We’ve begun to grapple with the practicalities of our forthcoming Christmas cruise on Arcadia. It’s for seven nights from the 20th to the 27th of December, around the English Channel, the North Sea and into the Baltic. It includes three calls: Zeebrugge, Copenhagen and Oslo. The impetus for it came from Val. She decided that after cooking Christmas dinner for various family members for 38 years in succession, she deserved a rest – someone else could cook it for her instead. I’m still wondering if she was expecting me to have a go, but when I mentioned this cruise she agreed pretty much immediately. (Of course, having decided that the family would have to fend for themselves this year, she’s now wracked with guilt….) One of the things we decided right at the beginning was that we wouldn’t drive to Southampton for this cruise – memories of the storms and snow of the last few winters are just too strong. So we decided we’d do the following:
- Travel to and from Southampton by train – it’s on a direct line (Cross Country), although a lot of journeys do involve changing trains at Birmingham New Street;
- Avoid carrying large bags around by using The Baggage Handling Company’s services.
So far we’ve got as far as booking train tickets. These have turned out to be a bit more expensive than I expected. I was hoping to book a couple of Advance tickets for [not much], but it seems I forgot that the days we’ll be travelling are the two Saturdays either side of Christmas. Not many Advance tickets are available for those two days…. The most cost-effective tickets have turned out to be two Off-Peak returns via London, which means we’ll have to get across London from St Pancras to Waterloo. That’s a good reason to use the Baggage Handling Company for our big bag – you don’t notice just how many little flights of steps there are on Tube stations until you’ve got bags to carry.
There’s one other advantage to getting proper return tickets – we’re not tied to specific trains in the way we would be with Advance tickets. We have done this to and from Southampton in December before, and experienced an expensive disaster on the way home. The return tickets this time will give us reserved seats on specified trains (well, to/from St Pancras they do – no seat reservations between Waterloo and Southampton), but we’ll be free to use other trains on the same route if we hit problems. So no repeat of the problems after the Black Watch cruise.
Roll on December!