On Monday 29th April 2019, 14 members of Seaham Harbour U3A embarked on board the M.S. Balmoral of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines for a ten-day cruise to Sweden.  Sailing from Newcastle was a huge bonus and it was lovely that Kathleen and Bob were on the quayside to wave us off.  The sea was calm and life on board ship was truly wonderful.  The food was superb, as was the service and the entertainment and the all- inclusive element of our trip meant that a gin and tonic was always close at hand. A splendid example of quality of service came when Joan, very politely, mentioned at dinner that the dumplings were not quite up to scratch.  Her comments were noted by the senior waiter, and, on her return to her cabin she found that she was the recipient of a dozen fresh strawberries encased in chocolate as a good will gesture.  Jennifer meanwhile, found herself on stage in the Neptune Theatre assisting the magician very successfully in confounding the audience in finding a way to place fifty pence into the body of a coca cola bottle through its much narrower neck.  The actual bottle and fifty pence piece will be on display at the next full meeting. We visited Malmo, Visby, Stockholm and Gothenburg though several party members indulged in tours which took them further afield.  On the return leg of our journey we sailed through a network of picturesque Swedish fjords, which presented a tapestry of charming villages and sprawling hills for us to savour. The weather was chilly throughout, particularly in Stockholm where the mid- morning snowflakes encouraged us to curtail our city walk in favour of an early return to a splendid lunch on board ship.  George and Carole were at the helm for our trip as organisers and facilitators and they did a superb job.  Their excellent combination of caring and organisation ensured that we all benefitted hugely from having other U3A members close at hand but everyone was fully able to go off independently and take what they most wanted from the cruise. Overall, the trip was a huge success and I would recommend Fred Olsen cruises to all members.  To George and Carole, wonderfully well done, more of the same please!!

Alan S.