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Cruise Review: Oceania Riviera – Part 1

Sunday 5th May 2013

Today actually started yesterday, because as is normal for me, pre holiday days blend. Today actually started pre 3.00am yesterday morning when Mr C got out of bed to go catch an international flight for work. That was it, I was fully in the wide awake club. I had a browse on my ipad, went and made tea and toast, watched Deal or No Deal and then was blessed with 50 minutes sleep during which time I managed to drive my car through a road block, got arrested, got my car impounded, realised my camera was in there so got the police van to stop off at Argos to enable me to buy a new camera, only to open the box and discover it was the wrong camera – wow the bizarre world of dreams! It was one of those dreams that had a weird affect on me all day! I utilised my day by unpacking and repacking into a bigger case. That in turn involved weighing the dam thing another 32 times. My allowance is 20kg plus hand luggage so why am I only taking 18.95kg? I must have had a bang on the head. Don’t worry, as the afternoon progressed I managed to find plenty more to fill the case.

We were late setting of for Gatwick, which then became even later when we had to turn back and head home again for a missing item. This time it was Lizy who had misplaced something not me! Gatwick would not have been my airport of choice but following a change to our original travel arrangements we were stuck with it. It was a long drive, but we enjoyed a stunning sunset and lots of lovely coloured sky en route. Sat Nav woman was not called upon for the entire journey, we don’t need any help from her! I just headed down the M40, onto the M25 past Heathrow airport and follow the signs for Gatwick. I had my own private navigator, in the form of Lizy to direct us to Crown Plaza, Langley. I couldn’t wait to see my bed. I really needed to sleep. But of course I had to check the contents of the cases, do a bit of reorganising, charge phones etc. But oh the bed, it was lush. It was so comfy for a hotel bed. Lovely satin soft cotton sheets and duvet. I was going to sleep. Or was I? I was cold, my feet were cold. Lizy checked out the heating control and according to her it was already on 32 degs. Never! Lizy sat for a good while cursing at her various communication devices. Blackberry wasn’t doing something she wanted it to do and I knew I wasn’t the best to assist, so I pulled the duvet over my head and attempted the sleep process. It wasn’t working very well. My head was mythered, what if we overslept? Reception had arranged a wakeup call for 4.30am, what if they programmed it wrong and it doesn’t happen? Ahh, but we have a backup plan, one Blackberry and two iphones all set for the same time. It’s going to be like an orchestra of alarms when it happens. And so to sleep! All 2 hours and 5 mins of it! I fought the wide awake club and temporarily slipped back into a snooze, but at 2.50 am it was officially over. I was awake! I mentally packed, unpacked. Re did the drive to the hotel. Mentally tried to work out where the airport was, and then at 3.28am disaster struck. During a mental repacking episode I realised I had no sun block for my face. I had left my favoured Aldi face sun block at home. That means I was going to have to pay Boots prices to replace it. I was not happy. How had I left that behind? Then I retraced my steps all the way back to 28th February and the day I disembarked Azura in Barbados. I had left it in my day cabin, unable to pack liquids in hand luggage. So why didn’t I think of that when I was last in Aldi looking at it? So after taking my brain all the way back to last Feb it must be about time to get up? No, far from it. If I had been in the same room as Mr C I would have been up pottering around. But lizy was fast asleep, I couldn’t disturb her. I had to, I had to do it, at 4.00am I put the light on. I was awake so I was pulling rank on the wake up time. In hindsight it was a good job because the amount of faffing around we did we were only just ready for the planned departure time of 5.00am I struggled to decide what to wear. What can you wear to take you from a very chilly UK to hopefully a hot and sunny Mediterranean destination. I decided on a nice lacy top, but then the cardi became an issue. I was tempted to pull the waterfall cardi from the bottom of my case but decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Bianca’s mum on Eastenders wears waterfall cardis so decided it wasn’t a good look this morning. At 5.00am we checked out and I fetched the car round to the front of the hotel, we loaded up and set off to find Gatwick South Terminal. Lizy phoned the Meet and Greet parking to arrange to have the car collected, and after a slight hiccup of nearly driving into a multi storey car park, we were met by the lady to take the car away.

