We woke to a pleasant sunrise through partly broken clouds. Oriana had dropped back behind us but was still following our course. Having lost an hour due to the clocks going forward overnight, a relaxing lay in was called for, but as our neighbours were apparently a herd of raging wilder-beast, we didn’t get much of one with every crash, bang and slam of their door reverberating through our cabin.
A late leisurely full English followed to set us up for the day and although the buffet restaurant was busy and bustling, it wasn’t as bad as we’d feared. With a little bit of hunting around we found a suitable table for two by a window. Then it was time to go gather food. The food stations we found cramped and if you didn’t grab what you wanted first time around, there was no going back to get it as you were stuck in a tightly packed train of people that moved in only one direction. Unless of course you wanted to experience the cruise ship buffet stare from those in the queue! Very scary! I was a bit disappointed to find that the only milk at the drink station was little UHT pots, but pleasantly surprised that we were treated to Twinings teabags!
After breakfast we had another upper deck stroll in the still calm, still mild weather, with occasional rays of sunshine poking through the clouds. Despite searching high and low, we weren’t able to find anywhere other than the buffet to get a free cup of tea. The problem with this is that with the buffet being at the very back of the ship, it leads to much to-ing and fro-ing if you want to enjoy a cuppa somewhere else, and therefore consequently there is much spilling of said tea down one’s shorts!
We went along to a late morning talk by one of the ships photographers, which was quite informative and led to us booking a one-to-one session with him for the following day to get some hints, tips and camera help. Then it was time to hit the shops and get the obligatory logo’d gifts for relatives and friends and a nice big ship model strictly for myself! Lunch was a relaxed hot dog from Frankie’s sat up on deck at Breakers Bar in the sun. Already starting to become a regular haunt for us! Then it was back to the cabin for a bit of relaxing on the balcony with the iPod whilst spotting oil rigs in the North Sea. The wife buried her nose in a trashy mag and then it was time to claim back our lost hour of sleep with a lazy Sunday afternoon nap.
Being the first formal night we decided to smarten ourselves up and eat in the main restaurant, which for us was the Bay Tree. We stopped off first at the atrium for the almost mandatory formal portrait. We wished the photographer luck, as we never seem to take a particularly good formal picture as neither of us are very comfortable dressed to the nines. So we struck our poses, knowing full well it’d be a waste of time but it had to be done nonetheless!
Dinner was roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes and cabbage. We ordered our meat medium and asked for peas instead of cabbage…simple requests, or so you’d think! Neither were managed. One portion of the meat came rare and neither had peas! The rare meat was sent back and we were assured another cooked as ordered would be with us very soon. It arrived 10 minutes later and this time was very well done… And still no peas! The meal itself was ok, just nothing special, except for the Yorkshire pudding which was like cardboard but not as tasty. The waiters weren’t at all friendly, didn’t introduce themselves or attend to our needs. No one came to top up our water and only once asked if we wanted a drink during the meal. No tea or coffee was offered at the end either. Our table was in the middle of the restaurant with no views out at all and on one side of the table was a long bench type sofa seat that you sank into and whilst being quite comfortable, meant you were too low to eat comfortably. I felt like a little kid at an adults table!
Entertainment for the evening was a choice of a cabaret singer in The Tamarind, a headlining comedian in The Arena theatre or an Annie Lennox tribute in Havana. We opted for the latter but found the club was very crowded and it wasn’t possible to see the stage through the crowds of people forced to stand and watch. It struck us that the comedian may have been more suited to this venue and the tribute act more to the theatre, especially as all through dinner in the restaurant we’d been able to hear the band above us. The act itself though was pretty good and the ship’s backing band, The Electrix, were all decent musicians playing with enthusiasm and it was an enjoyable way to round off the first very pleasant sea day.
Our first port of call would be Stavanger…………