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Cruise Review: Oriana December 06

Wednesday 27th December 2006

Christmas has been and gone and its time to cruise.  The taxi arrives on time, but I admit to feeling a bit flustered and rushed, but we are soon  on the motorway heading for  Southampton.  At this point Im feeling a bit like the Mum from Home Alone, and Im frantically going over things in my head ‘ have I got this?  Did I remember that?’  all the time there is this big nagging feeling that I really have forgotten something.  Eventually my brain decides I have left my makeup bag on the dressing table, and the driver is instructed to leave at the next junction, turn around and head for home.  Oh boy the taxi man is not happy!  And the more I think about it the more I decide I did put the makeup into the small suitcase this morning.  At home a dash up the stairs confirms I must have packed it after all!!  Too scared to return to the taxi empty handed I grab an important looking envelope and tell the driver I have found what I needed.

We are now behind schedule and Southampton seems miles away.

We arrive at Mayflower Terminal at 12 15 and walk straight up to be checked in.  Straight through the lounge and onto the ship.  First new thing I notice on the way to the ship is the big gold sun and P&O logo on the side of the ship – that’s new!.

Goldie drinks in Crows and Jeannie and Malc, David and Vicki are waiting for us, as is our host Justin.  Lots of hugs!!  Keith & Marion complete the Gold party, but its rude not to send for Big Al, so he is summond and we are complete.

As Im late I order two drinks to catch up.  Sandwiches are dreadful, really soggy and poor this time so we make up for it in drinks.  In fact we just keep ordering until muster is called.

A night for the Rhodes experience is decided upon and Im sent to book the table.  Oh boy  what an experience that was!  3 times I have to treck between the restaurant and Crows and each time I return baffled by the new Rhodes science!  But its sorted and between us we now have 16 of us booked in there.for 30th.

At 415 we head for the cabin and oooh it looks nice after the benefit of a refurb.  Crisp white fluffy duvets, royal blue sofa and soft gold and blue curtains and throws on the beds. New carpet is also evident as there is a lot of carpet fluff.  I try and do some unpacking but as muster drill finishes I can see the band playing outside so we head back up on deck for sailaway.  Yet more champagne is thrust upon me and next thing I know is we are off down the Southampton water.  It was a lovely sailaway.  Quite mild (or was it the alcohol keeping me warm?) and all of Southampton was light up.

I was in need of a little snooze by now so I went to test my new duvet.  Didn’t get much sleep though because the phone kept ringing and the door was knocked twice.  Wasn’t best pleased when someone knocked for the second time but as he was bearing gifts of champagne and flowers he was forgiven!

Big decesions about what to wear for dinner but something was found from my vast collection and we headed to Crows for pre dinner drinks.  Due to a late cabin move our account keeps coming up as ‘empty cabin’ lol, never mind I can cope with no drinks being charged to us.  Bar Manager steps in and buys my drink anyway.

We are dining in the Oriental at table 5.  First impression is that its not far enough in the restaurant but it turns out to be a really nice table by the window. Waiters are chirpy and attentive and wine waitress is nice and on the ball too.I had
Prawn cocktail, chicken and sweetcorn soup, pork followed by fruit salad.  Malc ordered two lovely bottles of wine too – like we needed more alcohol!

After dinner we went back to crows (see a pattern forming?)  Mr C was very tired and insisted he was going to bed.  Alistair used his persuasive powers to get him to have a brandy and lemonade and he was hooked.  He even managed to upset some random old lady so much that she had a go at him twice. Lol poor Mr C he didn’t do anything.  Me and lizy got up and had a dance when the John James Trio started to play and he was so delighted to see us he announced YM was on the dancefloor.  We started something anyway as the whole room was soon taking its turn on the floor.

Time to check out the nightclub in Harlies.  Oh boy oh boy!! Guess who the DJ is?  The one … the only Mr Tim Bayliss!  Oh whoopy Dooo! The barman doesn’t seem to have a personality and wont take no messing around with the order.  He seems chatty enough with Lizy though, Mmmm wonder why?

The youth police come in several times and Im sure they are checking lizy and trying to work out her age, but Alistair says they will have to get past him first, so we leave him in full custody of her. several familiar faces turn up during the evening and the room is quite busy.  DJ Tim is a bit worse than rubbish really.  Where do P&O get them from?  Me and Lizy head for bed at about 2 but Mr C sticks it out until 3.30 before going for some Scooby snacks in Al Fresco before bed.

Thursday 28th December

Ooooach, did someone hit my head last night?  Seems awful painful for some reason.  It’s a lovely morning, suns blasting and seas not too bad either.  Nobody can get out of bed though in a hurry.  When we eventually get ourselves organised we head for Al Fresco for breakie.  Mmmm….. not a good start.  We are asked to sit at an uncleared  table and they clear it for us.  But the ‘clean’ cutlery which I have just watched children messing with is placed back onto a clean napkin for us!  Not what I want to see with norivirus rife on ships and I admit to really snapping about it.  Its self service, but despite the menu saying hot food until 11 that all ceased at 1030, so after a pastry we leave for a hot breakie in the Conservatory.  Oh dear, its not like Aurora and they don’t have continues service.  They also stopped serving hot breakfast at 1030 and we were left continental pickings.  No body is happy about that.

We are first into lunch in the Penninsular and its very busy in there.I decide I need to sleep so I head straight for my bed and fall into a deep sleep.

We have to be organised this evening and give everyone a time slot for the shower.
Guess who gets in the shower last?  But as Ive got getting ready down to a fine art it doesn’t take too long

I have a bit of a duvet war on my hands at the moment as I have asked James to bring two duvets for the top bunks but he has told me he cant.  So I have asked to see the deck supervisor who trys to tell me it is only the bottom bunks that get duvets.  Obviously he doesn’t know that I know the brochure inside out and quote  ‘all berths now have fluffy duvets’  he tries to tell be a bunk isn’t a berth and I beg to differ.  Anyway, when I booked 18 months ago I requested duvets so they had time to sort it.  He asks me to give him 24 hours and he would try but didn’t hold out much hope.  I cant believe that every bed on this ship is occupied and they don’t have spares for accidents? He got the message and sure enough after dinner we had 4 duvets..

