John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Tuesday 19 January 2016

[Monday 18 January 2016]

10:15–15:15 TOM164 Manchester Airport–Jamaica, Sangster Intl Airport
Thomson Dream Mayan Treasures (start)
20:00 (depart) Montego Bay, Jamaica

Woke up ca.4.30am and didn’t really fall asleep after that. Got up… ca.6.20am, and went for breakfast ca.6.45am. I had Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, orange juice, bacon, sausages and baked beans, toast and marmalade, and coffee. When I got back to the room, ca.7.15am Janet was getting up.… The shuttle minibus that we’d booked for 8am arrived a bit late — we were the only passengers — and took us to Terminal 2. We looked in vain for a Thomson Cruises desk so joined the baggage check-in queue. However, there was a woman at a stand halfway to the check-in desks with a banner overhead “Thomson Cruises” (exactly, therefore, as the information had stated: “the Thomson Cruises stand”). She attached labels to our cases with our cabin number. (It was “9005”, the first intimation we’d had.) After handing over hold luggage we went through security with no hold-up. We bought me a replacement watch in the “duty-free” shops: a Sekonda for £15. I got in a panic ca.9.45am because Janet had gone [somewhere] and I noticed on the boarding pass “Boarding gate closes 09:30”. But they’d only just started boarding when we got there, and our seating row’s number hadn’t been called yet. We were ca. ½-hour late taking off. The seating configuration in “economy” class on this Boeing 787 was 3 x 3 x 3. We were seated on the front row of “economy”, I to the left and Janet to the right of the right aisle. I had a bulkhead in front of me between me and “premium” class (or whatever it was called); and after the “fasten seat belts” sign had been switched off, a little hatch affording a view through the bulkhead, and the curtain across the aisle also affording a view of the forward cabin, were closed, so the view to the front of the aircraft was cut off. The couple to the left of me were part of a larger party, and like us were booked on the Thomson Dream for a fortnight. They’d been to Israel, but hadn’t gone through into Palestine to Bethlehem, and hadn’t been able to visit the Garden Tomb (it was closed) but wanted to go back. They were from Leigh, Lancashire, and belonged to an independent Methodist church. Janet got talking to the couple to her right. I watched two movies, 2013 sci-fi monster movie Pacific Rim, which I enjoyed, as opposed to my opinion [when I first saw it], and 2015 space opera Jupiter Ascending. We landed perhaps 3.30pm local time. I could feel the hot air entering the cabin as soon as the door was opened. We entered the terminal building through the “tube” attached to the aircraft; someone took off the cruise passengers the “entry” form issued to us for completion on the plane; we were directed down a long corridor, and unaccountably back along the same corridor on the other side of the barrier of stanchions connected with retractable tape along the middle; there was no passport check; and we were shown to a coach parked just outside. The driver gave each of us an 8 fl. oz. bottle of water. It was perhaps at this point that a four-page information sheet, “Welcome to Thomson Dream and the start of your Mayan Treasures cruise”, was issued to us.

Janet banged her head as she was boarding, saw stars, and had a lump there. Driving on the left gave the place a “homey” feel, though the road signs weren’t the same as in the UK. The sign “ROUND ABOUT” on a traffic roundabout was rather stating the obvious, I thought! We passed a couple of schools — it was ca.4pm — where the neatly uniformed pupils were coming out. The first was a Catholic school. We were deposited at the terminal at the port; another form, issued after we landed, an “exit” form, was taken off us; we were given a glass of orange juice as we entered; we passed a three-piece reggae band singing Israelites; an envelope with our boarding cards was issued; we presented ourselves to a desk where debit-card details were taken and identity photos taken; we signed up for two weeks’ use of the cabin safe; then we walked across from the terminal to the ship.

There was a sign prohibiting walking, and instructing one to take the shuttle bus; but following the rest we ignored that, and walked the 50 yards or so to the ship. One of the cabin stewardesses escorted us to “9005” on the starboard side on the 9th deck. It was a little before 5pm. Our cabin steward Tatiana introduced herself. Janet found the air blowing in the cabin to be too cold, so Tatiana got an engineer to look at it, who reduced the volume of air being emitted. Below is the copy of the new passengers’ Cruise News that we got today: “Welcome onboard Thomson Dream”. There’d have been a different edition, “Welcome back to Montego Bay, Jamaica”, issued to continuing passengers; cf. 26 January 2016.

Cruise News, Tuesday 19th January 2014

There was also a letter offering us, “as a premier cruise guest”, the pressing of three items per person and a continental breakfast in bed. We had no interest in the latter, but perhaps tomorrow would avail ourselves of the former. I imagine that they had in mind perhaps the pressing of a suit for some formal “do”, but we got some T-shirts done.

And there was an invitation to Captain John Westgarth-Pratt’s “gala reception”, but we had no interest in that either.

We wanted to go for dinner before the lifeboat drill at 6.30pm, but the restaurants closed for “lunch buffet” at 5pm and didn’t for “evening buffet” till 6pm — insufficient time before the drill, so we went for a drink in the Sirens Bar, deck 11. I had a pint of Strongbow cider, and Janet had two cans of Diet Coke (17:09:11, 17:23:05). While we were there, I went up to the deck-12 Sun Lounge to shoot a couple of videos and take a couple of photos.

Tuesday 19 January 2016 17:31:44
Montego Bay, Jamaica

Tuesday 19 January 2016 17:32:06
Montego Bay, Jamaica

…The lifeboat drill was delayed some 10 minutes. It was a bit after 7pm when we went to the Lido Restaurant, and there was a queue at the main counter back to the door. I got myself some chicken consommé from the smaller, less crowded counter on the other side; and while Janet queued for some 20 minutes, I got myself breaded fish strips and chips from the same counter. When I returned to the table that second time, someone was sitting in my place! — despite my leaving the tacit message “This is occupied” by depositing my napkin on the seat. I sat at the same table opposite to where I’d been. Janet was delayed so long that they’d gone by the time she returned, and I’d sat back in the place I’d been in when she left. We went back to the cabin ca.8pm; Janet… went to bed. I… went to bed, just before 9pm — i.e. just before 2am back home.

[Wednesday 20 January 2016]

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