Embarkation was started very soon after we had checked in, and had the car safely driven to the port car park.
We enjoyed lunch out on deck, as the weather was already sunny and warm.
Our cabin, inside double, with a shower was ready at 1.30pm., and we unpacked soon after that, knowing we were organised with all our belongings, until we had to pack to go home.
We had been on this ship twice before, so we knew our way around, and could reach the open back to have a swim on deck 8. We were on deck 11, aft, so it was a convenient location for the Alexandria dining room in the evenings.
Once the mandatory muster was over, we planned what to do for our first 3 sea days.
Sailing down through the Bay of Biscay was uneventful, due to the continuing good weather, as was the sailing through the Straits of Gibraltar. We saw shoals of sunfish, whales and dolphins, which made it very interesting. The Rock of Gibraltar was covered in mist, as was the Spanish coast, but the coast of Africa was quite clear.
The first port of Alicante was enjoyable, as we like to get ashore having been at sea for 3 days. We had been to Benidorm once before, so we just wanted to find a hole in the wall for some euros and visit a local bar, and take photos.
We had very informative port lectures from Graham, and interesting talks on various subjects, such as the Panama Canal, and the Mary Celeste, which widened our knowledge about these topics, so found the information invaluable.
We saw a beautiful sunset every night, except the 2nd night, when we were starting to sail into the Bay of Biscay. We had never experienced watching sunsets and sitting out on deck until 11pm most nights, so this was a first.
We had an excursion to Mount Etna, which we booked through P&O before we left. The 2 hour coach drive to this big volcano, gave us an indication as to the scenery of Scicily, so thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful experience.
Our next 4 ports were visited consecutively, so became very busy.
Cephalonia was, as I had envisaged, very calming, so reminded ourselves of their local drink and watched the world going by, after taking a road train trip around the town.
We saw the beautiful town of Dubrovnik the next day, and I had only heard how lovely the people were and how safe we felt walking around this walled city. We took advantage of the free shuttle service from the port to this city, taking half an hour, but sadly our day was a short stay in this port, so we had to see as much as possible in the allocated time, but want to return to Croatia another time.
Venice, the pinnacle port of this trip, was started in a marvellous way, by getting up early for a 7am sail-in, commentated by Graham, the port lecturer on this trip. He was able to give us an accurate description of all the important buildings, and we were in a prime position on the top deck to get some memorable photos.
I had no idea what people told me about this city not having roads, but canals and 200 bridges, connecting 118 islands. It fascinated me, but scared me at how busy it was, with so many visitors. There were also 3 other big cruise ships in at the same time as us, so I was very worried about getting lost. But we went on a well-organised excursion of Doges Palace, St. Mark`s Cathedral, St. Mark`s Square etc., with P&O, booked prior to sailing, and it was very reassuring to know we would be guided there and back safely, even though we didn`t have enough time here, as there is so much to see, but obviously a return visit would be on the cards perhaps in the future!
We had a hectic tour, and a long walk back from the launch pontoon, so we were glad to recuperate with a long drink on deck, ready for yet another sunny sail away from this enlightening city, which has to be a must-see for any traveller.
The next day we were anchored off Korcula, a Croatian island, and had tenders to reach this beautiful place, which was so inviting having had a hot busy time in Venice. I fell in love with Croatia, such lovely people, and no pushiness to get you to buy, just left us to our choices, which is refreshing compared to other places in the world.
Then 3 days to relax and look through all the photos, read, and catching up on the laundry. During a long trip, the launderettes are so handy, which I really appreciate, especially ironing any last-minute clothes for the formal nights.
This cruise was themed Strictly Come Dancing, so saw a pair of professional dancers from the series, and the judge Craig Revell Horwood, but as we can`t dance, and would be hard work teaching, we just enjoyed watching the dancing being done properly by those who could do it!
We loved the food every night, served by a waiter who served us for 5 weeks last year, and he still had a lovely smile on his face! Most of the passengers are on board for this delightful eating experience. They do it so well and make every meal so fulfilling!
We had breakfast and lunch in the orangery buffet restaurant, which we found very enjoyable, as the choice was excellent, as well as the standard of food.
Our last port of call was Cadiz, having sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar during the night.
Cadiz was very warm, a lot of Spanish visit this town for their holidays, so was busy. We toured the town and the long sandy beach on an open top bus, which let us know what there was to see and learn about. Knowing we had 2 days at sea till we disembarked, we made the most of being ashore.
The disembarkation routine for leaving from the top deck down is always well-organised and straight forward. We used to leave on self-disembarkation at 7am with all our luggage in tow, but we have found that 2 hours on doesn`t hinder our journey back home, as the workers and school runs have usually got to their destinations by then.
This cruise was one of our best holidays yet, a lot due to the fabulous continuous weather, which was greeting us when we reached home, and has been for the last fortnight, unbelievable.
We love cruising on the traditional British ships, as you don`t see the wooden promenade decks on other cruise lines, or the Crow`s Nest at the front of the ship to enjoy the wonderful sunsets.
We are looking forward to our next cruise with P&O.