Oriana X809 - Final tales from Sue and the Butler....for now

Reports about cruises on Oriana
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Oriana X809 - Final tales from Sue and the Butler....for now

Post by prefdavid » 13 Jun 2018, 09:03

Monday 11 June 2018 - Southampton

Another sunny day in Southampton. We got off early after picking up our new cruise cards, dropped off our duty free. This time no border control on duty, which I was surprised about as our last port of call was Gibraltar. We had a quick whiz around Asda to stock up on supplies then back to the ship to meet our friends who are joining us on this cruise.

The sun was on the aft deck and I grabbed a sun bed for what may be my last chance of feeling the rays as we sail North to not so sunny Scotland. I have been warned by a friend to expect rain even though they have had 3 weeks of good weather.

At 12:45 I made my way to the Priority lunch and bubbles. Garry had gone to the spa for a massage and our friends were on their way through security. I decided not to eat until they arrived but the bubbles were flowing well.

We caught up with all the news and confirmed plans for the cruise before they went off to unpack and we headed for the sun on the aft deck.
Joel the head waiter had sorted out the table and sitting in the dining room and there was a card confirming this in our cabin.

Sailaway was delayed slightly and once again the aft bar wasn’t open .

Unusually for the first night the Headliners were in the theatre performing Destination Dance.
When we returned to the cabin there was a box of chocolates from the Loyalty team on board.

Sea day tomorrow to Greenock

Tuesday 12 June 2018 -Sea Day to Glasgow

A sunny sea day but temperatures nowhere near what we have been used to. I sat out for a while after my usual morning routine and was surprised how busy it was. Some even dared to bare but far too cold for me.

After lunch it was the Battle of the Sexes quiz where the ladies stormed ahead into the lead.

My butler put his hairdressers hat on and tended to my root growth.

The first formal night of this cruise and the Captains Welcome on board reception. I had sent our evening wear for free pressing and had a bit of a panic when my dress was returned minus the sash. It seemed to take ages for the deck supervisor to find it but he did and returned it beautifully pressed.

The new Captain is Chris Bourne and is very down to earth. He gave a the usual welcome on board speech mainly about the weather which is generally looking okay as far as UK weather goes but and it is a big but our tender into Portree is looking very dodgy. His words were that ‘We will go and take a look’. Sounds very ominous to me but fingers are crossed.

The entertainment was the group RunaroundKids. We saw them on Aurora and they were the best entertainment of the whole cruise. They didn’t disappoint and I just wish P & O would source more of the young groups to come on board to entertain us instead of boring us half to death with usual vocalists singing songs from the shows or magicians. They got a standing ovation at the end.

We finished the night in the Lords Tavern where we listened to the James Bond Quiz. We should have joined in as Bob knew most of the answers.

Tomorrow will be my first time in Scotland.

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Re: Oriana X809 - Final tales from Sue and the Butler....for now

Post by Meg 50 » 13 Jun 2018, 19:27

Hope you get into Portree.
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Greenock for Glasgow

Post by prefdavid » 14 Jun 2018, 08:55

Wednesday 13 June 2018 - Greenock, Glasgow

An early start today so no time for the exercise classes. I ordered room service breakfast and went on the aft deck to watch our sail in. We were greeted by a lone bagpiper who was later joined by a local dressed as William Wallace dancing to the music. Brr it was so cold even though it was a sunny morning. I really wish I had brought my gloves and fur hats.

We were off the ship by 08:15 and it was still soooo cold and windy.
A taxi driver tried to persuade us to take a taxi to Glasgow instead of a taxi to the train station. He wanted £45 for the 4 of us one way which wasn’t bad and we may have been persuaded if we hadn’t done our home work and knew that the train was £10.60 return.
The taxi to the station cost £5 and once at the station they offered us the HO HO bus in Glasgow at a reduced rate of £13. Great value for money. The train was on time, modern and clean. The journey was around 45 minutes and we saw some stunning scenery as we followed the River Clyde.

We used the toilet facilities which cost 40p each. Ridiculous and they weren’t particularly clean for the amount being charged.
We easily found the HO HO bus which runs every 10 minutes from the Central Station which is bus stop 8 on the route and we stayed on until stop 1, seeing all the sights of Glasgow with an excellent commentary that although with a Scottish accent we could understand. We started on the top deck which was mainly open to the elements but soon moved downstairs to get warm.

