Oriana to the Caribbean


Here beginneth the Blog for this cruise. My apologies for the latest of the hour, so to speak. The week-long delay in starting has been due, at least in part, somewhat predictably, to bad weather. Not the hideous, leg-breaking, teeth-knocked-out, televisions flying across the cabin nightmare that we had on the last cruise we took, on Artemis, when we arrived in Madeira to find four ambulances lined up on the quayside waiting for us. No, this has been just bumpy enough to muck up the satellite signal. The majority of the delay was, however, due to a fairly catastrophic equipment failure. The entire ship was without any communication equipment for several days. Not the life-saving, steering the ship radar-y type of stuff, but no email, no phones, no internet. We have three golf balls and it was only the one that conked out (the antennae are spherical, so they’re known as golf balls), but even the Captain had no email! He had to go ashore in Spain and find an internet connection on land just to check his messages! We had to have parts shipped to Spain to meet us, or actual engineers or something. They never tell you what’s going on, only the bare minimum to get you to shut up complaining! Anyway, once we found out the Captain was suffering too, we knew they’d work EXTRA hard to fix it, and they did. Huzzah.

It is so wonderful to be back on Oriana. It’s like coming home. I nearly cried when I came on board. Some things have changed. The Curzon Room is gone, which is a terrible shame, replaced by a Gary Rhodes restaurant, which is apparently very good. We haven’t tried it, and I’m not yet convinced that I want to. They charge fifteen quid a head cover charge, which isn’t much for a Gary Rhodes meal, let’s face it, but the menu seems a bit posh for my simple tastes, and I dislike paying extra for something which is supposed to be included in the already rather steep price I am paying to be here at all. Single person occupancy supplement for a single girl using a twin cabin is, wait for it, 70%. I’ll say that again. 70%. So I think I have paid quite enough for my food, bed and board, thank you very much, without being expected to shell out another fifteen quid to eat the same stuff arranged differently. So, no, haven’t tried the new restaurant.

There isn’t much other news, really. We’ve only done one port so far, La Coruna in northern Spain. This is a new one for us, unlike the last port which will be Vigo, which we can find our way around with our eyes closed. I didn’t get to see the town, however, as I went on an organised excursion to Santiago de Compostela. This cathedral is built on the grave of St James and his two disciples and is the third most important pilgrimage site in the world for Catholics, after Jerusalem and Rome. We saw several pilgrims walking the last few miles. Apparently there are subsidised hostels on the way that charge three euros a night to pilgrims, which seems a nice thought for people who are walking hundreds of miles to get there. Very thoughtful. It is a quite spectacular building, with the world’s longest censer, I believe, although it wasn’t in action when we visited, sadly. Still, I came, I saw, I took photos, I bought things in the shop. Job done. On the way out of La Coruna (we left at lunchtime, bizarrely), we passed the Tower of Hercules, the only working Roman lighthouse in the world. Yes, Roman. Cool, or what?

We’re not completely out of the loop, so I am quite aware that we have a new President of the United States and I am extremely happy with the winner. I would have voted for him, had I had the chance. It’s always nice to live in a moment of history and I always feel just a little more important as a result, at least for a while. I may not be able to tell you where I was when man stepped onto the Moon, or when JFK was shot, and I may only have been one year old at the fall of Saigon, but I have seen the birth of the internet, the turn of a millennium, the fall of the Berlin Wall and now this. A black President of the United States. Doesn’t get any cooler than that, that’s for sure. I just hope that the Secret Service can keep him alive long enough for him to make a difference. Maybe I’m just terribly cynical and jaded, but I can’t help but assume that a lot of people are going to devote a lot of time and effort to bumping him off, and I can only hope and pray that they all fail miserably. Trouble is, it only needs one to get lucky once. Well, here’s hoping they protect him.

So the world turns, and our little vessel bobs along across the 31.5 million square miles of the Atlantic Ocean towards the Caribbean. Nothing else to say, really, so I’ll sign off for now. Ta ta. Try not to miss me too much.

