Monday, April 20, 2009

Slow boat to Jersey

At the end of our Easter break in the UK we made it to the ferry terminal in good time only to find I’d confused Poole with Portsmouth and instead of the fast cat that would get us home by lunchtime we were to be cooped up all day on the conventional ferry. The family were amazingly forgiving, though the need for penitence changed once we went up from the car deck.

What used to be called the Purser’s Office (in those grim, dank, interminable days - and nights - of Sealink crossings) , was now ‘Reception’ and we went there first to enquire about a cabin. How many berths would you like? That’s £34 please, (a four-berth cabin is £73 on the night crossings) and and so-and-so will show you to your cabin. Lo and behold, a smiling member of staff appeared to conduct us there. The en-suite cabin with views over Portsmouth harbour had clean linen, soap towels; a desk and socket for working at a laptop; the bunks were comfy, too. Exploring the Commodore Goodwill, we found ourselves in clean, comfortable and relatively empty cruise ship, with a choice of lounges, restaurant and bars, and a family film to watch.

Later on the kidz opted to stay in the cabin with all its novelty so the parents, kicking their heels with glee as they legged it down the corridor, could enjoy lunch on their own: a choice of several main courses washed down with a choice of half a dozen wines, followed by coffee. The restaurant staff were as friendly and helpful as everyone else we were served by. Far from being a bore, the journey turned out to be an enjoyable extension to our holiday, a perfect mini-cruise. Okay, so the sea was calm, but as one of our fellow travellers said, the conventional ferry has the advantage of not being subject to the vagaries of the weather.

I realised today how much I dislike travelling by air, the whole wretched experience from the online check-in, luggage worries, the queues, the searches, the long walks, the close confinement in a narrow metal tube at 20,000 feet – no, whenever I can find the extra time I’m going to take Condor's slow boat between Jersey and the U.K.