Cruise Review: Aurora December 05

Jan 07, 2006 No Comments by

Tuesday 27th December 2005.

Wow, woke up this morning to a fine sprinkling of snow. Am I the only one that’s excited because nobody else is up and the mini coach should be here at 9.30am. Decide to check on Lizy at 8.15am and she’s casually lying in bed watching TV! At 9.15am im still nagging her to get abit more organised and get her case closed. At 9.30am the mini coach arrives and Lizy decides now would be a good time to apply some makeup, put on her boots and find a few last minute items!!! The youth of today! Meanwhile outside the snow decides to fall thick & fast, which makes a very pretty setting for our send off. After collecting Mum & Jack we are all on our way at last Yippee! Its not long before I realise that the driver hasn’t got a clue where we are going and is relying heavily on his sat nav to guide us through town. He takes some convincing that I know the way better than that thing but eventually he does turn it off. He’s obviously suffering after a heavy party season as he rather worryingly starts to yawn and rub his eyes a lot, next the windows are going up and down to try and help keep him awake. Im not impressed and spend the 134 miles on the edge of my seat watching the road for him. He soon woke up when the ship came into sight though – bless he’d never seen a ship before and couldn’t get over the size of her.

Checkin was pretty painless, although I did get a bit stroppy when the ground staff try to tell me that we are capeable of pushing Mums wheelchair on our selves! Errm yes we are, but not when we have our arms laden with suit carriers, dress bags, wheelie cases & lap tops etc. surely if I have booked wheelchair assistance for Mum we should get it? She gets the message and a very nice man is sent to wheel her onboard. At 1.15pm we are sat in Crows enjoying the hospitality of the Portunus Club. Several champagne’s, brandys and southern comforts pass our lips as well as some ‘specially prepared’ sandwiches for our consumption. Phil is behind the bar and is pleased to see us back as is Justin the loyalty manager. Oh I have good feelings about this cruise.

When we eventually get back to the cabin all cases have arrived so we are unpacked and all sorted nice and early.

Sailaway is a very very cold affair so we don’t hang around. Instead we head for the Crows and watch the lights of Southampton slip away sitting at the bar with Alistair.

Pre dinner drinks in a very crowded Andersons and we’re joined by Jeannie & co.

Dinner – table 85 in Medina is a very ‘interesting’ affair. I watch Jeannies table fill with first a very quiet looking couple, then a single lady, then another single lady who decide to all space themselves around the table so by the time Jeannie and party arrive they are split up amongst the table. To the back of us we have a table of 4 who fascinate my Mum – lets just say they look a little excentric!! To the side of me I have a table for 2 who make it pretty obvious they just want to be left alone. I watched the man at the ‘excentric’ table with horror as he had trouble getting some salt to pour, so he opened up the salt shaker, tipped some into his hand, took a pinch and sprinkled it onto his food, then poured it back into the container! Has he heard of norivirus I wonder? He nearly heard all about it from me!! The waiters and section waiter are falling over themselves to make sure that everything is more than perfect for us following my ‘complaint’ last cruise. I have to mention I appear to have an blast of ice cold coming from some air vent, and Im assured that an engineer will be called to look at it. Cant say fairer than that!

We are all flagging and Mr C wants his bed but I manage to drag him back to Crows and a very pleasant evening is spent with Alistair and Mr Askew.

Midnight and we decide we do need our beds, but not before we checkout the hotspots – oh Im going to wish I hadn’t, as I end up getting rather wound up! Yes, Carmens is the adult disco as it’s a peak season cruise. Well its dead, probably 5 people in there and as we walk in the barstaff politely point out that its Adults only, so Luke (11) will have to leave and go to Masquarades with the teens. Mmmm something not quite right here? I understand that due to the amount of teens onboard they need a venue in the evening, but why do they get the purpose built nightclub and we get Carmens which is a show lounge not a nightclub, thus meaning it totally lacks atmosphere and never works? And to make matters worse we are asked to send Luke along to a room full of teens when we feel hes better supervised by us at that time of night. Ok yes I could go to Masquarades but teens and and 40+ year olds have differing tastes in music.

