Cruise Review: Aurora April 06

May 05, 2006 No Comments by

Monday 10th April

Oh yes, at last the day has arrived and we are going on Aurora (again) Yippee!  The mini coach arrives on the dot of 9.15 and we are loaded up and ready to leave within minutes.  Off to collect Mum & Jack then all back on board the bus, until cries from the back ‘Ive forgot my sunglasses’  ‘I’ve forgot my battery charger’ ‘ I need toilet!’  Yep we’d had a false start and we had to go back home!

Eventually we set back on our journey and 2hrs 15 minutes later we arrive at dock gate 10.

A nice easy checkin through the Gold checkin desk is followed by a much slower process through the security checkin.  Trying to keep your eye on 2 84 year olds and 2 kids and all the contents of their bags and pockets etc is a nightmare.

Once inside the embarkation lounge I have my first experience of ‘Clip board woman’!!   We wheel mum down to an empty bay of chairs and ‘clip board woman’ is hot on our heels.  ‘You cant sit there, move down, move down’  Oh and whys that then? ‘There is too many people sat there move down to where its empty’  What you mean that one man sat on the end?!  But for fear of the woman with powerful clipboard – we move!  Not long before her and her clipboard are hot on our heals again.  She takes Mums details and then asks to see the priority embarkation letter.  Try explaining a Gold Card to a jobsworth with a clipboard and you could be there all day!!  She was adamant that if we wanted to board priority, we needed to have a letter, and a Gold Card wasn’t much good to anyone! Time to walk away as I do get a little hot headed when face to face with jobsworths who have the power of the mighty clipboards.

1.00pm and we are invited to board and a very nice man is allocated to wheeling Mum onboard.  No big walkway in use today and instead we have to walk the entire length of a chilly dockside to board via a ramp at the front of deck 4.  Funny thing is a that all wheelchairs went onboard prior to any Goldies or Premium cabin people, so jobsworth must have been gutted!

We comandeer a large circle of chairs on starboard side of Crows and the party begins as everyone boards.  The drinks just wouldn’t stop flowing and were coming thick and fast.  Sandwiches were poor though and we really missed our ‘special special sandwiches of last cruise’  Didn’t even get any crisps!

Our little party was just that – a party!  We sang Happy Birthday to Jack in full P&O style and I made a public announcement that Mr C turns Sapphire this cruise! Lol

Me & Mr C are the last to leave Crows and make our way to the cabin.  I hate the next bit but it has to be done – unpack all that stuff it took days to get into the cases.  It wasn’t too bad when done under the influence of a few Southern comforts and I earn my treat of warm scone and jam by the pool.

Muster drill and we retreat to the cabin, paying full attention to the Captain of course.  Hes finished so we head to Prom Deck for the flag waving send off.  Its very chilly and the band isn’t exactly my cup of tea.  Think they were a jazz band – not the same as a military brass band like we had in the olden days.  Me & Jules reminisce that the dockside cranes must have been there since we were little girls as we are informed by the Captain that sailing will be delayed for a medical emergency and we were awaiting an ambulance.  Don’t know exactly how far the ambulance had to come but he didn’t seem to rush – we were all tempted to dial 999 though and ask for an ambulance in the name of Captain Walters! Lol.  We were only 20 minutes late sailing after a coxswain was off loaded into an ambulance and our duty was done and we could retreat to the warmth of Crows once more.

Me & Mr C had very civilised pre dinner drinks in Andersons, before making our way to the Medina.  We had our table back, no 51 and we had two very jolly waiters too.  Jack was privileged and ‘allowed’ to have a birthday celebration on sailing night. (P&O don’t ‘do’ birthdays on turnaround nights)  it took some arranging through various people but it was a fantastic surprise for him.  We had cake and the biggest an best choir for the ‘clap clap clap’ we could have wished for.  84 and we manage to leave Jack speechless!

Next a surprise for Mum – we take her up to Charlies to find that Gordon Hopwood is playing the piano.  Mum hasn’t seen him for a few years and she loves him.  Another chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ is played for Jack and we enjoy a very chilled out pleasant hour or so appreciating our surroundings and just sitting relaxing listening to him play.

Mr C is feeling a little worse for wear by now as all the drinks of the day are catching up with him.  We head for the cabin but somehow he manages to get completely lost and we loose each other. I have a 10 minute wait in the cabin before going off to find him, but I fail and I end up at Carmens bar with Juliet and Liz – be rude not to have a drink really.  The ship is dead all over as most seem to have decided to have an early night.  I leave Liz in the capable hands of Alistair and Cruisa in Masquarades and come back to find Mr C sleeping like a stella baby.

Liz returns hours later!

