Well after what seemed like weeks of packing, rushing round to sort Christmas out, a bit of work and a fair amount of poorliness (thanks to a poorly tooth) and even a work related event, I spent a very chilled out pre cruise day practically twiddling my thumbs due to lack of pre cruise related things to do. I’m not so sure I like being organised! I feel like I have missed out on a bit of pre cruise stress.
We decided to drive down to Southampton on the morning of departure, which was scary. What if we got stuck in traffic, and missed the ship. We need not have worried because we arrived at Ocean Terminal at about the same time we would have left a Southampton overnight hotel. I admit I did have a journey filled with anxiety. I had gone through the usual “what have I forgotten” routine in my head, and before we reached the other side of town at home I became convinced that my little wheelie case of hand luggage hadn’t been put in the car. It didn’t matter how many times Mr C advised me that he had, or that I asked him to take it to the car etc, I just couldn’t recall any of it. What if it wasn’t there? It would mean no hair straightners, no jewellery, no camera, no perfume. Could a girl survive without such things? I couldn’t wait to get out of the car at the cruise terminal and open the boot of the car. Phew, relief the case was in fact in the car, just as Mr C said it was. How could I have doubted him?
There was absolutely no queue of cars waiting to check in with CPS Parking, non of the usual ‘wait in the short stay car park’ chaos. Lady checked the car in, porter took the cases away, and we were gliding up the escalator in no time at all. Then, there she was, clipboard woman! “Good morning, are you checking in” (no we have just come along for a giggle)”Are you a Priority Passenger” Yes. “oh Caribbean?” No! Well that floored her. Baltic actually, should have been my response, but someone needs to really give her a training session in black and white questions and the art of making a guest feel valued and welcomed. ‘Oh take a seat and fill this health declaration form in’ was as good as it got.
Ironically, as I type I have just opened an email from the Penninsular Club, marked as ‘Important Penninsular Information’ it details the proud announcement of their new ‘Pride and Joy’ programme and outlines the new swifter, streamline embarkation process. I say ironic because our experience was not one of the best. Yes we have the new style E-tix and the new style luggage tags, which only do their job correctly if you print in colour. I can’t help thinking it took a whole team of people to come up with these new design of luggage tag etc, which surely must baffle the baggage handlers onboard the ship with various codes, colours, stripes and letters etc. Ocean Terminal has had a bit of a change around too. The seating area and checkin desks are all as before, but the waiting area at the far end has completely gone and is now a larger security and baggage scanning area. What amused me though was the fact that they had about 10 scanners but only two of them were actually manned! So, back to the check in experience, with its all new bells and whistles that P&O have proudly emailed to tell me about. We arrived just after 11.00am and there were already a fair few passengers sat waiting to check in. Officially checkin opens at noon, but I know from experience that it often opens before, usually at around 11.30. So we sat and we waited. Mr C needed to use the facilities but I refused to let him out of site convinced that checkin would start any moment. Eventually we got an announcement advising that on behalf of P&O Cruises they would like to apologise for the delay, but due to “technical issues” they were unable to start checkin procedures. 20 mins later, the same announcement, and 20 mins after that, and so on. All I can say is its a good job that it wasn’t Azura or Ventura in port today because by now the terminal was full and not much seating remained. Coaches hadn’t even arrived yet. Obviously a call was put out to Carnival House because the cavalry arrived in the shape of what looked like most of head offices IT team. What was even more amusing was only one guy appeared to do anything, while the others stood back scratching their heads with some of the ground team and ships staff. Eventually, someone makes an executive decision, to venture back to the good old days of pre computers and commence a manual check in. Why do I think this isn’t going to go well? All we basically had to do was handover our passports, for them to keep and they gave us our cruise cards. We must have been among the first ten passengers through the security scanners and it was already in chaos, not aided much my some of the less bright passengers who have put away their cruise cards and don’t know where to look for them when asked for them. Give me strength. So, a massive security scanning area, lots of ground staff and only two scanners in operation. I took up 3 trays with coat, boots, laptop, ipad, phone and handbag, and Mr C used two with his camera and laptop etc. The two passengers infront of me were not that steady on their feet and were being asked to remove shoes, so I then had to lift each individual tray around them. And yes once through the scanner I had to jiggle among those faffing at the other side. Is the bar open yet!
Through the zigzag chicane of the airbridge and onto the open deck of Adonia. Enter the next phase of P&O Cruises brilliantly thought out plan of the “Pride and Joy” programme. Stand at the top of the gangway, in the rain and howling wind to get your security photograph taken. Half the passengers hadn’t got a clue what was going on or why they were being asked to stand on the two big yellow footprints. Next you have to try and dodge the ships photographer who is stood again, on the open deck, in the howling wind trying to capture that amazing smile of your Welcome onboard picture. I agreed to a photo out of sheer pity for her having to endure such conditions. My windswept hair and coat billowing like a sail in the wind, made a change from the ‘grumpy, I’ve travelled too far to get here’ photo. But at £11.80 I wont be making a purchase. At last a nice ‘Welcome onboard Madam’ we were directed to the Curzon Lounge for drinks and a bite to eat. The fizz was very free flowing and your could pretty much have what you wanted from the bar without too much grief. They had some rather nice mulled wine which put a nice warm glow on things. Cabins were ready at about 1.30 but not many people moved from the Priority drinks lounge in light of the fact that we hadn’t been onboard very long. At 2.30 we decided we really should make a move, especially as muster drills was at 3.30.
We arrived at the cabin to find one case already there. Melvin the cabin steward was in like a rabbit out of a trap to give us his spiel. I wouldn’t mind but he started off by asking if we had been with P&O Cruises before, and been on Adonia, and still he proceeded to show us the safe, the lifejackets, map on back of door, fridge etc etc. Then he wanted to know what time we were going for dinner, showed us the door tab and instructed us in how to advise when we needed the cabin making up etc. Yes, thanks you Melvin! Bless. The suitcase was mine, phew I have dresses and shoes. Mr C made out he was going to help, but he was such a hindrance that a growl from me put him in the corner. All of my dresses were still on hangers so they were soon hanging in the wardrobe. Not a lot of space for my shoes though. Ooh I do like to be able to pair up all my shoes and see what’s what. Looks like I will have to make do with a pile in the bottom of the cupboard. Oh my days, the bathroom is tiny. Its like a wash capsule! I think my suite bathrooms have spoilt me in recent times. I think its fair to say that you could do pretty much everything that you need to from the one spot in there. Putting toiletries away was a bit of a challenge, and you have to be very organised.
