terça-feira, 31 de janeiro de 2012

Doing her bit for Charity

In March 2010 ORIANA embarked in Port Everglades, Florida 4 passengers with two rather unusual pieces of 'luggage' two motorcycles ready for the journey across the Atlantic to Southampton.
This was the last leg of East to West a journey began in August 2009 where 4 people Lucy,Steve, Leon and Phil rode around the world crossing all continents in order to raise money for Dalit Children a charity raising money to fund education for the Dalit's in India a group who are often seen as having no place in Indian Society.
In P&O's true accommodating style each motorcycle was given a 'home' in the lower decks of ORIANA where a storage cage was made in to a garage for them with even fastenings being fitted to the deck to secure them as shown below.
For more information on the visit :http://www.east-to-west.org/
Photos Copyright East to West.org

segunda-feira, 30 de janeiro de 2012

A comparison- ORIANA's spa area

While ORIANA's refit took many months of planning from its initial announcement in late 2010/early 2011 to the refits start in November 2011 it is interesting to compare the stages it went through before the final plans were completed below the exemplified by the forward end of the Lido deck namely the Oasis Spa
In the deck plans for ORIANA during early 2011 it showed the only major alteration on the deck being to Alfresco's being replaced by the new Sorrento restaurant and the room being enlarged and taking out to the glass screening of the starboard side.
While eventully the plan was dropped Sorrento becoming a feature on the aft lido deck the Alfresco's instead remains at the same size with only a change of theme.
Of more interest is the Spa its self as shown originally to have no alterations made in the finished refit the Gymnasium has more than doubled inside taking up much of the space formally occupied by the spa itself.
Below we have a decks plans showing a before, after and early refit layout for the spa area

sábado, 28 de janeiro de 2012

ORIANA - As popular as ever

Earlier this month P&O 'relaunched' ORIANA as a adults only ship on their website with the banner below.

And more than a month after she returned to service as an adult only ship it appears that is a with her passengers ORIANA is proving to be as popular as ever with reviews stating that the ship is "a great ship with a great character" and that they had a "Great time on this lovely ship" with ORIANA being "as comfortable as ever"
While points which passengers liked of the refit were the new look and furniture in The Pacific Lounge and the new deck seating area created around the terrace pool.
In the age of the floating apartment blocks it is reassuring to see that well designed and fine lined ORIANA is still the proud flagship of P&O and truly the Queen of the seas for her passengers may she reign for more years to come.

quarta-feira, 25 de janeiro de 2012

Cruise Experience

At Sea 5th- 6th June

With no more tropical destinations to explore and 2 days at sea before once again returning to Southampton ORIANA’s passengers were now left with “Little to do” except enjoy the comforts and facilities on board and being there was no destinations to explore there was a calm and relaxing atmosphere on board and as such many of the passengers were sleeping in a walking down the corridor many of the passenger cabins had a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door handles

While those who had risen early had the benefit of ORIANA’s generous deck space to them with very few other passengers around.

Understandably with many passengers having a lie in the breakfast venues were very sparsely attended although with meals available throughout the day for many it didn’t really bother them at the prospect of missing the meal.

However at the other end of the food spectrum there were some passengers who would be religiously attending each meal and would for any reason be missing any of them.

The morning atmosphere on board was wonderfully relaxing the other passengers who were up and about were enjoying the day at sea and were definitely benefitting from Sun ,Sea and ORIANA’s always pleasant yet never overwhelming surroundings had up to this point been providing an excellent cruising choice.

While at breakfast it was a little reassuring to see the elderly lady who the day before had been getting a lower view of Funchal than most, thankfully no worse for ending up on the ground although it was no something which she was talking about openly.

Having just left the restaurant on finishing breakfast suddenly the lights in the area of the restaurant and atrium unexpectedly dimmed much to the surprise shock and horror of the passengers, while some looked a little worried others who I would have guessed had a background in engineering seemed to be completely at ease and explaining their theory as to why the lights were behaving in a bizarre manner.

