Oceana Cruise Review by Host Sharon: Oceana to Caribbean - perfect way to escape winter
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Oceana to Caribbean - perfect way to escape winter
Oceana to Caribbean, January 2014
Thursday 2 Jan
SW Force 3
What a difference a day makes – after yesterday’s floods and rain the day dawned bright and clear and I woke in time to watch Oceana sail in from Amsterdam. Our driver was picking us up at 11am and he was, as always, bang on time. We had a lot of luggage for 28 days so he did well to fit it all in. At Mayflower terminal I found a porter and we were directed to the priority check-in. By 12.15 we were on board and eating the Peninsular lunch in the Ligurian Restaurant at a table for two by the window and with a glass of wine and two glasses of champagne inside us. We then dumped our hand luggage in our cabin and set off to explore a little. I was familiar with Oceana, but my friend not so much. Our luggage had still not arrived when we returned later so we each went on a hunt. Gradually we found everything but not until around 4pm and from all corners and sides of the More deck! It took ages to unpack and find out how to store everything but we made it eventually by which time it was Muster Drill. Our station for Cabin C620 was Starlights. Muster over, we headed up to Deck 14 as we had discovered that Oceana was getting a firework send off, like Queen Victoria, also in Southampton and about to leave on her world cruise. We set sail, firstly passing Boudicca in full throes of a deck muster drill and then Queen Victoria, with whom we exchanged whistles. As we neared Dock Head, there was a fabulous 8 minute firework display from a barge. By then we were frozen so after a mulled wine on deck we headed back to the cabin for a nap before changing and going into dinner. We watched the show then went to bed. The captain, Andrew Willard, had warned us of a bumpy ride for the first few days, but we expected that and prepared accordingly – taking precautionary seasick tablets and securing everything in the cabin.
Friday 3 January – At Sea
SW Force 10
It was a very rough night with lots of bangs, clatters and general lurching. We got up about 8.30 and had a light breakfast in Café Jardin as the Plaza Buffet, spa and shops were all closed until further notice due to the weather. My friend went off to a talk and I ran some errands – such as booking myself on the Behind-the-Scenes tour – if it goes ahead. My friend and I met up at the Travelling Alone meet, which was well attended – mostly women as usual though. We seem to have a large number of Entertainment Officers on this cruise but then it is for 28 nights. As it approached lunchtime there was an announcement that the Plaza Buffet would remain closed due to the increased bounciness of the seas. It was becoming very difficult to move around and during the meet we had to grab at our cups to stop them sliding onto the floor. We tried to go to Café Jardin for lunch but there was a wait list so headed to the Adriatic Restaurant after which I returned to the cabin for a snooze and to start my blog.
My friend and I met up again about 4pm in the atrium and went to the Individual Quiz. I got 16/20 - the winner got 18! Then it was time to return to the cabin to change for dinner. We had time for a quick drink before dinner. No-one on our table was there at first and then one turned up. Her husband, and presumably the other couple, was ill. That was when we discovered that dinner had been moved to 8.15 (and 6.15) for the full cruise rather than the usual 8.30!! Of course we hadn’t bothered to look at meal times!!
After dinner we went to the Syndicate Quiz which had been moved down to the card room as The Plaza was still closed. We came second!
Saturday 4 Jan - At Sea
NW Force 9
It was an even worse night with bangs, knocks and things falling over everywhere! I got very little sleep between the noises and sliding up and down the bed. The wardrobe doors kept flying open until I jammed them with a flannel – it then sounded just like a man trying to escape from the wardrobe! We got up about 8.30 and had breakfast in Café Jardin before going to the talk on Ocean Liners. We were directed to the Ligurian Restaurant for lunch where a buffet had been set up. We went for a walk and some fresh air on Deck 12 briefly before trying the film – couldn’t understand the plot and too noisy so returned to cabin until Individual Quiz – 10/20! At Midday we exited the Bay of Biscay and sailed out into the Atlantic. After dinner we won first prize at the Syndicate Quiz! A bottle of red wine.
