Archive for Aug, 2014

Oriana 14

Posted in Uncategorized on Aug 28, 2014 by David Palmer

We woke very late this morning, even so there were few in breakfast indicating that our fellow passengers had ‘chilled out’ more then we.
During the morning we attended a lecture on the Aurora Borealis, the Oriana is sailing to the northwest of Iceland next March to see a total eclipse of the sun (next one 2090!) and it will also be tracking the Aurora, it should be an amazing cruise.
Sue went shopping and read her book while I attended the next lecture on WW2 Spies. I learnt that Germany didn’t have any effective spies in Britain, as we had broken their codes we caught them as soon as they arrived and either hung them or they worked for us deceiving the German High Command. Hitler even awarded our most effective counter spy with the Iron Cross.

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We met up again in the cabin and had lunch together in the Oriental. Afterwards we sat in the Crow’s Nest, dismayed that there was thick fog outside and drizzling, the Oriana dolefully sounded her horn every few minutes to warn other shipping and rogue icebergs to get out of our way. I read my book while Sue moved to the rear of the ship to read hers as the movement of the ship at the front made her feel a little whoozy. Later she went to see the Oriana Choir in the theatre. The choir was made up of passengers that had been practicing various songs all week. One of the choristers was the secretary from the Meadows Primary who I think is called Mrs. Friend, but I am still not sure. Sue reported back that the concert was excellent, perhaps I shouldn’t have totally chilled out by napping in the cabin and watched it too.
During the afternoon the skies cleared to azure blue and though not flat calm there were no little white tops to the surrounding sea. After coffee we chatted to a nice couple from South Wales and then took a couple of turns around the deck,  using the binoculars to spot the various ships dotted on the horizon, somewhere during our run through the fog the Oil rigs had disappeared. Perhaps why the ship’s horn was being sounded previously was to mask the crunch of the rigs as we ran over them, they don’t seem to move very swiftly.

We returned to the Crow’s Nest and both sat reading in the warmth of the sun streaming through the large panoramic windows, until it go rather too hot for comfort. Consulting the Horizon (on board magazine) we decided to visit the Tiffany Lounge that was about to have a quiz. After quizzing, I read my book and Sue visited the Library, returning with a stack full of women’s magazines that she flicked through until returning to the cabin to start the depressing job of packing. I completed a chapter and joined her.
Packing didn’t take too long and we changed for the evening meal and then left the cabin noticing that many suitcases had already been left for collection in the corridors by passengers that were obvious keener than ourselves to leave the ship. The meal was excellent as always (well done P & O chefs)and sadly we said goodbye to our fellow diners before trotting off to the other end of the ship to watch another tremendous, standing ovation performance from the Four Tunes.
Returning to the cabin we packed the last items into our cases and left them in the corridor, they looked rather lonely as most of the others had departed.


Oriana 13

Posted in Uncategorized on Aug 27, 2014 by David Palmer

Today is a sea day, which means there is no rush to get up. However, we were still in breakfast for 8am and not surprisingly there was only one other couple there. We sat for quite a while looking for dolphins or whales while we drank coffee, but they continue to be shy and avoid the ship as they have disappointingly done on each day of our journey.

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During the morning there was a lecture on Eclipses (both solar and lunar) that we both attended, Sue then went on deck to read her book while I travelled to the other end of the ship to attend an excellent lecture on the Sinking of the Bismark. We met again for lunch which we took in the Oriental restaurant.

The afternoon was spent by Sue reading her book on deck  and then watching a film in the cinema. I made my way to the Crow’s Nest and read ‘Biggles’, occasionally looking for fins in the sea off the bow. We met again in the theatre for a performance of the show that had been cancelled due to a stage malfuction  a few nights prior, I had been engrossed in my book and missed the first ten minutes.

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Coffees in Al Fresco followed with a small plate of food that some-how turned into two plates of grub! I was really determined first thing this morning to visit the gym but failed miserably and the chorus line from a well known Queen song that keeps running through my mind,  ‘another one bites the dust’ has been

replaced by ‘another bite scoffs the pie’ and ‘another notch in the belt!’  Earlier we had been given a questionnaire about our cruising experience by our cabin stewardess, she seemed very concerned that we might grade her poorly, we reassured her that we would not. We filled it in during coffee and gave her a good mark to satisfy OFCruise.  She will now hopefully be able to continue to feed her family back in the Phillipines.