Wednesday 28th December

Well despite going to bed grumpy with P&O’s stupid rules I actually had a lovely sleep tucked up in my duvet, could have slept for longer but Mr C decided to get up and disturb every one! And Wow what a perfect morning at sea it is. The sea is so calm and flat its spooky, we even have blue skies. Irene was half expecting to see me on my sun lounger lol. A very relaxing and civilised breakfast in Café B is followed by a brisk mile walk around prom deck. Time for coffee in Andersons, Geoff’s like a bear with a sore head this morning (well it was his Birthday yesterday) and all the staff are getting it in the neck! Lizy eventually puts in an appearance and wants food. Café B is busy so we end up in Alexandria Restaurant for ‘build your own sandwiches’ which turns out to be a glorified orangery, but it fills a hole without stuffing my face. Mr C is feeling tired so retires to the cabin while we chat to Phil in Crows with a cocktail of the day or two Captains Cocktail party tonight so I need to get some rest (yes it’s a hard life) so I go check out my duvet for a couple of hours. Mr CD has decided to make new years eve Black & white night so there is no way I am dragging my long white dress around the wet decks at new year so I decide to wear my big ball gown tonight, which means having my hair up. The stylist has a good result which is just as well as it takes her 1 hour 10 minutes to do it and I miss pre cocktail party drinks and almost miss the start of the cocktail party!

Its still lovely and calm so just about everyone manages to cram into Crows for the party. Dinner is superb and the waiters and head waiter is still checking that everything is perfect. Even the restaurant manager comes and asks if the chilly draft from above has disappeared? He has had the engineers come out and insulate the ceiling and assures me its no problem if I want the ceiling down again. Made me smile.

Carmens not the same without Phil, so its back to Crows bar after dinner where we are joined by Pauline and later Mr Askew. We then head to Masquarades for me to have a moan about that, but hey, its good in there! Not to packed, and smoking is banned so we spend the next few hours at the bar drinking and drinking …and drinking! Might have sort of danced a bit in between too.

Thursday 29th December 2005

Wow wish we hadn’t stopped out so late/early last night!! Really don’t feel like getting out of bed this morning but Ive promised to do some wheelchair pushing. I make the effort but its cold and grim outside and its pouring with rain. I convince Mum it will clear up and I’ll take her out later. She’s not a happy bunny but its not my fault its raining. After a Café B breakfast I catch up with a few people and we spend the morning in Champions with Keith & Marion looking ar old photos and listening to the lads chat about computer stuff! Lunch in Café B is far too busy again and we end up in the ‘bunfight’ Orangery, but I just don’t like the stuff up there so its back to the cabin for a BLT and a very long sleep.

Pre dinner drinks in Andersons for Georges Birthday. Happy Birthday George! It’s a bit chilly in the restaurant but a word with the top man and a couple of calls to the bridge later gets the heating turned up a bit! We realise we haven’t been to see Phil today so we head to Crows but hes on a break, he returns but by then we are ready to move onto karaoke in Champions. No seats for karaoke so we move onto the 60’s & 70’s disco in Carmens. Its busy you cant argue with that and every one is having much fun. Me and Emma even manage a bit of ‘Tiger Feet’ Later joined by Pauline & George but we have to move on and find Liz and make sure Lukes in bed. Lizy’s been on the wine tonight and she doesn’t realise she cant drink as many of those as she does Archers. So we have to keep a close eye. Trouble is the team of Engineers at the bar can see us craining our necks every time a tray of shots head in her tables directions so now she has a team of 8 of us watching her. Oh dear I don’t think she will drink wine & shots again! We eventually get her to the cabin and a shower sounds like a good idea so I set it up for her and leave her to it. Ok, I reckon shes been in there long enough! Oh my god! What a scene! Don’t know why but she thought it a good idea to put all the towels into the shower while she sat on the loo throwing up on the floor! Result – a flooded bathroom with sick swilling everywhere!!! Oh nice. I have no towels to even attempt to clean that up. Have no choice to call for assisitance, and I did offer to do it my self but the fleet of masked up rubber gloved men thought they were better prepared for the job! What stars they are. John gets the job of sitting up and watching over her while I get some sleep. (I need to be up early in the morning to kill her)

Friday 30th December 2005

Wedding Blessing Anniversarry Day

Well after a night of little sleep listening out for Lizy’s every move, liz wakes up, sits up, looks around and says ‘wow that was wicked. I don’t remember getting to bed!’ Oh good Im glad she enjoyed the experience!! Mr C has had to spend the night on her top bunk and within minutes we have another emergency situation. He has wacked his head on the overhead sprinkler valve and his heads pouring with blood. Now the bathroom is like a scene from physco! He’s a brave boy though and insists he doesn’t want medical assistance. But 2 pints of stella in Champions seems to dumb the pain for a while.

