Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Reports about cruises on Oriana
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Gill W
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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by Gill W » 07 Jan 2019, 16:19

Thanks for the reports, have a good time on the next one
Gill

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by Suekersh » 08 Jan 2019, 18:19

Sunday 6 January 2019 - Southampton

We had docked before midnight so a it was like sleeping on land but I missed the ships swaying movement.

We were up early as breakfast started at 06:30 in the main dining room. It was fairly quiet in there but had got busier as we left. Passengers still didn’t seem to realise that disembarking was going to be much earlier than normal.

We disembarked and waited in the visitors room for a phone call before meeting Steve our taxi driver who was collecting another couple who had been on our cruise and had parked at cruise park. We passed him our duty free and other things we wouldn’t need on the next cruise for him to pass to Ben to store in the boot of our car. Great service Ben thank you.

P & O had laid on a shuttle for transit passengers to the West Quay shopping Centre. Great but as it was a Sunday it was closed. We had arranged to meet friends at Asda. The are from Australia and were embarking Arcadia today for the cruise to Brisbane. We arrived at the same time and after lots of hugs we set off to find somewhere open to get a coffee and get warm. Luckily it was bright but very cold and poor Brendan and Rob were feeling it after leaving 40 degrees heat in Brisbane. The only place we could find open was Burger King. The coffee was dire but it didn’t matter as we chatted and caught up with their news and plans. Time just flew by and all too soon we had to say our goodbyes as they left to join Arcadia for their cruise back to Brisbane.

We bought the cabin essentials for the next cruise and then went to West Quay for some shoe shopping and a quick lunch in M & S before heading back on the shuttle to Oriana. It all worked out perfectly and we followed the crew on the shuttle to the crew gangway. We were back in the cabin before 2 p.m.

Main embarkation started just before 2:30 pm and the Priority drinks and Canapés at 2:30 p.m. We saw many familiar faces from both the Arcadia World cruise in 2017 and the Aurora South America cruise last year. The bubbles flowed well and my glass kept being filled up by the attentive waiters.

Our new cabin steward is James and is very friendly. It is his first contract as cabin steward but he appears very professional and nothing is too much trouble for him.

Our new Waiters are Nestor and Santosh and we were pleased to meet Sentil again as our diet waiter. Mario is our new wine waiter, so all change except we have kept the same dining table.

At the Welcome on board show Alex the entertainment manager introduced his team. There are 4 new members as Alejandro and Anthony finished their contract and were replaced by Sam, Sarah, Joe and Carl. The team must have been two members down last cruise but they all worked so hard we didn’t notice.

A new group called Protocol have replaced The Nauticals and the excellent news for Oriana dancers is that Caravan have jumped ship from Aurora .

We now have six sea days crossing the Atlantic before we reach Bermuda our first port of call.

Monday 7 January 2019 - 1 st Sea Day to Bermuda

The clocks went back an hour overnight which meant it was no hardship getting up for the early morning exercise class. I was amazed that the gym was full at 7 a.m. not only the exercise class but passengers using the equipment as well. Officially the gym doesn’t open until 8 a.m. but unless anyone in the cabins below complains then they may overlook it.
The second exercise class was a bit quieter but still over 100% busier than last cruise.

Whilst I was at breakfast Garry caught up with the laundry and then I ironed his shirts. We wandered around for a while chatting to various passengers we had met on previous cruisers. Garry saw Taryn the senior loyalty manager and enquired about our Peninsular luncheon. She said that there were so many Ligurian members on board that there was going to be one lunch just for our tier. Luckily it is not on a formal and not until later in the cruise.

The Guest speakers today are Joanna Hall who was also the speaker last year on Auroras South America cruise and Chris Walker who we have also seen on previous cruises. Both are excellent and interesting speakers. The third guest speaker is Paul Cook talking about Afghanistan, Heroin and the Silk Road. Unfortunately he clashes with the Battle of the Sexes.

The sea was very calm as we skirted the BOB heading South West and it was a bright sunny day and many passengers were walking the deck.

I went to the Battle of the Sexes where the ladies started very well and are in the lead. Joe the new Ents Officer had some difficulty with the electronic equipment and there were so many passengers in the Lords Tavern that he had a difficult job keeping control. He did really well for his first time. I only attend this event when the sun isn’t hot enough to sit outside.

My stalker Manuel Martinez has shown up again and as we haven’t attended his show for a long while we decided to give it a go. The best part of the show was the lady he chose to get up on stage who gave as good as she got and was more entertaining than him. It will be even longer before we go to see him again.

We finished the night in a Harlequins and talking to the lady who had been on stage during the show. She was great fun but admitted that she wouldn’t have done it except for the wine she consumed at dinner.
Caravan were playing the dance music and the floor was very busy.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by Suekersh » 09 Jan 2019, 11:26

Tuesday, 8 January 2019 - 2 nd Sea Day to Bermuda

The Gym was very busy again for the 7 a.m. Stretch Class but again quietened down slightly for the Abs class.

The Sea is very calm and the temperature around 12 degrees.

After breakfast we went to the Atrium area to see the Food & Beverage show case. Sindhu chefs were showcasing one of their chicken starter dishes and passing out small samples. It was delicious. I picked up a leaflet giving dates of the various tastings going on from Gin, wine, whiskey and champagne.

Most of the later morning was taken up by my hair. My butler changed heads and put on his rubber gloves to tackle my roots. I do wonder what went through our cabin stewards mind when he brought the ice bucket and Garry answered the door in blue rubber gloves.

I didn’t have time for lunch which won’t do me any harm. The Battle of the Sexes was better organised today but the ladies lost the day but are still in the lead. Some unhappy pax because the format is completely different to how it usually is. They will get over it but I just wish they would stop whingeing. We are on a fantastic holiday and I see no point in getting hot and bothered about a quiz.

Vouchers were delivered to the cabin from the shop entitling passengers to buy 1 bottle of alcohol for in cabin consumption. We had experienced this on the World Cruise when every sector a voucher was delivered.
When Garry collected a statement to check that all of the On board credit was correct he also noticed that payment was being taken part way through the cruise. This means there will be 2 Financial sectors so we may get more vouchers later in the cruise.

It was the 1 st formal night and the Captains Welcome on board party. Our invite was for the Pacific Lounge and the Captain arrived out of breath after first doing his speech at the Crows Nest Party which is just about as far away from the Pacific Lounge that you can get on this ship.
There were lots of waiters around handing out drinks and the bubbles flowed well.

We both opted for the Marcos Beef Wellington for dinner which was excellent as usual and there was my favourite Port Marinated Cheese to finish.

Caravan were playing in Harlequins for early evening dancing which we took advantage of as the venue was quiet. Later in the evening they hosted the Formal Night Ball.

Headliners were in theatre performing Stage door and Protocol were in the Lords Tavern.

We opted for the Big Band night with Chris Walker in the Crows Nest which was excellent and the Crows Nest was virtually full.

We noticed when we were returning to the cabin that the sea was getting rougher and we could hear the wind howling.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by Suekersh » 11 Jan 2019, 17:19

Wednesday 9 January - 3 rd Sea Day to Bermuda

The ship certainly handled the overnight storm well but the cabin was quite noisy with drawers opening with the motion and the clothes in the wardrobe moving around. I slept through most of it but as the clocks had changed again overnight I was up and about very early.

I opened my birthday cards including one from the Captain and Garry opened the champagne. A great way to start the day with a glass of fizz. When it finally came light the sun was shining and the sky was clear. The sea was still choppy as there was a 30 plus knot wind hitting the ship.

After breakfast we returned to the cabin to find a beautiful birthday cake from the the F & B manager. It tasted even better than it looked as the sponge was so light and moist.

The weather worsened during the day and the wind rose to 50 knots and a force 10. The decks were closed other than the space out side The Lords Tavern for the smokers.

The Battle of the sexes was supposed to start at 1 p.m. but it was running late due to the number of passengers playing the interactive bowling as there were no deck sports.
The ladies were triumphant once again but there isn’t a huge difference in the scores.

We had a light lunch in Al Frescos before returning to the cabin for more champagne and birthday cake. A plate of chocolates arrived from the ship for my birthday.
It was getting increasingly hard to stay upright so we stayed in the cabin and caught up with the port talks on Bermuda and Freeport.

Captain Alan did his usual early evening broadcast. He has such a sexy voice that it didn’t matter that the news wasn’t the best with the rough seas and wind to continue until tomorrow.

We had dinner in Sindhu and our Officer friend Ken joined us. It was a fabulous night with wonderful food, wine and great company.

The sea was still very choppy after we had finished dinner so we gave dancing in Harlequins a miss and instead opted for the Pacific Lounge where Caravan were singing Motown Hits. I couldn’t have wished for a better birthday.

