Archive for the ‘Southampton’ Tag

Beautiful Day for a Sailaway!    Leave a comment

After a fabulous night’s sleep, we awakened to the sight of the Jade parked at the City Terminal pier. Well, we could see just the tip of its bum if we stepped out onto the balcony and peered around the Holiday Inn!  However, by taking a short walk we could verify that it was in fact our ship!

The Grand Harbour had recently been in the throws of restaurant renovations and during that time there had been a few complaints logged at Trip Advisor about the food service. I am happy to report that the renovations are complete, the breakfast buffet is back in the restaurant where it belongs and is quite good. 

After killing a couple of hours we dragged our bags across the street and to the ship. We arrived just after 10:30 and they had just opened up security. Despite NCL’s ban on bringing any beverages on board, I suspected this wouldn’t be a problem in Southampton, and I was correct. 😉

By 11:20 they began boarding. Our escort didn’t know what he was doing. We were brought to Cagney’s for lunch before they even opened. Of course they weren’t going to tell the suite passengers “no” so we were seated right away. The other passengers weren’t allowed in until noon. 

Oddly, despite having gone through its major refit, the Jade does not have the updated menus. It took me a minute to process that I was looking at a menu that I hadn’t seen in two years!

Southampton sure gave us beautiful weather for our sailaway! I had to make sure I didn’t spend too much time in the sun as I didn’t bring sunscreen! 😂

Southampton Calling!   Leave a comment

I am pleased to say that our path to the airport was much clearer than last time. This adventure begins on a sunny Saturday rather than a snowy, icy Friday. Additionally, our driver showed up this time. Also a huge improvement!  (Although his very conservative rate of speed paired with an alarming tendency to eschew turn signals brought on some tense moments!)

In less than an hour, we were checking our bags at the Virgin Atlantic counter. We booked Premium Economy through Delta, so our boarding passes were marked “priority” which allowed us the fast track through security. Yay!

After dinner at Logan, we boarded (yes, we could have had dinner on the plane, but not until 10:30. Too late for us). Virgin PE is okay. I think British Airways is more comfortable. Virgin’s foot rests were in an awkward spot rendering them useless, and the rows so close that when the person in front of me reclined, their seat hit my knees! 

Upon arrival at Heathrow, we went through the shortest immigration line that I have ever seen. Once we were cleared, we found our baggage carousel and quickly spotted our bags lazily flowing by. We were through so quickly that we had to wait for our friend and tour guide to arrive!

Jill is the proprietor of Windsor Day Tours, and knowing she is a bit of a Stonehenge expert, we engaged her to take us to Southampton via Stonehenge. I had been many years ago, but this was a bucket list item for DH.

Along the way, we stopped in a little village (sorry, no idea of the name!) to take in some lovely cottages with thatched roofs. 

Luckily we had pretty nice weather! It was breezy on the plain, but the clouds gave way shortly after we arrived at the mysterious monument. 

After an entertaining hour (listening to Jill was so much better than the audio guide from years ago!) she brought us to The Old Mill in Salisbury where I enjoyed my proper Sunday roast and DH his enormous fish and chips. 

Finally, we made our way to Southampton via New Forest, where we saw dozens of ponies, including frolicking, nursing and napping foals! So cute! (Alas, no pics though!)

Jill dropped us at the entrance of the Grand Harbit Hotel just after four. Perfect!  After checking in, we went on a mission for cash, water and pints. We enjoyed relaxing on our balcony as dusk settled in and preparing for well-deserved slumber. 

Southampton and Lyndhurst England   2 comments

During our travels, we found ourselves with one day in Southampton between the two Breakaway cruises.  We hadn’t really formed any plans beyond checking into the hotel and meeting up with fellow travelers.

After finding a last minute deal we moved hotels to the Holiday Inn Southampton.  That was the best thing we did all trip!  It’s a modest hotel, but a short walk to the pier and in a great part of Southampton as far as there being things to do. 

As we dragged our luggage off of the Breakaway and walked toward the hotel, we spotted two of the friends we were meeting up with.  That was great!  No fussing about, trying to get a hold of each other to decide where to meet.  They walked with us to the hotel, where we were able to check in right away.  We  then walked across the street to the Grand de Vere where the rest of our group was staying to see what we’d like to do for the day. 

One of our friends had a rental car and kindly invited us to go driving with them.  We jumped at the chance to see a little bit of England, and found ourselves driving to Lyndhurst in New Forest.  I had read a bit about New Forest and its ponies, so I was excited to have an opportunity to go. 

Our luck with the weather continued and we had a nice, sunny, day to walk around this pretty town.  We noticed a lot of Alice in Wonderland references and found out that the Alice who inspired the character in the book is buried here.  In fact we saw a sign at St. Michael and All Angel church directing you there.  I wish we’d gone into the church as I’ve since read that there is a fresco by Lord Leighton there.  I visited Lord Leighton House in London a few years back, so that would have been neat.

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Walking around took us to a park where we found a bunch of the famous New Forest ponies grazing (and looking for handouts!) along with a handful of cows.  After taking several pictures we walked back the way we’d come in search of lunch. 

