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Cruise Review: Aurora New Year December 07-08

Aurora New Year

Thursday 27th December 2007

Well, after a mad scramble the night before to get Christmas back in the loft, do the packing and make sure all was well at home we feel the need for a nother cruise.

It doesn’t matter how many cruises we have, nothing can stop me from getting excited and Im awake at just past 4 and downstairs watching Aurora come up Southampton water and turn before docking to the port side at berth 106.

Car is loaded up, and by 8.45 we are once again en route to Southampton. Amanda & Mick were even keener than us and headed south hours before us. Jeannie & Malc end up just a few miles behind us, so we have fun texting our position on the map to each other – a bit like an interactive map plotting our progress. We arrive at the Mayflower terminal just after 11, but we are not the first to arrive. Despite many ‘team talks’ the check in desks don’t open until noon, but at least they dedicated half of the checkins available to Gold members so it was quite a swift check in. there seems to be a new breed of clipboard woman, obviously trained by the original one, because last weekend cruise Mr C had a bit of a run in with one of them and today it was Amanda and Micks turn to feel the wrath of her!

Never mind after a few goldie drinks it all disappeared into a distant memory. Gold drinks were served until 2, but we were there long after that. I had to nip out to check my nail appointment as I had heard that their computer had crashed and they lost all pre booked appointments, but no, my nail appointment was all as it should be (there was a lot of ladies without hair appointments on formal nights as they should be though) I also popped down to Café B to make some bookings for music nights but it was like a ghost town with nobody around. However when I returned at 4 all evenings were full!!! A note was left to waitlist us and sure enough the lovely restaurant manager called the cabin with a reservation for us later that evening.

As we were getting ready to set sail, I thought it would be a good idea to check out the cabin. Oooh we have got flowers! They are from the assistant F&B manager who was our wedding planner for our wedding blessing 3 years ago. What a lovely touch that was. Mr C did more of the unpacking than me but I did manage to organise my own case and that was about it. Lizy was very well organised in her cabin and she has that all set up very nicely. Mr c is watching a film but me and liz decide we have to do sailaway. We met amanada under lifeboat number 2, but no Mick! He hasn’t been well and now its full blown man flu, so he has taken to his bed. It wouldn’t be right if we didn’t have champagne at sailaway, so we partook in a glass. We could hear the jazz band playing, but couldn’t get near the rails to see them. I cant help thinking that something a little more festive would have been nicer. We slipped away but despite a fair old speed it seemed to take forever to pass by all the hotels, park and get to QE2 terminal. Me and Amanda went on a little wander around to see what was what. Bumped into Brett & Marsha, hey it’s a good job everyone knows me because I would never know who half the people on the ship were.

Back at the cabin Mr c is still resting and watching a film, but im so tired that I know if I even think about getting on the bed I wont get up again today, so im straight in the shower and changed for the night ahead. Hardly a sole in Andersons but then it is only just 7.30 and it doesn’t take long to fill up. Lizy isn’t too far behind me but the time Amanda gets in there is no bar stools left. Still no Mick and he is officially poorly now. Lizy, the social butterfly heads upto Crows to join Alistair for pre dinner drinks and we all meet up again at dinner.

Edrich has been an absolute star and has given us the table I requested (ok the table I wanted lol) a fab table for 9 with room for a special guest tomorrow making it 10. Abi and R are two fab table waiters and Brian is our wine steward, simply cant do better than that.

We were undecided about where to go after dinner. Carmens seemed the natural choice, but Crows was the most popular choice so we headed for a quiet drink at the bar up there, except it wasn’t quiet when we got there! Amanda had to go a be nurse to mr Crossland. Moraga nd Jeannie headed for bed but Malc came back out. David and Vicki also found us and a jolly night was had by all. I confess to being the first to cave in and feel the need for my bed, which caused great amusement. But it was the best choice. Within minutes of getting into bed I was asleep. I never heard Mr C come back, but I think malc had been giving him lessons on how to slip in backwards like a ghost!

Friday 28th December 2007

7.20 am and there is a loud knock at the door. Mr C has ordered breakfast in bed. A lovely thought but it’s a bit early and still dark!! It was very nice though and nice to jus chill out in bed with tea, toast, cereals and pastries. The waves are picking up, but our cabin F160 is a solid as a rock. Im a bit worried about lizy though because she is more far forward. Oh well I guess she will ring if she needs sea sick tablets.

I had a nail appointment at 10 so I needed to get out of bed. I actually thought about going to the gym too, but the thought didn’t last very long! It sounded like it could be pretty hard work, and as it was early I thought I might get hassled by the gym instructor and told what was best for me etc. I’ll consider it for later in the cruise.

