Joined August 2017 Message
  • Day36

    Southampton

    February 7 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    5th Feb. Now about 200 miles off the coast of Bordeaux heading towards the English Channel and due to arrive in Southampton in the early hours of Monday morning. The weather today has been surprisingly pleasant, quite warm and sunny but the forecast overnight and tomorrow is not so good, stronger winds and a rougher sea. However, almost home and, at present and everything crossed, unscathed. Our dancing friends, David and Linda, remain in isolation because David had tested positive but Linda is now also positive. However, the latest arrangements are that they will leave the ship on Monday, after all the other passengers have left the ship, and then taken home to Herts by taxi, organised and paid for by P&O. Their daughter was due to pick them up. A couple of other dancing pairs have now disappeared, presumably now also in isolation along with a lot of other people and crew. When we were in St Maarten, an entertainer joined the ship called ‘The Mentalist’, a mind reader, and he was going to appear that evening and give a performance. His act was cancelled and we heard no more about him. David and Linda, in isolation, spoke to a man from their balcony who is next door but one to them. Turns out he was the ‘Mentalist’. He had boarded the ship, tested positive and immediately placed in quarantine. He said he hopes to be out on Sunday and be able to give a performance then!

    We had another dancing demonstration from the dancing instructors yesterday evening and they were fantastic. To thank them for all their hard work teaching us lot on the ship, we presented them with a signed card, quite a sizeable donation and a book in which we had all written personal comments. They were visibly surprised and a bit shaken. They have, without doubt, been the best instructors we have ever had on a cruise and we have had some good ones (and a few not so good). We have all said that without the dancing on board, what would we have done? The entertainment, generally, has been poor.

    6th February. Strong wind (we were told Force 8) and a rough sea to welcome us to the English Channel. Should calm down as we approach Southampton.

    0640 hrs 6th Feb. Well, what a carry on! Suddenly, as Erica was drying her hair, all the electricity on the ship failed and we were plunged into darkness. What had Erica done? The captain came on the loudspeaker to say that the ship’s propulsion system has failed and only emergency lighting was operational. The ship is wallowing and drifting in quite stormy seas. The captain asked all cabin stewards to attend their areas to reassure the passengers. Don’t panic, we all said as we wandered the corridors which had basic emergency lighting. Poor Gladys, our cabin steward, looked far more worried than we did and we had to spend our time reassuring her! Fifteen minutes later, the lights came on but the captain announced that only one of the systems had restarted and they were trying to restart the second. He said the navigational system was functioning and we were OK. Was that reassuring? I don’t think so. The ship is eerily quiet as there is currently no air conditioning. What about our dinner, Erica and I said? We have our priorities. All shows have been cancelled and none of the kitchens are working. Are we going to drift on to a beach in Normandy and surprise the French? And all this because Erica was drying her hair!! At 7.10 pm the captain announced that the second propulsion system was now working and he was turning the ship, presumably away from the dangerous cliffs that border this coastline. I imagine we can expect the ship to roll a bit as we turn round. All back to order by 7.30pm and we were able to have our evening meal.

    7th Feb. Arrived back in Southampton in the early hours and now waiting to leave the ship. We are due off at 9 am. Then home to do our PCR test. For me I am not hopeful that it will be negative. On Saturday I had done a test as we usually and regularly do and it was negative. However, on Sunday, yesterday, I felt as though I had a slight cold coming and also a slight headache. It will be interesting to receive the PCR result. Erica seems fine. There is so much Covid on the ship that it would be surprising to have escaped it.

    Indeed we did not escape it. The PCR tests proved positive for both of us so we are now in isolation at home. Very disappointed to have caught it but pleased it happened at the end of the holiday and not during it.
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    World travels

    Hi, glad are back safe but very sorry you have now tested positive. Glad it was at the end of the cruise and not earlier. Hope you recover quickly. Sounds like you had quite an adventure anyway.

    2/9/22Reply
     
  • Day32

    Praia Da Vitoria, Terceira, Azores

    February 3 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    31st Jan. We are due to arrive in Praia Da Vitoria, Azores, on 3rd February and, so far, the Atlantic has been very calm, unlike previous journeys when we have been tossed about.