Tuesday 11th April

A lovely sunny morning and calm flat seas – couldn’t ask for better than that! A leisurely breakfast in Café B, started a morning of doing absolutely nothing – just chillin.  Lunch for two in Medina then we head for the steam rooms and sauna to try and sort my cold out.  The steam room does the trick, but unfortunately as soon as I leave Im full of head cold again. Cant believe the weather and its been so calm and pleasant all day, but my bed is calling and I manage a few hours sleep before getting ready for a big night out.

Pre cocktail drinks in Andersons before we hit the Captains Cocktail Party on Crows Nest.  The sun is blasting through the windows and we have a very pleasant drink or three.

Dinner in the Medina back at our usual table 51.  Mr C has the lobster and I have the beef.  Caje seems to think we all like strawberries and we all get 2 bowls each!

After dinner Me & Mr C head for Carmens to practice our new dancing skills – a waltz and foxtrot.  Next

we move onto Champions and before I know it we are Auroras answer to Abba. Yep Juliet decides we need to join in karaoke. After that we decide Andersons is the place to be so we go commandeer the whole bar.  I think Geoffs night had been a bit dull up until that point.  Only one place to go after that and that’s Masquarades.  Now it could have been quite dead if we hadn’t turned up, but anything we want played we can have – what a top DJ.  Mr C and Cruisa are going for it tonight and are Auroras John Travolta’s.  Cat say they don’t try lol!  We dance and drink, and drink and dance all night.  Lizy trys chatting to what has to be one of the quietest cadets P&O has, but Martyn looks after him.

We end up having a very very late night and we eventually leave at 5 in the morning.  Lizy gets a piggy-back back to the cabin by the second officer (good standard) while we all go for hot chocolate, horlicks and scooby’s.  (yes Cruisa drinks Horlicks!)

Wednesday 12th April

Well we woke up late morning and Im suffering big time – not with a hangover (because I am quite sensible and was on orange squash in masquerades last night)

But I had full blown flu and could hardy get out of bed.  I felt so rough and could hardly breath, plus my throat was ten times worse because of all the ‘loud’ talking I was doing in Masquarades last night.  I try getting up, but don’t last very long and have to return to my bed.

Still feeling very poorly later on but Im determined not to miss a night of the cruise, so Im up, and dressed and ready to go on parade.  We leave dinner late and head straight into Masquarades where Clifford sends all over the place to make me two hot toddies before I head for my bed.

The annoying thing about today, apart from me being poorly has to be the weather!  Perfect warm sunny day and its only April and we haven’t even entered the med.  Oh well, so I missed a bit of sun.  Hopefully it will be out again tomorrow.

Thursday 13th April – Gibralar

I suffered all night sweating out Cliffords special hot toddies, but the morning bought sunshine again.  Mr C & Luke went up the rock to see the monky’s but I needed to head into town to find a chemist to get my flu under control.  A few combinations of pills and potions and Im sorted.  It’s a glorious day and Im soon sat back on the ship in my usual spot by the Riviera Pool.  The Nuerofen cold and flu remedies seen to be kicking in and I can breath more easily.  We enjoy many a sailaway drink listening to Caravan and we are soon back at sea again.

The wind gets up  so we relocate down to the aft end, where we are treated to the sounds of yet another band – P&O seem to be stepping up the daytime entertainment at last – hopefully it will continue.

Change of venue for pre dinner drinks tonight and we head to Crows Nest for a couple of Cosmopolitans.  It’s a lovely evening and the room with a view certainly has one of the best views this evening – bright sunny skies and calm blue sea.

Caje tries his best to fatten me up at dinner and he has decided I don’t eat enough!  Well after prawn & scallop cocktail, Beef & vegetable broth soup is it any wonder I couldn’t complete a huge plate of roast turkey and all the trimmings?  I do my best to polish off a strawberry shortbread for him but I fail with the last couple of mouthfuls.

This evenings entertainment is provided in the form of Mr & Mrs in Carmens.  Cruisa and Jules are couple number two and why Jules put up with the humiliation is beyond me?  But fair play to all the couples, they certainly provided us with lots of giggles for the evening.  Don’t know I would have gone through with it myself for a bottle of cheap house wine (P&O are getting tighter with their prizes)

We all head off to Masquarades but I decide 2.00am is late enough for me and I leave the rest to it.

Good Friday 14th April

The sun is blasting through the window so Im up and out of bed before 9.00am.  My first indication of the weather is when a man in the lift tells me I might need something a bit warmer on!!  Yep its bright and sunny but blowing a gale.  Top decks have been closed off its so bad.