Stop 1 is Buchanan street which is the main shopping area of Glasgow. Many upmarket shops and arcades along with many homeless beggars. There appeared to be a huge divide here between the very wealthy and very poor. It was still extremely cold mainly because of the bitter wind.

We lunched at Wetherspoons which was the old counting house. A very impressive building. Afterwards we got back on the bus at stop 1 and were lucky to get front seats upstairs but under cover and sheltered from the wind. We completed the route at stop 8 for Central Station.
Part of me wanted more time here to see some of the sights in depth instead of just driving past but it was so cold that it probably wouldn’t have been worth while and I was happier on the bus.

As we reached Central Station it had just started raining. We had had the best of the day as although extremely cold it had been overcast but with some sun breaking through the clouds.
The journey back was quicker as the train didn’t make as many stops but it was an older train which rattled around.

I enjoyed my first visit to Scotland and Glasgow has a lot to offer but they need to sort the weather out before I could be tempted to visit again.

After dinner I realised I had lost one of my tanzanite and diamond earrings. We spent a lot of the evening retracing our steps and checking with reception to see if it had been handed in. So far no luck in finding it but I will check back with reception again tomorrow.

The evening entertainment was the Headliners performing Stage door and the Orchestra playing Glen Miller in the Pacific Lounge.

Tomorrow we are supposed to be tendering into Portree but storm Hector is very likely to prevent that from happening.

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Re: Oriana X809 - Final tales from Sue and the Butler....for now

Post by GillD46 » 14 Jun 2018, 09:04

It has been extremely windy here overnight so I imagine you may not be successful, but fingers crossed you are. It’s been hard having cold, wet and windy weather after weeks of sunshine.

I have never visited Scotland either.
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Re: Oriana X809 - Final tales from Sue and the Butler....for now

Post by Ranchi » 14 Jun 2018, 14:39

Glad you enjoyed the counting house! I see from ship’s tracker that you made a gesture toward Portree but it looks like better was thought of it. Can you remember any of the trips offered from Glasgow...just nosey!
Did you spot the upturned sugar boat in the Clyde at Greenock? It’s been there since the ‘70s.
Enjoy the rest of your trip.

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The Portree that never was

Post by prefdavid » 15 Jun 2018, 07:53

Thursday 14 June 2018 - Portree, Isle of Skye

Well that is where we were supposed to be and we had a lovely day planned with a private taxi to see what this lovely island had to offer.
Unfortunately Storm Hector spoilt the party and just after 7 a.m. the Captain announced that we wouldn’t be able to call here.

Disappointing but he had already mentioned the possibility that this would happen at the Welcome on board cocktail party on Tuesday so no great shock. Although the ship was riding the storm extremely well there was no way I would have wanted to be in a tender boat on those seas. There were the usual whingers and moaners who thought they knew better than the Captain and the weather forecasters. If I had been the Captain I would have been tempted to put them all in a tender and leave them to it.

It took Hughie quite a while longer to come up with an extended entertainment programme. With all of the storm warnings we had had I thought that it was a bit uninspiring but every department had contributed.

The only thing that appealed to me was the free bubbles in the jewellers with the half price diamond jewellery on sale. I drank their bubbles and although tempted by some blue diamond earrings I staggered away empty handed.

There was a talk on campanology which didn’t ring my bell at all , the usual dancing classes, bingo and extra showings of the film The Black Panther.

We went for lunch then I went to the extra Battle of the sexes where after the first general knowledge round the ladies were ahead by 10 points but after the second round the men were ahead by 10 points. The ladies are still winning over all by over 100 points.

The weather worsened as the day went on and the best place to be was horizontal in the cabin.