    Right, now to mention the Headliners. They are the entertainment company that provides shows on the ship and the cast do a lot of singing and dancing. Generally they are very good. When we left Southampton on 3rd January, they were due to perform a number of shows as advertised on board. All were cancelled over a period of ten days. So the rumour mill started, no doubt emanating from the launderette as these things do, saying that they were all in quarantine having been tested positive for Covid. This appears to have been factual because after ten days they performed their rather late first show, which appears to have been a great success. We did not attend as I think we were dancing. Then, all their future shows were cancelled! Now what, we all thought. Other artists were shovelled in to take their place but nothing official was said. However, as Erica and I were returning to the ship from our visit to St Johns in Antigua, we saw disembarking the whole of the Headliners crew (you could not mistake them) carrying their bags and suitcases and not looking happy. A short while later, the Entertainment Manager announced that there had been some sort of internal dispute with the Headliners and they had been disembarked from the ship and flown back to the UK. It has been said that after their first and only show, they went ashore at the next port of call, got drunk and misbehaved on the ship after their return. They were then confined to their cabins, sent off the ship in Antigua and flown home. Oh dear. Don’t think much of their chances of getting another contract with P&O.

    Just heard yesterday evening that an antigen test is now required for all passengers wishing to go ashore in Praia Da Vitoria. Previously no test was required. The testing will be done on Wednesday 2nd. We have been there before but after several days at sea we would like to have a good walk somewhere so we will go for our test. We are testing ourselves regularly anyway and we are negative thus far.

    2nd Feb. Tested ourselves first thing this morning and continue to be negative. Then went early to be tested by P&O to enable us to go ashore in Praia Da Vitoria. Our names have not been called out by reception to call them so, presumably, we are negative. However, a lot of names have been announced, we assume because they have tested positive. Quite a lot of people will end up in the isolation units by the end of the day. There are already quite a few people in there, including people we socialise with at the evening dancing sessions. From what we understand, they will have to remain in an isolation cabin (a cabin with a balcony towards the rear of the ship) until we arrive in Southampton when they will be escorted off the ship and taken to a hotel organised by P&O until the quarantine period ends, when they can then go home unless the other person in the relationship contracts Covid when the whole quarantine period starts again. After our visit to Praia Da Vitoria we will not be testing ourselves again because we will be arriving in Southampton on Monday morning and will then do the prearranged Pcr test when we arrive home. If that proves negative, then we will count ourselves lucky to have got away with it.

    The weather has certainly turned colder as we head north east towards the Azores but the sea remains reasonably calm. Still able to do the morning and afternoon dancing lessons on the open deck but today is the last day as the weather more likely to become unpredictable. Dancing continues in the atrium in the evenings. Looking forward to getting off the ship tomorrow and having a good walk around.

    3rd Feb. We arrived in Praia Da Vitoria on Terceira island in the Azores this morning. Placed under our cabin door we found two certificates confirming that we had been tested for Covid and that we are negative. I assume that we are supposed to take these ashore with us for somebody to inspect them but we have no instructions. No surprise there then. We will also be taking ashore evidence of our Covid vaccinations but I doubt anybody will ask to see those. The weather is currently 15 degrees, expected to rise to 17, with cloudy skies. The last time we were here it was very windy but no wind today so we should have a pleasant day.

    Currently sitting in a cafe with free wifi so taking advantage. It is now quite warm and enjoying the town. Jean, a fellow passenger has joined us for coffee. Now up to date and made a telephone call so will be on our way again.
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  • Day26

    St Maarten

    January 28 in Sint Maarten ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Last port of call in the Caribbean. Stood in a queue for our shore excursion to tour part of the island and got rather wet in a sharp downpour. Sat in the coach in the hope that we would dry off but as the air conditioning was on and it was cool, it took a while. The tour took us through part of Philipsburg, the main town in the Dutch part of the island and some way up in the hills before travelling through the border into the French part of the island and we stopped in Marigot, the main town in the French part. To be honest, it was all rather disappointing and I had great difficulty in finding anything to photograph. We then took a trip around the large lagoon that separates both the Dutch and French parts but, again, found it very disappointing as we found very little of interest. We returned to the ship rather underwhelmed. We decided then to take the water taxi to Philipsburg and just have a wander around. The main beach is lovely and parts of the town historic. We met an American couple who are staying on St Maarten for five weeks and had a really good talk over rum and beer. So a disappointing start to the day but a better finish.

