sábado, 11 de junho de 2022

Looking back: 2012 Fjords Cruise -Day 3

 11th June

After a relaxing first day at sea the early morning of Monday 11th June found ORIANA several hours from the first port of call , Norway's second largest city Bergen.
The day began early and up on leaving the cabin we were greeted by one of ORIANA's bridge crew and the local pilot on route to the bridge.
Unsurprisingly at this time ORIANA's decks were fairly empty aside from one or two passengers who were also early to rise and members of the ship's crew going about their assigned jobs, on deck there was fresh breeze that blew over ORIANA and the sky was somewhat cloudy in many ways the scene was somewhat reminiscent of the last time I had visited with the heavy skies being somewhat telling  that Bergen has the reputation as the wettest city in Europe.

  Unlike some of the other ports ORIANA would be visiting during this cruise there was no narrow fjords for the ship to traverse instead wide channels marked her course. Initially the land was rocky out crops which soon gave way to green patches with small wooden houses lining the waterfront. 


 Continuing on route we were rapidly the approaching Askøy Bridge which was fast becoming a source of interest as is always the case when a ship is about to pass under bridge.
Giving an announcement Captain Pembridge, having performed the manoeuvre many times  before  gave reassurance that ORIANA's air draft of around 55m would permit her to pass comfortably beneath the bridge.

 The mast passing under the bridge
 ORIANA's funnel nears the bridge while specters look on
With the bridge behind her ORIANA neared the city proper and amongst the mix of historic and modern buildings the first of the the other nautical visitors came into view, ORIANA would spend the day in good company as she joined  three other ships from other Carnival brands.
Firstly coming into view two of ORIANA's fellow Meyer Werft built ships the newly built AIDAMAR and her older sibling AIDALUNA.
AIDAMAR and AIDALUNA docked together

Up ahead Holland America's EURORDAM also came into view offering her Signature class lines bringing to mind ORIANA's fleet mate ARCADIA.

EURODAM docked alongside
 Finally alongside the dock stevedores in small boats were in place to pick up ORIANA's lines and secure her alongside.
 After a day at sea and a relatively short journey of 759 Nautical miles (1406.5km) we had arrived at our first destination.
ORIANA arrives into Bergen
With ORIANA tied up alongside and all the arrival formalities completed the passengers were free to go ashore either independently or by taking one of the tour excursion on offer through the tours office on board.
We wouldn't be taking advantage of the excursions instead we would be meeting with local ship spotter Tom Gulbrandsen who had offered to kindly take the time to show us some of the interesting sights of the city.
The clouds which had loomed over the city soon began lifting  to revel a bright morning sky.
Sights from around Bergen
The hours slipped by fairly quickly and all too soon it was time to return to ORIANA. 
Taking a short walk through the city to the drop off/pick up point we parted ways with Tom who wished us well with the rest of the cruise.
Returning to ORIANA there was about an hour or so remaining before ORIANA departed, more than enough time to have a brief rest before joining the a special sail away party.

Instead of the normal sailaways loved by many a P&O passenger ORIANA's terraced decks were the venue for the 175th Anniversary sail away party.

 With the party in full swing ORIANA's main engines were brought back up to power and her lines were let go and slowy she pushed off her berth.
Leaving Bergen behind ORIANA set her course towards our next port of call, while her passengers prepared for another evening on board. 

Photos: João Abreu, Tom Gulbrandsen

sexta-feira, 10 de junho de 2022

Looking back: 2012 Fjords Cruise -Day 2

10th June-At Sea

Sunday, the day of rest for many and on this day for those of us on ORIANA it was relaxing to wake with  no sense of urgency.
The first evening on board P&O's mighty flagship had been a complete success the service at dinner and every venue had been of the highest quality and had eased all into the rhythm of ship board life.
During the night and early hours ORIANA had made her way into the North Sea and onward towards Norway.
With calm conditions the night had been a comfortable and calm one and had led to restful sleep so much so that it was only at about 8:15am that we awoke.
Being that it was Sunday and ORIANA's beds being impossibly comfortable it was a fair bet that many other passengers were doing the same enjoying lying in and resting on the first full day on board and in contrast undoubtedly there had been some early risers who would have been up early making the most of ORIANA's spacious decks while they were empty.
Shortly after getting ready for the day our first stop was breakfast in The Peninsular Restaurant which was only partially filled which was to be expected with other passengers still resting or making use of one of the alternative venues specifically The Conservatory and Al frescos.
Prior to the previous night The Peninsular had been the only main dining venue which I had been allocated to dine in on board so it was with a little fondness that I was found my self once again seated in it and like the rest of the ship it looked as good as it ever has done not the slightest sign of wear.

