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Cruise Review P&O Oriana 2-10 September 2016

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                   As experienced cruisers, my partner and I felt that we would like a change from familiar continental destinations.   We wanted to do something different and joined the Oriana on one of only two British Isles cruises that P&O scheduled this year.


                 The shorter September itinerary stopped at Guernsey before a long sail up the Irish Sea to Scrabster in the Scottish Highlands, from where we visited the Castle of Mey.   This was a favoured home of the late Queen Mother whose hat and coat remain just inside the castle entrance, alongside the dog leads used on daily walks.


                  Back on board, Marco White's specially created Gala Dinner menu was presented on the first of two formal Black Tie nights.   His Prosecco-poached strawberries were delicious but I have to admit that I could not resist the Sultana Brioche Bread and Butter Pudding served on other evenings.


                  Then we were off to the Theatre Royal to enjoy a cabaret or the latest production show.   Entertainment on the Oriana acknowledges its Adults Only exclusivity and our Cruise Director told an appreciative audience that the high energy secret of P&O Headliners Theatre Company was their youth.     Some of us found it difficult to remember our youth, but that didn't prevent us trying our hand at short-mat bowls or waltzing to live music on Harlequins dance-floor.   Our brains were exercised in the regular quizzes.


                   Calls at Kirkwall and Stornoway were completed on successive days despite the Force 8 (gale) wind in the Orkneys.   This required deployment of the ship's extra-wide mooring line - known as 'the beast' - to ease the weight while she was berthed.   Personally, I blamed the Bread and Butter Pudding!


                   Pre-booked excursions, paid in pounds, defied the rain and bus-strike that affected our final port of Dublin.   However, an extended stay permitted delightful concert performances by local musicians and dancers - and we saved our euros for another visit to this lively city.


                   Having entered P&O service in 1995 as one of the largest in the fleet, the Oriana, at 69,480 tons, is now described as mid-sized.    She includes a luxurious spa, a fine-dining venue and a dedicated cinema among her popular traditional features.   We loved the choice of lounges and the wide promenade deck and her forthcoming refurbishment signals a future that pleases her loyal admirers..


                   We had wanted something to do different but there is a limit to how many places can be reached in eight days.   This round trip of nearly 2000 nautical miles had taken us beyond the most northerly head on the British mainland,    So now, if asked, we can honestly say that we have seen it.   Been there.   Dunnet.

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