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Monday, 30 December 2013


Now I know its not a cruising theme, but as my last blog had a cruising link, I just wanted to share this photo (copywrite JRM Photography) of my grandson Josh at his panto (see previous blog) with you know who.

I hope you all had a great Christmas, and Santa brought you all you asked for.

Next blog will be about our next cruise to the Northern Lights, which is getting ever closer.

Til then byeeeeeee

Saturday, 14 December 2013

It's a small world

This afternoon , Saturday, we went to see our grandson Joshua ( aged 8 ) perform in his his first ever professional Panto in Clacton on Sea, with Jeff Brazier in the lead of Peter Pan.
I will get to the cruise link in a minute I promise.

So, at the interval, we are sitting in the bar having a lemonade. ( yes honestly ) . When my daughter ( who has been taking Josh to all the rehearsals, so knows all the cast ) said " look that's the director walking through".

Well his face did seem familiar, but Sue said,  I know him, we have seen him on a P&O Cruise, and he was part of the Headliners.

So a quick look in the program showed his name as.........

Neil Couperthwaite

A quick google later for his performance history, and yep, he had worked on P&O.

Sue never forgets a face !!!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Why we Cruise

Whilst I was posting yesterdays blog, it reminded of the following blog.

P&O used to have James Cusick, Executive Purser of Arcadia (in those days) write a blog for P&O ( and very good he was to), they sometime had "guests", Carol Marlow contributed to the blog.

At the end of 2010 P&O ask for passengers to write a blog and "guest" on James's blog

Well, mine got accepted, and I think it went live either Christmas day or Boxing day, whilst we was on the Artemis cruise you read about yesterday.

So here it is.............

Well I made it, but how do I stand in the shoes of such greats as James, Nigel and Carol, well the answer is I can’t, but I will try my best, so here goes….

Sue and I started cruising in 1998, and as a lot of folk say “It’s a one off holiday of a lifetime, we will never do it again", but we did.

Yes, we were well and truly bitten. We missed 2000 due to a family bereavement, but by 2001, we were back in the saddle, and this time with the old Arcadia (aka Ocean Village as was) to the Western Med with Captain Hamish Reid, one of the best Captains I have sailed with, such humour, and a real gent.
From then, barring 2004 to 2006 (the dreaded redundancy) we have managed to have at least one cruise per year, and have been lucky enough to sail on all of the current P&O Cruises fleet.
Our last P&O Cruises holiday was on the maiden cruise of Azura, a first for us as we had never “done” a maiden before. Now I’m not overly keen on the larger ships, I much prefer the medium size ships (Oriana is my favourite). But I have to say we had a wonderful time, even when Malaga was closed due to the weather, although a great alternative was found the next day at Palma. A fuller insight for those not having “done” a maiden can be found at my blog on the community site - and my photos are below.

I think many of colleagues at work think I’m obsessed with cruising, as it's one of my main topics of conversation. “What’s so good about a cruise ?” they ask.
My answer is always, a cruise is whatever you want it to be, it can be very busy, or you can just sit on the deck and watch the world go by, and everything in between.
You can dress for dinner if you want, or go on a more informal cruise, there really is a cruise destination, and cruise ship for ALL tastes out there.
Well, did I make it to the blog ? if you are reading this, then we will be at sea on Artemis for her Christmas cruise. Thinking about that statement, even if you’re not reading this, we will still be on the cruise.
So if I have not bored you too much, I will be blogging from Artemis, as we have never been away before at Christmas, so even after all these years, there are still “firsts” to have.
I do feel privileged to have been able to cruise and see such wonderful sights, from the Arctic circle and Russia to the wonders of Greece and the Acropolis, and Ephesus in Turkey and everything in between. These are sights that I am sure I would have never seen on any land based holiday. We have also met some great people, some of which after many years we still keep in touch with.
Thank you all for joining me in this blog, and….
Happy Cruising

Ray & Sue
PS and a special thanks to James for allowing me to “share his space”, and for all his blogs that I, and I am sure many others, read with great joy.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Cruising at Christmas

If this is something you have never done, and have often thought "Whats it like ?"