Now we are back on Oriana for a month doing the Caribbean and Southern States. So the blogging begins again.Here beginneth the Blog for this cruise. My apologies for the latest of the hour, so to speak. The week-long delay in starting has been due, at least in part, somewhat predictably, to bad weather. Not the hideous, leg-breaking, teeth-knocked-out, televisions flying across the cabin nightmare that we had on the last cruise we took, on Artemis, when we arrived in Madeira to find four ambulances lined up on the quayside waiting for us. No, this has been just bumpy enough to muck up the satellite signal. The majority of the delay was, however, due to a fairly catastrophic equipment failure. The entire ship was without any communication equipment for several days. Not the life-saving, steering the ship radar-y type of stuff, but no email, no phones, no internet. We have three golf balls and it was only the one that conked out (the antennae are spherical, so they’re known as golf balls), but even the Captain had no email! He had to go ashore in Spain and find an internet connection on land just to check his messages! We had to have parts shipped to Spain to meet us, or actual engineers or something. They never tell you what’s going on, only the bare minimum to get you to shut up complaining! Anyway, once we found out the Captain was suffering too, we knew they’d work EXTRA hard to fix it, and they did. Huzzah.

It is so wonderful to be back on Oriana. It’s like coming home. I nearly cried when I came on board. Some things have changed. The Curzon Room is gone, which is a terrible shame, replaced by a Gary Rhodes restaurant, which is apparently very good. We haven’t tried it, and I’m not yet convinced that I want to. They charge fifteen quid a head cover charge, which isn’t much for a Gary Rhodes meal, let’s face it, but the menu seems a bit posh for my simple tastes, and I dislike paying extra for something which is supposed to be included in the already rather steep price I am paying to be here at all. Single person occupancy supplement for a single girl using a twin cabin is, wait for it, 70%. I’ll say that again. 70%. So I think I have paid quite enough for my food, bed and board, thank you very much, without being expected to shell out another fifteen quid to eat the same stuff arranged differently. So, no, haven’t tried the new restaurant.

There isn’t much other news, really. We’ve only done one port and are currently mid-Atlantic on our way to the Bahamas (due Sunday, I think). Can’t really talk about places I haven’t got to yet!

The one port we have visited was La Coruna in northern Spain. This is a new one for us, unlike the last port which will be Vigo, which we can find our way around with our eyes closed. I didn’t get to see the town, however, as I went on an organised excursion to Santiago de Compostela. This cathedral is built on the grave of St James and his two disciples and is the third most important pilgrimage site in the world for Catholics, after Jerusalem and Rome. We saw several pilgrims walking the last few miles. Apparently there are subsidised hostels on the way that charge three euros a night to pilgrims, which seems a nice thought for people who are walking hundreds of miles to get there. Very thoughtful. It is a quite spectacular building, with the world’s longest censer, I believe, although it wasn’t in action when we visited, sadly. Still, I came, I saw, I took photos, I bought things in the shop. Job done. On the way out of La Coruna (we left at lunchtime, bizarrely), we passed the Tower of Hercules, the only working Roman lighthouse in the world. Yes, Roman. Cool, or what?

Film update. So far I have seen: on tv: Iron Man, The Bucket List, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, National Treasure: Book of Secrets (twice), Gattacca (yet again, never tire of it), Charlie Wilson’s War, Just Like Heaven, Les Miserables (the drama film starring Liam Neeson, not the musical) and Wall-E on the big screen, in the cinema. Wonderful. I almost cried, but managed to stop myself. Just. Welled up though. Beautiful film. Exquisitely done. Now I know what all the fuss was about. It’s magical. Of all the others, only Charlie Wilson’s War got less than five out of five from me. I just didn’t feel anything for any of the characters at all. All the others were thoroughly enjoyable and even the vacuous Claire Danes couldn’t mar Les Mis for me (does she do anything other than wide-eyed staring?). Other than that, I’d recommend them all. Am currently watching Run Fat Boy Run, so I’ll have to reserve judgement on that one for now, but so far so good.

We’re not completely out of the loop, so I am quite aware that we have a new President of the United States and I am extremely happy with the winner. I would have voted for him, had I had the chance. It’s always nice to live in a moment of history and I always feel just a little more important as a result, at least for a while. I may not be able to tell you where I was when man stepped onto the Moon, or when JFK was shot, and I may only have been one year old at the fall of Saigon, but I have seen the birth of the internet, the turn of a millennium, the fall of the Berlin Wall and now this. A black President of the United States. Doesn’t get any cooler than that, that’s for sure. I just hope that the Secret Service can keep him alive long enough for him to make a difference. Maybe I’m just terribly cynical and jaded, but I can’t help but assume that a lot of people are going to devote a lot of time and effort to bumping him off, and I can only hope and pray that they all fail miserably. Trouble is, it only needs one to get lucky once. Well, here’s hoping they protect him.

So the world turns, and our little vessel bobs along across the 31.5 million square miles of the Atlantic Ocean towards the Caribbean. Nothing else to say, really, so I’ll sign off for now. Ta ta. Try not to miss me too much.

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