While it was for a few moments quite a talking point although it was soon all rendered academic as the lighting retuned to its normal level,.

Although I am sure that as far as most were concerned that was the end of the matter Captain Reid made an announcement to call any passengers fears by explaining the cause of the disturbance, it being nothing more serious than a circuit breaker tripping due to a blown fuse and that being effectively a large piece of machinery ships do from time to time suffer these sorts of incidents.

While it seemed most had been reassured by his announcement there were several passengers who seemed to unsatisfied with some passengers of course wanting to make more of it than just a simple maintenance issue and instead were telling of how they heard sounds of metal straining and 'clanking sounds coming from the ships engines followed by the sound of them slowing down.

When challenged by another passenger as to why if that was true ORIANA was continuing at the same speed and seemingly at that point all on board machinery seemed to running as normal the passenger went uncharacteristically quiet.

Either way engine problem or not the incident was soon forgotten passengers went about their own way on board.

The weather outside was turning the day into a splendid day at sea with the sky being clear which contrasted with the weather which had been forecasted, and was for sun worshippers an impromptu cause for celebration as they made their way onto the upper decks to find the ideal spot for spot of sunbathing, despite ORIANA’s relatively high speed and the air passing over the ship making a light breeze over the ship the scene on deck was something reminiscent of the Caribbean or Mediterranean rather sailing up the Atlantic all that was needed to complete tropical image would have been a barbeque on deck.

Whereas by night ORIANA would be taking on the mantel of an elegant club especially being the final formal night of the cruise, for now she was a sophisticated resort and a very comfortable one at that.

On both the Lido Deck itself and on the sun deck above people had gathered to enjoy the weather and further aft still more passengers were able to enjoy thanks to one of ORIANA’s truly outstanding exterior features her terraced decks.

To say that ORIANA at this time with all her passengers, even those who liked to complain, content was the very picture of maritime perfection would be the only way to describe it.

As she cut her way proudly through the Atlantic ORIANA was certainly living up to her motto of To Swim, To Serve.

Leaving the upper decks to check something in the Cabin I was surprised at my arrival in the cabin to find a small white envelope inside a letter from ORIANA’s ships secretary which was with regards to the request we had made at reception some days ago about having a visit to the navigational bridge informing us that a such a visit would be possible the date was for the next day and the letter gave a place and time of meeting.

While waiting until the next day was something of an annoyance it would be I am sure well worth it to see ORIANA’s ‘nerve centre’ where the great ship’s main decisions were being made.

While we had our good news for the day life on board ORIANA continued apace, from those on the deck relaxing to those starting their daily activity Being that later on board would be the last formal night of the cruise the ladies had hit the on board shops relatively early ensuring they had the right look and of course the all-important accessorises to go with it, life I decided must be hard for the fashion conscious woman on board a cruise liner never knowing if the wardrobe they had bought with them would be sufficient or would they have to buy more on board, of course for their husbands things must have been worse in most cases they were paying for it and at that moment in time most likely to be seen keeping in one of ORIANA’s bars.

While many of the passengers had been snapping away happily during the cruise with their cameras myself included it was interesting to see how many were actually getting any good shots of the ports and ship as often happens some holidaymakers are so eager to photograph anything and everything them around them that their eagerness carried them away so to speak and the results were less than desired, well to help those who felt needed it the ships photographers were on hand for a time giving a lecture in Chaplin’s Cinema the perfect way to take the perfect photo, from perspectives to spacing all that a person would need to know to become a good photographer was available to find out in this interesting lecture

Of course being ORIANA there was several more options for people’s varying tastes and ranging from sports on deck to beauty seminars.

As the time approached midday the sky had become overcast but still warm and to begin the afternoon with the officer of the watch gave his announcement which was relating to the ships current position which put her near the Spanish coast having travelled 419 Nautical miles (776.484 km) since her departure from Madeira with 933 Nautical miles (1729.020 km) remaining until her arrival in Southampton on Wednesday morning, although the officer hoped that passengers had enjoyed the cruise thus far and would be reluctant to leave in 2 days’ time.