Great evening entertainment with us wanting to see both shows when often there is nothing that appeals. E Sarah Carter billed as ‘The Fabulous Funky Fiddler’ was in the theatre. She was certainly different, very talented and kept us entertained. We then had to leg it full speed to the Pacific Lounge (which isn’t easy in high heels with rough seas and hundreds of other passengers doing the same) to see the last show with the RunaroundKids. The lounge was already 3/4 full when we got there and with the rest of the theatre capacity bringing up the rear there was nowhere near enough room for everyone. I was impressed by the new Hotel General Manager Deborah Thomson who got involved with finding passengers seats and urging people to move up and get cosy so that more passengers could sit down. There were at least another hundred stood around the room. The group should have been performing in the theatre not the Pathetic lounge as it has become fondly known.
The lads were fantastic, the audience really got involved and many were dancing to the Rock and Roll music and they got a well deserved standing ovation once again.

Storm Hector allowing we should be docking in Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands tomorrow but the Captain has already forewarned that it will be very windy and that he has ordered tugs to help us berth but that only one was available. Fingers crossed.

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Re: Oriana X809 - Final tales from Sue and the Butler....for now

Post by Meg 50 » 15 Jun 2018, 08:54

Did you find your earring?
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Kirkwall, Orkney Island

Post by prefdavid » 16 Jun 2018, 09:45

Friday 15 June 2018 Kirkwall, Orkney Islands

It had been a fairly rough night but Oriana coped and a tablet made sure I slept through the worst of it. I had intended to go to the gym but when I woke I needed another tablet before I could move.

The weather looked iffy with blue sky clouds and lots of rainstorms as we sailed closer to the Orkneys. The Captain definitely needed the Tug to push the ship towards the berth but we docked only 15 minutes late.

We got off for 9am and were on the shuttle and in Kirkwall before 9:30. We queued for the T11 tour bus which cost £12 each for a tour of the island and a stop for 1 1/2 hours at Scara Brae which is one of Orkneys most popular tourist attractions. A Neolithic village which dates back to around 2500 BC AND the remains of 8 houses are easily seen. The ticket cost £6 and included the village with fabulous views of the coast line where we saw seals swimming in the surf, and a tour of Skaill House a very impressive mansion which was built in 1620 by the Bishop of Orkney. In 1850 it belonged to William Watt the 7th Laird of Breckness who unearthed the village at the bottom of his garden. It is now owned by the 12th Laird of Breckness.
The next stop was at the Ring of Brodgar the 3rd largest stone circle in the UK dating back to between 2000BC and 2500BC. 27 of the 60 original stones are still standing. We had 30 minutes here to explore and photograph the stones before driving by the Standing stones of Stenness. These were a smaller circle of stones but older at around 3000BC. It was only a drive by as recent storms had damaged the car park making it unsafe for the buses.

We arrived back in Kirkwall and wandered around the quaint town with a huge cathedral and individual local shops before heading to a local hotel for lunch and to get warm. Here we sampled the local ale and I tried the Haggis with Nachos and cheese dish. I couldn’t visit Scotland without tasting the Haggis.

Once back on board my butler booked Sindhu as this was the only night that the taster menu was available.
The meal went on forever so many courses and different foods to try. Lucky for me Garry doesn’t like Scallops so I got a double portion.
Another excellent meal.

Tomorrow we dock in Invergordon.

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Invergordon to Belfast

Post by prefdavid » 18 Jun 2018, 08:55

Saturday 16 June 2018 - Invergordon for Inverness

There was no time for the exercise class today as we had hired a car and wanted to make the most use out of it. It wasn’t a late stay here anyway and we had to be back on board for 16:30.

I went out to see the sail in which was very picturesque but the huge Oil platforms stood out like a sore thumb. It was very cold on deck but at least the wind had died down. Rain was forecast for much of the day so we dressed accordingly in winter woolies to keep warm and rain macs to keep dry. The one thing I hadn’t packed was my boots so my trainers had to suffice.

We had some difficulty locating the Hire car garage as the instructions we had were for a different dock and of course whilst we were looking the rain started. Once we found it we were soon on our way armed with a map and of course google maps as well.

The rain was non stop and it couldn’t have been easy driving but we found Loch Ness which even in the rain looked impressive. It was too wet to walk around so we found a hotel with a viewing point and stayed there for a coffee. This is where I met Nessie. We didn’t realise that this was also where the trips were calling. We were lucky and one was just leaving when we arrived.