Time to get out for a bit of a wander and show Mr C what Adonia has to offer. That didn’t pass a lot of time away. Adonia does have plently to offer, she is a fabulous little ship, but little is the key word and it’s all very self contained so not the lengthiest of ships tours. Just as well really because it’s time for Muster.
After Muster we went to Salaway party in the Crows Nest which turned out to be a very festive event. The Ents team, all four of them, were dressed in their finest Christmas jumpers and hats and the Christmas tunes were belting out across the room. Captain Box felt the need to give us a very lengthy explanation of the sea conditions and errrm its ‘going to be rough’ about sums it up. He made it very clear that anything that is capable of falling will fall, so put everything away and don’t leave any half drunk drinks around. I can do that! Outside decks are about to be closed due to strong winds and we can expect considerable movement from the ship so to take extra care when moving around. He also advised that sea sickness tablets were available from Reception and he strongly advised obtaining some and administering them. All I can say is he was right. We didn’t seem to move very far past Fawley and already we were rocking and rolling all over the place. By the time we got back to the cabin, having a shower was interesting to say the least.
Ooh I got terribly excited at 6.30 when the ‘bing bong’ went and dinner was announced!! I thought they stopped doing that years ago? Maybe I have just been going on the wrong ships in the fleet.
We were out early for pre dinner drinks and I expected to find Andersons pretty deserted given the weather conditions and the fact that half the ship would be in dinner, but no it was rammed and we struggled to get a seat. We got two comfy chairs right at the far end, on the edge of the room so we must try harder next time. Dinner was announced at 8.15pm, I want expecting that at all. Usually late meal sitting is 8.30pm and often 8.45pm on the first evening. Scary times, we had been allocated a table for 6 and I have to confess we only usually take a large table when we are travelling with friends, so would usually ask for a table of two, but on this occasion we have no choice offered, and I’m at least grateful we have late sitting. We needn’t have worried,our fellow diners are lovely, and it was a very pleasant experience.
I have to say the plated meals were not an issue at all, and I do wish people would stop moaning about the loss of so called ‘silver service’ it never was silver service in recent times and those that think it was were deluded. My meal this evening was perfect. 11 out of 10 infact. The melon was beautifully presented. The Minestrone soup was hot and very tasty, the roast pork was again hot, presented exceptionally well and complimented by the correct vegetables and more than enough of them. And my pavalova desert was just divine. The wine service was faultless, but we did have the lovely Hilary, Head Wine steward giving us very attentive service. Our table waiters are a hoot! Mr C thinks one of them has a book of British slang and sayings that he refers to before every service. He came out with some classics tonight and I can’t wait to see what else he has in his repertoire. One thing I would say is that service is very slick and quick, perhaps a little too quick for my liking. I felt that as one course was finished the plate was whipped out from under me and before I could even blink another was there waiting to be eaten. See how it goes but I might have to slow him down a little. We were out of dinner before 10.00pm and the show didn’t start until 10.30. We put our heads in but I don’t like the way the chairs were laid out, theatre style, so we retreated to the bar in Andersons. Top marks for Chrissy behind the bar, she can mix a mean Cosmopolitan and with style too. I felt I had actually been ‘served’ a drink too, unlike past experiences of the P&O bars. My entertainment for the evening was earwigging on fellow passengers at the bar. It does make me wonder why some bother to book and spend their money at times. One in particular was holding court and he was swaying loud and clear about how he dictates to his travel agent, and how he won’t book until the price is right and what he says it should be all along. First thing he does once he is onboard is remove his gratuities because nobody tells him how much to pay etc . And then there were the stories of how many ships bridges he had been to, how many captains he knows, oh and the things he could tell you about a certain other ship, which is falling apart and is a disaster at sea waiting to happen is nobodys business. It was all very amusing to listen to.
Andersons was very quiet and at one point there were more bar staff and stewards than passengers. But we sat in anticipation of the show kicking out and the place livening up a bit. Eventually half a dozen people trickled through, and we thought they had just escaped the show early to avoid the rush, but when Mr C later went to investigate he found the lounge completely empty, wiped down and closed. I think the ships movement had finished everyone off.
And so to bed, for us too. I didn’t feel I needed one of these special Avomine tablets as prescribed by the Captain, but decided it might be agood idea. However, would it mix well with several glasses of fizz, mulled wine, G&T, white wine, Cosmo and southern comfort & coke? I tried reading the small print, but that in itself was a challenge given the circumstances, so I swallowed one any way and put my head on the pillow.
Oh the pillow!! Don’t get me started on the pillow. As a travel agent I like to think myself efficient in requesting my clients special requests with P&O housekeeping etc, I always request feather pillows for myself and to date I have never embarked a ship to find them in my cabin as requested. I so wish I had checked earlier in the day so I could have spoken to Melvin about it, but it was too late. My head hit the hardest plastic covered pillows at sea and I was not a happy bunny. Too late to do anything about it now, but why do P&O have a request section on the booking system, only to ignore it and then use the get out clause of “its only a request” at a later stage!
Friday 12th December 2014 – at sea
Oh what a night! my avomine put me into a nice chilled out state. I don’t sleep well full stop, but I would say I slept well and woke with most of the worst bits of the ships movement. Each time I was expecting everything to tip and fall as advised by the Captain, but although we found some pretty big holes in the sea it never really happened. That is until 7.45pm when we lurched, and tipped, then tipped a bit more and then bang, wallop everything that wasn’t battened down just crashed to the floor. It was a good one, very impressive. Were we upright? Nothing landed on me and I was still laid in bed so I guess. It was still pitch black outside because the clocks had gone forward, so not a lot to see, although I did hear a few Wows from Mr C when he pressed his nose up against the balcony doors. We decided we should get up and get some breakfast, with a view to returning to bed soon after.