Gold Portunus lunch in the Alex and we have the honour of sitting at Justins table or should I say, he has the honour of sitting at ours. Now I would have said that this was the driest Portunus lunch I have ever been to as we seemed to have to be constantly calling for the wine waiter. Maybe that’s where I went wrong? It was ‘constantly’! Naturally, we were the last to leave but maybe that’s because so many of the officers wanted to drop by our table and join the fun. It was straight to bed for me after lunch but it wasn’t the most pleasurable of experiences as the cabin seemed to be caught up in some sort of typhoon and was spinning like Dorothy’s Aunt Em’s house. Didn’t like it at all and was glad when I fell asleep.

‘Wedding Blessing dinner’ in Café B Captains lounge this evening with 14 lovely family and friends. The boys had done us proud and the room looked wonderful. The service was superb. Apparently the lamb shank was ‘bloody beautiful’ ‘whoever cooked that knew what they were doing’ ‘Ive never had lamb shank like that before’!! Yes I think you could say Jack enjoyed the lamb! Even Nan Lil ate the lot. I had a superb piece of beef but the sheer size of it put me off and Mr C had to finish it off for me. Jack was in charge of entertainment for the evening and he did a grand job he told a few new jokes but the old ones are the best! A few more drinks in Andersons followed before hitting the pillow.

Saturday 31st December 2005 Madeira

I could have a done with a good nights sleep with such a big day ahead but for the first time this cruise I couldn’t sleep. We get up early for breakfast in Café B. They’ve changed the menu and its ham & cheese pannini’s yummy! Lukes not in the best of moods so we decide first things first and we will go straight to Monte for the basket ride. Mr C confesses to getting scared in the cable car so we choose to go in a taxi. Yoh my tummy wishes we hadn’t. Screaming up a steep hill in a fast car is not a good move. No time to look round Monte because theres no queue so we jump straight in a basket for a speedy ride down. Now me and Lizy got the crazy drivers, but Luke and Mr C got the slow boys which didn’t help Lukes mood to much! Within a few minutes we were back at the side of the ship and the taxi driver had just earnt himself an easy few euro’s.

Just for the record the taxi charged us 30 euros to take us up monte wait at the bottom of the basket ride and bring us back to the ship side(other drivers wanted more). The basket ride was 25 euros for 2 people. Other charges were 15 euros for one and 37.50 euros for 3 people. Price had increased since last year.

Next we collect Mum in her wheelchair for a look round the shops. It doesn’t take her long to spot the biggest ring in a shop window and shes as happy as larry with her purchase. The town is as lovely as ever with lots of folk dancing and people in party mood. By the time we return to the ship the sun is out and Im the only one around the Riviera Pool sunning myself and drinking cocktail of the day. Mr C and Luke are still ashore doing Mc’D’s and taking a few photos.

The afternoon is spent trying to sleep but it doesn’t happen. Pre diner drinks in Crows looking out over the lovely lights of Madeira.

It wouldn’t be new year with out the piping of the haggis and we’re not disappointed. I didn’t think that the New Years Eve menu was one of the nicest and to be honest the only thing I enjoyed was the haggis but everyone else said how good it was so it must have just been me. We all have hooters, party poppers and hats at the tables but the rest of the restaurant isn’t playing despite ours and Malcs efforts. Some boring people about, why doesn’t everyone want to have fun?

After dinner we retire back to Crows to give Mum a rest (shes like a restless native when the fruit machines are closed!)

We are invited to Jeanie & Malcs mini suite to watch the fireworks and what a treat for mum. We have prime viewing position and what can you say about Madeira fireworks?? No words can say it, but how they get better every year I don’t know? Mum & Jack think the suite is fantastic and they make sure they investigate every nook and cranny before they leave. Even thinks the phone in the loo is fab! Ok some of you might think they are pretty standard features but we don’t get a phone in the loo on F deck, or at home for that matter!

