ABP Southampton & Carnival Revamp Ocean Terminal

ABP have announced Ocean Terminal will be expanded to accommodate larger ships, including P&O’s new Iona, which enters service in May 2020. All ships scheduled to use that berth after Queen Mary 2 on the 4th November 2018 have been moved to another.

PORT OF SOUTHAMPTON MAKES MULTI-MILLION POUND INVESTMENT INTO THE FUTURE OF CRUISE

A £12 million package of investment to support further growth in the cruise sector is due to begin in October at the Port of Southampton.

The Ocean Terminal is being upgraded to accommodate the growing demand from cruise lines for ever larger ships to call at Southampton. This work, which will take just over a year to complete, will further strengthen the port’s position as Northern Europe’s leading cruise port.

This project, being carried out in partnership with Southampton-based Carnival UK, will enable P&O Cruises’ newest flagship to home port in Southampton from Spring 2020. Iona will be the next generation of P&O Cruises ships, and is the first British cruise ship to be powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas), paving the way for the future of cruising. Iona is currently being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg and will be launched in May 2020.

ABP Southampton director Alastair Welch, said: “We continually invest in the port to adapt and develop to meet our customers’ growing needs, and we are committed to ensuring that this growth happens in the most environmentally sustainable way. We are very supportive of cruise lines embracing LNG power for their vessels.”

Carnival UK VP port & shore operations, Steven Young said: “Bigger ships introduce greater operational complexity and we are pleased to be working alongside ABP and our port community on this series of improvements to the terminal ahead of welcoming Iona in 2020.”

Iona is the first of two new vessels of this class for P&O Cruises, with the next ship on order to be delivered in 2022. The additional work to accommodate these new vessels, each of them with a capacity of 5,200 guests, will increase the passenger capacity at the terminal by 50%.

Along with infrastructure improvements to the quayside and within the terminal itself, the existing 2,000 roof-mounted solar panel facility will be expanded, further improving the port’s environmental credentials.

The Port of Southampton currently welcomes over 2 million passengers each year on more than 500 cruise calls. Each visit to the port generates around £2 million for the local economy. 

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Porto Sold For Scrap – Updated

Sad news breaking about this beautiful classic liner, whose luck ran out when Classic International Cruises went bust in 2012.

A baby at just 5,888gt, she began life in 1965 as Istra. Several owners and names followed until she was well known in modern times as Arion for CIC from 1999. In 2012 she, along with Princess Danae and Athena, were arrested.

Hope beckoned when Portuscale Cruises not only bought those three, but also rescued Funchal with the intention of either running them or chartering (Princess Daphne was sold for scrap). Arion was renamed Porto and had her dry dock, awaiting a charter. She waited and waited and waited, lasting 3 years longer than Lisboa (ex-Princess Danae) but sadly no offers came.

In June 2013, I was in Lisbon on the maiden voyage of the new Royal Princess and met up with Luis Miguel Correia, who took me to see her, as well as Lisboa and Funchal.

With Lisboa (ex-Princess Danae) 19th June 2013


19th June 2013


19th June 2013


19th June 2013


19th June 2013

The last time I saw her was when I was over for the three Cunard Queens and she looked just as glorious laid up alongside Lisboa.

6th May 2014

Rumours had been rife Portuscale ran into money troubles quite early on. Only Azores (ex-Athena, currently Astoria) was getting work. Even Funchal had no offers.

Porto was sold to Turkish breakers on the 13th September and is expected to be towed to Aliaga around the 15th October 2018. Another classic gone. 😥

28th October 2013

Update 21st October 2018: Porto departed from Lisbon on her final journey.

Update 5th November 2018: Porto beached in Aliaga.

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Port of Dover To Name Spirit of Discovery

Saga Logo

Saga has today announced that the official naming ceremony of Saga Cruises’ first new-build ship Spirit of Discovery will be held at the Port of Dover on July 5, 2019 – the first ship to be named at Dover following the completion of stages 1& 2 of the £250m redevelopment of Dover Western Docks.