Well, my good lady and I were lucky enough to cruise aboard P&O Cruise Artemis in 2010 for the Christmas and New Year.

Below is my blog as published on the sadly now defunct P&O Community Forum

Well, due to the weather, we have booked a room at the De Vere and came down the day before ( thanks to Steve our driver). So we are here, dinner tonight, then cab in the morning to the Mayflower. Artemis here we come 
Merry Christmas everyone 
Artemis P023 embarkation day 

The journey from the De Vere hotel was not too arduous, just a short taxi ride. We were in the Mayflower terminal by 1100, and check in started at 1130, and we were on board eating lunch by 1210. I write this blog as we wait for the announcement that the cabins are ready ( not sure when I will get to post it ). 
I have to say after all the snow, it's great to be on board for our first Christmas cruise, and looking forward to some sun and some gentle warmth. 
Sharon looked to be busy selling her Artemis book in Tiffany's 
Cases now all unpacked. Went to safety drill (as always ) they now talk of Carnival UK and not PO cruises. 
Sail away was one of the best ever, with the Police band, a choir, and lots of carols  

Any question during the cruise, then please ask, and I will do my best to answer them.  

Artemis P023 Tuesday 22nd Dec 2010 Sea Day 

Woke this morning to an overcast sky, but calm seas. At 0900 we had an outside temp of 6C, so it's getting warmer slowly. 
Last nights entertainment was the Headliners with a "swing" medley. Not really my cup of tea, but they were OK. We had booked table for 8 ( as per normal ) but we had two empty seats, we shall see what happens tonight. 
I do have to say, that Artemis looks very festive with very tasteful Christmas decorations and especially the Atrium with the gingerbread village. 
Sue found a LBD in the shop that she liked, so the credit card has started to groan already :-) 
Now pm, it's been a very lazy day, lots of reading, walking, and drinking. Met a couple at lunch who have been on lots of world cruises, so it was a very enjoyable and informative chat we had. 
The "Bay" has been very kind so far, with just the minimum of movement.  
As we have already booked for 2010, we went the future cruise desk, and paid our £50 pp deposit, so we can enjoy some extra OBC when we book for 2010 
It's now 1715, getting ready for dinner, but horrors of horrors, no hot water. Reception has said 15 minutes, so we will wait and see.  

Hope the snow and bad weather is not causing  you too many problems back home, and you can get to where you want to go.  

Artemis P023 Thursday 23rd December 2010 Sea Day 

Was a bit of a lukewarm shower last night before dinner, due to the water problems, but by this morning we were back up to temp. 
Last nights entertainment was the Headliners again with "Radio Days", a selection of songs from the 40's, a bit before my time, but I knew a lot of them. We then tried the Pub Quiz, joining forces with a couple from our table, but we were still a miserable failure, still always another night. 
I forgot to add before, Mr & Mrs Christmas were onboard on embarkation day, Sue had to have her photo taken with them both :-) 
It's another overcast day so far (0830), with a temp of 10C but you can just make out the sun behind the clouds, so it may brighten up. 
Our missing couple at dinner arrived last night, so the table was up to full compliment. 
And then the Sun popped out, we found the small area on deck outside the Horizon Lounge, no wind, and had a 10 min sit in the warm sunshine, before it disappeared behind the clouds again. 
Poor old Artemis, does seem to be having problems with her water works. Mid morning, and no hot water again, as long as this does not become a theme of the cruise :-) 
What a small world we live in. Got talking to a couple today at lunch,and they live in the village next to ours, 3 miles away. 
Then after lunch, the clouds melted away, and we spent a pleasant couple of hours sitting on deck around the crystal pool. 
The "Bay" is still behaving itself at present, so all is well. 
It's Lisbon tomorrow so a chance to stretch our legs. 

Artemis P023 Friday 24th December 2010 Lisbon 

Well the world is getting smaller again. Got chatting again to the couple we met yesterday, who live just a few miles away, seems they also work with the couple who bought our old family house 5 years ago. 
Still dark outside at present, as we sail the last bit into Lisbon 

We are off on a tour this morning I will tell you about it when we get back. Off for breakfast now.  

