sábado, 31 de dezembro de 2011

ORIANA keeping the tradition in New Year's at Madeira

For many years now P&O is one of the most loyal companies calling at Funchal on the last day of the year, at the occassion of this special event famous worldwide.
Since 1995 ORIANA is one of the most P&O regular ships to visit Madeira at this date, much like her predecessor the CANBERRA.On 31th December 2008 ORIANA was in Funchal to welcome another new year in the garden island, as usual with many other cruise liners, in port and anchored, having the same idea to enter within the new 2009 in grand style.On this particular day the sea conditions were rather rough, the worse in more than 30 years, nevertheless didn't stop the anchorage operations and festivities, held normally as ever.Photos: © Nuno Jesus.

sexta-feira, 23 de dezembro de 2011

Welcome Back ORIANA

Below is a video released by P&O yesterday welcoming ORIANA back to the fleet by introducing her revamped areas and a glimpse at her new aft cabins.
Thankfully it appears that the refitted areas are in keeping with ORIANA's overall on board style of refined elegance ensuring she keeps her place as P&O's finest.


quinta-feira, 22 de dezembro de 2011

ORIANA in Lisbon

For her first port of call as an adults only ship ORIANA is today in the Portuguese capital Lisbon.
Arriving according to schedule at 6:20am she is due to sail 4:30pm.
For the majority of her stay the weather had remained overcast and foggy until around 3:30pm. Due to MSC FANTASIA being berthed in the Alcantara Cruise Terminal ORIANA is berthed slightly up the river Tagus at the Santa Apolónia Terminal.
ORIANA has something of history with Lisbon since her Maiden Voyage where she called as her last call of the cruise on that occasion ORIANA berthed at the Cais do Jardim do Tabaco due to repairs being performed at the Alcantara terminal.

quarta-feira, 21 de dezembro de 2011

Cruise Experience

2ND June-Lanzarote

Overnight ORIANA continued on her course towards the Canary Island of Lanzarote, due to the Canary Islands being one hour behind mainland Spain ORIANA’s on board clocks had been put back one hour returning them to Greenwich Mean Time/Western European Time.

According to ORIANA’s cruise log “During the early hours of the morning ORIANA continued on a South Westerly track towards the Canaries before setting a more Westerly course as we made our approach to the port of Arrecife.

On deck the view as ORIANA approached was of a volcanic mountainous landscape set against blue sky with very little cloud to be found.

Given that the conditions were favourable many of ORIANA’s passengers had emerged on to the outer decks to watch the approach

Some of those on deck were talking of their previous occasions visiting the island some with ORIANA and P&O or other cruise lines, some had enjoyed the Island and where pleased returning while others seemingly were not too pleased to returning.

Of course for me not having visited before found the approach interesting, the first sight on the shore was of a factory passing by ORIANA then passed white washed apartment buildings and houses.

Continuing her approach- “At 0828 Captain Reid rang ‘stand by below’ as we neared the harbour entrance. At 0831our local pilot embarked using the pilot ladder rigged on the Port side.’

With the pilot on board ORIANA she continued on her route into Arrecife’s harbour.

With the open decks filling rapidly with passengers emerging from inside I went off on search of an alternative forward facing vantage point.

Walking down the forward staircase it just so happened that our cabin steward was passing and taking the opportunity asked if her knew of any secluded areas which perhaps passengers might have overlooked.

He suggested that the open areas forward on decks 9 & 10 might be free of passengers or at least fewer passenger.

Since its exit was relatively near our cabin I already knew the way, I hadn’t really thought of it.

As it turned out there was no other passengers on the open deck area which gave and excellent view over ORIANA’s handsome bow.

Approaching the dock ORIANA was first aligned the berth before she was slowly thrusted into position with her starboard side to the dock.

Nearing the dock ORIANA finally a released her mooring ropes and a little after 9am her rope went ashore and she was 'all fast ' 9:05 am

All being secured the port official came on board to check that all paperwork was in order and that all immigration documents were correct for all passengers and crew.

Finally docked ORIANA found herself bow to bow with a local ferry from the Spanish operator ARMAS whom I took several photos of before leaving to go ashore.

