Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get. Well, we got academics, businessmen, anarchists, military, journalists, bikers (female), councillors, blue collar workers and that isn't the complete list. Special mention has to go to a certain forklift truck driver who has changed my perception of forklift truck drivers for eternity! :)
We were not certain who would turn up because we had announced and given prior warning through this blog to the UKBA of our intentions. Our blog is constantly monitored by the UKBA and that has been confirmed by our lawyers. Not to mention both myself and Zaphod who are certainly not unknown to the UKBA. You'd think that this being the case it would put many people off coming on this baccy cruise. Well we needn't have 'worried' ... the turnout was great and by the end of the cruise we'd made further contacts and friends that swelled the numbers significantly.
lt certainly was a fun occasion with large amounts of alcohol being consumed along with the 'smokes' of course and loads of laughter :) l only wish l'd had more time to spend with individual people but l understand Zaphod filled in admirably whilst l did the 'rounds'.
lt all began at arrival at the Hull Ferry Terminal where P&O treat us to 2 forms of security ... one for foot passengers and one for those with vehicles. The foot passengers had their luggage x-rayed and searched for alcohol because P&O don't 'allow' you to take your own alcohol onboard to try and force you to use their bars. We had forewarned everyone of this and suitable measures had been taken. Those that were travelling with vehicles were subject to no searches whatsoever! You have to wonder who thinks up these policies .. lol
P&O further compound their 'no personal alcohol' policy when you buy the spirits and wines from the onboard shop. They don't allow you to collect it till the next morning ... which leaves you with the alcohol for the return sailing. l can see a flaw in their thinking here :)
The shop has low stocks of tobacco but as most of our 'crew' had made other arrangements it tended not to matter. Some went to Brugge for their goods and others went to Ostende. Most people had pre-ordered their tobacco from Brugge so knew it was there to collect. Those that went to Ostende found that certain brands were not in plentiful supply or not in stock at all. lt would seem prudent therefore to pre-order before you travel. lt seems that a Mr Sked did this, he ordered well above the new guidelines and it was there waiting for him in Brugge .... all packed nicely in a black plastic bag with his name stuck to the side. :)
As for the amounts ordered l will only say that the amount we ordered were above the guidelines. As for the specific amounts l am not at liberty to say as it is restricted under Section 31 of the FOIA exemptions.
Now then ... Mr P&O, l have some recommendations for you
Firstly, it may come as somewhat of a surprise to you but the majority of people using your Hull-Zeebrugge services are going to purchase tobacco for their own personal use. This being the case you would think it would be in your interest to have enough stock to satisfy these potential customers instead of letting the tobacco shops in Belgium have this business. lt seems commonsense to me, especially so as your company is not doing very well at the moment. ls the person in charge of the retail division a smokerphobe perhaps? This isn't a one-off regarding very little stock that your ships carry on this run ... it's being going on for quite some time now. lt was like this a year ago!
Secondly, it may come as a surprise again but people who buy tobacco are virtually all smokers! So why the hell are you not catering for them? Just one small bar where smoking is allowed is not a lot to ask for. You are not bound under UK regulations, you fly under the Netherlands flag. Before you start coming up with excuses l should like to remind you that the Holland America Line with it's many massive cruise ships also fly under the Netherlands flag and they do cater for smokers and have bars that allow smoking! ls the person in charge of the bars division another smokerphobe perhaps?
You must be losing a bloody fortune by not having the above. A fortune that you can't afford to lose. l'd put money on it that if you did have a small smokers bar you would very soon alter it round so the small bar was non-smoking and the rest of the bars become smoking bars!
Thirdly, your non-smoking cabins ... nah, l won't bother with this. Everybody ignores it anyway! :)
Thanks again to EVERYONE that came and EVERYBODY that joined us during the cruise. Great fun and lots of contacts and new friends made .... not forgetting all the valuable new input!
l left the ship alongside Webbie's car from Daytripper (thanks for the meal Sun night mate) and got no hassle from UKBA. The info held on me seems no longer on their screens. All Mr UKBA man did this time was glance at the screen and wave me on ... a big change from them getting a cup of tea whilst they read all the notes! :)
No UKBA stop at the Sked Sheds either. Zaphod also encountered no UKBA stop and search as he disembarked as a foot passenger, they simply stood and watched. Our invite must not have arrived ... or maybe it did!
Have to start organising Baccy Cruise 2 now lol
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