The salon was very busy with hair doo’s being churned out every 30 minutes ready for formal night. Mr C came and checked on my progress as did Amanda and as soon as I was done I went off to look for both of them. Bumped into Alistair on the way so we went on a joint reckie but couldn’t find either of them. Turns out that Mr C had returned to the majic cabin because it was the only still place on the ship. Later found out that Amanda was in Crows reading but it was all me and Alistair could do to stay upright in there as it really is very very bumpy today. Our big hunt finishes in Champions at the bar as we figure one of them will find us soon enough. Thoughts move towards lunch time, and time is ticking on because the hour went on the clocks at noon today.  I phoned the cabin and mr c declared he cant leave the majic cabin and is quite happy to lie in bed watching films. Lizy is there too so she comes out for lunch. We check out restaurant menu, café b, orangery and end up at Sidewalk. No problem getting a seat in a force 10! I have to fetch a couple of fleeces but its all very pleasant. The hawiian burger fills me up and I know it must be time for a snooze. And what a fab snooze it was too. Lizy had to come down to the majic cabin though as hers is hitting all the bumps. Good job these king size beds are massive and can accommodate 3 in a bed. The look on the waiters face when he knocked the door with the canapés was a picture lol.

Captains cocktail party tonight and we should be in Crows but as soon as I got outside majic cabin and got to the front stairwell, my feet were having difficulty finding the floor. We met in Andersons for pre dinner drinks and it was decided that we wouldn’t bother with the cocktail party – that was until lizy appeared and said that she wanted to go. Apparently I didn’t have a choice in the matter as I had spent years forcing her to attend when she was little so now she was turning the tables! We got up there for the last 15 minutes or so and it wasn’t very busy, but I think that was due to the weather conditions. Captain Paul brown had some new captains jokes and its not our job to look after the weather this time.

Poor mick is still struck with flu, malc is under the weather and jeanie was never expected to surface in these sea conditions, but morag and Amanda are both up and well.

Staff Captian Andy joins us for dinner this evening. Its his first time in Medina so we are honoured. A good time is had by all and the meal was delightful. Fillet steak was particularly tender this evening and the choice for sweet was a tough one, chantilly strawberries, lemon minature deserts or hot chocolate soufflé?! Ive had to sign the official secrets act about what was discussed at dinner by the way, so don’t ask!

We decided to head to Carmens but mr c is refusing to dance. Of course here are no ents team that dance so a random man near the bar takes me for a waltz. I should really have dragged him up for a quickstep too but he was talking to someone by then. After a while we drifted up to Crows, but we let Andy out of the lift at deck 12 as he needed to go and check his bed valance.

Crows wasn’t the livliest of places and they were already closing half the bar down. One drink in there and we went back down to deck 7. Masquerades has been turned over to the kids as is usual for the festive cruises, but its still a very sore subject with me. Even lizy felt old in there, so we trotted along to Carmens which is the grown ups nightclub, but of course its too big in there when there are just a few passengers rattling around in there. We decide its time for bed.

Saturday 29th December 2007

Breakfast arrives at 8 this morning and the toast was still warm enough to butter.

We are just docking at la corrunna but its drizzling so I roll back over and have a snooze. At 11.30 we head into town to meet amanda and mick and a vodka and coke wakes me up, a very large one at that. I gave Alistair the wrong directions but he worked out where we were and came and found us. Time to move on and find somewhere to eat. We found a very nice little place across the square towards the old town and had many varietys of food placed infront of us – potato omelette, tuna pie, real fries and lots of drinks. Somehow we staggered back to the ship and jeannie spotted us from her balcony. We were invited up for sailaway drinks and it all becomes a little bit of a blurr after that. They were very long sailaway drinks anyway and I don’t think we left until we were miles out to sea.

I knew there was no chance of me ever getting out of my bed if I got into it so I was washed showered and out of the cabin straight to pre dinner drinks in Andersons.

Martin (Navigator) joined us for dinner this evening. Maybe we were too much for staff captain the other night lol. Far too much food and wine was consumed again and it wasn’t long before we ended up back in Andersons.

Sunday 30th December 2007

Oh dear why did I drink so many cosmopolitans and baileys last night. I feel dreadful and I think I may have flu creeping up on me. Being poorly doesn’t put me in the best of moods so I will apologise now if I wasn’t very sociable or respond very well when spoken to. Amanda is poorly full of cold but mick is recovering. We sit out on prom deck for a while just trying to take in the sea air, but despite it being a very pleasant morning I just want my bed so im back under the duvet. Mr c was sent ot to get me some lunch but he only got himself into the bad books for getting it wrong.

The gang were all in champions having a jenga challenge, which didn’t go down to well with those trying to watch the football on tv lol. Despite our poorliness me, Amanda and lizy had to make sure the arrangements were in order for the Anniversary doo in Captains lounge later this evening, but our social committee skills soon had it all sorted and I could return to my bed for an hour.