From what I heard while being on board this cruise certainly many passengers would be sorry to leave, well for certain I would be.

Shortly after the announcement we made our way down to The Peninsular Restaurant to have a light lunch, seemingly now most passengers had ventured from their cabins since on this meal the restaurant was considerably fuller than at breakfast however with the upcoming chocolate buffet I could imagine that there would be some very full passengers on board by the late afternoon.

Whereas initially I wasn’t overly interested in going to the Buffet only to the Galley which was going on at the same time entering from the Peninsular and then exiting in to the buffet.

While not my thing exactly I thought that I should at least sample a little of all ORIANA had on offer.

However before the buffet there was plenty of time to do something which I liked to do most days spend some time walking through ORIANA both inside and out, while not exactly something which could be described as being a physical thing there something about her Ocean liner like traditional style which it was always pleasant to experience while passing through her beautiful rooms and wonderfully wide teak promenade deck.

ORIANA, I had decided on this cruise after having spent more time than the previous one was truly a remarkable ship in every way as a child the first ship’s name I had been introduced to was that of TITANIC famous of her demise but by to TITANIC historians she was perfect inside and out, far be it for me to disagree but ORIANA had much finer lines than the Olympic class liners and internally had décor which would have made the early 20th Century designers envious.

My walk over with it was almost time to head once more for The Peninsular and to take the tour round galley, a truly excellent sight to see various preparation areas for different food items and as a novelty near exit to the Oriental Restaurant an Ice sculpture of in the shape of a chef held a black board with the message “Welcome to ORIANA’s Galley” written on it.

Leaving the galley and entering the Restaurant the tables in the centre were all arranged with chocolates of all different types white, dark and in all different shapes and also other chocolate cake slices.

While some of the passengers were overindulging in just selecting the chocolates to taste therefore it wasn’t surprising that some had 2 plates full, it would be interesting to see how much they would actually be eating, for me though only one or two would be more than enough.

While many were remaining to indulge in more by the time we left it was time to think about getting ready for Dinner.

Being that it was the last formal night there was really sense of occasion and most on board after some preparation were ready to enter into the spirit of things.

In the beautiful in surroundings of ORIANA her passengers entered the spirit of things with the passengers for 1st sitting made their way toward the restaurants now adorned in their finest with the ladies in their evening dresses and gentlemen in their tuxedos and some also in kilts.

The Dinner was excellent in its presentation and its standard was beyond words in keeping with the excellent surroundings and exemplary service being given.

The meal over it was certain that our penultimate night on board ORIANA was going to be excellent.

The last day on board for cruise X705 dawned with ORIANA 5 hours into her crossing of the Bay of Biscay which she entered at 1am, her log descripting it as “In the early hours of the morning at 1am ORIANA continued passed well clear to the East of the traffic lanes off Cape Finsisterre marking her entry into the Bay of Biscay.”

The atmosphere on board was more sedate than the day before most likely I assumed was because it was the last day and most didn’t really want to go home maybe even planning their next P&O cruise of course for me 3pm couldn’t come soon enough, although I didn’t want the time pass to quickly I was anxious and excited to have a look at ORIANA’s command bridge.

At breakfast it was quite easy to see that many passengers didn’t want the day to come to an end their faces alone was more than enough to tell what they were thinking but as the saying goes all good things must come to an end of course with ORIANA playing host it was surly going to be good last day.

Although the sky was overcast the temperature was still warm and for the morning the sea conditions were fairly calm as ORIANA made her way throughout the day along the outskirts of the Bay of Biscay.

So in comparison to taking the mini cruise a year before what was my feelings compared to then ?
Quite simple now even more than ever ORIANA had proven herself to be the perfect choice to cruise on in terms of her size not too big yet large enough to have more than enough facilities to keep her passengers entertained for both long and short cruises.
It is said that ships have personalities of their own and although we felt it a during the 3 nights onboard in 2006 the past week had really brought ORIANA’s personality out for us one of timeless elegance, recalling a bygone era yet having a distinctively modern side as well yet never did she feel overwhelming everything about her was on a ‘human’ scale not large and sometimes over whelming and forbidding as is often the case of the mass market two, three and even four thousand passenger ships.
The classic features which had made her a hit with passengers back in 1995 were still 12 years later her main selling points.