We decide to join in the Family Easter treasure hunt, but didn’t realise it would be so competitive!!  Great fun though.  Cryptic clues all over the ship that have to be solved to get the final anagram.  We were running about all over the place (no running rule didn’t apply for this game lol)  We were completely done in and it took us 53 minutes giving us a well earned 2nd place. Took a few cocktails of the day to bring me back to life afterwards.

Outside the sun was still shining but still a strong wind.  After much hunting a settle on a sheltered little spot and strip off to my bikini – much to the horror of the rest of the people on deck who seemed to be freezing – even Mr C was hiding under jeans, jacket and layer of towels.

Pre dinner drinks in Andersons, followed by another pre dinner drink in Café Bordeux.  Caravan are playing in here tonight so everyone has booked in to eat here this evening.  Juliet & Co on one table then a table for Jeannie, malc, Lizy, Alistair, mum & Jack.  The lamb shanks was as good as always and the fillet of beef that I chose was huge and beat me.  The cover charge had crept up yet again to £7.75 per head – year before last was £4.75 before rising to £6.75 last year.  But it was a most enjoyable evening and much wine is consumed by all.

Next we hit Champions for the pub quiz.  Davids team is WLC and we are WLC 2 – WLC 2 beat WLC – yeah!

We head on until Masquarades and despite it being very quiet in there we still manage to stay until closing – be rude not to really!

Saturday 15th April – Messina

Another glorious day of sunshine.  A morning at sea and cruising the Messina straights befoe docking at lunch time.  Cant believe it but we have entertainment around the pool in the form of a food & drink quiz – all good fun.

Im feeling so lazy that I cant even be bothered to move from my sun lounger to fetch some lunch.

Mr C heads into town for a walk with David & Juliet which of course involved a beer along the way, he returns to find me still just soaking up the sun.

Sailaway sounds by the pool with Caravan at 5.30 and the sun is still strong.

Im struggling with the dress code this evening.  Far too many casual nights for me, and casual this cruise does seem to mean dress down.  But I find a dress Im comfortable with.

Pre dinner drinks in Andersons and dinner in the Medina, but that’s it, we are beat.  Not a lot of exciting stuff happening so we have an early night.

Sunday 16th April Easter Sunday – Cephalonia

Everyone is still being lazy and doesn’t want to wake up.  As its Easter Sunday I start my day with a cadbury’s cream egg in bed – yum!

We cant tempt Mum ashore but she didn’t really miss that much.  It’s a lovely sunny day and it’s a tender port.  Caphalionia isn’t really open for the summer season as yet, but some shopkeepers have made the effort to get open in time.  Very pretty little bay, with a nice little shopping street running parallel to the front road.  We walk all the way around the bay in search of a beach for the boys to snorkel but we don’t find one.  We leave the boys having a paddle and checking out the fish while me and Lizy get back to the ship.  We take up our usual spot by the Riviera Pool and eat lunch.

Time for a bit of pampering this afternoon and I have an appointment with the almost scarey Inez for some nail art – oh boy what a character!  Still she wasn’t as scarey as I had heard and I liked it so much I book a cloud walking experience to have a similar treatment for my toes and feet. I now have very sparkly finger nails and toes.

Formal night tonight – Easter Ball.  I have to wear my new red dress as I have red sparkly nails.  We even attend the Easter Ball with Dave & Jules and I do quite a mean quickstep with Geoff from the ents team.

Kareoke is dead without us in Champions and they try to temp us in, but we move onto Masquarades.  Despite DJ Pauls best efforts it just isn’t happening again, but still we last out until 3.00am again

Monday 17th April Korkula

What a lovely pretty place.  I do remember having been here before now.  Again its looks like they have made an effort to open up early season for us.  Not a lot you can say about the place other than its very pretty quaint little place.  Tender port so we thought we would have to wait half the morning to get Mum off in the wheelchair once the queues had eased off, but no!  We just went to reception as instructed and from there we were assisted straight to a tender.  What a queue jump!  We just had a wander around and a drink in a café before heading back to the ship for lunch and cocktails by the pool.

Sailaway party on the Terrace but it never really happened.  Didn’t stop us enjoying sailaway up by the Pennant though.  More cocktails and catching up with everyones day.  Entertainment was provided by the water on the over head canopy spilling off onto the passenger on A deck below – I think Bevis is still chuckling to himself.

A lot were missing from dinner tonight as it was the second of the music nights in Café B.

After dinner we headed for Carmens with Jeannie & Malc to watch Strictly Come Dancing performed by passenger and crew. A good effort to provide us with some different entertainment again.  Poor Masquarades just isn’t happening again, but Paul still keeps trying.  We decide we cant stay up because its Venice tomorrow and Mr C wants to watch the arrival.

