Saturday, January 23, 2016

Holiday: Cruise to America - Day 11 (Final Day): Kennedy Space Center

Our last day and we’re on a full-day tour of Kennedy Space Center with the optional up close part!

It was an early start so no time for the Gym today – I’m so disappointed!
Winking smile


We disembarked to be greeted by a fleet of coaches that eventually whisked us to our destination. Over the course of the day, we were to have three Guides aboard, and they were all so passionate about the area/NASA/The Space Center, it was a joy to listen to benefit from their extensive subject knowledge, their anecdotes – and on our Bus, their singing ability! (yes, really!)


We’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot over the years and we’re not easily ‘wowed’, but we’ve only one word to describe this all-day tour: WOW! I don’t think we’d previously fully appreciated the scale of Kennedy Space Center – ‘Very large’ doesn’t even begin to do it justice. Add to that the Americans way of doing ‘theatre’, and you couldn’t fail to be amazed at their numerous AV presentations – not a PowerPoint slide in sight (thankfully!)


We arrived just before 10am, and after a quick security check, we were in! At exactly 10, an astronaut appeared, and whilst us Brits were scrambling for the best angle for a photograph, the whole place fell silent momentarily, as every American there, stopped what they were doing, put their hand on their heart and sang, as the National Anthem began. This could have been horribly OTT, but it was very moving!








Lunch was at the imaginatively titled ‘Moon Rock Cafe’. It offered a wide range of fast food - fish and chips, burgers and the like and was doing great business.
Disapntingly, no rocket Salad, although Ralph did Facebook: ‘don’t forget to leave space for desert!
Smile


Our final stop of the day was in the Atlantis Exhibition. It was so large they had to put the rockets outside and build the exhibition around the Shuttle itself!





And in flash, our day was over. The only thing telling us that it had been an all-day tour was our feet! It was well worth it though, and after a quick coffee, we were back on the Tour Bus heading back to the Ship. By now, we were shattered, so it wasn’t an ideal time to start the packing, but we made a start and then headed down to the Britannia Restaurant for our final meal with Dennis, Janet and Malcolm.

As was becoming the norm, it was another superb meal and we finished the evening by saying goodbye to our table partners for the past 10 days – and our Waiters.

Then it back to the room to finish off the packing – ‘cases outside by midnight’ seemed a real challenge earlier on this evening, but we did well and it was all completed with plenty of time to spare.

Back to reality tomorrow as it’s straight to Miami Airport - and home by lunchtime on Saturday.

So, was this Cruise any good?
Well, Cunard have been doing this sort of thing for 175 years and it was very obvious from the start, it's a well-oiled machine. The quality of the food on-board was never short of 'fabulous' and I can honestly say that we didn't have a duff meal at any time. Even the Lido, renowned, in our experience (irresepctive of which Cruise line) for being a bit of a trough-like, offered a wide range of quality food in a calm environment. The Staff everywhere were excellent and it was great to see everyone putting their focus on looking after the guests. The key staff - our Waiter and our Cabin Steward were absolutely at the top of their game, and made us fell very welcome.

Disappointments
Overall, the weather was a bit on the cool side. Even Miami at 21 degrees was surprisingly breezy - and the Azores, in the pouring rain, and with its dull skies, made it instantly forgetttable. The entertainment was 'OK' (just!). Having got our fingers burned on the first night by the Ship's Singers and Dancers (super cheesey) and that Magician who had obviously discovered time-travel, but got the switch stuck on ‘the 70s’ (oh no, not the ‘knot in the rope’ trick!), meant we didn't end up experiencing/risking the complete range of talent on board - and therefore we probably missed out.

Surprises
American Immigration seemed to have all been to charm-school, and as a result, the short time we spent queuing was immediately replaced by feelings of being made very welcome. The Kennedy Space Center was overwhelming (in a good way) - the sheer scale of the venue itself and the scope and achievement of the US and its space program was almost too much to take-in at first glance. The morning lectures were always a joy and it was always good to come away having learned something new.

Dining Partners
Seasoned (or even occasional) Cruisers will know, the evening meal 'pre-configured' table arrangements can be the high or low point of a Cruise. The eternal question: Is it best to be on a Table that's got enough people on it to protect you from all that attention from 'the boring couple from Stateroom 1187' - or, to be completely anti-social and stick with a table for two? On this Cruise, we didn't get a choice, as all the twos had gone. Initially, on the first night, it looked like we were doomed. Colonel Mustard's evil half-twin and the twice-married-been-there-done-it-all-six-times-twice-married-American-Octagenarian created a powerful combo that might have turned us both into mad axe murderers by the time we disembarked! Luckily, divine intervention (or maybe just a couple of 'man overboard' exercises gone horribly wrong) meant that after just two nights, they disappeared (they were obviously just as bored with us!), and we ended up on a table consisting of Dennis (a Priest from Baldock) and Malcolm and Janet (Jewellers from Stirling) – and we all got on really well.

Stir Crazy
We've not taken a Cruise before with so many consecutive days at sea - and that made us SO very pleased to see land when we eventually did! Bizarrely, even though we LOVE cruising, this one has convinced us that a round-the-world (120 days!) would simply be just too boring (we should be so lucky!). The relatively narrow suite of activities offered on-board, and all those days at sea, means there's only so many animals can be carved from vegetables, and if I hear one more 'yee-hah' from that line-dancing beginners' class, I will find another use for my creatively carved parsnip!

So, all in all, it's been a(nother) good one. Great people, great food, great service, the obligatory slightly bigger waistline – and a courgette in the shape of a motor-cycle - what more can you ask for?
Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile