Friday, 28 February 2014

The Last Dance.

Despite the change of plan for “Oriana” on this cruise we’ve had a splendid fortnight – the entertainment has been first class, the food likewise, the service very good and the company we’ve kept has been a real hoot.P1010958

We’re not too prone to taking photographs of our food but this shows how much we can look forward to what’s coming next during dinner.


Thursday evening was the last opportunity for Doug to enjoy his dancing and who could be more appropriate to have the last dance with but the lovely Deborah, the very hard working and enthusiastic teacher on this cruise (with her husband Gordon). 


When we woke this morning we were surrounded by a number of large car carrying vessels off loading Japanese vehicles of all descriptions.  This pic, from almost the highest point on “Oriana”.


At the stern of “Oriana” there’s a lot of activity by “Subsea Global” at the moment – specialists in rapid underwater ship repairs!  Hopefully, with all their heavy duty welding kit, air lines, ropes and Scuba gear that they’ve neatly displayed on the quayside, they’ll soon have the ship back to full working order and ready for the start of her next voyage this week end.

Well’ it’s nearly time to pack the suitcases, after which we have one more dinner and some entertainment to enjoy this evening before disembarking Saturday morning.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Carry on Cruising

We arrived back in Southampton yesterday evening (Wednesday)at 7 o’ clock to enjoy some ‘stationary cruising’ at the Ocean Terminal.  We’ve continued to have great fun and the following pics give a flavour of our last few days (and our whole trip in general):-


Amit and Chandra – our table waiters (and friends) who have made our evening dining experiences a complete joy.


The tremendous (in all senses of the word!) Beverly Davidson – violinist and ‘Diva’, gifted in both music and humour, entertained us during her evening performances.  Her violin, dating back to the 1660’s, is “worth about as much as the back end of the ship”!


This is James, seen here in a full action and extreme concentration, playing deck quoits. He reached the dizzy heights of a shuffle board final on Wednesday, but failed to win!  As Kipling said: “take triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters both the same”.


At about 5 o’ clock on Wednesday, as we past the Nab Tower on the eastern side of the Isle of Wight, we took on board the pilot to take us safely up Southampton Water.


Looking further east as we rounded the Isle of Wight we could just discern the tip of Selsey Bill.  An important photo for us as we have, on many occasions, walked to the bottom of our road and watched the cruise ships come and go and looked forward to “our turn”.


At dinner last night Doug commandeered Jane’s feather boa as it matched his suit better than her dress!  That’s Ralph our wine waiter who gave us a brilliant impersonation of Ricky Martin the other evening on stage.


The food continues to be a very tasty art form.


Yesterday evening we had the “Headliners” Theatre Company’s superb production based on the music of Freddie Mercury and Queen……….


……. and, like all their work, they were given a standing ovation at the end.

Today we popped into Southampton on a shopping trip (free shuttle laid on by P & O) where James treated himself to some lovely Versace footwear (TK Maxx!) and we are now back on board and continuing our ‘stationary cruise’ until the scheduled disembarkation time on Saturday morning.  “Oriana” is now undergoing the urgent repairs to her port stern tube bearing over the next three days.

Tonight is our final black tie night with a gala cocktail party before dinner, to complement our stationary cruising status!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Life on the Ocean Wave.

We’re in the midst of four sea days, returning to Southampton.  Life on board is great fun and we’re meeting and spending time with some very interesting people.  In fact, last evening (Monday) James recognised his childhood barber – who’s now 83! and his wife, who remembered him, his parents and many others from 50 years ago.


This is us at dinner on a ‘casual’ evening.


The “Headliners Theatre Company” continue to give us fantastic entertainment in the evenings.


Deck quoits and shuffleboard still allow Doug to get further than James in the daily competitions.


The food continues to be of great quality and style ……..


…….. and so do we!  James (sporting his ‘gold standard’), Doug, Jane and Derek last night.

The weather, as we start traversing the Bay of Biscay is getting very rough.  It’s now impossible to walk around the ship without holding onto something.  Things are beginning to slide and leap from table tops and going outside is prohibited – but, with many seasoned cruise junkies on board (we didn’t say old!) a lot of passengers are used to the occasional rough passage and life goes on pretty much as normal.


Although it doesn’t look too bad the wind speed at force 8 is producing a swell of 9 metres………..


……. which, when you look at the angle of the water in the pool, makes the ship roll quite alarmingly on occasions.  It’s all good fun (at the moment!).

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Birthday in the sunshine.

On Friday (the Birthday!), we took the bus from a somewhat murky and cool Las Palmas and headed south to Playa del Ingles, where the sun was blisteringly hot ……….


…….. and where we had a couple of beers and a pizza ……..


……. before walking along to the gloriously sandy beach (which looked very similar to the Sahara Desert!)  Relaxing here for an hour gave us excellent top up sun tans.


Getting back to Las Palmas we found that the cloud cover had remained all day and that we had made a lot of (temporary) enemies!  The sunset however, was wonderful and “Oriana” was in the spotlight for a short time.


While in port in Gran Canaria “Oriana” had her annual underwater inspection - hence the floating bund.  Evidently the inspection is carried out in the Canaries as the water is so clear.