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We perused a couple of menus and decided on the Stag Hotel.  Good ale on tap, and decent food.  I had a chicken, ham, and leek pie while DH had the Game Suet Pudding.  We agreed we enjoyed them all and our desire for “typical” English pub fare quenched!

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A stop at the largest Tesco I’ve ever seen allowed us to take on provisions for the cruise.  We always try to stock up on water (sparkling and still) on land as it’s so expensive on the ship.  For me, being in England is also a chance to grab my favorite prawn cocktail crisps.  YUM!

Back in Southampton, as we walked to a pub, we passed by several sights worth seeing, including a pretty church, a Tudor house and an anchor from the Titanic.  Pretty cool in such a short distance. 

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Everyone agreed to hit a local curry house, The Coriander Lounge, for dinner.  We popped in on our way by to warn them that there would be nine of us for coming by in about an hour, then continued on to The Standing Order, a Wetherspoons pub for ridiculously cheap beer. £4.20 for 2 pints.  I don’t think you can beat that anywhere! 

The Coriander Lounge was small and hot, but the food quite good.  DH had the lamb Tikka Masala and I had the Butter Chicken.  A selection of sides was ordered for the table.  Everything was very tasty.  If I ever sail out of Southampton again, I will be sure to go to the Coriander Lounge.

We wound up the day with a pint back at the hotel. (We had poked our heads into a pub called the Duke of Wellington, but found it very crowded…and a bit smelly.)  All of us agreed that we were just anxious to get to the Breakaway in the morning and start the final phase of vacation.

            

Breakaway One-nighter from Rotterdam to Southampton   2 comments

So the first revenue cruise of the Norwegian Breakaway passed in a blur. I will apologize right off the bat that this post won’t have additional pictures. I was a bit lazy with my photo documenting as I knew I would have all week to roam the ship and snap away.

We arrived at the Port of Rotterdam (literally a two minute walk from the Hotel New York, even dragging luggage) at about 10:30. They started check-in about 10-minutes later. Arriving when we did put us in the third group to board. It was painful watching so many others board ahead of us! (When we board again on Tuesday, we’ll be in the Haven and will get to board first…YAY!) The gangway was on deck 5 forward. We avoided the cluster at the elevators and dragged our bags to the aft elevators which had no one waiting at them. Quickly we were in our aft facing balcony cabin.

Some observations about the room. I think it may be smaller than other balconies (despite having space for a full-sized sofa) but it’s put together with an uber efficient use of space. There are shelves everywhere for storage, extra linens reside in drawers under the sofa. The life jackets are in a basket under the bed to free up space in the closet (which is very small).

A couple of things we didn’t like was that the room safe is very small. You had to tilt your iPad to get it in there and it took some puzzling things together to keep stuff from sliding out and being able to shut the door. Also there isn’t a single drawer in the cabin. Seems minor, but it’s nice to put items in a drawer, having them out of sight, and knowing that they won’t end up on the floor. Anyway, the room is nice overall and I would stay in a balcony cabin again with no problem.

After literally dumping our luggage (no reason to unpack) we dashed up to Spice H20 for a beverage. A nice area without the stadium seating of the Epic. It felt like a smaller space than the Epic’s though…especially when they held the sailaway party there!

At around 2:00 we decided lunch was in order and made our way to Savor, the main dining room that was open. Lunch was the same menu that Norwegian has had for awhile. Calamari, corn chowder, burger, steak, etc were all on the menu. The food was good (although the service slow). After this was the muster drill. Technically, Norwegian wasn’t required to have one as the cruise was less than 24 hours, but with the ship being new and the problems Carnival has had as of late, I think having the drill was a good idea.

DH and I positioned ourselves close to the exit so that we could race to Spice for sailaway. I’m glad we got there quickly and staked our claim as the area quickly filled and the five bartenders had their hands full keeping up with orders.

The City of Rotterdam put on a nice show for us. They released hundreds of balloons into the sky…unfortunately, the wind was whipping and the balloons were quickly whipped away…forward. I’m sure most at Spice didn’t even know that they’d been released (we knew only because we were watching for them). They then had a fire boat following us, spraying in full force. It was really very nice.

After the sailaway party, we wondered around the top of the ship and found our way into the Haven. The area had been left open for travel agents to view and they hadn’t gotten around to locking it up again. Oops! We very unobtrusively walked around the courtyard area. It is smaller than the Epic’s but with an upper level with more loungers that will take some of the pressure off of the main level. I noticed the first real evidence that we were on a brand new ship. There was a worker finishing up a large piece of artwork on the top level of the Haven. We chatted briefly with the concierge, Ruth, letting her know that we’d be joining her on Tuesday and continued on our way.

We found Ocean Blue and the raw bar. Deciding on a snack, DH was talked into trying some oysters after assurances that they were fresh and from Holland and I tried the crab toast. Both were very good. Talking with the waiter, I asked how many people Ocean Blue could hold as it’s very small. Including the al fresco seating we were told 99 people…so expect it to be full!! Also told that there are chefs on board from Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s restaurant in New York, The Lamb’s Club, overseeing the menu. In fact we watched one demonstrating to the guys working the raw bar on cutting up and presenting the 1/2 a Maine Lobster that was on the menu.