Tuesday 18th April – Venice

Mr C is like an excited kid in a sweet shop this morning and he’s out of the cabin door before 6.30am.  We had arranged a rendevouz at A deck forward, but Mr C got it wrong and went to A deck aft!  We had a few words about that seeing as I made the effort to get up and watch our arrival together.  So tired that I had to go back into bed and we never woke up until gone 10.00am.

Something I hadn’t really thought about until last night and that was the fact that we would not be able to take mum ashore today in the wheelchair.  St Marks Sqaure is of course very flat but there is a hundred bridges to negotiate before we get there.  Mum seems happy enough to stay onboard, so after a late breakfast we headed ashore.

To get into Venice from the commercial dock that P&O have started to use again  takes a bit of effort but it is worth it.

There is a free shuttle bus that takes you into the bus station from the ship.  From here there is a quite a walk over many bridges and through narrow alleys.  You just have to keep following the signs for St Marks and eventually you arrive.  I didn’t time it, but we walked at a good pace and didn’t really stop but Im sure it took us 40 minutes.  It’s a long way for anyone with walking difficulties.  But you were able to get a vaparreso from the bus station but we couldn’t work out which one.

Our walk in was very busy with loads of people heading in the same direction, and once we arrived in St Marks it was packed.  I haven’t been here for about 6 years and there was still a lot of building and renovation work going on.  But the buildings that had been finished from renovation looked splendid.

On the way in I had asked a Gondaleer the cost of a trip and he told us £55 for 40 minutes – not bad but he was way out of the centre and we weren’t sure what we would see for that amount.  I was really surprised when I asked a Gondaleer man the price from St Marks and he negotiated a price of £65 for just under an hour.  He was a very nice lively bloke and he took us on a great little trip around the back streets as well as an exciting 5 minutes in the Grand Canal.  It was rougher than the Bay of Biscay and we were pitching and rolling all over the place. Once we were out of the way he let both Liz & Luke climb to the back of the boat and take charge with the rowing.  Did you know you can tell the weather conditions from which way the water in the canal flows?  And it warns when it is going to rain?  Anyway that’s the most fascinating fact I learnt today.  Im so glad I finally made it into a Gondaleer after all my visits to Venice, and very pleased we didn’t get ripped off.  Afterwards he directed us where to go for lunch without getting ripped off and even what wine to choose.  It was a very good choice and service was excellent.  Lizy took great amusement from the tiny toilets that needed to be squatted over – they were quite strange for such a nice restaurant!  But I had to admit defeat and crossed my legs.

We went onto St Marks to feed the pigeons but they didn’t seem as tame as they did a few years back.  On the way back to the bus we managed a bit of souvenir shopping.  Getting back to the bus station was tricky as we dint really know where we were going or what to head for, we got slightly lost but still got back in time for the bus.

We arrived back to the ship in time for Sailaway sounds on Pennant with Caravan.  Ive never sailed form Venice so early but it was nice to watch the moving scenery once more for real instead of via a webcam.

Indian Dinner in the Orangery with Dave & Jules & Thomas.  It was very nice and made a pleasant change from the vast menu down in Medina that challenges me every night.

Second round of the pub quiz in Champions later and WLC 1 draws with WLC 2 – we will beat them though one night.

One drink in Masquarades and we have to head for bed.  Its been a long bus day and we need to sleep.

Wednesday 19th April Dubrovnik

I woke up at just gone 9 to discover that we were still at sea.  Shortly after the Captain announces we will be late docking due to adverse weather conditions.  It was only when I got out of bed to go the bathroom that I realised we were actually bobbing a round a bit this morning.  We dock at shortly after 10.15am.

Later in the day we discover the real reason as to why we were late docking (huh as if it would be the weather!) There was actually an electrical fault showing on the system, what I don’t know, but I am told it sounded the same alarms as it did on the ill fated world cruise last year!  Now personally I wouldn’t mind being stranded in the Adriatic sea with a free bar – but, it wasn’t to be as all the engineers managed to get the ship working again. (sort of a bit of a boooooo hissss!)

Anyway, Dubrovnik started off very overcast and rainy but it cleared into a lovely hot sunny day.  A very pleasant day ashore, and we even managed to escape ashore again for some lunch in the old harbour.

Sailaway on Pennant was a little chilly but it had to be done as we wont be here this time next week to do it.  We were an hour late sailing as the Captain felt guilty for arriving late.

Formal night tonight (weird arrangements of dress code evenings on this cruise!)  and not a lot going on other than Ladies Night Ball.  We ended up in Andersons after dinner  – after we had stuck our heads into the theatre to watch a few minutes of Paul Carlo Santana – mmm usual P&O standard!

A fun filled late evening in Masquarades followed and I left the others to it at around 4 in the morning.  However I do have vague recollections of Mr C and Lizy returning to the cabin some time later and deciding to make a horror movie in the darkness of the cabin using night vision on the video camera – strange creatures after a few drinks.

