E407 A trip around the bay.

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Frank Manning
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E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by Frank Manning » 03 May 2014, 19:54

Early morning Radio Solent carried an item about traffic congestion in the area of West Quay and the docks because there were 7000 passengers to get away, so it was with some trepidation that we approached the area about 20 minutes early. We need not have worried because the approaches to the Mayflower were clear, and in no time we were whisked to the front at check in, courtesy of our new Baltic status, and sitting in Le Club with drinks and some rather nice snacks. Eventually our room was ready on Lido deck, and we began unpacking etc. The bathroom seemed very small, hardly room to squeeze past the toilet into the shower, and there is no settee, so not quite as good a comparable rooms on Aurora and Arcadia. After the obligatory safety session in the theatre, we made ready for dinner in the Adriatic where we were delighted to see a Vasu, with whom we had got on well on three previous cruises serving on an adjacent table. Within minutes Melvin our table steward had reminded us that he too had served us previously on the Oriana round Britain cruise. By this time Oceana was well down the Solent and approaching Hurst Point and the Needles. Our table companions turned out to be great fun; Joe and Valerie, and, Denise and Glad. We went to the intro show for the entertainments team, and then turned in.

Sunday dawned grey but calm, and this weather pattern was to follow us for most of the week. We set about re acquainting ourselves with Oceana, and decided that we like her, if anything more than we did on our last visit. The Starlight Lounge is a particularly nice venue, and the Atrium too is well arranged, with ample seating on decks 6, and 7, for a drink and a bit of R&R. She seems a happy ship, and the crew are all very helpful and ready to engage in a bit of repartee. One of the Chefs did a cookery demo of dishes to be found in the Cafe Jardin, and this was followed by a port talk. Lunch was next, in the Plaza (much better layout and better seating than the Orangery on Aurora), and the 7 turns around the deck to get 2 miles in. Looking at our fellow passengers there were quite a few for whom this would have been a good idea. Sunday evening was black tie, and Captain’s welcome aboard, I made a “major leap for mankind”, by successfully tying my bow tie, which means I can finally wear the ones which Sue makes instead of those very convenient clip types.

Monday was partly cloudy with some desultory showers, and we took the guided walk around the old city of La Coruna. I had particularly wanted to do this because I had pleasant memories of a business trip to Repsol in the early 1990’s which entailed some delicious tapas in the old city. It did not disappoint, and our guide was both pleasant, and informative, with details of the death of Sir John Moore during the Franco Spanish war being brought to life by a fairly accomplished actor in uniform of the period. Then on to sample the Tapas; Pulpo, con Pain con Ribeiro. Eventually we wandered back to the ship, and put our feet up on the balcony for the afternoon. The evening show was 88 by Headliners, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Tuesday Bilbao, grey followed by heavy rain. We had booked a tour to San Sebastian, which was gener5ally very enjoyable if you discount the heaven opening as we got to the “comb of the wind” which meant we were saturated; but not as much as one fellow passenger who stood too near the sea wall and was drenched by the spray from a large wave. After a walking tour of the city we had free time and found that the local Basque people are very friendly and helpful. After a while we found a bar serving ‘pintxos’ the Basque version of Tapas, which went down very well with a glass of draft beer. Sue less adventurous than me had a coffee and a small cake. On return to the ship we had booked Le Cafe Jardin which is serving an Italian themed menu, and we found it OK but certainly nothing to rave about, given that the Club menu is still very good, albeit with quite small portions. Our evening’s entertainment was provided in the Starlight Lounge, by a tenor Roy Locke. I had a few qualms about how well he would be received, but I need not have worried. He has a fantastic range and great power, added to which he certainly knows how to work an audience, to the extent that he got a standing ovation from many of the audience. If you like opera and light opera, I recommend that you look him up, he was superb.

Wednesday, and La Rochelle. Once again we had booked a shore excursion, and on reflection we wish we hadn’t because it would have been better to have stayed in the town, where a close neighbour was visiting her daughter and hoping to see us. Ile de Rey was interesting, but chic and pretentious, and we encountered some of that French ambivalence towards the English, when we tried to order food in a restaurant on the quay. Despite asking in reasonable French, and despite the menu saying that food was served all day, we were informed that the electricity was off and they couldn’t cook anything. Strangely the lights were on, and the chef appeared busy on the range; ‘ce’st la vie’, we know not to bother there again. The ship made up for my disappointment that evening with an excellent beef stroganoff, followed by Headliners’ show “Killer Queen”. Sailing late from La Rochelle, Oceana set off for her last port on this short cruise.

