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As usual our last night was a quieter affair – less to drink, careful selections from the menu, and a fairly early night. Dinner was still good, however, if at times a little sad as we knew that it was last one for this cruise. Then an early-ish night, not forgetting to put out our second bag for collection Everything else would have to be carried off the ship in the morning.

 

The cross-channel passage from Guernsey was very calm. I woke at about 5:15 to find the ship slipping past the NE coast of the Isle of Wight. Then  Cowes came into view, with very little obvious activity, and then we were into the turns around Bramble Bank. I decided to get up, and I was up on deck by 6am. It was very quiet, peaceful and still as we made our way up Southampton Water at a very slow speed. The sun was shining and there wasn’t too much wind. We were following Arcadia, and she looked good in front of us. Behind us was a Red Funnel ferry, which perhaps didn’t look so good! We berthed at the QEII terminal, turning round before we did so; Arcadia also turned before berthing at the Mayflower, and as the two ships reached their berths at almost the same time, we had a bit of synchronised  manoeuvering. Then it was time to leave the deck and go down to the cabin to prepare for the journey home.

 

We ate breakfast in the Peninsula, and just for a change had a Full English – with  bit of ballast we might be able to do the drive home (to Sheffield) without stopping. We left the cabin just before 8:30 and sat in the sun on the Lido deck waiting our disembarkation group to be called, and this happened at about 9:15 which was about 15 minutes or so ahead of schedule. Then there was a short queue on deck 5 to actually disembark, a few minutes locating our bags in the shed, and a longer queue (perhaps 15 minutes?) for the car keys from the CPS kiosk. I think we were in the car and driving out of the car park at just about 10 o’clock – and I took a last look at Oriana beside the berth.

 

So, what are my thoughts? Well, it was an excellent cruise, to three interesting places I have never visited to before, with good food and drink and good company. That said, the best thing about it was Oriana herself. I think she’s a beautiful ship, easily the best I’ve ever been on (for reference, the others have been MSC Sinfonia, Norwegian Jewel, Galaxy, and Braemar). Many things about her appealed to me, some of which I’ve already mentioned: the stern terraces and the Crows Nest being just two. But as we got more familiar with her, so certain things became clearer. One of these would be the fact that the best & easiest way to get around the ship is to use decks 7 or 8. For exampple, to get from our cabin – C288, aft, on Canberra Deck (9) – to the Crows Nest (deck 13) was to go down one or two decks, walk forward along one of the wide walkways on the port side of either deck 7 or 8, then go all the way up in the forward lifts. Much better than going all the way along deck 9 – it’s a pleasanter walk, and you’re not getting in the way of the cabin stewards. I also came to appreciate the atrium – a collection of very different spaces, all linked together by the stair case and the waterfall. Certainly I felt very much at home on her, and very relaxed. One day I hope I’ll cruise in her again.

2 Responses to “Oriana Cruise – last evening, disembarkation, and final thoughs”

  1. Malcolm Oliver says:

    Hi Tom, I enjoyed the Oriana blog very much.

    How I did you feel cruising with your fellow countrymen compared to your first cruise (Italian). Did not the idea of being on vacation surrounded by Brits originally scare you?

  2. tomtotley says:

    Malcolm

    The thought of cruising with fellow-Brits didn’t really scare us – for that first cruise on Sinfonia what we wanted was for the cruise itself to be part of ‘being abroad’.

    What we found on this cruise was, I think, that the majority of those fellow-passengers that we spoke to had never really been outside a UK-only environment – ex-UK cruises, package holidays to UK-specific holiday destinations, etc. Even where people had been with other lines (e.g. Royal Caribbean) they were generally on ex-UK cruises so once again most of the passengers were Brits. (Not everybody, I hasten to add.) That strikes us as a bit sad, really.

    Let me say that I don’t think we’re not especially intrepid travellers, but we did seem to have been in a minority in cruising ‘not from the UK’ on non-UK lines.

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