Oriana (II) - Weekender
So it was time to meet Johan and Agnes who were waiting by the gate.  It was fairly chilly but tolerable.  Pam enquired at the gate about the possibility of them driving us back in only to be told a firm no. We were okay as long as we had our passes but to do that it needs a special pass arranged beforehand.  Johan took us to Lissewegge and the old barn, which I'd already seen but Pam hadn't.  I got the feeling (and could be wrong) he was a little put out I'd been to these places but I wasn't going to stop Pam seeing them because they are really nice.  Afterwards they drove us to their holiday apartment at Wenduine which is on the coast near Blankenberge for lunch with them and his parents.  They had their little daughter there who has a thing for olives.  Bless her.  The apartment has a wonderful view of the beach and must be great in summer.  Also they can see the ships pass seven minutes after leaving port. At 2pm we headed for Bruges.  As all I had seen last time was the chocolate shop I was interested in more of the town.  Rather worryingly there was a heavy police presence, including a helicopter.  Something to do with anti-Islamists.  Thankfully nothing happened during our brief visit.
Johan got us back to the port about 4.20pm and gave us both a parting gift of Belgian chocolates to go with the ship comic books we'd received earlier.  I felt guilty not giving them anything but hadn't expected anything either.  We caught an excursion returning so there was a long queue to reboard.  The Peninsular Restaurant was open so we had a quick peek since we'd been kept away in the morning then Pam went off.  I spotted Richard Digance (our entertainment that evening) by the lift so went over and had a brief chat.  I told him I'd seen him on Aurora last month and he asked where we'd been so I replied, "Here and Rotterdam."  I also said about both Rowan and Pam never having heard of him.  As he was getting in the lift he shouted his act would be the same old rubbish.  I decided to walk up to our deck (need the exercise to burn that food off!) and spotted him get out on Britannia Deck so the bastard had a free balcony!  I went to the cabin to change for formal night.  After what happened last time I was taking no chances as we'd decided to attend the Gala Party.  I bumped into Pam again later and then we went on deck.
We were due to depart at 5.30pm but the captain informed us the two Wallenius Wilhelmsen car carriers in the lock had priority so we'd be delayed about twenty minutes.  Pam immediately went to take photos of and video Faust, the largest in the world apparently coming out of the lock and passing.
The captain came back on to inform us the other car carrier had agreed to let us go first - hooray!  It was getting cold so could defrost sooner.  We cast off the ropes and began to slowly pull out backwards at an angle to avoid the Cobalfret behind and blasted twice.
At this point I decided to go in.  I had no idea where Pam was but found her in the cabin.  I detangled for the fourth time that weekend and was surprised I wasn't bald by the end of the trip.  We made our way to the Pacific Lounge for the Gala Party which, as the captain was on the bridge, would be attended by minions at both venues.  They handed out free wine and other drinks but no champagne.  Pam told me she thought she'd insulted Richard Digance in the lift.  He had asked how he looked or something to which she replied, "You look terrible."  We got chatting to an 87 year old man who was at the next table.  His wife was a mere slip of a girl at 74.  Then it was the speech by whoever.  Plugging Ventura (naturally) while omitting to mention her being a Grand class Princess and also plugged Cunard's Queen Victoria and future Queen Elizabeth.  It's quite funny as, before Carnival swallowed up P&O, they would never have dreamed of advertising the competition which they still are even under the Carnival umbrella.  We had a couple of glasses of wine then went to dinner.
