Where do you really go when your cruise ship docks at England’s Portland? You go to the seaside resort of Weymouth! Our cruise was officially underway Tuesday with Portland, on the Dorset coast, as our first port of call. This is a new destination for me (have spent a lot of time in Brighton, Southampton and in various delightful New Forest towns and villages but haven’t gotten this far west) and you can figure out a lot about a port stop by reading between the lines.
In this case, the fact that most of the ship tours were heading away from the port (Stonehenge was a big draw) was one sign. That the shuttle bus that took us from ship to town ferried us to Weymouth rather than Portland, well that’s another. It’s a little weird that all the info the ship provided was about Portland, rather than Weymouth, as if the onboard folks didn’t realize we were stopped here, at the former, to go there, to the latter.
On a longer cruise like this one (anything over 7 days I consider “long” and the more I cruise the more I love the more-than-a-week trips because there’s just more time to both explore on land and relax onboard), the best first port is a low-key stop.
Now, while Weymouth, in the height of its summer seaside glory, was anything but low-key, the port is a reasonably relaxed one; there are no major pressures to trod from museum to museum and from historic relics to old castles.
The Weymouth tourism folks who greeted us at the dock recommended a place to rent a bike, as I had planned to go into town and find a great bike path to get some exercise and also see the place. But it didn’t in the end work out. In fact, quite boringly (but yet oddly satisfying), I spent time ashore picking up some miscellany for my husband at Marks and Spencer, bought a few books and magazines at W.H. Smith, and then headed across the bridge for a long, lazy meal at Lane’s, where a delicious two-course lunch was £10.95 (the local crab salad starter with a tomato and mango salsa is a winner).
Today, at Guernsey’s St. Peter Port, is another fun day – yes, there’s history here, but it’s also a terrific shopping port. After this, we’ll get serious!
P.S. By the way, Portland will be host of the 2012 Olympics sailing competitions….