Im not feeling quite so bad by the time pre dinner drinks time arrives but Amanda is pretty grim this evening. We know we have to plod on though as its our big doo! 15 of us are dining together this evening so you can imagine how big the pre dinner drinks bash was.

Oh the Captains lounge looked fantastic and the restaurant manager and boys had done us proud. We had a new fandanglked ‘complimentary’ starter from the chef  he comes up with some good ones I will give him that! The meal was absolutely divine but I ordered far too much so I made a bit of a pig of myself.

The restaurant manager had gone to such a lot of trouble to make our night special and he had a special anniversary cake baked for us, but oh the choir headed by himself and oscar was something none of us will ever forget. They both went all out for us and their version of Congratualtions will be something I wont ever forget!

Malc headed the after dinner jokes around the table and yet more wine and liquers were consumed until very late into the evening.

It was 60’s and 70’s night in Carmens and I quite expected it all to be over by the time we got there but it was in full swing. Malc was still on full form and we couldn’t get him off the dance flor so we sort of had a bit of rota amongst the girls to keep him going. Somehow I don’t think he would be slipping into bed like a ghost tonight. I had to cave in at about 1.30 but lizy, Alistair, mr & Mrs Yates and mac carried on until the very wee hours and I belive they moved onto masquerades at some point!

Monday 31st December 2007

That’s it, it’s the last day of 2007! But what happens? We all get struck down with flu.  Ive tossed and turned all night and couldn’t settle until I could see Funchal was on the correct side of the ship as she docked. I then slipped into a couple of hours sleep but oh heck I felt rubbish when I woke up. I raided my little medicine box for anything that was cold and flu related but I think the germs have got me.

We stopped by Raffles for a mocha but I couldn’t face any food.

For the first time I can remember in years I didn’t have the energy to walk into town and instead we jumped on the shuttle bus. Oh what a mistake that was. It seemed to take hours as the traffic up on the main road was bumper to bumper. We did ask the driver if we could get off and walk as it would have been 10 times quicker but he was having non of it.

Met Amanda and Mick in one of the bars along the front but I couldn’t face alcohol (yes I really am poorly today) so I had a couple of colas and just one glass of wine, but it didn’t go down to well. Poor Mr C is struggling too and he wanted a steak on a stone, but he cant face it. So we end up with simple pasta and pizza dishes. Its glorious hot sunshine, but I cant even bare to let the rays touch me and I sit well under the shade just trying to keep cool as the flu is doing enough to burn me up. Eventaully we gathered enough energy to walk up into town. Oh boy it was busy. All the usual festivities of traditional dancers and bands were playing and the atmoshphere, as always was great, but im just not in the mood. Mick had found a great little bar down a side alley and while the well people drank beer the poorly people drank coffee. Me and Amanda went in search of medication but the pharmacies were either closed or had queues out of the door. Thankfully on the way back to the ship we found and empty pharmacy and the pharmacist sold us a bit of everything to cover all eventualities.

We got back on a very busy shuttle bus back to the ship, passing Thomson Destiny, the World and Aida Diva on the way. I was straight through the atrium, into the cabin, a dose of all medication and straight under the duvet. Didn’t sleep though and didn’t feel any better for a lie down. I just cant believe it has been such a glorious hot sunny day and ive missed it. Oh well worse places to feel poorly I guess?

Ive just looked out of te window and Funchal is all light up. Oh it looks so pretty. The world has just sailed past the window to go and sit out in the harbour (not so wealthy then if she cant afford to stay along side) Black watch is about to slip into her place.

Time to get up and get my glad rags on then!

Oh we had a blast at dinner – literally!  P&O always provide us with hats, blowers and party poppers so we always feel obliged to make full use of them. The haggis was piped in and the Scottish man said his bit then stabbed the haggis and all that malarkey. I had the haggis as a main course because its so yummy and I never get any at any other time of year. Dinner was quite a subdued affair really – until we started!!!  We waited until after main course and then we started, we played songs on our hooters, we blasted them out. It was hard work trying to get other tables to join in but slowly they did join us. The table for 4 behind Malc gave up trying to ignoire us so decided to join in with us. We had to help them out with some amo to fire at Malc as he was giving them full attack. We piped everyone out of the restaurant that dared to walk past our table. We were getting some very disapproving looks from the Chiefs table, who clearly weren’t in party mood at all as their party hats were still in the middle of the table. I dodnt think Martyn our host has ever had so much fun at a table. Of course he didn’t join in at all because he had stripes lol. We could have stayed their all night blowing our horns but we guessed that there maybe some who would like to see the back of us so we departed.