Pre dinner drinks in Andersons and they are being very hot on age and drinking this cruise.  By the time I get to Andersons Lizy has already been asked if she is over 16 and old enough to be in there?  When I get there and we both go to the bar for a Martini Cocktail the barman asks me if she is over 18?  I know they have to do there job and that’s fair enough, but it did seem quite a long question and answer session just to establish her age.  And Lizy is getting really annoyed with it all as none of them speak to her and ask her, they speak over her to me.  Oh well, we got our Martinis in the end.  The two gents next to us recognise us from the Portunus magazine plus Lizy was in the lift earlier and was recognised.   Oooooh we are famous.

8.00pm and its Pacific Lounge for Captains Cocktail Party.  Hardly through the door and another officer mentions the portunus magazine and the wedding blessing cruise, even Hamish pipes up and says ‘ Ooh nice to see you still together then ha ha’  what a whitty chappie he is.  Party was very pleasant although Lizy couldn’t get a vodka and they kept giving her gin.

Our host with the most, Justin joins us for dinner this evening.  Ooooh it’s a lovely evening, lovely meal and it just goes on and on.  In fact we are one of the last to leave the restaurant and no half dead carnation for the ladies this evening.  Oh no.  We had a lovely long stemmed red rose.

After dinner we make our way up to Crows.  Jeannie has heard her bed calling but Malc is out and about.  We sit at the bar and in walks Mr Biscuit.  He’s great so we call him over and have our own private close up magic show.  Jan and Nigel join us and before we know where we are they are closing Crows, jeepers we are late stop outs.

Time for Harlies and the amazing DJ that is Tim Bayliss.  It’s a bit like a kids youth club in here tonight but at least its busy and its keeping the youth police busy.  Me and Jan continue to natter and natter while Mr C gets his second wind and starts dancing around.

I didn’t realise but when we get in the lift I discovered its 10 past 3.  Didn’t stop us going to Al Fresco though for scoobies.  I really have no wonder why norivirus is about.  The sandwiches on display are so curled up they look terrible.  And the cheese and ham toasties look like they have been there for hours.  Ive worked out that none of the staff in here are very forthcoming and would like you to presume that the only thing you can have is the dried up choice of sandwich.  Menus are hidden below a pile of other stuff and the waiter will produce one on request.  I don’t think he is best pleased that we both want tortilla chips with dips.  Well chef doesn’t look at all amused about it.  I didn’t mean to upset them any further but I asked for a hot chocolate as it seemed a logical choice at 3.15 in the morning.  ‘Oh madam hot chocolate stops at 1.00am!’  Lets just say that the look on my face must have hinted to him that it might be a good idea to find some hot chocolate and some hot water, and after he worked out that it really was possible I got my hot chocolate.

Wednesday 29th December – La Carruna

Not a bad day today.  Windy but not freezing.  We make it to breakfast in the Conservatory but I still don’t have any better impression of these places.  At least I didn’t have to queue for mine as Lizy fetched mine for me, but she came back to the table in a bad mood as some old gent had ignored the big queue and pushed directly infront of her.  She needs to get tougher because I would have pointed out to him the people standing waiting.

We decide to take a walk into town which is quite pleasant as at least its not too cold.  Its not the most exciting of ports but at least the shops are good. We stopped at a bar for a drink and jeepers I thought I was going to get carried back to the ship. I had ordered a vodka and coke and it was way above even a Spanish measure of absolute vodka!  Even the cola didn’t do much to water it down.

Back to the ship and from our cabin window we watch with great amusement as all the old mattresses are thrown off the ship and piled onto an old cart of a lorry.  The cabin stewards seem to be having great fun making a huge pile of mattresses.  Im so glad we had a new mattress from the start of the cruise because 90% of those off loaded looked disgusting!  A new huge lorry of new ones from Southampton pulls up along side and some people will be getting new mattresses to sleep on.

Back onboard we went for lunch in Tiffanys.  A much more civilised way to do lunch.  I had a tuna wrap which was very nice and a nice glass of white wine.

After lunch we went up to deck 12 to use the spa facilities.  Sadly neither Jacuzzi was bubbling but at least it was like laying in a hot bath. I hopped between sauna and steam room and although you could see your hand in front of you I was asked if I was the lady from the portunus magazine again lol. They cant get their head around why or how I could do so many cruises.  I think they are still trying to work out how I could possibly do 7 cruises in 12 months but its not rocket science is it? Once you hve got the bug you cant really stop.

A nice warm shower and I could have easily crawled into bed, but Lizy wants food so we go to Al Fresco with her.  I sampled a bit of pizza which was really scrummy.

Sailaway on the Pennanat with Jeannie and Malc and Alistair.  Hamish warns us that he is going to do 2 sharp left turns and then the wind will hit us.  And oh boy it did.  We were soon bobbing around and Jeannie impressed me by staying as long as she did considering the movement.

I returned to the cabin for a snooze but somebody has left something unsecured below our cabin and you can hear something rolling around and crashing into the sides.  This goes on for 2 hours and Im convinced that someone on deck 4 will hear it and go and sort it out.   But eventually I pick up the phone and ask reception to go investigate.  They send the accommodation manager to our cabin (the one I had the duvet discussion with yesterday) and he strands there and trys to tell us that its just natural movement of the ship and all ships creek etc etc.  Did I really need to tell him how many cruises I had been on and I knew exactly what ships sounded like in the roughest of seas.

I managed to get out of the cabin without too much delay but it really was rough.  Climbing the two flights of stairs to Andersons was like climbing Everest.  I sat at the bar and within minutes there was the most almighty bang shudder and jerk and I thought we were all going somewhere dark and cold.  I thought all the bottles behind the bar were heading my way and all the cupboards flew open.  The Barman made me giggle when he muttered ‘Bloody refit!’  Apparently Mr C tried to leave the cabin with his life jacket but Liz assured him there were plenty of lockers full about the ship.  It was hard work just sitting still.  All the motion sick bags were being collected by passengers from the stairs and all doors were roped off and nobody was allowed out.  The shows were cancelled. Hamish came over the tannoy to reassure the scared ones that we were perfectly safe and it should calm down in 12 hours! But as some of the ceiling had come down by reception and all the bottles had smashed in Crows Im guessing he had to reassure us before some people started freaking out.