For many certainly among the ladies on board it would be the opportunity to get ready for the evenings Gala Reception with the Captain while that was some hours away beauty therapy in the Spa and retail therapy in the shops would be a must.
For us it simply offered the chance to enjoy the ambiance of the ship and to reminisce over times and how our friendship began courtesy of the ship we now had the pleasure of sailing on.
For what would doubtlessly be the first of many occasions we headed out onto ORIANA open decks firstly to the forward open area directly forward of the deck tennis courts and Oasis spa.
The view ahead was as always inspiring watching as ORIANA's slender and sharp bow pushed ahead despite it being more than a little windswept the was no waves to speak of and no pitching motion just ORIANA's bow seemingly gliding through the water.

ORIANA's bow glides through thr North Sea

Although calm there was a chill in the air and after taking some further photos it was time to head back inside. By now ORIANA was the typical animated scene of a ship at sea with her passengers going about their day in their own unique way it was interesting to note that my initial concerns that the new role as an adults only ship may have in many ways affected the on board atmosphere this was not the case since the atmosphere like the ship herself was as good as it ever had been.

ORIANA's atrium the hub of activity on board

One of the features which never ceased to amaze me and even more so this cruise was the amount of space on offer despite being a virtually full with 1,800 or so passengers all on board going about the first day on board there never seemed to lack free space and unlike her fleet mates even AURORA there were several comfortable and inviting seating areas on various levels of the atrium which were not linked to a bar area Along with The Crow's Nest, which we would undoubtedly visit before the morning was over,another favorite venue was Tiffany's the Coffee bar atop of the atrium and given its relaxing ambiance by the over head stained glass ceiling and the sound of the waterfall and offered us the perfect venue to talk about the cruise thus far, it also was also the perfect reminder of the attention to detail that ORIANA's designers put into her interiors not only with larger features such as the Tiffany styled ceiling and waterfall but also in the smaller details that most wouldn't give a second glance here that was most visible with the wood carved wall panels which lined the bar and corridor leading to the forward stairway. Like its counterparts on ORIANA's fleet mates Tiffany's now offered the popular Costa brand coffee which made the perfect companion to an in depth discussion relating to ORIANA and maritime subjects. In fact a mixture of the conversation and surroundings led to us being there for some considerable time.

Tiffany's at a quieter moment

Elsewhere on board other passengers occupied themselves with many of the other activities taking place on this first day at sea, the activities had began early with complimentary keep fit class in the Spa and fitness centre as well as a 'walk a mile' around the promenade deck.
Following on from the class there was Tai Chi  taking place and while on this cruise it was intended to make use of the Spa as another 'first' at some point that would be certainly for relaxation rather than exercise.
Away from the spa in Chaplins Cinema passengers with an interest in politics would find a the days film The Iron Lady a worthwhile watch .
For the ladies who were looking something a little different a talk on perfumes with the on board expert along the same lines later in the day a talk relating to diamonds scheduled certainly if any ladies had expensive tastes their husbands would be keeping them away from those talks!
The sound of church bells played over the public address system marking in a traditional manner, the beginning of the multi-faith religious service that was being held by Captain Pembridge in the ship's theatre.
As we contemplated moving from Tiffany's several members of the entertainment team began setting up for a quiz the first of the day.
By now most of the bars were open and the passengers who were not engaged in working out or taking part in activities were enjoying the morning sat in the bar much like on land only in much finer surroundings.
The different age groups going about their own things younger to middle aged men were sat to the bars enjoying a beer or two while the older generations sat together in groups discussing anything and everything.
One of the advantages of being on board a ship of course was that one could completely disconnect so to speak with the outside world choosing too cut temporarily all ties with land and  because the ship is its own enclosed world it is an option many would enjoy however for this cruise many on board would be focused on the small matter of Football, while the Lord's Tavern was at present a fairly calm venue that would certainly change later in the day with the Euro 2012 tournament being shown . 
Outside despite the North Sea breeze passengers took the time to leisurely take the air on the promenade deck.
The old saying of time flies when your having fun was certainly very appropriate in this case as a combination of the ship's relaxing ambiance and good company passed the time quickly.
Having a little time before midday we took to The Crow's Nest which after hosting some talks earlier was now fairly empty.
The view although a little overcast was of a fairly calm sea with the occasional tanker passing and in the distance the shape of several oil rigs were discernible.
With a chime from the Public address system the officer of the watch announcing the time at midday as the ships bell struck 12 times the first full afternoon on board ORIANA began.