We were travelling Easyjet this morning, which isn’t very posh, but hey it’s ok. I had pre booked seats at the front of the plane for £8pp which also meant that we had speedy boarding and didn’t need to queue in the massive snaking queue to drop cases etc. We had priority check in with hardly any queue. The girl was chirpy. My case now weighed 21.95kg after a bit of re gigging of items, but that was ok because Lizys only weighed 15.8kg so we were under the maximum 40kg between us. We are travelling light today! I checked those tags as she attached them to the case and ensured they were tagged for Venice, cant afford any misplaced cases on arrival. I couldn’t help say a little prayer for the cases as they moved along the conveyor belt into the unknown. Next stop for us was duty free and the essential route march through the massive duty free store. Way too many people in there for my liking at this time of day so we didn’t browse. Then upstairs for some breakfast at Weatherspoons. That didn’t go too efficiently. Lizy had a breakfast and I just wanted toast and jam, but they did it as a side order to the breakfast and not as a plate of toast. We were pushed for time so no time to reorder. I was watching the departure board and it still stated ‘check for gate info’ at 6.45am. We left Waetherspoons at 6.45 and now the board was saying ‘Gate closes at 7.00am’! Did we have time to purchase a sandwich and some suncream from Boots? Well we were stood next to Boots so it will be fine. By the time we got out of there it was 5 to 7. Bit of a panic on. Departure gates were down stairs, and a sense of urgency overtook us. Now you know that scene in movies when there are always people running for a plane? Well me and Lizy were those people this morning. Except lizy can run for longer and faster than me. I gave up. The plane can go without me if it really has too. But I had a theory. I had a case on there, so it would take them longer to locate and off load my case than it would take me to get to the gate. I told lizy to go on a head and just tell them that her old Mum was doing her best. It was a very brisk and extremely long walk to gate 31 but it was ok I could see Lizy in a queue as I turned the corner. Oh she was not happy! It would seem that ‘Gate Closes at 7.00am’ translates to’ Gate opens at 7.00am’ in Easyjet language! There was a big queue and a little queue. Thankfully we were in the little queue due to the speedy boarding priority status – that was £8 well spent! Once through the gate we stood on the airbridge for about 10 mins waiting to get on the plane. Just what was the rush? I had the Godfather and his wife infront of me. Is there really any need for dark jacket, silk scarf and sunglasses so early in the morning. And she was doing my head in yattering to some other people about 6 rows back. Nearly told her to take a step back and go chat with them if it really was such and important conversation that wouldn’t wait. It was early and I was not in good humour at this point after our undue stress and rushing. At last the aircraft was ready for boarding. We were greeted by a very nice chirpy Easyjet man of the Italian variety. I don’t think he was in the mafia. We were in row 3 so no jostling down the aircraft to get to our seat. Bags were in the over head locker above and we were seated. Seats are non to comfy, but its ok for space and leg room so it will be ok for 1 hr 50 mins. My bladder was busting. I really needed to go use the facilities after my coffee but there was no time. I needed the plane to take off so I could leap to the loo. I was willing the last passenger to board the plane. Final checks were done, doors were closed and we were pushing back. Then we sat for what seemed like an eternity watching planes come in. But wait, here we go, we turned a little corner and he didn’t mess about putting his foot to the metal! We were off, up, up and away. I couldn’t help thinking it sounded like he was revving hell out of the engine and he might like to think about changing gear, but what do I know about flying a plane? Once we were up he went this way, that way and then back the other. Does he not know my bladder is full. My eyes were fixed on the seatbelt sign and as soon as it was off I was like a whippet out of a trap. Quite a few others had the same thought but I was the fastest. Poor girl next to me didn’t have chance to move I practically climbed over her. We are about an hour into the flight now, just flying over the Swiss Alps. The cabin crew have been non stop with newspapers and magazine sale, tea and coffee and snacks, bar facilities and they have just gone by selling their wares from their inflight market stall. Announcements have just started for the third time from the pilot. It comes in about 32 different languages so it will be a while before he gets to the one I can understand. Heck we land in 30 mins and I’ve not had time to watch my TV programmes on my ipad!