We watch Madeira slip away and sail past all the other ships heading for La Palma and we make our way to see what else is happing around the ship. Even though its gone 1.00am we are amazed to find the deck party in full swing. The waiters and waitresses are having a ball and I don’t blame them, We have a couple of drinks with Mr & Mrs Askew before venturing down to Masquarades. Its busy in there but is not the usual scrum that it can be on new years eve, maybe that’s because Carmens is open too? I stick it out until 4 but Im flagging and need my bed. I leave the boys to party some more with Lizy and I get some well deserved Z’s.

Sunday 1st January 2006 New Years Day

No chance of a lie in then? Mums on the phone at 8.45am – shes lost her cabin key!! Anybody else would just ask for a new one but not my mum. An inquest has to be opened. I leave Mr C to deal with it – he’s much calmer than me and I have a nice lie in until 11.00am

Arrive in La Palma at 1.00pm but again we have drizzle from the hills. The debate goes on all day about going ashore but we decide not to in the end.

It turns out to be another relaxing evening just mooching around and stopping by here and there for a laugh and a drink or three.

Monday 2nd January 2006 – Tenerife

Looks misty over the hills but its warm enough for a walk. Me & Lizy walk into town while Mr C takes the shuttle bus with Mum & Jack. Walking turns out faster. The old boy selling his booze and cigarettes is at the bus stop and he makes a killing. £13 for a litre of spirit and £11 for 200 ciggies. We head into town and Mums as happy as Larry because the craft market is there this time. Then we head up the main street into town and we see a street entertainer miming walking in the wind. Oh mum nearly jumps out of her chair with fright. They scare her after her last encounter with one and she insists Mr C push her past quickly but Mr C is in bits with laughter and incapable of pushing her anywhere. Jack is fascinated and we cant get him off the bench. He just wants to sit and watch him. The town is very busy so we head for the café we went before. Luke has his yummy looking hot chocolate. Mr C and Jack both have a beer but its so cold Jack gets brain freeze! It doesn’t stop him from singing at the top of his voice to the street musicians though and making everyone laugh again. On the way back we stock up with alcohol and head back to the ship because the sun is out – yippee!

By the time we get to the Riviera pool the clouds have rolled in again and show no signs of moving away again so its no sunshine for us. Shame because it was so hot when the sun got out. Never mind time for a snooze in my bed before the nights activities then.

Tuesday 3rd January 2006

A day at sea and we’ve definatley kissed good bye to any chance of warm weather. Its been a bit bumpy through the night and still is a little. Doing the laundry is the most exciting thing that happens this morning followed by a Baileys hot chocolate in Andersons for my efforts. We leave Lizy to sleep in this morning and she finally gets out of her bed at 3.30pm which is acceptable as she didn’t get in until 6 this morning. We are feeling a bit bored so we head into the casino to check on Mum & Jack. Mr C decides he would like to give the slots a go and decides we can afford to loose a tenner. Now, I cant see the point at all of throwing £10 into a machine, but my mind is soon changed when we walk out £74 up! Bonus!! We skip lunch and spend a very enjoyable afternoon at Champions bar with Keith & Marion, but I can tell when Mr C has had enough to drink and I drag him away for afternoon tea.

A couple of hours sleep later and we are getting ready for the Captain & Executive Pursers Private Cocktail Party. Naturally we are the very last to leave and nearly don’t make doors for dinner.

Fun of the Fair in Carmens, oh whoopy doo! Not my favourite form of evening entertainment but Mr C wanted to take a look and we end up with £5 worth of chips. Trouble is he keeps winning more chips and we cant get rid of them and you cant cash them back in, but we end up throwing them all on the Tombola and walking a way with nothing.

Back upto Crows to finish off the evening for drinkies with Mr & Mr sAskew and when that closes around us again, we head down to Masquarades but techno music at full blast soo ensures we all call it a day.