Sunday 5 Jan – At Sea
SW Force 6
Rose about 9am and had breakfast in Café Jardin. After the solos coffee morning, My friend went to the church service, while I went to my first game of Shuffleboard – where I was useless! It was finally calm and warm enough to sit out on promenade deck so changed into skirt and t-shirt and did just that. I met up with my friend for lunch which we had in The Plaza which was now finally open. That night was our first formal night and the Captain’s Welcome Party, postponed due to the weather. We were browsing the shops when I spotted the captain and said hello.. He then invited us to drinks with him so we had a delightful hour chatting about ships etc before he had to leave for the late sitting party. We wandered into the party and got more drinks. Dinner of lobster then Syndicate Quiz but not very good tonight. I have to say the food is excellent so far – good choices and good quality – far better than on QM2 last month IMO.
Mon 6 Jan – Madeira.
SW Force 5
Woke up at 7pm as we saw on the TV that we were nearing Funchal so got dressed and up on deck to see us sail in. Aida Stella was already berthed and Thomson Celebration just berthing ahead of us. We slipped in behind her. After a quick breakfast we headed ashore. The shuttle dropped us in the street behind the usual one. As we walked along towards the church, we saw lots of Christmas decorations and a small Xmas Market. There was a spectacular nearly-life-size nativity scene and an International Village set up with a small petting zoo behind. After a chat and cuddle with a sheep!, we went into the church with another spectacular nativity. Then we headed back towards the Hoho bus stop and boarded the Red Tour bus which took us along through the town, up to the lower slopes of the mountain and along to the fishing village of Camara de Lobos where we got off for a wander. It was very pretty. Half an hour later we got back on and returned to Funchal. We then walked along to Blandy’s for a free tasting of Madeira wine courtesy of the Hoho bus. There was just time for an icecream before heading back to the ship. As we were a little late getting clearance in the morning (due to Aida Stella faffing about berthing) the captain had given us an extra hour ashore. As we returned some deck officers were hauling in a rope – apparently we broke three mooring ropes over the day due to the swell – and they wanted it clear of our thrusters. A quick sandwich in the Plaza and it was time to go out for sailaway. In the far distance Aida Bleu was arriving early. Semi-formal tonight so got ready and had a flutter in the Casino – lost! Then met My friend in Magnums for a pre-dinner cocktail, followed by dinner and the quiz. Clocks go back one hour tonight.
Tuesday 7 Jan – At Sea
NW Force 6
Today we start the long Atlantic crossing along the Great Circle Route. I woke to the promise of a nice day although the night had been bouncy again. Got up at 8.30 and breakfasted in Café Jardin before my friend went off to play quoits and I went to Oceana Uncovered. Sat in the sun for a while before lunch in Café Jardin and then finding a chair on the prom deck and sunbathing all afternoon. The wind was chilly but the sun warm and I got a slightly scorched neck. Went to individual quiz and then to cabin to change for second formal night. After dinner I went to the show – Maurice Grumbleweed while my friend did the quiz. This is the problem with second sitting – you either choose the show or the quiz but cannot do both unless they put on a 7pm show. And no – we are not keen on Freedom dining.
Wed 8 Jan – At Sea
N Force 7
Another lazy day. Got up at 8.30, had breakfast in The Plaza and went to solos meet briefly before shuffleboard. Got as far as semi-finals before losing again! We had lunch outdoors before finding a chair on the prom deck in the sun. We did the individual quiz then back to the cabin to prepare for another semi-formal night. We had a cocktail in Magnums – my new favourite is a Mai Tai, then dinner. One of the others had managed to get our table moved from the pokey corner to one in the middle of the restaurant where it was less draughty. After dinner we did the Syndicate Quiz where we came second again. The clocks go back another hour tonight.
Thursday 9 Jan – At Sea
NE Force 4
Got up at 8.00 and had breakfast alone in Plaza as my friend wanted to wash her hair. We met up for the solos coffee where I stayed until 10.30. It was one of the four Baltic tier Lunches today – Salmon & crab starter, Potato Gnocchi, peanut butter dessert, champagne, wine and coffee. We were on a table for 8 with Emma Jane Hodges, Passenger Services Manager. Conversation was lively and interesting.