Bit late docking today,the pilot was held up in traffic :-)  

Entertainment last night was comedian Lee Wilson, did a good set, and lots of laughs were had by one and all.  

Our tour today was to Medieval Obidos, it's about 90 k north of the town, and it's a walled city. Was a pleasant couple of hours spent wandering around the little shops etc.
Now sitting  in Tiffany's and the Atrium is now decked with balloons as well as all the Christmas decorations. 
There is an air of anticipation about the ship, as we await the arrival at 1645 of Mr C. 
There is high cloud today and no Sun, so Mr C should have a good journey here.  It's still 14C, but our tour guide still said is was cold for Lisbon. 
It's the Christmas show tonight by the Headliners, so looking forward to that. 

Well, it's happened, Mr C has arrived from the top of the funnel, the decks were full, listening to the Artemis Choir singing Christmas Carols, and he received a warm welcome. But then it started raining, which did put a damper on proceedings, and helped clear the decks. 

Artemis P023 Saturday 25th December 2010 Sea Day 

Well it has finally arrived, after all the present buying, wrapping and planning. 
We have woken to partly sunny skies today, the forecast is for 16C, so we are hoping to be able to sit out on deck later today ( one of Sue's ambitions is to sit on deck on Christmas Day ). We are currently cruising along at 9 knots, so there must be plenty of time to reach our next port. 

The Christmas show last night by the Headliners was good, but they do suffer, IMHO, from a lack of a stage, so you do not a full "production" as you do on other P&O ships, but still a very talented group. 

As always ( Internet connection willing ) I shall post this blog tomorrow morning, so by then Christmas Day will be over, so a belated "Merry Christmas" to everyone in P&O land, and I hope Santa delivered what you asked for. 
The balloons that were put up yesterday, are looking a tad worse for wear today, as they slowly sink towards the floor, but a lot did go "pop"yesterday. 

It's now just after lunch, and we are on deck sitting around the Crystal pool with a temp of 17C, very pleasant. 
A few hours later now,  and I think I have the beginnings of a tan. 

It's Casablanca tomorrow, and an early start as our tour leaves at 8 am. But, not been here before, so looking forward it. 

Artemis P023 Sunday 26th December 2010 Casablanca  

Alarm went off at 6am, but I had been awake for some time. I tried to post my blog first thing, but have been unsuccessful so far. 
Sue is not feeling too good today, so our planned trip ashore will have to wait for another cruise in this area of the world. 

Being Christmas day, it was a formal night last night, it looked like 100% DJ's in Coral Restaurant, although I did see a few in casual dress in other public areas of the ship. 

Entertainment last night was a variety show with the Headliners, Lee Wilson, and a new vocalist who flew in yesterday. I'm not a fan of cabaret singers, and the new vocalist just reinforced my view on the subject, so I will not be going to see him again. 

Outside temp is currently 15C within forecast high of 18C so I might have to get the shorts out. 
It's now just before 8am, and the sun is up, and looking very pleasant, so it could be a day sitting deck to work on the tan. 

Well the Sun was a bit of a flash in the pan, as the sea mist has rolled in. We have however spent a very pleasant morning sitting in Tiffany's with a couple from our table, but at present it does not look we will be sitting on deck today. 

Its now after lunch and we managed to sit out on deck, even with the absence of the Sun, it was still warm. 
I hope you all had a good Christmas day, and I see on Sky News, that you might even get a bit of a thaw, which would be good, as I think coming back from this cruise to snow on the ground, would be......... 

Artemis P023 Monday 27th December 2010 Sea Day 

I am not prone to this, but I do have to start this blog with a RANT 

Last night Sue and myself returned to the cabin to get ready for dinner, and once again we had no hot water. 
I am now losing count the number of times this has happened, or that we only have enough hot water for one shower. 
Now I understand that Artemis is old, and you must expect problems, but this has now been going on for days. If you cannot provide a basic function, of hot water to a cabin, then IMHO, it's very poor customer service, something that I do not expect from P&O.  
So please get this sorted P&O as it's beginning to spoil was is otherwise an enjoyable cruise. 