Our wonderful waiters, Leo and Glen (above).  After dinner we went to the theatre to watch Richard Digance.  As soon as he walked on stage Pam said it was definitely him in the lift.  I wonder how he'd have felt if he'd noticed she dozed off a few times during the 45 minutes!  He began to talk about his excursion to the war graves at Ypres, mentioning there were no German graves there.  A woman in the audience pulled him up on it saying there were four and he hadn't been listening which made him quickly go to another joke!  Once that was done we went to the Lord's Tavern but it was packed so I got the latest photos then we headed to the Pacific Lounge for the Oriana Theatre Company's version of The Blues Brothers.  Another pretty packed venue with a slightly altered story to the original like having a P&O captain asking the band, "Do you know Row, Row, Row Your Boat?"  Shake of heads.  "We Are Sailing?"  More head shakes.  "Minnie The Moocher?" then proceeded to talk/sing in a very posh voice while pretending to be nervous.  The show was fairly amateur but an enjoyable way to spend 45 minutes.
We managed to find seats by the bar in the Lord's Tavern for the Great British Pub Night.  This was quite fun.  First up was a sing-a-long with each side against each other.  One sang, Pack Up Your Troubles while ours was It's A Long Way To Tipperary.  Then it was Irish Bingo where everyone had to stand and if they had a number called, sit back down again.  Once they had about ten still standing they were taken to the front and had to recite tongue twisters to music to get a winner.  After than was Name That Tune where a bow-tie was passed around and whoever had it when the music stopped had to guess.  The tune started at one note and gained another each time.  By this time Pam had disappeared to the adjacent photo shop and I got that dreaded bow-tie after a woman in front hastily threw it at me. I had six notes (which had all been the same) and hadn't a clue.  It was finally got on eleven notes and turned out to be Delilah.  By now it was getting on for midnight so we decided to call it a night.  Unlike Aurora, the disembarkation letter stated the time to put the cases out between 9-11pm.  We were an hour late but decided to chance it as there were a few outside the cabins already then went to bed.
5am wake-up call and yes, the cases had been taken.  I'd heard a hell of a racket around 1am so assume they were being collected.  Once we'd passed Calshot we went on deck.  Crikey it was cold! Disappointingly the funnel wasn't lit as it hadn't been the entire cruise.
As the darkness made it difficult to take photos, we decided to go to the Conservatory for breakfast where Pam had two slices of fried bread.  I had the cooked breakfast again and the scrambled egg was thankfully more solid.  The orange juice was just pouring out concentrate so I left it.  Once we'd got to the turning circle I went back outside.  The sun was just starting to come up but we wouldn't quite make our 7.15am docking.
At ten minutes past seven I discovered the bastards had put the funnel light on!  How stupid can you get?  It wouldn't be long before it was daylight so would have to go off again!
And so we were home after docking ten minutes late.  Our disembarkation colour was red and we were third so ought to have gone at 9am.  We went down to Ellora Deck and waited near the atrium. They'd put a barrier at the top and bottom of the stairs but that didn't stop passengers using it, especially as the crew had been.  Red was called at 8.35am and again they kept the onboard card.  Even Pam was worrying about that with it having our name and signature on.  It really is ridiculous with identity theft, and the fact their sister companies let you keep them.  The captain hadn't been kidding when he said about the few cases put out.  Perhaps people thought they'd missed the deadline by going to bed after 11pm.  This time it was no taxi back for me.  Pam dropped me at the bus stop near the railway station then drove on home while I was home by 10am.

So the verdict on the latest ship and cruise.  Having sailed on her I came to love her almost as much as
Aurora.  The photos on the P&O site don't do her justice at all.  She is beautiful and tastefully decorated
inside and has a marvellous atmosphere.  The P&O experience was far superior in every way to that on Aurora so why can't they do that every time on short trips?  This was a day less too so really put the Aurora crew to shame.  The only real niggle is that card.  I certainly don't want to be a victim of identity theft and I'm sure no one else does either.  They really ought to change their policy back to letting the passengers keep it.  If they shredded it in front of your eyes it wouldn't be so bad but handing them to a stranger who then hands them to heaven knows who is just stupid.  Aside from that I had a fantastic time and desperately want to go on Oriana again but unfortunately it won't be any time soon.

For photos of our departure, click
here.  And for Pam's video clips of the cruise click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 20th-22nd October 2007
Not to be reproduced without permission