Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Reports about cruises on Oceana
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Gill W
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Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 18 Mar 2016, 19:33

I'll be posting my diary from the this cruise.

It was a 35 night cruise...... So there'll be quite a few entries.

Day 1 - 8th February - Embarkation.

We presented ourselves at the Mayflower at 12.45, in a very timely manner for our 1pm Caribbean boarding time, and received a grey letter G boarding card.

At first glance, the terminal appeared to be heaving with people, but we went to the back of the terminal and were able to find seats.

They had just started boarding the suite people and the Ligurian's as we arrived. Our colour card was called at around 1.20pm, but we had to queue for quite a while to get to a check NI desk. Check in seemed to take longer than usual - they had to take our passports, I imagine for US immigration. They tried to give me the wrong receipt for my passport. The person in the next numbered cabin has the same first name as me, so there was a further delay when they had to go and get the correct receipt.


We were eventually onboard at 1.45. The cabins weren't ready so we went straight to our 'Goldie' canapés in the Ligurian restaurant. There was no announcement about cabins being ready ( at least not an announcement heard in the restaurant), so at 215 we decided to go and find our cabin. When we got there, it was all ready for us, and all three cases were there, so we were able to unpack.

From our experience, it just seemed like a normal embarkation. No real improvements, and cabins not ready when we boarded. In fact we had to wait longer than normal to board but I expect these longer cruises have lots of loyalty priority passengers.

The safety muster was at 5pm, and the captain told us that we were going to sail sometime after 6.30. As this was the day of Storm Imogen, I'm surprised that we sailed that evening - we went at about 6.50.

We are in the Adriatic restaurant on 1st sitting. This is a return to club dining after several freedom dining cruises. But, as had been reported, club dining on Oceana is now at 6pm, which is early for most people. It caught some people out on the first night, as several people turned up at 6.30.

We were a little disappointed to get a table for 4, rather than 2. But our table mates seem fine, and I think we'll get along with them. They were honest and said that they originally wanted a table for 2 as well, and not to worry if we don't turn up some nights, so they seem easy going.

The captain has announced that there'll be 7 metre swells in the Bay of Biscay tomorrow, so it should be interesting.

(EDIT - when I got home, my friend told me that they had been predicting 60 foot swells)
Gill

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 18 Mar 2016, 19:44

Day 2 - 9th February - at sea.

Yes, it was interesting.

The seas were lively over night, and had really picked up by morning.

We went to breakfast in the Plaza, and I had some fruit. Afterwards, I didn't feel that good, and didn't emerge from my cabin again until dinner time.

It was probably the worse sea day I've ever had - the ship was really being pounded by the waves, and and rising up and slamming back into the sea with loud bangs. We had to put away all loose items, and things that we couldn't put away ended up on the floor, like the phone!

I spent most of the day lying on my bed, reading and dozing, and by dinner time I felt a little better, so thought I'd chance going down to dinner.

We have a nice table for 4 on the starboard side of the Adriatic restaurant.

Half way though the meal, there was an almighty bang, and empty chairs went over, not to mention glasses and flower vases. Fortunately we managed to hang on to all our glasses on our table, but we tell this wasn't an ordinary sort of bang.

There is a wooden divider between our table and the next part of the restaurant, with a glass panel so I could see though it. There was a lot of activity on the other side of the divider with staff milling around. Then the captain came over the tannoy, to say that a freak wave had damaged windows on. The starboard side of the Adriatic restaurant.

By this time, passengers on the affected tables were being led away. I noticed the medical team taking one man away in a wheel chair. He had been sitting on a adjacent table, i don't think he was injured, just a bit shocked.

There was a call for the assessment team (they said it was for exercise only, which was a bit odd). By this time there were lots of crew members in the area that had been affected, and many tables had been cleared.

The captain came back on the tannoy, to say that they were going to put shutters of over the damaged windows. From our vantage point behind our wooden divider we saw a lot of this activity going on.

Then I noticed a crew member turn away with his hands over his head, there was another massive crash, and one of the damaged Windows blew completely!

At this point, I got up to have a look, and the sight of curtains blowing horizontally into the restaurant was slightly disconcerting to say the least!

Our waiters came to shoo all the people away from the rest of the window tables - I think they were getting concerned that the change in pressure might affect other Windows too. I was only too pleased to go at this point.

We returned to our cabin, and for a while I was seriously thinking we'd have to get our warm clothing and a head covering!

But they managed to patch it up and 2nd sitting was delayed.

We're probably going to get proper repairs done in Madeira.

Nobody seems to have been injured, fortunately, but it was a bit of an alarming thing to happen.
Gill

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Dennis The Menace » 18 Mar 2016, 20:24

Blimey, that sounds eventful Gill, I hope the other 33 nights were less so.

Interesting read so far, thank you :)

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by GillD46 » 18 Mar 2016, 22:07

Gosh I imagine that was rather scary. Hope nobody was seriously hurt.
Gill

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Happydays » 18 Mar 2016, 22:12

You couldn't say it was boring! Certainly be one to remember. Shall look forward to the next entry. Thank you.

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by sunseeker16 » 19 Mar 2016, 10:28

:o

Hope there aren't too many soon-to-be first-time cruisers reading this

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by The Tinker » 19 Mar 2016, 10:29

If its rough - I will be asking for a table in the middle of the restaurant in future!!