While the day continued and passengers moved here and there through these last hours on board I finally found the time to relax before visiting the bridge, and in what better way to than by reading the books I had brought earlier in the cruise on the evolution of cruise ships and CANBERRA the former having an excellent section dedicated to none other than ORIANA herself with other ships mentioned along the way.

Eventually though 3 PM did come round and in anticipation we waited outside cabin A107 just behind the bridge it was almost time for our tour.....

Being greeted by the Ships Secretary we were escorted through to the bridge being greeted by our tour guide for the visit one of ORIANA's Deck Cadets Adam to make us and the few others who were with us feel comfortable he shared many jokes.

His look at each console was complete and gave a full explanation of all the various controls and displays noting when we were looking at the stabilizer indication panel that they had been rarely deployed on this cruise and despite the rough weather at times ORIANA had only rolled a maximum of 3 degrees, impressive by any ships standards.

While looking at the helm controls it was reassuring to hear that ORIANA thanks to her variable pitch propellers, high lift rudders and thrusters was due to her medium size the most manoeuvrable in the P&O Cruises fleet.

The tour lasted about an hour or two and when we had finished and were leaving the bridge we saw the Captain who was returning to the bridge and was interested to see hear of our experiences of the bridge.
As we the Captain moved off continuing on his rounds we went on our way it was almost time to get ready for the last night on board

sábado, 21 de janeiro de 2012

News report featuring ORIANA

While media attention over the last 8 days around cruise industry has understandably been focused on the tragedy of COSTA CONCORDIA's grounding off the the Italian Island of Giglio 1 week before on the 5th January ORIANA featured during her turnaround day in Southampton for her world cruise, in a News report from broadcaster BBC looking at the impact ORIANA and ships like her on the ailing economy.

ORIANA seen in Southampton on 5th January, Copyrights :BBC
The reporter briefly talks with some of ORIANA's expectant passengers as they board ready for their 3 month world voyage along with a short interview with ORIANA's current master Captain David Pembridge, whose 6 month stint in command is due to end on the 22nd.

The full report which includes a brief glimpse inside ORIANA can been seen at the following web address: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-16432782

quinta-feira, 19 de janeiro de 2012

ORIANA and COSTA CONCORDIA in Tenerife - One year ago

The Carnival mates ORIANA and COSTA CONCORDIA seen berthed at the harbour of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, one year ago on the 2nd January 2011.
A meeting that could not be seen again, the 112,000 GT Costa cruise liner impressed the World recently for the negative, after colliding with some nearby underwater rocks parcially sinking the ship by starboard near the island of Giglio, off the Toscani coast, Italy on a much unfortunate Friday the 13th.
In some way it proves that a disaster of this size can happen even with modern cruise ships whenever they decide to improve the SOLAS regulations. I've always knowned, "Better to be safe than sorry".Photos by Antonio Saez-Tenerife.

quarta-feira, 18 de janeiro de 2012

Cruise Experience

4th June Funchal, Madeira

Throughout the early morning ORIANA had continued on her Northerly course away from the Canary Islands and towards her next destination the Island of Madeira.

Being Portuguese rather than Spanish it promised to be a very different from the previous ports of call.

For ORIANA herself Funchal also holds great significance and memories having been the great ship’s first port of call.

By 7am ORIANA was nearing her destination and Captain Reid rang ‘stand by below’ in the lee of the Island the wind had decreased and at around 7:10am embarked the harbour pilot.

Watching from the promenade deck as the small boat emerged from the harbour and quickly drew closer to ORIANA before arriving at her side as from below the sound of the side door opening could be heard.