Thursday 20th April – Corfu

Beautiful hot sunny morning.  Breakfast on Pennant and then time to perform our good deed and make sure all the family member get ashore.  Town was very very busy as the locals were getting ready for Easter weekend.  Lovely shops and jewellery shops to die for.  All the shopkeepers are very pushy and you cant look in a shop window without being greeted by the shop keeper.  The best greeting of the day had to be ‘Welcome to my Window’ lol

We bought Mum & Jack back and went back into town for a drink or three.  Found a lovely little Café Lounge in a quiet little bay and enjoyed a few drinks and light lunch in the scorching sun.

Chief Techno Engineers Party in Uganda at 8 and did we get poured some drinks – we were rat arsed!  Lizy spent most of the time chatting to the Captain who still remembers shaking her hand as a tot and calls her by her first name – Lizy so wanted to keep addressing him as Ian!!  Mummy was not so amused that we were 25 minutes late for dinner and couldn’t string a sentence together between us lol.  I managed to order some soup and Caje knew not to argue with me tonight.

Deck party up by the Crysatl Pool.  Much better than usual as Caravan were playing and finished off the night with a rendition of Queens Boheimien Rhapsody.

I had to leave the others to party on in Masquarades and retire to my bed shattered!

Friday 21st April – at sea

The Queens 80th Birthday and rumor has it that we all get a glass of champagne later today – whhhoooo!

Yes, when I eventually pulled myself out of bed today and walked up on deck I found it had been turned into a red white and blue carnival everywhere.  The glasses are stacked high outside the restaurant waiting to be filled tonight.

Mr C and Lizy staggered in from Masquarades at some un earthly hour last night and apparently I missed a good night, but I needed my duvet so that was good enough for me.

No time for breakfast after our lay in this morning and we were straight in to Portunus ‘Special Event’ Lunch.  I am getting very tired of the special lunch now and keep threatening not to go but then I go just to air my views lol.  Not that they take any notice!

As it turns out we did have very good hosts with David Phillpot, Staff Captain and his Partner.  It turned out to be most enjoyable and for once I didn’t over doo the wine intake.

Even thought it was very pleasant outside, the effort of getting changed and going up onto top deck was too much for me and we ended up in Champions with Alistair and Dave & Jules for a drink or 5.  Mmmm I had one of the ‘special’ cocktails for Queenies Birthday but I think the Bar Manager must have thought the recipe up after a few drinks in the crew bar one night because it was an ‘acquired’ taste!

Time for a shower and snooze before another busy round of cocktail parties and drinking.

So Portunus Party in Carmens this evening.  The Portunus person isn’t anywhere near as good as Justin, in fact hospitality skills are not her strong point.  We didn’t win the clock but we did drink plenty.  Darren looked after Mum and made her feel special while we just drank.  Dinner was delayed for 15 minutes so we had an even longer party.  Dinner was very very nice – a glorified Captains Gala Dinner really but as it was Queenies Birthday everthing had its name changed to be aptly named for the Queen and her country.  Dinner also lasted for  ages and we were all treated to a glass of bubbly (sadly not champagne) but I guess the thought was there.  Jack did a great rendition of God Save the Queen much to the amusement of those around us.

Everyone seemed to head off to the theatre to see the Grumbleweeds, but me & Juliet heard the first one liner and decided it wasn’t for us.  We went and kept Alistair company in Crows and sat at the bar with a few bevies.  I eventually made it down to Masquarades but it didn’t seem long before we were in Café B having spicer platters and hot chocolates.

Saturday 22nd April – Palma – 1st day of 3 day Birthday event!

A very pleasant morning at sea and we arrived into Palma at 2.00pm.  We somehow managed to beat the system and be one of the first off the ship without queing and then get onto the first shuttle bus even though a queue had developed – power of the wheelchair strikes again!  (sorry to all the people in the bus queue, we didn’t mean it!)

The shops were shutting for siesta so we didn’t have to stay that long.  Best we could find was El Corte Englaise.  Quick dash back to the ship, showered and ready to go back into town with the gang for Tapas at El Pilon.  Alistair had been delayed on his tour so Me & John hung back to wait while he got ready for the evening ahead (we had a sneaky quiet drink in Crows)

Good job we waited for Alistair because he admitted he would never have found the place.  Anyway 7 bottles of wine and umpteen dishes of Tapas later we left for the Sangria with longs straws place.  Juliet ordered sangria for 5 and a bottle of wine for 5 – what we got was a bottle of wine and 5 jugs of Sangria!  Too drunk to notice (or think about the bill) we drunk up and shut up!  Liz & Luke started a ‘see how many straws you can use in your mouth at once game’ so that kept them amused for a while (luke was on coke though not sangria!)  It started to rain so we headed for the shuttle bus in good time and we were back to the ship an hour before sailing.