No sooner was my laptop away than it was fasten your seatbelts and prepare for landing. We were on the left of the plane so we flew over industrial bits, but over to the right I could just see 4 or 5 ships in port. Lizy didn’t believe me but they were there and eventually she saw them so it’s not me going mad. We were soon off the plane being at the front, and straight onto the waiting shuttle bus. I took a seat just inside the door, but temporarily took my behind off the seat and hovered to attend to something in my wheelie case. I was literally hovering over the seat, but this woman had the cheek to just plant herself on my seat. Then she proceeded to tut at me because I appeared to be in her way. Well excuse me but the bit where my feet are is mine. You took my seat from under me what more do you want?! The bus doors opened on the other side when we reached the terminal and she was not impressed. She was literally pushing me off the bus to get out of her way. No sooner were my feet on the tarmac than she intercepted me and I was parted from Lizy. Lizy, however, was not letting her pass. That was until we got to passport control when said woman used the full force of her bright pink back pack to plough through and jostle as far forward as she could. Enough was enough, we moved and rejoined another queue, and it was faster than hers! On arrival at the luggage collection Lizys case arrived first, closely followed by mine. Phew! We have clothes for the next 10 days.

Plaza RomaLizy had already got the express bus transfer tickets from a machine while I was approaching the case collection, so we were straight outside, straight onto a coach and it left on the dot at 20 past. 15 minutess later we were in Plaza Roma. Bargain at 6 euro each. I thought that there might be an Oceania shuttle waiting at Plaza Roma, bus but no such luck. The queue for the people mover (I euro) was massive so I wasn’t prepared to wait. I think we could have walked it, as many did, but it was hot, we were tired, we had luggage and no men to assist. So we decided to take a taxi. Double rate apparently with today being a Sunday, plus cases was 20 euro. Daylight robbery really. It was no further than from the DeVere to Ocean Terminal in Southampton and that was £6 with cases last time I was in Southampton. But hey, the taxi driver was nice, he took us right to our ‘boat’ as he insisted on calling it, so we had arrived with no hassle at all.

We were immediately greeted by Oceania officer who wrote us some luggage labels as she took the cases from us and directed us inside to check in. We were greeted by several cheery crew wishing us Good Morning and we were invited to take the blue carpet and check in. Check in was very swift and within 5 mins of arriving at the port we were walking up the gangway. Yes, it was a proper gangway too. Lizy charged on ahead being the fit young thing that she is, but I had to take it steady. Before I knew it, a white gloved steward appeared and took my case from me and I glided up the gangway a little more gracefully.

Wow, what can I say? I don’t know what to say. I haven’t taken it all in yet, but the welcome was huge and the ambience was tranquil and just, well, perfect. The lovely cool marble lobby, the lalique staircase, the string quartet playing, not many things take my breath these days when I board a ship but this one had. We were directed to the lifts and greeted once again at the lift entrance. Even the lifts are luxurious. Just can’t take it all in so you will have to bear with me until I am less tired and can express myself a little more clearly. We got out of the lift at the main Oceania Deckpool area and again wow! Smell that lovely teak wood. I realise how much I miss that smell. The deck looks stunning. White signature towelling covered mattresses, everything immaculate and looks like something out of a Sunday supplement. Oh what to do? Sit and have a drink, walk and see what’s to see? Go to the Waves Grill or the Terrace buffet for some lunch. We took a walk through to the aft terrace via the Terrace self service area. I have never seen such a posh buffet restaurant on a ship. Simply stunning! All I can recall at the moment is lovely rich warm colours of oranges and dark wood, stunning amber chandeliers. Oh I like it, yes I really do like it on here! The aft terrace was busy with lunchtime diners so we continued our walk through and back down the other side of the restaurant before arriving back at the pool area. En route we passed Waves Grill, a sandwich type bar, and a pretty impressive ice cream station. Round the other side were some fancy chairs on the deck area outside another exclusive alternative dining venue. What are we doing, we have been wandering around with our mouths open and haven’t had a drink yet. We took a seat in the shade at a table near the bar. I asked what was a good cocktail and the waiter was happy to recommend The Big O Martini so it seemed right to start with the ships signature cocktail. Lizy opted for white wine. Her wine was $8 I think and my premium cocktail $10. It was very very nice, and a nice Embark drinksway to toast our 10 days onboard Oceania Riviera. The waiter Putu is our new best friend. I am now officially Madam Jane. He gave us some good tips re the wine and certain drinks etc so we will be looking out for him again. After my Big O and a glass of wine I was feeling like some food might be a good idea, so we headed back to the restaurant. There was a very good choice but we just needed to get our bearings. Lizy opted for lasagne and I had the poached salmon with lemon butter sauce. Excellent! And get this, I had iced water with my lunch! I know, not like me at all!! Lizy followed the main with some cheese and biscuits and I sneeked around to the ice cream counter and had cherry vanilla ice cream plus a scoop of strawberry. Oh I will be going back there. It was like real ice cream should be. I can’t get my bearings of Venice cruise terminal at all. Last time I was here was in 2009 and things seem to have changed. Its looking very different to what it used to, plus there are another 3 or 4 ships in. Aida, two Carnival ships, MSC, Costa and us – oh thats 5 ships!