Saint Nazaire, a much better day. Another tour, this time with an excellent guide Andrea, who took us first to the twin memorials to those lost when the Cunard liner ‘Lancastria’ was bombed and sunk after evacuating troops from St Nazaire, and also to those British and French men and women who died as a result of the raid by HMS Campbelltown on the lock gates at St Nazaire, both poignant reminders that whatever petty differences we may have with the French, we are and have been allies for a long time. On then to a museum of transatlantic liners in the former NAZI U Boat pens. They are massive, and I was able to take a few photos inside. The museum is good, and although it concentrates on the Normandie, Ile de France, and the France, it reflects accurately the French contribution to the North Atlantic trade. From there they took us to the shipyard Chantiers de Navales where two Russian helicopter carriers are being built, and where work has already begun on the latest RCL super cruise ship. We always laugh at trade union problems in France, but they have shipyard capable of building QM2 and we don’t; more fool us for letting it go. All in all, it was one of the better shore excursions. Andrea indulged a little sardonic humour at our expense but very gently, and she was a charming guide. That evening I foolishly chose lamb shank for my main course, a red protein fest which I came to regret.

Friday at sea mostly spent rounding the Ushant in sunshine, and packing for disembarkation. Making about 12 knots, it was nice sitting on the balcony in the sunshine, or walking around the promenade deck. We had lunch in the Ligurian restaurant which was not memorable, but more than made up for with sirloin steak and chips and a double helping of tiramisu for dinner. Followed by the final Headliners show Encore. The Captain had informed us that he planned to go in via the Needles channel passing Hurst Poi t at about 5.00am, however at 3.30 am on Saturday we were awoken by a banshee howling as rising wind and very choppy seas hit the vessel. She didn’t really roll much but the noise of the wind was really something on Lido deck.

Awoke Saturday to find that it was a very murky morning and we could just make out Portsmouth and the spinnaker tower off the starboard beam. It was already 6.45am, and we were clearly running late. In fact by the time we were ready for disembarkation we were running over 90 minutes late. It was no problem for us who just had to drive back to Poole but as the Captain explained, with 40 knot winds in the night it was too risky to take the Needles channel, and then by picking up the pilot off the Nab Tower he got caught up in container ship traffic and that was that.

We were happy. We would cruise on Oceana again, because she is a lovely ship, and not too big, with a good wrap around promenade deck and nice public rooms. The crew all seem very happy, and there was little sign of any of the dumbing down or cutting back which we had feared. True the portions in the main restaurant are a little small, but the stewards are usually only too happy to bring more if you ask them. We are now thinking about future cruises, but as far as P&O are concerned, we can’t see us going away from the Aurora, Oriana, Arcadia, or Oceana very often while they are still in the fleet. We like our walks around the promenade deck, and we don’t fancy the larger ships.

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emjay45
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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by emjay45 » 03 May 2014, 22:44

Thanks Frank. I was interested in a cruise on the Oceana, unfortunately because of you superior types on the top tier ;) I couldn't get the cabins I wanted. It seems a nice ship though and one we may consider if the itinerary suited.


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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by Whynd1 » 04 May 2014, 10:20

Hi Frank

I was also on this cruise with friends, we booked the San Sebastain tour and boy did we all get wet. After tapas we ended up in the hotel Maria Christina and had a glass of wine - very nice too. Like you we had also booked a table that evening for Cafe Jardin we had such a long wait between courses and when the main course did arrive mine was so overcooked it had to be sent back - but the head waiter came over and dealt with the matter to our satisfaction.

We have all booked again on the Oceana for 2 weeks in September and are looking forward to sailing again on Oceana as you say its a happy ship and the crew cannot do enough for you.

PS if you have pre dinner drinks in Magnums they serve canapes as well.

Glad you enjoyed your cruise we all did.

Lindsey

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Dennis The Menace
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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by Dennis The Menace » 04 May 2014, 10:44

Thanks frank, really enjoyed that

Good to see you and enjoyed oceana too :-)


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Frank Manning
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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by Frank Manning » 04 May 2014, 12:44

emjay45 wrote:Thanks Frank. I was interested in a cruise on the Oceana, unfortunately because of you superior types on the top tier ;) I couldn't get the cabins I wanted. It seems a nice ship though and one we may consider if the itinerary suited.
Hi Emjay, We are only on Baltic because of our half a worldie, you must be Baltic at least......surely? Ours will probably lapse after this year unless I can persuade Sue to do another longish cruise. She enjoys them really but doesn't look forward to them for some reason. I wouldn't bother with Cafe Jardin though if you do go on Oceana, it wasn't special, and if the weather is good I suspect that the Ocean Grill is better.

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Gill W
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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by Gill W » 04 May 2014, 19:22

Glad you enjoyed your cruise and thanks for posting your review, it was a good read.

Two of my favourite cruises have been on Oceana. It's difficult to define exactly what a 'happy ship' is, but Oceana is, as you say, a happy ship. Always such a good atmosphere on board.

My next cruise on Oceana will be in February 2016, for 35 nights to USA and Caribbean.

