Fast forward to Wednesday morning and as I was in the gym on Deck 11 watching the waves get higher and higher, I spotted the pilot boat from Cobh turning back towards shore. Bing Bong, Captain here, due to extreme weather, we are unable to make our scheduled stop in Cobh and will have to inform you later what we will do.
It was 97km winds and four metres seas putting a stop to our overnight visit on the Lirica. As it turned out it was to be the worst storm in 26 years and we just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Hour by hour the sea got rougher and the winds buffeted us every way. The Captain came back to to let us know that we would be now heading to Amsterdam expecting to arrive there some time on Thursday night or Friday morning. Dismay all round, particularly from the overnighters, who hadn't packed enough clothes for three days!
Wednesday was like a nightmare, everyone was sick including intrepid me. The only thing to do was lie down and hope not to die. By Wednesday night the worse part of the storm had abated and we could see the winds dropping and feel the ship picking up speed. The Isle of Wight drifted past as we had dinner, those of us who could eat.
Some of the waiters were still green at dinner and I felt so sorry for them having to look after passengers, when all they felt like doing was lying down. We had a quiet drink after dinner, in a quiet ship, many passengers stayed put.
Thursday dawned calm and the seas had returned to normal, not quite flat but gentle swells. As the day went on the sun began to shine, people started appearing and it was hard to believe that the stormy day was becoming a memory so quickly. We arrived in Amsterdam around 11pm and some of the wilder souls on board headed into the city, which was just a step away.
Friday was an early start to pack up and leave our cabins to be readied for the guests from Cork to join the ship. We flew back from Amsterdam on Friday afternoon, relieve and feeling in an almost dreamlike state.
The most important thing to be learned from this experience was that MSC cruise line were fantastic in dealing with a major change of plan. Everyone pulled out the stops to make guests feel comfortable, do what they could to help and reassure them that the delay would be minimised. People were made comfortable in all sorts of ways, from access to telephones (only the Vodafone service worked the whole time - O2, Orange, T Mobile were useless) and internet to medical services, laundry and even spa treatments.
When it comes to a major disruption, it is how it was managed that people will remember, and we left Lirica, feeling a little sad and missing all our new found friends.
This video was taken of the pilot boats out on the sea off Roches Point during the storm.