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About annieuk

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    Cool Cruiser

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    hampshire england
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    cooking, travelling, reading

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  1. Oceana is one of our favourite P&O ships, been on her seven times now. Yes the balcony cabins are small but if you can manage one of the aft mini suites or, even better, one of the 6 aft full suites, they are amazing. Just to clarify the aft minis are very different from the mid-ship minis. The mid-ship ones are two balcony cabins set together so the balcony is very long but very narrow. The aft mini suites are very large with very deep balconies - we've had ten people out there with no problems. The full suites' balconies are even larger. We love Cafe Jardin, particularly for breakfast if we are not in a suite. The suites do have two separate rooms, separated by a curtain. I think that the suites on Azura and Ventura for example are half the size of the Oceana ones. Those people in suites now have a special section of one of the restaurants coned off for them for breakfast or, of course, the Butler will bring anything from the full restaurant menu and serve it in the suite - wonderful on the balcony when somewhere hot. Just to mention, the Butler - we've never found them anything but extremely helpful and wanting to help make your cruise a lovely experience. They are full of good information, not only about the ship, but also about the different ports. Yes Oceana is getting on a bit compared to the huge giants P&O are now building. Our favourite ships are now Oceana, Aurora and Arcadia. When these eventually go I don't know what we shall do. This is all supposing that cruises return in the the not too distant future.
  2. When things do start up again I wonder if we'll see more people wanting a Southampton to Southampton cruise - in other words not fly cruising. Maybe the extra concern about flying and then if there is any problem having to be repatriated might make people think about going from Southampton in the first instance. We are over 70 and would hate to think that we'll never cruise again. We certainly wouldn't fly but going from Southampton, which I've always preferred anyway would be a possibility.
  3. If I ignore the whole worry about the virus then yes I could enjoy a cruise with no stops. I had a similar sort of experience on Oceana back in 2010. At the end of the previous October I broke my ankle and was in plaster until the beginning of January 2010. We had a cruise booked for the end of January - a fly cruise to Acapulco then through the Panama Canal into the Caribbean and return from Barbados. My Consultant advised me to go, no reason why not he said. So we went. I was lucky in that we were sitting right at the front of the plane so I was able to put my leg up which helped. I'd booked Assistance all the way which was great, all worked fine. It was only when we got onto the ship that I began to realise that it would have been very sensible to take a wheelchair. I had been walking around very well at home but I had forgotten how long it was from one end of the ship to the other let along getting off and walking particularly in the heat which makes legs and ankles swell. We tried to borrow a wheelchair from the Medical Centre but they would only let us have one on a couple of evenings in order to go to the Captain's Welcome evening and to a drinks do. I had a walking stick which helped but it became obvious that I was going to be much more comfortable staying on board so I cancelled the pre-booked trips. My husband often chose different trips from me so he wasn't really affected in that way. We had one of the aft mini suites on Oceana so I had a lovely place to sit and view what was happening. I can honestly say I didn't get bored not going off the ship. Someone asked me that when I got home. I said that it was January/February, at home it was snowing and I was sat on my balcony at the back of the ship, relaxing in the sunshine, not having to think what was I going to cook for supper, no shopping, no cleaning, wonderful! So yes I think I could enjoy a cruise with no stops, although it would be good to sail along coastlines so there was occasionally something to look at.
  4. We have had suites on Azura, Ventura and Oceana and have never found the Butler intrusive. In fact the opposite, they have always been exceptionally helpful. We have never asked them to pack or unpack for us. When they bring the canapes each evening (yes the canapes do seriously need upgrading) they ask if we want to have breakfast in the cabin - if we do then we can choose anything from the main restaurant menu, including hot food and the butler will bring and serve it at an agreed time - lovely to have on the balcony in sunny weather. The butler will also serve lunch or dinner if you wish again taken from the main restaurant menu. He is responsible for all your food and drink so will sort out any requirements you have. We have also found that the butlers are really good at sorting out any Select Dining bookings you want to make and they are very knowledgeable about all sorts of things. When we've been in the Caribbean we always like to have a bottle of Pimms and when we've run out -P&O don't stock bottles of Pimms only cans unless they've changed - one of the butlers told us where to find some in the Caribbean at one of the ports. We've always found a butler enhances our cruise. Maybe P&O don't always make it clear what the butler will do so that passengers who haven't had a suite before don't know how they can be used.
  5. Jennizor, thanks for that. I have the Nigellissima book but haven't tried that one, will do so when I've got someone other than my husband to cook for. The trouble with puddings meant for more than two people is that we eat it all!