After lunch we changed and went to the prom deck. The temperatures are increasing nicely but it was cloudy all day. We came in about 5pm before getting ready for another formal night. All this food and sea air makes me very tired! We skipped the quiz to watch the flautist, Jonathan Johnston, after dinner –he was excellent.
Friday 10 Jan – At Sea
NE Force 3
Finally some real tropical weather – sun! I managed to sunbathe, either on prom deck or Deck 12, all day.
Saturday 11 Jan – at sea
Got up at 7.30 to get ready and have breakfast before my tour behind the scenes. We had to sign a waiver form and wear closed flat shoes and trousers. We started in the theatre, moving to the dressing rooms, forward mooring deck where we had a chat from the deputy captain, engine control room, stores manager with chill and frozen store rooms, print room, waste disposal, photo lab (passing crew office), and galleys where the exec chef and F&B manager spoke with us. Then it was orange juice and chocolates/cakes/pastries in a corner of the dining room before making our way up to the bridge where the captain explained the electronic charts, navigation equipment and steering controls. Then champagne and canapés in his lounge. Afterwards I went to change and sit in the sun for a bit. On my bed was a small badge, apron and letter offering free photo all from the tour. We had a late lunch outdoors, then more sunbathing. Since I work indoors all week, I love to be outdoors as much as possible on holiday. Clocks go back another hour tonight.
Sunday 12 Jan – At Sea
E Force 5
Our last day at sea before Barbados. I got up early to sit out on deck before it got too hot. Found a steamer chair on the prom and sat/dozed for two hours. I went to have a late breakfast and then went up to Deck 12 where it was sunnier and sat and read. At around noon I returned to the cabin where my friend joined me and we headed for a light lunch in the Plaza, then back to the prom deck for some sunbathing. It is our first casual night – thank heavens! We won the Syndicate Quiz then went bed as have to be up early tomorrow. Clocks go back our last hour tonight.
Monday 13 Jan – Barbados
E Force 4
We were up early to watch the two other ships in port – Emerald Princess and Celebrity Summit. Then down for a quick breakfast and a walk up the dockside to the cruise terminal to hand over a copy of my latest book to the port agents. Kindly they had asked us to be their guests on the Coast to Coast tour.
We started by leaving Bridgetown up Sandy Lane and had a full tour of the island. At the Highland Centre we were given a Rum Punch while we took in the stunning views. I saw lots of birds including a small black bird – Carib Grackle - that tweeted constantly. Tour guide Owen was great and very amusing. We next stopped at St John’s Church to see inside etc. I bought a carved wooden bird from a Rastafarian carver. Back in the terminal we browsed the duty free shops.
Tuesday 14 Jan – St Lucia
E Force 3
We had booked on Spencer Ambrose’s Land & Sea Tour leaving at 8.30 so were up early to watch us dock. Right behind us were Celebrity Summit and Silver Spirit. We berthed on the other side of the dock from where Oriana did last year. We walked out through the duty free shops to see a girl holding a sign saying Spencer as promised. We were taken through a craft market area just being set up, to await a water taxi over to where Celebrity Summit was and our two tour companions. Here was my first inkling of a potential problem – getting on and off small boats! I was told to just step on and hold the drivers hand! It wasn’t too difficult or scary! Over on the other side, having had to step up on the seats to get off and onto the jetty, we were introduced to our guide David and taken out to the silver people carrier for our land part of the tour.
We set off through Castries, seeing a 450 old yew of “Massav” tree in Derek Walcott Square. The opposite side was the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Then we set off up through the mountainous roads and rain forest. As we climbed the rain began which somewhat obscured the views but it was still an interesting drive up to the Morne Fortune Overlook. Carrying on along the coast past banana plantations, we drove through the quaint fishing villages of Anse La Raye and Canaries. The latter was the fishing village where the heavy rain on Christmas Eve had destroyed a bridge and flooded homes. We then drove through Soufriere to the drive-in volcano with steam and sulphur gases rising from the rock and water boiling in pools and then to the Toraille Waterfall dropping 50 feet down to a small pool where people were bathing. Lunch was at a tiny roadside restaurant where a buffet was laid out with jerk chicken and various salads, washing down with Piton beer.