Oh the bathroom looked like a typhoon had swept through it. Should I pick it all up, or would it just all fall again. I was already being attacked by a swinging shower curtain so decided to get out of there.
Breakfast in the main dining room, and a nice table for two by the window. Just what I needed to see an very angry looking grey north sea. Capatin Box came on at 5 to 9 to give us a weather update and it would seem we have this pretty much most of the way to Copenhagen. All good fun. He advised that the sudden movement early this morning was when he turned the corner to enter the North Sea, well I suggest he takes it a little less sharp next time! After breakfast we had a bit of a wander round, checked out all the bars and venues and ended up in Raffles for a latte. That in itself got a bit confrontational. We ordered two lattes but when the waiter went to swipe Mr C’s card the waiter advised that it was ‘access denied’ so I explained about the check in issues shoreside yesterday, which if he had been paying attention at briefing surely he must have been aware of? Anyway, access was denied and it looked like that meant we weren’t going to get our coffee, so I explained again and explained that we had been able to purchase drinks etc all day yesterday without issue, and that we really weren’t going anywhere this morning so couldn’t disembark without paying the bill. In the end he reluctantly advised we could have a coffee. By now I was thinking I really didn’t want his coffee. Inside I was pretty annoyed. When we returned to the cabin I got the credit card and went down to reception to say I wanted to register the credit card to avoid future embarrassment in the public bars. I’m met by yet another blank face, puzzled by the fact that we embarked without having already registered a card against our onboard account. I decided to just shut up and let her swipe the card. I might only have ranted if I had started. What was it ‘Pride and Joy’ programme? So, you would think that the saga ends there, but no. By the time I got back to the cabin there was a letter addressed to us both. I have to say that I wasn’t over impressed with the wording of this letter. It was something along the lines of it had come to their attention that we had either declined to register a debit or credit card for payment at check in, or our card provider had declined authorisation, maybe due to lack of funds, so we were invited to go and offer an alternative card or deposit some cash. Until we did this we would be denied credit onboard and therefore could not make any purchases. I appreciate that this was probably just a standard letter run off the computer, but surely the letter should have started with something along the lines of ‘We apologise for the inconvenience caused at checkin and embarkation yesterday, and could we please go and register a card at reception at our convenience’ just feels like an insult especially after the announcement of the ‘Pride and Joy’ scheme
We decided to have lunch in the Lido on deck 9. I really wanted a nice freshly made sandwich, so I made sure I had a good look around the buffet area before making my choice. I reluctantly ended up with a Cornish pasty and fries, which was hot and delicious, but I was a little cross with myself to later spot that there was actually a sandwich man in a little booth making freshly cut sandwiches to order. Oh well there is always tomorrow.
After lunch I decided I needed my bed, ah bliss. Its hard work staying upright at the moment. My sleep was briefly interrupted when the laundry was returned, but I went straight back to sleep, and then struggled to wake up in time to get showered and ready for pre dinner drinks.
Pre dinner drinks were once again taken in Andersons, and once again it was mega busy, but we sat and chatted with a nice couple. Many of the bar waiters are new to sea and struggle to understand the drinks asked for. I fancied a glass of Pellar, and I knew that it was available by the bottle, but it was hard work trying to ask if it was available by the glass. I reluctantly decided on a glass of prosseco, followed by a Kir Royale. And so to dinner. Oh dear, have we offended our table companions. The table for 6 is now a table for 2, but to be fair the restaurant did have a lot of empty seats. Some people clearly haven’t found their sea legs. Our table waiter was on full form this evening, but I think he has met his match with Mr C who has been catching him off guard with little quips such as ‘this pepper pot is as much use as a chocolate tea pot. Oh the banter is in full flow. Meal again was superb. I had the always available melon and tomato soup, followed by roast beef, and peppered pineapple and rum and raisin ice cream for desert. Wine service could not have been more attentive from Hilary. He selected my Sauvignon Blanc and recommended the most amazing desert wine called Santorini. If you haven’t sampled it yet, give it a go.
After dinner we headed for Andersons which was pretty dead. I had a nice salt rim margarita at the bar, but we were in need of a bit of livening up. I went through to the Curzon lounge, but it was just a girl singer. I think I am really put off by the stupid theatre style seating arrangement of the seats. If they put it back to table and chairs it would have a more relaxed and intimate feel. We decided to go up to Crows Nest and caught the tale end of a music quiz. Then there was dancing with a duo who kept it quite upbeat and provided many singalong moments for those of us that prefer to sit at the bar and have a party of our own. I would like to dance, but Mr C doesn’t do public dancing. It would have been hard work anyway just trying to stay on your feet. Standing up is still a challenge as we continue to roll around the North sea on Adonia. I have to admire the couple who did choose to dance for the entire set. They weren’t the youngest of couples, but they were so elegant, both in dress and style.
It was hard work getting back to the cabin, the shoes had to come off if I was to try and stay upright, and I would like to add that it was it was due to the movement of the ship and nothing to do with helping the bar out with their stock levels.
Saturday 13th December 2014 – at sea
Well that was another fun filled night of rock and roll. I feel as if Adonia has been tossed around like a toy duck in a two year olds bath tub. Bang, crash, up down, left right. Things sliding all over the place again, despite most of it already being on the floor. I just wanted to go to sleep. I needed to go to sleep but the laws of gravity were preventing it from happening. I was shattered by the time the Captain came on to give us the 5 to 9 update. Conclusion is it’s still rather choppy out there. Mr C’s belly thinks his throat has been cut and I am being blamed for missing the restaurant breakfast. I managed to summon enough energy to get up and head to the Lido for breakfast. I was a good girl and had tea and toast. I need to leave room for the sandwich man in a couple of hours.
We then had a relaxing hour or two in Raffles with a nice Baileys coffee. Im on my holidays! Pam and Stuart from our dining table have just gone by. Oh dear poor Pam does not look well and she said they have both been very poorly. Poor lady looked like he was going to cry so I didn’t delay them.