Thursday 10 January 2019 - 4 th Sea Day to Bermuda

The sea and wind didn’t let up overnight and it was too rough for me to risk the gym. The sun was out and if only the wind would ‘do one’ it would have been a lovely day.
I gave the gym a miss had an early breakfast in the main dining room which gave me chance to catch up with two ladies I met on Arcadia in January 2017.

At 11 a.m. P & O had advertised a meet up for Facebook users. There was around 16 of us there and a chance to put names to photos. Garry stayed there chatting longer whilst I left him to it as the Battle of the sexes was at the earlier time of noon. The Ladies were victorious again but can still easily be caught with the many sea days on this cruise.

During the afternoon the wind dropped to 15 knots and as the sun was still shining I risked a walk outside. The decks had reopened and many passengers were taking the opportunity to get some air.

The Captains announcement had slightly better news re the weather but with still 1300 miles to go to Bermuda it could change again. The wind speed was down to 8 knots but tomorrow more wind to come and it could be back up to 30 knots and 4/5 metres sea swells. The Oriana is a great sailor and handles it very well.

It was our 2 nd formal night and Canapés and more chocolates arrived. Not a Marco menu but another excellent meal.

The entertainment was the Headliners in the Pacific Lounge with their Top of the Billboards show and violinist Craig Halliday in the theatre.

We went to the Crows Nest to listen to Protocol singing 60s & 70s music. They are an excellent duo and always draw a good crowd and have many followers on board. He was a member of the group Sweet and she was one of the voices on the song Startrekking around the Universe.

Another 2 sea days before we reach Bermuda.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by Suekersh » 12 Jan 2019, 13:32

Friday 11 January 2019 - 5 th sea Day to Bermuda

The hour had gone back again over night so now we are three hours behind the UK. I went to both exercise classes as although the ship was still moving around it was much better than yesterday morning. It is still very busy up there and passengers were using the machines much earlier that the 8 o clock start time. One lady arrived and complained saying she had a cabin underneath the gym. Bryan the instructor found the culprits and hopefully sorted the problem out.

Another sunny day with clear skies but still the strong wind persisted.it was pleasant enough for a walk outside and I was amazed to see people sat on the aft deck reading. They had found a sheltered spot and were making the most of the 18 degrees temperature.

Battle of the sexes and although the ladies lost the round by 10 points we are still in the lead. What we need to know though for future reference is when did Colchester move to East Anglia. I am sure it was in Essex last time I looked. We lost 20 points on that question and the men stole 10 points. Poor Joe got a barracking but all he could answer was well that’s what it says in the book and you can’t argue with a book! It is all in jest though and a fun way to spend an hour until the sun gets stronger and the wind drops.

The Captains early evening broadcast informed us that we are still 830 miles from Bermuda and tomorrow the winds will drop to force 3 and the sea swell will be 3 to 4 metres. He did qualify this statement by saying he had got the info from the afternoon watch and they could be related to Michael Fish. Ha Ha Captain Alan.

My stalker Manuel Martinez was back in the theatre and as Si had wasted 45 minutes of my life a few nights ago I wasn’t going to repeat the experience. Chris Walker was playing with the John James trio in the Crows Nest.

60s & 70s night in the Pacific Lounge was very well attended no doubt down to the duo Protocol performing.

Tomorrow is the final Sea day before we finally reach Bermuda.


silver surfer 2010
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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by silver surfer 2010 » 12 Jan 2019, 19:19

Current weather for you Sue, enjoy your cruise


"Current weather in Hamilton (Jan 12, 2019)
Current weather in Hamilton
18 °C
64 °F
Current wind conditions in Hamilton
360°, 4,1 m/s
(3 Beaufort)
The report was made 22 minutes ago, at 18:55 UTC. The wind was blowing at a speed of 4,1 meters per second (9,2 miles per hour) from north (360°). The atmospheric pressure was 1025 hPa (30.27 inHg). The relative humidity was 63,6 %. There were scattered clouds at a height of 1097 meters (3600 feet) and scattered clouds at a height of 1920 meters (6300 feet). The overall visibility was greater than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). Currently showers of in the vicinity.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by Suekersh » 13 Jan 2019, 20:02

Hi all arrived in Bermuda around 2 p.m.. We let the crowds go and Garry finished watching the football. Sunny but chilly when the sun goes in. Yesterday’s report.

Saturday, 12 January 2019 - Final Sea Day to Bermuda

There was another hour change over night which now puts us on Bermuda time. The early morning exercise class continues to be popular with a queue forming from around 6:40 am every morning. The Gym and Al Frescos are next to each other and unusually the gym queue is longer than the food queue.

The wind had calmed down considerable and it was another bright sunny day with temperatures around 18 degrees and much more warmer in the sun. The decks were all open and the walkers were out in force. The sun decks started filling up during the day as passengers soaked up their first rays of the cruise.

As we had taken the Internet package I had downloaded some information on the Royal Naval Cemetery for a friend who was going in search of a relatives grave. I went to reception to get it printed off who after redirecting me to the library, and the library manager sending me back to reception were very helpful and Apple the young receptionist was extremely proficient.
Whilst I was there the Captain announced some bad news. Due to the weather conditions crossing the Atlantic Oriana will be approx 6 hours late arriving in Bermuda. This was not a big surprise as he had been announcing the miles left to sail for a couple of days and we knew that not only had the winds caused Oriana to decrease speed but also added more miles on due to sailing further South to miss the worst of a storm.

The Ladies didn’t do well in the Battle of the sexes but are still just about in the lead. Most of us are really enjoying the quiz but there are a few who just want to whinge and shout at Joe the entertainment officer all the time. It is getting tiresome and poor Joe although he shrugs it off must be feeling that he can’t do anything right. I was disgusted when one of the ladies shouted at him ‘We pay your wages’. If it continues I will not be participating again.

We have only been on board for a week and it was the third formal night. The entertainment was Il Destino in the theatre who are a Classical Crossover duo and were very entertaining, although after a bottle of wine I did feel my eyelids closing and my arm is bruised where Garry kept nudging me.

After the show we headed to the Crows Nest to listen to the excellent group Protocol and chat to Neil and Julie who we met at the Facebook meet.

Tomorrow, after six consecutive sea days , albeit later than scheduled, we will touch land in Bermuda.


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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by silver surfer 2010 » 14 Jan 2019, 10:04

www.portbermudawebcam.com

Oriana in Bermuda

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by GillD46 » 14 Jan 2019, 11:26

Enjoy Bermuda. Having cancelled next year’s cruise, we STILL haven’t, nor will we, visited. One day - maybe!
Gill

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by Suekersh » 14 Jan 2019, 14:02

Sunday, 13 January 2019, Bermuda.


Another sunny day but the temperature was still only 18 degrees and the wind although it had dropped it was coming from the North and made it feeler cooler.

The Battle of the Sexes finished the day as a draw as the men won the again. There was less barracking today and a happier atmosphere.

The sail into Bermuda was lovely and we picked the pilot up at around 11:30 a.m and sailed past St George’s and arrived at the dock yard and tied up by 13:30 which was earlier than anticipated.

It took a while for the formalities to be completed and as passengers were queuing around the ship itching to feel land beneath them we decided to leave them to it and Garry finished watching the football.

We wandered around the Royal Naval Dockyard and although it was warm in the sun it certainly wasn’t Caribbean weather. There were one or two touristy places open including the Craft market but the prices were eyewateringly expensive. The bars seemed to be quite busy but the majority of passengers were around the tourist centre trying to access the free WiFi. A bus driver was drumming up business offering a round trip to St George’s with an hour there to look around for 10 dollars. If we hadn’t been there in October we may have took him up on the offer but the bus did look a bit decrepit.

We ate in the Beach House with fabulous views over the DockYard. We saw some passengers venturing off after their dinner but not many as it was quite cold. We decided to eat inside but had a window table. We both opted for the Lava Rock fillet steak which was excellent.

The entertainment was Comedian Jon Courtenay in the Pacific Lounge. He was hilarious and it was so good to have a decent comedian on board. The theatre was being used to show the movie Mamma Mia Here we go again.
After the Comedian had finished we went up on deck to listen to the local artist Robert Symmons Bermuda’s own Steel Drummer. We didn’t stay long as it was quite cold on deck but always good to see a local act.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by Kenmo1 » 14 Jan 2019, 14:28

Suekersh wrote:
14 Jan 2019, 14:02
The entertainment was Comedian Jon Courtenay in the Pacific Lounge. He was hilarious and it was so good to have a decent comedian on board


Totally agree with you Sue about Jon Courtenay. We cried with laughter when we saw him a few years ago. Haven't been lucky enough to see him since.

Hope the weather picks up for you soon.

Maureen.


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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by Finker » 14 Jan 2019, 17:53

Very much enjoying your reports so thank you for the time you spend in writing them.

It is so uplifting to read them.

May I ask what vaccinations you needed for visiting the Carribbean?