Then we drove back down to Soufriere to board a boat to take us to Jalousie beach where we had an hour or more to enjoy the white sand, sun and turquoise water. Getting in the boat this time was a major struggle, as was getting out again. I have one partial knee replacement and one severely arthritic knee – it doesn’t bend that much! So being told to sit on a low beam and swing my legs over and slide into the board was a non-starter! However the boat guys soon worked out a solution for me – scary in the extreme but it worked. I just had to trust they wouldn’t let go or drop me!! Getting off again at Jalousie Beach required two pulling me up and one pushing from behind! Not elegant or dignified but it worked. On the beach were some sunbeds for Spencer’s Tour people as well as free drinks - the rum punch was good –and strong. An hour and a half later a motor boat came to pick us up – another nightmare to board but so worth it for the ride back at speed! We cruised around the base of the Petit Piton, to the Bat Cave, home to thousands of "Fisherman Bats" , then to Marigot Bay, one of the most beautiful bays in the Caribbean! Marigot Bay is also a safe harbor during hurricanes and was the location of the 1966 movie Dr. Doolittle staring Rex Harrison. Overlooking Marigot Bay were homes from celebrities such as Mick Jagger and Sophia Loren. Just before arriving in Castries, we stopped at the Natural Bridge featured in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. This unique rock formation is also known as the "tunnel of love" or the "lady's slipper."
Then back to Castries. We dropped off the people from Celebrity Summit and the boat took us back to the main port beside Oceana. We each got a hug from Spencer as we disembarked and then headed into the duty free terminal again ;)
Back on the ship we just had time (it was then nearly 6pm – back on board time) to dump stuff and get on deck for sailaway. After a shower and changing – time for dinner after which I headed for bed – it was a great day.
Wednesday 15 Jan – St Kitts
E Force 5
We had booked the St Kitts Railway and cruise excursion so had to assemble on the dockside at 8.10. Each bus took one carriage load so was very well organised. Those of us doing the cruise as well as the train had wristbands so it was easy to separate us out. We drove through Basseterre to the station past industrial estates and new roads. The port area was pretty with small coloured buildings with the usual jewellery shops and rum shacks. We boarded the small two-storey carriages - No 4 for us. The downstairs had small wicker chairs and tables with bar and toilets, upstairs were banked seating down both sides. We set off through beautiful green countryside. It was an interesting trip and the weather perfect. We travelled through lush countryside, past old sugar mills, villages, over high bridges with views of the coast. It took around 2 hours. We were served with rum punch and sugar cake. At the end, we left the train and drove to a small jetty to board the catamaran. We had to remove all our shoes and put them into boxes and step over onto the boat. It was a lovely motor back (the wind was wrong to sail), sitting soaking up the sunshine and drinking Carib beer or rum punch.
Back at the terminal, My friend and I wandered through the small shopping area. I was back on board at 2.30 and soon sunning myself on deck.
Thursday 16 Jan – Guadeloupe
E Force 3
We arrived around 8am and were off the ship by 8.10 ready for our tour to Parc des Mamelles. I was surprised how different this French Island appeared against the others on this cruise. Lots of run-down areas against modern newly-built parts.
At the Parc we followed a one-way trail of wooden walkways, and a free-hanging bridge! Animals were in compounds but it wasn’t like a zoo and birds freely flew around the rainforest trees. There were parrots, racoons, tortoises, turtles, iguanas etc. At the entrance/exit I stood and photographed the hummingbirds feeding at a feeder there. We all had a fruit punch and then drove to a waterfall – the Cascade des Ecrivisses. As we arrived there was a downpour, but we donned our rain jackets and walked the short distance to the falls. The rain amongst the leaves was very soothing.
Back in Pointe a Pitre, we walked around the market by the ship where I bought a carved wooden hummingbird for 8 Euros. Then we walked into town – very run down and people a bit grim – they all asked for money (we think – I couldn’t understand them at all) for photographing them. After the vegetable market etc we headed back to the ship. It was very hot and not a lot to see. An excursion is a must in this port IMO.