With the pilot on board ORIANA continued her approach to the harbour moving into position inside harbour at about 7:39am before swinging her bow to starboard before aligning with the berth in readiness of docking.

20 minutes or so later at around 8am ORIANA’s first lines went ashore and she was made all fast by 8:03 am ORIANA had clearance for her passengers to proceed ashore which was announced by Captain Reid during his arrival speech.

It was obvious that many of the passengers on board had visited Madeira before and like ORIANA had a particular liking for the port and from my view point on the promenade deck it was easy to see why the port was so popular.

The view from the deck was of the city spreading across the mountain side and with almost villa like white washed houses with their terracotta coloured roofs, in the warm morning sunshine with clear skies the water around ORIANA sparkled brilliant turquoise, even just by looking from the deck the scene was to my mind one of a tranquil Island.

Although ORIANA herself would have been an excellent venue to enjoy view the sights of the bay from there was very few on board who had that in mind and so they were heading off either on excursions or to explore on their own.

In such good conditions it didn’t take long to disembark and then join them, being the first time visiting the Island of course and not being too sure where things in the city were located it seemed to be a good idea to take the shuttle coach over towards the city.

Although the coach ride wasn’t overly required taking less than five minutes, it did offer a nice view and introduction to Funchal, the sights of city were very pleasant as the coach the left dock and within minutes were in the city centre.

Getting off the coach in the main avenue along the sea front the first sight somewhat poignantly was a tree with yellow ribbons tied to it relating to a news story which had been widely publicised in both Portugal and in the UK.

Walk the palm tree lined sea front and watching the small lizards running up the trees it was obvious that Madeira was far less urbanised than then our previous ports of call and in my opinion was all the better for it.

Looking across the harbour as we neared the pier the sight couldn’t have be better with the cloudless sky as a background and there by the seawall ORIANA her white hull sparkling brilliantly in the sun.

The city of Funchal itself from here also looked very impressive in the way it spread across the mountainside like which formed a natural amphitheatre around the bay and harbour.

Spotting several souvenir shops across the road these were our first port of call, the first The Madeira Shop had a very appealing large double sided lamented photo one side showing no less than ORIANA herself departing from Funchal at an earlier time and on the other showing images of Funchal’s famed indoor market an excellent memento it was only later that I learned that in fact the image came from ORIANA’s maiden call in Funchal in April 1995 and showed her departing after her overnight stay in the port.

Nearby another souvenir shop had an excellent display of fridge magnets and having been asked by a work colleague to bring back a magnet.

There was an excellent selection of magnets and after making our choice we parted the shop saying goodbye polite shopkeeper.

While we made our own way through Funchal other passengers were taking themselves off by themselves or taking one of P&O’s shore excursions.

The excursions on offer were varied and looked at different parts of Madeira’s culture and landscape.

Popular among these are Madeira’s famous Levada Walks allowing for keen walkers to explore the Island’s unique irrigation system which P&O described as “A network of footpaths runs alongside these levadas, reaching into remote parts, and so this is the best way to see the interior of the island.” And that it offered the chance to “Enjoy the peace and tranquillity of your surroundings as you walk through cool green tree-lined tunnels, discovering exotic flowers and plants along the way.”

Of course many passengers not being able or willing to take part in such aphysical activities and other tours for the less adventurous included Afternoon Tea at Reids, a chance to indulge in that most British of pat time of taking Tea with cakes at the world famous Reids Palace Hotel.

Another of Madeira’s famous attractions is of course its stunning landscape and flora giving it the names of The floating Garden and Garden of The Atlantic, a garden that many passengers had set off exploring on one of the driving tours available these ranged from coach tours taking in sights such as Cabo Girao one of the largest cliffs in Europe and visiting the wine lodges to sample the famous and tasty Madeira wine.

While for those wanting to try something a little different had the option of taking part in a Jeep adventure tour around the Island.

While walking through the city it was quite easy to lose track of time while taking a note of some of its charm, from the restaurant on board a yacht which was formally owned by The Beatles to the intricate traditional patterns on the walk paths.