We went down to dinner and I would have been more than surprised to see Jeannie.  Malc had left her in bed.  Flippin heck within 5 minutes of sitting in the Oriental I think we all wished we had done the same.  I couldn’t even lean forward to eat my soup.  It seemed as if the air conditioning was off and there was a lack of air and it was getting warmer.  The poor waiter was continually mopping his brow.  Main course arrived and within minutes we all decided we had to get out of there. Even I thought I needed my bed, but we found a sofa in Andersons directly under an air vent and normality was restored.  We sat for ages with the kids listening to my stories of cruising in the olden days when everything was black and white!LOL. They cant believe that if there was a deck buffet one day it was the high light of the cruise! They take so much onboard for granted and cant begin to imagine how basic it was in the 60’s.

Lizy heads to bed with some pop, crisps and a book but we head to Harlies where you cant feel the ship move.  Me and Vicki sit and put the world to rights.  Its very busy in here as its 60’s and 70’s night.  A lot of passengers had made the effort too with Austin Powers, hippies, 70’s dresses.  It was a really good night which ended in Al Frescos for scoobies and the nice man got me some hot chocolate no bother this evening.

Saturday 30th December at sea

We have all got our lazy bones heads on this morning and none of us can get out of bed in a hurry. I hit on the idea of having room service but then remember we’re not on Aurora and have to wait until 11.00am for room service to start!  We could have had a Danish from room service but it was too late and we wanted something more substantial.  So we all get up and head for Tiffanys which also starts serving at 11. I had the Asian chicken pita which I wasn’t keen on when it arrived so I swapped it fro the tuna wrap with Mr C. The others were stil hungry so Lizy had a bowl of chicken broth soup and Mr C and leigh had the chocolate cake.  Looked yummy but I was full.

We went and sat in Lords with keith and marion where there was a men V’s women quiz on.  Trivia questions where you just shout out the answers, all good fun but the men cheat a lot!

More scoobies are decided upon so its back to Tiffany’s for more soup and a nice glass of wine.

It’s a special day today as aswell as being our ‘wedding anniversary’ David and Vicki are having a Renewal of Vows this afternoon and Mr C and I along with Alistair have been invited. Thankfully the sea was calmer than yesterday and the sun was shining.  We waited to be collected by the officer to take us to the Captains Lounge to await the arrival of David and Vicki. They both looked so happy and it was such a pleasure to share their special service with them.  They all looked stunning and for a moment I thought Vicki was going to get emotional but she later admitted to being really nervous.  Mr C was itching to get his camera out and start taking photos but the photographer seemed to be doing such a good job he let them get on with it.  We toasted the happy couple with some very nice bubbly and they cut the cake with Vicki tasting it sooner than she thought!

After we moved onto Crows for yet more drinkies.

We had our big meal arranged this evening for Oriana Rhodes, so we had a pre dinner meet arranged in Andersons.  We really struggled to make room in here for us all but as others arrived our circle turned into a big squiggle of seats.

In Rhodes we had two tables of four and one 3 booked so Lizy sat with Justin and Alistair.  Jan and Nige sat with Jeannie and Malc and we sat with Keith and Marion.  Oh we had such a fab evening I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.  We giggled all the way through it and nothing failed to amuse us.  Our two favourite’s being – ‘would you like still or sparkling water?’  Cant we just have a jug? ‘Oh you mean regular water sir!!’  All the others fell for the posh water lol.  And the other thing that amused us to a high degree was if you left the table for anything, to talk to another table or to use the facilities etc, someone pounced and took your chair, folded your napkin etc and then waited on guard to get you back in your seat.  If they spotted a smudge on your napkin you got a clean rolled one waiting for you.  There were only 24 covers being served so staff were all over the place waiting to do something.  It took 4 at a time to serve you and tell you a little story about your plate of food. I had the chicken gourjons, next came the tiny cup of sweet pea soup with chefs compliments, then I had the belly pork on Justins recommendation and I was not disappointed.  Then came fresh strawberries with mint leaves to refresh the palate.  We all chose different puds just so we could all try everything.  I had the orange and mango which was to die for.  Just as we thought the laughter was over I ordered a cappachino which is so huge you cant lift it.  I needs a full sugar bowl just to sweeten it!  Overall a superb evening.  Im so glad we booked when we did as it is full until the end of the cruise.  Service and food could not be faulted, but at the end of the day to me it is still the Curzon Room.  The ambience isn’t right.  It should have had a refurb with new décor and just kept the lights.  It is far too light and airy to create the right ambience and as the doors are left open to Tiffanys everyone is stomping past or stopping by to stick their head in. Perhaps it would be more suited to a Café
B type place with music for dancing etc.  But for me the room just didn’t work and it need smore thought and effort putting into it.

We retired to Crows for one last drink and Mr Biscuit makes the mistake of walking past so once again he is nabbed for some close up majic. The food and full bellies has finished us all off and we all agree on a relatively early bed.  Justin though had to head off to his officer mates to gloat about being the first crew member to eat in Rhodes.  You see knowing the Chadwicks does have its benefits lol.

Sunday 31st December 2006 – Madeira

My belly was so full that I didn’t sleep that well last night.  I kept popping my head around the curtain to check if we were along side yet but we are still at sea.  We should have docked at 8.00am but Hamish informs us all that we are waiting for the pilot and will be a little late.  All the time Im wondering which side we will dock this year as Id overheard the tours lady yesterday advising someone that the best view of fireworks would be on starboard side.  But yes we docked to starboardJeannies balcony.  It’s a beautiful morning, blue skys and loads of sunshine.  We had breakfast in the sunshine on Pennant and thought of how miserable it must have been at home – what a shame for all those in the UK lol.