We woke to sunny skies this morning, so it hopeful we can sit out on deck later today, current forecast is for 17C, so I have bit the bullet, and the shorts are on. 
Entertainment last night was the Headliners, with "Les Girls" it's was OK, but it had a lot of " old tunes " which, even with all my years in amdram, I had never heard of. So maybe it was aimed at an audience older than I. 
Another pleasant morning has been spent in Tiffany's chatting to our table companions.

Once again, as the sun swept across the open decks, we ventured outside, where each day the temperatures climb, so it was a beer and the suns rays to soak up for the afternoon. 

La Palma tomorrow where the temperature is forecast to be even better than today. You know, I could get used to this cruising lark :-) 
Artemis P023 Tuesday 28th December 2010 La Palma 

Well, what a day !!!! Woke to blue skies and warmth. 
Did a morning " Walking Tour" of Santa Cruz, the capital of La Palma, which I have to say was one of the best tours we have ever done. Temprature was 70F + and it a gentle stroll around the town, with a very good guide. We even had time for a short refreshment stop of Tapas and drinks. It was warm enough to welcome the aircon of the ship when we returned. 
Even managed to find an English newspaper in the terminal on our return. 

Last night was the Portunus party, no mention of any potential changes, in fact the only changes I saw, were no free bubbly, or canap├ęs, more cut backs ? 

I don't normally make much comment of the food onboard, as I find it the  normal P&O standard ( which is good ), but the Roast Beef I had last night was excellent and well worth a mention. 

So it's now after lunch, and guess what, yes, we are out on deck in the sun. 

Last night was "the vocalist" again, so we gave him a miss, and went up to the Horizon Lounge for the 10pm quiz. Well, we seem to be getting better, but still not won one. 
It's seems from Sky News, that you still have it a bit chilly back home, it's seems ages ago since we were there, even though it was only one week ago that we left. 
I do have to say "well done" to the English cricket team out in Oz, as it looks like they will be bringing the ashes home :-) 

Entertainment tonight is the Headliners, then Linda Bellingham, so will report tomorrow.

Artemis P023 Wednesday 29th December Tenerife 

We woke to partly grey skies, but a temp of 19C and a forecast of a few more degrees to be added later today. 

Last nights entertainment, was the Headliners with more show songs, and were OK. Then we had Linda Bellingham and her husband Mr Spain. Linda is obviously here to plug her autobiography, which is fine by me, it was an entertaining "chat", funny in parts, and very serious in other parts on a couple of subjects very close to her heart, namely, domestic violence and Alzheimer's. She is doing another slot on New Years Day, and will be interviewed by the CD. 

Afternoon tour today, Tenerife Wine and Tapas Experience, I will update later about the tour, as long as the keyboard is not a blur :-) 

If the sun stays out long enough, we might just work on the tan on deck. 

Well the sun did say out for a while, so the tan was worked on. 

Now for the tour, well, we went to the north of the island to a wine museum, for a short video on the history of the island wine making, then to some tasting, which went down well. From there we went to a wine cellar for more wine and tapas. I think it's fair to say at this point, that some members of the tour began to enjoy the tour more than others, and on one table the volume did increase and continued on the coach back to Artemis. So a good day was had by one and all, but I'm not sure if they will make dinner tonight 

Artemis P023 30th December 2010 Grand Canaria 

Again, sunny blue skies today, no tour booked today, so a walk into town today is planned. 
For those of you who are not bored enough with my ramblings, then I have taken over the " passenger blog" and I'm very grateful to P&O for the opportunity. 

Last nights entertainment was the Headliners with "Thank You For The Music" it's a show I've seen a few times on various P&O ships, and I am not the worlds greatest Abba fan, but I did enjoy the show, and thought it was their best so far. 