After snacking, we wandered around some more. Found the mini-bowling at O’Sheehans (only two lanes and really tucked into the corner), discovered that even though it was quite chilly out, they did have a couple of the bars on the Waterfront open (poor bartenders!). Eventually we made our way to the Garden Cafe for a quick bite.

Our evening ended at Fat Cats listening to the incomparable Slam Allen. He is a treasure and just as good as I recalled from the Epic!! I just hope NCL can find more performers to play in the blues club that match his talent level when’s he’s on vacation (and for the Epic as well!). Truly my favorite evenings ever on NCL have been listening to Slam play.

This morning we got up, a little depressed to disembark (mostly because of the inconvenience!) but not too much so as we would be back in 24 hours.

Actually we had a great “port day” with friends, driving to Lyndhurst and seeing the ponies of New Forest and having a lovely lunch. Given that we will have had a total of 8 sea days when this journey is done, I was very happy to leave the ship (of course my absolute love of England could have something to do with that!). I am looking forward to a fun night tonight, but as I wrap this up, my gaze turns to my magnificent view of the Breakaway, content in the knowledge that we’ll be together again tomorrow!

The Countdown to Breakaway is On!   9 comments

Well fellow travelers in ten days we begin the next adventure!

Just to show that it’s never too late to scoop up a deal, yesterday I switched our hotel in Southampton. A fellow cruiser on our Breakaway roll call had posted that this hotel was the “secret” hotel on http://www.lastminute.com and had a great rate of £80. (Goes to show that participating on roll calls on Cruise Critic can be valuable!) Anyway, I wasn’t necessarily going to move, then DH read that the hotel we had booked (the Grand Harbor) had changed ownership. That made him go look at reviews on Trip Advisor and he found that recent reviews were awful! On the other hand, the lastminute.com hotel had very good reviews. So I went ahead and switched our hotel, got us slightly closer to the port and saved £60!! Not a bad days work!

I will begin posting live April 26th as we begin our overnight travel to Rotterdam, continuing until we return home on May 7th. The hotel we are staying at there is on the water, so I’m really hoping to get some pics of the Breakaway arriving the morning we board her…we shall see!. Whenever possible I will post pictures, (although I may have to tweak sizes once I’m back home). If you have a specific request, post it here and I’ll do my best to accommodate you!

Almost time to pack!!!

Here Comes the Breakaway!   1 comment

As much as I enjoyed my trip to London (and reliving it through the wonderful comments I have received here and at Trip Advisor), it is time to move on to the next adventure!

In 54 days we will board the brand-new Norwegian Breakaway in Rotterdam.  This is for a one night sailing that will whisk us to Southampton, England in style.  We’ll spend the night in Southampton, stocking up on provisions for the next cruise (sparkling water, some snacks…maybe some wine), then board the Breakaway again on April 30th (8 weeks from today!) for the seven-day transatlantic cruise to New York City.

Logistically, this is going to be interesting.  We’re flying to Amsterdam via Reykjavik on Iceland Air (less than half the price of direct flights!).  Once in Amsterdam we have a guide picking us up for a private tour that will take us sightseeing in Amsterdam, The Hague and Delft on the way to our hotel in Rotterdam.  It’s expensive, but figuring that we would not be taking any tours on the transatlantic cruise, we’re spending about what we would sightseeing on any 7-day cruise.  It should be a nice, if exhausting day in the Netherlands!

We’ll then spend an antsy night in Rotterdam waiting for the Breakaway to arrive the next morning.  Being that our hotel is a five minute walk from the port and on the water, I’m hoping we’ll be able to see her from our hotel!

It will be the first time we’ve ever done a one-night cruise.  Unlike most of our fellow guests though, we won’t be trying to cram a week’s worth of cruising into one night!  I plan on just hanging back and enjoying the mayhem.  I’ll be taking plenty of pictures of our aft-balcony stateroom and some of the new features of the Breakaway for the blog.

Some of what’s unique to the Breakaway (until her sister ship the Getaway launches) are the Waterfront (outdoor shops, bars, and restaurant seating on the promenade deck), two new restaurants (the free main dining room Savor and the specialty seafood restaurant, Ocean Blue), a new dinner show (Cirque Dreams and Dinner Jungle Fantasy), mini-golf and more!!!  I won’t get everything that first night, but I’ll get it all during the transatlantic!

Tomorrow we can start making reservations for dinner and shows on NCL’s website.  I should say in theory…as the Breakaway is brand new, I won’t be surprised to find that show schedules aren’t finalized yet.  The ship just left the “garage” last week after all (good thing too as her sister, the Getaway, had a small fire today!!!).

Norwegian Breakaway
(Thank you Andreas Depping for sharing your wonderful photos!)

I’m sure I’ll have more things to say between now and the time we fly to Rotterdam, so stay tuned!

 

 

 

Posted March 5, 2013 by cubechick in Norwegian Breakaway

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