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by qbman1 » 19 Mar 2016, 10:37

We once had a rough one on Oceana when the shops were completely wrecked and closed for a week but nothing quite like that, Gill. I am sure some people were really worried.

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Meg 50 » 19 Mar 2016, 10:52

blimey - what a start!
Meg
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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Manoverboard » 19 Mar 2016, 11:29

Who was it who said that sea days are boring .... :oops:

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by qbman1 » 19 Mar 2016, 11:32

I think the actual quote was "sea days make me sick" !!

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 19 Mar 2016, 19:03

It was one of those things you read about happening, but you never thought it'd actually happen to you..

Some repairs were carried out in Madeira, but I noticed that one window was still covered in a metal plate, during our last port in the Azores. As it wasn't painted, it'd got very rusty and a there was a rust stain down the side of the ship. It looked unsightly, so I hope they're going to put it right ASAP.
Gill

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 19 Mar 2016, 19:05

Day 3 - 4 10th - 11th February - at sea

These two days have seen a marked improvement in sea conditions. At lunch time on day 4, as I write this note, we are down to two metre swells, and the ship is moving a little, but just 'normally'.

So, we've been able to settle ourselves into our shipboard routine. So far we've had our breakfast and lunch in the Plaza buffet. Since we were last on Oceana, I've noticed that there is extra seating in the Plaza (where the dance floor used to be). There is also a light buffet in the Adriatic Restaurant, so these factors mean that the buffet is slightly less hectic. No doubt we'll be trying other venues as the cruise progresses, including Cafe Jardin.

On the food front, my readers may remember my special diet 'broccoli hell', on Britannia. I am determined not to let that happen on this cruise.

As it happens on our table of 4, the other couple are both on a special diet - she is low fat, and he is no salt like me.

On my first night, I had steak, and it came with chips, mushrooms and tomatoes, just as it should be. On the second night, I had cod in a paprika and butter bean sauce, and it was served with the ubiquitous plain potatoes, carrots and broccoli. My heart sank! I didn't eat much of it, mainly due to feeling ill, but the potatoes looked particularly unappetising, with lots of black bits.

When the head waiter took my order for the next night, coq au vin, I explained that I'd like it to be served with the vegetables on the menu, not plain veg, and especially not broccoli! The next night - success - mushroom and Mediterranean vegetables.

My special diet dining companions didn't fare so well, however. They ended up with plain carrots and broccoli.

So, when they made their order for this evening, they also explained that they'd like the proper vegetables too!

We wait to see what'll happen this evening

Tonight is the first formal night, delayed from yesterday due to the sea states. The captain's welcome reception is at 5.30 - so early, due to the change to 6pm for 1st sitting.

In the meantime, will be reading, walking, and seeing the last lecture on a Magna Carta theme. Medieval history is one of my 'things', so I'm pleased that there's a variation on the normal Concorde lectures and WW2. The other lecturer on this leg of the cruise has been talking about American composers like Cole Porter and George Gershwin. Again, something different, so that's welcome.
Gill

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 19 Mar 2016, 19:08

Day 5 - 12th February - Madeira

We had a lovely day in Madeira, with blue skies, barely a cloud to be seen and temperatures up to 21C.

We spent the morning wandering in Funchal, stopping at the Ritz Cafe for an ice cream. We were last in Funchal in 2010, and since then a cruise terminal has been built and a new promenade. It's a very pleasant place to walk round - we particularly enjoyed the bustling Workers Market, with it's beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables, and the weird and wonderful fish that were on sale.

Last night, we attended the captains welcome reception, on our first formal night. The dress code was almost 100% observed, I just saw 2 men in open necked shorts. Everyone else seemed to be in their formal attire.

It was the first Headliners show - and it was a new one to me - a Blues Brothers themed show featuring a real mini car on stage! The Headliners are doing three shows a night at 7pm, 8.30 and 10.30.

This afternoon we sat out near the pools, enjoying the sun.

Just a word on the special diet front - I think we are getting there. Last night, my vegetables arrived as per the menu, apart from the 'Pommes Puree' potatoes. I didn't get any potatoes at all. My fellow no salt table mate, got his vegetables per the menu too..... Plus some potatoes, but they were the plain boiled spuds with the black bits. I wasn't going to complain - I wouldn't have eaten those potatoes anyway! Tonight I got exactly what I wanted - piri piri chicken and French fries. It we continue like that I'll be delighted.

Our entertainment this evening was either 'Piano Showman Chris Hamilton' in Footlights or a Tina Turner tribute in Starlights. We chose to see the piano guy, and both thought he was fabulous. He ended his show with something that (apparently) Liberace used to do. The audience called out the names of tunes, and he played them as a medley. The only tune he struggled with a bit was the theme from Rawhide. I think he may have been a bit young to remember that one. I was unfortunately too shy to call out my choice, Bat Out of Hell, by Meatloaf!

So far I'm pleased with the choice of shows. We've also had good old Roy Walker, but I'm hopeful I'm going to see a few new to me acts.
Gill

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 19 Mar 2016, 19:12

Day 6 - 10 13th - 17th February - At Sea

I'm writing this on the 5th and last sea day of our sail to the Caribbean.