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by david63 » 14 Jan 2019, 18:41

Finker wrote:
14 Jan 2019, 17:53
May I ask what vaccinations you needed for visiting the Carribbean?
You normally do not need any vaccinations for the Caribbean but the only definitive answer will be from your GP/Travel clinic.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by Manoverboard » 14 Jan 2019, 19:37

david63 wrote:
14 Jan 2019, 18:41
Finker wrote:
14 Jan 2019, 17:53
May I ask what vaccinations you needed for visiting the Carribbean?
You normally do not need any vaccinations for the Caribbean but the only definitive answer will be from your GP/Travel clinic.
We were advised that none were compulsory but that FIVE were advisable … visit your local Travel Clinic / Doctor for up to date advice.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by Suekersh » 15 Jan 2019, 20:51

Monday 14 January 2019 - 2 nd day in Bermuda

The skies were very cloudy and threatening. We were in two minds on whether to get off or stay on board but knew we would regret it if we didn’t get off. We went on deck to test the temperature and soon went back inside to rummage out long trousers and fleeces. We had put these away not expecting to need them until on our way back home.
Some passengers were getting off in shorts and T shirts but the wind was very cold. It was fine in the sun as long as it was sheltered from the North wind.

We headed for the National museum which is also home to the Dolphin Quest. We have been here twice before but the trainers and carers of the Dolphins are so enthusiastic about their job and just love to chat to the public in between the feeding and training times of the Dolphins.

There is a small shop there and free wi fi with plenty of seats outside in the sun to watch the Dolphins perform. Last time we were here the Dolphins were being encouraged out of the Sanctuary and into the open water but today it was far too rough outside the walls.

We walked up to the Commissioners House and spent time in there where it was much warmer out of the wind. It is high up overlooking the whole Dockyard area and a great spot for taking photographs of the ship and surrounding area.

As the day was worsening we headed back to the ship and just about 200 yards away from the gangway the heavens opened. In the short space of time it took to get on board I was drenched even though I had a waterproof jacket on. We had a great few hours in Bermuda but it certainly wasn’t the temperatures we have had here in the past.

Sailaway was at 3:30 pm and had to be held in the Crows Nest because of the adverse weather conditions.

It was the Hollywood & The Kings in the theatre but as we had seen them previously and I hadn’t enjoyed the show we decided to give it a miss.
Anderson’s which is where we often go when the entertainment doesn’t appeal was closed due to a flood yesterday evening. Lords Tavern was heaving because Anderson’s was closed so after dinner we returned to the cabin to relax and read.


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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by cruisin_duo » 16 Jan 2019, 11:26

Enjoying reading your reports Sue. Thank you for posting.


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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by silver surfer 2010 » 16 Jan 2019, 11:28

Current weather in Nassau (Jan 16, 2019)
Current weather in Nassau
19 °C
66 °F
Current wind conditions in Nassau
010°, 2,1 m/s
(2 Beaufort)
The report was made 26 minutes ago, at 11:00 UTC. The wind was blowing at a speed of 2,1 meters per second (4,6 miles per hour) from north (010°). The atmospheric pressure was 1020 hPa (30.11 inHg). The relative humidity was 72,8 %. There were a few clouds at a height of 549 meters (1800 feet) and scattered clouds at a height of 1219 meters (4000 feet). The overall visibility was greater than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).

Ships in Nassau on 17/01/2019
Note: We can only show those ships here that we have in our database.

Ship

Carnival Dream
Carnival Elation
Oriana
3 Ships 7,578 passengers

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 16 Jan 2019, 17:01

Sue's having trouble posting on here so here's her latest report:-

Tuesday, 15 January 2019 - 1 st Sea Day to Freeport, Bahamas

It had been another Rock and roll night as the winds buffeted the ship.

We were hoping for warmer sunnier weather as we head South towards the Bahamas.

After breakfast I headed to the aft deck, the sun was shining but the pool was roped off because of the windy conditions. The wind was cool but the sun was hot. I got a bed and put layers on. The layers went on and off all morning as the clouds came over, then the sun burnt them off.

The range of temperature was huge.

I gave The Battle of the Sexes a miss as I didn’t want to leave the sun in case it disappeared again. However I met our Team Captain Lorraine and she informed that the ladies had stormed ahead of the men. I may have to miss it tomorrow as this was the best sea day we have had so far this cruise.

After dinner we went to see a new act for us called Wild Sax. A young lady from Liverpool who could certainly play that sax. (Editor's note, this has been amended from what Sue originally typed so as not to offend anyone #MeToo, #Snowflakes :lol: ) It was a wonderful fun performance to a packed house.

We walked past Anderson’s which was open except for the back area near the windows but it was very quiet so we moved on to Harlequins where Caravan were playing music for dancing. The dance instructors were hosting the dancing but I do prefer it when they aren’t there. It seems to flow better without them. Whereas Caravan announce the next dance whilst people on still on the floor the instructors wait for the floor to clear then announce the next dance. We have never come across this before either at sea or on land.

We called in The Lords Tavern hoping to see Protocol but it was packed out and Protocol had just finished their set.

Last sea day tomorrow before we reach Freeport in the Bahamas.


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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by colin parry » 16 Jan 2019, 19:45

Certainly agree about Gemma Wild. She was on Oriana in October and was excellent. She seems to do a number of shows locally and was at Storyhouse in Chester just before Christmas.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 19 Jan 2019, 09:59

Wednesday 16 January 2019 - 2nd Sea Day to Freeport Bahamas

After the exercise class I went to have a look on the aft deck and finally the sun was shining and although still quite cool at 8 a.m. it looked very promising. The beds were still piled up so I dragged Garry out to help me carry one into a sunny spot.

I had ordered room service breakfast so that I didn’t need to waste precious sun worshipping time in the dining room and I took this outside. It felt wonderful to finally feel the sun with some real heat behind it. The downside was that the wind had a bite to it and when clouds covered the sun the temperature dropped considerably. As the day progressed the sun won the battle and I stayed there all day.

The evening entertainment was the witty comedian piano playing Jon Courtenay who once again had the audience crying with laughter.

The Headliners were in the Theatre with their show Night of a1000 stars.

Tomorrow we arrive in Freeport.


Thursday 17 January 2019- Freeport, Bahamas

This was a new port for us and a maiden call for Oriana.

It was a great start as the sun was shining as we entered the port area. At first we thought there were 4 ships in as we could see 2 docked and another following us in. It turned out that the 2 ships docked were actually in dry dock being renovated. The one that followed us in looked like a very old Celebrity ship from the shape of the funnel.

Our original itinerary was for Oriana to call at Nassau but this was changed some weeks ago to Freeport as Nassau could not accommodate Oriana for refuelling.

We hadn’t particularly enjoyed the Nassau experience last October so we were happy with change of port.

I had a snorkel trip booked with a beach and shopping thrown in as well. There were only 13 of us and we were collected from the dock side on an air conditioned double decker bus with the roof taken off and a canopy put over and all the windows except the front ones were taken out. That was the air con. The driver gave us a running commentary about Freeport which was very interesting but so much info that very little has stuck. One snippet that did was the fact that they still drive on the left even after their independence from the UK but that they source their cars from the US. They discussed changing over to driving on the right but decided that the driver being away from the middle of the road saved lives. They obviously didn’t care about the passengers.

We arrived at the small marina and the boat that was very spacious could comfortably have taken 20 plus passengers. Such a difference from my snorkel trip in Nassau in October when 16 of us were crammed like sardines onto a boat more suited to take 10 passengers.

The two young skippers Dave One and Love One were excellent. They helped everyone board down quite a steep drop from the dockside and then set off for the 20 minute sail to Rainbow creek. The reef was one of the best I have seen in the Caribbean for a long time. The water was warm and crystal clear with many different species of fish and beautiful coloured Coral. Dave One was in the water ready to help anyone who needed it. There was only one man who was unhappy in the water and they helped him out the rest were competent swimmers and snorkelers.

After the snorkel experience we were taken back to the dockside and led about 200 yards to a private guarded complex. The beach was amazing. Soft white sand and clear turquoise water. The loungers were included. The shops were on site but a bit disappointing as they only sold the usual touristy tat. I was expecting a local craft market. I made the most of the sun and sea. There were anchored floating mats in the sea and hammocks in the trees. Plenty of waiters around to bring food and drink. I had 2 blissful hours here before the bus came to collect us to take us back to the port area. I would have preferred another hour or so here but this still ranks in one of the top ten organised tours I have done with P & O.


