Saturday 10th – To Southampton
We had a leisurely morning ticking off the various tasks on the ‘to do’ list. There was a slight change to our luggage arrangements meaning that we eventually had five large cases plus small roller ones to carry.
There was an early lunch, and a little after 1:00 we set off. There was a drizzle for all the journey that made it an awful drive. There was an amazing queue of cars waiting to go into the Ikea carpark that quite surprised us but fortunately I had chosen the outside lane along Herbert Way to get to the hotel. We arrived safely at the Holiday Inn in Southampton by 3:30. We had a cruise and stay package so once the car was unloaded it was tucked away in the car park for the next 12 days.
Our room was one of the recently refurbished ones and they have made a very good job. There is now plenty of storage by reducing the desk to a table, and adding a useful shelf under the television. There is even storage under the sink in the bathroom which makes a change in hotel rooms.
There was another change at the hotel with no car park barriers anymore. Everyone has to registered their cars onto a computer, and they have a monitoring patrol team looking for cars not on their list. The problem was that I haven’t yet managed to remember our car number plate yet, and had to go back outside to check.
Once in the room Deb had a bath while I watched the first half of the England verses Wales rugby.
The drizzle continued so rather than going out for a walk, we had a meal in the hotel restaurant. This was not a success with quite bland food, which tasted burnt from the griddle. We weren’t going to moan but did ask for the tip to be removed. While Deb was getting some extra milk, the duty manager asked if the meal had been OK. She shared our views and the young manager said he would look into our issues, as he is new to the hotel.
He eventually took 50% of the bill, that was not what we expected, or wanted.
For the rest of the evening we watched the television and shared a bottle of very pleasant red wine, before giving in to tiredness.
Sunday 11th – Oriana
Sunday morning and neither of us had a decent sleep – but that is quite normal for us in hotels. We both ate more for breakfast than normal…. oops.
There was loads of time to kill, so after a wash and packing our bits, we went for a walk into the city shops. Being Sunday very few were open but there was time for a decent stroll and a cup of coffee before we returned to the hotel.
Just after midday we were in the taxi and soon arrived at the Mayflower terminal. As we walked in we were directed to the priority check in lane, and realised boarding had already started. So, by 1:00 we were on Oriana and in the Oriental Restaurant with a glass of wine for the loyalty buffet.
We had a lovely chatty hour with another couple, seriously indulging in the free booze … oops again.
Time now to find the cabin (sorry stateroom) and unpacking. We had a superior outside room which has plenty of space, with sufficient hanging room for the clothes, and more than usual amount of drawer space.
It wasn’t long before we were exploring this very familiar ship.
Oriana was the first ship we sailed on way back in 2000, and it will always be a very special vessel.
At 6:30 we arrived in the Oriental restaurant again for dinner. Our table was for six people and it wasn’t long before we were chatting over a pleasant meal. The menu was familiar but one that had plenty of things that appealed to me.
After dinner we trotted off to the Theatre Royal for the first show of the cruise. The entertainment manager (or whatever the name is) introduced himself and most of his team before the Headliners came on for the Stage Door show. We have seen it before, but it was still a most enjoyable 45 minutes.
From the theatre we set off for the Lord’s Tavern for a late-night quiz with a couple we met on the world cruise 12 months ago. The theme was P&O and we did very well, but lost by half a point.
It was bedtime. Oriana was wallowing as we made progress along the south coast of England at a snail pace of 11 knots. I was already well under the effect of my sea-sickness pills. I never feel very well on the first 24 hours of a cruise, so always take the pills. Hopefully I will get my sea legs by tomorrow afternoon.
The ship creaked and groaned as we wobbled along, and it was ages before I eventually got some sleep.
Monday 12th February
OK, I know its February, and it is winter, but wow the sea has been rough overnight.
While I described it as ‘wallowing’ earlier, the night turned into quite a rock and roll experience with Oriana pitching and rolling. Plus with everything but the cushions appearing to be creaking, sleep was virtually a restricted to short bursts between the long periods of wondering why I keep going on cruises.
I never like the first 24 hours as my stomach and brain come to terms with this alien environment, but tonight it was worse than usual.
The dark night eventually turned into a grey morning and we got up and dressed for our first real day of the cruise. I was feeling far from well, and extremely tired, but breakfast beckoned.
We went to the dining room for breakfast rather than our usual foray to the buffet. The only reason was that we had heard that it was ‘eggs Benedict’ on Mondays. It was well worth it and improved by a chat with the other couples on our table. The only weakness was the tepid stewed tea.