Being that the temperature was in the 20s and with the sun now high in the cloudless sky there was thoughtfully a drinks station set up near the gangway with all kinds of soft drinks from water to fizzy cola drinks available to purchase.

Waiting to disembark the heat could be felt and after scanning our cruise cards stepping out from the air conditioned ORIANA in to the morning heat was like walking out onto another world.

Being a contrast to the last time we had disembarked ORIANA in La Coruna here the morning sunlight illuminated ORIANA, her hull white looking more dazzling than normal.

Because the main urban area of Arrecife was some distance from the port passengers not on an excursion could take advantage of the shuttle bus that was available to shuttle passengers to the inner dock area.

Below is P&O’s brief introduction to the Island Lanzarote’s sunny climate are a big hit with sunbathers and swimmers, who relish its volcanic red, black and white sand beaches. Make the best of your Lanzarote cruise and But tear yourself away from your sunbed to explore the island’s spectacular moon-like volcanic landscape, best seen from the Fire Mountain in the Timanfaya National Park and famous for the fantastical shapes created by solidified volcanic lava.

Camel rides are available in the park, and tours here will also take you to the lush wine country of La Geria to sample the heady local vintages. Head north instead of southwest and you will discover wonderfully verdant Haria – ‘the valley of a thousand palms’ and can enjoy panoramic views from Mirador del Rio.

Equally fascinating is a visit to Jameos el Agua cave, an oddly shaped volcanic cave overlooking a saltwater lagoon where you will find a colony of white crabs unique to the island.

The excursions which passengers were embarking on varied in their theme and duration.

Being famed for its volcanic landscape and multi-coloured sand it is perhaps not surprising that many of the excursions were to the famous montaña de Fuego (Fire mountain) for a slightly different experience there was also the option of a tour of Mount Timafaya by camel.

For those looking for a slightly different excursion of the day a dive in a glass bottomed submarine was on offer giving an interesting opportunity to view some of the local marine life in the seas around the island or for a completely different experience an excursion to the Rancho Texas Park, a wild west themed nature/amusement park.

Taking the Shuttle bus from the harbour the drive presented a landscape volcanic landscape of mountains, different coloured sands in fact it looked from one perspective that ORIANA was disappearing behind a hill of sand.

Arriving at the inner harbour about 10 to 15 minutes later it was unfortunate for ORIANA’s passengers that it appeared to be rubbish collection day and in the Canary heat the smell was quite strong and was little bit of deterrent however either by ignoring it or staying as far from the roads where the rubbish was made it more bearable.

The weather was certainly excellent and it was obvious to see why passengers of all ages were setting off to find beaches for a day of sunbathing.

For me a small building which was located on strip of land jutting out into the sea from the shore it looked to be a small fort of some kind.

With the sun beating down and there being no immediate area the fort seemed an interesting place to visit.

Walking over the bridge to the castle and through the large gate in front of it I found it to be an art gallery/cultural museum named San Gabriel.

While not very large it none the less took some time to take a look round.

Leaving the castle I noticed that the Armas ferry which had been moored with ORIANA was departing.

Some other of the passengers who were nearby thought it to be something of a joke to say “Hey look its ORIANA departing early!”

Well apart from the obvious size difference and difference in ship design ORIANA was not due to depart for several more hours.

Moving on we found other passengers roaming through the shopping areas of the city looking at discount stores for cameras and such like from what it seemed they found some items.

With the sun beating down and the passengers enjoying heat it was certainly good to see after the washout that was La Coruna this Lanzarote was given the weather weary passengers a first taste of summer.

As the temperature continued to rise we went our next port of call was a café which seemed to quite popular among tourists in general.

Taking a little time to enjoy the coffee, afterwards we made our way back to ORIANA.

The drive back was as interesting to watch the different coloured sands and volcanic mountainous landscapes in places it looked the surface of another planet, in fact it had been on Lanzarote and its sands that NASA had rehearsed the moon landings in the 1960s.

Arriving back in the dock with several other passengers our places on the coach was full with passengers who had just disembarked ORIANA .

Returning on board as many other passengers had before us, there was a laid back and relaxed yet always slightly refined feel to the ship.

In the tradition of the British when confronted with shops many of the ladies returning on board had a variety of shopping bags, even on a cruise the shopping instinct was still intact.