I went to find Garry who hadn’t had such a great day. He and over half of Orianas passengers and crew had decided to stay in the small Port area. Some of the shops had not even opened including the wooden hut where WiFi could be purchased. There was a very limited free WiFi which with around 1000 pax and crew trying to log in couldn’t cope. There were bars like Senor Frogs and Fat Tuesdays where the drinks were extortionate but free WiFi included. Fat Tuesdays appeared to be the crews choice as they were giving the 15% discount which was the service charge. The main small town was about twelve miles away and whereas the other ship in dock had supplied a shuttle P & O hadn’t. Passengers were not happy and as the majority had never been to Nassau to know what a dump it is felt very disgruntled about the change of port and lack of facilities here.


Captain Alan broadcast in his most sexy voice and I just knew it was not good news. The refuelling barge had turned up very late and was having problems getting the flow rate right. He stressed that it wasn’t a problem with Oriana but the barge. Nevertheless it was going to delay our departure. At 6 p.m. he came back on with the better news that the rate had increased and he hoped to be away by 7:30 p.m. and that the delay should not impact on our arrival in Cozumel on Saturday.

After another excellent dinner we went to the theatre to see Hollywood and the Kings. For the first time this cruise the entertainment was a bit lacking as there was nothing on in the Pacific Lounge and it must have been Protocols night off. The show was good and they certainly worked hard to entertain.

Oriana was only just departing Freeport as we left the theatre so another 2 hour delay. The Captain probably made an announcement but it wasn’t broadcast into the Theatre. He is certainly having a challenging cruise, with the stormy weather, plumbing issues, water from the Riviera pool flooding Anderson’s, and now the refuelling barge. He must be so looking forward to reaching Barbados and handing the ship over to Captain Sarah.

The entertainment team were on deck with Smooth Grooves advertised as chilled out tunes under the balmy night sky. We went outside but Balmy it certainly wasn’t but chilled is about right. I can’t wait to get further South into the Caribbean for the balmy nights on deck.

We opted to finish the night in Harlequins where Caravan were hosting the dancing.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 19 Jan 2019, 15:42

More from Sue:

Friday 18 January- Sea Day to Cozumel

I forgot to order room service breakfast so went with Garry to the buffet. The fruit choice there was far nicer than in the main restaurant which surprised me. I wouldn’t go when it is busy as I won’t queue for food but at 06:30 a.m. it was very quiet although we weren’t the only ones in there. I got a second helping of fruit and put it into the cabin fridge for lunch.


My plan was to get outside as soon as the sun came up at 07:15 but when I went out it was teeming down. It was warm though so definitely more like the Caribbean temperatures now and some early morning liquid sunshine is to be expected. Around 08:30 it stopped and although the deck was wet I got my bed in the sun and stayed there.


There was a bbq on the top deck but I was happy with my fruit and my butler brought me some cheese when he went for lunch. The sun was hot and at 24 degrees it was a perfect sea day. I didn’t feel the urge to use the pool so perhaps not as hot as it will eventually get.


We are still on latitude 23 and could see Cuba quite easily as we sailed by on our way to Cozumel. We are speeding along at over 20 knots to catch up the time we lost yesterday but as the sea is so calm it hardly feels like we are moving at all. We passed by many ships heading for the Panama Canal.


The Captains 6 p.m. broadcast assured everyone that the time lost in Re fuelling at Freeport had been made up and we were due to dock in Cozumel at around 8 a.m. There is certainly a buzz around the ship from the crew as this appears to be one of their favourite ports.


It was the 13th night of this cruise and our 5 th formal night. We have a break of around a week now before the next one. It was Marcos Lobster menu for dinner and once again the food was excellent although I opted for the sea bass instead.


Wild Sax gave another stunning performance in the theatre. There was a Black Tie Ball in Harlequins and we finished the night in the Lords Tavern with Protocol. Glen’s jokes are so stupid but are funnier than many of the comedians.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 21 Jan 2019, 09:14

Next instalment:

Saturday, 19 January 2019 - Cozumel

Captain Alan and the bridge team managed to catch up the time lost by the ineptitude of the barge refuelling the Oriana. It didn’t appear to be an easy sail in to port and took a while before the ship was safely tied up.

Cozumel is Mexico’s largest Island and lies 12 miles off the Yucatan Peninsula.

I was booked on the snorkel trip and like all the trips going off today met in the theatre to go off in groups. We were advised that no fruit was allowed to be taken off the ship into Mexico and must be left on a table before disembarking. When I walked passed the table it looked like half the buffet was on there. There were some long trips going today to the mainland and the Mayan Ruins so they definitely weren’t impressed with the no fruit rule.

The Mexican authorities obviously didn’t trust us to abide by their laws and after a long walk to the terminal we joined a long queue. I thought it was to show passports as we needed to have those with us in Mexico but no it was to search our bags for the forbidden fruit. Captain Alan was there checking that all of his passengers were fine which I thought was a nice touch as it can be quite intimidating for elderly passengers to have their bags hand searched by unsmiling foreign officials.

The snorkel trip was on an old fishing boat which had been renovated to look like a Pirate ship. At first my heart sank as I had expected a Catamaran but the ship was kitted out with toilet facilities and a shower. There was an upper deck which after the safety briefing and the issuing of equipment was open for use. Up there were comfy lounging chairs which sort of made up for the netting area on a Catamaran.

We reached the first of three reef stops and the crew helped the passengers get into the water. The easiest and quickest way was to to jump in. The reef was good with different species of fish. The two members of the crew were both free divers and they disappeared regularly to point out different species of fish and other creatures lurking at the bottom of the ocean. I was amazed when I looked up and saw Oriana very close by. What I hadn’t realised was that the Pirate boat had been following us and the current had taken us back towards the port.

The second stop was at a marine reserve where the reef is being monitored and encouraged to grow. This was very interesting as there were nurseries with lots of young tiny fish as well as new Corals growing.

The third stop was at a much deeper reef and there wasn’t as much to see. We were right on the edge of the reef and it was very deep although the crew still managed to free dive down to bring up live conch shells. They were very careful to return it back to its home.

The crew were excellent and attentive to passengers needs at all times. Getting out of the water and back on the boat was challenging for some as it was a steep vertical metal ladder and not easy to negotiate. Another successful snorkel trip.

Garry had done the laundry and was watching the football when I returned to the cabin. I had a quick shower then we set off to explore the port area together. It was very expensive commercialised and tacky but one or two smaller local shops as well. The complex was not true Mexico but the town was quite a way off and once again P & O had not laid on a shuttle bus. It was not worth it for us to get a taxi for the short time we would have had in town. We wandered around and made a few purchases. The sun was hot and I needed a beer. We settled into a bar with shade overlooking the harbour. I enjoyed the beer but once my thirst was quenched I moved onto the Margarita. There was a ‘ how much moment’ when the bill arrived but I couldn’t leave Mexico without sampling their famous cocktail.

Late afternoon just before departure there was a local folklore group performing on the Riviera deck. The deck was packed as were the upper levels. The group consisted of approx 20 members singing dancing and playing the local instruments. They were brilliant and a really nice send off from Mexico.

Mickey Zany was in the theatre and it was standing room only. He was very funny even though we had seen him before. We then moved on to the Crows Nest as Protocol were playing in there. Another excellent night but Garry was speaking to Glen earlier and this will be their final contract with P & O as they are retiring.

It was a casual night on board with a Tropical theme and a Salsa party on deck with Caravan. Finally a warm balmy Caribbean deck party.

Tomorrow we are in Roatan, Honduras.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by GillD46 » 21 Jan 2019, 09:53

We called at Cozumel on our very first cruise back in 1997, and I remember hoards of youngster being half carried, half dragged back on board after the Margaritas. We did a trip to Tulum, which had the bluest sea I have ever seen in my whole life. We’ve never made it back, but I think we’d like to some day.
Gill

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 22 Jan 2019, 19:57

Next two days from Sue

Sunday, 20 January 2019 - Roatan, Honduras

The clocks went back again overnight putting us 6 hours behind the UK. The day started sunny and very hot. It was a picturesque sail into Mahogany Bay which is a purpose built cruise complex.


We disembarked a few minutes after the deputy Captains announcement and followed the stream of passengers with the same purpose. There was a cable car ride to the beach but at 14 US per person it seemed very expensive. It only saved about a 500 yard walk to the beach area. The walk was very pleasant through tropical gardens with nature trails and exotic plants and trees. We could hear the birds but didn’t see any as the woodland was so dense.

To get into the beach area we had to show our cruise card. The beds which were plentiful were free of charge and there was lots of natural shade. The sunshades cost 26 US dollars which was extortionate.

The beach is man made fine clean sand. The whole complex was very clean and well maintained it just felt a bit clinical. We could have been anywhere in the world. The sea was warm and there was a large roped off swimming area which made it safe from the water sport area. Many of the off duty crew were really enjoying the facilities. It was great to see them enjoying their leisure time. We had intended to spend the day here so paid 5 US dollars for the all day wi fi. Unfortunately the weather deteriorated just before noon. We saw the storm brewing in the distance and managed to get dressed and move into the Bar seconds before the deluge. The forecast had been for scattered showers but this particular shower lasted for the rest of the day.