Despite being the capital of the Island Funchal was had a very comfortable feel to it certainly the passengers from ORIANA who had visited on previous occasions seemed to feel quite at home walking amongst the charming back streets.

The time moving quickly on before we knew it lunch on board had come and gone but really it wasn’t that much of a concern as the smell of food being prepared was enough to tempt us to stay ashore to enjoy lunch in one of the many restaurants and cafes which overlooked the harbour.

And what an excellent choice for dining out it was, on one side ORIANA and the harbour provided the backdrop while on the other side the magnificence of the mountainside and the city on proved to be beautiful sight.

Lunch over and done with we continued our walk along the seafront passing by restaurants, before reaching a path lined with stone benches some of which were occupied by passengers although one elderly lady who on several occasions we had been on the same breakfast seemed to have misjudged how close she was to seat and ended up sitting on the floor instead!

My immediate reaction was to go and help but before I had the chance to several passer-by’s were at her side and helping her back to her feet, if only people were that helpful at home I thought.

While all of the ports of call had been interesting in their own way it was here in Madeira which was the only one which had made me feel that perhaps I would want to stay longer.

And while I could have easily had stayed and looked around for longer the time was moving on and with ORIANA departing at 4pm it was about time to return to the ship.

Checked back on board I firstly went to the promenade deck to snap a few photos from the sun drenched deck.

While my camera wasn’t perfect being only 3.5 mp compact taking the photos gave me the perfect opportunity to have as a memory my first visit to the Floating Garden.

While watching it was interesting to see the small boats in the harbour heading out to sea and also many canoes moving about the port.

Another interesting craft headed out at around 3:30pm a sailing ship pasting by ORIANA’s side and rounding the harbour wall.

It was only some years later that I found out the vessel was SANTA MARIA a replica of the Nau which had been used by Christopher Columbus, which offered 3 hour trips around the coast of the Island with the opportunity of taking a swim in the summer.

The Local Naval patrol boat returns to port.

Slowly if not a little reluctantly ORIANA’s passengers made their way back on board and depositing any souvenirs in their cabin made their way back onto the open decks to watch the departure.

Meanwhile as the dockside stevedores began removing the ropes Captain Reid made his departure speech saying all the departure checks were completed and ORIANA was almost ready to go, he also expressed his regret that in his opinion the stay is never long enough in Funchal but hoped all had enjoyed their stay.

Before finishing his speech he had 2 last things to add, firstly if passengers felt like a celebration they could go and join in the deck party taking place on the terraced decks and finally to except some strange horn blowing as his young guest of the bridge would be in charge of the horn.

Shortly after with the party in full swing and lots of enthusiastic flag waving going on ORIANA quietly slipped away from her berth before finally signalling with some very eccentric blowing giving many passengers a smile across their face and undoubtedly puzzling some of those on the shore .

According to the ships log “At 4:02pm ORIANA was ‘all gone and clear’ forward and aft and the ships thrusters were used to move off the berth, before moving ahead out of Funchal Harbour.

At 4:08pm ORIANA passed through the breakwaters of the harbour.”

Of course neither the log nor words alone could give an adequate description the experience of sailing away from a port and below is a few photographs of the sail away.

With the music of the party sounding across all of ORIANA made her way out of the harbour and within minutes Funchal and Madeira were left in ORIANA’s wake as she picked up speed as the bridge rang ‘full away on passage’ as she set her course towards the Bay of Biscay.

Watching as Funchal fell behind us the thought occurred of returning at some point in the future, maybe even on board ORIANA,

Goodbye Madeira! ORIANA's passengers wave as she is homeward bound.

The rest of the afternoon was spent on board enjoying again the virtues of ORIANA.

Since many of passengers had been busying themselves on shore during the day so the afternoon on board was being spent relaxing in the sunshine some on deck while others were treating themselves to relaxing and most likely well deserved spa treatment.

Now ORIANA had only one destination left for cruise X705 her homeport but before reaching Southampton 2 more days on board with her 1st class service lay ahead.