We decided to go on a bit of a grand tour of the ship, but I’m not liking dragging my case behind me. We checked out the spa and the lovely area at the very front of the ship which is complimentary to suite and concierge level guests, but day passes are available. We may check that out better at a later date. We had a look around the culinary centre. Watch this space, lizy has a pasta class at the end of the cruise! We also checked out the art centre and lizy may indulge in a bit of arts and crafts at some stage (Im far too busy working) ooh the Horizon Lounge. Thats a Crows Nest to many, but its very lush. White Glove afternoon tea is the speciality so I will be there! Oh and in the evening its the main cocktail bar, so well I will have to be there! Baristas coffee bar coffee bar is very doody, and has little sandwiches, rolls and pastrys, and fresh ground coffee. Remember these are all included in the fare! Next to that is the library. I had to smile because there were two people asleep with their feet up on the foot stools, infront of the fire. Well, its what one does on a Sunday afternoon I suppose. Ah, the internet room. How much! Jeeze. $289 for 10 days unlimited access! Or $160 for 200 mins. I now internet at sea is expensive but I pay £65 for 240 mins on P&O so this is outrageous. What choice do I have though? I have to work!

At last, the announcement to say that ‘rooms’ were ready. It doesn’t sound right, but on here cabins are rooms not staterooms, and decks are floors! Bet we are on a boat not a ship lol.

Oceania balconyWe had a B2 grade balcony stateroom on deck 8. Cases were outside the door. I’m impressed. I like my stateroom, room or cabin or whatever it happens to be. The bathroom is really big with full size bath with shower above and a separate glass cubicle shower. Plenty of storage and drawers in the bathroom. We have a fridge stocked with unlimited soft drinks and water. The wardrobe is adequate and it has a light inside which is handy. Maybe not enough draw space though for my liking. But we managed ok. The bed has been made up as a king, which isn’t too much of an issue to me. Lizy doesn’t object to sharing with me, but she won’t share her duvet so I have to ask for them to be remade as twins. The safe isn’t working either, so lizy paged the room attendant but he never came. Eventually his assistant showed up to do his introductions and apologise that the room attendants flight was delayed so he hoped to join tomorrow. He will attend to the bed and safe later so alls good. I unpacked all of my stuff, then Lizy’s hand luggage and then most of her suitcase. Must be what mums are for? Meanwhile she was inspecting the room service menu, the extensiveDVD list, the TV guide and is currently doing a deck head inspection under the 1000 thread Egyptian cotton soft silky sheets. Oh she has had a hard day! I learnt something new today from my daughter. She knows ship horn language. With all the ships in port today she has explained what the various horn blasts signal. And there was me thinking it was just random. It would seem she did learn something during her time at sea.

So it’s 5.30pm, it’s been a mega long day. MSC Fantasia has just left and Costa is just doing the safety announcement so she must be going soon. Can’t see what might still be in the berths beyond her but I think they have all left, so we will be in port alone this evening. I’m thinking I might have a bath, find something suitable to wear for the evening and maybe wander ashore to see Venice by night? Who knows, the night is still young on this, the longest of days.

oceania bathroomI’ve just had a lovely bath. I have to say the bathroom is more than impressive. I just noticed that the shower cubicle has the power shower and the big rain shower head in the ceiling. Plus the shower over the bath. I’ve discovered that the lights dim for a relaxing ambience. I found some more shelves, and I can’t tell you how impressed I was when I pulled out the shower cap and it was packaged with a hair bobble! Little things!

Aida Aura and Carnival Sunshine behind us are the only ships left in port. Don’t know if she is staying all night. Just hope she goes quietly when she goes. Think we have decided the effort to get into Venice tonight is possibly a bit too much, plus I didn’t pack Venice by night attire. We have tomorrow. I think a relaxing evening in one of the nice bars or lounges onboard would be what is required after our long day. That now turns out to be a wise decision as it is raining heavily.