There was supposed to be a 60’s & 70’s deck party by the Riviera but it turned out to be a Pirate Party by the Crystal Pool!  Ents don’t seem to know whats going on as they turned up in their 70’s gear – much to the relief of Dave & Jules who had also made the effort.  So it was a good but weird sort of a party with cutlasses and parrots everywhere!

At 11.00pm the Captain said those words we hate to hear (you know the ones – we are ready to let go our lines and proceed to sea for our home port of Southampton)  Me & Mr C slipped away from the party to sit on the back of deck 12 so that we could hear a very special horn blowing on the ships whistle as we got 20 metres for the dock.  Well, Lizy was 17 in an hours time and if anybody deserves to ring 2 long blasts 2 short blasts followed by one long blast its Lizy!

Back to the party by the pool and at 12 midnight Caravan blast out ‘Happy Birthday to Lizy’  Oh it going to be a long Birthday party this one.

The party finished late enough before everyone was moved to Masquarades.

Much dancing and laughter followed.  Thomas excelled in the dance department.  Alistair had 2 dances.  Cruisa Thomas and Mr C took over the dance floor on more than one occasion.  They had spacehopper jumping competitions – not literally! (private joke)  There was sword fighting, martial arts and back flips off the step – oh yes it all happened in there tonight.  Thomas seems to think his chair was on a slope and made rather a tit of himself by falling backwards off it lol.  At 4 we needed Scooby snacks in Café B – the big mystery here being – every time we order croq monsieur we only get 3 triangles so does the chef always eat the 4th triangle that makes up the slice of bread?

Somehow we make bed at 4.30am

Sunday 23rd April – Lizy Birthday! – Day 2 of 3 day Birthday event!

Oh what joy – Nan Lil is banging hell out of the cabin door only 3 hours after leaving the nightclub – Bless she wanted to wish Lizy Happy Birthday!

Lizy is surprisingly chirpy this morning and throws back the curtains so that we all get up to give her her birthday pressies and cards.

Out on deck we’re greeted with beautiful warm sunshine but rather choppy looking seas. We find a nice spot in the sunshine and I sunbathe all day – even managed a dip in the pool and a Jacuzzi.

Tiredness creeps in and I retreat to the cabin at 3 for a shower and then I fall into a coma of a sleep. Thankfully Jeannie rang at 7.10 to wake us from our deep sleeps and were ready intime for the WLC/Lizy’s Birthday gathering in Crows at 7.45pm.  I could tell that this was going to be the start of a long night ahead!

8.30pm Birthday Dinner in Café B for everyone.  I think we spent more time dancing and drinking than we actually did eating, but we had a great night in there.  We all danced – including Mum & Jack.  Caravan sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Lizy (again) followed by ‘She was just 17’ by the Beetles.  We were just about the last to leave but I was very impressed with the amount of waiters they summoned to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ yet again.   Very surprised to receive two birthday cakes too – just what we needed!

After dinner we split groups and some went to see the Grumbleweeds while some of us went to Andersons to liven that up a bit!

Once we were all back together we moved onto Masquarades for yet more Birthday celebrations.  Clifford had bought Lizy some Moet and that was the start of a very long session!  The lads were up to their usual antics of back flips off the step again!   But we fitted in loads of dancing and even Cliffford came down for a booggie.  Mr Grumbleweed had been observing our fun all evening and came over to play too.  By now the boys were on ‘jump up and touch the ceiling with your head’ game.  A new addition to the repatour but they seem to be enjoying it all.  Next was a press up competion – Cruisa won but Mr Grumbleweed put up good competition.  Crab walking down walls was also added to the array of sillyness – Lizy winning that one with Roel (waiter) coming a close second.

We had to leave Masquarades at 4.30 because all the lights were on and the music had stopped, so it was time to reek havoc in Café B again for late night snacks and hot chocolate

Gosh was I glad to eventually get to see my bed!

Monday 24th April  – Day 3 of the Birthday event!

What a hangover this morning!  I really shouldn’t do champagne.  I have to force myself out of bed and go in search of some food, but Im feeling rough.

The ‘lads’ were supposed to be doing a full bar crawl this afternoon but they only managed the Crystal Bar, Pennant and Crows before caving in and admitting defeat (all talk as usual!)

Looks like we have seen the last of the sunshine and I haven’t the energy for anything today.  It’s a light lunch and my bed, but Mr C has a treatment booked at Oasis with my new best friend Inez and he is too scared to go on his own so Im dragged from my afternoon nap to go with him to the spa.  Inez is pleased to seehim but Mr C is quaking in his boots.  He had heard tales of chicken sacrifices etc and the thought of being alone with this Mamma was scaring him.  But from where I was sitting he looked like he was enjoying his experience!

