As usual, we travelled down to Southampton on the previous day and stayed, for the first time, in the Novotel, very close to Southampton Docks. This was a good choice and we will be using this hotel again in October when we join MSC Magnifica. As it is so close to the hotel, we had decided that we would eat at TGI Fridays and we booked it a couple of days prior to driving down. Good job we did, it was exceedingly busy and, if you like Burgers, the food was excellent.
We checked out of the hotel at 12 noon and drove the new route to the dockyard, which has been much improved since the roadworks have been done. As we arrived at the terminal, a red helicopter flew over our car and landed adjacent to Dock Gate 4. As we dropped off our bags, the luggage-handler informed us that Prince Edward was going on board the Oriana for lunch and the helicopter had just delivered him.
We did not have parking included in our P & O deal, as it was a very late offer and really reasonable, so we had selected Cruise Parking online and were told to go into the Short-stay car park after dropping off our bags and look for the yellow flag. We did as instructed and were met by one of their representatives who completed his paperwork, had our key and told us that the car would be back in the same Carpark from 8.30 am on the day we returned. So off we went with our hand luggage.
Our cabin was a B2 cabin which was an upgrade on our Guarantee Cabin, I think by virtue of it being quite high in the ship. It was very clean and had plenty of storage room. Our three cases all fitted under the bed although it was a bit of a struggle getting them there because there was no a lot of room at either side of the bed. However we both had bedside cabinets with drawers, dressing table with good lighting for putting on my makeup and doing my hair, three-door wardrobe, chest of drawers with four half-width drawers on top. Tea-making facilities were provided (proper English breakfast tea) and we used these on a number of occasions. There was a small TV, which also broadcast the captain's announcements if you elected to leave the TV on the ship's Information channel. The bathroom was a reasonable size and the configuration of the shower meant that I was never once attacked by the dreaded wet shower-curtain. All in all, the cabin was everything we needed and my only complaint about it was the size of the safe. I know they say that size doesn't matter, but this safe just held my purse, a wallet and my travel document wallet. As someone who always puts jewellery, IPads and phones away in the safe, I was less than impressed. We had a lovely steward who had also joined the ship that day, but she had been on 2 other P & O ships so she was well used to the routine.