The weather didn’t improve so we decided a tour of a distillery and whisky tasting would be a drier way of spending our day.
We booked the tickets over the phone and set off on another scenic drive to Glen Ord. The roads were very narrow and reminded me of Devon roads. With the help of Mr Google we found the distillery with 15 minutes to spare which gave us time to look around the gift shop.
The whisky they sell here is called Singletons but it can’t be bought anywhere else in Europe. They only export to the Asian market. The prices of the bottles were eye wateringly expensive.
It was an interesting tour and Annalise was a very enthusiastic young guide. It was the only time during the day that I felt warm and dry. Only at the end did she tell us that she had only been working there for a month. After our sample at the end and a carry out for our driver we set back off in the rain towards Invergordon.

The theme of the day was the rain and it continued. Instead of walking through Invergordon to see the many murals painted on the gable walls of the buildings we did a slow drive through. I braved the weather to get out and take a few photos. Invergordon was small and would have been easy to walk around. I would have liked to walk through the Natal Garden which was a car park transformed into a garden by Charlie Dimmock with local volunteers to commemorate the loss of life on HMS Natal in 1915.
We hadn’t had time for lunch so we found a cafe called The Crazy Horse but the owner refused to serve us as he was closing early. I always thought the Scots were canny business men but he was obviously an exception to the rule or maybe he had made enough money from the cruise ship passengers during the morning.
We returned to the ship for afternoon tea and watched the sail away by which time typically the rain had stopped and the sun although weak and watery came out to see us off from our final Scottish port.

A great nights entertainment on board starting pre dinner with a cocktail party, then the Headliners performed Night of a 1000 stars followed by the 60s and 70s party night in the Pacific Lounge.

A relaxing sea day tomorrow.

Sunday 17 June 2018- Sea Day to Belfast, Ireland

I returned to the early morning exercise class and due to a mistake in the Horizon had an hours class instead of the usual sea day half hour.

A lazy morning followed as it was the Ligurian lunch in the restaurant. To our surprise it was a new menu. Our table was hosted by Jeffrey the Chief Engineer and he kept us entertained with his shipboard tales. We all got on so well that we have arranged another meal with him in the Beach House in a couple of nights time. As usual the wine flowed well and we spent the afternoon sleeping it off until it was time to get ready for a formal night meal and more wine.

E Sarah Carter the fiddler was in the theatre and performed another high energy show. We finished the night in the Pacific Lounge where the talented CJ and Inspiration were playing The Music of Burt Baccharach. Brilliant show.

Tomorrow we dock in Belfast.

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Belfast

Post by prefdavid » 19 Jun 2018, 09:07

Monday 18 June 2018 - Belfast, Northern Ireland

Another early start but I managed breakfast as Monday’s special is Eggs Benedict. The weather was a great improvement and the sun kept breaking through the cloud.
We had pre booked Paddy’s Black Cab tour and Ciaran our driver and tour guide collected us at the port at 9am. He gave us a brief introduction of what we were going to see. He was unbiased and having lived through and witnessed first hand the troubles in Belfast he was very informative. He brought to life everything we had seen on the TV and read about over the many years.
We visited the Protestant Shankill Road area where there are many murals on the gable ends of the rows of the immaculate houses which were decorated with Union Jacks in readiness for the 12 July celebrations of the Battle of the Boyne. My overall impression was of how quiet and peaceful the area was which hid the turmoil, tensions and hatred that still runs high here. There is a mural very close to a prImary school and children’s nursery of two gun men with rifles. Very cleverly done as no matter where you move to look at it the gun man and rifle follows you. The residents build huge bonfires between 200 to 300 feet high and up to the 12th July these are decorated with Union Jacks but these are then taken down and are replaced by the Irish flag and photos of the pope which are then burnt. We saw one of the bonfires being built and it was huge, completely symmetrical almost like it had been erected by a master builder. Nothing like the bonfires we have on Guy Fawkes Night.

Our next stop was the Catholic Falls area and once again there were so many murals and again immaculate houses and very peaceful. The most famous mural is the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. Even though the Troubles are officially over the 32 mile long Peace Wall which divides the two areas still has gates that are locked from 10pm each night, to keep the different areas safe. We were amazed how high the Peace Wall is and the houses close to it have wire cages at the back of their house to stop missiles thrown over the wall causing any damage.
Ciaran stressed that this was a small area of Belfast and that the huge majority of the population wanted a peaceful and integrated life.