After a couple of beers we headed back to the ship during a lull in the rain but hadn’t got far when the deluge started again and by the time we reached Oriana we were like drowned rats.

The Sailaway Party was cancelled as it was still raining at 4:30 p.m. as we left the dock. After dinner we went to look out on deck and it was still teeming down.

Such a shame that our first visit to Roatan was spoilt by the weather.

We are at sea tomorrow as we head towards Puerta Limon in Costa Rica.

Monday, 21 st January 2019 - Sea Day to Puerto Limon.


It was another sunny morning and I secured a sunbed on the aft deck before breakfast. It was lovely and quiet but started filling up quickly. As we were heading virtually due South only the beds right at the very back were in the sun.

I could have stayed there all day but it was our special Ligurian lunch at noon and I very reluctantly gave up my spot in the sun for more food.

The Captain visited every table to say a few words and we had a laugh about his sexy voice he only uses when giving out bad news.

It was a great lunch hosted by our friend Kenneth who is the food and beverage manager. He was a very attentive host but as there are so many top tier passengers on this cruise the tables were for 9 and at the aft end of the restaurant which is very noisy because of the engines. It was difficult to talk to all the passengers. We were well looked after by the wine stewards but I was careful as I didn’t want to waste the afternoon sleeping.

I was lucky and a sunbed next to where I had spent the morning was vacant. I managed another few hours in the sun before it went down. It was still very pleasant temperatures even without the sun.

We didn’t bother with the after dinner entertainment and had a lazy evening reading. I had intended to go to listen to Protocol in the Pacific Lounge but the days food and drink finally caught up with me.

Tomorrow we are Puerto Limon, Costa Rica.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 24 Jan 2019, 08:15

Tuesday, 22 January 2019 -Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Today is the start of the 2nd financial sector of the cruise and our statement was outside the cabin door as we went to breakfast.

Captain Alan broadcast early just after we had arrived at the Port. It had been another challenge docking due to the swells and wind. The ship was tied up securely but it was too choppy to put the gangways out and he was going to try again as soon as the swells lessened. It didn’t take too long but the tours were delayed by about half an hour.

It was a hot and sticky day. Yesterday our plans for today had changed. We were meant to be on a trip which included a Train, Banana Plantation and the Tortuga Canal but Garry had gone over on his foot and was having difficulty walking. We made the decision to cancel as there was a huge wait list for tickets for this trip. It was the only trip we had booked together and I didn’t want to go on my own.


The town and market area were only a short distance from the ship. The market was quite interesting with locally made jewellery with stones from the river bed. I didn’t get to see the Tortuga Canal but a least I got some jewellery from it. There were lots of Coffee stalls as Costa Rica is famous for coffee. We bought from a stall which purely sold coffee and the vendor was very knowledgeable.

The town itself was not pleasant, to put it kindly it was a dump but the people were friendly.

We found a local bar with free WiFi, the beers were half the price of the plastic cruise centres of Roatan, Cozumel and Freeport and the WiFi was fast and reliable. We thought that David the bar man and waiter was the owner as he worked so hard to fill the bar up moving tables and chairs outside for everyone. He did a roaring trade but told us he was an employee and was frustrated with his employer who wouldn’t spend any money on the bar to make it more inviting.

We were back on ship for lunch as there was no way I could have been enticed to eat in the town. I set myself up in the sun on the aft deck and stayed there for the rest of the afternoon. It was hot hot hot and gradually the aft deck filled up as passengers returned from the tours.

Captain Alan’s early evening broadcast included the approximate timings he was expecting for arrival and entry to the Panama Canal.

We ate in Sindhu and as this was the first night of the new sector it was at a reduced price. Another excellent meal and a different menu to the last time we ate here for my birthday.

It was Mickey Zany’s final show in the theatre but after the meal we just sat on the aft deck enjoying the warm night air.

Tomorrow is the Panama Canal day.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by oldbluefox » 24 Jan 2019, 09:10

Thanks for your reviews although it sounds way too hot for me but it's interesting for those of us not there!!

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by Meg 50 » 24 Jan 2019, 10:13

prefdavid wrote:
24 Jan 2019, 08:15
Tuesday, 22 January 2019 -Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Today is the start of the 2nd financial sector of the cruise and our statement was outside the cabin door as we went to breakfast.

....
We ate in Sindhu and as this was the first night of the new sector it was at a reduced price.
I thought sectors changed on the day new passengers board. clearly I'm wrong!
Meg
x

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by david63 » 24 Jan 2019, 11:11

Meg 50 wrote:
24 Jan 2019, 10:13
I thought sectors changed on the day new passengers board. clearly I'm wrong!
Where a cruise is over 28 days then you have to settle your account part way through the cruise and have another account for the remainder of the cruise.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 24 Jan 2019, 17:20

Sue included some great pictures with her email but unfortunately I'm not able to include them here - sorry

Wednesday, 23 January 2019 - Panama Canal

The hour went forward overnight putting us back to 5 hours behind the UK and we needed to be up and around early for the part transit of the Panama Canal.

It was still dark but we could make out the lights of the ships waiting to transit the Canal .

After a quick buffet breakfast we set up by the railing of the aft deck. The crew hadn’t yet put the sunbeds out so we had to untie them and secure our spot for the day. The aft deck was full by the railings before the crew arrived. They must have thought we were mad getting up as such an early hour.

The pilot boarded around 6:45a.m. Guest speaker Thomas Judson started broadcasting facts and figures from the Bridge.

At 7:10 we passed under the new but still unfinished Atlantic bridge which was built by the Chinese and has a total clearance of approx 246 ft. which is high enough for the newer larger ships.

We reached the first lock on schedule just before 8a.m.

As Oriana sailed into the lock the service bridge for vehicles closed and then the lock gates began to slowly close.

Once fully closed the water rose to allow Oriana to pass through.

The electric mules ensured that Oriana kept a straight course and didn’t damage the walls of the lock.

Once Oriana was safely through the lock gates closed to allow the water to drop again for the following ship to enter. The water from the lock transferred into the adjacent lock ready for the ship coming in the opposite direction to continue its journey. A very slow process but much quicker than the alternative routing sailing right around South America.

We exited the final lock on the Atlantic side just before 9:30 a.m. and sailed into the Gatun Lake which is 23 miles long and 164 square miles in total.

Charges for cruise ships are per bed at 130 US dollars per bed so around 300,000 US dollars for Oriana’s passage. It wasn’t made clear if this was for a full transit or the part transit.

Oriana anchored in the Gatun Lake until just after 12:30 p.m. and finally exited the last lock at 3:15 p.m. to sail back into the Caribbean Sea.

It had been a long hot day on deck with occasional cloud which gave some relief from the searing temperatures.

Late afternoon Captain Alan broadcast using his sexiest voice and we knew it wasn’t going to be good news. As we had taken the Internet earlier in the day Garry had looked at the passage weather forecast and had mentioned that there was a bad storm brewing around Curacao. As he had predicted Captain Alan announced that due to the storm Oriana was not going to be able dock in Curacao but that he had secured a berth in Cartagena tomorrow. We very much enjoyed Cartagena last year when Aurora called there and would much rather be there than in a stormy Curacao.

The tours desk had managed to organise a few tours for Cartagena but no shuttle bus into town which is a taxi ride away.

Garry had spent far too long in the sun watching the Panama Canal transit and felt too unwell to go to dinner. I checked the buffet but it was the Great British theme so opted to go to the dining room on my own.

I didn’t bother with any of the entertainment which was the John Denver tribute act in the Theatre and a Carnival Party which should have been on deck but had to be moved to the Pacific Lounge due to inclement weather.

Tomorrow we are in the lovely port of Cartagena.


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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by cruisin_duo » 25 Jan 2019, 10:06

Sue,

Enjoying the reports. Hope Garry is feeling better.


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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by Whynd1 » 25 Jan 2019, 10:20

Hi Sue

Enjoying reading your reports,hope Garry feels better soon.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by GillD46 » 25 Jan 2019, 12:43

I love reading about the Panama Canal transits, they bring back so many amazing memories - the Suez transits too, which are every bit as interesting. Glad you had a good day, and that you enjoyed your day at Cartegena.
Gill

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 26 Jan 2019, 16:44

Next instalment

Thursday, 24 January 2019, Cartagena

Last year on Aurora we stopped in Cartagena and we had taken a tour of the city by Horse and carriage which meant that we only had a short time to look at the beautiful Oasis park by the dock. Our unscheduled stop in Cartagena today has the most attractive cruise terminal of anywhere we have visited. Birds, flaura and fauna. Anteaters, Parrots and Peacocks. Cheap beer and wifi which as we got there early was fast and reliable. We were able to look at everything on offer. The crew were enjoying having their photos taken with the colourful parrots which were so tame that they just roamed around posing for photos. We took our time browsing the fabulous emeralds. Last year Garry had bought me a pendant and earrings set and a ring to match. I looked at the bracelets but couldn’t find one that I liked that would go with the jewellery I had. I decided to wait and keep my ‘powder dry’ for our call into St Maartens. It was a great day and hopefully appeased the passengers who were disappointed about missing Curacao.