The day was cool (yes still winter) and very windy so going outside was quickly taken of the agenda. Instead we went to the Crow’s Nest for a read while the ship woke up. Deb watched the art class begin, but she had seen the instructors before and didn’t particularly wanted to join in.
We went for coffee instead.
I personally find it amazing that there are so many people just considering breakfast at 10:30 in the morning. Many people were disappointed to discover that Tiffany’s does not provide breakfast beyond croissants and pastries.
At 11:00 we returned to the Crow’s Nest for a get together with a few of the P&O Facebook members plus Captain Derek Gray. He chatted reasonably openly about his job and P&O and is certainly the most sociable master of a ship we have experienced.
At midday I dashed away to the Pacific Lounge for the first day of the choir. There was a huge turnout with a good number of growling trolls making up the bass and tenor sections. Three of the Headliners plus the orchestra pianist are in charge and we will be learning a song a day before our show at the end of the cruise. Today we created a wonderful rendition of ‘Sweet Caroline’ and were applauded by a fairly large audience escaping the cold decks.
My stomach and brain were still out of sync with the movement, and my lunch was restricted to a cheese and tomato roll. There was nowhere to sit in the buffet so it became a grab and go experience back in the cabin.
It was time for another sea-sickness pill before Deb and I took part in ‘Battle of the sexes’ alternatively known as the women verses the less than bright men. We were thrashed!
It might have been my imagination but the sea appeared to be getting worse.
Dinner was quite enjoyable as the six of us on the table relax a little with each other. Interestingly, we have not exchanged names so far.
The evening show was Mike Doyle, and I thoroughly enjoyed his humour, although a small number of people found him slightly offensive. He dared to mention older people and their less than active lifestyles on the ships.
We rounded off the night with the syndicate Quiz in a team with a couple we met on the World Cruise.
Even better, they don’t drink wine, so we have the whole bottle. When (not if) we win again the others can have soft drinks as the prize.
It was time for bed.
Sadly, the sea has not made friends yet, and in fact it has got even worse.
I did drop off to sleep initially, but about 1:00 am I was woken by an absolute mayhem of crashing, creaking and a fear I was being rolled off the bed. Then flashing lights caught my attention through the window.
There followed a long period of an horrendous thunderstorm.
While the thunder and lightening subsided, the rolling, pitching, creaking, and crashing continued.
Sleep for me was impossible, and my stomach issues were getting worse.
Tuesday 13th February – Somewhere just west of the Bay of Biscay
Although I did eventually fall asleep, I woke suddenly. I had no idea of what the time was, but is was dark.
I was not aware of what exactly woke me, but in a second or two I realised that the noise had probably contributed. It was horrendous, with crashing and banging accompanied by regular grating from above as if someone was dragging lumps of metal along our ceiling. That was bad enough but there were other sounds coming from outside of the ship, and it was similar to when the lifeboats are being prepared to be dropped.
Now wide awake I was also aware that Oriana was rocking wildly and I was rolling from side to side in my bed and feared I might fall out.
Then I thought I saw a light through the curtains.
I got up to investigate, and as I peeked through the curtains I could see the sea boiling below with waves crashing up onto the window. I now discovered the mysterious light, as a blinding flash of lightening lit up the sky followed almost immediately by a deafening crash of thunder.
The thunderstorm continued for several minutes accompanied by all the other noises, and the excessive rolling.
My stomach was not happy!
I searched out a sea-sickness pill and tried to lay on the bed so that I no longer rolled around. Sleep appeared impossible, but after more than an hour I did drop off again as my brain came to terms with the noises and motion.
When I woke again, it was getting light outside and the serious noises and motion during the night had returned to what we had been suffering from during yesterday. This was still bad enough to maintain my nausea.
Deb got up and made a cup of tea, but I just drank enough to consume my prescription pills. Breakfast was far from on my mind, so after a quick wash to make myself presentable to the public, I went to Anderson’s in hopes of getting a stable place to sit while Deb went for breakfast.
Fifteen minutes later Deb came and found me.
Any plans to become active were forgotten and Deb sat with me with her book while our cabin was being cleaned for the day. An hour later I was back on the bed attempting to get some sleep while my stomach settled. I did manage to eat a bread roll and an apple but I simply lay horizontal while Deb went elsewhere.
At midday Deb went to lunch and I felt well enough to go to the choir session. That seems to make my mind ignore issues of motion and I enjoyed taking on Coldplay’s ‘Fix it’ song.
