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Adriatic 2010
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After last year's successful cruise to the Western Mediterranean, several people told us that this year’s cruise to the Adriatic would be too late in the year and it would be cold in the Mediterranean by the end of October.  Also the schedule was criticised as involving too many sea days.  The number of sea days was a real issue as it turned out but temperature was to prove the least of our problems.  A
spectacular series of port visits were arranged: Malaga, Zakinthos, Corfu, Dubrovnik,The harbour Dubrovnic
Venice, Malta and finally Cadiz.  There was a naval theme throughout provided by Nick Slope of the Nelson Society, as we were to pass Cape Trafalgar on Trafalgar Day and we were all invited to drink to the “Immortal Memory”.  His talks whetted our appetite for the various destinations: such was the plan!
The Bay of Biscay was crossed without incident and in the early hours of day 3 we passed the Pillars of Hercules in to the Med. noises were heard in the corridor and at 7am  “This is the captain speaking, we are
missing a crew member, we have reversed course to return to the place 
where he was last seen.  Spanish search and rescue resources are co-operating.  This will affect the activities planned for today.  I will make a further announcement with details later.”  Malaga was cancelled, the missing crew member was found hiding in an air conditioning duct and after frantic efforts we were found a berth in Palermo which is a bit like exchanging Brighton for Southend -  well, after 4 days at sea any land was better than none.  Three good stops followed at the attractive islands of Zakinthos and Corfu.  The old city of Dubrovnic is the jewel of the Adriatic, trouble was far from our thoughts.
We were recommended to get up early for the entry to Venice as it is
Grand Canal Veniceclassed as one of the great arrivals.  As it turned out it was a wet, grey, dark and windy morning which resulted in an early arrival in the semi-dark.  “Is that water I can see in St Marks square?” asked the Port lecturer, it sure looked like it and so it proved to be.  Venice was awash with rain and high tide.  Then to add further to our woes when it was time to leave the wind had increased to such a level that the authorities closed the port!  We eventually got away about 4 hours late - not too bad. Malta is dripping with history: Greek, Roman, Knights of St John, theGrand Harbour Malta great siege of 1565, then there was the George Cross heroism of the whole island in 1942.  As we approached it, 16th century fortifications stood out in the bright morning sunshine - what a landfall and what an Island.  The disappointment of Venice was burnt away in the morning sun, and an exhausting day’s sightseeing, only slightly marred by a sharp shower, followed.  Then off across the Med. again and towards Cadiz.  The port from which the Combined Fleets of France and Spain set sail to do battle with Nelson at Trafalgar in 1805, and before that there was Drake in 1587who singed the king of Spain’s beard before the Armada sailed in its attempt at the conquest of us in 1588.  Almost everyone seemed to be looking forward to Cadiz.
We were on the home leg relaxing in the warm sunshine looking forward to Cadiz.  The Officer of the Watch did his usual midday update on position speed etc, but finished with the ominous words “the captain will speak to you in 15 minutes”.
By now on this cruise we had learned that when the captain wants to speak to you, you know that it is not going to be good news.
 “This is your captain speaking, we have a problem!!!  There is a big storm brewing in the Atlantic, and it’s coming our way, 30 – 40 ft waves and winds up to storm force 12 are predicted.   I propose to abandon our visit to Cadiz and try to out run the worst of the storm and put in at Le Havre.   I will brief you all at 1500 in the Palladium Theatre”.
Oh bother! is there anything more that can go wrong?  Yes - but let’s not dwell on that.  At full speed we scuttle around Cape St Vincent, up the length of Portugal, past Corunna and with pressure dropping fast we struck out confidently across the Bay of Biscay.  A rough evening ensued as we cleared Spain and the evening meal was skipped by many as we flew northward like the Flying Dutchman of old seeking a port.  Those with the stomach for entertainment were royally entertained by a young Welsh singer, who made up for the patronising, not so funny comic of the previous night.  The morning brought calmer seas as we rounded Ushant and we derived some shelter from France.  Then about 5 am on the penultimate day of our cruise we slipped quietly in to Le Havre.  Some shore trips were organised those to Rouen and Honfleur were particularly successful in lifting the gloom that descended when Cadiz was cancelled.  All that remained was to pack our cases, and depart northwards with our bodies still rocking and rolling.
An epic cruise but despite the troubles and disappointments it was successful.  The onboard entertainment was excellent.  ”The Headliners”  song and dance group were exhausting to watch, had everyone downing their coffee in one gulp and dashing to the theatre to secure a seat.  A very big thank you to Margaret for organising it even though it wasn’t quite what you were expecting. Also thanks to June Gibbs for arranging the coach, and for every one for being such good company.

Noel Christopher