Lunch was taken in the comfort of the Pacific Restaurant. I had a nice chilli with rice which was rather chilli hot, but very nice. And then it was time for my bed. I should really consider fitting in more sleep at night time, but as always places to go bars to visit, drinks to drink. Afternoon sleeps are great, but getting up and washed and showered can be painful and takes a considerable amount of effort and consideration. We were out just after 7.00pm and for once managed to get a pre dinner seat at the bar. The queue was forming for the Captains Welcome Aboard party in the Curzon so we waited for that to clear before joining the party. It was all very jolly, nice to see all of the officers mixing and mingling for once – something I haven’t experienced of late on Azura. It was indeed a very sociable party. We trotted into dinner a little late, fully expecting to see our dining companions for the first time in 3 nights. But no, it was once again a table for 6 with exclusive use of two. I think the one couple must still be poorly, but the other couple have moved tables – oops, was it something we said? Never mind, we enjoy the very attentive service from the two boys serving us and from Hilary the wine waiter. I had to have another glass of that Santorini desert wine again just to see if it was as good as the first time, and it was. Dinner once again was superb and no complaints from us. Santosh was on full form again. Oh we do have a laugh.
Time for chillout, and quiet drink in Andersons before taking a seat for the legendary Jimmy James in the Curzon Lounge. Mr C had never heard of him (yes really) but he recognised some of his songs. I had a fab time singing along to the sounds of the 80’s. We managed to get out towards the end of his encore and get upto Crows Nest. Where the karaoke party night was in full swing. And oh boy what a party it was. The atmosphere and energy that the ents team generated was brilliant. The bar staff were joining in and Joanne from behind the bar was the star of the show. What a voice, she needs to get on XFactor! Those that were in the Crows Nest had a fantastic evening, those that weren’t, well they just missed out. Who would have thought that Adonia was the place to be for a party at sea.
Sunday 14th December 2014 – Copenhagen
Ooh my head! The barstaff were exceptional last night and were mixing me all of my favourite martinis, but my head knows about it. Nothing a good brisk walk won’t sort out, I’m sure. And crikey was it a bracing, brisk, very long walk. It was a glorious, but very chilly morning. We could have taken the P&O shuttle into town, or the HoHo bus, but I wanted to walk, so we did. It’s an easy walk all the way to Nyham. Pass the little Mermaid and just keep going, pass the Palace and the guards and eventually you reach the waterfront at Nyham. All very pretty and worth the effort. I’m sure I must have blown some cobwebs out and walked off a few Martinis at the same time. Copenhagen ticked all my boxes this morning. We had done the Ice Bar and Tivoli Gardens on previous trips.
Back onboard I paid the sandwich man a visit and he made me a very nice tuna mayo and salad sandwich. It was really nice, but heck it was chilly up in the Lido today and I was chilled through to my bones. Only one thing for it, yes, its duvet time! I need to get my sleep in because I have to be up at 4.00pm to go and see the Tivoli Band playing on the quay side. Well, thats what we were told and that’s what me and one other couple did. Wrapped up, with lots of layers and braved the elements out on Prom Deck, because our balcony was on the wrong side. No sign of them, and then they announced that they would now be playing in the Atrium because it was too cold outside. So we all huddled around at the top and bottom of the atrium and were treated to what looked like toy soldiers playing Christmas tunes and carols. Fab, just fab!
Casual night tonight, but I don’t do casual very well, some do, lol. Pre Dinner drinks in Andersons and we managed to bag the last two bar stools. Some of the regulars had to stand. It’s a very popular bar, and maybe its because Crows Nest seems like a step to far away for the dining room location. So, I know you are all wondering, did any of our dining companions turn up this evening? Nope, cosy table for two again. I’m running out of things to talk to Mr C about now lol. The waiters kept us entertained and I had a bit of a wine lesson from Hilary. I had the always available prawn cocktail started tonight, wow, they have pimped that up a bit. No longer is it just a few prawns in sauce on a bit of limp lettuce. The table next to us all turned to have a look and check out the new super version. Bet they have it tomorrow night. I had lamb and Mr C had always available Sirloin steak. At first he wasn’t having a pudding, then he decided to have panacotta. But he doesn’t like panacotta so the waters were having non of it and insisted they fetch him something else. He had the always available bread and butter pudding.
We had a chillout drink in Andersons before heading to Curzon Lounge for the Chirstmas show. Oh, its beginning to look a lot like Christmas now. What a fab show again, full on Christmas songs and costumes. It was packed, and rightly so. We moved upto Crows Nest for the Pub Christmas Party. Oh it was hilarious. Who would have thought you could have so much fun on a P&O ship?! Basically the room was split into two halves and we had sing offs, charades, name that tune, pass the parcel etc. There we a lot of forfeits involved and Mr C landed one. But would he do it? Would he heck, rather than both look like party poopers (he really should go sit in the library at times) I said I would do it. The game was charades and I copped for Moby Dick! Why me? I decided to do second word – and pointed at Mr C. Nobody got that, so I moved onto word one and was handed a glass of water by the Ents team, and I proceeded to spirt water like a whale – as you do in the middle of the Crows Nest! Amen somebody guessed it. But then Graham questioned why I pointed at Mr C for word one? “Because he’s a D*ck for not taking part” was my response. The room fell about laughing, and found it hilarious, Mr C wishes he had just got up and done it himself now. It was just another fabulous, mad crazy night in Crows Nest and I take my hat off to the ents team for thinking outside the box and creating a great party atmosphere. It was another late one and after a few too many variations of martini cocktails, yet again, it was time for bed.