Just before we were due to set sail Captain Alan broadcast that Oriana was having boiler problems or as Captain Alan called it the ‘Old Boiler’ . We had noticed that the water for showers was only luke warm. The engineers had been working on the problem for most of the day and although we would be delayed leaving Cartagena there were two sea days to make up the time and it wouldn’t impact on our call to Greneda.

Even though it had been a port day The formal night had not been changed. It was the 6th formal night of the cruise and I was relieved to find the dress I planned to wear still fit me. It was Marcos Beef Wellington menu with Port Marinated Stilton to finish. The food continues to exceed our expectations but the result of that is my waistline increases every day.

We couldn’t face sitting in the theatre as it was a fabulous Caribbean balmy evening. Instead we changed out of formal wear and went out onto the aft deck. A group of passengers had the same idea and had set up some music playing from their tablets.

We now have two sea days before we reach Grenada.

Friday, 25 January 2019 - 1st Sea Day to Grenada


A glorious sea day with unbroken sunshine and a breeze to keep the high temperatures bearable. I was out on deck by 7:30 a.m. and hardly moved all day. My butler who cannot cope with sitting in the sun kept me fed and watered.

We had pre booked dinner in the Beach House which was extremely busy as we had been due to have a late night stop in Curacao . I had the fish Hanging kebab which once again was delicious. It was so lovely sat outside in the warm night air.

In the restaurant they were celebrating Burns night with the Parade of the Haggis. Our Head waiter Sentinel visited us in the Beach House with tomorrow’s menus and asked us if we would like to go down to the restaurant to watch the Parade. We declined but it was very thoughtful of him and just another example of the excellent attitude of all of the crew and officers on board Oriana.

The downside of not stopping in Curacao is that the entertainment acts couldn’t change over. Once again not wanting to sit inside the theatre we opted to make our own entertainment on the aft deck. This is the most underused area on the ship. The bar only opens on sea days late morning and closes at 6 p.m. such a waste when in the Caribbean where the deck gets busy early and stays busy later.

Ironically when we returned to the cabin the invites for the cocktail party had arrived and the venue is the Aft deck. Just hope there is no liquid sunshine that evening but at least it is on a casual night.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 27 Jan 2019, 10:41

And there's more ;)

Saturday, 26 January 2019 - 2nd Sea Day to Grenada.

Another day spent doing absolutely nothing but reading and soaking up the sunshine. It was breezy on deck which meant that anything not tied down blew away. I found it quite amusing watching passengers chase their flip flops and crossword puzzles around the deck.

I mentioned that we had had invites delivered for the Peninsular cocktail party on deck. Apparently there are so many of us that there was also a party on deck this evening and the bar and area was closing at 4 p.m.

Some passengers obviously those not invited were not happy about this and were plotting to have a ‘lie in’ and refuse to move. I am not sure what happened as I left before 4 p.m. having been out there since 7 a.m.

The party did go on so the protesters must have been moved on. I do think that more notice should have been given about the early closure so that passengers could opt for a different pool area for the day.

The evening entertainment was the entertainment teams own show in the theatre. It was just too nice an evening again to sit inside and as ‘our’ preferred area was closed off due to the clearing up after the party we opted for the aft bar on 12. It’s not a bar we generally use as it is also the outside eating venue for the buffet area and the other side is roped off as it is the Beach House area.

After a couple of cocktails we moved to the Riviera deck where Caravan were hosting the Tropical Party as the entertainment team were otherwise engaged in the theatre. Not calling at Curacao to bring on new entertainers has certainly challenged the entertainment team and they are very fortunate to have both Caravan and Protocol on board who are capable of hosting the venues.

Tomorrow we arrive in Grenada.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 28 Jan 2019, 14:54

Another day, another Caribbean island

Sunday, 27 January 2019 - Grenada

Another superb Caribbean morning. Grenada is known as the spice island and the wind must have been in the right direction as there were the spicy smells wafting in the air.

I had ordered room service breakfast as I was on an early snorkelling trip to see the underwater statues. We docked before 8 a.m. and I went off to meet the rest of the tour group. I was so happy to see our friend Ken holding up the sign. He had been hoping to get a snorkelling tour as group escort.

We were frog marched single file through the tunnel to the marina where our Starwind catamaran was waiting for us.

The guides were excellent and took us round each statue in turn explaining what they each represented, their depth and their age. There were plenty of coloured fish around but the statues were the main reason for this snorkel trip. We had 45 minutes at the site before reboarding the catamaran and we were welcomed back on board with rum punch which flowed all the way to Grand Anse Beach which we were told is in the top ten beaches in the Caribbean.

On the beach the drinks continued flowing . It was a fabulous morning out and Oriana was always in sight.

Back on board my butler sorted our lunch out whilst I was in the shower and as soon as we had eaten we set off to explore the port area. We bought some spices and other souvenirs to take home.

We said goodbye to Sentil our diet waiter who is leaving tomorrow and is so excited to be going home. Maria the Head of wine came by our table to say goodbye, another excited lady going home to her family. James our cabin steward is not going home but is changing areas so another goodbye. Ivie takes over his role from tomorrow.

The entertainment was the excellent Runaround Kids in the theatre. A big change though as the lead singer and guitarist had changed dramatically to a lead singer and pianist called Andrew although still Irish. A very similar show but with a different slant. After the theatre we headed down to the Pacific Lounge where Justine was performing as Tina Turner.

Tomorrow we are in Barbados.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by GillD46 » 28 Jan 2019, 15:01

We went on snorkelling trips to the statues from a couple of Grenada holidays some years ago. I love the island. I don't rate Grand Anse as one of the best beaches myself - although it is big and convenient from the port. We prefer one or two of the beaches a bit further afield.
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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 29 Jan 2019, 19:37

Next

Monday, 28 January 2019 - Barbados.

The ship docked early and Oriana had been allocated the berth nearest to the sheds which must have been a great relief to the F & B team as over 60 tons of supplies had to be loaded. It was close to the terminal so no shuttle was required which was another bonus. A Holland and America ship had been allocated the berth on the other side of the port.

Captain Alan made his final broadcast and said his goodbyes. He has been an excellent Captain and has kept us informed about the many challenges he has faced.

We disembarked around 08:30 and Oriana was being painted in readiness for the new Captain embarking. The Panama Canal transit had left the usual scuff marks along the sides of the ship.

We got into a taxi van and had a short wait whilst it was filled up. A couple got out at the Boat Yard, then 6 more at the Harbour lights which left 4 of us going to Accra Beach. It was 5 dollars each to the Boat Yard or Harbour lights but only 2.50 dollars more to go much further to Accra. We arranged for the taxi to collect us at 1:30 p.m. which gave us just over 4 hours there.

When we got there the Tikki bar hadn’t opened but the sun loungers were out. They looked really tatty and I don’t think they had been changed in all the years we had been going there. Right next to their beds were new ones with big squash comfy cushions. The beds were 20 US for 2 beds and a brolly and 2 bottles of water. The beer was 15 dollars for a bucket.

The ones at the Tiki bar are 30 US but include 6 bottles of beer or the equivalent cost of cocktails.

For the difference of 5 dollars we opted for comfort.

It was a lovely morning with some light cloud. The surf was up so no snorkelling but the surf boards and body boarders were having great fun in the waves. The wi fi was fast and free right by the edge of the sea.

We reluctantly left our comfy bed to meet the taxi driver at the time agreed. For the first time ever in the Caribbean ports we have visited he didn’t turn up. Luckily there was another taxi there waiting for his 2:30 pick up and after 15 minutes of ours not showing up he agreed to take us back to the port and then come back for his later clients.

We had a look round the shops at the port before spending the rest of the afternoon on the aft deck.

Captain Sarah broadcast her evening information and started with a joke that Captain Alan had not had a tight trouser moment to alter his voice but had actually disembarked Oriana.

We ate dinner outside at the Beach House which was busy as it was such a warm night. The new head waiter in there is Anniban who we have known for quite a while. Edward is our new diet waiter and he came up to introduce himself and pass us tomorrow nights menus.

We were too late to go to the Headliners show Reel to Reel but we have seen it many times before. Suzanne Godfrey was playing flute music in the Pacific Lounge but we headed for our usual spot on the aft deck for a drink under the stars.

Tomorrow we will be in Dominica.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 01 Feb 2019, 09:36

More adventures from Sue & the Butler

Tuesday 29 January 2019 - Dominica

Captain Sarah broadcast early morning to say we were docked but there was a problem with the accommodation ladder. It took us a while to realise she was talking about the gangway. 10 minutes later she broadcast to say one gangway was open but only until 10 a.m. as they had still not been able to secure the 2 nd gangway and for safety reasons they should have two gangways fixed and open.