    At 5.30 this afternoon we depart St Maarten and head eastwards to cross the Atlantic, heading for the Azores and then Southampton. Oh well!
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  • Day25

    Tortola, British Virgin Islands

    January 27 in British Virgin Islands ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Arrived in Tortola at approx 0730 hrs and berthed alongside a large block of flats, called ‘Norwegian Encore’. Can we beat all these Americans to the beach.? We had a tour booked to Long Bay beach at 0930. We had a bit of warm drizzle until about 0815 when the sky cleared and the sun came out. Another fine and hot day ahead. Boarded the transport to the beach and after an interesting drive for most of the way we arrived at the beach, grabbed our sun loungers and parasol and enjoyed the lovely view. The water was very clear but a bit colder that in St Kitts and snorkelling just as uninteresting. Perhaps the fish don’t like tourists. Bought some drinks from the beach bar and accessed their wifi.Read more

  • Day23

    St Kitts and Nevis

    January 25 in British Virgin Islands ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Arrived early this morning to a cloudless sky and Azura berthed close by. Whereas not long ago the St Kitts authority had declared that no passenger could leave the port area unless booked on a ship’s shore excursion or by government approved taxi, when we arrived all restrictions had been removed, apart from the need to wear face masks both indoors and outdoors. We had booked a beach break at 1230 hrs for a few hours so in the morning we strolled around the main town of Basseterre. Quite interesting and quite attractive around the port area. At 1230 we took a minibus to Cockleshell Bay beach which looked directly upon the island of Nevis. A beautiful location but not particularly impressed with the beach. However, the water was warm although the snorkelling was not good. The fish must be somewhere else. The drive there and back was impressive with good scenery.

    26th January. Two people we know who dance came out of the ship’s quarantine this morning after ten days isolation because of COVID. They had missed most of the islands we had visited. They confirmed that people had been transferred to and from the Queen Victoria but they had remained on Ventura playing scrabble in their room. Their friends remain in isolation. It would be interesting to know just how many people have been quarantined so far but I think it most unlikely we will ever find out.
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  • Day22

    Antigua

    January 24 in Antigua and Barbuda ⋅ 🌧 25 °C

    Had a bit of a shock this morning when I rose out of bed, threw back the curtains and found the Queen Victoria parked right next to us. She does not look good. She needs urgently painting and there are clearly no passengers on board. A lot of furniture is piled up on the balconies. So why is she in Antigua? It probably confirms the rumour spread in Barbados that she is being used for another purpose, possibly as a hospital ship.

    Antigua had no Covid restrictions for our visit other than a temperature test and the need to wear masks everywhere.

    Very warm here but a bit drizzly but the forecast is better for later. Currently sitting in a bar drinking iced coffee with Jean, who dances with us on board. Already visited the local church, which badly needs repair and walked around the town of St John but not particularly interesting.

    A lot of speculation taking place as to how many passengers are currently in isolation suffering from Covid. We know that people who have danced on board are in isolation with the virus but the interesting thing is that yesterday, trying to access the rear of the ship we came across one of the security doors that secures the isolation areas at the rear but which a crew member had left open briefly and there were trays, which would have held meals, lying empty on the floor indicating that there were several people in isolation along that particular corridor. We are still testing ourselves twice a week with an antigen test and we continue to be negative.

    St Kitts tomorrow and a visit to the beach.
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    World travels

    I think lots of the ships need sprucing up, last time we were on Arcadia there were buckets everywhere! Hopefully you both stay safe and Covid free. Hope the crew are recovering ok. Enjoy St Kitts.

    1/26/22Reply
     
  • Day20

    Dominica

    January 22 in Dominica ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Arrived early in Dominica to overcast skies and a bit of drizzle. However, the sky slowly cleared up and the sun came out not long before we had to board our open top truck to take us on a tour around some of the island. No documentation required to leave the ship but we had to have our temperature read as we walked along the pier. Never been here before but it looks beautiful from the ship, mountainous and very green. Obviously Dominica receives a lot of rain. The truck was not exactly comfortable but we had a very enthusiastic young guide. We stopped at a viewpoint overlooking the town, visited the botanical gardens and then headed up the hills. The island is very volcanic with all nine volcanoes still active. As a result there are hot springs all over the island and the smell of sulphur in places was very strong. We stopped to allow some of the passengers to have a swim in an area which was featured in the film ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 2’. The water was far too cold for my liking! To recover from the shock, we had the obligatory rum punches afterwards. What a beautiful island this is. Very impressive and very friendly.

    It is difficult to find good free wifi anywhere. I am currently sitting on a roadside kerb writing this because the wifi is not too bad. Next stop Antigua on the day after tomorrow.
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  • Day19

    Dominica

    January 21 in Dominica ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    21st January. In the ship’s daily publication of activities for the following day, it was announced that the Dominican authorities had decided that all passengers who were booked on shore excursions or who were booked to use government authorised taxis or who intended to use them, were required to take a lateral flow test to ensure that they are negative. Accordingly P&O arranged to undertake these tests at £18 per head. So this morning we went along and had our tests taken as we were booked on an excursion. A certificate would be issued if negative which we had to take ashore as well as evidence of our vaccinations. At 1040 hrs, whist we were drinking hot chocolate in Costa Coffee on board, it was announced that the Dominican authorities had changed their mind!! No tests were needed. P&O said that those who had already had their tests would not be charged for them. Goodness me! Those who were not booked on an excursion or in an authorised taxi will not be allowed to leave the port or terminal building. I suspect that there will be a few passengers who will decide to stay put.Read more

    Ian Abrahamsen

    Beautiful beaches and scenery!Have you tried any local fare yet?Glad you're able to get off and see the islands so far and the snorkelling sounds amazing!What's ship's food like?Is the ship half capacity?