These sea days have gone very quickly. The first two were overcast, but the sun broke through on day three, and the temperatures have been rising steadily. According to my TV screen in the cabin, today's temperature is 25C, but I think it's warmer than that.

From the third sea day, we've been sitting out on deck. There was a deck BBQ today. For a couple of lunch times we've been to Cafe Jardin. The Cafe Jardin is really a little gem. I hope they don't change it, but there's word that it's going to become a Sindhu. As much as I like Sindhu, I hope this isn't true, as Cafe Jardin is unique in the P&O fleet, and I'd be sorry to see it go.

On the special diet front - we've cracked it! Meals are being prepared to our liking and no broccoli to be seen, unless it appears on the menu! We're also enjoying the company of our dining companions.

We've had two more formal nights in quick succession. From tomorrow we enter the port intensive part of the cruise, so it's smart casual all the way to the 28th. Slightly less take up for formal wear over the last two nights - quite a few men seemed to be opting out.

It was our Peninsular cocktail party last night. There are so many Caribbeans and above on this cruises, they are doing the parties over two nights. There will be six lunches.

We didn't attend our cocktail party. At 5.30pm, it was just too early.

The change in the dining time hasn't been popular, and from tomorrow it changes to 6.15pm for 1st sitting and 8.15pm for 2nd. That will be much better.

I'd read a few reports suggesting that Oceana was in a poor condition. I have to admit, there is some foundation in these reports. For example, many of the carpets are worn, and there is a lot of rust around. But they are constantly working on her. In fact part of the prom deck is always roped off where they're working, which is impacting my walking campaign!

We are in St Lucia tomorrow, a place we've been too several times before. I'm not sure if we'll get off the ship, we may just enjoy Oceana in peace and quiet.
Gill

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by suespud » 19 Mar 2016, 19:51

Loving your diary Gill.


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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by colin parry » 19 Mar 2016, 23:01

Hi Gill
Re your comment about the pianist playing a medley of tunes called out by the audience, this was a speciality of a gentleman called Vincent Billington who was a regular on cruises in the late 90s and early noughties.He was from Yorkshire and played regularly with the Palm Court orchestra on the radio. His patter was just like Victor Borge. Sadly he died about 5 or 6 years ago.
Colin
ps I am enjoying your review.!

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by GillD46 » 19 Mar 2016, 23:03

So Pleased to read that your diet is more successful this time. Looking forward to more.
Gill

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Happydays » 20 Mar 2016, 00:09

Enjoying your diary, keep it going:)

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Kenmo1 » 20 Mar 2016, 09:16

Gill - enjoying your diary but after reading day 2, 9th February, about the window blowing in, I am no longer so disappointed about not being able to do the trip. I would have been wearing my lifejacket for the rest of the trip !!!.

Looking forward to the next instalment.

Maureen

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 20 Mar 2016, 16:19

colin parry wrote:Hi Gill
Re your comment about the pianist playing a medley of tunes called out by the audience, this was a speciality of a gentleman called Vincent Billington who was a regular on cruises in the late 90s and early noughties.He was from Yorkshire and played regularly with the Palm Court orchestra on the radio. His patter was just like Victor Borge. Sadly he died about 5 or 6 years ago.
Colin
ps I am enjoying your review.!
I have so much admiration for people who can play music by request.

He did something different in his second show, as he thought everyone would have had time to think of really obscure tunes! Instead, he had memorised all the Oscar winning tunes since 1934. The audience shouted out years, and he played the appropriate tune.
Kenmo1 wrote:Gill - enjoying your diary but after reading day 2, 9th February, about the window blowing in, I am no longer so disappointed about not being able to do the trip. I would have been wearing my lifejacket for the rest of the trip !!!.

Looking forward to the next instalment.

Maureen

I have to admit, it's the first time I felt less than 100% safe on a ship.
Gill

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 20 Mar 2016, 16:25

Day 11 - 18th February - St Lucia

Our first Caribbean port - St Lucia.

This is a port we have visited several times before. We hadn't planned to do too much here, but had hoped that we would berth at the pleasant Pointe Seraphine cruise ship terminal, as it's a nice place to wander round, and maybe have a drink at a bar.

However, this berth was assigned to Carnival Liberty, so we had to dock at the 'Town Berth'. We wondered whether to catch the little ferry over to Point Seraphine, but in the end just had a wander along the bay front to get some photos of Oceana. We also looked in the small duty free mall near our berth and purchased two little rum cakes.

The weather was pleasant, with a light cooling breeze, so after awhile we went back to the ship, so we could relax in the sun. No sooner had we settled down on our loungers, when there was a sharp shower of liquid sunshine. So we retreated under cover. Then it seemed to brighten up, so we sat out in the sun again, only for another shower to pass over.

We decided to have lunch, and afterwards it was still a bit cloudy, so we went to see the afternoon film, only to find out later that it had turned into a very sunny afternoon.

I've got Sudoku on my iPad, and we also brought with us a Sudoku book and a word search book. I used to be really sharp with puzzles, but I'm so out of practice. I'm now on a mission to retrain my brain, on a use it or lose it basis!

