So today (Saturday) we’ve travelled to Southampton, prior to embarking Britannia tomorrow. We’re staying in Southampton overnight, at the Novatel. It seems to be OK. I haven’t stayed here before although I have stayed at the Ibis Budget a couple of times and the Novotel is several steps up from that. (As it should be, of course.)
We left Sheffield at just after 8:30 am and pulled into the Novatel car park about six hours later. This was a bit longer than on other drives, although given the fact that it was a Saturday, the beginning of the bank holiday, and the M1 was full of squadrons of Sheffield Wednesday supporters heading off to Wembley, the duration wasn’t too surprising. There weren’t many significant hold ups, just slow progress in quite a few places, e.g. the A34/M3 junction. Val says that this slow drive validates her view that we should always drive down the day before the cruise stars, and never drive on embarkation day – she says that after more than five hours and still not having got to Southampton, she would have been getting very stressed.
After a restoring cup of tea in our room we ventured out for the afternoon. We got the QuayConnect bus to Town Quay and then the RedJet fast-cat over to Cowes. First port of call was a bistro/bar in Cowes Old Town that I’d visited before, The Coast, where further restorative beverages in the form of glasses of wine were drunk. Then we walked to Cowes Esplanade and watched Emerald Princess and Arcadia make their turns round the Brambles, and after that we went in search of food. We found this in the Union pub – our earlier bistro was fully booked for the evening.
Then back to Southampton and the hotel by mid-evening. We did wonder about going back out for a drink at the Pig in the Wall, another bar I know from a previous visit, but decided it was a long walk from the hotel. So now we’re in the hotel room, not long after 10pm, falling asleep.
Tomorrow we grapple with P& O’s new embarkation system. I’ll report on how that goes.