We disembarked and immediately saw that the problem was because the dockside was too small to have a fwd and midships gangway so they were trying to erect one from deck 5 which had probably not been used for months. It looked like the deck hands were busy chopping dried paint off the mechanisms.

We walked around the town and noticed a new supermarket had been built. There were Many more craft stalls and market stalls and we bought some souvenirs and helped the local economy. There were lots of devastation and derelict buildings in the town but gradually life is getting back to normal for them.

They really need to invest in a taxi dispatcher. There were hundreds of taxi vans who were selling similar trips at the same price but they wouldn’t leave until their van was full. So many vans waiting for those elusive last two passengers.

We returned to the ship and the accommodation ladder had finally been erected. We ate early lunch in Al Frescos as I had an afternoon snorkelling tripped booked to Champagne reef.

We were frogmarched past the market stalls and many of the taxi drivers were still hoping for an afternoon fare. The catamaran and crew were waiting for us at a small run down pier.

We sailed past the bar we used to snorkel Champagne reef from and it was heartbreaking to see that all of the hard work Clem had put into building not only a bar, changing facilities, dive shop and a very long wooden walkway down to the small beach for easy access to the reef had all had been completely devastated and only bits of wood could be seen as remnants from the bar. I had e mailed Clem before the trip and hadn’t heard back from him so I was relieved to hear from the crew on the catamaran that he is okay and does intend to rebuild his business and the boardwalk to the champagne reef.

It was a great snorkel trip despite the rain making an appearance. The snorkel tour was guided to protect the reef which is no where near as vibrant as it was before the hurricane but it is growing back and new corals and sea life were visible. The volcanic bubbles which gives the reef its name were just as amazing as before. The crew in the water with us really knew the reef well and explained the different fish and corals.

The rum punch flowed well during the sail back to Oriana. This was my final snorkel trip of the cruise although we have a beach day planned in Antigua.

Once back at the port we were held up again as the Accommodation ladder was causing more problems as they tried to stow it away.

We had an invite to the 6 p.m. Peninsular cocktail party but no way could I be ready for that time so we went to dinner first and then attended the 8 p.m. party which I much prefer anyway.

Captain Sarah drew the winning ticket and then spent the rest of the party walking around and chatting to many of the passengers.

Using the aft deck worked well except for the loud speaker system. For some reason only one of the speakers near the bar was working which probably explains why the aft deck is no longer used for the Sailaway parties.

Tomorrow we are in Saint Maarten

Wednesday, 30 January 2019 - Saint Maarten

We had decided that as today was going to be a shopping day we would get off the ship mid morning. Our plans changed when we saw the Royal Caribbean monstrosity the Allure of the Seas with its 6000 plus passengers and another 2000 crew arriving. The Aida Diva was already in dock when we arrived. We decided to get off as early as possible as the queue for water taxi across to town would be huge later on.

We sat in the sun close to the beach waiting for all of the shops and bars to open before making our way to Ocean Jewellers.

They greeted us like old friends and offered us drinks but at 10am and wanting to keep our brain clear for negotiations we only accepted water.

I had gone with a shopping list but only expected to buy a couple of items. We started with the Emerald bracelet I had been looking for in Columbia and showed him an earring from the set I wanted it to go with. It took less than a minute before he brought out the perfect match. Next was a garnet bracelet which took a little longer but once again another perfect match to the stones in a set I had purchased in Sri Lanka. He gave me a choice of 2 different opal bracelets both of which matched a pendant and earring set we had bought in Curacao. Next on my list was a pair of gold earrings to replace the one I had lost whilst in Madeira. I had given him the one I had left and he came back with an almost identical pair. My shopping list had been filled but then I had to decide which I wanted the most. In the end he came up with such a good price for the lot and even lower when Garry offered to pay half in cash. For the whole lot it was less than an inferior Emerald bracelet I had seen in Columbia.

Deal done we left him to the paperwork and settled down with a beer and wi fi. He came back with my odd earring which he had transformed into a pendant for me as part of the deal. I hadn’t even thought of that and so pleased as Garry bought me the earrings for a wedding Anniversary present when we visited Jersey many years ago.

We said our goodbyes until next year with promises to keep in touch and to put reviews on the relevant sites.

We were shopped out but still wanted to find a store that had been on Old Street before the Hurricane. We found Kennys further along on Front street and although he no longer sells liquors he pointed us to the best value shop. Anyone wanting to buy Caribbean shirts, T shirts or dresses this is the place to go. The same dress in Barbados was 15 or 20 dollars each but here they were 3 for 30 dollars.

Shopping finished we headed back to the ship and spent the afternoon in the sun.

After dinner we went to the Lords Tavern to listen to Protocol and then to the Pacific Lounge for the final performance from the Runaround Kids. We got there early but it was already busy and by the time they came on the lounge was packed out. Another brilliant performance and such a shame they are getting off tomorrow in our final Caribbean port Antigua.

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GillD46
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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by GillD46 » 01 Feb 2019, 10:43

Sounds like a good shopping trip.
Gill


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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by MaureenB » 01 Feb 2019, 15:24

What a wonderful shopping list. I'm green with envy.

As always I am really enjoying your reports. Keep then coming.

Best wishes to you both


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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by silver surfer 2010 » 01 Feb 2019, 16:39

We enjoy Effy's in St Maarten but noticed last year when we were in port that they were not prepared to haggle like they used to. We put it down to the result of the previous years storms but gave them the trade anyway.
Enjoy your reports Sue, make the best of the warm weather, it was -8c in East Kilbride this morning and even at 16-30 today it is only 2 degrees in Edinburgh. Fortunately we have not had any snow, not like the dump they have had in the South, even Cornwall has had it's fair share.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 02 Feb 2019, 08:55

Next

Thursday, 31 January 2019 - Antigua

Our last day in the Caribbean started sunny and there was a buzz around the ship as around 200 passengers were getting ready to spend the day watching England try to play cricket against the West Indies.

The rain started just as we were preparing to get off to spend the day at the beach so we stayed on the ship for a while. It wasn’t raining a lot not like it was when we were here in November so after waiting half an hour we decided to get off and then decide what to do for the day.

There were lots of different opinions about whether it would clear or stay drizzly all day. We wandered around the port area trying to decide whether to risk the beach or do an island trip instead. We plumped for the beach but instead of going to Valley Church which is some distance away we decided to go to the nearest beach so that we could get back easily if it didn’t clear up.

We thought the taxi driver was taking us to Dickinson bay but instead he took us to a delightful smaller beach close to Fort James. We found out it was called Millers beach. The facilities here were excellent with showers, toilets, beds, huge wooden sun shades and a bar. The free WiFi reached down onto the beach which was clean and the water calm, shallow and clear. The sun was out and very hot, the cloud and rain had disappeared. I hadn’t brought my snorkel mask but there was a rocky area to one side which I will investigate next year. Another excellent find and not far from the port. The only downside was that they had run out of my favourite local beer the Wadadli. I had to make do with my second favourite Caribe. The Rum punch was excellent and made from scratch unlike lots of the bigger bars where it is pre made.

We knew that our taxi driver Enoch was going to return for us as he hadn’t taken any payment on the way out. There is a good system at the bar where he leaves his telephone number and the time he is collecting us. If we wanted to leave early they would have rung him.

A local band The Harmonites Steel Orchestra played the wonderful sounds of the Caribbean at the Riviera pool. A group of 4 all originally from Antigua were playing drums made from different material. One guy appeared to be playing old Oil drums. This band have been together for 51 years and in 1979 performed at the Super Bowl. They gave us a fabulous send off from the Caribbean.

After the Steel band had disembarked it was the Great British Sailaway Party. The Sailaway parties hadn’t been very successful this cruise up to today. A couple had been rained off and the other poorly attended. This one filled the decks and was great fun. The entertainment team were very proactive getting passengers involved and the passengers from the Costa ship docked next to us looked on bemused at a thousand plus Brits singing and waving their Union Jacks as we said goodbye to the Caribbean and started the long trek home across the Atlantic Ocean.

We had booked the Beach House for dinner as we thought this would probably be our last chance to eat dinner outside. It was very busy as many other passengers had the same idea. Once again I chose the mixed fish Hanging kebab as this will be the last time we will eat at the Beach House on Oriana. It was another excellent meal and a very sad feeling as we left, but there will be lots more ‘final moments’ as we make our way back to Southampton.