Back at the cabin I found Deb working on her diary, and a sandwich waiting for me. I was finally feeling well enough to eat, and ready to join in with the world again…but only carefully.
We went to Battle of the sexes for round two, and the ladies thrashed the men again. Fortunately, Deb doesn’t make a fuss about the ladies being somewhat superior, but as the captain she is pretty happy with their performance.
It was time for afternoon tea, and as well as the drink I had a cake. My food intake for the day so far has not been very much.
We returned to the cabin and while I relaxed with my book, Deb had a bath.
Tonight was the first formal one with the Welcome on Board cocktail party. The rocking and rolling continued, and although still slightly unstable, I had a glass of wine as we listened to Captain Gray telling us how smooth a trip we were having (WHAT!!) and how the sun was coming out for our visits to the ports in the coming days.
Slightly late and tipsy for dinner, we chatted again with our new friends over another quite pleasant meal from the Marco Pierre White gala menu.
With full tums again, nothing appealed from the cabaret acts this evening, so we relaxed in the cabin with our books.
Later we met up with the syndicate quiz team again, but lost by a couple of points. Not too bad considering we began with the -1 point penalty for being the previous evening’s winners.
By now Deb and I were exhausted from lack of sleep for two days, but the sea was finally beginning to give up its battle with Oriana, and we were hoping for a restful night.
There is another sea day to come tomorrow and we are looking forward to the promised temperature rise, and calmer sea.
Wednesday 14th February – to the west of the Portuguese coast.
Finally, it was a quiet and smooth night, and the pair of us slept properly.
My stomach was OK and we both went for breakfast in the buffet. Deb had porridge, and I had Frosties before we completed or reasonably health start to the day with a croissant.
After breakfast we had a short session with our diaries before going out onto the Promenade Deck for a walk. Unfortunately the front end of the deck was roped off so we had to walk first one way and then the other. Our estimations were that we had walked a mile, but it was not the same as doing the full laps.
Coffee time again, and we saw Mike Doyle having a chat to the captain. It seems they are good friends.
At midday we had the Baltic / Ligurian loyalty lunch with more free booze and a decent menu as we chatted to another couple, and an officer from the Purser’s team (or whatever they are called nowadays).
We left the Oriental restaurant in time for Battle of the Sexes part three. Finally the men have remembered what the aim of a quiz is all about. We won quite comfortably, but are still trailing the ladies overall.
The remainder of the afternoon was all about relaxing and reading, although I did also have a lovely hot bath.
As we had eaten well at lunchtime, we ignored the dining room dinner, and just had a snack in the buffet, which was featuring Indian food.
After that we lost in a Lord’s Tavern quiz about flags. To be honest we were useless.
Then in the theatre we laughed our way through Mike Doyle’s superb second comedy act. He has probably offended some more people again but I would gladly see him again.
It has been such a better day, so we had another couple of glasses of wine in Anderson’s before meeting up in Crichton’s again for the Syndicate Quiz.
We lost by two points in a very high scoring quiz.
To round off the day we climbed up to the buffet for a late night hot chocolate, and then after a short read, the lights were turned out.
Thursday 15th February – Funchal, Madeira
Yes, we had a wonderful night of undisturbed sleep.
Breakfast was as healthy as yesterday.
We didn’t get off the ship immediately but looked at the island from the open decks. Oceana is also in port and docked just in front of us. The sky is blue and the sun was already trying to warm up the air.
Just before 10:00 we got off the shuttle in the shopping district of Funchal, and we set off for a walk around some of the backstreets. It was getting rather warm as we explore the Town Square and shops offering bargain prices, but sadly on things we didn’t want.
We had coffee and Nata cakes in a very pleasant café before turning towards the dockside again. We didn’t use the shuttle and made the most of terra-firma beneath our feet for a 2-minute walk along the water-front.
The last three wobbly days has made my knee ache very badly, and when we got back to the cabin it was noticeably swollen. By now we had both changed into shorts as the temperature had risen to delightful levels as the morning progressed.
After resting for half an hour we had lunch, and after that we went out by the pool and enjoyed the sunshine as we listened to our music.
Late in the afternoon Deb went to a special offer in the Spa where she had a number of treatments for an hour and a half. The price was actually very good at just under £30.
I had a bath to soak a rather sore and swollen knee, plus an aching neck. I love holidays but the three days of slightly dodgy weather meant my leg muscles were working overtime to maintain balance, and the knee has suffered.