There wasn’t any pre-dinner entertainment that we fancied, while Sue took the opportunity for a nap in the cabin I went on deck with the binoculars and watched the many oil and gas platforms we were passing. The flat calm sea under clear blue skies looked quite Caribbean.

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Thankfully tonight was the last Black-tie dinner of the cruise. The trousers have become increasingly tighter on each occasion, if I had to wear them once more on this ship I guess I would have to substitute shorts and fall foul of the strict dress code!

The evening meal was created by Marco Pierre White (again), for once I had dessert instead of the cheese board. At the end of the meal we were treated to a parade of chefs all wearing extremely ridiculously tall hats that they couldn’t possible work in, they must have been for show. The entertainment afterwards was  the second show of our Cuban comedian/magician. He was just as rude to the guests as on the previous occasion and quite hilarious.


Oriana 12

Posted in Uncategorized on Aug 27, 2014 by David Palmer

As we had a late breakfast we watched the ship sail in to Bergen and dock. The weather was overcast with the cloud level being just a few hundred metres up the mountain. Fortunately we had been given a berth right next to the town, so there wasn’t going to be much walking to reach it.

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As soon as disembarkation had begun we left the ship only for me to discover I had left my wallet in the cabin so I quickly did an about turn. On the second dearture from the ship I noticed that despite the predicted 18 degrees in temperature it felt quite chilly. We had been planning to take the funicular railway up the mountain, but as the cloud level was so low there was little point, we opted to wander in and out of the pretty shops along the harbour front and then visited the fish market. With the clouds still being unco-operative we decided to follow a trail around the promontory. On route we stopped to visit a large church, as we poked our noses through the closed doorway, expecting it to be closed to the public we were pounced on by an old lady who spoke excellent English. She asked where we had come from and then took us prisoner. Explaining that there was an organ recital going on she thrust an information leaflet in Sue’s hands and conducted us to our seats. We lisrtened politely to two tunes (they were very nice, if you like organ music) before quietly leaving our seats and heading for the exit. We were intercepted by the old lady who vigortously gripped my hand and shook it saying how gratefuil she was that we had stayed. On departing the church we noted that two other misfortunate cruisers were sneaking out.
Continuing our trek, we reached the end of the promontory which turned out to be a little park and quay, from which we took some photos. We chatted first to a Danish couple who took a photo Of Sue and I, so I reciprocated, then a young couple who turned out to be dancers from the Aida Cruise ship docked next to the Oriana came and talked to us, wanting to knw where we had come from. The sun came aout and the louds began to lift off the mountain as we continued along the track on the far side of the promontory.

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Arriving back into the centre of the town we found the base station of the funicular railway and joined quite a long queue for tickets. The line moved frequently, so within 20 minutes we were up on top of the mountain enjoying the sun and quite breathtaking views. After many poses and photos we had a wander through the forest. We discovered a little house where the Trolls lived and went in search of the wicked witch, but failed to find her! It was lovely and refreshing to walk through the pine scented trees and out of the now rather fierce heat of the sun. Eventually, we reluctantly decided to join the much shorter queue and return to the town. We would like to have stayed there all day and perhaps have a picnic, but that is the downside of cruising.

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Back on the pavements of Bergen we visited a few more shops before returning to the ship.

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First stop was Al Fresco for a spot of grub and then onto the decks to sit, read and enjoy the sunshine and views of Bergen. We watched the Sail-away party at the stern. Union Jack flags were issued to the passengers and lots of patriotic songs were sung and danced to. I think everybody particularly enjoyed when flags were fervantly waved and voices strained to the tune of Rule Britannia as we sailed by within a few metres of the Cruise Ship Aida ( a Danish ship, full of our German friends) with her decks awash with passengers watching our departure, some did wave back (quislings!).