There was an announcement from the captain just before departure that he would be leaving us tomorrow and Simon Terry taking! He also officially announced the re-branding of P&O Cruises.
After sailaway we went down to wash hair and change. Had cocktail in Tiffanys before going into dinner. After dinner we went to the Syndicate Quiz and came joint second!
Friday 17 January – St Maarten
E Force 3
Arrived out on deck to see Celebrity Eclipse already docked. Azura was just arriving followed by Adventure of the Seas and finally Pacific Princess who berthed behind us. This was the only other port we had booked a private tour so we walked off the ship to the Tourist Information Centre by 8.45pm as requested. A despatcher met us and asked us to wait with a lovely American couple from Celebrity Eclipse. Our guide and driver, Jose, met us and walked us to a minibus which already had three other couples in – it was a very tight squeeze to get between the seats – I MUST lose weight! We drove through Phillipsburg up to a viewpoint where we had views over the town – and a spectacular rainbow! Then we drove through the countryside to the French part of the island and Marigot where we had an hour free time. Unfortunately as we got there the heavens opened and barely stopped the whole time. I contented myself with some delicious cashew nuts from a street vendor. Next was Orient Beach, dropping my friend and I off at a butterfly farm first. The compound was filled with beautiful butterflies and moths, plus Bruno, the ex-feral cat, who allowed me to cuddle him! As I sat with him, Bananaquits and humming birds were feeding. Half an hour later Jose came back to collect us and take us to the beach where we had 45 minutes to paddle etc. The beach was right next to a nudist one so be warned! Back on the bus we had a free Carib beer and returned to Phillipsburg. We pottered round the duty free area, then my friend stayed ashore and I returned to the ship and sat on deck watching Celebrity Eclipse. First dozens of motorcyclists turned up hooting etc and then drove onto the ship, then Customs arrived and took off someone in handcuffs, then they were delayed half an hour to evacuate a medical emergency. We were staying here until midnight to give crew time to meet up with Azura friends. They left at 10pm to much shouting and waving etc. Pacific Princess left at 5pm, revving one engine for ages with the mooring lines still attached.
Saturday 18 January – Tortola
SE Force 4
Woke to a beautiful morning. Azura soon joined us here as well. We had no tours booked today thank goodness so a leisurely breakfast. My friend did a $20 Island tour as it was her first time here while I just wandered ashore. Road Town is not that pretty a place and shops few and far between. I had a rum punch in Pussers Outpost. As I was alone I was rather curtly asked to move from my table for 6 where I had hoped some people might join me to a corner table out of the way! I was not happy about this at all!
I slowly made my way back to the ship and sunbathed the rest of the day, with Frigate birds, Boobys and Pelicans flying periodically overhead. My friend joined me later and we moved as Azura was blocking the sun. Then someone spotted dolphins in the bay and we stood and watched spectacular acrobatics from them for over half an hour! I finally got some reasonable photos of them too. Then to cabin to wash hair and shower – bit sunburnt!
Sunday 21 January – St Barts
E Force 4
This was our only anchor port and as we were doing our own thing, there was no rush to disembark. We had breakfast and then picked up boat tickets – No 19. We headed down to deck 5 to drop off our mid-cruise questionnaire and then our boat was called so went down to the tender platform on Deck 4. It was quite a long ride- about 20 mins – to the shore where we set off round the pretty harbour. The harbour, or marina, was lined with very expensive yachts! The few shops, closed as it was Sunday, matched the yachts – Bulgari, Dior, Cartier etc. After a stroll round to the end, pausing to peep in the Anglican Church, we walked down a narrow road to Shell Beach. This was small but very pretty, with turquoise water and waves crashing on what were literally thousands of shells. Obviously a “young” beach where the shells had not yet been ground down into sand. Declining to pay 40 Euros for two sunbeds and one umbrella, we headed for some rocks at the end where we were able to sit and paddle as each wave came in. It was hot, sunny and perfect. After a while, we went to the beach café/bar and I had a Carib Beer (I love the local beers). Drying our feet and getting rid of as much sand as possible, we strolled back round the harbour, pausing to watch and photograph some Brown Pelicans diving for fish. Back at the jetty there was a queue so we wandered up a bit further to take photos of Oceana at anchor, then caught the tender back to the ship. We stayed on deck in the afternoon and evening sunshine until we sailed at around 7pm (last tender was 6pm). Back in the cabin we showered and changed for dinner and pre-dinner cocktails in Magnums. Bar steward Anthony remembered we didn’t much like the very spicy nibbles and dashed to Tiffanys to get us some nicer ones! Definitely worthy of a Cruise Award!
