Sunday, 8 May 2022

What, no drawers???

 You probably have to be from London to find that title amusing... What is not amusing is the lack of drawers in cabins on the Iona - and presumably the new Arvia. Who thinks of these names? That one sounds like an insurance company. Desperate to get away I've been looking at cruises to the Canaries later this year and basically the choices are the Iona or the Arvia. OK then, let's study the videos peeps have put on You Tube showing us the cabins...

No drawers! Really. There are shelves in the wardrobe, shelves in the looks-rather-nice bathroom then silly narrow shelves in the main part of the cabin and silly little shelves by the bed. Not even bedside drawers. Where does the Gideon bible go?

Leaving aside where, drawers go, what about all the small stuff that has to go in drawers? Have they seen how much kit is required to put my hair up so I don't have to pay ludicrous amounts of money to the Glamour Nazis? Chargers, pens, medication, useful see-through bag of useful things, endless bits of paper and daily news, sock knitting... That stuff doesn't fit on shelves.

It seems like a minor thing but it puts me right off going on these ships.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017


We love the Adonia. Who doesn't? After the most horrible don't-get-me-started year we thought we'd have a treat and book a cruise for May 2018. A big glossy P & O brochure arrived at the end of August. Yummy. I don't usually get those, I have to make do with th'interweb. Sits in comfy chair with coffee to read brochure...

Wait. What? There's no Adonia. Flick through brochure again. Shake it. Fetch needle-threading glasses. No Adonia.

I venture on to the P & O Facebook page where I wouldn't normally go because life is too short to spend it with a bunch of sycophantic twits. Fifty people have already asked. The response is along the lines of details/supplementary brochure will be available shortly. All the cruises on the website are going ahead. Hmm... sounds odd because that is one heck of an expensive brochure they just had printed. So... check website. The cruises are there. Get John to ring and try and book it.....

Down the road chez Carnival it's chaos. The booking staff have clearly not been told that the Adonia has gone missing. Lady goes to check with supervisor who goes to check with manager and who knows how many levels of management and the upshot is "It's fine, we're not changing the Adonia, the cruises are available. If it's on the website we'll honour it, no problem."

So, you heard the lady, no problem. He booked it. Yay! I told my Facebook friends. I put it in the scrapbook. No, I don't have a life, that's why I like to go cruising. We get the acknowledgement etc. I start to think about excursions, in fact I was doing that just three days ago and the cruise was on the website.

Today I hear from a journalist friend, with slower journalist friends hot on his heels, that the Adonia has been sold. There will be no cruises after 9 March 2018. Nothing from P & O. No phone call, no email, no refund, nothing. One is expected to get this crucial information from the P & O Facebook page. I'm not sure what happens to the many passengers who don't use Facebook. Do they arrive at the quayside and forlornly gaze at the horizon (OK, look towards the Hythe sewage plant) and wonder where the ship is?

On said Facebook page you get confirmation from P & O that "other ships are available". Yes, we know, we already chose not to go on them. You also get systematic abuse from the "we lurve P & O" morons who have nothing better to do than hang around on there all day even though the cancellation of a cruise they weren't booked on can hardly be their business. The page is an utter shambles and does a disservice to the company. One look - and that's on a good no-news day - and prospective passengers move on. This is a huge mistake for any business to make. If you have a Facebook page you have to run it properly and remove the nasty types. I did send a message to complain but got one of those standard BS replies that didn't address my complaint. However, it was prompt and it did give me a name to add to my formal complaint.

It always amazes me that idiots on Facebook seem to think P & O booking conditions came down to Moses as a binding appendix. Here's the thing:

1) Contracts are not binding if they are unfair. They can be set aside by the courts. You can't just do what you like and the other party has to lump it!

2) Yes, the captain can do what he sees fit under maritime law but that's the ship part. It doesn't mean the booking/customer services/accounts team can do what they like. Yes, they can cancel cruises if they sell the ship but that brings us to 3)

3) Contracts have to be conducted in good faith. You tell me there's a cruise, I book it, I hand over the deposit in good faith. This is the civil law position. There is also a criminal concept of obtaining money by deception.

The directors of P & O/Carnival have known for months that the ship was being sold. It's not the Rover's Return on Coronation street, you don't sell it within a few days. Did someone decide to take money for something they knew they couldn't deliver? I'm betting during the due diligence process lawyers inserted a clause requiring P & O to cancel all cruises in a timely manner.  I imagine the credit card companies might have something to say about this too. Is it not against their rules for cards to be charged for something that doesn't exist?

Obviously "the reservations staff didn't know" cuts no ice at all. Your contract is with the company, not with the individual who takes your booking.

5) From an accounting point of view it could be said that the company is overstating its cash flow position. There are hints that we have until 27 October to choose a new cruise or have our money back. Does that mean even more delay? Of course this might be set out in their email but since we haven't had such a thing...