“As the place that Saga’s first cruise ship set sail from more than 20 years ago, Dover was ‘the natural choice”, revealed chief operating officer Nigel Blanks, in London, on 18th September at an exclusive event with Jools Holland – the face of The Club by Jools’ on board Spirit of Discovery, the only small ship currently being built for a British Market.

“With Saga’s Group headquarters based in Kent, we felt it only right that we name our first brand new, purpose-built cruise ship in Kent and what better way to do that than with the iconic White Cliffs of Dover as a backdrop. Spirit of Discovery will be the first cruise ship to be named in the port for more than a decade and the first following the regeneration of the Western Docks. We are already planning a few surprises, and will no doubt add a few more before next year, so save the date, as we christen the first of our new-build fleet” Blanks added.

Spirit of Discovery’s maiden voyage will sail from Dover on July 10, 2019. The 999-guest luxury boutique ship will circumnavigate the British Isles.

“We are really excited about her first cruise as it’s a great way to show-off our first new boutique cruise-ship to the British market as we call in to iconic ports such as Newcastle, Edinburgh, Belfast and Liverpool,” said Blanks.

The inaugural cruise has already sold out and most other 2019 itineraries are well ahead of expectations with the 109 single cabins proving extremely popular. Spirit of Discovery’s destinations throughout summer 2019 include Spain, Scandinavia and the Baltic, as well as a four-night mini-cruise to Holland, Germany and Belgium.

In addition, Saga recently announced the company’s strategic decision to move to all-inclusive cruising as standard from 2020. Nigel Blanks said “the decision to go all-inclusive in 2020 had been made to distance ourselves further from the competition and mass cruise market”. He said: “I firmly believe this will not only sit very well alongside our ‘Boutique Cruising’ proposition but will reaffirm our position as Britain’s niche luxury cruise operator’.

Port of Dover Head of Cruise, Sonia Limbrick said: “It is a great honour, and we are thrilled that Dover Cruise has been chosen as the venue for the momentous naming ceremony of Saga’s new ship ‘Spirit of Discovery’.

“Having first sailed from Dover back in 1997 with the Saga Rose, their magnificent cruise ships have been a welcome feature of the historic Western Docks for over 20 years. With our exciting £250m redevelopment well underway, ‘Dover Western Docks Revival’ will offer a uniquely enhanced experience to the ship when she calls in 2019 and we are greatly looking forward to greeting her in Dover.”

Customers who would like to Sail on Spirit of Discovery during her inaugural season, or register their interest in Spirit of Adventure, can contact Saga on 0800 505030 or saga.co.uk/cruise

ABOUT SPIRIT OF DISCOVERY

Saga’s first purpose-built cruise ship Spirit of Discovery is the first of two new passenger ships being constructed at Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenberg, Germany for Saga Cruises.

Spirit of Discovery will replace Saga Pearl II in July 2019 while the second ship, Spirit of Adventure, is planned to enter service in August 2020. Both ships will host 999 guests and 530 crew members.

The ships will be 58,250 gross ton vessels measuring 774.3ft in length and a maximum beam of 102.4ft.

‘The club by Jools’ is Saga’s first ever endorsed on-board steakhouse and bar. Saga customers will get to experience their own ‘evening with Jools’ during live performances from Jools Holland during our Channel Island Hop, Gourmet Spain and Natural Scandinavia cruises on-board Spirit of Discovery.

Money back guarantee
Saga is so confident that first-time guests will love life on board its award-winning cruise ships that it is offering early flights home and a refund of the cruise fare to anyone who does not enjoy the sailing.

The Saga Cruises Price PromiseWith Saga Cruises it pays to book early. Should we ever cut our prices or bring in a new special offer later on, we’ll work out the difference and pass the value of the saving back to the customer.

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70th Cruise!!!

I can’t believe I’ve done so many, though have slowed down a lot since my 50th on Norwegian Breakaway in 2013. That’s due to work and ongoing health issues over the past couple of years so getting my priorities right since I pay for them myself. No bloggers freebies for me!