Wednesday 4th January 2006 – Lisbon

Mr C decides to get up at stupid o’clock and film the approach into Lisbon, then he wonders why we wont all get up for breakfast? Eventually me and him make it to Café B for some smoked salmon scrambled egg bagels – yummy! Plus of course a ‘jammy’ pastry. Then ts time to take mum ashore in Lisbon – well as far as the terminal building anyway. Jacks happy enough when he purchases 10 minature bottles of port for £10. Crew drills this morning so we struggle to get a drink but after a stella and cocktail of the day we meet up with Phil from Crows for an afternoon of stupidness ashore. First stop in BonJardim which is the famous chicken n chips place. How yummy is the food in here? Mind you it took some finding – but ask a policeman and you cant go wrong. Anyway it was a bargain, bottle of wine, 2 beers, 2 fantas and 2 cokes plus 5 lots of chicken n chips with salad, bread and cheese – 45 euros! Next its onto Hard Rock Café for cocktails – what else?! And on the way back we find a pavement café for the biggest vodka and coke you have ever seen. They said I wouldn’t drink it but oh I did!! Much amusement was had all afternoon having photos with random people, Mr C or Luke tripping over anything that got in their way, Lizy and Phil skipping through the underpasses, pointing at nothing and getting passers by to stare and then Phil decides to do some close up magic to the locals in the square. I don’t know why people don’t like Lisbon? They say its dirty and scruffy, but to me it was just like any other foreign place with ok shops and lots of bars.

Back to the ship for 5.00pm to prepare for the Engineers Private Party in the Uganda. So, I have a shower, run upstairs to watch the funnel go under the bridge (as you do) then back downstairs to finish getting ready. But, I must have seen my duvet and couldn’t resist it, because next thing I knew I woke up with a start and I had 10 minutes to get ready. I turned up for the party still trying to wake up and wait for it – I had two orange juices (shock horror) before I could even think about vodka & cokes. We arrived for dinner fashionably late (as you do after these events) but I had no room or energy for food, so I sat and listened and watched as Jack told his jokes and Mr C cried with laughter. They are such a stupid pair. Mum is not amused though and threatens them both.

After dinner we head straight for the Crows Nest and are joined by Alistair. The boys in the bar are so entertaining they provide us with such laughs. Raj is his usual grumpy old self and gives Phil a hard a time as possible, the room stewards play their little games and have a laugh up in their corners. Its so good tonight we stay until the end of wipedown.

Despite the stupid hour that we leave, Im still up for a bit of Masquarades but it’s the usual nightclub kids in their with the techno very loud music so I creep off to bed.

Thursday 5th January 2006

We have a lie in and order room service for breakie. Toasted BLT sandwiches yummy scrummy. We haven’t been into the Jacuzzi yet this cruise (no time social butterflies that we are) so we don our cosies and head for the Riviera Jacuzzi. Yep it’s a bit chilly outside but its nice and warm in the bubbly water and its blissfully peaceful. Thankfully Emma walks past and we raise the alarm to her that we need refreshments, so she obligingly sends over a waiter with 2 cocktails of the day – Rumba Lumba! Spent the rest of the day just chillin and doing nothing in particular.

Portunus Party this evening in Carmens and we are first through the door. Jack & Mr C seem to be on a mission to see how many whiskeys they can down. Highlight of the evening had to be when Mums name was drawn for the Portunus clock. To say she was over the moon would be an understatement, and I don’t think anyone could argue that she doesn’t deserve to win after all her cruises.

We arrive fashionable late for dinner, infact really, really late, and then it gets even later when Jack gets lost between Carmens and Medina – well he would after 11 whiskeys!! Even the Executive Purser joins in the search, but he turns up chuckling to himself because he ended up in Andersons! How many cruises and he gets lost? Im thinking he shouldn’t have anymore to drink but he insists on ordering wine with dinner too. For a Gala Dinner I thought the meal tonight was a bit uninspiring, but then I am getting sick of the sight of food now and I’d be happy with a bowl of soup. After dinner we are soo tired (yes its catching up with us now) and we partake in a quiet drink in Andersons with Keith & Marion. A quick check on the teens in Masquarades and we head of to bed.

Friday 6th January 2006

The last day, but we are still in high spirits even though I have the packing to face. Some dolphins swim by as we have our usual Baileys Hot chocolate in Andersons this morning.

