Waking up on the Friday with mixed emotions. We had been on this ship for 7 days, it was like home away from home. The crew had looked after our every whim, always with a smile on their face. Our housekeeper especially. He lives in Malaysia, has a wife and 2 very young children, however, he spends most of the year working on the cruise ships. Our rooms were always immaculate, and both Paula and I with sensitive body’s never smelt any cleaning products. Every night he would turn down our beds and place a chocolate on our pillow. On our beds would be a swan, or a dutch hat etc depending on which port we would be in the next day. He made them from towels. As soon as we went off to breakfast he would come in and clean our rooms. We had grown close to a lot of the crew and they were like family to us.
So this morning we put on our bedside tables our spare euro coins for him. We felt he really deserved some extra money.
Our bags had to be in the corridor by 7.15 am for pickup for the coach that would take us to Paris. Every one had been given colored tags depending on where they were heading. Ours were blue.
Once our bags were in the corridor we headed up to the restaurant for our last breakfast on the ship. There was a different atmosphere in the restaurant, a lot of chatter, lots of goodbyes.
Once breakfast was finished we went to the lounge to wait to be called for the coach. Roughly about 40 of us were heading to Paris, most on the coach. 7 would be going via the fast train with our Cruise Director. The fast train would take them 2.5 hours, for us over 8.
Several were heading home back to Australia, Tanya,Peter and Luke were spending some time with their other son who lives in the Netherlands then off to England to see her sister. Some were joining tours to other lands. It was the end of the cruise but the beginning of a new chapter on our holiday.
Our call came to board the coach. We watched from the coach our bags being loaded into the hold. Our Cruise director came into view, he had 2 phones in his hands. I said to my sisters, he looks angry and wondered what was going on. He announced that for some strange reason our tour guide for the trip had been grabbed literally to another cruise. So it was his task to find another guide. We waited about 30 minutes then a lovely man boarded our coach. He was Dutch and I can imagine him being woken up “get down to the port now”. He would come down to Paris with us then would head back home on the fast train. A small insight into the lives of the tour guides. Be ready to work at a moments notice.
We were advised that there would be 3 stops on the way to Paris. Two 15 minute toilet stops and a lunch stop in Ghent. It would be a lunch river cruise.
Putting all those coins on our bedside table would come to haunt us when we stopped for our first toilet break. You needed a 1$ euro to be able to use the toilets. Luckily Muriel still had some coins left. Stand in line, put the coin in the machine, a stub would come out the turnstile would then let you through. Later learnt the stub would give you a $1 euro off food and drink purchased in the cafe. We didn’t need to purchase any food so we gave our stubs to some of the people lining up to buy food.
Next stop Ghent. A beautiful place and well worth visiting.