Our entertainment this evening was Headliners in School Daze. I can't remember seeing this show on other ships, but I remember it from six years ago when we were last on Oceana. I think it was a bit old then.... The music from 'today's generation' was from the 90's!
Gill

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 20 Mar 2016, 16:27

Day 12. - 19th February - St Kitts

Carnival Liberty and a Costa ship are 'parked' at the Port Zante cruise terminal. We've had to dock at the industrial port. Why is it always P&O that get the duff berths?!?

There is a shuttle mini bus service to the main cruise terminal area. However, this is another place we have visited before, so we felt we wouldn't bother to get the shuttle to a place we'd only want to walk round for a short time.

So, we sat around the pool area, in a prime location right by one of the pools. It was a bit cloudy, but still very pleasant.

We then went to Cafe Jardin for lunch. While we were there, we noticed our Captain, Simon Love, dining with Mrs Captain. The Captain was in his civvy clothes, as he is in fact leaving us today. He has been standing in for Captain Andrew Willard, who has been off sick, recovering from an operation. Captain Willard takes over from today.

This afternoon, we returned to the open decks around the pool, as the sun was well and truly out. There was a 70's music quiz, and we scored 35 out of 40 which was respectable. I've also done some Prom deck walking.

This evening it's tropical night, so I'm just signing off here to dig out our brightest clothes.
Gill


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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Whynd1 » 20 Mar 2016, 17:08

Really enjoying your reports Gill. Oceana is one of my favourite ships. Cafe Jardin is a little gem, do hope it stays.

Lindsey

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 21 Mar 2016, 20:09

Day 13 - 20th February - Tortola

The vast majority of the passengers joined in with the Tropical Night last night, with the ladies in brightly coloured dresses and the men in their Hawaiian shirts. We attended the deck party for a while. The entertainment team lead the dancing, then we were entertained by Catch 22.

Today we are visiting Tortola. It's been a few years since we've called here, and they have built a new duty free mall at the cruise terminal. Not all the shops are occupied yet, but I think it'll be impressive when it's fully completed. I bought myself a bracelet, which I think will match the dress I intend wearing this evening.

We walked along to the the Governor's House, had a look round there, then walked back to see the boats in the Inner Harbour. It seems to be a pattern that the morning is cloudy with a few short showers, and the afternoons are sunny.

We are pleased with our choice of cabin, an outside cabin on deck C. Prior to our retirement, we nearly always had a balcony cabin. But, to make these longer cruises at a cost acceptable to us, we've sacrificed the balcony. The only time I've really missed the balcony is in the late afternoon, just before we start getting ready for dinner, when we'd sit on the balcony and watch the sailaway. But it's no real trouble to pop down to the Prom deck or up to the pool if we want some air.

The cabin is a larger than average outside cabin. It's the size of a normal balcony cabin, but the area of the balcony is part of the cabin. This means it's very spacious, and has enough storage space for all our clothes we've brought with us for the 5 weeks. The dressing table is over 6 feet long, so we've got lots of room to place all the bits and pieces that we've accumulated, and still plenty of room for me to sit here and type this report.

There's only one small problem with our cabin - the toilet flush is a bit eccentric. Sometimes it whines before it sucks! But I've found that, if you press the button firmly and let it know who's boss, it behaves perfectly!

There's a party sailaway at 4.30pm, but I probably won't bother with this one. I always think the sailaway parties should be led by the cruise director, or should I say entertainment manager. However, our entertainment manager for this cruise is not one of the 'hands on' ones.

I'm not sure if we even have a captain at the moment. We were supposed to get our new one yesterday. But there was no sailaway announcement last night, and the deputy captain made the welcome to Tortola announcement. There's a rumour that the new captains plane was delayed...... But you know what the on board rumour mill can be like!
Gill

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 21 Mar 2016, 20:10

Day 14 - 21st February - At Sea.

We have a captain - our new captain, Andrew Willard, made the sailaway announcement yesterday. On the subject of captains, our dining room waiter told us that Captain Angelo Vago retired yesterday, in Sydney, on Aurora.

Last night in the Footlights Theatre our entertainer was Mike Doyle. This was the first time the theatre had been packed, and people were struggling to find a seat from just after 8pm. (Compared to Brittannia, when you ALWAYS struggle to get a seat at the 8.30 show unless you turn up 45 minutes before hand). It's been a few years since we've seen Mike Doyle. He's as good as I remembered, and engaged with the audience, but not in a way to humiliate people (like some comedians do)

Today, there was a little cloud first thing, but it quickly disappeared, and it has been gloriously sunny. We sat out on deck this morning, and after lunch went to see the afternoon film, The Transporter: Refueled. I'm catching up with loads of films on this cruise.

There was the second deck BBQ at lunch time, but we opted out, as we are eating at the Beach House this evening. The Beach House menu is not compatible with a low salt diet, but I want to eat under the stars just the once. I've preselected my choices as best I can, and have been very careful about what I've eaten all day, so I'm looking forward to some treats this evening.
Gill

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 21 Mar 2016, 20:13

Day 15 - 22nd February - Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Our meal last night at the Beach House was lovely. The Beach House is situated at the Horizon Grill, so weather permitting, you eat outside. We picked a good night for it, as it was a full moon, and we had a table overlooking the pool, so it was pretty much perfect. I had cheese potato skins (without the bacon), a burger, and the key lime cheesecake sundae. My husband had the same starter and dessert, but had cod fillet with a Jack Daniels glaze with chorizo jambalaya rice, for his main. It was a great evening.