Oriana set off at about 5:00 for the overnight sail to La Palma and I watched as we passed Oceana. She would be setting off for the Caribbean a little later. There was several minutes of the two ships blaring their horns at each other.
… I assume we were very popular with the people of Madeira hoping for a peaceful afternoon.
Deb and I had our dinner in the Beach House as a treat. It was delicious as always with a wonderful level of service.
Of course, there was too much food and we had to rest afterwards before going to the second show from the Headliners. The performance tonight was ‘Reel to Reel’. Yes, we have seen it before, but still worth watching.
That took us to bedtime, and I am hoping for a good night again to relax my aches and pains.
Friday 16th February – La Palma (Canaries)
For whatever reason, I didn’t get the sleep I wanted.
I gave up dozing at 7:45 to put the kettle on. We were just approaching the breakwater on the island of La Palma at the town of Santa Cruz. The sky had patches of blue but there were a few clouds as well.
It was breakfast in the buffet again with fresh fruit and toast for me, and porridge followed by croissant for Deb.
The Aida Sol arrived while we were eating. We think we last saw this ship in 2012 as we left Madeira on our world cruise.
Our plan was for a simple walk along the main street of the Santa Cruz. It was perhaps not the most dynamic port we have visited, but we knew that before we left home. Total outlay was less than 30 Euro for a pair of leather belts, an ice-cream each, and a fridge magnet.
It was hot and I had forgotten my sunglasses and my hat. To make matters worse my knee was as bad as it was yesterday and the walk made it swell again.
On the way back through the narrow streets, we saw a wave of Aida passengers coming towards us. Hundreds of them had just been released from their ship and were now taking over the town. I am sure these people are very nice but it seems that Germans stay close to each other and walk in a vast group. They were six or seven abreast and surging towards us without any thought about people coming in the other direction. We continually had to scatter to the left or right as each herd approached us.
This obstacle course continued all the way back to the harbour, and even along the shared dockside.
We were back home on Oriana before 11:00 and Deb went for a swim while I stretched out beside the pool to enjoy the unexpected heat of the sunshine from the totally blue sky.
Our eventual lunch was a healthy salad, although I spoilt it with a fruit trifle.
After lunch we returned to the cabin and spent a while updating diaries and Deb posted some more of our adventures of Facebook.
We followed that with an hour on the poolside, but in the shade. Once more it was music for me, and a book for Deb.
He evening began with an Individual Quiz where Deb won with 20/20 but only after a tie break.
Dinner was back in the dining room again where we were questioned about being missing for two nights. The menu included a section to celebrate the Chinese New Year that I thoroughly enjoyed. While a lot of people went to the theatre to listen to a singer who featured Michael Buble song.
We were not interest.
Deb went to sort out a dress that she will be wearing in the fashion show in a few days from now, and I lay on the bed attempting not to go to sleep with my book.
We stayed in the cabin until going for a drink before the syndicate quiz. We didn’t do very well, and I wished I could occasionally come up with an answer rather than sitting amazed at how much the others know.
That was the end f another beautiful day in the delightful sunshine. We have a slow journey tonight eastwards to the island of Tenerife.
… and the weather forecast is for more sunshine.
Saturday 17th February – Tenerife
I had a really good night, and although I woke at around 4:00 I wasn’t awake long before returning to dreamland.
When we got up just before 8:00 the sun was shining, and we were docked alongside in Tenerife. We are sharing the port with the Aida Sol again plus the Saga Sapphire.
After breakfast there was a few minutes downloading and scanning our newspapers before we got ready to look around the city of Santa Cruz … yes, another one!
There is a carnival in the city today and we had been warned that many roads are blocked off, and various stage shows and market stalls will be making walking difficult.
Goodness they were so correct.
It was chaos. A shuttle took us to the terminal building where we had to walk round and round and upwards to the street level. Then we began the walk through barriered off areas with a major concert stage being set up with sound checks. One major downside was that the council were washing down all the streets making our progress difficult while staying dry. Then there was the stench from ‘Portaloos’ which appeared to have been set up while filthy, and the air was full of the stench of urine.
Anyway, we managed to make our way to the shopping area where I went to a chemist to buy a support for my knee. It had reached a point where I am willing to try anything to keep me going until my surgery at the end of March. Once tried on, the support stayed put on my aching knee, and yes there was an obvious feeling of comfort from it.