Being just after midday lunch was being served in The Peninsular and was after our tour round the port our next stop.

On this occasion we were again seated at a table for 8 and were joined by some of the passengers who had been previously along with our dining companions from the evening.

On the promenade deck at ORIANA’s tours desk bookings were already being taken for the final port of call Funchal with the most popular being the famous toboggan ride, scenic coach journeys around the island and also the famous Levada walks, with Madeira being a popular destination with P&O it was understandable that there was many booking tours.

As always at lunch passenger conversations covered a wide range of subjects from politics to history even with some mythology thrown in as well, apart from the informal 21st century day way it was truly a scene from a traditional ocean liner.

Lunch over with the rest of the afternoon was spent on board ORIANA as she remained tied up alongside.

While walking along the deck during the stay the scene of a rusted ship broken in two and partially sunken ship lying in the harbour was evident, interesting to be sure.

On the upper decks ORIANA’s generous open deck space was being utilised to the full as passengers of all ages made the most of the beautiful weather, which incidentally had been forecasted for the remainder of cruise.

On the quayside passengers slowly began returning after a long day ashore from the looks of some they must have been on the beach!

The atmosphere on board with passengers retuning is always to me an interesting one where they tell of the experiences they have had during their day ashore, it was good to hear so many pleasant stories and to think that all these stories which they were telling were all because of the ever beautiful ORIANA, who knows I thought to myself in many years to come passengers remember such times on board.

Venturing back onto the promenade passengers began gathering in preparation for ORIANA’s departure a 6pm.

While the crowds gathered at the ships rails on 5 decks above on the terrace bar Rebound the guest duo was at the Terrace Bar performing for the sail away.

From where we were on the promenade deck the sounds from the terraces could be heard offering a good background to the sail away.

With music from above, her enthusiastic passengers still fresh from their excursions and exploration of Lanzarote, a little after 6pm ORIANA sounded her mighty horn to signal her departure and with the tug SENTOSA NURVE at ORIANA’s port quarter she began moving away from the berth.

Clearing the berth the tug was no longer needed it released the line which ORIANA promptly hurled back on board before she began her swing to starboard

“As we completed our swing the local pilot was disembarked at 18:24, At 18:24 ORIANA rang ‘Full away on passage’ and westerly courses were set en-route to Tenerife.”

As ORIANA left Lanzarote and returned once more to the Atlantic Ocean another dinner on board beckoned.

Unlike previous evenings of the cruise, tonight was going to be the most causal even when compared to the fairly informal nature to the regular casual evenings the reason being that it was tropical night on board which heralded the return of the 80’s style Hawaiian flower patterned shirts so arriving at dinner with even the waiters dressed as such was really quite a surprise.

Not having said shirt a green shirt was the best I could manage although I was brought more into the spirit of things as the evening went on.

While it might have been casual and colourful the dinner itself and the service was its normal high quality.

While we were still dining on 1st sitting dinner the evening’s entertainment began in its regular high quality style with the Theatre Company performing love from the Movies which as the name suggests was a light hearted look back at the movies.

The first performance was at 7:20pm with the later one being performed at 9pm.

Elsewhere on board Artist Des Brophy who had given a demonstration of his techniques the day before was unveiling and auctioning two brand new paintings of his which he had painted during the cruise.

By far the largest event happing on board was the suitable climax to the tropical evening from 9:30 pm until midnight as guest band Natural High joined the Entertainment team around the Rivera pool for the tropical party around the pool.

With all kinds of bizarre tropical out fits being worn including one lady who appeared to have a bowl of fruit on her head as well as outrageously colourful dress in homage to the singer Carman Miranda.

While the scene certainly would have been one that passengers of earlier generations might have frowned at it was I thought a great even to be at with everyone having a truly fantastic time from the limbo pole from doing the conga round the deck.

Of course it wouldn’t be a party at the pool if at least one of the entertainment team ended up going in the pool which true to form one did as the night came to end in streamer finale marking a the end of another memorable day with ORIANA .

The party coming to its end those present slowly began to drift off back inside some to the bars to have some late night drinks while the majority had only one thing on their mind rest before ORIANA reached her next destination Tenerife.

Photos Copyright: Steve Martin, Video Copyright: P&O Cruises