Sea Day 2

This morning Oceana was sailing south along the coast of Spain. The temperature had risen to the late teens centigrade and there were hints of sunshine during the day. A cool wind was still meaning that few people were spending time outside on the open decks, so the inside lounges remained busy.

Our morning began with breakfast in the restaurant. Another of the changes in the last few months has been the introduction of little pieces of butter on a dish rather than the sealed mini-slabs. It is labelled as a way of getting rid of single use plastic and one of several obvious changes to help the environment. Another is yoghurt coming in little glass jars, which I found quite pleasant.

Anyway the breakfast finally became as we planned with just cereal, fruit juice, and toast. Wierdly they bring the toast in racks with three rounds. We are now asking for an extra slice as we tend to have two pieces each. Of course this upsets the routine and they bring another toast rack with three more rounds. Sadly to compound this, the butter ration is just one lump each, and we have to ask for more of that as well.

… perhaps we are just awkward customers.

Breafast over, I sat for about 30 mintes with my laptop, and Deb continued with the Francis Rossi book. Then it wastime for exercise.

Fitsteps challenged Deb and I walked around the Promenade Deck for at least a mile. It was wonderful to be out in the fresh air and coaxing my heart to get excited for a few minutes. On the Port side the sun was shining on me, and several people were reclining in the delicious winter warmth. On the Starboard side it was less pleasant, and almost deserted except for the walkers.

With my pulse rate proving I had done a bit of good to my body, I came back inside and changed out of the slightly sweaty top. Then I strolled my way through the crowded corridor to sit in the back of the Starlight Lounge watching the Fitstep class.

It is mainly women performing this series of exaggerated dance steps to the pacy music, but one or two men are having a go as well. I applaud them because this style of exercise is quite alien to a lot of men.

One man has caught my eye with his attempts. The movements are designed to be with quite small steps, but this guy is stretching every sideway or forward and back pace to giant leaps. This means he is struggling to fit in the intricate kicks and flicks, and appears slightly out of control.

I am not trying to put men off, and as I said before, I applaud his attemps, but, he is getting a lot of amused looks from those around him. Just like people who begin dance lessons, the movement and actions are awkward and clumsy to begin with, but they do become more natural and relaxed in time.

When Fitsteps ended the lounge was handed over to the choir. This morning we took on two new songs that I thouroughly enjoyed . The first was ‘Master of the House’ from Les Miserables and that was a wonderful experience. The second was ‘Rocking the boat’ and I liked this because it was more of a challenge.

Anyone listening might be making similarly negative comments about our singing, as my thoughts about the FitStepping man. It is wonderful that on a cruise we can attempt different things. Some will lead to continuing an activity when we get home, while others will be filed under ‘Perhaps Not’.

Deb and I didn’t continiue with the Battle of the Sexes, but instead tried to find somewhere to sit and eat lunch.

No chance!

The buffet was packed and queueing out of the door on the side that was open. We went to look at Cafe Jardin, but that had a queue waiting for tables. Finally we returned to the Deck Grill for a burger and chips.

… we are trying to eat healthily!

After lunch we relaxed in the cabin. We logged on to the internet for the first time and caught up on news. Unfortunately I discovered my email account had been blocked because of some suspicious activity. I had to run a full scan of the laptop before setting up a new password. That took until just before 6:00.

In the menatime we attempted a ‘Name that song’ quiz in the Yacht and Compass where we did well, but completely outclassed by a team who got all 20 songs and singers correct.

We ate in the buffet for dinner. It was the Indian themed one and although I don’t go mad for this style of food, I can always find something that is enjoyable. On a very positive note, at least it had more flavour than many of the meals in the main dining rooms.

… sorry this is a personal view, and others will have different ideas

It was then off to the theatre to watch the Headliners and their ‘Stagedoor’ show. It was superb. Yes we have seen it before, but it is full of some really professional dance routines, and complex songs. There are four people in the troupe that we recognise from our Amazon cruise – two of the singers and two of the dancers – but all of them are really good, and work their socks off during these performances.

After the show we rounded off the evening in the Magnums Lounge for a drink. We shared a table with another couple and had a chat and laugh.

It had been a really good day, and the holiday truly feels as if it has started.

Sea Day 1

Deb and I woke as Oceana was nudging her way around Ushant Point to begin the crossing of the Bay of Biscay. The sky was cloudy, and the sea was an ugly north Atlantic grey colour. There were a few potholes and lumps for our ship to sail across, but generally it was quite smooth.