Monday 15th December 2014 – Kiel Canal
Mr C has ordered breakfast in bed this morning, and it delivered in P&O own lack of style which basically involves putting the tray down on the table and leaving. Oh I miss my Butler service. Yes, yes, I have been spoilt! Cold toast, raspberry instead of strawberry jam, cream for my cornflakes. No, it just wasn’t working for me. We were entering the Kiel Canal this morning and great excitement as we entered the lock. Electro Technical Engineer and Assistant Tours Manager were disembarked with push bikes this morning to bike the full 67 miles along the Kiel Canal, whilst keeping up with the ship. They aren’t doing it for fun, but for Help the Heroes charity. Its a bit bracing out there today so I don’t envy them. Not that I could even attempt 67 miles on a bike on a good day. We sit in the lock for about half an hour while they check the height etc with lasers to ensure we can pass under bridges, and then we are let out. There isn’t really a difference in water height its more to do with keeping the tide out. I was up and dressed and out on top deck as we passed under two bridges, more or less at the same time. There is something about a ship going under a bridge that excites me, I don’t know what. There is a Spinathon in Crows nest where you can sponsor time on an exercise bike, or pledge money to the boys ashore pedalling like mad. Every time we pass them on the paths along the canal the ship sounds its horn. People are coming out to wave to us, cars are stopping and flashing their lights, it all very exciting. We have taken root in Andersons, just chilling and watching the world go by. Loving it!!
It was Caribbean Peninsular lunch today, but we didn’t accept the invitation. Mr C was invited to Caribbean lunch and I could go as his guest. I was invited to the Baltic lunch and Mr c could come as my guest, naturally I accepted the Baltic invite for us both. However, Mr Peninsular Loyalty Manager sent us confirmation of attending both, so this morning I politely went and advised him we weren’t attending today’s lunch. He just didn’t get it. According to him the cards I sent back weren’t RSVPs but dietary requests forms. I think he needs to read his own paperwork. But in true Loyalty department fashion, he was right, I was wrong (according to him) and it was as black and white as that. After a further conversation with him about something else, I really don’t feel like attending his Baltic lunch but we shall see.
We decided to have lunch in Pacific Restaurant but demand was high today so we were asked to sit and wait. We were eventually allocated the very last table, which was a table for 10 in the back corner. The people who got there before us had left one seat at one end of the table and another seat at the opposite end, so it wasn’t ideal, or so we thought. But what a fab table it was. Far better than any Penninsula lunch could have been. We had a lovely lunch, the wine and conversation flowed and we were the very last to leave the restaurant. I’m even more glad that I didn’t go to Peninsular lunch now. We headed upto Crows Nest to see how the bikers were doing and have a little tipple at the bar, and then I heard the calling. Yes it was my bed for my afternoon snooze.
I woke just as we entered the lock at the end of the Kiel Canal, and got up to go onto the balcony and welcome the boys back onboard who had been biking for the whole day. Rather them than me. I believe that there was a welcome committee in the Atrium but I didn’t think they would appreciate an appearance from me in my Pj’s.
Pre dinner drinks in Andersons at the bar with Keith and James. We have worked out that we have to get there at around 7.00pm to get a bar stool. It’s a very popular bar. We were late going into dinner, but had we kept any dining companions waiting? No, I think it is official. The table was laid for 2, so we are now officially a table for 6 with exclusive use of the Chadwicks! Fingers crossed anyway. I went off menu tonight with the sirloin steak. Delicious. Nice cut of meat, tasty and cooked how I like it. I followed it with treacle tart and custard, and finished off the current bottle of wine. We were transiting the River Elbe all evening enroute to Hamburg for an unscheduled early docking overnight. Great excitement at thr end of dinner as we passed Aurora in her dry dock, so I hot footed it out of the restaurant, just in time to catch a glance of her aft and new blue funnel. She looks good. I wasn’t supposed to like it, but I do!
We decided to head straight for Crows Nest after dinner because it was 60’s & 70’s Night. So we bypassed our usual after dinner tipple in Andersons, stuck our head in Curzon Lounge to see how many were in for the Elvis show (it was busy) and went straight upto Crows Nest. Oh no! Passengers must have heard what a party we have up in Crows Nest every evening. It was packed, the dance floor was packed and the bar stools were taken. Shock horror. I managed to squeeze in next to Keith and James and Mr C stood for a while, until the seat next to me became available. The crew were all mega excited because we had docked at 11.00pm so some of them were itching to go ashore and meet up with the crew from Aurora. We had our usual fun, frolics and laughs whilst sat at the bar. Mr C went off to Lido to check out the Scooby snacks because he keeps missing them. He only went for a reckie for later so he has made his selection. But oh mass disappointment, when we left Crows Nest at 1.00am we entered Lido cafe and it was closed. No worries he decided to order room service. He got back to the cabin, found the incabin menu and rang room service. Nobody was answering! He rang reception and got a voicemail to say someone would be paged. He rang room service again for a further 5 mins and still no response. Then I read the menu again – 24 hrs room service “with the exception of Adonia which is not available 11.00pm to 7.00am” oh he was not a happy bunny!
Tuesday 16th December 2015 – Hamburg
I didn’t sleep too well again last night. I tried not drinking so many martini cocktails again, but it didn’t help, so I might as well drink them. I need the ship to rock n roll around to lull me off to sleep. Mr C had ordered himself some weetabix in his grumpiness last night, but nothing for me. After watching a film in bed we got up and went for a late breakfast in Lido. My lovely waiter fetched my tea for me, bless him. This must be the only P&O buffet restaurant that I like. It’s all very lad back, no push and shove. The Captain announced that Aurora was just pulling out of dry dock so we went up top to try and grab a photo of her before returning to the cabin to get ready to go ashore. Our cabin is opposite the terminal but as I went out on the balcony and looked forward I realised that Aurora had backed along the river and was coming alongside, so I grabbed my camera and phone and hot footed it up to top deck and all the way forward. It was freezing! Why didn’t I think to grab a coat, hat, a pair of boots? Sub zero temperatures, a biting wind and I’m out in my diamante flip flops! But oh it was worth it. Aurora looked fantastically fabulous! The atmosphere was electric. The crew were shouting and yelling to each other, there was cheering and screaming and lots of waving. And then the horn blasting started, and once it started it didn’t let up. I wish I had thought to film it all. Hamburg must have been totally fed up with us. I will be the first to admit that I hated the thought of P&O painting the hull and adding a blue funnel, but do you know what? It works. Its not as tacky as I expected, the union flag isn’t massive or emblazoned along the entire length of the ship. It is what it is, no amount of moaning will change P&O’s mind about it so just accept it. But oh the horn blowing, I was like a kid at Christmas. Loved it!!
