It’s sometimes interesting how little pieces of luck, seemingly good or bad at the time, sometimes come together to deliver something unexpectedly nice. This was the case for our second port stop aboard the P&O cruise ship Arcadia on our weekend break. Our second full day would be spent on the island of Guernsey, a place that neither my wife nor I had visited prior to 2018 but which would turn out to be our second visit to the island in the space of four months having previously visited in May when we cruised for a week on Sapphire Princess (see: Sapphire Princess, Guernsey). With this being the case and with Guernsey being a tender port and with our visit taking place on a Sunday we’d already decided to not rush ashore (and, indeed, once ashore in St Peter Port our plans were somewhat unformed and would be fluid depending on where our wandering took us) but upon waking in the morning I discovered that the socket in which my phone had been plugged into overnight in order to produce noises (helps me sleep) had been switched off. Rather than a fully-charged phone for the day I had very little battery power left so our departure from the ship was put on hold as I fast-charged the phone. My wife read in the room and I stepped out onto the balcony to look at the surroundings.
When we’d booked the cruise aboard Arcadia we’d left it late and so selected a balcony guarantee grade. If you’re not aware then what this means is that rather than choose the room from those apparently available we would be assigned one by the cruise line based on unfilled reservations for travel agents. We would get a balcony at the very least but the location would depend on what was left. It turned out that we had a forward/midship, port-side balcony, not somewhere we would have chosen for ourselves; we always favour starboard side and as far forward as possible. Had we been where we would have picked on the ship then our view from Arcadia would have been mostly out to sea but as it was we got to see another cruise ship at anchor off the island’s capital city, the Cruise & Maritime Voyages cruise ship Magellan, as well as tender boats from our ship.
The sunlight reflecting off Magellan’s white hull made it almost glow against the slightly overcast background of the Channel Island.
But our luck wasn’t limited to just being able to take a look at another cruise ship from our balcony. As I enjoyed the gentle warmth of the morning and the relaxing sight of the water undulating slightly I became aware of occasional flashes of something in the waves. Initially ignoring them as possibly just wave tops breaking I then noticed one of Arcadia’s tender boats seemed to be following the wave movements. With immense joy I suddenly realised there were dolphins and called my wife out from the room to watch.
For the next half hour we were transfixed, observing two distinct groups, perhaps one pod split up or possibly two, with the bulk of the dolphins further out from us and the subject of close monitoring by the ship’s tender boat and another couple of vessels that came in for a look, and a pair or three dolphins that were considerably closer to the ship, occasionally passing by almost right beneath where our balcony overlooked.
While we’d seen whales migrating off Argentina and a single dolphin had jumped alongside our tender boat as we departed the Falkland Islands we’d never seen pods of dolphins before. The combination of being allocated a balcony on the wrong side of the ship (for us) and accidentally not charging the phone overnight came together nicely to grant us a brand new experience. Cruises are already incredibly relaxing ways to travel, offering you plenty of chances to see the natural wonders of the sea and the landscapes you pass as you travel from port to port in luxury but when wildlife makes an appearance too you get a bonus opportunity to feel humbled that’s almost indescribable.