Photos: Steve Martin

quinta-feira, 9 de junho de 2022

Looking back: 2012 Fjords Cruise

Ten years ago on the 9th June 2012 both the authors of this blog boarded ORIANA for a 7 night cruise to the Norwegian fjords, to mark the occasion we roll back the sands of time to once again enjoy the expericnce of sailing on board P&O's mighty flagship.
9th June 2012 :-
After many months of waiting and anticipating finally the time was almost right to return to ORIANA for what would undoubtedly be another excellent cruise on board P&O's magnificent masterpiece.
However this day was different form othet cruises  as joining me for his first cruise on board the ship he eagerly had watched since childhood was my good friend and the creator of this blog João Abreu, such was the allure of ORIANA. it had been because of my previous cruise on her I had come to know him and despite living far apart we had become close and valued friends and approaching the docks with their cranes and container it was almost time to pay respects to the great lady of the seas who had made it all possible - ORIANA.
On this day all of Southampton's cruise terminals were occupied with cruise ships the first to come into view was the mother of the Grand/Crown type ship GRAND PRINCESS docked in the Mayflower Terminal once the largest ship in the world she looked impressive until compared to the giant docked in the City terminal  CELEBRITY ECLIPSE beautiful from the inside most certainly and at the time an impressive sight due to her size the one attribute this Meyer Werft ship could not boast was fine lines or exterior elegance.
Next in the Ocean Terminal the then last new build for P&O AZURA was docked ready to embark her 3000+ passengers as such the book ends of the Grand/Crown class were present GRAND PRINCESS the pioneer of the Grand Class and AZURA the last member of the derived Crown class ships.
Finally docked by starboard side in the Queen Elizabeth II terminal almost as though she was welcoming her expectant passengers ORIANA, her bow facing towards us as we approached and looking as elegant as ever despite some slight modifications made to her bridge wings, most prominently the addition of a canvas cover on each ORIANA did not look a single one of her 17 years indeed it seemed almost as though she was the youngest the only sign of her age being the fact that ORIANA was the only ship in port that wasn't from a class of mass produced hulls.
Arriving at the terminal almost as soon as we had stepped from the car our luggage had been collected by a porter in a scene almost reminiscent of a embarkation day from the old ocean liners he hurriedly took them away to be loaded on board.

Parting with the driver and with ORIANA looming beyond the terminal we joined the queue to check in, thankfully not very long and in no time at all we were at the desk with passports and tickets at the ready as the process began the check in assistant amused at our matching ORIANA Maiden Voyage T-shirts.
With check in complete another important procedure began with the security screening of course a must and in these days a welcome sight ensuring that all safety procedures being followed completely.

ORIANA looms above the dock

 Once completed all that remained was the customary boarding photograph which on this occasion showed two expectant fans ready to board their favorite cruise liner leaving little doubt the excitement the two shared and then finally a steep gangway leading into ORIANA after swiping the cruise card to officially sign us on board ORIANA's atrium beckoned.
Although some minor differences were  present since her refit these were very slight and didn't affect the ambiance of the atrium its self initially the only differences noticeable was the removal of the black granite panelling around the the Reception desk it being replaced by lighter textures.
As passengers boarded a member of the entertainment team was welcoming passengers on board, with the cabins not being ready she was directing people to one of two areas on board for refreshments, for the passengers travelling in the Suite and Mini-Suite accommodation the spacious Harlequins Bar/ dance venue was serving as an more exclusive buffet complete with champagne and for the remaining passengers a full buffet being was served in the Conservatory on deck 12.
Unsurprisingly the buffet was full of passengers and free seats at tables were few and far between although a slight annoyance since the journey to Southampton often left passengers a little hungry,  it wasn't the fault of the ship's design or company organization more a unfortunate effect of the target market mindset and attitude at times a frustrating one.
While the idea of finding a meal at this time quickly disappearing the business at hand of exploring ORIANA to find what else had changed during her 2011 refit seemed a good alternative , however on reflection when passing by the Lord's Tavern bar with a week in front of us do that the opportunity to at first get into the cruise mood with a drink of larger seemed quite a good alternative for us and with pleanty of room avalible the "Tavern" seemed quite an attractive option.

