Day 13 dawned bright and sunny again. We had been so lucky with the weather since Bergen. The Icelandic guides all told us that we had “brought the Summer”!

It was like the last day of term, returning library books, collecting photos and DVD from the photographers and packing.

I met an interesting couple at coffee. He is of Icelandic ancestry and when they started researching his genealogy they discovered he had relatives in Reykyavik. His grandfather had left Iceland in the 1890s, along with many other young men, to seek his fortune abroad. He had never returned, but he had a brother who did and they were able to make contact with these hitherto unknown relatives. It must have been very emotional as they were shown the boyhood haunts of his grandfather and other places connected to him.

JW  and I showed what old crocks we have become as he was developing a cold and I developed toothache! At first the toothache wasn’t too bad, but as the day wore on it got worse and even aspirin wouldn’t dull it. JW passed on the most unlikely sounding tip, which had been passed on to him by a dentist friend, to sip cold water and rinse it round the tooth! With some  trepidation I tried it and it worked :). You have to keep doing it but at least it gave the aspirin chance to work.

I reflected on this cruise and inevitably compared it to the Baltic cruise we did last year on Ocean Majesty.

This was completely different, earlier in the season, larger ocean. Last year we concentrated more on manmade buildings and artifacts. This year was the magnificence of Nature.

Athena is larger than Ocean Majesty and has more public places and more deck space, but I did like the cosiness of Ocean Majesty and our cabin, at least, was more comfortable on Ocean Majesty. The other thing we missed this year was the lovely family feeling on Ocean Majesty. Many of the crew had been on her for many seasons and were comfortable with each other and the crew on Athena, though they were unfailingly polite and friendly to us, were mostly new to each other and hadn’t relaxed into that easy comradeship yet.

We probably have too rosy a picture of the first cruise because,

 a) For many years we had not had a holiday.

 b)We found an immediate affinity with six people at our table in the dining room. Our companions this time were a very amiable couple, but there wasn’t the same “kinship”.

c) It was all a novelty. JW had never been on a cruise and I had never been on a cruise as a passenger.

I concluded that you couldn’t really compare the two, each had its own special magic. None of the manmade buildings could surpass the beauty of the fjords and the gilding of St Petersburg was no more beautiful than the sunset over the snowcapped mountains, and nothing (short of being closer) would give me more of a thrill than seeing those whales!.