  6. We're coping thanks Andy. My husband, a usually incredibly active person who never had a day's illness in his life until a year ago has been laid low with this horrible illness which attacks healthy blood vessels and nerves, not incurable and can be stabilised hopefully to avoid any further damage, but it's a slow process. We're lucky in that we have a daughter who works very near us and she sorts out prescriptions etc. We're on the Ocado priority list - I've used Ocado since I broke my ankle over ten years ago and have found them really good so that's been useful. So we cope and just think how lucky we are to have a garden so we can be out there even if we can't go outside the property at all because of my husband's illness. He's itching to be able to do more than he's able so we are hoping the current medication is going to work. There are many people far worse off than we are.
  7. I phoned Saga eventually after the Manage My Booking said we had no cruises booked and got through very quickly. Yes it was all done, got given the booking number - which I think my husband had been given and forgotten about it! Anyway, now able to access it online and also as we took Saga Insurance with the booking that's been approved too. I didn't go into the whole Covid 19 business, time to worry about that when/if cruising starts again. Ours was a transferred booking rather than a new one.
  8. Thanks Andy. I think we must live very near to you. Warsash is about two miles up the road from our village. I lived in Warsash in Newtown Road when I was teaching many moons ago. It was a bungalow just opposite the Nautical Bookshop which I don't think is there any more.
  9. Love the Beef Wellington but it has to be medium rare, although if it's in the MDR I'll often ask for Rare as sometime the medium rare is more like medium, I like it pink. If however, I have a steak in The Glasshouse or Epicurean - the best of all - I'll ask for medium rare. I'm finding it really challenging to keep coming up with supper dishes a) that I have the ingredients for and b) that my husband, who is on medication, will be tempted by. Last night I actually made tinned salmon fishcakes a la Nigella, very good too. Tonight we have a family Zoom call coming up so it will be an easy supper - Salad Nicoise, assuming the jar of really good tuna I think I have in the cupboard is really there. We don't usually have puddings during the week but lately we've been having some raspberries or strawberries and I've just finished up a canister of Grenadine which I find adds some sweetness to the not always brilliant strawberries from the supermarket. We are in Strawberry growing country, not sure what's going to happen to them this year. Usually a friend who is involved with one of the strawberry fields drops off a wonderful large punnet of freshly picked berries - absolutely wonderful - but don't suppose it will happen this year. I've cooked quite a few things from the Nigella Express cookbook, really good Chicken Schnitzel , bacon and white wine recipe, very easy, very tasty. Her cherry cheesecake is wonderful too, same book, uses brilliant black cherry jam for topping, yummy!
  10. My husband is on immunosuppressant medication for his illness and he had a letter from the hospital telling him firstly that he is in the most vulnerable category therefore can't go out. He has to have fortnightly blood tests and the letter informed him that they can arrange for a phlebotomist to come to the house to take blood rather than him having to go to the local surgery or Community Hospital. We were very impressed by that and it's being arranged.
  11. We transferred our Spirit of Discovery cruise that was supposed to have been over Easter to May next year. This was all done on the telephone several weeks ago. Since then we've received no confirmation either by email or post. Is this because of the general situation do people think? Don't want to bother Saga unnecessarily.