Straight back to my bed for more sleeping but I was up and dressed intime for yet another Private Cocktail Party (just cant help getting invited to these things)  Tonight it was the Staff Captains doo in the Uganda and my Black & White gown seemed to fill most of the room.  Lizy arrived fashionably late but we still had enough drinks to keep us going for the entire evening.

Dinner was exrtremely nice but I had filled up on little sausages and king prawns at Staffy’s party so I didn’t manage much.

Me & Jules headed to Andersons for a Cosmopolitan and were soon joined by Alistair and Louise & Thomas.  The boys were in Champions watching the footie.

Everyone is flagging tonight and the last 14 nights activities seem to have caught up with us.  We manage a 2.00pm in Masquarades but have to bail out gracefully – enough is enough and we hand the bar and dance floor to others who wish to stay for a boogie.

Tuesday 25th April

Its THAT day!  The last day!  But its not so bad as we will be back soon.

Packing is very much an all day event.  We have collected some bootie this cruise and it all needs to fit into suitcases – Seagulls, pirate scarves, cutlasses, a pirate, parrots, seagulls, giant staws, birthday pressies, Portunus gifts – ooh and 116 packs of P&O biscuits!! Lol they filled a small suitcase so I had to give a carrier bag full away to the Youthies who are big fans of priory crumbles.

We had a very civilisaed last lunch out on the Pennant and were joined by the gang for some very pleasant and interesting chat.

The draw took place for the questionnaire draw this evening for £100 OBC prize and guess who won?  My Mum!!

All bags were packed and I was out booted and suited by 6.30pm.  Everyone is in a very jolly mood tonight.  Dinner was very scrummy and I had to ask the waiters if I could give them an IOU lol. (really hate all this tipping business, but I also find it amusing to watch others around me tipping or not tipping)

A surprise showing of the Grumbleweeds was announced for 10.30 so Mr C shot off there to watch them.  I headed for Carmens and 15 minutes of Fame. The place was packed and I didn’t stop long.

I knew I’d find Alistair sat up at Crows Bar so I went for a wander up there and found him and Juliet having a chat and a drink.

We headed back to Carmen (bloody long walk when you do it a few times a night)  Caravan farewell party and it was very lively.  The finished with a big Boheimiem Rhapsody rendition again which was fab.

Couldn’t leave the ship without going into Masquarades.  Yes its still dead but it doesn’t matter to me – we still had a good laugh.

Cash bar from 2.00am and we just don’t carry cash any more so it’s a good excuse to go to bed.

One final stroll out on Prom deck and it’s a bit eiry tonight because we have been in thick fog all afternoon and the horn is blasting out every few minutes.

The cabin is surprisingly tidy without all our clutter of the last 16 days, but its into bed for my last sleep.

Wednesday 26th April – Southampton

I must have been half asleep as I was fully aware we were pulling into port – thing was I was dreaming we were going up the Grande Canal in Venice, so when I looked out of the window and saw the salt grain heaps as the Captain turned the ship I was very disappointed!

An early breakfast out on Pennant and then it was a case of trying to pass an hour away before our first disembarkation party was invited to disembark.

They were about 10 minutes late in disembarking but we completely beat the system once they were ready to call it and we were the first to disembark as we managed to jump that massive queue that forms in the atrium.  But it all backfired on us as it took Mum ages to get wheelchair assistance from Andersons after we had booked her in and left her in the port handlers capable hands!  We waited in the baggage hall for over an hour for her.

The mini coach was waiting and we were soon loaded up and on our way home.  2 hours later we were wheeling cases up Mums drive greeted by the smell of blossom and spring flowers.

So now we are back home to the real world – well, for a few weeks anyway!

Other bits

The weather – I was amazed that the sea was so calm and that there was so much warm sunshine.  Ive got a fab tan and some silly people on the ship asked where I got it from, but the sun was out nearly every day.  Some days out of our window it looked grey and overcast and some days the sea looked choppy so we were expecting strong winds across the open decks – but when we ventured outside it was always very pleasant.  I know now not to judge the weather by what I see on the webcam or through the window.

The cabin – I was a little worried about the location on E deck outside and I thought we would get loads of noise from the wooden prom deck above but we rarely heard anything, maybe just the occasional thudding of someone running, and certainly no chair scraping or late night deck cleaning.

