Saturday February 1st
I set the alarm for 07:00 and was up and having breakfast on deck just as the Celebrity Eclipse was arriving into what was already a very busy day in port. Berthed in-front of us was Royal Clipper and next to that you had Wind Surf, and behind us was Noordam; so collectively there were more than 8,000 cruise passengers around Bridgetown today.
I had to vacate my cabin by 09:00 and my flight was not until 17:00; so I would not be disembarking Ventura until at least 14:00. Because of this; I took the opportunity to purchase an Outside “Day-Cabin” which means I could use it between 10:00 and 15:00 as a place to rest, freshen up, and to also store my hand luggage; which was very handy. I was allocated cabin E205 which is located on the starboard side at the forward end of the ship; not too far from the elevators and the forward gangway. Once I dropped my bags off in the cabin I decided to wander through the shops at the cruise terminal for a little while. Because there were so many cruise ships in port; the free Wi-Fi couldn’t cope with the amount of people trying to log-in to the system; but I managed to check my e-mails and a few other bits for a while. After spending an hour or so there, I walked back to the ship and took a couple of photos of Royal Clipper and the other vessels in port.
I then went and sat by my usual spot in the Beachcomber Pool for a little while before heading down to my cabin to freshen up and get changed into some warmer clothes; since I doubt that shorts and a t-shirt will keep me warm when I arrive back into the UK in the morning! At around 14:00 the announcement was made that passengers on the TOM025 flight to London Gatwick should disembark Ventura and proceed directly to the motor coaches which were waiting to take us to the airport.
Within five minutes or so I was off the ship and walking down the gangway for the final time and stepping on to the motor coach which departed for the airport shortly after. Upon arrival at Grantley Adams International there was no need to check-in since this had already been done on the ship; so I just proceeded directly through security, handed in my white immigration pass and then was free to roam around the departures lounge until it was time to board the aircraft. There isn’t really much to do at the airport; but a couple of shops and a bar or two is all that was needed. Around 45 minutes prior to our scheduled departure time of 17:00 we were taken on buses across the airfield to the aircraft and then I walked up the steps and found my seat; 14J – by the window!
Once everyone was on board we departed on-time and ascended into the skies above Barbados before making a 180-degree turn and setting on a series of north-easterly courses which would take us through along the jet stream and back towards the UK. The return flight was alright, and I managed to get a couple of hours sleep. The food wasn’t anything to rave about, but I was quite happy with my packets of crisps and cereal to keep my energy levels up. In the end we touched down into London Gatwick at 04:55 which was five minutes ahead of schedule, however it seems that the ground crew were not quite ready for our arrival. Once disembarked, it was a fair walk to the UK border and then to the luggage carousel where my case arrived almost as soon as I got there, which was very handy indeed. Once into the arrivals area I went for a drink and a quick snack at the Costa Coffee outlet within the Gatwick Hilton Hotel before heading home.
Overall I have had a lovely and rather eventful Caribbean adventure with P&O Cruises’ aboard the Ventura. I would like to point out that the “bonded-luggage” system they operate on voyages that begin and end in Barbados is certainly a fantastic reason why so many people choose to sail with them. It simply takes the stress out of having to collect your bags from the airport, go through immigration, take your bags with you to the cruise terminal and then wait for them to arrive in your cabin. I wish that this could be the case at many other embarkation ports, as it really makes the start and end of your holiday much easier.
Thank you for joining me on my Caribbean adventure, and until next time… farewell!