We waited for Justin to finish his lifeboat drills and headed into town.  There was a shuttle bus but to get full benefit from the suns rays we walked.  And what a fab walk it was.  MSC Musica was berthed next to us and she is massive.  She just dwarfed us.  The movie screen above the pool was showing movies all day – now that would keep lizy amused for hours.

Our mission today was to go up in the hot air balloon, but despite the fantastic weather they said it was too windy and to come back later.  Mc Donalds was calling the ‘kids’ so we went and sat outside there while they filled up on Big Macs and chicken sandwiches!

We had a little stroll around the town watching the traditional dancers and soaking up the atmosphere.  We had to go to the market just because it’s the thing to do.  Lizys little bunny got a whicker sleigh and he seemed chuffed to bits with it.  We did some wine tasting and Justin bought some weird beef dried salted meat stuff that looked disgusting – yuk!

We headed back to the balloon, but it was still waiting for the breeze to ease, so we had a few drinks in the sun over looking the sea and watched the ships come and go into the harbour.  We went in search of snacks and ended up at the little boats next to the Beetles old yacht.  The sun was absolutely beating down and I was cursing that I hadn’t put a strappy top on.  But a bottle of wine chilled me out.

Now then. Why is it that buying a helium balloon from a santa claus always seems like a good idea when you have had a few drinks?  I chose a blue unicorn with wings!  It became a bit of a Chinese conundrum as santa had tied it to my wrist, but with my shopping bag half way up the same arm plus my arm was half through the strap of my bag.  It all became very difficult and I was walking like a spastic trying to fathom it all out.  I was half way round the dock before I broke free from the puzzle. Otherwise I had visions of me being fed head first through the scanner.  As we approached the ships I could hear music blasting across the dock and thought it sounded like one of the ships was having fun. I woulod never have guessed it was the good old Oriana!  Blimey P&O providing entertainment half way through the day?  Things must be turning!!

Once onboard I was straight into a bikini and onto the deck by the Riviera pool, but there are that many phones going off and text bleeps that it does my head in.  Why don’t people put them on silent? And listening to 40 different versions of ‘oooh its lovely and hot here, whats the weather like?’ I had to go to bed!

I had a lovely sleep and woke up to see all the lights of Madeira.  I will never tire of that sight.

Had to phone mummy tonight which wasn’t an easy task as Im missing her being with us.  Ive phoned her every port day but tonight was a difficult one.  Oh well the normality of Andersons was calling and pep talks from Jeannie sort me out.

Dinner is later this evening as it’s a big big meal.  Air con is still not working properly and we report it yet again.  Its so hot I even allow malc and Mr C to remove their jackets.  Malc is very chuffed about that.  We have to hang onto the menus to keep us cool.  The Haggis was piped in with a violin this time which was a bit strange but we addressed the haggis and all that and then got on with ordering everything, and I mean everything!  Have so though that my salmon was as dry as a bone and I had to leave it.  Yes of course the waiter asked if everything was ok but I knew dam well that if I told him the salmon was dry he would have insisted I had something else and I really was stuffed.  Anyway we were to busy with our hooters tonight blasting out the other tables to be bothered with eating.  Luckily both tables either side of us were good fun, but oooh dear the posh couple on the table for two were not amused.  Gee whiz they were a barrel of laughs.  They never cracked a smile or attempted to have fun and they never even looked at the party hats, poppers or hooters.  The man on the next table had a birthday and we did a lovely rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ on our hooters for him as musical backing for the waiters.  We were all in hysterics when we left but then we do like to have fun.

We headed for crows for a nice drink in the room with a view.  It took forever to get a drink even though the room was half empty, but then I guess most of the bar staff were outside at the deck party.

11.30 and we headed for the New years eve celebrations in Jeannie and malcs mini suite.  Ooooh its nice in here, and one day we will be able to get one when all the little people have allowed us to save up enough pennies.
We really do have prime viewing position of the fireworks tonight with no pushing and shoving.  We even have room for Mr C’s tripod and camera.
Good job Nige is impressed with Madeira and the fireworks as hes only recently found out that he’s doing it all again next year lol. Us ladys and our cunning plans!

We count down to Midnight and ‘BANG’ 2007 is here!!  Oh the fireworks were fab, but you had to be hear because you just cant describe them.  I did notice that they created a lot of smoke though this year and some got hard to see through the fog.  I think you can all safely say that we bought in the new year in style and noisily.  Anybody who got a call on their mobile was balsted out with our cheers and hooters.  Malc spoke to Alister in full Scottish accent and they were both incohearent when they got going.

Now then if you want any info about a mini suite Im the one to ask because I went on a full recky of the room and its facilities much to everyones amusement! We were investigating whether the sofa was asofa bed or not and found a cabin key with a cabin number on the back.  Mr Biscuit must have been around here because guess what cabin number it was?  F196!!!  Our cabin and keys were accounted for so whos was it? and why did it have F196 written on it in black felt pen?   All way too weird to think about after the amount of alcohol consumed!

Me lizy and Alistair headed for Harlies at about 2.45 and it was busy but I have certainly seen it a lot busier on new years eve.  Steve (BM) told us that the deck party had been good but we never made it any where near there so cant comment.  Everyone was very surprised to see us so late in the evening and must have been worried we were still in Madeira.  3 more bacardis finished Alister off and lizy had already headed for her bed so me and steve put the world to rights for 5 minutes.  I think we were making a female crew member a bit jealous for some reason as she barged passed steve and gave him a right thump, Blimey I thought she was going to kill me when she walked back past me!  Must find out who she is as even Steve wasn’t sure.  Anyway, we decided to start a rumour and left the building together!

Monday 1st January 2007 – New Years Day at sea

The weather looks fab again to day and it’s a bit of an effort to get up and go out on deck.  Its lovely when the sun isn’t behind a cloud but Im tired hungry and grumpy because I want food and breakfast has finished on this stupid ship!  I do find it so frustrating.  Brunch is being served in the Oriantal at 11 so we head for there and oh boy they should do this every day. Bacon paninis, salmon bagles – yuumy scrummy!
I even had a bucks fizz to wash it down.