This is a big deal for us, being away for so long, and also means we'll have to stop working before then!
Gill

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emjay45
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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by emjay45 » 07 May 2014, 12:07

Frank Manning wrote:
emjay45 wrote:Thanks Frank. I was interested in a cruise on the Oceana, unfortunately because of you superior types on the top tier ;) I couldn't get the cabins I wanted. It seems a nice ship though and one we may consider if the itinerary suited.
Hi Emjay, We are only on Baltic because of our half a worldie, you must be Baltic at least......surely? Ours will probably lapse after this year unless I can persuade Sue to do another longish cruise. She enjoys them really but doesn't look forward to them for some reason. I wouldn't bother with Cafe Jardin though if you do go on Oceana, it wasn't special, and if the weather is good I suspect that the Ocean Grill is better.
No Frank, these days it takes more than one Worldie to get you to the top tier. We've only been cruising since 2011. We may reach those dizzy heights next year. :thumbup:

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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by oldbluefox » 07 May 2014, 12:57

Good review Frank. Your excursion in St Nazaire sounded absolutely fascinating. Hopefully more ships will stop there in future.

I didn't know you were Baltic. I've never been in company with royalty before. :lol:


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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by Frank Manning » 07 May 2014, 13:14

oldbluefox wrote:Good review Frank. Your excursion in St Nazaire sounded absolutely fascinating. Hopefully more ships will stop there in future.

I didn't know you were Baltic. I've never been in company with royalty before. :lol:
The only downside of the entire day in St Nazaire was that we had to be driven around in the shipyard, but that was for very good safety reasons. Otherwise it was excellent, and the tour guide Andrea was the best sort of French person... good sense of humour. I am not one to refuse the ship's tours unless I really have something better lined up. They are expensive, but we have been on some fabulous ones in the 10 years we have been cruising. (Remember the Soller train in 2012?).

Yes we are Baltic, but we still speak to anyone, and we haven't started drinking tea with the little finger crooked. Why, I would even speak to someone wearing a dark nightie if I bumped into him! :lol: :lol:

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oldbluefox
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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by oldbluefox » 07 May 2014, 17:36

Frank Manning wrote: Why, I would even speak to someone wearing a dark nightie if I bumped into him!
Somebody has to!! :lol:

DK
:wave: :thumbup:

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cornmillgirl
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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by cornmillgirl » 08 May 2014, 21:22

An excellent report Frank, I really enjoyed reading it, makes me look forward to our Oceana cruise in August. Like you me and Popeye love the likes of Oceana, Aurora, Arcadia and Adonia. Rcently returned from Azura and although we had a lovely cruise, we are not sold on the ship and she would
not be our first choice.

I dont know what it is about Oceana, but we first went on her in 2002 and today she still maintains that happy feel. I wonder why that is?

Anyway thanks for the great report.

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cornmillgirl
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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by cornmillgirl » 08 May 2014, 21:33

oldbluefox wrote:Good review Frank. Your excursion in St Nazaire sounded absolutely fascinating. Hopefully more ships will stop there in future.

I didn't know you were Baltic. I've never been in company with royalty before. :lol:
Oh yes you have OBF, I was rather miffed that you did not bow when we entered the Glasshouse to meet up for drinks,
however as we weren't wearing our Baltic lapel pin and slippers and do not like to broadcast our royaltiness (!) I will
forgive you :D

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oldbluefox
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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by oldbluefox » 08 May 2014, 21:48

Don't flex your biceps at me, your Royal Balticness!!! :lol: Not my fault if you were undercover!!!

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cornmillgirl
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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by cornmillgirl » 08 May 2014, 21:57

oldbluefox wrote:Don't flex your biceps at me, your Royal Balticness!!! :lol: Not my fault if you were undercover!!!
With your keen sense of smell Foxy, surprised you did not sniff us out :lol:

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oldbluefox
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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by oldbluefox » 08 May 2014, 22:02

Would that be Eau de PO? :lol:

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cornmillgirl
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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by cornmillgirl » 08 May 2014, 22:04

oldbluefox wrote:Would that be Eau de PO? :lol:
:D :D :D

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kaymar
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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by kaymar » 09 May 2014, 08:39

oldbluefox wrote:
Frank Manning wrote: Why, I would even speak to someone wearing a dark nightie if I bumped into him!
Somebody has to!! :lol:

DK
:wave: :thumbup:

Why? :o

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kaymar
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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by kaymar » 09 May 2014, 09:00

Excellent report thanks, Frank - succinct, informative and very readable.

I feel very humble in the presence of all you high-flyers (or should that be long-sailers) but have been on Oceana enough to agree with what you say. A lovely ship, missing, in our view, only a crow's nest and a quality alternative dining venue to replace the pretty average, bistro-style Cafe Jardin. With the MDR being as good as it is, though, this is not a major problem.

If we could combine the upper decks of Arcadia (pools, crow's nest and the late, lamented Orchid) with the rest of Oceana, now that would be nearing perfection.


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Frank Manning
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Re: E407 A trip around the bay.

Post by Frank Manning » 09 May 2014, 09:19

Yes the Orchid was a lovely venue with a great menu, and when we were there the staff were lovely too. We are on Adonia next so will give you a report on that when we get back.

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