A little warmth to celebrate the, nearly, end of winter and a reunion with Oriana after several years.
We were pleasantly surprised at the smooth check in, there must have been at three couple in the queue ahead of us - passports checked, photos taken and straight on board. Waiting for the luggage to be delivered was a little disappointing, 2hrs of hanging around punctuated with a disastrous lifeboat drill. The muster station only had seating capacity for 75% of attendees and the ship was not running at full capacity. Old folk with sticks were left standing for nearly 40minutes and why oh why do P&O still insist on trying on survival vests when other lines (Fred Olsen) are happy just to demonstrate.
Our inside cabin on deck 5, central to minimise any rough seas, potentially a four berth cabin with two folded up bunks. This means extra wardrobes and drawers. Having unpacked we went for a walk around and were pleased how well the old lady had been spruced up - newish carpet and chairs a greatly improved buffet restaurant. Chaplain's cinema was still there and showed several recent releases (2018).
We had opted for 'Open Dining' and ate in the Peninsular for all but two nights - we generally asked to join a table for 6 and were always seated immediately, okay sometime there was a delay while the table filled. Waiters and wine waiters were attentive and efficient but we felt that the cost of food loaded on board had been a little too tightly controlled. Also main courses were no longer silver service but this has been the case for quite a while.
An excellent port lecturer ( but two a day is simply too much to absorb), theatre shows were the usual high standard as were visiting cabaret acts. Enrichment lecturers a bit disappointing - one just showed film clips, very professionally, the other we had seen before. Classical concert duo were excellent they entertained with humour and played from a wide ranging repertoire.
We did three shore trips all of which were as advertised and without hiccoughs, the on board photographers were considerably less intrusive than usual. The captain however we too unobtrusive. We did not once see her on board and the mid-day announcement was seldom made by her.
We had done this itinerary a few times before so most ports of call were a pleasant reminder. However the smallest of the Canaries La Gomera was a first for us and the excursion to the National Park was excellent, a forest that occupies a bout one third of the island.
We were saddened to learn, whilst on board, that this was to be our last cruise on Oriana. The powers that be reckon that the 4,500 passenger Iona will absorb the 1500 passengers from Oriana which is being sold to another operator as a casino cruise ship. So for us its Aurora or Fred Olsen.