  12. I have two favourite cruises if that's allowed. Our very first cruise back in 2003 was with Fred Olsen on Braemar, fly cruise to the Caribbean. It was our Silver Wedding Anniversary and we didn't know what to do to celebrate. My brother said that we'd never been to the Caribbean and he really thought we'd enjoy it. As some friends had recently been on a Braemar fly cruise to the Caribbean and loved it we thought we'd try it. One of my worries was that for a greater part of his younger life my husband had been a yachtsman, sailing in dinghies and on bigger boats - he had done the amazing Fastnet Race. Now yachtsmen used to look at the cruise line and say deprecatingly that it wasn't real sailing. However, my friend's husband was in the Royal Navy and he'd enjoyed the cruise so we decided to try it. I had never been even near a cruise liner so really didn't know what to expect. When first saw Braemar in Bridgetown I thought she was massive - of course compared to today's ships she's incredibly small. We'd booked a Balcony Suite which I suppose on Braemar is about the size of an ordinary balcony cabin on say Aurora. We thought it was magnificent and as it was classed as a suite we found we had decanters of Scotch and Sherry in our cabin - never got close to finishing either! We loved all of it, the amazing islands, the schooner trip we went on, the beach BBQ on Antigua etc. The service on the ship was fantastic and it all ended too quickly for me. After that we didn't cruise again until 2005. The friend I mentioned before had then gone with P&O on Adonia - the old Adonia, child free, quite a novelty in 2005. She and Oceana had been transferred from Princess and introduced as the White Sisters. Our friends had been impressed with the extra space, more things going on and the price compared to Fred Olsen. We chose an Aft Mini Suite. It was at this time that I first discovered Cruise Critic. Once I found out that Adonia was originally Sea Princess I was able to find out a lot about the ship by using the Princess forum. She had been altered since leaving Princess in that the children's area had been removed and was transformed into a sort of coffee lounge from what I remember called Easy Like a Sunday. I found out quite a bit about the ship and about our cabin at the back of the ship before we got there. Some people may say it's better to have a surprise when you arrive but I loved reading about other people's experiences and thoughts and about the cabin - found the measurements and pictures of the cabin. Anyway we were very impressed both with the ship and P&O. We flew to New Orleans and stayed overnight there and then went to Cozumel, Costa Maya, Grand Cayman and eventually to the Eastern Caribbean finishing at Barbados. We should have visited Jamaica but the weather got incredibly windy and we couldn't stop there. It was a lovely cruise. After our next cruise, on Oceana to the Eastern Caribbean it did show us that we preferred the Eastern to the Western Caribbean, the smaller islands attracted us rather than the larger, Western ones. So this Adonia cruise was the beginning of our P&O cruising. We've now done over 25 P&O cruises and have really enjoyed them all. For the future, well assuming there is a cruising future, we are starting to look elsewhere as we really don't like the huge ships which is the way P&O are developing. We still love Aurora, Oceana and Arcadia and at a pinch Azura if she's going somewhere we really want to go. We'll see.
  13. We were due to go on the April 10th cruise on Spirit of Discovery. We were told that we'd receive a call from Saga in due course as they were dealing with bookings in date order of cruise. We booked the cruise quite late so had to pay the full amount. We understood if we would transfer the cruise we would get 125% of what we'd paid. Saga eventually called us on Friday 27th. By this time we had been able to look at the new cruises on line. We chose to transfer the cruise to one in May next year and by the time everything was sorted out we owed Saga a relatively small amount. This was all sorted out over the phone and we were also able to take out Saga Insurance. Previously we didn't have their insurance because my husband had insurance through his bank which meant that when it first looked as though the cruise wouldn't go we were not able to transfer the booking at that point because they were only allowing people to transfer if they had Saga Insurance. As it's turned out we are able to book a cruise for much later than we would have done had we been able to transfer before the new cruises were issued. Maybe it's a leap of faith to think we'll be able to cruise by next May but we live in hope!
  14. We have insurance through my husband's bank account, Lloyds, and he's been contacted to say that at the end of the current period - not sure when that is - the insurance will discontinue. Mind you it could have something to do with that we had to cancel a cruise last May for which we were reimbursed (only a short 5 day one) and then when my husband had a problem when we were on the Canada/USA cruise last September and had to claim for Medical Centre expenses - not a lot. Both of these were cruises were with P&O. Nothing to do with P&O but we had booked a cruise with Saga in January which was due to go over Easter. We found out that if we needed to cancel or even re-schedule the cruise Saga would not allow us to (we had to pay the balance on booking) as we had not opted to take Saga insurance - we didn't take it as at that point we already had annual insurance through the bank. Had we taken the Saga insurance we would have been allowed to transfer it to next year. Anyway the cruise has been cancelled now anyway so we had the choice to either get all our money back or we could choose to postpone to a cruise next year with what we'd already paid plus another 25%. We decided to take a leap of faith, providing they would allow us to take out their insurance, they did, and have booked a cruise for May next year on Spirit of Discovery. We'll see as we really did want to see what the ship was like as we don't like the way P&O are going with ever larger ships.
  15. We have a copy of a video - yes a video - of P&O's The White Sisters - Oceana and the old Adonia. Both came from Princess - Ocean Princess and Sea Princess. They were named in Southampton at the same time by Princess Anne and her daughter Zara. Adonia had a lounge called "Easy on a Sunday" I seem to remember, situated where the children's area on Oceana is. Adonia was our first P&O cruise ship back in 2005 (our first cruise in 2003 was with Fred Olsen) but our Caribbean fly cruise on Adonia was to lead to our next more than 20 cruises with P&O. Adonia then went back to Princess and is still sailing as Sea Princess, her original name.
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