Jeannie and Malc had kindly invited us all up to their mini suite for a bit of a doo and to see the fireworks. There was a big party up by the Riviera but its so much more civilised without all the pushing and shoving for rail space, and anyway its become part of the New Year cruise now.

The fireworks really were amazing this year. They never ever fail to amaze me and I cant think of any where better to see in 2008. they lasted just over 15 minutes and the finale was deafening but fantastic.

Sadley Im too poorly to toast the New Year in properly so Jeannie makes me a lem sip!  Poor Jeannie is suffering too as is Amanda Mick and a few others. Im really not in the mood for partying and after all the excitement I just want my bed, and I can see Jeannie needs hers. Im tucked up under my duvet just after 12.45 feeling a bit sad that Im not out partying but all the same quite content under the snugly duvet.

Tuesday 1st January 2008

It’s a glorious calm peaceful sunny morning at sea. Im really full of cold now and in desperate need of fresh air so shortly before 8 I wander up to the Riviera. The attendants are just laying out the loungers after the party the night before and Im sure it wasn’t too many hours ago that people were in full blown party mode right where Im sat. I get my usual sunbed in the usual spot and lay there as the deck very slowly fills with bodies. Im coughing and hacking and can hardly breath. I try to do a little bit of work up in the cyberstudy but Im sweating and just cant concentrate. At 1130 I decide to visit the doc to see if he can sort my symptoms out and he gives me some cough medicine and antibiotics and charges me £70 for the privalage. Just as I get back to my sun lounger Captain Paul Brown is doing the rounds and stops by for a chat, but Im going down hill fast. The doc has advised me to get plenty of fresh air but Im starting to shiver. There I am sat in the balzing sun wrapped up in towels with Mr C’s jacket on and with my head covered. Everytime I cough my airwaves close over and Im doomed, breathing is an effort and I start to panic. Eventually Mr C decides enough is enough and Im taken down to my bed – little did I know that I would hardly venture out for the next 3 days. It had been such a perfect day too, just tootling along in the sun at 8 knotts! Of course I didn t make dinner or little else for the rest of the day.

Wednesday 2nd January 2008 – Tenerife

Oh it’s a lovely morning abnd we are in Tenerife. I feel like Im dying but I have to get up and get outside. But I cant do it. My body just refuses to co operate with me. Me C helps me in to the shower and im still convinced that if I can manage to get dressed I will be fine once outside.

I knew as I was standing waiting for the shuttle bus that I needed my bed, but still I battled on. The bus came and took us to the dock gate and then I tried to walk. My legs were having none of it and my knees were starting to buckle. I made it as far as the road but I was defeated. I just wanted to cry and be back in my bed, which is where I was 10 minutes later. And there I stayed again just sending myself la la staring at the ceiling. Mr C had a nice time drinking with the boys and then forming some secret society back onboard the ship.

He had to go to dinner alone again and Im getting more and more fed up and cheesed off with myself. Despite having a ‘Do not disturb’ note on the door the phone rings just after 8.15. its room service wanting to know if he can deliver a fresh bowl of fruit ‘no thank you Im poorly, don’t need it and cant get out of bed’ yes but Madam, can I bring the bowl of fruit?’ NO Im poorly. Ok Madam, I’ll bring it straight away!!! Oh give me strength! Maybe he just wants to see how many are in the big bed tonight?

Thursday 3rd January 2008

Ooh its rough today. The sea isn’t in a very good mood at all! But then neither am I! Im feeling really rough and extremely weak. Enough is enough. These antibiotics aren’t working, im convinced if I get up and have a shower I will feel well enough to get to the doctors, but I cant do it. Mr C has to support me in the shower and then dress me. How or why I got to the doctors I will never know. It is really rough and that aside I can bearly stand anyway. The nirse took one look at me clinging to Mr C on arrival that she just opened up a side ward and put me on a bed. I could hardly breath I was in such a state. All of the portholes down in the ward were covered and I could hear the waves hammering the side of the ship. Ive only ever been in the hospital when it is calm and quiet. The doc and nurse poke and prod at me and get me to blow into some sort of machine. Then Im having nose swabs done and all the time Im hacking my brains out and cant control the coughing. The doc decides the best course of action is to inject me and put me to sleep for a while then maybe as I rest I will heal? Well some stronger tablets would have been good but all the poking and prodding just cost me another £170 and Im sent on my way. I make it as far as my bed but there is no way I can sleep so I just lie there going a bit more stir crazy.

The ship is taking a right old battering and the waves are hammering us. Things are crashing and rolling all over the place. Nothing in the cabin will stay put so its best to just let it all roll around.