Monday 22nd January – Antigua
E Force 3
My friend and I had booked different trips here as it was my second time in Antigua. My tour to Nelson’s Dockyard didn’t leave until 10am so another leisurely breakfast. I was up on deck however at 7am to watch the other ships arrive – Mein Schiff 2, Celebrity Eclipse and MSC Musica, although the latter didn’t arrive until 2pm. Mein Schiff was already in the harbour as we arrived. It seemed stationary as we slowly advanced and then passed her, berthing at the best spot next to the main dock gate. She then sailed out of the harbour and away again! A mystery! It later turned out that her captain wasn’t happy with the depth of water at the berth he had been allocated! Celebrity Eclipse was next to arrive and berthed on our starboard side. I missed Musica’s arrival. As the time for the tour approached I headed down onto the dockside where we were made to stand two by two and then walked to our small coach. We drove out through St John’s to Nelson’s Dockyard where after a short guided tour we had two hours free time and a free rum punch - 150% proof! I bought a delicious coconut cake in the Bakery for a bargain $1.55 considering the size and style of the yachts in the harbour! It helped soak up some of the rum! Drove back at 1pm and arrived back at the port to see MSC Musica had arrived and berthed next to us. My friend met me at the bus and we roamed the port area, both Duty Free and outside a little. We went back to Oceana at 4.30 – it was a 5pm back on board time – in my head it was 6pm so just as well I was with her! After sailaway we stayed on deck for a while savouring our last Caribbean port – then to wash and change for first semi-formal night for days!
Tuesday 21 January- At Sea
SE Force 5
Bliss – a long lie-in and leisurely day although today marks the start of our long return passage. I really needed this to recharge my batteries. The weather was still hot and sunny so stayed on deck all day – eating at the deck barbeque – watching the flying fish. Some people saw a whale breach close to the ship – but I missed it. Syndicate Quiz after dinner – then bed as clocks went forward an hour – we are certainly now homeward bound!
Wednesday 22 January – At Sea
SE Force 5
After a showery start to the day the sun came out and once again it was sitting (and dozing) on deck weather. We had lunch in the Plaza. Deck again after lunch, where we spent ages photographing flying fish. Then the sun went and there were some heavy showers again so went to cabin to paint nails etc ready for our first formal night for ages and the Peninsular Party. I looked up at the bridgecam at one point to see fabulous rainbow.
Thursday 23 January – at sea
SE Force 4
Lie in again and then to the Macmillan coffee morning. We had better coffee and a delicious cup cake for a donation to the fund. The Captain and new EP were there as were a few other officers and all the Entertainment Staff. Afterwards I sat on deck in the sun but it kept disappearing and eventually there was a heavy rain shower so had lunch and went to the cabin. Sorted out washing and spent a miserable hour and a half in launderette. Wash was OK as I could leave it and just go back in 35 minutes, but couldn’t get dryer so tried on upper decks. Eventually got one and put laundry in but it was still damp after 40 minutes so I draped it all over the cabin. Eventually had another go at 5pm and ironed T-shirts. Still had suncream marks on though so whole exercise was pointless! Never again!!
Got ready for the early show at 7pm – Fogwell Flax.
Friday 24 January – at sea
E Force 5
Another lazy day. It was still hot enough to sunbathe as long as you found a spot out of the wind. It is definitely getting colder though and preparing us for our return on 30th January. Pretty sure I saw two whale spouts in the distance.