It’s hard to believe, when I started with a short trip on the QE2 in 2006, I would ever do so many. My dad certainly thought I’d grow out of it within a couple of years. Yet here he is sharing this milestone with me on what is his second cruise.

And what ship do I celebrate on? The appropriately aged 70 year old Astoria! 😍 It’s only an overnight, booked so my dad could try her while she’s around since, at that time, there were no 2019 cruises. It wasn’t originally the 70th but others kept being added before it so worked out that way.

Some people are sniffy about short cruises, saying it’s not “real cruising”. Tell that to the cruise lines who sell them and add them to your loyalty club points.

For many it’s all they can afford or have time to do due to commitments, while others just enjoy the break away. Three nights on Black Watch after a horrendously stressful year when my mum was dying and I needed surgery, was just what I needed. So don’t knock it, snobby people! A cruise is a cruise whether one night or a thousand.

But back to my milestone as I aim for my 100th. I’m glad it’s on the beautiful Astoria. I have often been asked which is my favourite ship but I like so many I’ve sailed on. It took 34 to finally find it. I cannot explain why she beats the rest but I certainly hope Cruise and Maritime Voyages continue to charter her until she cannot go on any longer.



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Travelling With A Stoma

Having a stoma, whether planned or not, can be a terrifying and daunting experience. You have to rethink your entire life, including diet, and can feel embarrassed by the bag.

Bums are one of the great taboos which we need to talk more about. People end up with a colostomy or ileostomy for a variety of reasons (cancer, ulcerative colitis, perforation to name three), which can be temporary or permanent and are nothing to be ashamed of.

“What would you know about it?” I hear you say. I know a hell of a lot, having had both colostomy and ileostomy since my bowel was perforated during a ‘routine’ 90 minute hysterectomy in August 2016 which took 4 hours due to a 29 year history (22 years diagnosed) of endometriosis.

And that’s why I’m writing this. I hope to be able to help based on my own experiences, since it took me a year before I would talk about my stoma publicly, while only very close friends and a couple of people at work knew.

Originally, at the beginning of September 2016, I ended up with a colostomy because my sigmoid colon had become infected and ruptured at home six days after my hysterectomy. This was my worst nightmare.

My paternal grandfather had bowel cancer and died aged 50 in 1969. My mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2010 aged 64. He had bags. Hers didn’t spread and she died of strokes. Knowing I could get it at some point too, a bag terrified me. But here I was facing a fait accompli.

The bag, I was told, would be on for 6 months then reversed. It was something to look forward to!

If you’re squeamish or gag at certain smalls like me, this was an awful thing to deal with. Your diet goes out the window as certain things can cause blockages or the runs. After a while, you learn what you can and can’t have.

My stoma nurse, Nicola Patel, was absolutely amazing. She’s the one who decided whether I could cope sufficiently to go home and remained my nurse throughout. But when I saw her, it was only the second time I’d changed my bag myself in 13 days.

The first had been a baptism of fire that morning when the old one was falling off! There had been no nurse available over the weekend to help me as the ward had been incredibly busy. Nicky was happy and I went home.

My first bags were by Coloplast, which you changed when full. I didn’t have the confidence to empty any at that point. Also back then, the stoma team used Charter for prescription orders if you wanted free extras like disposible bags and hygienic wipes (not to be used on the stoma). If you preferred, you could get everything but those from your chemist.


Most items were provided by the stoma team while later, Charter sent a convenient travel pouch.



Anyone who has had a stoma knows you need to alter your diet to control output and the main fear is the bag coming off.

Pancaking is the worst thing. That happened to me a few times while out, including at my GP surgery, and is extemely embarrassing. Imagine that on your holiday, either waking up or while out. Absolute nightmare! I took to putting a towel on the bed but you still need to pack far more than you would normally in case of accidents.

The best thing I ever got was Brava Elastic Tape, which are extenders you place around the bag seal. If you also develop a parastomal hernia like me, these are priceless and help keep everything in place. There is still a risk of pancaking but less chance of the bag coming off at the top, especially in bed.