It was Portunus lunch today – bet that was interesting in the Alexandria restaurant? Andy had invited us all up to the bridge and there was no way I was going to make that appointment but Lizy Mr C and the gang went along. I didn’t need to go anyway as I went on a nice calm day last cruise. Brian the deer hag been to some stag doo by the sounds of it. Apparently we are touching a force 12 so that must have been a fun visit.

Ive decided that I have had enough. I don’t know what was in that injection the doc gave me, it didn’t send me to sleep but it did chill me out a bit and im feeling brave enough for a shower. About 3 hours later and with a lot of help from Liz and Mr C I have a dress on, and some lipstick and I can walk with support from Mr C from the cabin to dinner.

How the hell I was standing I don’t know because the ship was all over the place. I had just made it as far as the door and then … ‘Assesment party Assesment party to F202’ oh that’s just down from us. Within seconds officers were flying around the corner from the stair well and legging it to the cabin just along from us. Andy was very calm and collected as he passed and even managed a controlled ‘good evening’ we got to the dinner table and only Lizy was in attendance from the 10 of us. I had just toojk my seat when the Captain came over the tannoy ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, there has been an incident! A wave has hit us with force and a window on F deck has been broken…..’ you could hear pin drop even on the thick carpet. He explained what they intended to do and advised that we all needed to be seated as the ship was about to be turned and we may lurch….’ I have to say that Captain Brown sounded quite nervous and dint sound too confident, but it was later explained to me that he had to take the stairs as quickly as he could from the incident on deck 5 back t o the bridge as they are forbidden from using the lifts in an emergency (personally I would have cheated but flair play to him) And so we sat at our big lonely table wondering what if and waiting for the big lurch. Thankfully it went the other way for us and it was actually much calmer and quieter when we did make the turn. Mr C went back to the cabin shortly after to get me some tablets and he said that large pieces of wood were being carried towards the ‘incident’ cabin. Dinner was a very sombre affair with a lot of worried faces around. I had made a big effort to get to dinner tonight and in a way I was glad because I really didn’t want to be in my cabin alone and scared.

I was so looking forward to a bowl of clear consommé soup tonight as persribed by the nurse, but no consome was on the menu, I couldn’t believe it! There was a cold prawn and something and a thick creamy soup. I asked Madhu if there was any chance of something light and before I knew it the head waiter was fussing around. He explained that all of the consome had been lost earlier when the big wave hi, but he would see what he could do. 20 minutes later a bowl of piping hot consome was infront of me. Im sure all those chefs had far better things to do than rustle me up a bowl of clear soup but Im really grateful to them for their efforts. Lizy and Mr C decided to lighten the mood at our big empty table for 10 by plotting a suitable course to the engine room, and working out the best route through the hull just like in Poseidon Adventure! Bless em, I don’t know which one of them was going to carry me when I was unconscious!

The atmosphere in the restaurant was too intense to we hobbled up to Andersons and took a big sofa by the fireplace. The family, whose cabin had been affected, were in Andersons with  a couple of officers being offered alternative accommodation. The couple involved had been out at the time and the two young families were in cabins either side, they were all found suitable other cabins for the rest of the cruise and their belongings moved. I understand that damage to their personal items was minimal, and im sure that P&O were very appreciative of them being so understanding in horrendous circumstances. The Captain was soon back on the tannoy advising us again to go and find a seat somewhere as he was about to turn us and put us back on course. Here we go again, up and down, roll over the side, bang bang clatter as things started to fall around us again. Even the shop has been shut all day because of falling items and Ive never seen that before. Geoff pulled down the shutters behind the bar to stop any more bottles falling.

The Captain is back on again adviseing us that all F deck cabins on the port side will now have a steel shutter fitter to the window as a form of protection. OMG that’s us.

By the time we got back to the cabin we had our steel shutter. It was like a big metal plate over the window and it quite freaked me out. I didn’t like it at all. Mr C tried to comfort me by telling me that it would just help catch the glass etc and lessen the impact but no I didn’t like it. We had been left a letter on the bed apologising for the inconvenience and they also left us 4 ear plugs as they expected the metal shutter to bend and cause us noise disturbance during the night. I don’t like this shutter thingy and think I would prefer to know when a wave has got me. Perhaps if I close the curtains it will make like it was never there.

Friday 4th January 2008 – Lisbon or not?

Yes, this morning we should be in Lisbon, but the Captain already warned us after last nights ‘incident’ that we wouldnt be dockng until around 1030am. By 10 its obvious that Lisbon is nowhere in sight and he decides to inform us that we cant pick up the pilot until lunch time and expect to arrive around 2.30, but we can have an extra hour in port until 6.00pm. Not ideal but at least we can fit in chicken and chips and a bit of shopping. But, our re planning of the afternoon didn’t last long because he was soon back on the tannoy to tell us that we couldn’t make it to Lisbon afterall. Something to do with the ‘bar’ in the river Tagus not being deep enough for us  to get over this time around due to inclement whether. The news is not well received. We all have our different reasons for being cheesed off, but I think more than anything everyone just wanted to feel stable on some dry land for an hour or so. Im so poorly that im just sick of not being able to stand or walk un aided. But hey ho, we are now ploughing onto Southampton and yep, its rough, very rough.