We head back to the Crystal pool to test out the sun, but I don’t feel like I have the patience today.  So I change and we go to the men v’s ladys quiz in the tavern.  My brain just cant function today and I? hardly answer any.  Poor Lizy is so bored that she is nearly in tears.  The kids are too young for her this cruise and there just aren’t any 20 ish youngsters around for her to mix with.  Jeannie comes to the rescue with some gadget that plays films so I go down to the cabin to tell liz to go and see aunty Jeannie.
She comes back like a big kid at Christmas and sets up camp in the corner of her bunk with a playlist of films to watch.  Mr C calls to tell me its lovely hot and sunny on deck but I just cant be bothered today and I pull on my PJ’s and crawl under the duvet to catch up on sone z’s

Im out early enough for pre dinner drinks in Crows followed by pre dinner drinks in Andersons.  Jeannie trys hger first martini cocktail on my recommendation and goes for the Apple Martini.  Lol she knew she had drunk it when she first stood up.  Must give her more training and get her on at least 2 before dinner.

Justins stressed tonight as he is getting hassles from all sorts during his work today. So we chill him out as best we can.  The restaurant is still baking and word is they are working on it but still cant get our side of the restaurant to cool down properly. As usual we eat and drink plenty and generally just have a good time.

Cinderella is the panto on in the theatre and as its new years day we take our annual family trip to see the show.  Me and lizy had fun shouting at Buttons and the ugly sisters.  Cant say it was the best theatre company and they lacked a bit of umph.  But the show was good and we all had fun.

We headed up to Crows and had a few drinks with Alister. The boys and men had a full blown discussion about zoo’s and animals which kept them entertained for ages, but it’s a long story so we wont go into it.

Harlies wasn’t very busy tonight and I think moist people were burnt out from last night.

Tuesday 2nd January 2007 – Tenerife

Another glorious hot sunny day.  We had breakie outside Al Fresco before heading into town.  Huge queues for the shuttle bus so we walked.  There was major improvements being made to the front as you walk into twon so it was an even longer walk around the building works.  We look forward to seeing the finished poroduct next year – it all looks very swish.  We just had a stroll around, took the kids to Mc D’s, then onto the café for hot chocolate and sangria (weird combination I know but it’s a Chadwick thing!) and then walked back to the ship to get on deck and soak up the sun.  We had a few Moscow mules and thought about everyone at home, freezing cold and miserable and returning to work lol.  I even walked as far as Al Fresco for some pizza and salad.  It was so hot today it was just fab..

I went back to the cabin for a shower with the intention of getting showered and into bed for my sleep but it turned into a full blown pamering session.  Thing is it was Mr C who got most of the pampering and beauty treatments from Lizy.  He just laid back while he got a pedicure and full facial.  Me?  I couldn’t even get near my bed.

As usual it was pre, pre dinner drinks in Crows followed by pre dinner drinks in Andersons.  Mamta made me  a wicked Melon Martini up in Crows that nearly blew my flippin head off.  I could hardly string a sentence together by the time I got down to Andersons and I was convinced Jan was a Jill all of a sudden! Indian dinner in Conservatory tonight and I confess to messing up the table arrangement tonight!  Thing is I always think our table in the main restaurant is a table for 6, so plus 2 extra fro Indian dinner makes 8!  But it is in fact 7 + 2 = 9 so a word to nice restaurant manager man and even he couldn’t make our table fit 9.  Soon sorted though and Justin and Lizy take a table for 2.  I cant say Im a big fan of curry but it makes a change and it gets us out of the hot restaurant.

After dinner we all head to Andersons for a nightcap of 5 and are there until the barstaff ask if we mind if they put the lights out – I kid you not!!


Wednesday 3rd December 2007

We have been here for a whole week today.  Have to say that it seems a lot longer.

We didn’t rush to get out of bed, and as is usual this cruise we miss breakfast yet again.  I time getting up just about right for getting ready for Gold Portunus lunch.  We are seated at table 26 with Jamie Navigational Officer and his wife Pauline.  Pauline is impressed that she has such a young table to host.  I think Keith and Marion had spent the last 24hrs wondering who they were going to get lumbered with at lunch, and ha ha who did they get?  The Chadwicks and Jeannie and Malc!  Dinner was a different menu today, not that Im an expert on Portunus menus or anything lol.  Cant say I over enjoyed the food but hey the wine was flowing more than freely and we upheld the tradition and were the last to leave the restaurant.

As if we hadn’t had enough to drink we all headed up to the Lords Tavern for various drinks and a crisp fest!  I had to leave at 4 for a nail appointment and Jeannie and Malc left for a rest in the cabin, but Mr C Keith and Marion stayed and drank even more.

Im not even going to go into my nail appointment saga because its just too stressful.  Oriana doesn’t have a dedicated nail specialist and lets just say that it was like a one and half hours of pulling teeth!

Mr C rolled in from the Tavern at about 20 to 7 more than a bit merry.  He had pre warned Leigh that I wouldn’t be impressed and leigh found it highly amusing that I gave Mr C hell!

Black and White evening tonight which is always one of my favourite nights.  Weirdly its also Great British Pub night!  Erm…why?

As always its pre dinner in Crows but the flippin Scottish ye ha band are on and they are starting to do my nut in now. We went down to Andersons and no Keith and Marion?  Must have also drank too much this afternoon.

Oooh we have balloons at the table tonight.  One of us must be celebrating something?  Mr C is sruggling to keep his mince pies open but there is no way he is going to bed – he can suffer!

After all courses have been satisfactorly completed the mystery is revealed and the Chadwicks are celebrating their wedding Anniversay.  We get a signed card from Captain Hamish and I very loudly announce that there is a voucher in there for £500 onboard credit – oh you should have seen the heads turn!  We had the full choir of ‘Congratulations’ then we all had tea and cake.

A little nighcap in Andersons and we all turned in for the night.  Well Mr C had to so there wasn’t really a choice to be fair.