Saturday 25 January – at sea
SE Force 4
Weather now colder by around 2 degrees a day – it was dry all day though apart from a few short showers. I still managed to sit out wearing a fleece and watching for whales. The sea was incredibly calm but no whales that I saw. Changed for formal night and special Burns Night dinner where the haggis was duly piped in and addressed. After dinner we watched the Burns Night Ball for a bit but no one asked us to dance so we went to the Quiz!
Sunday 26 January – Ponta Delgada
NW Force 4
My friend and I were up on deck at 6.30 as we approached the island of San Miguel and the bridge announced a school of dolphins. I opened the deck door just as a dolphin leaped out of the water in front of me. There were many others too. The weather was bright and promised a nice day. There was an eerie musical sound – presumably the wind whistling through the mooring deck via the anchor hause pipes! Our tour didn’t leave till 1pm so we went ashore to explore Ponta Delaga for an hour and a half. It is a typical Portuguese town of white and dark brown/grey buildings. There was a pretty square with a beautiful church at one corner. We found a craft/antique shop and bought a couple of souvenirs and tried for free Wi-Fi, before heading back towards the ship. On the ship I grabbed my mac (just in case) and went back ashore to board our coach. My friend joined me soon after. Our tour took us through the lush green pasture land and small villages to the Crater Lakes – two blue and green lakes in the crater of an extinct volcano. The views were stunning. Then we drove to a spot where you could see both north and south shores of the island of San Miguel, before a Pineapple Plantation and botanic garden. Very poor guide however, with heavy accent and not a lot of information.
We were on deck for our final sailaway after which we changed for casual night. After dinner I went to see opera singer Ben Makisi who was excellent.
Monday 27 January – at sea
NW Force 5/6
A pretty lazy day –I read out on the prom deck, well wrapped up in heavy winter coat. After lunch in the Plaza we browsed the shops. The captain came on to say the weather was deteriorating though and by tomorrow would be heavy seas again. Semi-formal night so changed and had cocktails before dinner, Crew Show and bed at 1pm as clocks went forward for last time.
Tuesday 28 January – At Sea
It started to get bouncy again last night and we had to ensure everything was well secured. We didn’t brave the Plaza, preferring breakfast in Café Jardin before going back to the cabin to pack a few more things and rest. It was getting worse and worse. We had lunch in the Ligurian Restaurant as we didn’t want to go any higher in the ship. At one point there was a huge lurch/wave and crockery smashed all around us, My friend and I getting wet from a water glass. I went to the art sale and then back to the cabin until the talk between Nigel Travis CD and Captain Simon Terry. There was a show by a Freddie Mercury tribute at 7pm so we changed and got ready and came back to Starlights before our final Gala Dinner and Baked Alaska parade. Several times we had to clutch at our food and glasses as the ship ploughed on through the heavy seas. On the next table a man in a white dj got soaked with red wine! Am thoroughly bored with heavy seas now!
Wednesday 29th – At Sea
Our final day – I cannot believe the cruise is nearly over after looking forward to it for so long. After breakfast in the Plaza – now just about manageable – we got our cases out from under the bed and started to pack properly. We attended the final Travelling Alone meet and had a light lunch – again in the Plaza – of a cheese roll. At Teatime however we succumbed to afternoon tea in the restaurant – as it was our last day! I got all but one of my cases out before dinner. Final Syndicate Quiz – we were joint 2nd.
Thursday 30 January – Southampton
Despite the weather issues, we arrived on time. We had priority disembarkation so could leave whenever we liked. My friend and I had breakfast separately and then met in the cabin at 8am to check everything and go to the Adriatic Restaurant. After a while we decided to disembark and wait for our car in the terminal – we had returned to Ocean. The cab arrived at 9.30 and I was home by 1pm.
A great cruise in the main, despite the awful weather at times. I do love the Caribbean, so much more than I thought I would. The food was, without exception, excellent. Some old favourite have been brought back – crepe suzettes and Baked Alaska both flambéed at the table for example. All main courses came with some vegetables and more were served, but in effect I was eating plated meals as I rarely needed any more. Service was good throughout and I am looking forward to our next P&O cruise in 6 weeks time. Less
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