Football’s coming home… and so are we – onboard Celebrity Silhouette
Forgive me for being a bit emotional but it’s been 15 months since I stepped on a ship and now the day has come. I’m booked on a six-night UK cruise on Celebrity Silhouette and I couldn’t be happier.
Sure, the itinerary – a return trip from Southampton via Dover, Belfast and Liverpool - isn’t the most glamorous, but who cares when you’re sailing on a great ship and England are on a winning streak in the Euros.
If you’re planning or have booked a UK cruise, a word of warning, you’ll need to be very organised before you go.
Make sure your NHS app is working so you can show your double vaccination status at the port and you’ll also have to have had a negative lateral flow test 72 hours beforehand. You’ll also need to get very familiar with Celebrity’s app, because, in this post-Covid world, you’re going to be using it on your cruise a lot.
But here’s the thing – it’s worth it. Because once you’re on board, all the little added pressures seem to disappear. As we boarded, alongside the other guests, the crew literally clapped us on board.
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We were all wearing masks of course, but I swear everyone was smiling. And why wouldn’t we? The crew were super happy to be working again and us passengers, were delighted to be cruising again.
Stepping into our stateroom on deck 7, all the memories came flooding back.
Here was our home for the week and cases unpacked, we were delighted with the little touches – British tea and a proper kettle – on an American cruise ship. There is a God!
Powerful shower and great toiletries? Tick. But best of all, a super comfy bed, designed to send you into a sailing-induced sleep. Sheer bliss.
We’d boarded the ship at 3pm and by 5pm the Sunset Bar on deck 15 was rammed with happy cruisers toasting being back on board the stylishly refurbished Celebrity Silhouette and a big cheer went out as we sailed away from Southampton at 6pm precisely.
Looking at Google Maps on my phone, it was great to see where we were sailing, when there were so many familiar names – hello to the Isle of Wight and greetings to Portsmouth!
On the first night of any normal cruise, exploring each deck would be the order of the day, but tonight something very different was happening. This being a British cruise (albeit on an American ship), smart shirts had been replaced by England shirts and you couldn’t move at 8pm on the Lawn Deck or in the Craft Social bar, when the big match between England Ukraine kicked off.
As the staff looked on with bemusement (whilst of course showering us with ice-cold beers and cool cocktails), England went on to thrash Ukraine by 4-0.
It had been a long and very emotional day in lots of ways, so apart from a few die-hard barflies in the Martini Bar, everyone headed back to their cabins, happy in the knowledge that they had won an important game and the right to cruise again.
Train adventures and a Sushi taste sensation
Sunday morning sees us all making an early 8.30 start. We’ve reached Dover overnight and we’re booked on a jaunt across the Kent/Sussex border on heritage train line Kent & East Sussex Railway.
It’s funny to be a tourist in your own country but fun too and this trip turns out to be a gem. On an easy journey, we travel slowly on a 50s train through the rolling countryside, from Tenterden in Kent to Bodiam in Sussex.
Back on board, we head straight to Sushi On Five and some great California rolls and sashimi. The portions, I must say, are as big as the welcome.
It’s only been 24 hours since we boarded, but all the great things about cruising are flooding back – the service; the sheer joy of being on a big ship; the super comfy cabin with a sea view; the endless dining possibilities and for me, the total relaxation of being at sea.
Sure, it’s not an exotic Caribbean or Med cruise, but it’s a start. And for cruisers, new and old, it’s total proof that cruising is back.
Now, roll on Belfast and Liverpool, and go England!
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