We returned to the cabin frozen through to our bones. Its times like this I miss not having a bath in the cabin. I needed a soak to warm up. I layered on the socks, fur lined boots, cardis and scarf, big coat, fur hat and gloves and we went out to get the shuttle bus. But then we spotted Aurora just sitting up ahead of us, outside the brand new shopping centre, so we walked up to take a closer look at her bow. Yes, I’m a fan.
We walked back to the terminal to get the shuttle into town. Our cruise cards were scanned, so I expect to be charged for it later.
I do love Hamburg Christmas Markets, they really are the best in Europe in my opinion. It was all very festive. There is no escaping Christmas on this cruise. We stopped for Brackhurst or whatever they are called (hot dogs) and mulled wine. Ooh that warmed me up. I went in the Christmas shop and looked at all the most expensive Christmas decorations known to man. Didn’t buy anything in there. Instead I bought a hand blown glass snowman for the tree at home, from one of the stalls outside. We went to another market over by the river and stopped for another mulled wine, but this time with rum in it. Hic, I’m feeling warm and giddy now. We tried a little bit of normality and went into a big shopping centre and then a massive department store, but as nice as they were I wanted the Christmas markets so we headed to a couple more before climbing back on the shuttle bus absolutely shattered. I retreated to the cabin with a Costa coffee latte and Mr C has gone to Crows Nest to down load his photos, but I’m guessing that there will be a drink involved too.
Pre inner drinks this evening in Andersons, where else, and another new face to chat to at the bar. It turns out that he sits on the dinner table opposite us and has already clocked that we have killed off our dining companions. It seems we amuse all sorts of people lol. He was saying how lucky he has been with his table and how well they all get on and have a laugh. I’m just stuck with Mr C! We were extremely late leaving the restaurant this evening for some reason. I blame the after dinner lacquers.
Curzon Lounge entertainment was in the form of a male singer this evening. I’m sure he was as good as the Horizon was advising, but he didn’t sound my cup of tea, so it was straight to the Crows Nest. James and Keith were already there and we arrived just in time for a quiz. We didn’t officially partake, but we joined in and between us I’m confident that we did very well. We were all flagging this evening, bar staff included. So it was an early version of late when we left the bar and retreated to the cabin.
Wednesday 17th December 2014 – Transit River Elbe
Blimey is it Wednesday already?! I checked the Horizon and apparently it is. How time flies when you are having fun! So officially we are still in Hamburg this morning as we didn’t slip our lines until 0730 hrs this morning. Captain Box doesn’t do things quietly either because he bing bonged in the corridor to advise we were about to leave. Then he bing bonged to tell us Balmoral was in dry dock on the port side, then he bing bonged to tell us we were passing the AeroSpace factory with all the Airbus 380’s in (I think he’s a plane spotter) plus we had several horn blasting sessions. Hamburg must love us at that time of the morning. Mr C’s breakfast had arrived. He had ordered me a croissant, but it came with marmalade instead of jam so that was dismissed. I got up to see us sail past the old Artemis and we tried to salute her with the horns but she didn’t respond! At last some peace, so I settled back down under the duvet and closed my eyes. Next thing I knew it was 11.00am and it is Baltic Lunch at 11.45
Now those that know me, will be fully aware that I am not a lover of these ‘special events’ plus I had my little confrontation with Mr Penninsular the other day,but Mr C likes them, and its something to do, and as the sun isn’t calling be to a sun lounger I agreed to go. We had a nice table for 6 hosted by the Accommodation Manager and a good time was had by all – Accommodations manager included
Ooh its duvet testing time, and it was bliss because Mr C retreated to the Crows Nest. For ‘just the one’ allegedly. He came stumbling in a couple of hours later, but he hasn’t had a drink, or so he says! Mmm
6.00pm announcement from the Captain to advise its time to take care when moving around the ship again as we can expect some movement overnight. One hand for yourself and one hand for your goods – in this case, the ship!
This evening we are dining in Ocean Grill but not until we have had our usual pre dinner visit to Andersons Bar. We received a lovely welcome at Ocean Grill and we sat with another pre dinner drink of Belini cocktail before going through to dine. We had a nice table at the back of the restaurant, but with pitch black darkness outside it doesn’t really work. I found the food in here to be too rich for my liking and place just lacked ambience. Maybe it was where our table was situated, but when they started stripping the other tables of their linen and changing those while were still eating it didn’t help. The background music also only appeared to be being played down the side and not in our section. I didn’t find the service to be as attentive as I was expecting either. I’m glad I have been, but personally I wouldn’t pay it another visit.
We went and had a nice chill out in the library after dinner which my sound odd, but hey its nice in there. Really peaceful and quiet. Its like the lounge in a big country house hotel. If I could have called a bulter and asked for some hot chocolate I would have done.
Thursday 18th December 2014 – at sea
I’m not going to lie. There is not a lot to report regarding today because I hardly left my bed. We were ll over the place rocking and rolling around the North Sea and for some reason my body decided it couldn’t cope with it. I can’t say I felt sea sick but I did administer some Avomine just as a precaution, but still I felt ropey. So I just laid in my bed all day, drifting in and out of sleep. In hindsight that wasn’t the best of ideas because it just induced a self certified poorliness feeling.
It was Peninsular Cocktail Party and the final formal night of the cruise tonight so I was determined to get ready to go out. Easier said than done in a little boat bobbing about in a gale. Oh yes we have found a gale or two this cruise. I did somehow manage to shower, throw makeup at my face and style my hair, not without missing my hair completely and somehow managing to clamp my wrist into my burning hot hair straightners! Ouch! Formal dress is on, high heels are to much of a health and safety issue so I don some flats under my designer dress and head for Andersons. Barstaff nearly keeled over when I asked for a lemonade, but they heard me right. I wasn’t looking forward to Crows Nest in this weather and once we arrived they tried to direct us all to seats. I don’t like seats at cocktail partys but thankfully two bar stools were still in place. Perfect! They had my name on them. I’m not in agreement with how they have worked out the most travelled passenger, and words will be had on my return, but Mr Penninsular is aware of my feeling on that subject from our ding dong a few days ago. I’m very much liking the crystal bowl door prize though, so I feel the need to win one of those. Sadly it wasn’t me but a man on B deck that bagged the prize this time. Captain David Box came over for a chat once he had spotted me. Always worrying when they recall my name lol. All in all it was a very pleasant and sociable party.