    1/23/22Reply
    Ian Abrahamsen

    Hope you are both very happy in the lovely temperatures!!xx

    1/23/22Reply
     
  • Day18

    Curacao

    January 20 in Curacao ⋅ 🌬 28 °C

    Late yesterday afternoon, after returning from the beach, we completed our passenger locator forms as required by government legislation. P&O provided wifi access and they did not take too long. It seems that quite a number of passengers are finding them difficult to complete and staff are having to help them.

    We arrived in Wilemstad, the main town in Curacao, at about 0800 hrs on 19th. Lovely start to the day although a bit breezy. No examination of vaccination certificates this morning on the quayside and we boarded the bus to take us on our snorkelling trip. The journey took about fifty minutes to the far north west of the island. The beach is used by local fishermen and, usually, turtles can be seen. We had on our swimwear and we’re given life vests but we had our own snorkel and masks. The fish were plentiful and suddenly turtles came into view. A number of them were big, others younger and smaller. We stayed in the water for half an hour before coming out. A great visit. We then travelled further south along the coast to another beach where we had a further opportunity to snorkel. No turtles this time. After about an hour we boarded the bus and returned to the ship. A good morning’s activity. In the afternoon we strolled around Wilemstad. This is a very interesting town. It is divided down the middle by a river. We travelled across the river by ferry (free) to the other side. At times you might think that we were in Amsterdam because of the houses. On the was back, the swing bridge was back in place (it had opened to allow a Royal Caribbean ship in) and we walked across and back through the walled part of the town. We like Curacao although the three Dutch island of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are classified as semi arid and, therefore, not as green and verdant as islands further north. You learn something every day!

    We travel to Aruba later this afternoon, arriving on 20th.

    Aruba hot and windy. Took a taxi to the beach but a bit sand blasted. However, had a pleasant swim. Later we walked into the town of Oranjestad, the capital, which is actually very pleasant and very Americanised. However, very clean and full of bars and recently modernised.

    Just a quick word about the Myholiday app which is used around the ship to book meals, see your onboard account etc. It is working very well and broken down only twice so far. It is very easy to use and avoids the queues that form at dinner time. The response of the system is generally very quick and, to be honest, we hope that P&O maintain this after Covid. Checking your on board account could not be more simple and the system is immediately updated if we spend anything with the onboard allowance. Very impressed with it.

    A day at sea tomorrow and then Dominica.
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    Vivien Wright

    Sounds like you are having a great time. Glad everything is going well and ap still working. Is there only freedom dining or is select still available. X

    1/20/22Reply
     
  • Day16

    Bonaire

    January 18 in Bonaire ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Our journey between Grenada and Bonaire was calm and hot. Bonaire is one of the three Islands comprising the Dutch Antilles. They are Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. They lie outside of the hurricane belt and have a steady temperature of between 28 and 32 degrees. They are close to the coast of Venezuela. We will be visiting Bonaire first and then Curacao and finally Aruba. We have nothing organised in Bonaire and hope to just wander around the capital, Kralendijk. If we have time we might take a taxi to the beach.

    Lovely morning for our arrival in Bonaire. Forecast to be 28 to 30 degrees and light winds. The ship docked close to the town centre and we disembarked about 9.20 hrs. For the first time we were asked for evidence of our vaccinations. We had them stored on our phones and so this was straightforward. We walndered around Kralendijk. Not much here apart from the brightly painted buildings. We had a coffee and then took a water taxi to the nearby Eden beach. Not the best beach ever but the snorkelling was fantastic. Lots of fish. Spent a long time swimming. At 2pm we returned by water taxi and walked back to the ship in time for afternoon tea. Tomorrow we will be in Curacao where we have booked a snorkelling trip.
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    World travels

    It’s nice to just wander in the sunshine sometimes and as you say you did some snorkelling. 😄 we loved Curaçao, such a pretty place and yes we did snorkelling there too. I hope you enjoy it there too.

    1/18/22Reply
     

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