Sue remained on deck while I retired to the sanctuary of Al Fresco for coffee and pasty and sat watching the little islands of the Norwegian coast pass by in a perfect picture.
First entertainment of the evening was a comedy and magic act. The star of the act came from Cuba and was awesome. His comedy was very risky and quite insulting to some members of the audience, he took no prisoners and very amusing for those fortunate enough to avoid the flack. Sue came close on a couple of accasions but managed to hide successfully by nearly hiding under the seat. At times I was nearly in tears with laughter. The magic was quite good too.
We had a full compliment at dinner, chatting mostly about our days activities but all agreeing that we gave the Aida a good British broadside!
The Four Tunes were our late night entertainment. They were four singers from West End shows that had come to gether to form a boys band. They were very good and managed to be given a standing ovation by the majority of the audience. Sue again came close to being chosen when the singers asked if there was anyone in the audience called Sue, believe it or not there was one other Sue, who sat two rows in front of us and raised her hand, she had to endure four guys singing a love song to her (Sue sat quietly and silently throughout).

Oriana 11

Posted in Uncategorized on Aug 25, 2014 by David Palmer

Last night, even though our route took us down the adjacent fjord to the one we had entered the previous evening, for some reason we had to sail 16 miles out into the North Sea before turning around and steaming into the the arm of the fjord that led to Geiranger. As we were tenering into the port we wee again woken up by the calamatous din of the anchor chain sliding out of its housing. However, this time (as seasoned sailors) we knew what it was and pulled the pillows over our heads until it stopped. This method of awakening does have one advantage over the ones we regularly employ, it doesn’t just brush away the cobewbs of sleep, it pulverises them.
After breakfast we went on deck to be greeted by the tightest fjord yet, the mountain walls seemed to surround the ship. It is a UNESCO heritage site so I guess it had to be different to the other ones we had seen, because they weren’t. It looked like a nice day, but because of the height and closeness of the mountains you couldn’t see much of the sky and the weather coming along behind them.

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We had no firm plans for the day so decided to shuttle off the ship and see what was what. Finding the tourist office on the quay straight away I read the information boards outside while Sue visited a shop.  Spotting that there was a bus going to the top of the highest mnountain in the region seemed to appeal so when Sue vacated the shop I put it to her that today we ride up a mountain rather than climb up it. She agreed, so I bought the tickets and less than 5 minutes later we were being whisked away at our leisure along  with half a bus full of passenger upwards.

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Negotiating many hairpins we seemed to be climbing much higher than the mountains surrounding our fjord. And we were. The largest pointy one that I had suspected we would be going up next to the  town of Geiranger was soon passed and looked down upon. Stopping briefly to take photos the town houses and ship were just tiny toys far, far below. We drove ever higher until we reached the snow. Still not stopping the driver informed us that we were in for an extra treat as we were going to meet the Oslo bus. Driving along a floded cwm containing a clear crystal blue lake that apparently is 90m deep, we eventually stopped at a T-junction and waited. Some ten minutes later, out of a dark tunnel on the side of a huge cliff of bare rock appeared the bus. Heaven knows how long the tunnel must be as the surrounding mountain tops just went on and and on. The bus didn’t stop, no passengers from Oslo today then.

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Back up the lake to a point where a toll road (yes, a toll road with barriers) in the middle of the foothils of heaven (St. Peter was on is lunch break), met the pass we had driven through 20 minutes previously. Countless hairpains later, yes ………… I said hairpains! Hair pin doesn’t adequately describe the sharpness of turns bordered on one side with a vertical drop that would make your hair curl. Not surprisingly this road led to the top and nowhere else. I will leave the photos for further description.
Nearly half an hour later and feeling rather chilled, despite the bright sunlight, we boarded the bus for the journey back. Withe no further stops to pick up non-existent passengers we arrived safely back in Geiranger. We got off at the hotel above the town and walked over a very pretty bridge and walkway to the museum. Many photographs later we set off down a metal walkway next to and often over, a gushing, foaming stream that you could trace emerging over the edge of the mountain high above to crash ever downwards, eventually meeting the calm waters of the fjord. We met Rob and Jan on their way up the path, though only chatted briefly as the spray from the accompanying stream was slowly soaking us.