We had breakfast in the Adriatic restaurant. It was Monday which means the Chef’s Special is Egg Benedict which Deb looks forward to on a cruise. She asked for just one egg, and I asked for one poached egg and a slice of bacon,. Deb received what she asked for withher tiny egg in the middle of a giant plate, but I received two eggs and two slices of bacon. That was my attempts at being good blasted out of the water on the first morning.

After breakfast I sat with my laptop watching the ship come to life. With the not so pleasant weather, passengers were searching out comfortable spots inside, and the seats were quickly getting occupied. Very little happens before 10:00 while the entertainment boys and girls are allowed to wake up slowly.

The first activity for Deb was Fit Steps where two of the Headliners put the supple, and the not so supple, through 45 minutes of testing dance moves. Deb recognised one of the instructors as Chanel who took the classes on Aurora on our Amazon adventure.

I had intended to go for a walk around the deck while this was going on, but it was closed off at the front because of the wind. I sat and watched Deb instead.

… At least I was thinking about being active.

When Fit Steps ended it was my turn to have some fun at the choir. A couple of the Headliner Singers worked alongside a pianist to drag musical sounds out of a very good turn-out of passengers. The pianist was the same as on Oriana earlier this year, and the first two songs we learnt were the same as then. At least this time there is a show planned for the end.

With singing over, it was time for the Battle of the Sexes, and both of us took part. It was not a very satisfying session, and we decided not to bother going again. At least we can find somewhere to eat lunch in comfort from tomorrow. Our lunch today was a sandwich from the grill, which was not very enjoyable.

The afternoon was quiet. I completed reading one of my books, and then rested my eyes. Deb found a book in the library that has caught her imagination, and had almost finished it by the time she would be turning off her light to go to sleep tonight. It is about Francis Rossi (Status Quo) and I will be taking it over when she has finished.

It was the first formal night, and the Welcome on Board cocktail party. After much thoughts about what to do, we decided to have dinner first, and then catch the later party. I will not comment on the food, as most of you already know my thoughts on the very familiar menus with the abundance of fish choices, and rather bland tastes.

The party on Oceana is held in the Atrium but when we arrived it was still packed with the early party people who had decided to camp out there for the evening. Hence there was nowhere to sit, and we ended up leaning on the rails of a higher tier of the Atrium. I collared an officer for a chat and he stayed with us for well over 30 minutes talking about his experiences and our moans about the lowering of standards on P&O.

We had heard a rumour about the parties, and this proved true. The only drink available is the sparkling wine. You have to pay for anything else. Well, we did our best and consumed a good number of glasses of the free stuff. Sadly, I had forgotten that I had taken one of my very strong painkillers, and I began to suffer form the dodgy alcahol.

… Yes, self inflicted pain

The entertainment was avoided, so I won’t comment on something I haven’t seen.

We went to the Yacht and Compass where there was a game show called ‘The Pursuit’ to watch. Based on the television show called ‘The Chase’ we volunteered to take part, and as only three people volunteered we became the evening entertainment.

It was good fun, especially as we won. Our prize was dinner in the Beach House or Cafe Jardin, so well worth stretching my very confused and wooly head.

To round off the evening we sat in the peaceful Magnums for a late night drink. My head was clear by then and the glass of decent wine was delicious as we chatted and laughed about our day.

Although the sea had made Oceana move around a bit during the day, it had been quite comfortable. As we went to bed the movement had eased a lot, and the captain has promised it will get even better tomorrow, and the sun might come out.

There are two more sea days to come, and perhaps we can venture out doors tomorrow.


Welcome on-board Oceana

Welcome Aboard Oceana

Sunday 27th October, and at 11:15 our taxi driver called our names for the drive to the cruise terminal. He looked shocked at the mountain of suitcases, but they were soon filling his boots and away we went.

The Oceana was waiting for us at the Mayflower Terminal where we have begun so many cruises over the last 20 years.

Deb and I were one of the early arrivals in the departure lounge, and within five minutes we were at a desk being checked in. Although we doubt our status will last very long, we are at the top loyalty level of Ligurian passengers. So with check in completed and cruise cards in our hands we sat in comfort in the elite lounge area for coffee and a cake.

There was hardly time to settle, as at about 11:45 the escort gathered us together to begin the boarding. After much preparation I managed to get through the security scanners without the “You’re a naughty boy” alarm, and we set off up the escalator toward the ship.

We were the very first passengers to board!

The holiday had begun on the Oceana, which may not be our favourite ship, is still a small one that fits in with our preferences. We had a two week cruise ahead of us going down to the Canaries, where hopefully we can enjoy some warmth and sunshine.