Beyond that purchase, we walked for a while, but the city is concentrating on their carnival and some shops still had their shutters down. We retraced our steps to the ship with more diversions around stages and barriers. At the terminal we splashed out 2Euros again on a fridge magnet.
The remainder of the morning involved coffee and cake and a few minutes sitting on the deck while our steward (Harish) completed a major morning of full bedding changes.
We had lunch in Al Frescos for a change, but apart from the fresh pizzas I didn’t feel the food was any better than the buffet, but it was perhaps a little less crowded.
Deb burnt off the extra calories with a swim. We planned to sit around in the sunshine again, but there was a chilly breeze blowing across the decks. Deb went for a session in the sauna and I retired to the warmth and comfort of the cabin to update my diary.
Tonight we will be eating in the dining room again before watching the Headliners performing ‘Destination Dance’ in the theatre. We both enjoy this show.
Deb has just returned from her sauna and the only plan for the afternoon is to organise a second visit to the Beach House for tomorrow evening.
As the afternoon merged with evening we tested ourselves in the Individual Quiz…. I lost the battle.
The captain announced that we would be late leaving Tenerife while the inspectors complete checks on all the ship’s lifeboats. This delay would not be a problem as the overnight crossing to our nect port is a short one. We eventually left about two and a half hours late.
Then we enjoyed a quiet glass of wine in Anderson’s before dinner. I am pleasantly surprised that I have been finding something interesting and tasty to eat of the menu each night. I can only assume that a different chef can make the food on this familiar menu, that I was bored with, into meals that I am perfectly happy with.
From the restaurant we made our way to the theatre and had a delightful 45 minutes of energy and sparkle from the Headliners. I really like ‘Destination Dance’ and especially the finale of Irish dance.
We needed a rest now so spent some time reading before I was challenged once again to find some answers in the Syndicate Quiz. Only once did I have an answer that the others didn’t get, but my lack of confidence stopped me from pushing it forward.
… we lost by a single point.
There was still enough time left to have hot chocolate in the buffet before a quick read and sleep time.
Tomorrow we will be in Lanzarote for the final leg of these Spanish Islands. We have our one and only organised tour here, but it is a late departure, so no rush to get up in the morning.
Sunday 18th February – Lanzarote
It was a calm crossing overnight and I had plenty of relaxing sleep.
We were at breakfast by 8:15 as Oriana made her final approach (on time) to the port of Arrecife on the island of Lanzarote.
We came here many years ago and visited Fire Mountain along with hundreds of other tourists who have come to this mountainous volcanic island. This time we were taking a short coach trip to the city of Teguise that used to be the capital of the island.
Our tour is just a brief panoramic trip with basic information before we have a couple of hours on our own. There is a market where we might be able to spend some of our remaining Euros.
I have my knee support back on again this morning, and Deb believes the swelling has reduced since I began to use it yesterday. Even though it is less swollen, I continue to struggle with too much walking, and restrict use of the stairs to a minimum.
Just before 10:00 the tour bus left the dockside on the twenty-minute journey to Teguise. Our guide was called Girma pronounced with the ‘G’ sounding like you are clearing your throat. She gave us a pleasant description of the island of Lanzarote talking about the climate, its history, and how the primary employment used to be for agriculture, but which is now tourism. We were told about building regulations that refuse tall buildings, meaning that most houses are just two stories, and virtually every one we saw was painted white.
… very pretty
As we arrived in Teguise, Girma then spent time talking about the city, which was more like a sprawling small town. It has a market every Sunday that attracts hundreds of locals and tourists to this attractive location. On a hill overlooking the town is a castle, that was really too far to consider visiting, but which is very popular.
The coach parked up and we were let loose on the town for about two and a half hours.
The market had hundreds of stalls as well as dozens of artisan shops within the town itself. A small area is dedicated to local stalls with fruit and vegetables, cheeses, sauces and honey, but the vast majority were tourist based. The products ranged from the same ‘tat’ as seen all over the world, through local specialities such as basic clothing, pottery, and a vast array of items made from the volcanic waste. Then at the other end were some stylish items of clothing, high end art and crafts. Of course, there were numerous food outlets along with bars, and cafes.
We wandered up and down the market that is on the side of a slight slope. I imagine the site of the market spread over a couple of football fields with a square in the middle next to the beautiful church. There was music being played all over the place including a one-man band with various instruments including a harp, and he was very good.
Deb and I didn’t spend very much with coffee, a burger style snack for lunch, and an ice-cream to add to the cost of a fridge magnet (just one Euro today), a scarf, and replacement sun visor. So we still have some Euros left for our visit to Lisbon.
