Farewell to an old friend
Having sailed on Oriana many times over the years we persuaded our regular cruising friends (Ventura fans) to join us on Oriana before it leaves the fleet. Future cruises booked are on Arcadia, Britannia and Ventura. They were very impressed by the elegance and comfort but not so with the vibration/noise at the rear of the ship. We both booked outside cabins in anticipation of Autumn weather. The weather was rather good and very hot as we progressed round to Venice. Should have had our usual balcony. The itinerary included a couple of ports new to us. Catania, but unfortunately the vintage train around Etna was no longer in service due to health and safety so we substituted this with a wine tasting tour. Corigliano Calabro another nice wine tasting tour (wife's choice). Third new port was Zadar , more wine tasting. Zadar is steeped in history and some interesting architecture. The sequence of ports was changed as we were advised that Venice was full (no berths available) but this actually made the cruise slightly better. As a result for a lot of the sea days the ship was cruising at 21/22 knots not bad for an old girl. As we have been to Venice many times we did not get off the ship. They probably did not miss us and we did not miss them. Overall the cruise was as expected with a good comfortable cabin and good food. Also lots of wine tasting. Entertainment is always a weak point on cruise ships. Either you have already seen it or it is not your normal choice. This is not a major problem you know what it is before you book the cruise so stop the whinging. There are always self entertainment options. Three of us played whist on sea days and made many new friends/acquaintances. An amusing thing was the number of ladies that waved and said hello as I was walking through the shops in Gibraltar. The wife thought it funny when I explained that they were playing partners from whist. In the evening the wife also played whist to make up the four with our friends. Wife with G&T she was happy. As Oriana is approaching retirement from the fleet it is worth noting that it is still a good stylish ship. Maybe a bit worn in places but overall exuding class and elegance from a bygone age. I do not accept that it or any other ship is tired. People get tired but inanimate objects deteriorate. Our dining choice was Freedom and a table for four. We had the same table and waiters each night and they got to know our needs and preferences. I should make reference to my wife's Coeliac condition that means she must maintain a gluten free diet. Hats off to P&O !! morning, noon or evening they were very good. This cruise was a farewell to a fine ship that we have enjoyed on many occasions. Now we are off to Britannia when it gets back to Europe (friends choice) and then Arcadia and Ventura. There was an incident as we were approaching Gibralter a passenger was airlifted off from the ship for medical emergency treatment. We did hear later that the passenger was OK. It was interesting to see how well drilled the ship's crew are to handle such a situation. Both embarkation and disembarkation ware very smooth at Mayflower terminal.
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