First things first, and we were directed to the Adriatic restaurant for the ‘Welcome on board party’ with some ‘fizzy’ wine (I won’t call it Champagne) and finger buffet. The buffet was identical to what we have seen for many cruises, and OK to fill a gap, but nothing to go “Wow” about.

Our table companions were superb. We were quickly chatting, quickly laughing, and quickly getting quite tipsy as we recounted tales of cruising. One amazing coincidence occurred when the subject of wildlife we have seen cropped up. The conversation centred on a sloth, and then one of the men said, that they had been sitting behind us in the canoe at the Amazon River village when we had a very close up view of one.

Before 2:00 we were in our cabin, and spent the next 30 minutes sorting out where to cram our clothes and bits into the available wardrobe and drawer space. With that successfully completed we went off to explore the ship. One of two places looked unfamiliar, but in general it didn’t take long before we got our bearings again.

Up in the buffet we decided to have a cup of tea. Waiting to get to the hot water, a lady in front of us said “I know you, but you won’t know me”. Called Pauline, she has read my books and follows the blog. She even said that I hadn’t been keeping it updated recently, but understood that we have been very busy with our move recently, and I have spent most of my unline time proof reading the new book, that will be available soon.

It is so wonderful being recognised occasionally, and I feel very honoured that so many of you read the blog, and buy my books. Thanks Pauline.

The evening was a quiet one for us. We had dinner in the Beach House where it was 20% off, and then sat in the quiet library reading our books. Later we went to an almost deserted Magnum Lounge where Deb had arranged to meet up with a friend from previous ‘Battle of the Sexes’, but she was obviously busy elsewhere, and the meet up would have to wait until the battle begins.

Eventually had an early night after a long and tiring couple of days.

Time to go cruising..again

After an awful drive from Tregony to Southampton, we are hours away from another cruise. Deb pointed out last night as we ate our evening meal, that it was 20 years ago that we set off on our first cruise.

Anyway, the drive was a nightmare because it was:

a. the first time we had been on the roads

b. it rained all the way, and we had to tip toe through lakes on more than one occasion.

c. the only parking space at the hotel had a puddle all around the rear of the car. I go very wet removing the cases. Trainers ruined, socks soaked, trousers very wet.

Never mind, we were in the hotel. Next came a meal that was going so well until the puddings were completely wrong. We had eaten enough anyway and gave up. The errors were mentioned to the lady at the till, and then I spent 10 minutes correcting the bill which was about £30 more than it should have been.

Of course the errors were all our fault … said the lady!

It is Sunday morning now, and after a reasonable night’s sleep we have had our breakfast, and are sorting cases out for when we set off.

The sky is blue, and the ground shows signs of drying out. We can see Oceana from our room window, and our taxi is due at 11:15.

Soon the wet things from yesterday, and dirty clothes not coming with us, will be stored away in the car, and we can settle down for an hour or so. I might watch the rugby to see who we will be playing next weekend, but I am still in a bit of a high from the defeat of the mighty All Blacks yesterday.

Deb and I will be logging on at times during the cruise, and will try and keep you all updated with our trip down to the Canaries.

Speak toou all soon.

My Blog is Changing

Deb and I have been living in Roseland Parc for two months now. We are getting used to referring to the apartment as ‘Home‘ and although we miss our friends in Herefordshire, we are settling down to life in Cornwall.

So, the Blog Site title of ‘A Cornishman East of the Tamar’ is no longer relevant.

The address will not change from ‘‘ but as soon as I learn how to do it, I will changing the title to something more appropriate. At the moment I think it might be something along the lines of – ‘A Cornishman back home’, or perhaps ‘Life at Roseland Parc’.

For now nothing radical will happen, as we are away on holiday for a while. The good ship Oceana will be whisking us off to the sunshine and warmth of the Canaries … hopefully.

We won’t be logged in to the internet each day, but there should be a few posts to wet your appetite of what we get up to.

The suitcases are virtually full, and there is little left in wardrobes or cupboards that can be squeezed in. iPods, cameras, and phones are charged, the plants watered, screen-wash topped up in the car, and a growing bundle of tickets, passports, insurance documents, Euros ready.

I am ticking off a final list of things to do, and as either of us move around from room to room we are looking for things we should have packed.

Tomorrow we will be setting off before lunch towards Southampton. This will be a different journey for us, so SatNav will more important than on recent trips to the cruise terminal.

Hopefully I will be able to watch some of the rugby match (England verses New Zealand) before we set off.

Well that is about it for now. The site shouldn’t change before we get home, so look out for our news, and I hope things go well for all of you.