My knee was aching by the time we got back, so after a cup of tea I had a bath, and promptly fell asleep.
This evening we have the loyalty cocktail party, before we go up to the Beach House for our second treat of the cruise in this restaurant that we enjoy on all of the P&O ships.
The entertainment is not to our taste this evening, but we might attempt the mid-evening quiz in the Lord’s Tavern before I sit with the other four of our team attempting to think of a correct answer in the syndicate quiz.
Oriana will be late leaving Lanzarote to complete the lifeboat inspection on the starboard side of the ship. The captain is again not worried by the delay as we have a reasonably easy run through tonight and tomorrow to our final port of Lisbon.
By the way, the sun shone again just as in all out ports so far. The sky was clear blue, and it was hot. It was however just a little breezy at sea level.
Hopefully Lisbon will make a full house of beautiful weather before we make our way back to Britain.
Well, the evening was interesting. The Peninsular Loyalty cocktail party was in the Pacific Lounge that does not make interaction with other people easy when sat in rows. We had a couple of drinks plus a canape before the deputy captain gave the speech. Unfortunately, there was no information about the P&O future plans, and sadly we didn’t win the photograph album and bottle of champagne(ish).
From the party we went to the Beach House for another lovely meal. We couldn’t manage the desert course as we were full, or it could have been the rapid consumption of the party free booze. Anyway, we returned to the cabin contentedly full, and had a doze.
The evening was still quite busy with an attempt at a music quiz in the Lord’s Tavern where someone managed to score a full house, leaving the rest of us trailing far behind.
From there it was a dash upstairs to take on the Syndicate Quiz again.
Disappointment again, and especially as we had sufficient answers that we talked ourselves out of, to have won.
That was enough for the night and we struggled back with heavy tums and empty brains for our beds.
Tomorrow it is a sea day as we sail up the coast of Africa.
Monday 19th February – Sea Day
Early start today.
Deb is taking part in the fashion show later, although I think she is confused how this happened.
Being Monday it is also Eggs Benedict in the dining room.
Deb was not fully over yesterday evening’s food and booze yet, so only managed a single egg for her breakfast before having to dash back to the cabin to prepare herself for the cat-walk.
The weather is a little cloudier than our days in the islands, and although warm, it is not good enough to laze on the poolside…. Yet.
Well, that is my diary up to date for now, so I had better get ready to find a spot to watch Deb strut herself in front of the waiting crowds and paparazzi.
… have I got the wrong idea here then??
There was plenty of time for me to go out on the Promenade Deck and walk a mile before the fashion show began. By half way I decided it was a bad idea and my knee was hurting again. Of course, I ignored the warning signs and carried on for the full distance. Now it was really hurting.
Into the Pacific Lounge and I set up my camera to capture Deb in her outfit.
I was very proud as she appeared to have come second…..
… oh, is it not a competition?
It seems she was just chosen as the second person to walk out in the ‘black and white section of the show.
Thirty minutes later the advertising session for the ship’s clothes was over, and I met up with Deb back at the cabin. She has some extra discount for the shop as a reward for her work. It seems the group of 12 passengers involved were also supplied with copious amounts of Prosecco.
It was almost lunchtime by the time Deb had changed back into here normal daywear.
Deb went for her food but I had my choir practice and today’s song was ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ which involves serious amounts of harmonisation. I hit a high note today that I have avoided for many decades. Fortunately only two or three of us even attempted it, and has now been downgraded to a lower octave.
We only have one more session before the final rehearsal and stage set up on Thursday for the afternoon performance.
After that I grabbed a few chips for my lunch and then it was off to the Lord’s Tavern for Battle of the sexes. The ladies won yet again.
The busy day continued with a game show called ‘Less is more’. Of course, it is a pure coincidence but it was almost identical to BBC’s Pointless. Deb and I were chosen as one of the four pairs, but the first round was about Star Wars, and Star Trek films and we bombed out. Never mind, it was a pleasant way of spending half and hour before tea and cakes.
After the usual individual quiz interlude, we dressed in formal wear for dinner.
As we sat in Anderson’s for an aperitif we realised that we hadn’t read the daily paper correctly. It was billed as ’Black and White’ night and Deb stood out slightly in her red dress.
We didn’t bother with the entertainment this evening as the Headliners were performing ‘We’ll Meet Again’. This has been going in one form or either since our first cruise 18 years ago. I imaging the British Cruise industry must keep the manufacturer of British flags going with the amount handed out for each sail-away party, along with this show.