Dress code – It was all over the place this cruise.  We had formal nights on 2 of the port days and casual nights on sea days which I couldn’t really get my head around.  I did take loads of clothes with me that I didn’t wear, simply because I would have felt very very overdressed on this cruise.  Cant quite understand why some people want to under dress so much when they are on a cruise ship of this category.  I spoke to one of the senior officers girlfriends and she said exactly the same as me that she had felt overdressed on this cruise.  When I came to pack all my stuff yesterday I did regret not being defiant and wearing it, but at least I will feel as if I have some new outfits for the Caribbean Cruise in October.

Bar Prices –  All the bar price lists have been re-logo’d and have new prices too!  I fid it wery annoying that they have a premium bar price list that they decide to bring out for certain cruises.  Geoff was telling us what havoc it causes too with passengers who do back to back cruises.  Those that were on for last cruise and then stayed on for ours were faced with an increase in prices over night.  I just think its most unnecessary!

Café B and Pennant had also increased to £7.75 per head which is a bit too over the top for my liking!

Entertainment – Grumbleweeds made the lads laugh but they didn’t do a lot for me or Jules, but we were in a minority as most passengers raved about them.  Its good thought that P&O seem to be listening and bringing on new acts.  The cruise director even said in a TV interview that he has seen the same old acts for the last 15 years and things have to move on.

Caravan were fab as always.  We had lots of live music on decks and in Champions, Crows and Café B.

A bit more effort seemed to be being made with daytimne entertainment with quizzes by the pool, fun quizzes in Champions, two treasure hunts etc which pleases me as sometimes you just need a bit of a break in the day.

The ents team was lead by Leon and they were great.  Apart from Paul the DJ I hadn’t seen any of them before and again they were a breath of fresh air that I think P&O needs.

Paul the DJ is very good and I got sick to death of people moaning that Masquarades wasn’t busy enough (in fact Ive just read Cruisa’s posts and it seems to be his biggest gripe too`about it not being busy)  The DJ couldn’t have really done any more.  He played what we wanted to hear but he cant drag 1800 passengers through the door every night and lock them in.  We all had a  great time in there (Cruisa I don’t know what you are moaning about because it was a scream most nights)  I personally don’t like any of the clubs when they are busy with people pushing and shoving and spilling beer down your dress.  Like I say we had our barstools and we had our dancefloor to dance on as and when we anted it.  Lets be honest, when Cruisa’s up there strutting his stuff there isn’t a lot of room for anyone else lol.

Smoking – Im sure the smoking area in Andersons had got bigger but Geoff assured me it hadn’t.  Carmens is all non smoking and Crows in smoking on the port side so I could avoid it where I wanted too.  Champions did have a non smoking section but it was always too smokey in there for my liking.

Portunus – I still have my gripe about the ‘special event’ for us Goldies – nothing special about lunch in Alexandria Restaurant with an officer when you have done it a few times.  Gifts – I had 6 sliver coasters and Liz had a ship with salt & pepper funnels.  Mr C also got a pair of Binoculars for moving up to Sapphire level, which P’d Mr Yates off as he moved to Gold and got a shoe cleaning kit lol!  The Portunus representative dint score very highly with me this time as she didn’t seem to have the hospitality skills required for the role.  Pleasant enough if you needed to go speak to her for anything but that was as far as it went, unlike others who are happy to chat with passengers and mingle throughout the cruise.

Tickets – someone had posted that they received a new format of tickets?  We had the old fashioned sort so Im not really any the wiser what these new ones are like.

Logo – the rebranding will take a while to be fully imposed but it was on somne things like letter heads etc and party invites if you were lucky enough to receive any lol.  I did notice that as we drove out of the port there were banners on all the lamp posts with tag lines ’14 jacuzzi’s’  ‘1701 balconies with sea view’ ’12 restaurants’ etc – not what you need to see when you have just disembarked and need cheering up.  Also loads of new posters on the billboards.

I have no idea what has been missed from the report as it seems like 6 months ago when we embarked – it was a very long cruise.  I wrote most of it either when I returned from Masquarades (drunk) or returned from the Riviera Bar (drunk)  I should really read through it before I post it but I don’t think Im ready for that just yet.  Also apologies for the typo’s but its far too long to go through so make of it what you will!

Hope you enjoy and don’t fall asleep reading it.  QM2 is just around the corner and then I’ll be back on Aurora in the Caribbean before I know it.  Seem to remember something about starting a new business venture before I went cruising but I think that will be a next week job now as I need to get my head around it again.

Might tootle off to bed shortly and try not to have too many nightmares about that bar bill that was in the letter box by our door at 7 this morning (no idea why I relented and looked at it)

I’ve got alot of pictures from this one and you can view the following slideshows

Onboard slide show

Cephalonia

Corfu

Dubrovnik

Gibralter

Korcula

Messina

Palma

Venice

*yes Mr C did get a new camera before that cruise

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