6) Communication from the company has been hopeless. We still haven't had an email to say our cruise has been cancelled. Passengers should not have to put up with abuse on the company's Facebook page in order to find out whether they are going on a cruise or not.

Will we book another P & O cruise in the near future? I doubt it. I fancy a few on the Oriana but gossip about the future ownership of that site that doesn't bode well. We've cruised with P & O for over 20 years. They don't actually value our loyalty, they don't even offer the tiniest incentive to book a replacement cruise, not even a bottle of bubbly or a spa treatment. Nothing. An apology for messing up our cruise plans would be nice.  It's "we'll give you your money when we get around to it, now go away, and no  you can't speak to anyone about it". Maybe they should just sell the ships to Ryanair and have done with it.

I feel sad. Not just mad and frustrated but actually sad. Oh well, a trip by rail to the Italian Lakes beckons...

Thursday, 12 March 2015

It's British. We licked it and now it's ours.

My name is Sharon and I love the Britannia before I've even been on it. There, I outed myself.

This is not the fashionable view. The fashionable whinge, er view, is as follows:

1) It was made in Italy
2) The company that owns P & O is American
3) We hate cruise ships
4) We hate big cruise ships even more

Sadly the last two seem to come from a) those who have never been on a cruise ship of any kind, and b) those who are paid to write about cruise ships and go on them all the time. Shame on the latter. Please go and get another job. Or maybe it's the editor's decision to send someone too thick to find the hairdryer socket then generally moan about everything on the ship...

Don't like big ships? Go on the small ones. Don't like ships at all? Then why are you reading articles about them and making inane comments? Surely you have something better to do?

As to the Britishness: I live in Southampton two miles from the cruise terminals and, having missed a lot of the fun because our invitations to the gala dinners seem to get lost in the post, we went down to see the ship on Tuesday (naming day). Now obviously there are some Southampton residents who hate the ships but in our case we looked at this magnificent ship and thought "That's ours". It helped that we'd already booked a cruise on it!

It lives here and it's ours. We have licked it. We might even pee on it to make sure it's ours. We should probably wait for our own cabin on it before we do that. It doesn't do to get arrested at the docks.

What is wrong with being proud of this ship? Hello, it was built for the British cruising market. It's an ever growing market by all accounts but I'll leave that analysis to the professional bloggers. Let's be proud of our cruising industry, our ships and our Southampton heritage.

Here's a page I made of our foray down to the pier on Tuesday. It was just getting dark and the ship was lighting up.

Kits are Sahlin Studio's Project Mouse At Sea and Scrapyrus' Anchor My Love.

I'm a year and a cruise behind!

A cruise behind - is that something you get from eating 24 hours a day?

There were no posts on here in 2014. Obviously the Ventura - see Cruise From Hell - was a big shock to the system. There was a cruise in 2014 on the Adonia but I was very ill when we got back in October, indeed I blamed their uncomfortable beds for my constant pain. It turned out to be a really-bad-how-are-you-still-alive Vitamin D deficiency and the pain is caused by hundreds of teeny tiny bone fractures. I've no idea how it happened to me when no-one sits in the sun more than I do. Anyhoo ... long story and I won't bore you with it except to say if you have odd aches and pains and you're in your 50s you should have a blood test (especially the ladies). I'm on the mend, two more cruises are booked for 2015 and I'll be catching up with view, reviews and scrapbooks.

In the meantime here's a page which sums up cruising for me. I love being at sea. We don't rush around doing everything. In fact we don't do a thing, we just chill out!

Page made with Katie Pertiet's Blended Template #29 and her Del Mar Shores kit. Click on it to see a bigger version.

Monday, 23 December 2013

The Two Hour Cruise From Hell

We booked a two day cruise on the Ventura leaving on Friday 13th September. Well, there's a clue about how it went, even though paraskevitriskaidekaphoibia (fabulous Greek term) is not something I'd normally worry about. It's a good day to travel, you can get cheap air fares.

It was effectively a free cruise since we'd used a voucher P & O sent us after an inordinate number of things went wrong on our previous cruise on the Arcadia. So it was looking good ...

We normally arrive at the terminal at about 3pm after a ten minute drive from our house. Since it was only a short cruise we thought we'd leave earlier and have lunch on the ship.

Huge mistake. Huge.

It was the first day of the Boat Show and three other ships were in. To make it worse there were roadworks by the dock gates. So it took at least 40 minutes for our neighbour to drive us two miles to the Ocean Terminal. I was dying for the loo...

