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52 Nights on Oriana - Sue Kersh's blog.

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25 April 2016 - Key West

I was still in the gym as we docked into the Naval Base at Key West. The Disney Magic was docked behind us and the Regatta was in the town dock but left just after noon. We thought that Key West would be heaving but it was okay.

I breakfasted in the main dining room as it was Eggs Benedict as the special of the day. I finally caught up with David and Esther who I hadn't seen since the first sea day.

The trolley Train took us into Mallory Square and it was a flat walk along Duval street to the attractions of this town. Key West used to be called Cayo Hueso or Island of Bones. Apparently when the Spanish Conquistadors first landed they found human bones scattered along the water front. The island is closer to Havana than Miami, it is only 4 miles long and 2 miles wide and is the Southernmost city in the United States.

Our trolley driver told us that the thing to do in Key West is eat, drink and fish. There were many bars and restaurants to choose from. We visited the oldest house in Key West which was furnished and had a lovely shady garden area. Last time we were here we say the min traction so like Hemings house and President Trumans Winter retreat the Little White House.

We shopped for unusual souvenirs but the heat was exhausting and liquid refreshment was required.

We found a bar and settled down with drinks and WiFi for a rest. The beer went down well and we caught up with e mails. We continued back the way we came but on the other side of the street and more shopping including the elusive lime cordial and another dress for me.

Eventually the heat got to us and we joined the queue for the Trolley train back to the ship and a refreshing swim.

The dance Sailaway Party to upbeat music in the hot afternoon sun was well attended and the passengers on the American Disney ship must have thought that the British were lunatics prancing around in the heat with music that deafened the sound of the film on their big screen.

The evening was so lovely that once again we skipped the entertainment to sit outside with a bottle of wine followed by coffee and liquors.

Daniel Boys from any dream will do fame was in the theatre and I would liked to see him so hopefully we will make his second show.

There was a Soul and Motown Disco in the Pacific lounge late in the evening but after a tiring day and Fort Lauderdale tomorrow I gave it a miss in favour of my bed.

Cocktail of the day Strawberry Daiquiri.

26°C Sunny

227 Duval St, Key West, FL, United States

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Port Everglades for Fort Lauderdale.

Once again we were docking during the early morning gym session. A huge and very built up port with nothing much to look at in the port area. 15 cruise ships can be docked here at any one time but luckily today there were only two, Oriana and the Holland America ship Maasdam.

A 30 minute shuttle bus ride took us to the Galleria Mall and cost £5 each way for saver fare passengers and free for us as Select fare pax not bad value for a 30 minute coach journey.

We were not interested in the mall so asked directions to the water taxi station and were directed to a local hotel where the ticket office was situated just outside the entrance foyer and we walked through the hotel to the embarkation point. The cost was 26 US for me and 21 US for Garry as he is over 65. This lasts a full day and you can hop on and off as you wish. There was a guide on board explaining what we were seeing and the cost of many of the multi million pound houses and boats. He knew who lived there and how much they paid for their house and boat. One house on a huge waterfront plot had only a couple of walls standing the rest had been demolished. Apparently as long as the whole house isn't demolished it can be classed as a remodel instead of a new build saving mega bucks in tax. Fort Lauderdale didn't even exist 100 years ago but is known as the Gold Coast and the Venice of the USA because of the huge waterways.

We changed to a different route and headed for the Hollywood beach area. On the way we passed the Oriana and realised we didn't need to go all the way back to the Mall to catch the shuttle but could get off the water taxi 5 minutes walk from the Oriana.

We got off at the Hollywood beach area and spent some time on the long wide sandy beach. The Atlantic Ocean was quite calm and many people were swimming. The coast guards were out in their huts but there were no flags flying. Red means no swimming and according to the guide purple meant T & T which stands for teeth and tentacles. The shark migration was 3 weeks ago but the jelly fish had been causing some problems.

It was certainly a great way to see Fort Lauderdale and although the sun was hot the breeze on the waterways kept the temperature comfortable. The boat to Hollywood beach had a bar selling cold drinks but the one we caught to return had no facilities at all. The water taxis seemed plentiful and there was always one waiting to change routes.

There was free wi Fi in the port area when we returned to the ship so managed to catch up with e mails etc. The reports from people who just went to the mall were not great and this part of America is certainly not a cheap place to shop especially as the dollar is so low.

There was plenty of entrainment on offer with Georgina Jackson in the theatre, a classical guitarist in the Pacific, a game show in the Lords Tavern and dancing in Harlequins.

