St. Peter Port, Guersney: The port stop that wasn’t

My cruise aboard the Grand Princess continues….

Thursday, July 5, 2007 — St. Peter Port

Our view of St. Peter’s Port from the stateroom balcony…this is as close as we got to seeing the place

We were due to arrive in St. Peter Port in Guersney (the second largest of the Channel Islands) at 7am, but the seas were very rough, and we had gale force winds blowing across the deck. Sure enough, the announcement came that we would be unable to dock there, and would continue on to Holyhead, Wales instead.

I honestly wasn’t that upset about skipping St. Peter Port. We were only going to be there for a few hours, and from the research I’d done prior to the trip, all we’d have time to do is shop a little bit, and perhaps see Castle Cornet. I kept my fingers crossed that the seas would calm down for our journey to Wales.

In the meantime, we’d ordered room service for breakfast, so the kids were able to relax and take their time waking up. The portions were small (if you order “pastries”, be prepared to get one, and only one, pastry) and the coffee was sour. If you want a really good cup of coffee or cappucino, you have to go to the Promenade Bar on Deck 7. He usually has free pastries and little slices of cake to go with it, too.

By 10am, there was a Revised Daytime Activities list issued from the Social Staff, so we browsed through it and mapped out our unexpected Sea Day. We went to see the Fruit & Vegetable Carving demonstration at 10:15 in the Atrium (the kids loved that), then tried our luck at Jackpot Bingo at 11:15 in the Vista Lounge. (The bingo cards were less expensive on this ship than they were on our previous cruise with Celebrity.) We’d planned to go to the Port Talk on Holyhead and Dublin, which was originally scheduled for 2pm, but later we found out that they’d moved it up to 10am, so we missed it. Even so, the talk was repeated several times on Channel 19, so we were able to catch it later on in the day.

There was a full slate of activities throughout the day, with something for everything to enjoy. We took part in Brunchtime Trivia, Arts & Crafts, Scattergories, and bought some “Gold by the Inch” to wear at Formal Night.

By 2pm, we met up at the Princess Theatre for a Port Talk on Belfast & Greenock. A lovely woman named Jan, with a lilting Scottish accent that reminded me of Robin Williams’ Mrs. Doubtfire character, gave a slide show presentation about the highlights for each port. I don’t know if it was the comforting tone of her voice or the constant rocking of the ship on the stormy seas, but more than half the audience (including our 7-year-old) fell asleep while Jan was talking. (Which is a shame, because she had lots of good information). After that, I learned that it’s better to wait and catch the Port Talk on the television instead….something about the darkened theater just puts people right out!

By 3pm, it was time for Afternoon Trivia in the Vista Lounge, then off to Afternoon Tea in the DaVinci diningroom. The kids LOVED it. The tea was fantastic, and my 11-year-old became instantly addicted to warm scones with jam. They had small sandwiches (ham & cheese, roast beef, smoked salmon, tuna salad), cookies, meringues, and little slivers of cake. It was a nice treat, and a great way to tide everyone over until dinner.

We went back to our stateroom to rest up, then started the process of getting myself and three girls ready for our first big Formal Night (not an insignificant undertaking!). Each bathroom had plenty of soap, shampoo & conditioner and lotion for all of us, and there was a hair dryer in the bedroom near the desk.

Even though our dinner seating wasn’t until 8:30, we went downstairs by 7:30 to have our Formal Night portraits taken , and it was a perfect time to go: we avoided all the lines and were able to get shots taken with two different photographers, with two different backdrops (one was a faux staircase, the other was two floral arrangements with the atrium in the background). Those who waited until closer to 8pm had long lines.

We had some extra time, so we stopped in the Explorers Lounge for a drink, and listened to the “resident party band” Epithani play some songs (they were very good). Amy danced with Rich to “Moon River,” and then we headed for the dining room. The lounge is very cozy, but if you’re a non-smoker, try to sit on the right-hand side, where you’ll be furtherest away from the smoking section.

The seas had gotten even worse since we left St. Peter Port. The ship was moving from side to side, and it was impossible to walk a straight line across the floor. We all looked like we were drunk, and all you could do was laugh at yourself and your fellow passengers as we negotiated our way across the decks, swaying back and forth like pendulums. At dinner, our server at dinner told us that this was the worst, roughest seas they’d experienced in the four months that she’d been on the ship. She said they’d all been pleasantly surprised that the Transatlantic trip had been so smooth, and were amazed at how much movement they were experiencing tonight.

As the night wore on, the seas got even choppier, and I saw several passengers get up and leave the Botticelli diningroom, looking green and feeling ill. My 7-year-old fell asleep at the dinner table, the 11-year-old had no appetite whatsoever, and the rest of us found it difficult to ignore the constant rocking of the ship. Soon, the announcement came that the 10:30 show of Cinematastic was cancelled due to the weather and would be rescheduled, so we cut dinner short and went back to the room to get some rest, hoping that the seas would calm down by tomorrow for our stop in Holyhead, Wales.

Next up: The will-we-or-won’t-we tender at Holyhead, Wales

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