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Reaching the port we set off upwards along the road to see the small church that is part of the UNESCO site. There were plenty of touirists already there, but most preferred top stay outside and take photos. We went in to be greeted with the sound of piano music. There was to be a piano recital at 2pm that afternoon and the pianoist was practising. We sat and listen to a couple of tunes before he closed the piano and disappeared through a door at the rear. We also left.
Arriving back at the quayside we wandered in and out of the few shops dotted about before sitting in the sun and waited for the tender to arrive and ferry us back to the Oriana. Back on board it was straight to the Conservatory via our cabin to replenish spent calories.

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Later Sue went to the stern to listen to the sail-away music and then stayed to watch the scenery. The captain announcd us over the intercom that as we passed a set of waterfalls called the Seven Sisters we would be stopping, then rotating 360 degrees in the fjord so that we would have the best opportunity to photograph them and the larger water fall directly on the opposite shore. The ship would also be releasing one of its  rescue craft to film the ship while it did this manouvre.  It is the first time that the ship has done this. I  went on deck to watch. True to his word the we stopped in the middle of the narrow gap between the the two sets of waterfalls, then the ship did indeed slowly spin round, taking about 15 minutes to do so. Absolutely amazing!!!!! A ferry even managed to squeeze passed while we obligingly stopped the rotation for a couple of minutes!  The Captain told us that there was 110m of water underneath and 250m of water on either side of the stern and bow when we were perpendicular to the waterfalls, it certainly looked closer. What an unexpected treat

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Sue and I then found our way to Al Fresco, famished by the exertion of watching the pirouette. As we drank and nibbled we watched through the windows as waterfall after waterfall slide by and wondered at the little houses clinging to the waters edge of suspended on vertical cliffs, how did you get to them and why would you want to or even manage to survive living there?It was a smart casual evening, so we changed in the cabin and then made our way to the theatre for our pre-dinner entertainment, listening to movie music by the ship’s orchestra. All our fellow diners were present for the evening meal and as usual we discussed what each had done during the day before chatting about  what TV series people were hooked on.
The late evening show in the theatre was song and dances from well known musicals and surprise, surprise the show we missed last week due to a stage malfunction will be attempted in two days time. Well done P and O.

Oriana 10

Posted in Uncategorized on Aug 25, 2014 by David Palmer

Laying in bed we heard the Oriana dock in our next port of call, Andalsnes. We rose at 8am and breakfasted. Going on deck we were greeted by some of the most breathtaking scenery you have ever seen. Eager to get in among it, we returned to our cabin and changed into our walking gear. We had contemplated booking a train trip along the fjord, I am so glad we didn’t.
Disembarking, we discovered the little tourist information office on the quay and to our surprise met both our dinner parteners there. Together we discussed what we were going to do. We had opted for the mountain, they were doing the town and river walk. We set off.

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Soon arriving at the foot of the mountain we stood a while with other interpid climbers wondering what the Norwegian information board said about the mountain trail. None the wiser we set off, up. After 15 minutes or so following a well marked path, some parts along a metal walkway, we reached a small hut at 340m. We signed the book provided as a safety feature and carried on.
Another 20 minutes of increasingly harder going saw us sign another book and then later on another. We saw many descending Brits who given up stating slippy conditions etc. We wee also passed by ascending Norwegians, some with uncomplaining children, who seem just occuppied in chatting merrily to each other and enjoying the climb. It reminded me that we have yet to see an overweight Norwegian! After just over an hour of climbing, now often along chain ways rivetted into narrow ledges we reached a metal walkway, suspended over the abyss (how did they get this up here?) After taking photos, many of them of the glacier on the mountain across the valley we chatted to another interpid English couple. It was as far as they were going and Sue, who had done brilliantly to get this far decided to return with them while I carried on to the top.

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Around half and hour later I had reached the top. There was a Norwegian couple sat outside a mountain rescue hut and a  few others dotted about the summit.  I stayed around 20 minutes taking photos, investigating the hut and chatting to a lone English woman who had done this climb last year. The descent was quite uneventful other than being asked by a few as to how far it was to go to the top. I resisted the temptation of have some fun and just told the truth, though on parting I would mention that the pub at the top had just shut as it had run out of beer.