We then entered Hell. I'd never been in the Ocean terminal before so it came as a shock to realise that some bozo had designed it without any ventilation. Basically it's a giant shed with no air. It must be ten times worse in summer. It was heaving with people and there was nowhere to sit. Not good for someone still recovering from knee surgery. Worse, it was full of hen parties who'd already been imbibing for several hours. Many were wearing T-shirts with very explicit rude designs and were being told to put their coats back on by some of the security staff. It's a family ship, for goodness' sake. Maybe P & O should have the no-same-sex parties over four rule that decent hotels have.

When we finally got on the ship about 1.30pm the cabin was still not ready and passengers were "encouraged to make use of the restaurants". Good luck with that. The buffet restaurant upstairs was packed with people and their luggage and there was nowhere to sit. Clearly not many of the cabins were ready. By this time it was becoming crtitical for my diabetic husband to get some lunch and we squeezed into the restaurant. The food was cold by the time we found somewhere to sit but we avoided a hypo for John. Yes, we could have avoided this crush if we'd left later and we will never try to get on a ship early again. But then we'll never again go on a short cruise...

We got to our cabin. Tiny and inside but that was no problem. The problem was the same one we'd encountered on our previous cruise - no air conditioning. And when we say no air conditioning in a small inside cabin we're not just talking about the inconvenience of being too warm. We're talking  about NO AIR TO BREATHE !! Hoping that it might improve we decided to take a look around the ship. We met our steward on the way out and I asked for a flatter pillow. I've never had trouble with this before, the staff have always brought me a flatter pillow. Our steward did not know enough English to know what we were talking about. There seemed to be no option of any other pillow so I was faced with a bad neck for two nights.

Looking back we could have phoned Housekeeping Services but by this time were were both feeling ill due to lack of fresh air and the delay in getting lunch for John was beginning to have a bad effect on him. This was not helped by discovering that our idiot GP practice had prescribed the wrong bolus insulin (he was due to start pre-dinner injections that weekend).

We decided to get off the ship. That is quite a trick when you've gone through many layers of security to get on it. Those layers have to be undone. It meant more standing around at reception and lots of walking because - being "airside" - we couldn't use the lifts. My knees were killing me by the time we got to the taxi rank, indeed they were agony for weeks afterwards.

Want to hear the worst bit?? Five days later it was obvious I'd caught a cold from that crowd of unwashed drunks in the terminal and then a chest infection that dragged on for weeks!

It did at least give me material for a scrapbook page (click on it to see a larger version):

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Thursday, 16 May 2013

When the boat comes in - on a lorry

I love this photo, taken by Paulo Massa. It did the rounds on Facebook. The ship is the Azura, according to a friend with better glasses than me. Azura's home is Southampton but we haven't been on her yet. We're on the Ventura soon which is apparently the same design.

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The song has dozens of versions but this is the one my Dad used to sing. He was a Geordie and "When my boat comes in" was a standard response to kids asking "Can I have ...?". The page was made with a stacked paper background and other elements from Cruisin' by Natalie's Place Designs.

Friday, 19 April 2013

On the ship's rail. Literally.

The seagulls in Vigo follow the ships out of port for several miles. I'm not sure if they get extra food like that. It seems to be a game in which seagulls try to out-position each other. Needless to say it's tricky getting a good photo of them. Last time we were in Vigo I got about 100 shots of sky with an unidentifiable blurry object.

This page was made with the Seaside Cottage template in Studio-Scrap.

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Here the seagulls are bedecked with bunting as befits a page in my ABC of European Cruising album and we have humans on the rail vying for space:

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Cluster from At The Beach Groupies 2 by Meryl Barto.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Our very first cruise

You always remember your first!

We spent a week on the Odysseus, a tiny ship compared to the modern fleets. There were a few worrying aspects that might have put us off cruising for life. For instance one corner of our suitcase appeared to have been dunked in water and we spread socks out on the windowsill to dry. This didn't quite work since we were below the water line while the ship was moving and water was coming in through the closed porthole. Eeek...

We sailed from Athens and our first port of call was Alexandria in Egypt. The cruise director's voice came over the PA: "Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome to Egypt" and it was magical to go on deck and see the famous old station building through the haze across the water.

We didn't get off as we'd heard far too much about cruise passengers in Egypt. Thereby hangs another tale. The ship disembarked passengers for tours to Cairo and we stayed on the ship all day while it sailed to Cairo to pick them up. It was our first taste of a day on board without many passengers, something we always enjoy.

Here's a scrapbook page of our first trip to Egypt. You will rarely see "ordinary" photos on this blog. Photos are for making scrapbook pages.... excuse what my husband calls the "bouncing bombs". I like adding bling!

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Sunday, 3 February 2013

Welcome to my new blog!

This blog will be all about cruising, if you hadn't guessed. We're lucky to live two miles from the main UK cruise terminals and it takes us ten minutes to get from house to ship with the help of a kind neighbour who drives us there. I have photos of that ... those who know me or read my other blogs will know that no blog is complete with scrapbook pages.