Lizy sent me to have a reckie on the dress code. We had dresses and heels on and would we be a little over dressed? Oceania describes their dress code as Country Club Casual which is a difficult one to interpret, sounds a bit twin set and pearls to me! First two people I saw were ladies dressed very similar to myself, and a quick walk through deck 6 identified many in similar, plus equal amounts in their travelling attire as flights were still arriving. Back upstairs to collect lizy, well a lift really and back down to deck 6 for pre dinner drinks in Martini. Oh I love it Grand Hallin here. First time we had seen it as we didn’t do ship exploring on the lower decks earlier. Amazing martini cocktail menu, oh yes I’m going to like it in here! The service is just amazing, always greeted and welcoming, they like to have a little chat and learn a bit about you without being intrusive or doing any upselling. We were asked if we would like snacks or a canapé tray. Lizy opted for the works and oh my you should see it. A full lazy susan of canapés and nibbles plus a pot of bread sticks. Martinis served in funky glasses, shaken table side, and the remaining left in the shaker to the side for you to pour later. The stewardess took time to advise that we should sip and top up, not allowing the ice to melt and water down the martini. It was a lovely place to just chill, watching the comings and goings of others. Our route to dinner took us via the Grand Bar, a marble trendy area with funky chairs. The Casino was to the side, but enclosed and out of the way. Eyes right ooh look a neon pink bar and more funky seating. Oh so much to see. How can we plan it all in to our time onboard.

I made a call into the ladies facilities en route to Dinner. I think I need to get a photo of these facilities for you one evening. Black shiny glass tiles, dark grey marble wash bowls and neatly stacked cotton hand towels. Everything on here is just a delight to explore. And so into dinner. Oh wow! We are greeted at the door and asked would we like to share or have a table of two. Lizy hesitantly requested a table for two expecting to be told no chance, but no. We were advised we were to have table 91, a fabulous table in the window. And another Wow. Look lizy look! What, what, where am I looking. How she had missed the amazing crystal chandelier in the centre of the room I do not know. I was spell Grande Dining roombound by it all evening. Our table was indeed in a perfect little spot, raised up to the side overlooking the restaurant and next to a window with all the water taxis coming and going. I should have taken a photo of the table layout because it was just stunning, in fact everything about the restaurant was stunning. It did what it stated on the tin – it was a Grande Dining room. The gilt edged server plate remained in place until main course. Our waters were lovely, keen to serve and to make conversation just generally making us feel extremely welcome. Oh what to eat, the choice is both amazing and stunning. I opted for some king prawns, followed by consommé. Lizy had butternut squash which lizy said was yummy. We both had the tenderloin steak. Lizy described it as the best steak she has ever had, amazing. It was indeed like velvet. For desert I had strawberry cheesecake and lizy had warm chocolate tartlet which she hasn’t stopped going on about. Apparently it was rather nice, like thick warm hot chocolate in a sweet pastry case. That was followed by coffee and petit fors served on a dainty little cake stand. Oh we had wine too. A very nice bottle of sauvignon balnc which was $30 but were advised that if we didn’t finish it we could ask for it anywhere on the ship and it would be collected, now that’s service!

There was a film showing in the Riviera lounge this evening and lizy was most impressed to discover a table full of tubs of popcorn and soft drinks. We had a browse of deck 5 and looked through the shop windows. Chez Jacques and Red Ginger alternative dining venues look very impressive and we have reservations for those later in the cruise. It was still relatively early but we were tired. We headed to Horizon for a nightcap and I decided to finish the day the same way I started with a Big O. Putu from earlier suddenly appeared from darkness and served our drinks. This cruise is a themed Jazz cruise so we enjoyed listening to the jazz band before slipping out of the door just before 10.00pm. We were no sooner through the door than lizy was on the phone ordering hot chocolate. By the time makeup was off, clothes away and we were in bed just as room service arrived with a pot of hot chocolate. Possibly the best hot chocolate I have tasted at sea. The bed is amazing. The Egyptian cotton sheets are so fine thread count that they are like silk the mattress is 10 inches thick and has a mattress topper on top. Lizy feels like the Princess and the Pea climbing into bed! I couldn’t risk not sleeping this evening so slipped a couple of herbal sleeping pills into my mix of beverages and so to sleep.

Monday 6th May 2013 – Venice

GondolaAnd sleep I did, all the way through to just gone 7.00am which is nothing short of a miracle for me. I awoke to see Thomson Majesty pulling into the berth opposite. A look out on the balcony revealed that Silversea is at the end, and I have just stepped out on the balcony again and was shocked to see Aurora has berthed too. I should have known really shouldn’t I? A Costa ship is also just coming into view. Lovely warm sunshine but rain is forecast. We shall see!