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By the time I had reached the bottom I was thoroughly fed-up with the descent, particularly as an old gentleman who must have at least 90 ran past me!  Up until then I was the one smugly passing others. He must have been on drugs.

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It began to drizzle as I reached the dock. Visiting the cabin I found a message from Sue saying she was having lunch in Al Fresco, I found her in the conservatory. We both had lunch before returning to the cabin. After showering I went onto deck to take some more photos while Sue went to the cinema to watch ‘Chef’.
We met on deck as the ship left harbour and watched the scenery slide by, particularly enjoying the many waterfalls silently cascading over 1000m+ cliffs from sources too high to see. There was a brief shower that produced a bizarre rainbow that seemed to stretch over the ship and then arc 270 degrees appearing to touch the hull of the ship (I have the photo). As the ship picked up speed it got rather chilly so we retired to Al Fresco for warming cups of coffee and vital nibbles. From there we went our separate ways, Sue to the ‘Sail-away Party’ at the stren and I to the Lords Tavern where I watched Man Utd draw with Sunderland with Roy one of our fellow diners.
Returning to the cabin to change informally for dinner we proceeded to join Rob and Jan in the rear Theatre for a second performance of the Cliff Richard tribute act. Sue had met him in Al Fresco earlier

and  learnt that he was rather afraid that the recent accusations against Cliff would have a detrimental effect on his act. Time will no doubt tell.
Dinner was conducted in a rather jolly fashion with a variety of joke tellings and lots of light-hearted banter. Afterwards we went with Rob and Jan to the forward theatre for another second performance, this time by the exceptional violinst/comedian of the a couple of nights ago.
We anchor early in Geiranger tomorrow and will be tendering off the ship, so we went to bed before midnight for once zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Oriana 9

Posted in Uncategorized on Aug 23, 2014 by David Palmer

Today is Sue’s birthday. Like myself she has successfully navigated life’s course through calm and stormy seas and docked peacefully in the harbour of six decades! Thirty eight years ago she acquired the latest in biological GPS systems to guide and accompany her succesfully to this significant miles-stone and today we celebrate under clear blue skies on the edge of the Arctic Circle, being waitered on attentively by the excellent crew of the MV Oriana. To day is a lazy day. We woke around 8am, Sue opened the cards and few presents that we had brought packed away in our suitcases. On returning from breakfast on Deck 7 we discovered a card and bowl of confectionary on the table in the cabin from none other than the Captain himself, properly autographed. We wondered if he had travelled down to stowage class himself or was it the Health and Safety Officer deputising for him again? Never-the-less it was a lovely thought and much appreciated.

During the morning we attended a lecture on Comets and then a port presentation on Bergen. Afterwards Sue looked for a spot to read her book and I rushed off to a lecture on WW2 Propoganda, however by the time I got the the theatre at the other end of the ship it was full, standing room only. Returning to the cabin I changed and visited the gymn to fight the flab. Sue and I met again for lunch and chose to dine in the Peninsular Restuarant and 3 courses later I had undid all the good work of the previous hour.
The afternoon was spent at the rear of the ship reading our books, but it got so hot that I retired below decks to the Anderson Lounge while Sue continued to soak up the sun. We met again later to change for the Black-tie dinner.
The entertainment before we ate was a talent show by the ship’s crew. Hugely entertaining, particularly the rather bizarre final act which defies description, but had tears rolling down my cheeks. When we eventually sat down to dine our fellow table couples provided champagne and cards for Sue. She was more than a little surprised to how they knew, but accepted that some things just have to remain a mystery.

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The final show of the evening was a song and dance show based on all the acts and musicals that had appeared at the London Palladium. As ever, it was brilliantly done and afterwards as we walked around deck 7 to catch some fresh air, ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ kept running through my mind as we leaned on the guard rail and marvelled at the still bright sky to the north of us and the total darkness to the south.
Tomorrow we visit Andalsnes.