If flying, however, I’d have to pre-book an aisle seat close to the toilet in case of a quick dash. When flying to Barcelona on a Cunard charter flight, they put me in seat 1F after I had explained my problem, which I was very grateful for. Though, due to the constant delay with the reversal and repairing my parastomal hernia, I needed a seatbelt extension for the first time.

There is also the question of security at airports. In these heightened times of body scanners, do you tell them in case they think you’re trying to smuggle something under your clothes? Mistakes have been known to happen. I once had an envelope thought to be a Kindle so was pulled to one side. I tended to let them know. At Hamburg airport, I was taken to the side, asked where the bag was and patted down.

It was very different getting the temporary ileostomy after colostomy reversal in December 2017. You can have many more problems with foods than with a colostomy as it doesn’t digest as much so taking Dioralyte to replace lost minerals is a must. You really have no choice but to have bags you empty. Mine supplied by the hospital this time around were by Dansac and bloody awful. Despite a vent, it still filled with air.

The bags fill faster generally too, depending on what you eat. I had awful problems with tomatoes. Within an hour the bag was full of liquid. Imagine being sat on the bus and feeling it fill, wondering if it’s food, liquid or air, terrified it will come off. That happened to me in January as I was on the way to Queen Victoria for a cruise and had to change my clothes in Red Funnel because the air pushed it off around the top.

My problems didn’t end there. My case didn’t turn up and I desperately needed to change the bag a second time, as well as change my clothes. It turned out my luggage had been taken to cabin 2004 instead of 2014 so a quick change before muster was required. Thank goodness Cunard ships have launderettes!

The ileostomy bag also gave me awful skin problems I hadn’t had with colostomy ones. It was red raw and bleeding. Nicky suggested a convex to try and heal the skin with seals. Again it was the awful Dansac bags with rubbish vents.

I first tried it when I went to my friend’s for the weekend in Banbury and reluctantly came to appreciate these. The belt kept it securely on, making travel and more physical activity less of a worry. The Brava Elastic Tapes give you that extra bit of security. However, that trapped air is very frustrating. You’d have to keep having to open the bag to release it otherwise it would push the end open, which was a nightmare when I asleep.

Coloplast also have them, and I was given some to try as an alternative. They also can be used with seals and a belt.

Due to some security with the Dansac bags, plus the fact you actually needed to change it less often regardless of advice, I decided to stick with them. The longest I wore one was two weeks and only changed it when it was lifting off. My skin was so much healthier that way.

I had my ileostomy reversal in July 2018, ending 22 months of bags and everything that goes with it. You need to rethink your diet yet again, but I was never told what to expect or had a goodbye from my stoma team. I’ve been very lucky and, after constipation for the first 8 days, everything settled down really quickly, which my GP didn’t believe. I just have to be careful (so far) of decaffeinated coffee.

Don’t be ashamed of having a bag. It cannot be helped. Do what suits you best, ignore any ignorant people because they may end up with one themselves in the future and enjoy your holiday!

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Farewell Oriana

As everyone will know by now, Carnival Corporation, parent company of the P&O Cruises brand, have decided to sell their former flagship. To date, the name of the buyer nor what her purpose will be, haven’t been revealed just “Chinese cruising”, which could mean a casino ship for all we know, but I hope it’s not! Her predecessor had a static role there before a storm caused too much damage to repair and she was broken up. There will be no special farewell cruise for her successor, just the previously scheduled Norway & North Cape from 22nd July-9th August 2019, with everything to the end of March 2020 cancelled.

Oriana entered service on the 9th April 1995, based on the ships of the past, notably Canberra, and is the penultimate pre-Carnival P&O ship designed with British passengers in mind, with Aurora following five years later. She is the current holder of the Golden Cockerel as fastest ship, an honour she took from Canberra during a handover ceremony in Cannes during Canberra’s farewell cruise in 1997. With Carnival ordering eight 180,000gt ships for their AIDA, Costa, Carnival and P&O brands, her days were numbered, as are Aurora’s.