We were too late for the show in the theatre which was Fogwell Flax. It was no great hardship and we spent another perfect evening under the stars on the aft deck.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by Meg 50 » 02 Feb 2019, 09:55

prefdavid wrote:
02 Feb 2019, 08:55
Next

Thursday, 31 January 2019 - Antigua

....
After the Steel band had disembarked it was the Great British Sailaway Party. The Sailaway parties hadn’t been very successful this cruise up to today. A couple had been rained off and the other poorly attended. This one filled the decks and was great fun. The entertainment team were very proactive getting passengers involved and the passengers from the Costa ship docked next to us looked on bemused at a thousand plus Brits singing and waving their Union Jacks as we said goodbye to the Caribbean and started the long trek home across the Atlantic Ocean.
we had a sailaway next to a Costa a few years ago - they decided to compete with Andrea Bocelli and 'Time to say goodbye'!
Meg
x

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 03 Feb 2019, 08:40

Sue's on her way home now

Friday, 1st February 2019 - 1st Sea Day to Praia Vitoria

A sunny but windy sea day. We set up on the aft deck just after 7 a.m. knowing that our morning was going to be interrupted by the mandatory muster drill. This has to be held within 28 days of the last one. I waited until the siren sounded before leaving my sunbed to go to Harlequins, our muster point. Garry had gone down earlier so that he could have a seat but I wanted to stand near to the door to make a quick exit once it was over.

The drill was not broadcast by the Captain but was read from a sheet by one of the Headliners. Whilst I understand that it is maritime law to hold one of these but is it really necessary to remind passengers who have been on board for 28 days where the smoking areas are etc etc. It dragged on as these things do and made worse with a microphone malfunction. I found it amusing when we were told to put our life jackets on that many struggled because of the weight gain the straps needed adjusting. I had cheated and tried mine on and made the adjustments in the cabin before the drill. Once we were dismissed I made a swift escape and went back onto the deck to resume my prostrate position on the sun bed.

As it was our Granddaughters 12th Birthday we took the Internet package so that we could contact her.

Every message that came through seemed to show snow and bad weather forecast for the UK. It seemed unreal to be in swim wear in the hot sun reading about the freezing conditions that we will have to deal with in 9 days time. I intend to make the most of these last few hot days.

We had dinner with Kenneth in Sindhu. It was very busy but the service was attentive as usual and the food excellent. Time just flew by and poor Ken had to go back to work whereas at least we could relax after such a lovely evening.

We missed the vocalist Lloyd Wade in the theatre but hopefully we will see his second show.

Looking forward to another hot and sunny Sea day tomorrow.


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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by Whynd1 » 03 Feb 2019, 10:49

Make the most of it Sue.

Thanks for the reports.
Lindsey

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 05 Feb 2019, 08:57

Next couple of days

Saturday, 2 February 2019 - 2nd Sea Day to Praia Vitoria


Another sunny sea day although there was about 3 minutes of liquid sunshine early on. It arrived just as us early birds had set up for the day which sent everyone scuttling back for cover. The rest of the day was hot and sunny with quite strong winds across the deck.

Both yesterday and today Oriana was speeding along at over 21 knots. If we keep up this speed we will reach Praia Vitoria a day early. The sea is unusually very calm for the Atlantic so perfect sea day weather.

The clocks were changed at noon making us 3 hours now behind UK time. We prefer done in the afternoon rather than overnight but it does cause problems for the cabin stewards and other areas of the ship.

Oriana now has a problem in the ships laundry as there were paper napkins at dinner. No issue for us but whereas we jumped to the conclusion that the laundry had a problem others were shouting ‘cutbacks, our waiter confirmed it was a laundry problem. Poor Oriana is having quite a few problems in various areas.

It was the first of three Baltic Tier lunches today and although we had heard last cruise that Oriana was to be renamed Piano it was according to passengers who attended the lunch confirmed that it would be renamed Piano Land.

After dinner we went to the Crows Nest to listen to Protocol. Mandy Mudden a comedienne / Magician was in the theatre and the Orchestra playing Glen Miller in the Pacific Lounge.

Sunday, 3 February 2019 - 3rd Sea Day to Azores

The day was cloudy but warm enough to sit out even though the Temperature noticeably cooler but still 21 degrees.

Oriana had slowed down considerably to around 15 knots. A passenger at breakfast explained that there was a very sick passenger on board which is why we were speeding along for the last two days. She surmised that the passenger had either improved considerably or that there was now no need to get to Praia early. I don’t know where these passengers get their information from.

The clocks were once again changed at noon. The sun was still losing the battle with the cloud but the wind had dropped considerably and the sea was calm so quite pleasant.

It was the 8th Formal of the cruise and Black & White night. The majority of passengers complied and the ones that didn’t stuck out like a sore thumb.

We went to see Fogwell Flax in the theatre singing and imitating various 60s 70s and 80s recording artists. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and think that he is a better singer than comedian.

We finished the night in the Lords Tavern listening to more 60s and 70s music from Protocol. They certainly attract the crowds and the Tavern was heaving.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by Kenmo1 » 05 Feb 2019, 10:02

prefdavid wrote:
05 Feb 2019, 08:57
Poor Oriana is having quite a few problems in various areas.
Oh dear, that doesn't bode well for our next two cruises, Sue.

I have told our friends about your visit to Millers Beach mentioned in your previous report on Antigua as they are calling there next month and were looking for a beach near to the port.

Hope the weather here isn't too much of a shock to the system for your return to the UK although the temperature has increased considerably in the last couple of days.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday.

Maureen.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 05 Feb 2019, 12:04

Monday, 4 February 2019 - 4th Sea Day to Praia Vitoria.

A bonus hot sunny sea day. Skies clearer than yesterday. Temperature was still over 20 degrees but when a rogue cloud blocked the sun it dropped considerably.

We have not seen or heard from Captain Sarah since leaving Antigua but as the weather has been great and the seas very calm there hasn’t been any need.

Clocks went forward again although the Bridge appeared to have forgotten as there was no mention at the noon announcement and none of the ships clocks had been put forward. As the horizon newspaper has been so full of errors a quick check with reception confirmed it had gone forward and soon after that the clocks were adjusted.

I had another lazy sea day spent on deck reading and chatting with other likeminded passengers. The cruise is coming to an end quickly now and the chat is about the weather at home instead of about the fabulous ports of call.

It was the Headliners Killer Queen show in the Pacific Lounge and the film Bohemian Rhapsody was showing in the theatre. We opted for the show as although we have seen it many times it is one of our favourites. One of the dancers got injured in the first show and unfortunately soon after the 2nd show ended a passenger fell and was badly injured. The Pacific Lounge was cleared as the medical emergency team were called out.

It was Chinese New Year and a good excuse for a party. Caravan were playing in Harlequins to welcome in the year of the Pig.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 06 Feb 2019, 12:39

Tuesday, 5 February 2019, final Sea day to Praia Vitoria.

Not a sunbathing day but not raining. Very windy and the temperatures have dropped considerably. Okay when sun is out. I walked around the deck a few times and took the opportunity to take some photos of Oriana’s venues.

I went back to the battle of the sexes to find the ladies are losing this sector by over 300 points. The day was a draw until the tie break 50 point question when the men won the points putting them 350 more than the ladies.

It was our 9th formal night of the cruise and some lubricant was needed to get my dress zipped up.

We went to the tavern to listen to Protocol who certainly had a busy night as there was a ‘lock in’ party night which didn’t start until 11:30 p.m.

Fogwell Flax was in the Pacific Lounge and Lloyd Wade the Soul singer in the Theatre.

Tomorrow we arrive in Praia Vitoria.

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Re: Oriana’s Final Christmas Cruise.

Post by prefdavid » 08 Feb 2019, 08:36

Wednesday 6 February 2019 - Praia Vitoria, Azores

Wow this really was an unexpected hot sunny day. It started off chilly so I got off in Trousers and fleece. By the time we reached the town I was discarding layers. We had great free wi fi right by the beach area and a lovely view of Oriana.

I was disappointed the Gin Tasting bar had still not reopened but we stopped at a local bar for refreshments. The prices here are so cheap so we had another.

The town is picturesque but really only one Main Street. The town band was out to welcome the passengers and it certainly looked and felt much different than when we called here last year when it was cold and raining. I tried some wonderful leather boots on but they were slightly too small and there were no larger size left. They would have been a bargain at 25euros.

The sun was on the aft deck which is where I spent the rest of the afternoon.

It was the final Sailaway Party as we left the Azores. Captain Sarah’s evening broadcast was for rougher seas and long swells as we made our way back to England.

We ate at Sindhu last night and another excellent meal. The quiz which should have been in the Tavern had been moved to the Piano Bar which is very close to Sindhu. Ken had got stuck in a meeting so joined us for the main course and desert, Deborah, who had been in the meeting with Ken came say hello and joined us for a glass of wine and chat. It was very quiet in there and other than our table the rest were officers and crew.

Jon Martin the comedian who we saw in December was back on board in the theatre and a game show in the Pacific Lounge.

Sea Day tomorrow and all down hill from here.

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