Oriana (II) - Guernsey
P&O announced at the end of June 2018 that Oriana would be leaving the fleet the following August, despite assurances only ten months earlier she would go nowhere.  I just had to go on her one more time while my dad needed to experience the penultimate pre-Carnival P&O ship.  We booked a guarantee inside, which was allocated on the 5th June 2019 as Grade PE, C101.  The Tuesday before the cruise, Oriana went to Cobh instead of Dublin due to propulsion problems, would stay overnight and return to Southampton for 8pm on the 18th instead of 6.30am on the 19th.  P&O emailed everyone on the 17th to tell them the berth had changed from Mayflower to City and she would stay alongside until 12pm on the 20th.

So the day of my dad's first P&O cruise arrived and my first since 2013!  The cuts that year had been so bad (especially food and staff levels), I couldn't bring myself to book another so will it be better or worse?  The weather was absolutely foul.  We walked from West Quay to the terminal as I wanted photos en route, and were drenched through to the skin.  To my amazement, there were very few people waiting so we'd checked in by 12.15pm and were on the ship shortly afterwards, going via the crew gangway due to my dad's mobility.  The cabins weren't ready until 1pm so we went to the Observatory for lunch.  I absolutely hate how, since Britannia, the buffet has been renamed Horizon Court, which is the Princess name.  It was the lack of choice of things I liked on P&O which led me to always have salad in the buffet and nothing had changed.

We headed to the cabin at the other end of the ship.  Our cabin steward Cristo would be heading to Oceana after Oriana leaves.  I went for a wander and found the boarding photos!  I was beginning they'd ended up stopping them annoyingly like Cunard, so I returned to the cabin and woke my dad up so we could have ours taken with the Golden Cockerel.  Muster was at 4pm and our muster station was Andersons.  On the way, I saw my friend John, who I'd known since the first Three Queens in Southampton back in 2008 but hadn't seen for years.  After dumping the lifejackets back in the cabin, we went to the Crows Nest for a drink, sitting with Andrew and Donna Cooke, Andrew McAlpine and his friend.

We left just before 6pm.  I went to check on our Sindhu reservation for the 21st then wandered around the deck.  It was still raining.  Dinner was in the Oriental Restaurant aft, as they had made the Peninsular for Freedom Dining.  Our table companions were in C100, knew my friend Tracey Britton and had their honeymoon on Oriana in 2004 and sailed on her 8 times so were also there to say goodbye to the old girl.  Afterwards it was an early night.

The following morning was weird, still being alongside.  Around 2.10am there had been vibrating, feeling as though you were moving but we weren't.  We wondered if they were testing the repairs.  I was up early to see Britannia, Azura and Arcadia arrive and there were some people on the Prom deck who hadn't been to bed.  I also took photos of some of the rooms while they were quiet.  Then back to the cabin to fetch my dad and breakfast, where the sausages full of gristle were the only disappointing thing about it.  It felt like disembarkation day instead of sailaway.

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© Patricia Dempsey 19th-22nd July 2019
Not to be reproduced without permission