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35-Days at sea

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal

Special to The Village News

At only five years of age, Prince Louis of Wales is already upstaging his famous parents, His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis and Catherine Middleton, best known as the Prince and Princess of Wales aka the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Earl and Duchess of Chester along with a plethora of other titles dating as far back as 1361.

At the recent coronations of Louis's grandfather King Charles III and Queen Camilla, the little Prince sat next to his older sister Princess Charlotte and in-between their royal parents. Who could guess the youngest sibling would become the star of the first pew at Westminster Abbey?

Meanwhile older brother Prince George had the working position as a page that carried the King's robe. The rest of Louis' family filled the front row sans Uncle Harry who was seated in the third pew next to his girl cousins.

If you didn't see the coronation, you missed watching the wee Prince behaving himself as a gentleman. The fourth in line to the crown, Prince Louis of Wales has all the charm and good looks required to attract the cameras which continuously found him.

Exhibiting more discipline than, I'll just say it, Queen Camilla who kept messing with her crown, Prince Louis only broke form once with a yawn. Let's face it, this future heartbreaker-scamp was simply too cute to be ignored by the media.

On this particular day, we were docked in Holyhead, Wales which was midway through our 35-day cruise on the Regal Princess this past May 6, 2023. Tucked comfortably in our balcony cabin we fell victim to the lure of the tele. And for what it's worth, we enjoyed every minute of the coronation coverage from early that morning until dinner time.

Weeks earlier, we'd left our home in Fallbrook to fly to Ft. Lauderdale, landing just after the rain had stopped and the tarmac cleared of airplanes. Shoving off Sunday, April 16, we slipped across a flat Atlantic for seven days nonstop from Ft. Lauderdale to Ponta Delgado, Portugal; up to Brest, France before crossing the English Channel to Rotterdam, Holland, then Zeebrugge, Belgium before mooring at Southampton port April 30.

The second leg of our journey started that afternoon after acquiring the new passengers. We sped to Portland, England for one night, followed by St. Peter Port on the isle of Guernsey the next. (And for all of you non-farmers, that is where the Guernsey cow comes from). Leaving port at 4:30 p.m., we dead-headed north to Cork docking at Cobh, Ireland. It was another 40 minutes by train to get into town to Cork. We opted to explore the Cobh port.

Before we left California, my husband charged me with two assignments. First, he wanted to meet a British couple and second, have a beer in an Irish pub. Which is why we ended up at Kelly's Pub for some local flavor. The music was to start at 2 p.m., which gave us enough time to get his hair cut and for me to shop for souvenirs.

By 11 a.m., we'd found a barber shop and met Andy, a handsome lad that clipped VJ's hair. As it turns out, and new to us both, this was a Turkish barbershop. Which means among other things, the hair in my husband's ears is not cut out, it is singed instead. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

What VJ did not do was the waxing. Andy explained he would put wax on a string, insert up the nostrils and when it hardened pull the string out along with any nose hairs. Gives me the willies to think about it.

We departed that night for Glasgow, Scotland and because of the size of our ship, we were anchored outside of Greenock, Scotland causing all of the passengers to use the tender to the dock. For those of us that didn't book a tour through the onboard services, there were several options to pick from. We could catch a 45-minute local train into Glasgow, or visit the village at the dock or, as we did, take the shuttle in to Greenock.

My mission was to find the Scottish tartan shop where I had a vest made for my husband four years earlier. Back then, I was traveling with my daughter around the British Isles when we stumbled into The Kilted Kin owned by father and son. Sammy the son, greeted us and remembered making VJ's beautiful Mussel Bourgh vest. It was a relief to see they survived the pandemic and were still in business. The father stood as the doorman in full kilt attire at the front door. Wouldn't ya know, we didn't get a picture.

Of the other thing we failed to photograph was the Loch Ness monster. That said, all of Scotland plays along with this tourist game by way of selling souvenirs.

On the last 12-day link of our third cruise, we scooted back around the British Isles in the same cabin on the same ship, the Regal Princess. Only this go-round, we focused on recovering from our colds and venturing in to Belfast to grab a bite and brew at The Crown Tavern for a dozen oysters and a plate of fish 'n chips. In Edinburgh, we took the citywide tour on the Hop On/Hop Off bus getting an overview of the palace and the castle after a pop in at The White Hart Inn for a nip.

Saturday, May 20 at Southampton Port, we transferred to the airport. Lucky for us, we stumbled into the waiting arms of Aisha (from Lithuania) at the Information Booth in Terminal 3 at Heathrow. She found us a hotel, private car transfers in a new Jaguar, no less, and confirmed our rebooked flight on British Airways in a wink, easing our anxiety after learning our return flight home had been canceled less than 24 hours earlier.

That said, it was a wee glitch in a carefully planned adventure that took us across the pond and into the heart of the UK onboard the Regal Princess cruise ship. It was a profound experience of international good will reminding me still, "there is no place like home."


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