And so to MPW Gala Dinner in Pacific Restaurant. Oh dear I wasn’t liking the smell of food this evening. The menu read delicious but my tummy was already churning at the thought. Maybe I should have eaten earlier. I ordered some consommé and Antonio pressured me into some chicken breast. I so wish I could have eaten it. I found the soup to be pretty disgusting and even Mr C agreed when he tried it, so I needed to eat the chicken. Nope, I couldn’t. It looked delicious but my tummy was going through hoops. Then I went cold so Mr C gave me his jacket, but it was too late I was frozen through to my bones and I was full on goose bumps all over. I decided enough was enough and I needed to go wrap up in my duvet so I left quite quickly, hoping and praying that nobody would stop me on the way out for an inquest. Once inside the cabin I found the strength to hand up my dress before layering myself in anything I could get my hands on, tshirt, pj, nightie, cardie. I curled up in a ball under the duvet and shivered and shivered. It was ridiculous. Did room service do hot water bottles I wondered? For the first time ever I whacked the cabin heating up to full on hotness and tried to toast myself. By the time Mr C returned after dinner he said the heat nearly knocked him over and yet I couldn’t feel it. Why? Once he had checked I was still alive and breathing he went back out for a quick scoot around to see what was happening. He had one drink and then returned with a plate of crackers and butter for me and two cans of lemonade. I must be poorly!
Friday 19th December 2014 – Zeebrugge
Did I tell you that we weren’t supposed to be her today but we were supposed to go to Amsterdam. That plan got floored by strong winds, rough seas, routine maintenance in the Amsterdam locks being to difficult to abide to rimings and a whole list of valid reasons. Didn’t bother me, but it sure did give some passengers something to moan about Oh we have had a lumpy, bumpy bouncy night again. One of those nights where you are tipped so far out of bed, then you hang in limbo and go back down again. Quite fun really, if only it didn’t interfere with my sleep. We were up and in breakfast in the Pacific Restaurant at 8.00am, well before it was daylight and it was quite weird not being able to see the sea. Its still pretty rough. I had put my camera in the window ledge next to the table and when I picked it up it had been laid in a pool of sea water. Yikes! The sea must be coming in. We sat for a while in the atrium just watching people in general come and go, but later returned to the cabin to find it all fresh and nicely made up by Melvyn the cabin steward. Oh that duvet was just too tempting, so I climbed in and it wasn’t long before the motion of the ocean had lulled me back off to sleep. Its a hard life! I was woken by good old Captain Box though when he advised that he needed to turn the ship sideways into the wind to allow the pilot to board, so could we all ensure that we were sitting for the next 20 minutes while he did so, because if the wind caught us we could list quite abruptly. Thanks but I will stay in bed. As it happens the pilot was quite swift with his manoeuvres and hopped on very quickly and caused no concern. We berthed in Zeebrugge just after noon and the queues on the dockside below our balcony quickly formed. We waited for the second lot of coaches to return before we went down, but still we had to queue for a little while and the wind was biting. We arrived in Blankenburge and there was a train in, but by the time we got off the coach the train had departed so we had an hour to wait for another on. Trains leave Blankenburge for Bruges at 42 mins past the hour. Return trains from Bruges to Blankenburge are at 4 mins past the hour. Its 6 euro for a return ticket, or 9.20 euro if you travel first class, which we prefer to do.
We had a lovely afternoon in Bruges. It wasn’t too cold, clear blue sky and nice crisp air. We had a really pleasant walk into town from the train station. The ice rink was in the main square, the Christmas markets were fab. We stopped for mulled wine and hot dogs, well you have to don’t you at a Christmas market. And we couldn’t visit Bruges without going to our favourite chocolatier Dumon. Oh heck, we spent a fortune again, but hey it’s Christmas. We had a very brisk walk back to the train station to catch the 4 mins past 5 train and it was a busy one. Black Watch was also in port today. We really enjoyed our unscheduled stop in Zeebrugge, far better than Amsterdam in my opinion.
We were dining in Sorrento this evening so no time for napping, we needed a fast turn around if we were to fit in pre dinner drinks too.
Pre dinner drinks in Andersons, but of course! I do wish they wouldn’t keep shoving vegetable crisps under my nose though because I keep eating them, and then they replenish the pot, and so the circle goes on. We were fashionably late for our 8.00pm reservation in Sorrento, we didn’t intend to be but you know how it is, you get chatting at the bar and time ticks on. The meal was lovely. I prefer Sorrento over MPW Ocean Grill. The food is lighter and the ambience and decor much nicer. It was lovely to sit up there and see all the lights, all be it only dock lights, but they were pretty non the less. We also had the added pleasure of Black Watch going out across our stern all light up so great views. We retreated to the lounge area for coffee, for no other reason than I wanted to sit in the lilac chair. Mr C thinks I strange, maybe I am!
We called by Andersons to sign our bar bill from earlier because we left a little abruptly. The Curzon Lounge was packed to the rafters for the Tom O’connor show but as I had seen him more times than I can count we decided not to linger and headed instead for the Crows Nest. Big Band and the Glenn Millar story had just started up there, but our usual spot at the bar was vacant so we took up residence there. We had our usual giggles with the barstaff and Keith and James, which I’m not quite sure is good etiquette in the middle of a show, but why put a show on in a bar? Then it was time for a Christmas Quiz. We really should have had taken part officially in these quizzes we have found ourselves in because we have done really well in most of them, and I’m sure we could have earnt a crate of P&O plonk by now. Can we have our bar back now please? Oh no, Glenn Millar is starting up again. I’m not really into this attending a show malarkey. As good as it was, it was a long 45 minutes, again! And peace reins over Crows Nest once more. It was Hippo’s birthday (waiter) so we sang to him and made sure he was treated for his birthday. The bar staff are going to miss our little crowd, Lorretta said herself that after 15 years she thinks she will miss us more than any that have gone before us. We all had a good laugh when Mr C sighed the bill for the night. lol, He claims he isn’t being loud and drunk, but I gasped when I just saw how many vodkas he has consumed!