We had a late dinner then a quiet night outside as the weather was too good on deck to be inside. We sailed down the coast and could see the bright lights of the Miami coast line. We will have plenty of time to catch up on the entertainment as we lose the good weather but we will make the most of the warm evenings whilst we can.

Tomorrow we dock in Port Canaveral .

Cocktail of the day Miami Vice on Ice.

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27 April 2016 - Port Canaveral

There were lots of trips departing early in the morning so the gym sessions were very quiet. Only three of us for the Abs bums and tums class.

We visited the Kennedy Space Centre last time we were here so opted for a visit to Cocoa Village. What a gem this is. Such a quaint little village situated on the Indian River with individual shops and a beautiful park and riverfront walk. There was a fountain which wasn't turned on and I was stood in the middle of it when I heard a gurgling sound. I got off it quickly but nothing happened until 2 minutes later when it caught another couple out and they were drenched. It must have been on a timer.

The local school were doing a display and we saw the older children dancing around the maypole to the English Country Garden.

We wandered around the small town taking photos and chatting to local people. They all wanted to know what we thought about their presidential election. We had a beer, then continued in a different direction. Around every corner there was something else unusual to look at. I found a gorgeous ladies clothes shop. Very glamorous clothes and I could have spent a fortune. Garry made a comment that he was glad he had left his credit card on the ship but the owner overheard him and said that was no problem as we could ring the ship from her phone and they would give him his credit details and she would input them on her machine. He made a quick exit I don't think I have seen him move so fast.

We ate the most enormous home made ice creams I have ever seen so that was lunch taken care of. The local pub was called the Village Idiot and there was a British pub as well but that wasn't open when we passed it, but talking to others later they said it was dreadful with no atmosphere, whereas the Village Idiot was packed. A local offered to use our camera to take a photo of us in front of the sign. It was very kind of her but she got us in but not the sign.

The shuttle back to the ship was very busy but when we got to the mall very few got off and the queue to get on was enormous. I am so pleased we made the decision to visit Cocoa Village instead of the mall. We could have done both and got off the shuttle but we have seen enough American malls for this cruise. The dollar rate is so low that buying anything you can get in the UK is not worth while.

I had time for a couple of hours in the sun before getting ready for dinner. There was a sailaway party and the aft deck bar stayed open later than usual as there were many pax around. A lovely time of day to enjoy a drink as the sun is losing the intense heat. We stayed on deck until the coastline disappeared. The Kennedy Space Station was very visible in the distance with its huge buildings.

After dinner we went to the Tropical party which was being held on the aft deck with the Pacific lounge as an alternative venue in case of inclement weather. No problems with the weather at all. A perfect night for a Tropical party, very lively with pax making the most of the warm evening. My favourite cocktail of the day Long Beach Ice tea.

Tomorrow we have a morning at sea before we reach Charleston at noon for our overnight stay.

26°C Mostly Sunny

117 Harrison St, Cocoa, FL, United States

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28 April - 1st day in Charleston

A cloudy but warm start to the day. After the usual torture session in the gym I had a couple hours on the deck before we docked just before noon. It was quite a scenic sail into the narrow harbour as we passed Fort Sumter where the first shots of the civil war were fired on 12 April 1861. There was a Sail In Party with live music and American flags were distributed.

Everything in Charleston is in walking distance from the ship. There is a huge indoor French market but we wanted to save doing that until tomorrow as the forecast is for rain showers tomorrow.

We continued walking until we found where we could buy tickets for the carriage ride. The cost of this tour on ship was £42 each but we paid 25 US dollars each.

Our horse was called Don and with Al, the guides American accent I thought he said Dawn. Much laughter at my expense especially when Don feeling hurt at my comment decided to show just how male he actually was. He was a very big boy.

Al was extremely informative and very proud of Charleston and its history. The tour lasted an hour and Al kept up the info and banter all the way round. Don is a huge Belgian farm horse and didn't need any steering as he knew exactly where he was going and at 19 and ½ hands cars certainly gave him the right of way.

After the carriage tour we bade Don and Al farewell and Don performed for us again showing his male prowess. Many photographs were taken and much laughter. Don appeared to enjoy every minute of it. The horses were well looked after and never in the sun unless working. The stables at the rear kept the four horses cool, fed and watered in between the carriage rides which left hourly and lasted an hour. Don would have 3 hours off for every hour he worked.

We had a wander round the shops and called into a bar to sample the local beer before heading back to the ship to prepare for the evening.