Its like being incarcerated in a tomb in our cabin with this steel shutter on and its starting to freak me out. It doesn’t make it like an inside cabin, its most definitely an outside cabin with a coffin lid on.

I have to get up, I have work to do for one thing, but most of all I need to get up for my own sanity. Only someone who was equally as poorly as me would understand what an effort it is to get up and dressed and walk the length of the ship to meet the others in Champions, and then to sit in a window and watch the enormous swell and huge waves spray across the prom deck takes some doing.

There is an up side to my poorliness. Ive lost weight, quite a bit judging by my trousers and I seem to have been put off alcohol for life. I tried a cocktail of the day but it just scraped my throat so it had to stay on the table and I was on lemonade for the rest of the day.

As I start to feel slightly normal again I decide to go and do a little work in the library. Oh dear I never banked on how difficult it was to concentrate when feeling under the weather, plus the sea is throwing me all over the place and there is a bunch of very noisy kids playing just behind me who needed muting. I did what had to be done and thankfully mr C turned up in time to send my emails and close my laptop down for me. Gosh I was ill by the time I got back to Champions and had to lie down, but I came around after time. They had been playing cards in my abscense so I hadn’t missed anything.

We decided to do afternoon tea and I managed half a toasted teacake and half a crumpet. Didn’t want to over do it. The service wasn’t as good as we had experienced in the past so lizy was a little disappointed, but it did what it said on the tin and fed and watered us.

Now what happened next, im not so sure im supposed to tell you about? We were invited to be initiated into the boys ‘Fish Finger Club’ Sunil at Crystal bar seemed to be expecting us and even bought as chair up to the bar for me as could see I want well enough to perch on a bar stool. I cant really tell you much about the initiation as one day you may be invited in, so I will have to leave it there.

Time is ticking on and as much as I need a sleep and lie down I decide I have to get ready and go out this evening. I confess that I have been too weak to stand in the shower unaided the last couple of days, but today im feeling brave and Mr C is having a lie down so I got in the shower unaided. Oh dear big mistake. I was very wobbly and un easy on my feet. Im trying to wash my hair one handed while holding onto the shower rail but i felt a bit queasy and I closed my eyes ‘whoosh’, one of those huge big waves from outside the window was hurtling towards me. Oh panic, I opened my eyes again quickly and shut them again and this time there is a 10ft wine waiter poised above my head!!!  Medication? Drugs?? Goodness knows what I have been taking lately but I do know those huge scarey waves had such and effect on me. My ‘experience’ took its toll on me and I needed to lie down. Getting ready for dinner then became an effort and I ended up being a little late. I still cant walk without Mr C holding me up and a wheelchair would have been a great bonus this holiday.

Nearly back to a full table at dinner. Only Morag and Jeanie missing tonight. Andy is in attendance tonight so of course we have to blame him for missing our chicken and chips in Lisbon today. Good job he has a good sense of humor. Apparently he has heard about our antics on new years eve with the blowers and party poppers lol, oh we had some fun. Madhu is most concerned because I wont have any thing other that tomato soup this evening, but even that is a struggle. The flavours of different foods after you have been poorly is so intense. I tried to make Madhu happy and have a couple of cream crackers instead of a desert but they just clung to my throat and nearly choked me to death, so that wasn’t good. I refused wine again and stuck with my little can of lemonade – gosh whats wrong with me?

Mick was suffering again so Amanda and Mick went to bed and we all went to Andersons for drinks. I dont think there was a lot happening around the ship as Andersons was very busy. Well, Tom O conner obviously didn’t get on today for his show tonight, Caravan was on in Café B and the Tower of London speaker was on in the theatre, so there really wasn’t much choice. Anyway we enjoyed our chat. Andy still hasn’t investigated his bed valance situation for me and may be he will get around to it before he gets off on Monday. We try to explain how we all know each other as he thinks we are not a bunch of people he would normally match together (he actually used a big word to describe it but I don’t know what it was)

Time was ticking on, it was just past midnight and Malc needed to slip into bed like a ghost. I needed some air after the smoke created by those horrid smokers in Andersons so me and Mr C chose t walk forward to midship on the outside prom deck. Well it was cold and windy and I nearly got my head taken off by a large oil painting when we came back inside and the wind caught it, it literally just skimmed past my head!