Seating in The Lord's Tavern
 With its obvious cricket theme eluded to in most every way  possible the room offered an quintessentially English atmosphere in which to enjoy what was sure to be the first of many relaxing moments on board as well as getting well acquainted with one of the waiters introducing him to our fondness of ORIANA and to this blog.
While enjoying our drink the first of many announcements of the day was made advising that all the passengers cabins were now ready, with no hurry our first priority was to finish our drinks before heading up to discover our 'home' for the next week.
For us the journey was up 4 decks to deck 11 or 'A' deck to the starboard side of  the midship area and inside cabin A191.
Reaching the cabin our first impression was a good one despite being an inside the cabin was a generous size in fact the main space of the cabin was considerably larger than a standard Balcony Cabin on board fleet mate VENTURA and also in a slightly unusual design feature for a modern cruise ship the cabin featured a bathroom from complete with bath and shower.
Having taken a brief time to settle in to the cabin and been introduced to the Cabin Steward Daniel who ran through the customary the emergency route plan on the back of the cabin door and a reminder the location and time the safety drill was being held. in this case our designated muster station was Station B on Deck 8 Comprising of Chaplins Cinema, Library an Crichton's games room.
With the first formalities on board out of the way we began our tour of the beautifully refitted ORIANA.
    Most logically we began from the top and from ORIANA's most atmospheric and stunning venue The Crow's Nest, while the room it self had not undergone any change the area behind the bar did have a surprising difference instead of the large model of the P&O's R class ship from the 1920's which had occupied the space since 1995.
The display case now was full of plaques and other items relating to ORIANA most prominently displayed in the centre was one of ORIANA's bells and below it a beautiful model of the ship herself showing her as built while it was not stated as such the high level of detail made it quite possible that it was a builders or pre-construction owners model.
One deck below The Crow's Nest the Gymnasium/Spa was the next area of note to be effected by the refit.
Beginning in area which had been the original Gymnasium this area is now almost completely  occupied by a wooden floored aerobic area for aerobic exercises, fitness class, Zumba  etc.
Forward of this area and stretching to the centre of the forward facing windows the starboard side of what had previously been the spa is now the Gymnasium instead of the relaxation which had previously taken place here now it was ready for passengers to be quite the opposite with exercise equipment ranging from weight lifting machines to exercise bikes.
Reaching the centre of the room a divider admitted entrance to the spa area, which despite its reduced size was still fully equipped with Steam rooms, sauna  and whirlpool spa and having been updated during her recent refit with the installation of two heated ceramic beds along with a small relaxation area .

Elsewhere on board it was not much of a surprise that there were a  series of reminders of the fact that 2012 was P&O's 175 year heritage celebrations in the form of an timeline and art deco styled poster on Deck 8 near the cinema.
While our exploration of ORIANA continued it was obvious that the combination of her latest refit and excellent upkeep by her crew the ship was looking as good as the day she entered service nowhere was there evidence of her being 'dated or tired' as befitting for the flagship of the most distinguished British cruise line.
Looking aft from the Anderson's bar
While it was easy to lose track of the time on board we kept an close on time and with the time fast approaching for muster a quick detour to the cabin to collect our lifebelts we made our way slightly earlier than was required even so there was a few passengers already seated we took our places to wait the important announcement from the bridge.
With all passengers at their muster stations the stairway guides relocated from the positions the had taken to assist any passengers who may need it as the Captain ran through the safety and muster procedure in place on board ORIANA.
While it was a lot of information to take in but as had been proved with the loss of COSTA CONCORDIA almost 5 months ealier it was vitally  important to be aware of what to do in the unlikely event of an emergency.
Following the announcements passengers were invited to practice the correct way of putting on a lifebelt before leaving to enjoy ORIANA's impending sail away.
Leaving the lifebelt in the cabin and avoiding the many passengers already making their way onto deck we fairly quickly made it on to the sun deck in time to watch the other ships passing ORIANA.
Firstly CELEBRITY ECLIPSE her huge size silently slipping by her passengers waving enthusiastically.
Next came GRAND PRINCESS and with the ensuring horn battle a memorable start to the cruise however inevitability ORIANA and her distinctive horn won out.
 Finally taking her leave of the port ORIANA began her own departure from the dockside the brass band played as the thrusters began edging the ship away from her berth and then ahead her proud house flag flying on the bow as she picked up speed.
With Southampton falling astern as ORIANA picked up speed we headed to the cabin to prepare for the first dinner of the cruise, on first sitting we would be dining in The Oriental Resaurant the largest of the main dining rooms on board.

