Was NOT woken by announcements. Woohoo! This may be a first for a P&O cruise. Ever. Woke naturally, breakfast arrived bang on time and was exactly as ordered. What a lovely start to a day! Met the parents and went ashore. The shuttle bus was right next to the ship, so no valuable energy resources wasted crossing vast terminals and so on. Another plus. Also, bright sunshine and blue skies, too, which was nice.
The shuttle bus dropped us somewhere quite useful in town (and easy to pronounce for return taxi trips!). The shuttle buses are free for most passengers, unless you got a specially-discounted fare, which is extra cheap because (a) you don’t get to choose your cabin; you get what you’re given and (b) you pay £4 pp each way for shuttle buses. There are a few other caveats, but those are the main ones, I think. Anyway, it’s free for us.
Madeira is very disabled-friendly, with properly dipped kerbs, plenty of wheelchair-accessible loos and so on. But it is VERY hilly, so it’s tricky to get around on foot. Funchal, the capital, is built on hills and cliffs, which make for great views when you get wherever you’re going, but pretty tricky to get there! The far end of town even has a cable car to get you to the botanical gardens. It’s that steep. And, views-wise, Reid’s is at the other end. Afternoon tea on the verandha overlooking the bay is very lovely, but quite expensive. Everyone should do it once, but your bank manager might not be so pleased if you do it regularly!
The shuttle bus dropoff was, rather handily, almost opposite a taxi rank, so we had very little to do to get to transportation. We went to Forum Madeira shopping centre. This is outside town to the west, on the way to Camera de Lobos, which you may recall from a previous blog entry – Winston Churchill painted there and we were given free banana liqueurs, remember? We didn’t go all the way out there this time, only as far as the shopping centre, which was about 10 minutes out of Funchal.
Forum Madeira contained the following shops which we needed:
Mr Minit (for hearing aid batteries for dad and watch battery for Ben’s watch (which he gave me last night cos he didn’t want to disembark). Tick.
C&A for mum. Although I was the one who did the buying of stuff here. Several tops and some thick socks. Tick.
Punt Roma for mum. She bought a rather lovely cardigan. Tick.
McDonalds for me to have my gluten free hamburger. Woohoo! Tick.
We spent several happy hours pootling slowly around. Ironically the longest distance covered was down the side corridor to the lifts and loos!
The only shop we did not have that we needed was a pharmacy, so we took the bus back into town. Parents got back on the shuttle bus to the ship, and I walked up a hill to the nearest pharmacy to get our missing items. The fact that I may have accidentally wandered into H&M and bought some trousers and makeup is neither here nor there. Moving on. Nothing to see here. Ahem.
Overall, a ludicrously successful day. After several days at sea, with plenty of thinking time, there is always a List of Stuff to get when we finally get to land. To get it all done in one day is unheard of. I can’t think of a time it has happened before, anyway.
By the time I got back, however, I was so shattered, I could barely stand, so I had a lie down before dinner. Unfortunately, the addictive nature of Love, Actually rather stopped me from dozing off, so I was pretty pooped by the time I got to the table and reunited Ben with his newly-resurrected watch. (Is it physically possible to watch the last fifteen minutes of that film without getting something in your eye?!)
After dinner, I went back to the cabin, and that’s where things started to fall apart. All I wanted to do was put the telly on, get into my pjs, veg out in front of something pointless, like Tipping Point or Sleepy Hollow, and go to sleep. But I couldn’t find the remote control and the telly doesn’t work without. I searched the whole cabin. I even checked in the fridge! Then I gave up, got dressed again and went to find my steward, who was doing turndowns in the next corridor. He came to search and he couldn’t find it either. So he rang his boss to ask what to do. I was so tired I was on the verge of tears by this point. I just wanted to go to bed, not wait for other idiots to turn up and stare at me blankly. He then left to go and talk to her. I rang her and said I wasn’t prepared to sit around while she sorted out her managerial processes, I just wanted a replacement remote so I could go to bed. She said she would contact Technology and Communications and … I hung up. I had already explained I was not interested in the ship’s processes, I just wanted to sleep. Then the Desk Housekeeper rang me and suggested sending the steward to search. When I said he already had, the Deck Housekeeper refused to give me his name and said I was shouting at him, and then he hung up on me. I wasn’t shouting. I didn’t have the energy! I was crying with fatigue. I rang Reception and the lovely Chelsea said she would sort it. Not long after, a remote arrived. An old battered thing, that rattles when it moves and is held together with sellotape, but it does the job. Lovely. Job done. Then Chelsea rang to say it was on its way (!) and I said it had come. So now I could go to bed. Lovely, ta. Great. She said she would speak to the Deck Housekeeper about customer service and how hanging up on the passenger is not acceptable practice. Fine, do what you like, but on your own time. I’m going to bed.
Last minute thought – must put out breakfast card for the morning before retiring. Check the folder. You tell me if you think there were any menu cards in it. Go on, guess. So I rang Chelsea back and she said she would send some. Half an hour later, I ran out of patience, again, and went out into the corridor to find a steward standing at the end of the corridor, having a chat with a colleague, with a wadge of breakfast cards in his hand. If looks could kill, I’d have been arrested on the spot, and the new carpet would have been ruined. He handed them over – rather sheepishly – I expect he had been told the delivery was urgent as the passenger had had enough tonight. NOW I can go to bed. TWO HOURS after I got back to my cabin. Thanks, people. Thanks. It wasn’t like I wanted or needed an early night or anything.
On the plus side, it was a little too hot for jeans today, so tomorrow is almost definitely shorts. And we don’t dock til 10, so no early starts in the offing either. All good. Gnite.