We had breakfast in the Grande Dining room which is a very decadent way to start the day. Cranberry juice, smoked salmon bagel, croissant and jam, plus a pot of Twinning’s breakfast tea. All perfect. I don’t usually do ship tea but this more than passed the test.

The sky has turned to blue and I am tempted to go and get changed into a dress. I had not planned to wear jeans and t shirt today. But it looked changeable so decided to stick with what I was wearing. Oceania provide a complimentary shuttle to the people mover which takes you onto Plaza Roma but we decided we would attempt the walk. We were doing well until lizy decided the crew member infront looked like he knew a short cut and followed him. We ended up at the far side of the dock in the opposite direction! The walk from ship to Plaza Roma took approx 20 mins but we were walking fairly briskly and dodging most of the people that were hogging the narrow pavements with their cases. From Plaza Roma we followed the signs to Rialto Bridge, San Marco square and then the Bridge of Sighs, not always taking the most direct of routes as Lizy likes to take charge with her navigational skills from time to time. In total we walked for just over two hours before we got to the Bridge of Sighs, but that did include photo stops. San Marco Square was looking all good today, no scaffolding or buildings draped in screens. The Bridge of Sighs is also finished and looking good. There were, as always, a lot of people about. Lizy wanted to feed the pigeons, as she did when she was 5, but things had changed Prosecoand you can no longer buy bird food, so that was a failed mission today. We needed wifi, and a drink, so despite my aching feet I suggested walking a little further along the Grand Canal, out of town, so a couple of bridges beyond the Bridge of Sighs and there we found the perfect spot overlooking the canal. It was called Angio Bavarean (or something) but it was next to a big colourful ice cream cone. Drink choice was simple – a bottle of Prosecco! We thought it was a bargain, especially in Venice terms at 14 euro and it came with a bowl of crisps and free wifi! I was completely unaware that Seranade of the Seas was just gliding along behind me. I blame the fizz. We could have quite happily sat there all afternoon. We originally planned to walk back to the ship, but the Prosecco blew that idea out of the window! We had a vaperetto station 2 mins away and we thought we had fell lucky by working out that it went all the way to the cruise terminal. There was only a ticket machine, no person to assist, so lizy was put in charge of working it all out. She had wooden bridgequite an audience as nobody knew what was what. 7 euro for a 60 min ticket. Then we found out that the ticket we had was for a different company, so we could only get the vaperetto to Plaza Roma. It turned out to be the best choice as it went right down the Grand Canal, under the old wooden bridge that I have often wanted to see but never found, the Rialto Bridge and it was a good way to see it all from a different perspective to what I am used to. It took about and hour though and we were stood at the front of the boat. We were entertained by a singing TNT man who had obviously finished work for the day and had his headphones in singing away at the top of his voice. Just as we arrived at Plaza Roma it started to spit with rain, so we went in the post office to purchase a stamp. That was an experience in itself! Take a ticket and await your turn depending in what you were in there for. We came out and it looked clearer, but just as we set off back to walk to the ship the heavens opened and we were soaked. We made it as far as the shuttle bus waiting at the people mover and got a lift back to the terminal.

Now one of the last things I said to lizy this morning, before we left the ship was that she needed photo ID. Clearly as an ex crew member that just meant she had to have her crew pass with her as it had photo ID on it, but she is no longer a crew member and her brain didn’t engage that bit! As we got inside the terminal she really wished she had listened to her wise old mum, as she was impounded by the guard and mum could only get her out by going back to the ship, locating her passport and doing the long walk back around the outside of the terminal building and then walking the length of it again inside. She won’t be doing that again!