Oriana 8

Posted in Uncategorized on Aug 23, 2014 by David Palmer

The alarm on my mobile was set for 7.30am. At 7am we hit an ice-berg! Or, so it seemed from under the duvet. Now that is athe problem with having lower cabin at the front of the ship,  they drop the anchor by feeding the chains holding it through your bedroom. Not in one long clanking rendition of a WW1 tank going over no-man’s land, but random stocatto grindings that kept you on edge thinking, is that the last one?  However, we were in breakfast for 7.30am and stretching our legs around the deck for 8am.

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We were on an excursion so we kitted ourselves appropriately and went to the lounge and collected our Tender Card which was needed to board the boat which carried us to the  harbour as we had anchored a mile offshore.

With very litte delay we were scooting along on a calm sea to the 2nd largest island in the Lofoten chain. Disembarking we boarded a free shuttle bus to the main town of Leknes (population 8000) eager to experience the delights and sights of island life. Half an hour later we were back on the bus to the harbour. It is a disappointing little place with nothing of interest for the tourist other than a shopping mall and of being a good example of a functional settlement with no frills.

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We spent the next 45minutes exploring the little beaches and rocky outcrops next to the quay. Sue was brave enough to take off her shoes and socks and go for a wade, a few other passengers also did  this and the only thing they seemed to have in common was that they were mad and quickly turned blue.

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Boarding our tour bus we set off under clearing blue skies down the E10. Again, I will not attempt to describe the views as they slid past our window other than to say they were as spectacular as you could ever want to see.

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Our first stop was in the pretty fishing town of Henningsvaer. There we watched a film show of local scenes and while Sue looked at the adjacent Art Gallery I walked through the town itself taking photos, attempting to find shots that were equally as good as the ones I had just witnessed. The problem with excursions as these is that you are limited by when the bus leaves. I could easily have spent several days here exploring the surrounding sea and mountains.

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Our second and last stop was in Svolvaer, the largest town in the chain and on the largest island. We were there to visit the ‘The Magic Ice-bar’, and have a non-alcoholic cocktail. We were given cloaks to wear to prevent us from freezing as we entered what must have been a giant freezer. Inside were dozens of elaborate ice sculptures which surprisingly seemed to photograph well, even though inside it was very gloomy.

We were supposed to only have the one drink, though Sue managed to have four. She found out later on the return journey that they did contain alcohol and she had a little doze on the bus.

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Having experienced two of the islands in this Arctic chain we saw how popular they were with climbers and hikers from Europe, they seemed to be clinging to cliffs, walking puposefully along tracks or paddling a canoe every where you looked. Don’t be misguided that this place is not a wilderness, it certainly is, but accessible only because the Norewgians have built such superb roads. From the cocoon of a bus you pass through in comfort, but I for one would like to be out there stretching a few sinews, at leasrt on a sunny day, not so sure about November to March!


When we eventually returned to Leknes we boarded the Tender that was waiting for us and very soon after were back on board stocking up with pizza and panini in the restaurant. We hadn’t eaten since breakfast, 8 hours ago!!!!!!


At 6pm we left anchorage. Sue went on deck to watch and I remained in the cabin to listen to the anchor chain rattle and ensured it was safely stowed away in the bottom of the wardrobe.

*Note to the Captain: Have you considered a chain muffler to comply with EEC Noise Abatement Regulations and the well-being of your stowage class passengers?

In the stern theatre we watched a tribute act to Cliff Richard. The performer, despite a nervous start turned out to be very good, sounding and looking like the younger original. Both Sue and I joined in with the songs we knew and unlike the night before we knew the names of the tunes and the name of the artist was a cinch!

There was only 6 of us for dinner as Lynne and Barry had arranged alternative dining for the evening. The conversation centred around grandchildren and Christmas as well as what each of us had been up to during the day. Afterwards we all relocated to the theatre to watch our excellent dance group perform. However, with a full auditorium we observed some technicians attempting to electronically lower part of the stage but despite an increasing number of attempts and other crew mebers joining in, it refused to budge. An announcement from the Cruise Director informed us that as the stage was too dangerous to dance on there will be a showing of the film ‘Quartet’. As Sue and I had already seen this we took a turn around the deck and retired for an early night.