We saw the Old Court House which is now derelict and has been bought by a property developer who is turning it into a hotel. Opposite the Court House and linked by an underground tunnel is the Crumlin Road Gaol. This closed in 1996 but is still used for functions and various events.
It was certainly an eye opening tour and Ciaran an enthusiastic tour guide.

Ciaran dropped us at the very unusually hull shaped Titanic Experience building which we had purchased tickets for online before we left home. This meant no queuing. The exhibition is interactive and took around 2 hours to get around. Lots of information about the shipyard Harland and Wolff who built the Titanic as well as the ship itself. The ticket also included a visit to the SS Nomadic that ferried passengers out to board The Titanic. We saw the huge slip way that the Titanic was launched from, which is now a public area with gardens and play area for children. Oriana was docked just across the water.

We got a taxi to the Crown Liquor Bar which is the oldest bar in Belfast. It is highly decorated and downstairs it is split into individual booths which hold approx 8 people. It was extremely busy and we went upstairs to the dining room. We sampled the local brew and had a sandwich for lunch. Opposite the bar is the Europa Hotel whose claim to fame is that it is the most bombed hotel in Europe.

After our late boozy lunch we wandered around the City Centre and shops then made our way back to the shuttle bus.

The England match was being shown around the ship whilst we were in dinner. One of the head waiters kept us to date with the score.

Great evening entertainment again with Peter Howarth, who is the current lead singer of the legendary band The Hollies in the theatre and the hard working Headliners performing their Queen tribute act in the Pacific Lounge.

Tomorrow we are in Dublin.

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Re: Oriana X809 - Final tales from Sue and the Butler....for now

Post by Manoverboard » 19 Jun 2018, 09:29

You saw Belfast to the full, well done you … most don't bother, sadly.

Some years ago we stayed at the Europa Hotel as part of a Coach Tour covering both halves of Ireland and did a superb, and escorted, Pub crawl which took us to ' establishments ' representing both sides of the divide. One had the famous painting of the Reverend Paisley talking to Gerry Adams as a main feature … now that was real progress.

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Dublin

Post by prefdavid » 20 Jun 2018, 22:59

Tuesday 19 June 2018- Dublin

A much brighter and warmer day but we still needed to wear layers and fleeces for our early morning start.
There was a shuttle into the centre of Dublin but as we were heading for the Guiness experience which is quite a way outside the centre we negotiated a fixed price and took a taxi direct from the port. It was rush hour and it took around 40 minutes to get there. Our driver pointed out various sites on the way and explained how to find the shuttle bus point for our return journey later in the day.

The Guiness experience was very interesting and well laid out. Some of the exhibits were interactive. We gradually made our way up to the 4th floor and the tasting experience. Here we were given a small sample glass of Guinness and taught how to taste it to appreciate all of the flavours. This also gave the people who hadn’t tasted Guiness before the chance to decide if they wanted to use their ticket for a free pint of Guiness or a different drink.

From there the next floor was the old advertising section for Guinness. Many memories of the Toucans and the Seal balancing the pint on his nose among many others I had forgotten about.

I took the opportunity to learn how to pour the perfect pint and was awarded a certificate to prove it. Garry decided not to risk ruining his pint so opted out. I then took my pint up to the top floor where Garry collected his free pint and we drank them at the bar which has 360 degree views of the city.

We caught a taxi into the city and the busy Temple Bar Area and went in to the old bars there in search of a light lunch but chose the modern, light and clean Elephant & Castle to eat in.

After lunch we walked through Dublin to the Historic Trinity College and then on to the shuttle bus. Another great day out.

The sun came out for the sailaway and stayed out until the evening.

We had booked the Beach House for dinner with Jeffrey the Chief Engineer on board. He was an entertaining dining companion and the evening went well. We chatted so long we missed the evening entertainment but having started drinking early at the Guinness Store and continuing for most of the day we decided that an early night was called for.

Tomorrow we dock in Ringsakiddy.

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