Back onboard it was nearing 3.00pm and we hadn’t eaten, but I knew if I ate now I wouldn’t want to eat early dinner as planned so that we could see us sail past St Marks etc. I sat with Lizy at Waves whilst she ate a panini and fries. The fries were yummy. I then opted to go to Baristas for a coffee while Lizy went for a swim. It was drizzling and wet but she informed me that the pool was actually warm. My latte was divine. That has to be the best coffee I have had at sea, ever! I will be back there at some point. I just had time for a shower before muster drill. Lizy was not impressed at the procedure. The 7 short blasts had no sooner sounded than we had a knock at the door asking us to evacuate. I was just dressing after my shower as the 7 short blasts had literally just sounded. By the time we stepped out of the cabin we had already had an evacuated tab placed on the door. We weren’t allowed to use the crew stairs (as you would do in a real emergency) We had to queue to get into our Muster station and were then ticked off the register. We were then directed to a specific seating area. I was already thinking that if this ship goes down, I stuffed. I’m hemmed in the middle of a small theatre, and this lot is going out boat by boat. We then had to sit and wait while all the naughty people who had skipped drill had their stateroom number called out. I hope they were berated! We were informed how to put on a life jacket and instructed to do so, but nobody checked I had it on correct. Thankfully I was travelling with my own trained muster station personal so hopefully she would keep me calm, should the need arise. Then when it was all over we had to trudge back up the stairs with everyone else to get back to the stateroom. Ooh thats something else I noticed at drill, the crew were ships ‘staff’ so cabins are rooms, decks are floors, and crew are staff. I think I just keep picking up on announcements that aren’t corrected, but wrong ships terminology is a pet hate of mine lol

Oceania RivieraSo back at the cabin, stateroom or whatever, there was no time to rest. We had precision planning for our evening tonight. We wanted to be out on deck to watch the sailaway from Venice at 8.00pm as it has been many years since I sailed from Venice in the evening and I wanted to see St Marks etc. So we were suitably attired and out for 7.00pm in the Martini Bar. The lovely waitress remembered our choice of drinks but didn’t realise that we intend to do the entire menu over the course of 10 days (or less) we had another good choice although lizy said hers was a little strong lol. The cocktail pianist was very good and played a lot of familiar tunes, so we spent a very enjoyable hour in there. We had scheduled ourselves to dine at 7.45pm but our drinking, chatting and people watching took longer than expected. It was also in our plan to dine in the Terrace Cafe as we wanted to experience all dining options during the cruise and tonight seemed a good time to try the buffet due to our planned departure time of Venice. But this isn’t like any other self service ‘cafe’ at sea, this is posh dining. Yes, it’s not waiter service but they do serve the food to the plate for you. I had a very delicious filo basket filled with chicken, sweetcorn and peppers, with some chicken salad for starter. Meanwhile a wine waiter had acknowledged that we had an unfinished bottle of wine last night in the main dining room and by the time we got back to the table, it had been located and was ready to pour. For main we both had stir fry chicken and pineapple from the wok station. Lizy suddenly started giggling in the queue as she remarked ‘not often you here that request in a ships buffet’ the man behind had ordered “half a lobster with fillet Mignon please’ I have to say that the lobster did look amazing, but neither of us like lobster. But it was what it said on the tin, a real lobster not a lobster shell with some chopped up meat put back into it. It was an extremely popular choice and the table to one side of us were singing its praises. For desert I opted for a profiterole and a marshmallow from the chocolate fountain, plus a divine strawberry tartlet. All absolutely delicious! I have to say that I really enjoyed by buffet dining experience. The wine waiter suggested an after dinner liqueur, and why not. I had a Grand Marnier just venice nightto keep the chill off when I go outside. It was a huge single measure that made the $8 cost extremely good value I thought. Our departure from Venice was delayed by one hour due to the pilot and heavy traffic. We passed the time by talking to a lovely French lady sat alone in the window. She was very sad as it was her first cruise alone without her husband. She had cruised 3 times already on this ship and it is only 12 months old so her loss must have been very recent. But she was very nice company and we chatted about all the ships she had also experienced such as Silversea. She also told me that there were two Silversea ships in today, not just the one. And sure enough as we sailed out we sailed past the second one. We left her to enjoy the scenery from the comfort of her window seat and we headed up a deck to watch us sail past St Marks etc. It was lovely, the decks weren’t crowded, everyone had ample rail space and we just glided by Venice all light up at night. Perfect.

The show in Riviera Lounge was Elton John and Billy Joel songs so we thought that was worth a look. It was good but I couldn’t help compare to the high quality stage productions that I have seen on the likes of Cunard and P&O. The singers and dancers were very good and it was enjoyable especially as the songs were a little more upbeat. But we could hear our beds calling! We had had another long day, with lots of walking and no sleeping. It was time to check out those 1000 thread count sheets again!

As we got back to the cabin balcony we were just nearing the end of the breakwater and the pilot boat was alongside so I watched the pilot leave before putting in the order for a pot of hot chocolate. Oh we are a pair of old crocks, we have a ship full of bars and entertainment and we find ourselves in bed with hot chocolate. It was bliss though!

GoCruise With Jane

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