Today finds us in Montego Bay. We've been to Ocho Rios before, when we did Dunns River Falls. This time we had planned to just have a general wander round. We watched the port lecture on the in cabin TV, and noted the the main tourist area was a couple of miles around the bay. However, there's no shuttle buses, only taxis. To be honest, we weren't that bothered about this port, so didn't really want to mess around haggling a taxi fare for somewhere we didn't have a real desire to visit. So we stayed on board again, and enjoyed the quiet time.

We also had a letter to warn us to be vigilant about a 'possible crime threat ashore', and political unrest due to upcoming elections. It also advised us not to openly carry anything that might identify us as a tourist. I'm not sure how that works - just one look at virtually any passenger on this ship would identify us as tourists in Jamaica! I heard somebody say that some passengers tried to walk to the town, but were turned back by police as it was too dangerous.

Talking of passengers, as might be expected on this longer cruise, the vast majority of the passengers are in their 60's and 70's. There's a few like me in their 50's, and a smattering of younger people, but not that many. We have two children with us - a year old baby and a ten year old boy. The boy appears to attend the children's club - he has the exclusive attention of four Reef Rangers!

This evening we'll be back in the MDR, and will attend the second Mike Doyle show.

If this was a normal 14 night cruise, we'd be back home today. I have to say, I'm nowhere near read to go home yet.
Gill

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Dennis The Menace » 21 Mar 2016, 20:43

Sounds great Gill, and glad you're getting some success with the special diet meals :)

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Jan Rosser » 21 Mar 2016, 20:57

Enjoying your reports Gill - I am reliving my 35 days on Oceana four years ago :thumbup:
Janis

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 22 Mar 2016, 18:42

Day 16 - 23rd February - Grand Cayman

Our first ever visit to Grand Cayman. This is a tender port. We were originally advised that there were going to be SEVEN ships in port. But in the event, there were only four ships here - us, an NCL, a MSC and a Disney ship.

We arrived at our anchor point at around 8am. We allowed the early tours to go, then made our way to the Adriatic restaurant to collect our tender tickets. We only had a short wait before our number was called. It was only a ten minute ride over to the dock.

Georgetown is very Americanised and is mostly full of duty free shops and t-shirt stands. There's a Hard Rock Cafe and a Margaritaville. We had a walk round and a look in the shops - I purchased a new beach cover-up.

We caught a tender back to the ship just before lunch. A local open sided boat was being used as a tender, so I got some great photos of Oceana and the other cruise ships that were anchored. We had a burger and chips at the poolside grill and sat in the sun for the rest of afternoon. I've just called into our cabin to jot down these notes, then we'll pop up to see the sailaway.

We have a choice of nostalgia for our entertainment this evening. In Footlights we have The Spinettes singing songs from the 40's, and in Starlights we have a group called The Revolvers, doing 60's songs. I think we'll be going back to the 60's - at least we remember that decade.
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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 22 Mar 2016, 18:44

Day 17 - 24th February - Cozumel

The Revolvers show last night was a good one. They were a young band doing 60's songs, great to see some new acts on the ships.

In the early hours of this morning, there was a bing bong outside our cabin, calling for a level one assessment team. Always a bit difficult to get to sleep again when you hear that, but 10 minutes later there was another bing bong, this time inside the cabin, to tell the assessment team to stand down as there wasn't a fire after all!

We arrived in Cozumel at 9am this morning, one of 4 ships in port. When we booked this cruise, we thought we'd do an excursion to Chichen Itza. But it's a 45 minute ferry journey and a further 2 hour coach journey, with only 90 minutes at the site. So we decided against it, and did a Best of Cozumel tour instead. We visited a small Mayan site, had a short stop at a scenic beach, had a tequila tasting and visited a chocolate factory. It was a nice little tour, and not too demanding.

As in many ports round here, there was an extensive duty free mall, and a large selection of souvenir shops. The shops were in a Mayan style, and it is a pleasant place to look round.

Our entertainment this evening will be Marc Paul, a 'mind reader'. I saw him a few years ago, and he was very good. The last time we saw him, one of the volunteers was a woman from our dinner table, he asked her to think of a name of someone she knew. she thought of her grand-daughter , Sky, and he guessed that name. She had no idea how he did it. So, hopefully it'll be s good show this evening.
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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 22 Mar 2016, 18:46

Day 18 - 25th February - at Sea

It was an unexpectedly rough night. The ship was moving around all night, we could hear the waves against the side of the ship, and the booms as the ship rose up and fell back into the water. The captain said this morning that the weather was worse than had been forecast, and apologised for not warning us.

The movement has abated throughout the day. It has been sunny all day, but the wind has been from the north, so it's been quite chilly. I've been out for a walk, but unfortunately it's been too cold to sit out. As a result it's been one of those inside days, where the atrium area is full of people, and seating is at premium. I've passed the time by going to two port talks, had lunch in the Cafe Jardin, read my book and did some puzzles.

But it's been one of those low key days.
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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 23 Mar 2016, 19:49

Day 19 and 20 - 26th - 27th February - New Orleans

Two fantastic days in New Orleans.

We docked under the bridge on time at 7.30am. Everyone was breakfasting early and keen to get going. But, we had US immigration to do first.