Thursday 4th January – Lisbon

I woke up and looked out of the window and you couldn’t even see the other side of the dockside.  We were shrouded in thick fog.

Eventually we dragged ourselves out of bed and went for breakie in Conservatory (still hate that place but choices are lacking)  Its not too cold outside but its still very foggy.  I do a couple of laps of prom while we wait for young Mr Chadwick to drag his ass out of bed.  Lizy gets a lay in because she has agreed to wait for Justin before they head into town to meet us.  Justin is escorting a tour this morning.

The queue for the shuttle bus is massive but as they are asking 15 euros for a taxi we wait.  We are on the next bus out so its not so bad. The Dakar Rally is starting from Lisbon today so everywhere is b8usy with film crews etc.  We had a good morning shopping.  I like Lisbon and still don’t understand why a lot of people dislike the place.  Yes there is graffiti and beggars but its not dirty or as scruffy as some say.

We went up that big tower thingy in the town (which I must find out the name of!)  I hadn’t been in its since I was little and it was well worth the 2 euro 60 for the lift ride two thirds they way up and back down.  You have to finish the journey to the top via two narrow spinly spiral staircases which are just a little scarey, but the view from the top is fantastic.  The fog had lifted and it was clear blue sky and sunny and warm by now so it was even better.  Even the lift was fascinating just because it was so old fashioned and I would guess at Victorian?  But it has kept all its charm and character and sitting in something that was more like a carriage while assending up was different.

Once we were back on firm ground we went and bought some famous Lisbon tarts – yum!

A few more shops to look in and we got a call from Liz to say they were on their way and to meet outside Hard Rock Café.  Hard Rock café always means cocktails so something nice was selected and then it was lunch time at Bon Jardin the chicken and chip place.  Oh we love this place the food is just so ‘normal’ and scrummy.  We all leave completely stuffed and well fed, yet we still left 3 big pieces of chicken. Not bad as it worked out about 10 euros per head and that included plenty to drink.

Justin didn’t have to be back until 4 so it gave us time to revisit Hard Rock café.  I have no ide what I had to drink but it blew my head off!! It was so good they gave me a free glass with it too, which Lizy claimed!

Justin had to be back onboard for 4.00pm so we had to walk fast to Black Horse square for the shuttle bus.  We only got approached once by the sunglasses touts but as we were all in a very silly mood we took the mickey and he wasn’t impressed and decided to blow raspberry’s at us which caused great hilarity.  Oncein Blackhorse square we could see the Christmas tree properly for the first time as it was covered in fog this morning.  It’s the second largest christmas tree in the world – the largest being in Rio.  Justin and Lizy decided to hve a wrestling match in the square and I had to remind them we were in a hurry to get Justin to the ship on time.  The queue for the shuttle was juge so we opted for two taxi’s.  Miraculously it was only 5 euro per cab as apposed to 15 this morning.

Jeannie and Malc were on their balcony waiting to greet us back onboard. A quick snooze and then we had to go to Terrace for the last sailaway of the cruise.  I had to smile at the deck party as we passed by Riviera Pool.  Flashing lights, Tim the DJ and lots of waiters.  Not a soul about.  LOL they were all on the back of deck 12.  It was a lovely sailaway.  Cold but lovely to see Lisbon light up, the huge Christmas tree in the square and Saga Ruby and Saga Rose berthed alongside each other all light up.  The gang were together.  Jeannie and Malc, Jan and Nige, Vicki and David, Alistair, the Chadwicks and Miss Williams.  We all ran up to top deck to watch us pass under the 25th April bridge.  It always scares me even though I know dam well there is a 15m clearance from the top of the funnel.

Time to get ready for dinner and the evening ahead.  Supposed to be tropical night but we don’t really see many people who have made the effort.  But then why should they if there is no deck party.  Pred dinner drinks in Crows and yippee John James Trio are back after their few nights playing other bars.  I manage 3 cosmos before dinner tonight!

I cant remember if I have mentioned the posh table for two that sit on the raised bit above us?  But they never smile or even communicate with each other never mind anyone else.  Me and Malc have nicknamed her the mona Lisa.  Her face never cracks but she stares at our table like we are a bunch of freaks. Malc reckons she was taking in a lot of data tonight which really amused me.  Our table was its usual lively luittle self with the usual standard of hilarity and generally just enjoying ourselves.  I had a steak which was very nice and the chefs special of Yorkshire pudding filled with mince was very popular.

After dinner we headed back to Crows where we stayed all night.  Nige performed majic at one end of the bar with leigh, while me and Jan put the world to right at the other end.  The lads in the middle entertained themselves and we all drank lots and lots of drinks!  Mamta was on top form and I think she is more entertaining than Geoff.  She has knicknames for some of us.  Vicki is Barbie, Mr C is cute!  She curses me because I am so fcuking slim (her words not mine)  She loves Jans dimples and Malc is my Dad lol.  Poor Malc was gobsmacked at that one!  We had to leave when all the alcohol had been locked away but it was around 3.00am!  We stuck our heads n Harlies on our way to bed and it was quite busy, but we didn’t stay.  We had had a lovely night and it didn’t need anymore entertainment.

Friday 5th January – at sea

We wake too late for breakfast yet again and so we get dressed and head for Tiffanys for a nice baquette.  Dam, they have changed the menu and I don’t fancy any of it.  I had a smaked salmon baquette but wasn’t enjoying it so I left it.  After a wander around I decided to return to the cabin to be lazy.  Room service provided a nice prawn baquette and pot of tea and I snuggled down under my duvet while lizy packed her case in preparation for the day after tomorrow.

Portunus Party this evening so we have to do pre dinner drinks even earlier than usual.  We had Crows Nest all to ourselves at 7.00pm, but we are soon joined by Alistair.

Portunus party in Pacific was same as ever, except we struggled to get drinks.  I managed one champagne and one vodka coke and we were late leaving. Captain Hasmish was quite witty – especially when he announced that Justin was entering into a civil ceremony with another bloke lol.  He made his big announcement about the new ship coming out in 2010 but of course we already knew all about it.  A lady on A deck won the steel bucket and Im not so sure she knew what to do with it.