Dinner in the evening on Friday ended with Doug being presented with a birthday cake and a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” by the ‘choir’ of table waiters.


Jan, James, Doug, Derek, Jane and Clive all enjoyed a piece of cake - even though they had no room for it.


Derek and Jane joined us after dinner for a great show by the ships entertainment company in the Theatre Royal.  Then it was drinks on James in the “Harlequins” dance bar until sometime after midnight.


Today (Saturday) we berthed in Santa Cruz, Tenerife at 8 o’clock in the morning and, learning from yesterday, we took the bus to the south of the island to Playa de las Americas where (again) the sun shone magnificently.


It was an hour and a half ride along the coast on the bus but we had time enough to bask in the heat before returning to Santa Cruz ……….


……..just making it back to “Oriana” before she set sail!  Santa Cruz nestles beneath the awesome backdrop of the mountains.


Ono of the most striking new buildings in Santa Cruz is the Opera House right next to the ocean.

Tenerife was our last port of call before having to cut the cruise short and head back to Southampton.  P & O have modified their compensation offer to include a free cruise on any of their ships and we think they have been more than reasonable in their total offer of recompense.  So -Southampton here we come.  

Friday, 21 February 2014

A Change of Plan for Birthday Boy!

Wednesday afternoon, after docking in Funchal, we took a walk into town – eager to stretch our legs properly after 4 sea days.


From the town side we had our first full view of “Oriana”, berthed next to the rather colourful German liner “Aida”.


The centre of Funchal is very pretty and spotlessly clean.  We didn’t get to see the masses of lights in the trees at night as we went back to the ship for dinner………


……… but instead, as we walked back, “Oriana” was looking very swish with her lights on.


After a fun filled late dinner we just managed to get in to see the evening “Abba” show given by the ship’s performers (it was standing room only!).


Having stayed in port overnight, on Thursday we took the cable car up above Funchal to the small village of Monte at the top of the mountain ……….


……. where we had a short wander around before taking the famous wooden sledge ride back down the very steep streets.


Some of the obstacles on the way down were a bit hairy!


Achieving a ‘selfy’ while rattling down the hillside wasn’t easy and this one has turned out to be more luck than judgement!


The purchase of some beautiful Bird of Paradise flowers from the market in Funchal, as an advanced gift, has pleased the birthday boy.

We enjoyed our first ‘sail away’ party on the rear decks as we left Madeira and headed for Gran Canaria Thursday afternoon.

Doug’s birthday started in the early hours of Friday morning with new cruise friends Jane and Derek “stealing” balloons from the Harlequins Ballroom, where we all enjoyed our post-dinner entertainment, for us to decorate our cabin.   


There’s nothing like drawing attention to yourself at 1 o’ clock in the morning!


After a birthday success at Shuffleboard for Doug this morning(more gold stars!) we treated ourselves to Champagne in the cabin as the ship docks in Gran Canaria.

STOP PRESS: The problem we’ve been experiencing with the ship’s overheated stern tube bearing has proved more serious than expected. After our planned visit to Tenerife on Saturday we will be cutting the cruise short and returning direct to Southampton – arriving three days earlier than planned in order that the fault can be repaired before the ship’s next cruise. With abject apologies from P & O we are being invited to stay aboard for those three days to take advantage of the ship’s planned hospitality and entertainment and with the addition of various choices of compensation, one of which will be a free cruise on Oriana in the future. Not something we’d expected to happen but we’re still having a great time and will continue to do so !

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Slow boat to – Canaries

We’re going to be a day late arriving in Madeira due to an overheated propeller shaft bearing (known as a stern tube to us canal boaters).  It’s meant us slowing to 16 knots with a consequent slight change in the itinerary.  Nevertheless we’ve been thoroughly enjoying ourselves with the other passengers …


…… not least the great times we have during dinner with Jan, Jane, Derek, (us two) and Clive.  Our table waiters, Chandra and Amit are stupendous and we have much fun with them as well.


The entertainment in the Theatre Royal during the evenings is first class – here are the the ship’s “Headliners” troop with their ‘Stage door’ performance of popular musicals.


Doug’s continuing his dancing during the afternoons and the late evenings where he teams up with …….


……. Jane, one of our charming dinner companions – the two of them making a elegant couple.  (James and Derek just sit and chat on the side lines as blokes do!)


The guest singer this week is Ben Makisi.  A world class classical singer of tremendous talent.  He’s a very witty and warm entertainer and it’s been a great privilege to have such high “value” included in the fare.

We’ve both enjoyed deck quoits and shuffle board after breakfast in the last few days and Doug  continues to do much better than James – going on to win several heats (big head!).  James has attended several talks on crime by an ex Detected Chief Inspector who could be better at public speaking – never mind………..


……….. as we approach the port of Funchal in Madeira Doug finishes off a game of shuffle board ……….


…….. while two of the hard working crew take a short break to watch the ship dock.


The cruise liner terminal is quite tight to get into so, helped by a very posh new tug,  we have to reverse into the berth.  Well - Madeira here we come!