Our time was 9.30am, as we were on tour. At 9.05 there was a call for all 9.30 people to present themselves at the Footlights Theatre, so off we trotted. We picked up our passports on the way in, and waited in the Theatre for a while. We were reminded that we couldn't take food into the USA, so all sorts of foodstuffs were being collected and placed in a bin.

After a while, our section was taken down to immigration, in the terminal. There were several officers on duty and a short queue at each podium. After a further short wait, we were called forward. Our officer was very pleasant - after a few questions, like had we been to the states before, and what did we do before we were retired, we were fingerprinted and stamped, and we were in! We were done by 10am, which meant we had a 45 minute wait for our tour.

The process slowed up later. A two hour wait from the time of entering Footlights to seeing an immigration officer was typical - but there was some sort of medical emergency that caused delay.

Our tour was A Walk in the French Quarter. I knew that the French Quarter wasn't that far from the ship, but I hadn't appreciated just how easily it is accessible from the ship. So, in retrospect, I probably wouldn't have booked the tour. But it was a good orientation, and we went in a house in the French Quarter, which was quite interesting.

After we got back to the ship, we had a quick bite to eat in the Plaza, then went out again. We walked through the new Riverwalk shopping mall, then along the river, to Jackson Square.

We then returned to the ship again, to get ready for our next outing - a jazz evening at the The Palm Court Jazz Cafe. This really was a good evening out. I'm not even a fan of jazz, but there was a terrific band, and it was quite exciting to be listening to the music in the heart of New Orleans. We got back to the ship at 11pm, and noticed quite a few crew members just leaving for their night out.

The next morning, we were out on another tour, to Oak Alley Plantation House. I'm really pleased I did this tour. It was an opportunity to see more of the surrounding area, such as the Superdome and the swamps outside New Orleans.

I mentioned that, a couple of nights ago we had a rough night. It was the tail end of a large storm. As a result of the storm, Louisiana had some tornadoes. We saw where a tornado had touched down. Trees snapped like twigs and houses wrecked in just 6 seconds.

The plantation house was very interesting, and in a lovely setting. The house has a resident guide, and he was informative and amusing. The highlight was when he theatrically opened a shutter and we saw the full glory of the oak alley of trees leading down to the Mississippi.

It should not be forgotten that the house was built by slaves, and there were recreations of slave quarters, and lists of all the names of slaves that worked on the plantations.

Our sailaway was due at 4.30, with a jazz music provided by SafoJazz, a band that are on board for the cruise. It was a good atmosphere on deck with sunshine, and watching the river traffic on the busy Mississippi.

However, we were delayed in sailing, as a crew member failed to return to the ship. The captain had to wait for the US authorities to come on board so this could be reported, and all the paperwork done. I think we sailed about 6.30pm, in the end.

I thoroughly enjoyed our time in this vibrant city. I hope to return. Another time I'd like to do the swamp tour, but apart from that I'd spend the rest of the time just walking around, enjoying the atmosphere.
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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 23 Mar 2016, 19:51

Day 21 - 28th February - At Sea and Day 22 - 29th February - Key West

I'm combining these two days as nothing significant happened on the sea day, except that it was the first formal night for ages - quite a shock to the system. One thing I've realised, formal nights are not the reason why I cruise - they are a low priority in what I look for from my cruise.

However, a fairly eventful night. There was another bing bong in the night for the assessment team. It was for our deck, on starboard side, for a possible electrical problem. As we are on port side, it was too far away to worry about, so I just turned over and went back to sleep, only to be awakened again with the message that the assessment team could stand down.

There has also been a flood in some cabins - I'm not 100% sure what cabins are affected, but it is near our cabins. There's a bucket in the passageway near our cabin, and there was a bed frame on the landing this morning!

We were berthed in the Naval Dock at Key West. (Carnival and HAL had the best town berths where their passengers could walk off the ship into the heart of the action). Although the town was in walking distance for us, we had to take a shuttle to town, as we were not permitted to walk in the Naval area.

Key West was not quite as I imagined it. I thought it was going to be quieter and more laid back. But with three ships in and other holiday makers it is a party town, with famous bars like Sloppy Joes and many other drinking joints. In fact, one of the P&O outings was a pub crawl.

We had a walk along Duval Street and the adjoining streets, and went into Hemingway's house. I liked seeing the six toed cats that live there, which are supposed to be descendants of Hemingway's own cats.

We had a Slice of Key Lime Pie in a cafe - it was yummy.

We got back to the ship mid afternoon and sat around the pool area for a while, then it was time for Great British Sailaway. I was really surprised that it was being held today, as it's normally the last port, and we still have plenty of cruise left. It wasn't a huge turnout, but it's a bit of light entertainment.
Gill

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Happydays » 23 Mar 2016, 20:21

Enjoying your diary.