All is calm and peaceful in the cabin. No steel shutters, no need for ear plugs, no huge waves battering us. Line up the medication. Hang out the wet cloths for easy breathing, and sleep.

Saturday 5th January 2008

Wow! I didn’t wake up this morning until it was daylight….which means I have been asleep for the first time in about a week! Its a remarkably calm morning or at least it felt it, but then I looked out of the window and saw those rolling waves.

We had a nice lazy morning just sitting about in Champions listening to the band and chattering.

Decided to go for lunch in Medina as it was our favourite jacket potato and beans (easily pleased after an illness) oh it was delicious.

Now as we are all such brave sailors now, and the sea was rather dramatic we decided to go to Crows Nest for drinks, which was errrr interesting! Lizy stared out of the window for so long that she saw a whale, which was later confirmed by the Navigator so she did see it.

Its hard to get an afternoon sleep on here as anytime between 5 and 6 the man knocks the door with the canapés, spring rolls had come back around tonight.

Portunus party in carmens this evening and somehow I managed to get ready. Tamarin had exactly the same speech and Captain Brown just rattled on about Ventura and the 2010 build, so nothng new there. I managed one sip out of the new cocktail which was disgusting and that’s the only drink I had. Zoran came and found me and its always nice to see him. Lizy walked in and Zoran nearly got a slap when I spotted him drooling out the corner of my eye.

Madhu is getting very concerned because he is convinced that I just don’t eat. I opted again for bread roll and consommé this evening and he just cant seem to comprehend that I have been very poorly bless him. It was Martyns turn to join us for dinner this evening and I must say that its very nice having two officers hosting a table instead of just the one.

Parade of the chefs seemed like a bit of a damp squib and it was over before they had got down the stairs almost, but I guess they have better things to do than prance around to music for our entertainment.

Entertainment this evening was dire and Carmens had been taken over by the after dinner speaker rattling on about some rubbish or other. So we ended up back in Andersons and Crows.

Sunday 6th January 2008

WOW! I did it again – ive been asleep and woke up again. That may not sound like a miracle to you but after being ill for days and sendng myself stir crazy through the nights because all I wanted to do was sleep, having a proper nights sleep is something I never thought would happen again. And, miracle of miracles the sea is calm and flat again. I have no idea where or when the bay of Biscay was but it must have been calm lol. I decide to get out of bed and do a case full of packing, then we go in search of life onboard. Didn’t take long to find Mick and Amanda and we headed off to Champions for a glass of lemonade. We also managed the music quiz and didn’t do too badly.

The captain made an announcement to say that he was taking us into Southampton early as the sea conditions weren’t brilliant for this evening.we are only sitting off the UK anyway and I think he would have took us in earlier but both the Oriana, QE2 and QV have all gone in late today after suffering pretty much the same as us for the last few days. Sounds like its been ‘fun’ for all of us and im told we have made the news. Oh I cant wait to read all about our trip when we get home and see how wrong they have got it all.

We all went up to sidewalk for lunch and I had fish and chips for the first time this cruise. Ok, I cant count on one hand what I have actually eaten for the entire cruise as my appetite hasn’t been great, but the New Year diet has had a great kick start. And im almost T total lol.

I went back and tackled a little bit more packing. We had agreed to meet on deck 13 for a quoits tournament so off I treck, and yes, this is the first time this cruise that I have been near the sun deck. It was far from sunny, more like blowing a freezing gale as I trecked the length of the ship, but when I got there the others had abandoned play. Not hard to guess where they would be so down I trecked to Champions, and there they all were at the bar.

The ship was quite a hive of activity. The kids had put on a panto in Masquarades and the bit I saw was very funny. Neil was conducting a Salsa class. Jackpot snowball Bingo was rammed as you might imagine.

As I go about the ship today I seem to get stopped by so many crew who seemed genuinely pleased to see me up and well again. I hadn’t realised that so many people knew I was ill but it seems my presence was missed. It also seems that im in a bit of a minority because im not moaning about being poorly. Gosh, I did more than my fair share about being poorly at the time and now I just want to get on with enjoying what bit of a holiday I have left. Its nobodys fault that I got poorly and I wasn’t the only one so why dwell on it?

Almost a full table at dinner tonight, both Jeannie and Morag were back but we lost the officer. Im still on my lemonade and soup diet and watching everyone else treck through the various courses took a long time. We’re not far off Southampton now and ships and ferries are passing us quite close.

After dinner we head up to Crows for a last drink (or can of lemonade in my case!) and Oriana passes along our port side very close so we all go outside to wave her off on her World Voyage.

Back in the cabin I keep popping my head up from the pillow to check our progress up Southampton water and eventually we turn and dock.