Deb and I sat in the Crow’s Nest for a glass of wine listening to the rather Jazz biased trio, before we took on the Syndicate Quiz. It was another failure with more than enough correct answers considered, but rejected for wrong ones.
Tomorrow we will be at our last port in Portugal. It is our ninth visit to the city of Portugal.
Tuesday 20th February – Lisbon, Portugal
We woke to another blue sky and delightful sunshine. It was not warm to begin with, but the forecast is for 18°C later.
After breakfast, where I treated myself to some bacon, we were quickly ready to go down the gangplank. We were sharing the quite new terminal with the Aida Vita ship today.
The shuttle bus was a disaster. It had to drive away from the port along a dual carriageway in the wrong direction for almost a mile, before being able to turn back towards the city. After ten minutes we passed Oriana in the other direction and then after another ten minutes arrived at the drop off point. Had we known I think we would have walked the ten-minute stroll directly from the ship to the Black Horse Square.
We didn’t do much, and just strolled around looking at the shops and having coffee plus ‘pasties de Nata’ cakes (custard tarts).
That was enough for my leg so it was back on the shuttle bus for the much quicker and straight forward return journey.
There are issues of the ship today as the engineers and Plumbers are working on the newly refurbished boilers, so there is no hot water for several hours.
Hopefully it will be restored before shower time this evening.
Now I think it is time for some lunch.
With tums exercised, Deb and I grabbed towels and sun-screen for an hour or more on the deck in the beautiful hot sunshine. It reached a glorious 19°C.
We followed that with a cool down in the cabin, and a chance to read a few chapters between the odd moment of closed eye thought.
Deb won the individual quiz, and at around 6:00pm Oriana’s horn said a farewell to Lisbon as we began the 1000 or so mile trip north towards Britain. This has been a rather pleasant cruise, especially at the ridiculous price we paid for it.
We decided to skip the main dining room tonight and ate in the Buffet for their Indian style menu. It was really very nice but I came away with slight indigestion which got worse through the evening.
The evening entertainment was comedian Roy Walker. We really have seen too much of him on previous cruises, but I am sure he made the less travelled members of the audience laugh. Elsewhere on the ship it was 60s and 70s night and although we had our fancy dress with us, it seems no one dresses up any more. We saw just one passenger who had made the effort, and even the entertainment crew that we saw were in normal clothes.
We had a game of Trivial Pursuit up in the Crow’s Nest before the evening quiz in the Lord’s Tavern.
It was a musical quiz on the 60s/70s and we scored 27 out of 30 and still lost by 2 points. I have to say that the musical questions hardly covered the music I remember during that time. I listened to a lot of the music of that time, but apparently it was the wrong music.
Anyway, that was followed by the syndicate quiz where we failed in a three-way tie break. Sadly, I gave an incorrect answer and insisted it was correct so I take the blame for us not winning tonight.
… they really shouldn’t listen to my very rare answers.
The sea has turned lumpier and the wind has got up. Oriana is jiggling and bumping her way up he Portuguese coast.
The temperature is dropping as we get closer to home with just two days to go.
Wednesday 21st February – sea day
It was not a night full of sleep. The indigestion made me feel uncomfortable, and the motion of the ocean didn’t help.
It was a relief to eventually get up at 7:30 for a cup of tea.
As we went to breakfast in the buffet, we experienced the howling wind on the open deck. This is not going to be a sun bathing day, and any fresh air will be cold and blowy.
The first job on the list today was to complete the passenger questionnaire. It is quite noticeable that our scores are getting worse as time goes by. The niggling reductions in service standards are never dramatic in isolation, but the cumulative affecting our thoughts.
It will get worse, and we are seriously considering checking out the competition.
It was a quiet morning looking at the sales items in the shops, had a cup of coffee, and relaxed as the sea began to calm down a little.
At lunchtime I was I the Pacific Lounge for the choir practice, and we went through four of the songs, including a new one. Sadly, I have still not heard or sung the fifth one we will be singing.
Meanwhile Deb had begun to pack the mountain of cases.
After a quick snack with Deb we were off to the Battle of the Sexes where the men actually triumphed. We are still a long way behind the women before tomorrow’s final battle.
The rest of the afternoon was relaxing read time, and I had a bath as well.
It was formal dress code tonight, so after the individual quiz, we put on the planned black and white clothes that we should have worn a couple of days ago. The dinner was from a menu where I struggled to find anything to interest me, so it was prawn cocktail, and steak with the Sundae to finish.