Now I don’t quite know what happened later this morning, I guess we must have took a few wrong turns or something but we found ourselves down in the depths of the ship learning all about the ships engines, propultion systems, sewerage systems, generators etc from a computer room before going way down below to see these mighty engines and things close up! Oooh it was scarey in places, when I actually thought about where we were and what was above us etc but, wow what a place! Its like a whole different place down there! Not many people can say they have seen the hatch that leads to the ballbous bit at the front of the ships hull hey? And we saw the engine that was made famous when it replaced the broken one last year. But then, 3 2 1 and we were back in the room, just like it never happened ;-)

A few drinkies in Champions with Keith & Marion and then we face up to the fact that we have to pack. Its not so painful when you know you’ll be back soon. A quick shower and change and we head off out again for a night of drinking – what else! Good job we have a driver in the morning.

First stop is Crows for a Cosmopolitan with our favourite bartender, Phil. What a star he has been. Then its down to Champions where the other Phil is celebrating the end of another contract. He assures us its his last but he tells me that every year, so I take it with a pinch of salt. The bar seems rammed with a ship load of newcomers! Where the heck do all the people suddenly appear from on the last night?

Quiet a few absences in the Restaurant tonight – I do hope they are not avoiding the tips? Another bottle of champers for us washed down with some liquors and we leave the restaurant quite merry. We are just in time for the Passenger & Crew Talent show in Carmens and we stay for the first few acts. Justin the Portunus Manager is very talented and does well to entertain us singing at the piano – better than the other acts they have had on this cruise.

Our Crows Nest Barstools are calling us and off we trott. The guys have been great up here and we will miss them tomorrow.

Masquarades is playing some decent music tonight and is quite busy. Lizy seems a little ‘merry’ and she has sneaked a shot or two. She doesn’t notice when we ditch her archers and lemonade for a plain old lemonade! A word in Phils ear and we feel safe to leave her to party the rest of the evening. We leave for our bed at 3.00am for the last time.

Saturday 7th January 2006

Gee whiz its early, cold and dark outside – oh it must be Southampton! Breakfast in the Orangery. Deliver Mum to Andersons for wheelchair assistance disembarkation, then its time to get off. The usual congestion around the atrium, but we have our ways of beating the system and we are one of the first to disembark. Cases are soon found thanks to my ‘easy identification system’ and before we know it we are on the M27 heading in the general direction of home.

Other stuff

The food – no complaints from me other than there was too much of it as usual. I just get fed up of the sight of food to be honest and find the evening meals a struggle, especially after I have been ‘food optimising’ for so long with slimming world. I don’t like the Orangery, I never have done. In fact I don’t like any ships self service places. I really don’t know why as there is nothing wrong with the quality of the food – its purely a personal thing. I enjoyed many a burger or fish & chips from sidewalk and its always freshly cooked which is good. My favourite eating place is Café B especially for breakfast and lunch, but due to the weather the lunch times got very busy with queues forming. Room service was always a good option for a snack instead of lunch, and the BLT’s are very nice. We didn’t try Pennant Grill but heard very good reports, I would only really use it if sat outside on a nice warm evening. We didn’t try the Indian Buffet evening either and I preferred it when it was in the Alex at lunchtime.

Restaurant service was very good in Medina, but maybe they had been warned? The head waiter was always around and I have to say that the Restaurant Manager went out of his way to be pleasant and sociable every evening. So despite feeling bad about complaining about him last cruise, at least it seems to have made a difference to his passenger relation skills. The food was always good. Id like to see a better variety of fresh vegetables and some different potatoes to those cheesy sliced things they serve but that’s about it. As I mentioned before, I just get sick of the sight of food and wish they would offer a sandwich or something as an alternative. But then I guess I can get that in the other venues.

The Orangery runs a more or less continuous service until about 6.00pm so there is always something to get somewhere. And at lunch and tea times you can get a selection of sandwiches and filled rolls from there.

The night we ate in Café B Captains lounge it was faultless – absolutely superb!

The weather – Im sure you are all waiting to hear my moans about the lack of sunshine, but honestly it didn’t matter. Our days were so chilled out it was nice to just mooch around and chill out. At least the sea was calm and no major rocking and rolling was encountered, so we couldn’t really ask for better than that.