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Meg 50 » 23 Mar 2016, 20:24

what happened about the non returning crew member?
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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by GillD46 » 23 Mar 2016, 20:58

We went to New Orleans on our first cruise 19 years ago, so it's lovely to read this. We also had a crew member (a Butler) not return to the ship, but in Mumbai. I wonder what happened to yours?
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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 23 Mar 2016, 21:00

Meg 50 wrote:what happened about the non returning crew member?
Later on in the cruise, the captain updated us - they''d been able to contact the crew member and he was well, but, as the captain said, this crew member was 1000's of miles from his family, without the correct documents to be in the US - reading between the lines it sounded like the crew member jumped ship in an attempt to stay in America
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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Jan Rosser » 23 Mar 2016, 21:04

Ooh Gill I was with you every step of the way around New Orleans - so glad you enjoyed it - one of my favourite stops - did you try the beignets?
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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 23 Mar 2016, 22:28

Jan Rosser wrote:Ooh Gill I was with you every step of the way around New Orleans - so glad you enjoyed it - one of my favourite stops - did you try the beignets?
There was a smal Cafe du Monde in the Riverwalk complex, but it was packed when we went past. I think the beignets will be something for 'next time'
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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Manoverboard » 24 Mar 2016, 08:49

All good stuff, thank you :thumbup:

Out of interest the river based swamp tour out of New Orleans is(was), we thought, a bit tame and quite bland. The Swamp Tour out of Charleston however is lake based and stunningly beautiful.

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by GillD46 » 24 Mar 2016, 09:29

My husband was keen to try a Po'boy - being vegetarian, I was not!
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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 24 Mar 2016, 20:15

Manoverboard wrote:All good stuff, thank you :thumbup:

Out of interest the river based swamp tour out of New Orleans is(was), we thought, a bit tame and quite bland. The Swamp Tour out of Charleston however is lake based and stunningly beautiful.
We'd like to go to Charleston again, so maybe that's something we could consider there
GillD46 wrote:My husband was keen to try a Po'boy - being vegetarian, I was not!
From the look of them, it'd feed me for a week!
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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 24 Mar 2016, 20:21

Day 23 - 1st March - Port Everglades.

We arrived here at 9am - we were on tour today, and our meeting time was 9.10am ashore. But disembarkation was delayed slightly, as two crew members had to present themselves to the authorities regarding immigration. Until this was sorted, no one could get off the ship.

There was a PA announcement, asking for people not on tour to wait until the excursions had departed.

But, as is usual, people completely ignored this request, and several,people wanting the shuttle were mixed up in our excursion queue. The lines were all round the atrium, and up the stairs.

Of course, if people have to wait longer than a couple of minutes for anything they start whinging and moaning and blaming P&O. None of them seemed to take account of the US immigration authorities involvement in the delay, or the actions of their fellow passengers.

There were a lot of people on tour this morning and it was a bit chaotic in the coach area - cue more moaning.

Part of the tour was a boat ride - there was a delay for this as well, as one of the coaches was late, so more moaning ensued.


(EDIT - when we got our account later in the cruise, we had been refunded with 10% of the cost of the excursion, in recognition of the 'difficulties')

I said earlier that people on this cruise seemed quite happy - well, I was mistaken - people seem to be intending to email a whole raft of complaints to P&O when they return!

Anyway, putting all this aside - it was a very enjoyable day.

The first part of the tour was a boat ride around the downtown Miami area, the port, and the millionaires houses.

This particular excursion could be booked with lunch, or without lunch. We went on the without lunch version, so we were given time at the Bayside Complex, which is a shopping and eating area. I preferred this, as lunches on tours tend to take up vital time, we just had a snack, and spent a little time wandering around.

Then back to the coach, for a drive round the South Beach area and saw all the Art Deco buildings.

Then on to the Everglades, where we had an air boat ride. I got some good photos of alligators, turtles and birds.

Then back to the ship - we were due back at 5.30pm, but got back at 6pm. So, a really full day, but we saw a lot and I think this was a worthwhile tour.

We had already told our waiters and dining companions that we wouldn't be in for dinner, so we ate in the Plaza buffet, for the first time in the evening on this cruise.

I like the buffet in the evening - the lights are turned down, there's quiet music in the background, and not too many people. It was a nice way to finish off the day.

We haven't bothered with any of the entertainment this evening. We're relaxing in our cabin, as we have another long day tomorrow.
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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 24 Mar 2016, 20:24

Day 24 - 2nd March - Port Canaveral

We had two holidays in Orlando in the 90's, and we had to decide what attraction we'd like to see again. We opted for the Kennedy Space Centre.

There were two versions of this tour available. The one we did had an additional feature - an 'Up Close' bus tour. We had booked this some months ago, and were pleased that we did, as the tour was completely sold out.

The 'Up Close' bus tour took us to the launch pads, the massive Vehicle Assembly Building, and the NASA Causeway for a panoramic view of NASA and Cape Canaveral. We also saw three raccoons crossing the road, which caused a lot of excitement on the bus.

After the bus tour was done we visited other attractions - the Apollo/Saturn V Centre (which I remember very well from our previous visits), Space Shuttle Atlantis ( where you view an actual space shuttle) and the IMAX Theatre. There was a short lunch stop where we ate a turkey wrap almost underneath and Apollo rocket.

There are many other attractions that we didn't see, but there simply wasn't time. Twenty years ago, we'd arrive at these Florida attractions at 9am and stay until closing time. But, I feel we saw the most important things, and it was a good tour.

We got back to the ship at 6pm, so it was another dinner in the buffet. Again, we're not bothering with any of the entertainment this evening, and will just relax in our cabin.
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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by AileenB » 26 Mar 2016, 09:51

Thanks for your great report so far. Going to many of these places on Oriana very soon, and good to see that some of our excursion choices were enjoyed by you!