Gala dinner and yet again we have balloons at our table!  I wonder what we are celebrating this time?  The meal starts off with a nice bottle of Bolli’ and we all make a separate toast.  We also manage a bottle of Beringer and a bottle of red plus the half bottle left from the night before so it was quite a liquid meal.

Then the excitement of  the cake and full choir singing Congratulations.  The occasion Lizys 40th cruise.  However, by the time the congratulations had finished we had turned it into Justin and Lizy’s Engagement celebration lol.  It woulodnt be right if we left the restaurant early so we are just about the last to leave yet again.

Jazz night with Natural High in Crows tonight and we comandear two thirds of the bar.  The other day Johny from Natural High came over to us and said he had expected us to be a bit more lively this cruise.
Obviously he just hadn’t been in the same place at the same time as us, and he must have seen and heard us tonight.  It was a fantastic evening and we all had a fab time singing along and drinking far too much.  I have to say the band were brilliant and we all really enjoyed it.

We waited until we were kicked out of Crows yet again and then all headed down to Harlies.  People always look amazed when we arrive in there at silly o’clock in the morning.  We even got Jan and Nige into the nightclub tonight so it was cause for even more celebration.

Me and Malc were dancing at the bar singing Abba and Build Me up Buttercup!  We danced to Im in the mood for Dancing and just had loads of fun being silly.

With it possibly being Lizys last cruise for a while even she stayed out to party.  What will Alistair do next year if she is not around to buy him a drink when she reaches the grand age of 18? We have to convince her to return.

We had to log what time Malc left the nightclub as he always tells Jeannie he was in bed at 1.00am but it was definatley 10 to 3 when he left this time.

I left at around 4 and I left Mr C to it with David and Vicki qand think he returned at about 5 this morning.

Saturday 6th January 2007 – last day at sea

Oh my head!  What the hell happened?  I feel rougher than I have ever felt in my life.  I head to the Conservatory for some breakie but I cant stick it and have to return to my bed.  Mr C got me up for pub lunch but I wish I hadn’t bothered.  The fish was dry and chewy, the mushy peas had so much salt in them you couldn’t eat them and the chips were just limp.  Totally un enjoyable, so it was back to bed for me.

Horse Racing in the Pacific lounge this afternoon at £1 a bet.  Malc won lots of times but I kept backing the last one.

Stopped by the Conservatory at 3.15 and was amazed t find food being served.  Lovely little prawn sandwiches, ham sandwiches and spring rolls. That’s the first time I have had anything from the conservatory and enjoyed it.

Im usually so organised with the packing but it had all been left to the last minute so we had too go back and get that sorted..  It was soon done and I even managed to fit in an hours nap before getting ready for our last night.

Pre dinner in Crows with John James trio.  Jeannie and malc joined us and they say that Im a bad influence on them lol.  We had a full row of strawberry daquaries lined up much to john james amusement! On the way down in the lift a man asks me if I am me?  Well yes I am of course I am but I have no real idea who he might be? So as I know you are reading this please let me know who you are.  I might guess that you are HF? But its only a guess?

I think they have sorted the air con out in the dining room now as it was really cool tonight.  I cant really say that I wanted my food tonight but then me and Jeannie did go through three or four pots of nibbles up in Crows.  I still managed my 3 courses but couldn’t quite do the sweet course.

Back up to Crows after dinner for yet more stupidness.  We just never seem to stop giggling. Malc trys to convince Jeannie that he will be in by 1.00am (has he has been every night this cruise ! Not!!) and he will be a quiet as a mouse and slip into the cabin backwards then climb into bed like a ghost.  Oh he is bonkers!

As the night moved on the Crows became over run by kids on the dsnce floor and it was more like a kids club than anything else.  Parents made no effort to move them from the dance floor making it difficult for qanyone wanting a dance.  The kids have had the run of both Pacific and Harlies this cruise so it’s a bit of a soar note to end on. Everywhere was so strict at the beginning of the cruise and now its just all out of the window.

We popped down to Harlies to say our goodbyes but there is nobody around. The place is full of kids so I head for my bed.

It has been an absolute fantastic cruise, mainly due the brilliant company.  We don’t need any of P&O’s entertainment as we just make our own.

Sundsay 7th January 2007 – Southampton

Ive hardly slept a wink all night. My body was probably a bit shell shocked at being sent to bed before 1.00am?  The baggage is already being unloaded at 0630.  Time for a nice civilised breakfast in the restaurant.  Penninsular filled up very fast but we sat with an older couple on one of the last remaining tables.  Trust me to sit with someone who really enjoyed telling me they were on for the Worldie as well!!! Just what you want to hear.  Breakfast took forever to get served and can only presume there was a delay in the galley.  But it was worth the wiat as it was freshly cooked and piping hot.  We disembarked straight after breakfast and were in our mini cab by 9.35 and on our way home.  Why do drivers always want to chat for England when you just want to sit quietly and reflect?

Strangely I didn’t feel too sad or upset as we drove away from the ship today.  Was that because Im all cruised out?  That Im content with the cruise we just had?  Or am I missing Aurora lol.

Overall opinion of Oriana

Well without sounding like I really want to whinge, she just isn’t the ship in the fleet for me.  Aurora is the ship for me, and maybe now Lizy is old enough we will try Arcadia again.  I cant really put my finger on what sets Aurora and Oriana apart.  Aurora just feels more elegant.  She has that edge with décor and surroundings. Facilities on Aurora are better public room and restaurant wise.  Oriana seems a little dull?  Maybe because the ceilings are lower?  I don’t really know what it is.  The room service only at certain times and Conservatory food cut off times have definatley been a gripe of mine, but an officer told me last night that all changes as of today.  How true that is I don’t know or to what degree it will be changing.  At the end of the day she doesn’t have a café B which is a big plus for me on Aurora. Aurora just has that bit of a wow factor still and Im far more comfortable there. Usually when Im ashore and returning to the ship I usually think ‘Ah there is home, there’s my ship!  But as I approached Oriana in Tenerife I just didn’t feel that, infact I was quite sad she wasn’t Aurora.