Surprise, surprise, we missed the shows and had a quiet drink in Anderson’s before the Syndicate Quiz showed up my lack of general knowledge again.
A final cup of hot chocolate in the buffet ended our day, and sleep was needed. Oriana was now making quite smooth progress through the area known as the Bay of Biscay.
Tomorrow is the final day with lots to do.
Thursday 22nd February – Final Sea Day
Yes, it was another lovely and restful sleep, and we woke to a relatively calm sea with the sun shining. It was bitterly cold out on the decks as we went to breakfast, but this is winter.
Oriana was just about turning into the channel so not very far to sail during today and tonight before reaching Southampton.
Choir rehearsal in the theatre this morning at 10:00 before the show this afternoon at 1:30. My throat is not very healthy and I am resorting to the pastilles to stop the cough and get my vocal chords active for those high notes.
The rehearsal in the theatre went well, although it wasn’t easy fitting everyone on the stage. There was a small amount of motion from the sea meaning that my legs were rocking a little but nothing uncomfortable. After about 30 minutes we were told to go and get a rest and some lunch before the actual performance.
As I returned to the cabin my throat was sore again, I was coughing quite a bit, and my legs felt very heavy.
… this didn’t feel as if it was from the singing, or the slight sea movement.
Lunch was the usual pandemonium in the buffet to find places to sit, but we arrived early to stake our claim while we had a drink of water. From there it was a few more minutes relaxing in an attempt to stop what felt like cramp.
At 1:30 we performed our five songs in front of quite a good audience who applauded and demanded more as we hoped. I really enjoyed the experience but I wished I hadn’t been positioned next to someone who was a little tone deaf, and singing notes at random pitches through the songs. Perhaps I am just as bad, but I don’t think so.
Deb had watched the first couple of songs but then had to go to the Battle of the sexes. Luckily our songs didn’t take too long and I had changed out of my dress shirt in time to get to the battel before it started. The men did very well and gained almost half the points we were trailing by, but not well enough, and the ladies had a deserved victory.
Next was time for a cup of tea, and an admission to Deb that I was really not feeling very well. I was suspecting I had caught another virus.
We didn’t fancy going to the main dining room tonight so planned to eat in the Conservatory Buffet where there was a Thai evening. Our decision was based on the rather slow service we were getting in the oriental restaurant.
Roy Walker was the theatre act tonight, and he was eating just a couple of tables away from us. He certainly knows how to cram in his meal quickly.
There was a little spot of amusement when he left. The sliding doors had been switched off to prevent too much freezing blasts chilling the passengers, but they could be forced open to get in and out. As Mr Walker approached the doors expecting them to slide open he was surprised of their lack of movement. After waving his hands with no success I could detect a moment of suspicion and before he did anything else, he looked around to see if anyone had set him up.
Comics are always targets for practical jokes, and I have a feeling this was what he suspected. Anyway, with no one laughing he proceeded to prise the doors apart and make his escape.
We didn’t go to his show, but there was a lot of very positive feedback from the passengers we spoke to.
Instead we went to the Crow’s Nest for a drink to spend our remaining on-board credit. This coincided with the guitarist singing some very familiar songs from our past.
We gave the pub quiz a miss and moved to Anderson’s for a final drink of the cruise in there, before going to the syndicate quiz.
Yes we lost again, but though the last 11 nights of this quiz we had been near the top each time as well as our single win.
We bade goodbye to our quiz mates and went for a late night hot chocolate before bedtime.
By now I was feeling rotten and crawled into my bed with a full dose of paracetamol plus throat pills. Throughout the night I was sweating for a while and then shivering.
Friday 23rd February – Home again
It was a bad night, and I knew I was ill, but it was time to go home.
The last time we were on Oriana I managed to contract Norovirus on the morning we got home, this time it appears to be flu.
Anyway, we were away very early with disembarking commencing before 8:15. There was a serious delay while we found our suitcases, and the taxi back to our car was also rather slow arriving. There was also a moment needed to scrape the ice of the windscreen but we were on the road by 9:15, and home just after midday.
It had been a lovely few days away with some very unexpected good weather, but now it was time to get back to normal.
It is going to be a busy few weeks as I have to dig the garden over as quickly as possible before having an arthroscopy on my aching knee. After that there will just be just over a month before we are away again for our early summer cruise to the Mediterranean.
p.s. – My new book is selling very well, and I thank those of you who have bought it.