All Photos Copyright João Abreu & Steve Martin

quarta-feira, 13 de abril de 2022

Celebrating ORIANA: Departing Madeira

 Following an overnight stay and full day in port by 6pm on the 13th April 1995 ORIANA was ready to depart Funchal, Madeira and head South to the Canary Islands.
ORIANA's welcome the previous day had as warm as any could and now with preprations completed the city had turned out to wish the ship well as she continued her Maiden Voyage.
At about 6:10pm ORIANA made her way off the berth blowing her distinctive horn as she headed out.
People of all ages lined the sea front to see her sail for some the sight would stick with them for many years.

The scene was certainly one fitting for P&O's new flagship,elegant, modern yet classic, she looked perfectly serene departing and is still remembered many years later with the moment captured in  a photograph which local postcards and ond other keepsakes have featured ever since.

terça-feira, 12 de abril de 2022

Celebrating ORIANA: The First Port of Call

Having spent 3 days at sea from her successful departure from Southampton ORIANA made her way to first port call, Funchal, Madeira.

ORIANA arrives in Funchal, Madeira 12/4/1995: Luís Filipe Jardim
The Portuguese Island had been an important port for P&O since it's earliest days and since the transition to cruising had been popular among repeat P&O passengers.

As is customary ORIANA and her passengers recived the warmest of Madeiran welcomes, local flowers being presented to the passengers as they stepped off the gangway.
Seeing as ORIANA would be remaining in port overnight a fireworks display in her honour was also put on in the evening.
Being that this was her first call a group of local enthusiasts visited the ship where a plaque commemorating the call was presented to Commodore Ian Gibb, who in turn presented a plaque featuring ORIANA's own Coat of Arms.

sábado, 9 de abril de 2022

Celebrating ORIANA: The Maiden Departure

 Sunday 9th April 1995
It was a fairly grey overcast Sunday as passengers arrived at Southampton's Mayflower terminal, pulling up in cars, taxis and coaches, their luggage dropped off before joing the check in queue.
These are scenes repeated regularly in the port, this occasion however was different for there 1,636 passengers were embarking the Maiden Voyage of ORIANA, ,P&O's newest and first custom built cruise ship, advertised as The First Super liner Built for Britain she perfectly blended modern British cruising tastes with the traditional from teak promenades to her Art Deco/Edwardiana styled interiors.
Behind the scenes ORIANA was also a technical marvel her navigational equipment was the most advanced yet fitted aboard a civilian ship and her intergrated bridge system wouldn't become standard for another 5 years at least.

Departing her berth ORIANA was escorted by a flotila of small crafts wishing her well as she made her way down Southampton water.
Despite the overcast skies and the wind picking up sightseers lined ORIANA's route.
Seen below ORIANA passes Cowes on the Isle of Wight on her Maiden Voyage.

Heading into the English Channel ORIANA turned south and made her way down towards her first port of call Funchal, Madeira.

segunda-feira, 16 de agosto de 2021

The final departure from Southampton

16th August 2019: 7 days after her final P&O Cruise ORIANA found herself in the company of her former fleetmates AURORA and VENTURA for what would be her final hours in Southampton.

One final meeting Photo: Patricia Dempsey
In the week since her last cruise her P&O logo,livery ,name had all been removed and some items had been taken from the ship while temporary names were added to her.
On board her new crew (supplied by V.Crew) were joined by some P&O crew who were remaining onboard until her arrival in Asia alongside her new entertainment troupe, provided by Sea Cruise UK.
Over the week ORIANA had been in Southampton her departure day and time had constantly changed but finally at little after 8:30am ORIANA/PIANO LAND began to pulling her lines up and shortly before 9am slipped her berth under the charge of her V.Ships crew her horn sounding 3 blasts AURORA chimed in with a final salute to her former fleetmate with 2 short and 1 long blasts.

ORIANA pushes off for the last time Photo: Patricia Dempsey
Heading down Southampton Water passing VENTURA docked in the Ocean Terminal with the two saluting as she passed.

ORIANA continued on her way as she had done many times over the years with many happy cruisers on board, only this time her cabins were only occupied with crew members and  she wouldn't be returning.

Goodbye ORIANA Photo:Patricia Dempsey
As ORIANA moved on Southampton fell astern as did the Isle of Wight and she headed South towards the Bay of Biscay as she had so many times.
Outbound for the last time
ORIANA was heading to Piraeus,Greece where she would have her new logos and names added.
While en route work would also begin on removing unwanted fittings such as furniture in the former Cybercafe and the stripping out the
Terrace Bar.
Photos: Patricia Dempsey