Entertainment – Mmmm… same old same old! Joff seems a nice enough bloke, always made the effort to speak or greet when passing.  His team were very young and all new to me, no great personalities amongst them. Entertainers – don’t even go there.  One was billed as Claire Sweenys Dad.  So what?  Does that make him a better comedian?  Dianne Cousins – lovely woman but same old act.  Illusion act who we didn’t see.  Have to say though that the bands were very good.  Natural Highs Jazz night was fantastic. We didn’t go in Harlies much early in the evening when they were playing but it always seemed busy and what we did see was good and lively. I love listening to John James although I have to say his pianoist should stick with playing the piano.

Lords Tavern looks great since the changes.  It’s a lot bigger and a lot more goes on in there.  The only thing is that the extention is very open plan and the cigarette smoke is very noticeable.  The daytime fun quizzes in there were almost non stop during the middle of the day so it was nice to see P&O thinking outside the box for once.

Kids facilities again really benefited from the refit.  Outer space looked a very funky little den.  Decebels was fitted out a lot better with bean bags and flat screen tv’s and game consoles.  Peter Pans was more sectioned off to the ball pool are etc and smartened up with new flooring etc.

The Casino is no bigger than before and I think there were two card tables, one roulette and 3 banks of 3 fruit machines back to back.

The refurb was noticeable everywhere and like I have said before she needed it.  Most of the carpets and soft furnishings have just been replaced with identical or similar, but it has all helped create a fresher look.

Cabins look great.  Im still squirming over those filthy mattresses they off loaded in La Carunna.  I was disgusted to discover the other day that the top two bunks in our cabin had the old dirty mattresses and hopefully they will be changed shortly.  The cabins were long over due a refurb and they look great now.  I just hope the rest of the fleet follows with the duvet idea.

Service – cant fault it.  Barstaff and waiters have been spot on.  Cabin steward hasn’t been the best we have ever had and I could moan forever about what he hasn’t done, but when I look at how many cabins he has to deal with I wouldn’t want his job and cleaning up after other people must be the pitts of a job.

Weather – no better or worse than we expected for the time of year and at the end of the day if its hot and sunny it’s a bonus.  The bay was easy going each way and more or less totally unnoticeable on the way back.  Ok so we hit the bit of a storm after we left la carrunna but that could happen anywhere at anytime.  Madeira and Tenerife were hot and sunny.  Lisbon was shrouded in fog but during the afternoon it was clear blue sky and warm.

Passengers – well it was a very old cruise.  Not sure why as it isn’t normally.  Maybe once the refurb was announced they all took the plunge and got it booked up?  Usually this cruise has a younger mix.  They are normally up to the full capacity of children which I think is around 350 but for this one there was only 160 so obviously less families for some reason.  Either way 160 kids isn’t that many for any cruise.  I found it rather annoying that the kids got the Paciffic lounge but also had Harlies all evening too.  And I mean young kids at that.  Final starw was when they took over Crows dance floor on the last night really. I would have thought with there being such a small number they could have kept them entertained in Decibels.  Lizy didn’t use Decibels as she is almost 18.  Leigh is 13 and he never really felt welcomed into the room anytime he went up there so he just gave up in the end.  Sorry Decibels Dan but that has to be down to the youth crew at the end of the day encouraging the kids to mix.  I know you asked a few times why they hadn’t been up and that’s the reason.  I went in there myself a few times as a parent and nobody apart from Dan made the effort to say Hi, which is unusual.  There are some kids who don’t mix too well and they can feel a bit overcome when faced with loads of other loud kids.

The famous propeller vibrations – oh heck, Im sure its worse than ever.  Hamish liked to put his foot down most nights and we got a very noisy and uncomfortable ride in the Oriental restaurant.  Some nights you had to speak quite loud and plates and cutlery would be shaking on the table.  I guess that it will always be the same on Oriana and they are never going to be able to fix it.  My recommendation is to ask for the Peninsular restaurant when booking.

I have read a few comments already from the Christmas cruise passengers who said they couldn’t get into Rhodes because it was all pre booked.  I don’t understand how this can be as Im certain they weren’t taking pre bookings prior to boarding.  Once we boarded it was announced that you could book from 2.30pm that afternoon.  I will confess to going straight to Rhodes at that point and securing a reservation (as were other people at this time) but I do know that by tea time it was fully booked for the entire cruise.  During the Christmas cruise they only took 16 covers per night so it would have booked even quicker.  They increased it to 24 for the first part of our cruise.  So I think there has just been some misunderstanding about pre bookings by the other Christmas cruise passengers.

As Ive said we have had a fantastic time.  Justin remains a top bloke who does a superb job representing P&O.  Even when he doesn’t know we are around we have all observed him doing his job 100% and going out of his way to smile at people to greet them and make them want to come back to P&O.  What a pity that other officers don’t follow in his footsteps.  The unfriendliness of officers on here has been noted!

It was lovely to meet Jan and Nige and Leigh has had great fun learning his majic.

Keith and Marion, we lost you the last few days but great company as always and Rhodes night was superb with you both.  Alistair, well it just wouldn’t be New Year without you.  Glad you could share all the good bits with us.

Jeannie and Malc – thank you so much for a fantastic New Years Eve.  For all the laughs.  And for completing a great dinner table.  Malc you have just been a classic and some of your one liners have killed us.

Nothing will stop me doing my new year cruises – I still love them and I love being in Madeira on New Years Eve.  Who knows what ships will go there in future years or how P&O will decide on the itineraries, but Im sure the Madeira fireworks will always be on one of them.

I will admit to feeling a bit cruised out for the time being so Im ok with the thought of nothing booked until the summer but hey, never say never.

I came home and unpacked everything before even sitting down.  Its all now back in the wardrobe or in the wash basket.  As I type Oriana is about to sail on her World Cruise – one day that will be me!

A I have said, Oriana has gone down my own personal pecking order.  She just isn’t the ship for me. But at the end of the day a cruise is what you make it and we made it great fun as always.

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