I am back from my Arctic adventure and what an adventure it was! I didn’t really have a massive amount to report back to you at the end of the cruise because our call to Bergen was cancelled and we missed our tours in Tromso. It was all a bit crazy so I thought I would wait until I was back home and give a kind of overview of the trip.
This cruise was my 20th and of all the cruises I have done this one was the most disrupted yet surprisingly one of the most exciting! We had delays, missed a port, arrived late into another two ports and some of us missed our tours in Tromso. Taking all of that into consideration there were a lot of people onboard, myself included, that thought the voyage was a wonderful adventure even with the disruption. I think Oriana’s crew handled everything brilliantly and the decision to stay longer in Tromso in order to complete the Arctic itinerary was a wise one. The cruise was about the Arctic so of course those ports should be given priority. I had two AMAZING days in Alta (if you missed them here they are again, Day 1 and Day 2) I wasn’t going to begrudge someone doing the same in Tromso! To be honest the only thing that effected everyone was Bergen being cancelled. The other issues were rectified in one way or another so they became irrelevant.
I had a lot of people asking me about the noro situation onboard via Facebook and Twitter but personally I didn’t come into contact with anyone that had it. The crew were constantly ensuring EVERYTHING was cleaned and sanitised and in the grand scheme of things they really couldn’t have done anything more than that! The rest was down to us as individuals. There was no disruption to the voyage because of it that I noticed aside from the usual not being able to serve yourself in the buffet area.
We chased a pretty angry storm back down the Norwegian coast which was a big factor in why our call to Bergen was cancelled. Oriana, although mighty just couldn’t make up that time unfortunately and we spent three days at sea before arriving back into Southampton. She handled the rough weather very well! The motion was continuous and quite intense for maybe 36 hours before gradually easing and come our final day it was flat calm, not even a ripple and the sun was shining brightly above us! Amazing how much can change in just a few hours! Oriana’s Captain, Robert Camby, did an amazing job keeping everyone notified on the situation. In fact he was pretty awesome throughout the trip with regards to communicating with us what was going on. I think I recall 4 updates in one day regarding the weather, some don’t bother to tell you anything so we were all very grateful that he made a point of keeping EVERYONE onboard informed! At the end of the trip he thanked everyone for their patience and also thanked his crew for working above and beyond and keeping everything moving despite the challenges we faced. I felt he was very genuine and it was nice that he made that effort to ensure every single soul on that ship knew what was going on. Not entirely sure I loved all of his “thoughts for the day” but some were funny! 😉
Our calls to Alta and Tromso were not only a first for Oriana but they were a first for P&O Cruises and it was in fact the first time the cruise line had operated a winter Arctic itinerary. Yes there were a few issues but looking at the bigger picture it was such a wonderful experience, even the scenery from the ship as you sailed in and out of the Fjords was breath-taking! It really was just one big adventure to me and I will NEVER forget those two days in Alta. I think a lot of passengers had the same outlook because of how wonderful their time ashore had been, it kind of made up for the disruption but of course there were a few that were not amused. Sadly though we can’t control the weather and we can’t always predict when something is going to go wrong with machinery, so there we go! Onwards, upwards and let us focus on the positive side of the trip, life is too short to dwell on engine cooling issues! I would much rather be thinking about the big sloppy kiss I got from a rather happy husky! 😉
Oriana has already sailed on her next arctic adventure and I know a few of my readers are onboard. I hope you have a WONDERFUL time and I can’t wait to hear all about your adventures once you return home!
For those interested, Oriana is running the same itinerary next year again on two voyages, the first departing March 7th 2015 and the second departing March 19th 2015. Hand on heart I could tell you NOW that if I was not booked on Britannia’s maiden voyage I would definitely be on one of the two sailings!
As promised here is the Oriana photo album that so many of you asked me to put together. Enjoy! 🙂