Saturday 20th December 2014 – Zeebrugge Day 2
Yep, day two in Zeebrugge which has to be better than a day bouncing around the North Sea again. It was nice to be able to just chill out, pack at leisure and generally take things easy. We started the morning with Mr C’s usual delivery of breakfast room service. Then Captain Box was on the tanoy again to advise us that Aurora was about to cross our stern so I donned a coat and went out to check her out. It was dark though so she slipped in without too much fuss. We got up later and went to Raffles for a vanilla latte before attacking the packing. Well I attacked the packing while Mr C stood at the balcony door giving a running commentary re who was returning from town on the shuttle bus carrying what etc. It kept him amused if nothing else. Time for a brisk walk up on top deck, and oh heck was it brisk. Made my eyes water! Then we did something I had been determined to do all cruise and that was to have fish and chips from the Lido Grill outside. Well you cant beat fish and chips at the seaside. Mr C had scampi and burger with fries. I really don’t know where he puts it! The rest of the afternoon was spent doing the final few bits and pieces of packing and ensuring it was all done before we sailed at 4.00pm. I really don’t know how rocky it will get.
Pre dinner drinks in Andersons, and my entertainment was provided by observing the barstaff of the evening. The usual Bartender Chrissy, had gone of poorly. She usually runs her bar like a military operation and non of the staff dare to upset her routine or system. Everything behind that bar has its place an if its moved an inch, there are repercussions. Tonight she seems to have been replaced by 3 others and still there are waiters crossing the line to behind the bar to get bits and pieces. Oh she would not be happy. it looks like unorganised chaos, hence my amusement.
Dinner in Pacific Restaurant at our cosy table for 2, which is actually an under used table for 6. Rumour has it that we killed off our dining companions using various implements once used in a game of Cluedo. But it wasn’t me! Hey the others missed out. We had great waiters, fab location and nice neighbouring tables (it couldn’t have been us then lol) their loss. I have enjoyed my meals in the main dining room. Plated service has worked a lot better in my opinion, and the standard and quality of the food seems to have raised the bar from more recent P&O experiences. Whether that is something to do with it being a smaller ship. Less mass catering etc. I don’t know. Time will tell.
We dropped by Curzon Lounge, but it looked like it was about to be a flag waving, singalong type show, so we retreated to our usual spot at the bar in Crows Nest. The boys were at the bar, we have shared some great laughs with them over the last 10 evenings. Oh no, its another quiz! We decided to join in tonight on an official level with a pen and quiz sheet. We really should have done it sooner because I’m convinced some of the quizzes we did actually do very well in. We didn’t disgrace ourselves this evening, but could have done better. It wasn’t a late one. Mr C couldnt drink, and once its over, its over. So we headed back to the cabin, but the final few bits in the cases and placed them outside the door.
It wasn’t the most peaceful of sleeps, unfortunately the baggage collection started at about 2.00pm and culminated right outside our door because they were piling them into the crew lifts opposite our cabin. Despite being opposite this main crew door it was the first time it had caused any real disturbance. I knew going out and growling at them wouldn’t do any good (Im not at my politest at that hour) they needed to do their job so I left them to it.
Sunday 21st December 2014 – Southampton
We seemed to take forever to get up Southampton water. I’m sure he could have got in hours ago, but we seemed to get in a little behind schedule. Aurora was following up behind and I kept seeing her as we zigzagged around the shipping lanes. Breakfast was at 6.45 til 7.00am for the first slot, so we opted to eat early and avoid any mass dining experience. We still hadn’t docked when we went into breakfast. Antonio directed us to a table for two without being prompted bless him. We sat in the window and watched as we came alongside, and tied up, but knew from experience that we still had a wait ahead of us.
After breakfast we collected our hand luggage and took up residence in Andersons, close to the gangway to await the priority disembarkation. The lounge soon filled up and seats were hard to come by. I heard one lady ask if a seat was taken, to which the rather loud man replied ‘My things are on it” Personally I would have tilted the chair and allowed them to slip off before turning it round and sitting on it, but she was far more polite than me! I timed the signals that disembarkation was about to commence perfectly and we practically walked straight off. Luggage was in the priority baggage area, so easily found and we were in the car and en route home before we knew it.
We have both really enjoyed our time on Adonia, although Mr C is not convinced cold weather cruising is for him. I enjoy this type of cruise for the Christmas atmosphere, and is perfect for these that either don’t want the expense of a Christmas cruise or can’t get away over the festive season. We have met some lovely people, had some great laughs, and enjoyed the banter that has gone on between us. The service has been very good, nothing seems to be too much trouble. Im usually the first to complain about bar service or quality of the drinks etc, but standards seem to have been raised all round.
I was a little put out to discover I should have received a Customer Questionnaire for completion onboard. I knew I hadn’t had one but had presumed that it would be an electronic one once we got home. Personally, I think the cabin steward sabotaged it because he knew I had had a little moan about him during the course of the cruise. I’m guessing he would rather I didn’t write anything at all than write anything negative. I’m not saying that I would have written anything negative but that’s just my theory anyway!
I vowed I would return to Adonia after attending the Naming Ceremony onboard and she didn’t disappoint. For those that don’t like the more modern ships in the fleet, and prefer P&O cruising to be ‘how it used to be’ this as about as near to it as you could ever wish to get. Adonia really does have that old world charm about her. She is like a big comfy armchair that just wraps you up and welcomes you in. I haven’t really missed the choice of bars and lounges. I knew what Adonia had to offer and I was happy with my choice. Would I cruise on her again, yes, in a heartbeat.