Pleasant walk into town today, and to the beach on the far side, where the temperature gauge showed 23C and the beach was quite busy. 
Back for lunch, and then on deck, but it was a tad hot, so we have retreated 
to the shade for the afternoon. 
But as it seems to be the trend for these islands at present, the clouds rolled in, but still warm enough for sitting out. 

Well it's Maderia tomorrow ( it will be today when you read this ) and looking forward to the fireworks, so I take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year, and health and happiness for 2011 and beyond, with many more cruises. 

Artemis P023 Friday 31st December 2010 Madeira 

Well, nice sunny skies again, we were slightly delayed in our arrival as it was a top speed dash from Grand Canaria, and there was quite a swell over night. We arrived just outside the harbour at 8am, and there was already a Fred O ship anchored outside, and another in the harbour, along with the Qeen Victoria, and Saga Pearl II, so it's a tad busy. 
I can only assume that something special is happening here ? Somebody did mention something about a few fireworks later :-) 

We did not go to the show last night, as it was the vocalist, so we went up to the Horizon Lounge for the trivia quiz, but could not compete with the 20/20 team that won. 

No tour again today, so a walk into town later. 

One thing I have found strange, is that there has not been any clock changes on this cruise. At first I thought it was just a "ship" thing, but looking at the local time, it's not the case. 

Well what a pleasant morning that was, Madeira was heaving, but full of festive spirit. I keep coming back to this theme, but what a small world. As I have already said Saga Pearl II is here. We were waiting for the shuttle bus to take us back to the ship, when I heard "Hello Ray" and it was one of the crew members from the Saga ship that I know, who lives in Harwich where I work. If only I could buy a lotto ticket now, I think the odds on me winning will be smaller than meeting Michael. 

It's a bit like musical ships at present, Queen Victoria has left her berth and is now anchored outside the harbour. Oriana has now taken her place on the berth, and my friend from the Saga ship said she will be going out to anchor at 2pm. 

So, everyone is getting excited about tonight, the small barges are already outside the harbour, and I assume full of fireworks, let's hope for good weather and no rain. 


Artemis P023 Saturday 1st Jan 2011 Sea Day 

Wow, well what can I say about last night ? Lets start with the meal, I went for the beef again, and I have to say it was excellent, and Stilton to finish was not bad either. 

From there we went to the International Lounge to watch The Bachelors , not sure what I expected as they were my Mums favorouite group. But I knew most of the songs and the audience had a good singalong. 

After the show, we quickly returned to the cabin to collect the cameras and then to Horizon Lounge for drink. By 1130 pm the upper decks were filling up, so we went out on deck to the forward part of the ship. 

Now I have read lots of reports of Maderia and News Year Eve, and in fact we had booked on Oriana just for the Christmas cruise, but changed later to the Artemis cruise, so that we could see the fireworks. 

I have heard many times that Maderia was a "must see", " once in a lifetime" so as the bewitching hour approached, and the decks filled, it was with great anticipation. 

Then the countdown began 5, 4, 3, 2, 1........ 
And WOW, there was such a cacophony of sounds as we were enveloped by the the sounds of the fireworks, and the blasting of all the ships horns.  
And the fireworks went on, and on, and on.  
I just wish I was able to do justice in this blog to the sights and sounds, but unfortunately my literary skills, will not allow. 
So you will just have to come and see for yourself. 

As this  really is a MUST SEE. 

Once the fireworks had concluded, we returned to the Horizon  
Lounge for a drink and to watch the sail away. We slipped our lines and sailed past Oriana at 0040, to much waving and tooting of ships horns, and then we slipped into the night, on our way back to Southampton, and reality. 

And so to today, we woke to sunny skies and a temp of 17C, and it does feel cooler. 

So three sea days now, before we land in Southampton, and back to work. 

I'm not sure if I will continue with a daily blog from here on, but I will do a full review of the cruise at some stage. 

So it just leaves me to say, THANK YOU for joining Sue and myself on this cruise, and reading and commenting on my blog. 

And we look forward to our next cruise, which is the Artemis farewell cruise. 

Ray & Sue