Entertainment – Mmmm well…. Ok so I don’t do the shows etc, but maybe I would if it was worth going to see? Les Bryan, Comedian. Gerrard Kenney and Zoe Tyler vocalist. Non of them show stopping stuff. I stuck my head in the theatre a couple of times to see the theatre company and they seemed pretty good, but Id seen the shows so no point making the effort to sit still really.

I did spot one blast from the past although I didn’t go to his show. Some of you may remember (I know Mark Englebretson will) two twins on Canberra in the 90’s that used to look after the older kids, called Sam & Ollie. Well, Sam is now a magician and he was most bemused that I recognised him (Mark he doesn’t remember you) but I told him he and his brother often get a mention on here and he was delighted that they are not forgotten.

Cabin – We managed to get moved to an outside cabin shortly before we embarked (at a cost before anyone twines at me) and it was an excellent move. F235, which was quite a walk from the lifts and stairs so wouldn’t have been any good for Mum or others who have difficulty walking, but it was very stable and much better than being at the front of the ship. Pain in the ass though if you got to the end of the alley and realised you had forgotten something though! Our cabin stewardess, I presume was new. She certainly wasn’t the best we have ever had. I had to ask her supervisor for extra cabin keys, pool towels on more than one occasion, bath towels. The shower gel wasn’t replenished before we embarked and Mr Bembridges embarkation things were still on the dressing table. Oh and we found some brand new M&S tights in the draw, so I wasn’t that confident our cabin was ready for us. Sadly, the amount I tipped her this morning reflected her efforts, which is a shame as she had plenty of gentle hints and I have never begrudged anyone who does there job. Hopefully she was a learner and will improve. Oh and our cabin was over the top of some sort of workshop below and we are convinced the engineers held metal work classes down there every day at 3.00pm, nothing major but sometimes it interfered with my naps.

WiFi and Internet – From what I understand the wifi and change of internet facilities is now scheduled for the beginning of April as is the automated restaurant seating plans. Up until a few days ago it was supposed to be done during the worldie but it looks like its been knocked back again.

Kids – All ages seemed to have more than a good time. Luke was very happy doing the activities and there were football coaching sessions every day so he was in his element. He decided he had ‘grown up’ since November and made the decision to join the older lads in Decibels instead of his own age group and all seemed to work out well apart from his midnight curfew! I moan, as do others about Maquarades being given to the teens, but in the end it wasn’t a big deal. Some nights, like 60’s & 70’s night Carmens was busy but most of the time it was dead. At least Masquarades got busy and stayed like that until 5 and 6 o’clock every morning. Most nights the music was a bit to techno for my liking but I dare say if I’d have asked for the Nolans he would have played it. There were 2 DJ’s who were both as mad as hatters, one had come over from the OV and the radio shows were good fun too, thankfully!

Christmas Decorations – We have taken a lot of photos of the decorations for you all and hope to have them up soon. The ship looked as fantastic as ever. The contractors were onboard this morning stripping the decorations down and taking them all onto the starboard side of prom deck to be packed up and taken up to the loft lol! I thought the atrium looked fantastic and nowhere escaped the festive touch.

Fellow WLC’rs – What can I say? What a fantastic bunch. Special thanks to Jeannie & Malc for inviting us to your pad to share New Years Eve with Mum. It made her night and she was talking about it for days. Keith & Marion, many a natter over a few drinkies, even if me & Marion did have to steer you two away from computer talk every now and then LOL. To all who were at the Wedding Anniversary bash – thankyou all for a fantastic evening, for your cards and your good wishes. Hope you have all recovered from a night of Jacks jokes, and be prepared to hear them all again next time you see him. Isn’t he a star bless him! It was good to meet Sarah Cruiser and Jane Louise and Mum at last. Alistair, see you in 13 weeks for more fun and frolics at Crows Nest Bar.

We are looking forward to next New Years cruise on Oriana just as much as we always have done. After 16 years or so of them we still don’t tire of them. I know some of have said they will give it a miss for a year or two because its repeated year after year, but it just doesn’t bother me. To me it’s the best place to be over the festive season and I cant imagine being at home. Bring back the longer Christmas new year canaries cruise and I will be one very happy bunny.

You Can view the rest of my pictures here in my Aurora New year 05/06 slideshow

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