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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 26 Mar 2016, 22:05

Have a great time, Aileen. The excursions we did were amongst the highlights of this cruise.
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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 26 Mar 2016, 22:07

Day 25 - 3rd March - Charleston

When we booked this cruise, the itinerary was for an overnight stop in Charleston. We were due to arrive at lunch time today, and to leave lunch time tomorrow.

But due to a mistake by a 'third party' (well, that's what P&O say!), the call was restricted to one day.

We arrived at 10.45am and left at 11.30pm. Our plan had been to do a tour on the first afternoon and to look around the city on the second morning. Therefore we had booked our tour to Patriots Point well in advance.

The historic city of Charleston is easily accessible on foot from the ship, so we set off for a short walk round, returning to the ship for lunch, and then to get our excursion coach.

Patriots Point is a Naval Museum, and home to the massive USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier. Other exhibits include the destroyer USS Laffey, the submarine Clamagore, plus The Vietnam Experience - a recreation of a US base in 1968.

This was another excellent outing with lots of things to look at - as ever, not enough time to see it all. You need to be fully mobile for this tour, as the vessels have steep stairways, more like ladders really.

This was another 6pm return to the ship, so we again had our evening meal in the Plaza. But from tomorrow we are back in the main dining room.

Unfortunately, my husband has caught a cold, with a nasty cough. It's not surprising really, as the ship has been full of people with a hacking cough. He reckons he caught the cold when somebody coughed directly on him during the Miami trip.

This evening we had local entertainment on the ship, called the Sounds of Charleston. They are a group of people who perform music from Charleston's past, or with a connection to Charleston.

I went along to the 8.30 show by myself, as my husband wasn't feeling too bright with his cold.

It was a nice little show, including Civil War songs, spirituals, Gershwin and Amazing Grace.

It's been a fantastic week in America. I've had so many experiences and seen so many new things - I'm sure this will live long in my memory.

As we leave Charleston earlier than expected, we now have 6 sea days to the Azores.
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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Gill W » 26 Mar 2016, 22:09

Day 26 to 31 - 4th March to 9th March - at sea

I'm not going to do a detailed report of each day, but just make some comments and observations.

On the second sea day we had our Caribbean lunch. I think there's 3 Caribbean lunches, and there were about 200 hundred people at our lunch. So 600 Caribbeans, and at least the same amount of Baltics, if not more - everyone here seems to favour long cruises.

There was no little 'thank you for your loyalty speech before we started our meal, which was unusual. But the lunch itself was pleasant. The crew member on our table was the retail manager. One of the people on our table commented that a lot of the clothes in the shops are things that are a bit outdated and have been there a long time. The good news is, that decent stuff like Joules and Crew should be coming to all ships soon - hoorah!

On this cruise I've heard variously that Cafe Jardin is to become a Sindhu, or Winners is to become a Sindu and the Cafe Jardin will be a Glasshouse. I asked the retail manager if she knew anything, and all she knows is that Oceana will have a refit in late 2017. So I think we can expect changes then. I'm sure Cafe Jardin will be no more after the refit, which is a shame, as it is very popular in it's current format.

On the subject of food, I'm not a fan of the new menus in the main dining room.

By the time I've excluded things that aren't suitable for my diet, and things I'm not terribly keen on, it generally leaves me with one or two starters and one or two mains. On this longer cruise, the menus are now repeating themselves, so the choices seem even more limited.

The loss of the larger range 'always available' items is keenly felt - I would really appreciate a greater range of simple fare, to increase my choices.

I asked my husband, as a 'normal eater', what he thinks about the menus - he thinks they are not very varied - mostly fish and not much else. On the subject of fish, there are some unusual ones. Instead of beer battered cod, we now have beer battered huss. No, I'd ever heard of huss before this cruise.

We've had a number of assessment team calls and medical emergencies on this cruise, normally in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, on the 1st sea day, a passenger died.

There's still a lot of maintenance ongoing. They seem to be replacing the wooden balcony rails on our deck, and on the prom deck. This means there's always banging going on, and it's rare when you can walk all round the prom deck.

I've been pleased with the evening entertainment on this cruise. Due to the length of the cruise, there's been lots of cabaret acts, and many of them are new to me. The ones we've seen before are amongst my favourites. We currently have Manuel Martinez with us. He was as funny as ever in his first show.

My husband is not a great people watcher ( not like me), but even he's noticed some unpleasant habits of some cruisers. On two occasions he's noticed old blokes emerge from toilet cubicles, and haven't bothered to wash their hands. Yuck! Then to add insult to injury, one of them went straight to the gel dispenser outside the dining room, and used it to prop himself up. He had his hands all over it - but he didn't use it for it's required purpose. Double yuck!
Gill


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Re: Oceana E602 - A cruise diary

Post by Quizzical Bob » 26 Mar 2016, 23:33

I'm loving your reports Gill. The change at Charleston doesn't surprise me but at least you did get to call in there, on Adonia last year they changed it for something completely different.

Huss is actually dogfish, sometime known as Rock Salmon but properly called Rock Eel. It's a mini shark. When I was a little boy living in Harwich we called it Nuss and it was quite popular. I remember it as coarse and strong flavoured. Not to be sniffed at.

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