right to “security” and “departures” we went to the left to find the Thomson airline check-in desk. One of the clerks wanted to see some holiday documentation, and there was some umming and ahing, but eventually they let us check the small suitcase in. It contained aerosols, which we would have had to dump if we were to carry it on board. Then we went to where the others who’d got off the coach had gone, joined in a considerable queue to have passports checked and to be relieved of the small “Departure Record” form, had to take shoes off when walking through the security scanner (not the painful trial that it would have been for me a few years ago), and so went airside.…
 Boarding was done in stages (“Rows … to … board now”), and we were last. We got aboard ca.5pm — or ca.10pm, for I’d already changed my watch back to GMT. The access “tube” gave access to the forward door, so we had to pass through the “Premier Club” compartment with its somewhat roomier 2 x 3 x 2 layout and more padded seats to get to ours. On boarding, the “Premier Club” customers (people on all forms of transport are called “customers” nowadays, not “passengers”) were served with glasses of white wine or orange juice. I quipped that these drinks were drugged to prepare the “Premier Club” customers for their lethal injections! We were scheduled to take off at 5.30pm, but found ourselves waiting for clearance in a queue of perhaps three and didn’t take off till ca.6.15pm. So the “about 25 minutes” that the captain announced when we didn’t take off on time was stretched to something like 45 minutes! Not long after the “Fasten seat belts” sign was switched off, we were served with drinks — I chose red wine (“as rough as a badger’s arse”) — and not long after that, dinner. I chose red wine with that too (“I thought it might be OK with food; but no, it’s still as rough as a badger’s arse”). I found the chicken with pasta and broccoli quite acceptable, but the carrot cake dessert was so nauseatingly sweet I had to spit it out. I looked up and saw that the light on the “toilet” sign was grey or blue, not red; but it was lying because there were some four people waiting at the toilet halfway down, and the same number at each of the toilets at the far end. Later, breakfast was served. I was able to lift the omelette off and discard it. [I find eggs nauseating, unless they’re disguised. (In cakes, Yorkshire pudding and fried rice they’re OK.)] The fried potatoes weren’t “contaminated”; and although the sausage had specks of egg on it, it was spicy enough for no flavour of that to be detectable (it was much better than the bready things that passed for sausages on the ship); but I didn’t try the baked beans on which the omelette had been sitting. I got cold and had to wrap myself in the small blanket provided. It didn’t occur to me till after we landed that I’d put my winter coat in the overhead storage bin! I watched one movie, 2015 disaster film San Andreas, after which I selected some easy-to-listen-to music, reclined my seat back and dozed.… I was using the in-ear phones issued on the outward flight; they were unusual in providing sound of acceptable quality. I wasn’t much aware of having been asleep, but the flight’s eight hours seemed to pass quickly.

[ii] 09:34:18 seems too early, given my account of our activities prior to this: “At 9.30am we vacated ‘9005’, leaving the keys on the dressing table/desk, and carried our hand luggage, winter coats, and the small case we hoped to check in as hold-luggage, down two decks to ‘7024’. I helped Janet check each item on the account we’d been given with each of the receipts.”
[iii] A receipt for Fanta Zero from the next-door Medusa Bar (11:46:21) suggests that we had a drink in the Coffee Port, though, before leaving, in which case I may have traded my fully stamped “loyalty card” for an Americano.
[iv] There are receipts (12:10:10, 12:41:29) for two Fanta Zero and an Old Speckled Hen ale, but these are headed “Pool Bar”.
[v] Strangely, there are receipts (13:26:51, 13:45:36), headed not “Pool Bar” but “Siren Bar”, for two Fanta Zero and an Old Speckled Hen.

[Wednesday 3 February 2016]

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