Our first port of call is Falmouth, just a little way along the coast from Southampton. Despite its diminutive size (in terms of Princess Cruises) our ship is too big to dock in the harbour proper, so this will be a tender port. In his early morning address, the captain advises us that the transfer will take about 45 minutes, which seems like an extraordinarily long time compared to other ports.
Top tip: Tenders operate on a ticket basis – collect yours from the Crooners Bar on Deck 7, then hang around in the central atrium area until your number is called. Tender embarkation takes place on deck 4, Gala.
Once washed, dressed and breakfasted, we head down to the tender embarkation point and onto the small boat which will take us into town. The journey is quite long, weaving around various sailboats and naval transport ships. Eventually we are deposited at a dock where buses are waiting to take us into the centre of town proper.
With no definite plan about what to see or do, we tap up one of the local escape rooms. Located on the main tourist road, Market Street, Eureka Escape is able to fit us in, although we do have to book by phone.
We stop into the Prince of Wales across the road for a quick beer first. Neither the pub nor ale is particularly impressive, but it does seem to delight the American tourists from our cruise.
Beer drunk, we head back to Eureka Escape to try out the Nocturnal Alchemist game. It’s a multi-room affair with some nifty little puzzles, searching for various chemicals and ingredients – along with the key to the exit. We complete the escape room with just over 3 minutes to spare which is a relief. The gamesmaster claims that although one of their oldest rooms, the Nocturnal Alchemist is also one of their hardest. We did ask for five clues, but this is well below the twelve average – particularly impressive for a team of two apparently.
Was it worth visiting? Absolutely. There are some good, tricky puzzles to be solved here.
Market Street, Falmouth
Afterwards I pick up a Cornish pasty from Rowe’s Bakers to eat on the walk back to the port. It is delicious – and face-meltingly hot.
Top tip: Port transfer buses are free and run from the dock to the Maritime Car Park. Simply follow the road straight ahead to get to the centre of the town.
At the port, we are serenaded by a Cornish men’s choir which is nice and entertaining. There is something very special about a group of men’s voices in song.
On every trip we take, something unusual happens. One event that will stick in our memories for years to come. This has ranged from meeting the presidents of several countries to gatecrashing an international footballer’s funeral. But today it was getting lost on a tender.
As we left Falmouth dock, we quickly became engulfed by fog, severely limiting visibility. Not a problem in the age of radar – or so you would think. After 45 minutes or so, we noticed that our tender driver could not find the Island Princess – despite being one of the largest vessels for miles around. And so we looped and circled for another twenty minutes or so while the bridge issued instructions via radio.
Eventually the Island Princess loomed out of the mist and we were able to disembark. Some people were worried, some people were angry. Linda and I were just greatly amused; ‘This is that memorable thing, isn’t it?‘ Linda laughed. At least we didn’t end up gatecrashing a funeral this time.