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Dinner last night was ‘smart casual’, as it always is on the first night. We’re on club dining, second sitting, on a table for eight. As of last night there are just six of us at the table – Val and I, a Scottish family of three (parents and a young lad), and a middle-aged single chap from Manchester. Perhaps it was because it was the first night but the conversation didn’t really flow.

Dinner was OK, especially for me as I had the night’s speciality dish, Lancashire Hotpot, which arrived hot and was tasty. Val had ‘Beef pavé’, with which she wasn’t terribly impressed. It looked and tasted quite like roast beef slices, and wasn’t very hot. We had also both forgotten that dinners are now served plated, there is no silver service, and this was a bit of a shock at first – we had been waiting for a waiter bearing more veg, and he never appeared. But there is an advantage to this – we can’t pile our plates too high with too much ‘more veg’. So when we finished we weren’t too stuffed. We were however tired, so we just went back to the cabin.

This morning we woke at half-past eight, breakfasted and then went to a port talk about Stockholm – this will be the first port of call in another few days’ time. It was quite informative, although there was a big segment about the available excursions. But there was some mention of independent passengers, so it was useful, and the slides were attractive. After the talk we wanted to ask a question of the Excursions team – how much does the Vasa ship museum cost? – but found a queue for the Excursions desks stretching all the way across the atrium; thee must have been at least 50 people queuing. Perhaps passengers aren’t booking excursions in advance, now that payment has to be made in advance? Rather than join the queue Val wrote down our question and dropped it into the drop box – we’re told we’ll have an answer within a day.

We have booked just one excursion on this cruise, a two-day bash in Saint-Petersburg. As yet the tickets for this haven’t appeared in our cabin. We’ll leave it another day or so, and if they haven’t appeared by then we’ll start harassing someone.

This lunchtime we were talking to a chap in a wheelchair and his wife. We gathered that he’s only been in the chair for a few years, and they’ve only started cruising in that time, and as a direct result. I asked them what they thought of it, and the answer was “fantastic”. The chap’s only previous experience of the sea was a a rough mackerel-fishing trip off Newquay some years ago during which everyone on board was ill, so he took some persuading to go on a cruise ship. Within the first hour they were converted, however. They mentioned that they’d been to the Baltic before, on Azura, and were also on Ventura for the Grand Event a couple of years ago.

Now it’s just gone 2:30, and we seem to be in the Glasshouse again. Cheers!

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