Monday 7th January 2008

Im awake bright and breezy and I throw the last few bits into the holdall. We have given up with breakfast on the last day so we gathered our stuff together and headed for the Atrium. Yes I know you are not supposed to wait there but half the ship seemed to be so what the hell. As soon as the ganway was opened we were off, down the escalator, collected the suitcases, across the car park and on the road by 9.00am

All in all it wasn’t quite the cruise we expected. We have been so very lucky in the past with the weather at this time of year so I can hardly complain. The sea can be a scary cruel place and Im sure that if I wasn’t ill I would have coped a lot better with the situation. Lizy wasn’t affected by the sea or any virus that was floating around. She had a fab old time considering she had a poorly Mum to deal with.

Im sure this cruise will be talked about for many moons to come and many passengers will dine out on their personal stories and recollections. Many will believe that they could have done it better, steered around the storm, done it slower, faster and so on. I cant find it in my heart to blame anyone for what we encountered during this cruise, I just have to put it down to experience and lets hope lightneing doesn’t strike in the same place twice!

A couple of other little snippets –

The cabin refurbishments. The ship had undergone a mini refit in December and we had been on the cruise either side of the refit. I was a little disappointed last time to find our cabin soft furnishings a bit of a mis match and this cruise was no exception. We had a brown valance with green and brown bed runner. Peach and pink curtains and then the room divider curtains were the same old pastel ones. The sofa was peach but in desperate need of a clean and the dressing table chair was green. Maybe I just spent too much time in the cabin this time around but it really rattled me that nothing matched. However, as the ship docked in Southampton on Monday morning they were bringing on all of the new curtains and extra soft furnishings so it seems they were just missing for a while. Im sure they must look a lot better co ordinated now. The bed had a great comfy mattress but I do feel a bit insulted that they choose to cover both the mattress and the duvet with a waterproof covering. This makes the bed very warm and sweaty and not very pleasant when I was laid in it for days on end. Also the bottom sheet wouldn’t stay put and kept sliding off everytime we turned over. Maybe they will see the error of their ways in time. A standard cabin has always served me perfectly well, but being ill in one is no fun at all. There is no floor space, nowhere to go, the sofa is neither use nor ornament and I would have killed at times for a breath of fresh air from a balcony.

Some of the soft furnishings in public rooms still looked as if they could do with some refurb, but I am being picky and was looking for flaws. And to be fair I saw new Andersons and Raffles chairs taken onboard in Southampton, so maybe they were being done as a rolling project.

The Spa didn’t look as if it had had much of a refurb and I know that some of the planned work couldn’t be carried out. I never made it to the gym but im told they had some new state of the art equipment in there.

Andersons was going to be completely non smoking from the start of the world cruise. On a personal note that pleased me because I think the smoking area in there was far too big and as its one of my favourite bars I was affected by the smell of smoke in there. On the other hand, Geoff the regular barman was not a happy chappy about it and I can see his point. A lot of regulars use his bar and also enjoy a smoke. Those regulars wont now use his bar and his takings will be affected.

The ship was reregistered in Hamilton, but weddings wont be performed onboard until after the World cruise.

Caravan disembarked for the Worldie and Inspiration took their place. Entertainment was a bit dire really. In my opinion, the theatre troop that got on at the Satrt of our Caribbean cruise in November hadn’t improved any. Lizy went along to the panto but she said it was too embarrassing and amateur to watch. Of course Tom O’Connor was left stranded at Lisbon somewhere so we never saw him again. The after dinner speaker and lecturer prattling on about the war, Cyprus and the tower of London do nothing for me but I dare say some enjoyed them. The other entertainers have already sunk into oblivion for me and I couldn’t tell you who they were without going and looking out the entertainment guide, but as I always say – I don’t go on a cruise for the entertainment as I can usually manage to have a good time.

The staff and crew onboard were as wonderful as ever. We had two great table waiters and we never experienced any problems with service onboard. We had an excellent table for 10 which I knew had caused a bit of a challenge but Im very grateful to the restaurant manager for sorting that out. Our night in Café B Captains lounge will stand out for me as one of the highlights. Again superb service and the restaurant managers surprise Wedding Anniversary cake really touched me. Oscar leading the choir that night – unforgettable! Our cabin steward did what he had to do but that was about it. He didn’t make any effort to have a chat or go the extra mile. We bumped into Angelo the great towel animal making expert from our cabin up on deck 8, he was a super star and one of those top cabin guys that you find every now and then. Im sure Andy is looking out for this report so I have to give him a mention, Ive already forgotten everything that we ever spoke about, and hope you are now soaking up the rays on Arcadia.

Please feel Free to leave a comment below and you can view the rest of my pictures here in the Aurora New year 07/08 slide show and the fireworks we’re so impressive this year I felt they deserved a slide show of their own

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