But I’m not going to voice my opinion on a business decision or reproduce the press release. Instead, I will focus on the ship itself and the happy memories I have of her, as a ship nut and passenger, with a photo blog featuring some of my favourite pictures taken over the years. So close the tab if you get bored easily as this is long to show her off in all her glory over the past 21 years I’ve been photographing and filming her.

When she arrived to a plethora of complaints of being “too big”, I was in the middle of no interest in ships due to more important things. It was Canberra’s imminent retirement which reignited my interest so the first time I saw her was 16th August 1997 when they both sailed from Southampton.

It wasn’t until 2005, I got my arse in gear and became more serious about ships since so many had gone I’d missed. One highlight was always when Oriana and Aurora were in together, which wasn’t often. There was no guarantee one would pass the other.

Aurora passing Oriana 10th May 2006

A bonus in 2006 as Oriana’s refit was an extra two days, meaning she met her sister again that year.

Aurora past Oriana 18th December 2006

Despite them being together in the interim, they hadn’t passed each other again until 2010.

Oriana sailing past Aurora 22nd July 2010

On the 17th December 2014, Aurora returned from refit sporting the new Union Jack bow and blue funnel. She was the first in service to get this, as Britannia had hers added in the shipyard. The following day, she met her sister, which really showed a contrast.

Oriana in old livery and Aurora in new livery 18th December 2014

Oriana in old livery and Aurora in new livery 18th December 2014

Oriana in old livery and Aurora in new livery 18th December 2014

The final time they will be together in their home port was the 21st March 2018. They had been scheduled to meet twice during 2019 – 16th August and 9th December but I doubt they’ll pay a week of port fees so the last P&O ships can say goodbye to each other.

Oriana and Aurora 21st March 2018

Oriana and Aurora 21st March 2018

Oriana and Aurora 21st March 2018

She was always magnificent from the water, the best way to photograph ships and I had my first in early 2008 as I returned on Aurora after the New Year cruise. We were early into Southampton due to weather, Oriana was late due to the same thing delaying her return that morning so we passed each other off Ryde as she sailed out.

From Aurora 7th January 2008

From Aurora 7th January 2008

One of the best was when I sailed on Artemis. We shared Mayflower Terminal, us checking in one side, Oriana’s passengers the other but we boarded via the dock as we were in berth 105. Being smaller, it made for great photos as we sailed first to turn then she slipped out resulting in us following.

From Artemis 10th May 2008

From Artemis 10th May 2008

From Artemis 10th May 2008

From Artemis 10th May 2008

From Artemis 10th May 2008

From Artemis 10th May 2008

From Artemis 10th May 2008

There was also the Hythe ferry, Hotspur IV. Unlike Great Expectations, she had a bow you could go on.

From Hotspur IV 23rd May 2009

From Hotspur IV 23rd May 2009

From Hotspur IV 23rd May 2009

She was ahead of us as Arcadia sailed into Southampton. Docking in QEII Terminal gave great photo opportunities as we headed to Ocean Terminal.

From Arcadia 2nd June 2010

From Arcadia 2nd June 2010

From Arcadia 2nd June 2010

Lit up at sea showed her in all her glory in the English Channel outbound from Southampton, especially with the buff funnel.

From QM2 15th December 2012

She was gorgeous in my favourite European port of Lisbon, especially as the sun went down, sailing out to the Atlantic.

From Vision of the Seas in Lisbon 28th October 2012

From Vision of the Seas in Lisbon 28th October 2012

Up close and personal in La Coruna as she docked next to us.

From Voyager in La Coruna 2nd May 2014

From Voyager in La Coruna 2nd May 2014

La Coruna 2nd May 2014

We were heading to Portsmouth the following day, Oriana to Southampton, but she was visible in the Bay of Biscay.

From Voyager in the Bay of Biscay 3rd May 2014

Three times during one cruise was excellent, I have to say. Barcelona, Gibraltar and home in Southampton at the end.

