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"The Magical Mystery Tour" - Fly med cruise on Cunard Queen Victoria Part one...getting there

My next adventure was taking my mum on a well deserved holiday she had not had one for about 50 years, and the journey starts on a sunny but slightly upsetting day in April.

April 20th I travelled back to Cardiff for the scattering of my dad's ashes. I had travelled up a few days before because it would have been his birthday on the 21st and I had been going up to see him for the last few years, so thought I would do the same this year. It all started in the kitchen at home, when I asked my mum 'Where would you like to go on holiday?' she replied 'Constantinople' or Istanbul to the rest of us!  

Queen Victoria in Rhodes
I sat and thought about it and wondered if there was a cruise that went there. After looking around I came across a fly med cruise with Cunard on Queen Victoria. Perfect! Athens, Dardanelles, Istanbul overnight, Dardanelles, Rhodes, Mykonos, Athens. After getting all the information together, and checking the passports were in date. I sat my mum down, explained it to her and we debated about it for a day or two. In the meantime she called her brother to see if he wanted to go. Before you knew it I was calling Cunard up to book the cruise, I came back downstairs and said 'Done, we are going on holiday!' The look of excitement on my mums face was priceless. 

So the planning and count down clock started, we logged onto our voyage personaliser and booked all our excursions we wanted to do. Things were done and organised, just needed to wait for the days to pass and the holiday to arrive. 

Then everything went down hill, Turkey started to become unsafe and the dreaded email came through to say that the itinerary had changed, due to the safety of the passengers and crew they had to remove Istanbul. My heart sank at this point because this was the one place my mum wanted to go and the only reason for booking this cruise. That afternoon I got onto the phone to her to break the news, she was devastated also to the point that she no longer wanted to go. I left her for a few days to think things over and when I called back she had come to terms with it and came around to the idea on the new places, Volos, Greece and Marmaris, Turkey.  Wonderful, the holiday was back on and we had started to look at the new excursions for the new ports. 

A couple of weeks before the holiday and another email came through with another itinerary change! Due to the situation in Turkey, they had to remove all ports to the country. So Volos and Marmarise was removed and replaced with Kotor, Montenegro and an extra day at sea. I broke this news to my mum and she took it better this time, she started to research the history of Kotor instead.

August 27th quickly arrived and it was set to be a long day. My mum arrived in Southampton the day before from Cardiff because we had to get a 2am bus to the airport on the 27th. I fed and watered her before heading off to a wedding reception that evening (note already up since 5am). When I got back, we did our final checks of passports, tickets, suncream, then waited for the taxi to arrive. The taxi driver was a lovely man and we got talking about what it was like to live in Barry in Cardiff - small world! We arrived at the bus station ready to start the first part of the journey to Athens, as we boarded the National Express to Heathrow, I began to feel tired and croaky (currently up for 21 hours).

1 hour and 45 minutes passed quickly, with no rest, but now we were at the airport and had to try and navigate the maze with my mum and her crutches in tow and also two suitcases for the first part. We arrive at the check in just as it opened and was able to get through quickly enough because at this point we both needed coffee. Check in and security navigated just left us to negotiate the crowds to find some breakfast before boarding opened, Pret a manger topped the list, so we sat down and tucked in. 

Once we were fed and watered, we did the usual wander around and purchased some travel pillows and chocolate. Before we knew it boarding opened and we made our way to the gate. This was when we realised the true advantage of having the crutches - priority boarding! Therefore as soon as we arrived at the gate we were able to go straight out to the bus for the transfer to the plane, which meant that we were that little bit closers to be able to try and get some rest before we arrived in Athens. 

3 hours and 15 minutes later we landed in Athens but still had a long way to go before we could fully relax. Between the two of us we only managed to rest for about 30 minutes and most of that was me, because my mum spent most of the journey looking out of the window! Once we were off the plane and through the airport it was time to find the coach to take us to the port. Cunard was very efficient in getting everyone to the right place and ferrying us to the port. We followed the signs to the coaches, they took our bags and then we boarded one of the many coaches for the final leg of the journey which would take an hour (currently up for 30 hours with a 30 minute nap). We were greeted by friendly staff, who gave us a bottle of water and some information about the cruise and destinations. 

An hour passed and before we knew it we were arriving at the docks, the sight of Queen Victoria in the distance brought a smile to my face because I knew this was it, we had arrived and was so close to being able to enjoy the holiday. Just had to collect our passes, go through security and we were done!

In part two I will talk more about the cruise itself - oh and in total we were up for about 36 hours! 


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