I was at a dinner in the Glenview Hotel last night for a tasting menu dinner by chef Sandeep Panjay when I heard this great story. Tina Koumarianos of Image Magazine told about one time when she was young her family were having Sunday lunch in the Glenview Hotel.
During the meal her father waved a couple of times at a lady at another table. Her mother presumed he was trying to get attention from the waitress, eventually she asked him was he having a problem. He said no, "but I think that woman waving to me is one of our neighbours." Mother looked to see who it was and there was Elizabeth Taylor playing waggly fingers with her husband! You never know what can happen in the Glenview!
Going back to the dinner, it was excellent sublime courses of salmon, lobster, Wiclow lamb and a divine strawberry and chocolate dessert. Just as impressive was the vegetarian menu, with great attention to detail and variety.
This was the scene on Tuesday (Aug.14) afternoon in Dublin Port on MSC Lirica. It was hot and Mediterranean-like with guests sun bathing around the pool. The day in Dublin had begun with a nice ceremony for the MSC Lirica's maiden visit to Dublin. The ships crest was exchanged for a statue of Molly Malone and all was lovely on the high seas.
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.
My notes from the interview on the Last Word TodayFM on Tuesday Aug. 7.
Three Ways to Book
1. Tour Operators:
Generally Turkey is the cheapest this year with prices in August for under €400 particularly with WingAbroad.ie – Kusadasi principally
Falcon Holidays also doing Turkey with good selection of all inclusive resorts €700 – 900
Topflight has Lake Garda, mainly half board from €650 - €800
Thomson Holidays Lanzarote selection of half board holidays for 11 nights from €1,000-1,200.
Thomas Cook has some excellent value to Egypt with all inclusive from under €500. Good accommodation too,
Sunway will be brining Morocco back on September 22 with guarnteed sunshine. A week will cost from €449pps.
2. On Line Travel agents who combine flights and accommodation with transfers Clickandgo.com has a four day Italy and Croatia sale with €70 off
Lowcostholidays.ie. – Spain and Algarve for 400-500 per week
But if you can wait until September the prices drop to under €300 for same holidays
Holidaysonline.ie offers for next week are around €550-700 per week to Portugal, Canaries.
3. Doing it yourself
Flights are expensive to Spain and Canaries in August, but accommodation has dropped, less Spanish people taking holidays. So it can work out a bit cheaper. Portugal has a lot of new accommodation in the past few years, so more availability and better prices.
Check out Verona, two new flights mean good fares, even in August and Milan with three airports, means prices are a bit better. Trains in Italy are great so easy to get to Lake Garda area and accommodation prices are coming down for second half of August.
France, look at other airports, La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Nantes, Carcassonne and you will find good deals and find accommodation on sites like HomeAway.com and Holidaylettings.com.
Family deals with the ferry Irish Ferries, Brittany Ferries and Celtic Links see some good value crossings this month. Combine with accommodation from PV-holidays.com and VacanceSoleil.com where they have reduced family chalets, mobile homes and apartments by up to 50 per cent for the end of the season.
Prices in Mexico go down from the middle of August and a week all inclusive is available from Tropical Sky from around €1,100.
Guaranteed sunshine in Dubai with 5 nights in a luxury hotels from 1,030 from Travelmood.ie
Deals in the Caribbean with Classic Resorts from €1,200 for all inclusive week away in St. Lucia.
Treat yourself with business class air travel and the five star Meridien Khao Lak resort in Thailand from €2,230pps.
Cruise special offers with MSC cruises with discount every week on Mediterranean and Northern Europe cruises, prices from €700 for a week cruise only, MSCcruises.ie, and through your local travel agent.
The travel search site Skyscanner has run a survey with its users to identify the top 10 rudest nations on the planet as perceived by others travelling to those countries. If you’re worried that your country might make the top 10, look away now. Here’s the list:
3. United Kingdom
7. United States
Bringing up the rear on the list, and thus deemed the most polite, were the following:
28. New Zealand
32. The Philippines
33. Caribbean region
But how accurate is such a survey. Apparently 65% of those surveyed were from the UK & Ireland. That maybe doesn’t do France any favours. And how much is the rudeness just perceived rather than actual, perhaps due to differences in culture.
So should the Irish be disappointed that they didn't appear in the bottom of the list?
Joan loves to travel, write about, hear about it, see it, talk about it, anything about travel.