Barcelona 4th November 2017

From Queen Victoria in Barcelona 4th November 2017

QV_Oriana_02

From Queen Victoria in Gibraltar 9th November 2017

QV_Oriana_16

From Queen Victoria in Gibraltar 9th November 2017

QV_Oriana_21

From Queen Victoria in Gibraltar 9th November 2017

From Queen Victoria in Southampton 13th November 2017

From Queen Victoria in Southampton 13th November 2017

Oriana wasn’t my first cruise (6th). She wasn’t even my first P&O. That honour went to Aurora but just over six weeks after a short on Aurora to try her, it was her elder sister’s turn. Just two nights to Zeebrugge, but absolutely loved it.













I always intended to do a longer cruise but never got around to it. Instead, I only managed to do the Grand Event on her, but it was an unforgettable experience.

Grand Event Cruise 3rd July 2012

Grand Event Cruise, Amsterdam 4th July 2012

Grand Event Cruise, Amsterdam 4th July 2012

Grand Event Cruise, Amsterdam 4th July 2012

Grand Event Cruise, Amsterdam 4th July 2012

Grand Event Cruise, Zeebrugge 6th July 2012

Grand Event Cruise, Zeebrugge 6th July 2012

Grand Event Cruise 6th July 2012

Grand Event Cruise 6th July 2012

Grand Event Cruise 7th July 2012

Grand Event Cruise 7th July 2012

Grand Event Cruise 7th July 2012

Grand Event Cruise 7th July 2012

Grand Event Cruise 7th July 2012

Grand Event Cruise 7th July 2012

If you have reached here, I applaud you. I’d like to end with the above mentioned Grand Event, when all seven of P&O’s current fleet made history in Southampton to celebrate the 175th anniversary. I had arrived on Ventura, did a harbour tour then boarded Oriana. You really had to be there to know how fantastic it was, despite the awful weather. Oriana had become an adults only ship by then and, even though it was just four nights to Amsterdam and Zeebrugge, it wasn’t your usual booze cruise. Most booked to be part of this unique event. The following photos are mine onboard Ventura, Ocean Scene and Oriana with the rest by my dad on Jurassic Scene as we all sailed.

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Grand Event 3rd July 2012

Oriana will be greatly missed and we can only hope her future role in China is a success.

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Passport Interviews

Getting a passport for the first time can be exciting. It opens the door to explore the world.

But what if you receive a letter asking you to attend an interview?

That’s exactly what happened to my dad. It wasn’t his first passport either, but his original one expired in 1985 so there was probably no record. Plus 33 years is a long time to wait for another!

We had a feeling this would happen. The birth certificate copy he had was issued in 1947 for the Family Allowances Act (1945) caretaker Conservative government brought in. As he was 5 years old, he has no idea what happened to his original one. The 1947 one was tatty, held together with Sellotape and practically illegible so a new copy was ordered.

Check and send at the Post Office is my usual method of applying, so we did the same for him with the birth certificate copy. It may cost a little more, but any mistakes on the form are dealt with quickly so it’s worth it.

The appointment was made. Thankfully, there are numerous local passport offices around the country so you no longer need to go to a major city like London. Ours is at Cosham, near Portsmouth, in a huge building at Lakeside North Harbour industrial estate. There are no buses except for employees early morning and from mid-afternoon. Taxis are available at Cosham station. Sally was the name of our driver and she gave me her mobile to call when we’d finished.

If you are delayed, you could be buggered. Our train was stuck at Fratton due to a broken down one ahead. I called the number on the letter since there wasn’t one to the local office. The gentleman on the other end kept repeating like a mantra, “You have ten minutes leeway. I cannot pass on your message but as it’s being recorded, they will know you called.” Fat lot of use that is! But we made it.

So you arrive at the vast building, sign in and go to the correct office. But how can you prove you are who you say you are?

Fact is, you can’t. They won’t accept any documents in case they’re forged. You just get taken to a room to chat for about half an hour.

My paternal grandparents both died when he was 8 years old so he dreaded being asked questions about them. Thankfully, they never really came up, he said, and he received a text a couple of days later saying his passport would be delivered within 48 hours.

Life’s never dull!

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