We had decided to eat an early dinner on ship then go and have a look at the nightlife Charleston had to offer. There were lots of restaurants and bars and all were busy. We decided on one where we had seen some officers as they would know the best places. The local beer was darker than lager and delicious but after one I decided to try a cocktail. It was called Holy Spicy Senorita and was a margarita with a difference. The difference was it was made with the bars own Jalpeno infused pineapple Tequila. Boy it nearly blew my head off. Absolutely delicious but I couldn't have managed another. Lots of life in this typical American bar which specialised in BBQ food as well as cocktails with a difference. The owner has 8 different bars and restaurants in town all serving different food and with different themes.

Plenty going on back at the ship for those who didn't venture out for the night. A local group had been invited on to play and sing Sounds of Charleston. The reviews have been excellent especially the two gospel singers.

Daniel Boys was in the Theatre for his second show.

Cocktail of the day Blue Lagoon.

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29 April - 2nd day in Charleston

The thunderstorms and showers that were forecast did not materialise and it was a beautiful sunny morning with clear blue skies.

I had to have a couple of paracetamol and a gallon of water this morning after a night out on the town. I still made the 7am gym session and felt better afterwards and ready for another busy day sightseeing and shopping in Charleston.

The French market is huge as is everything in America. Most stalls are very different but there were lots of stalls were ladies where sat weaving baskets and other items made out of the Seagrass. I bought another sundress and had to jiggle around to try it on as there was no fitting room.

We found the main supermarket on the outskirts of town which was huge and had a fantastic wine selection at really good prices. We stocked up on Rose wine for the cabin and also Schweppes tonic which as I was down to my last one was very fortunate. I can't stand the Britvic tonic they sell on the ship. Free wifi at the supermarket and the crew informed us that it stays open 24 hours.

It was beer time and we had walked far enough so headed for Queology where I had the lethal cocktail last night. We didn't fancy BBQ food so I just opted for the local beer which sustained me until I was back on ship.

I had a couple of hours on deck in the hot sun and a refreshing swim before the Sailaway Party from our last American Port. When I first visited the USA 5 years ago I wasn't at all impressed and immigration was a nightmare. I decided that I wasn't bothered if I never set foot in the USA again. Our visit to LA 2 years ago didn't change my mind but this cruise has been amazing. The officials have been nothing but pleasant and the locals really friendly. We will definitely do this cruise again in the future at this time of year.

A pod of Dolphins visited later in the afternoon and gave us a free display as they played in harbour.

We didn't leave port until 18:30 due to some work being required. The Captain apparently announced this at 11am when the majority of pax were already off the ship. It didn't make any difference to us as we had walked enough by the time we got back on board. The Sailaway party was still held at 16:30 but seemed a bit pointless.

It was a picturesque sail out and the Captain had to reverse a long way out before he could turn the ship then navigate a reef on both sides.

Entertainment was Maxine Mazumder as Dusty Springfield, a game show in the Pacific lounge and dancing in Harlequins to the Paul James Band.

Cocktail of the Day Bahama Mama

Tomorrow is a restful sea day before we reach Bermuda where we have another overnight stay.

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Saturday 30 April - Sea day to Bermuda

The morning was cloudy and the temperature had certainly dropped since leaving Charleston. By 11am the sun was on the aft deck and I spent a relaxing day reading in the sun. The breeze kept the temperature comfortable to spend more time in the sun.

It was a formal night and another Marco menu which meant my favourite port marinated Stilton was on the cheese board.

We went to the theatre to see the Spinettes a trio of young girls singing 1940s and 50s songs. Very good and I will go to their second show.

In the Pacific lounge the entertainment manager Mikey talked to the headliners cast about life onboard and what happens backstage. I thought this very odd evening entertainment as this usually is shown during a sea day afternoon.

We went to the formal ball in Harlequins where the Paul James band was playing.

Cocktail of the day Kir Royale.

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Bermuda

We were up early and off ship to start exploring the dockyard having given up on our plans to visit Hamilton.

The monstrosity Anthem of the seas had docked behind the Oriana dwarfing it as it is 3 times the size. It is on a 5 day cruise with only 1 port in the 5 days which just had to be Bermuda whilst we were there.

We were off before it disgorged it's 5000 mostly extra extra sized American passengers. Poor Bermuda must have wondered what had hit it.

We collected a map from the information office and started exploring. The clock tower was a shopping mall and we started our tour there before walking past many renovated buildings to snorkel beach where we could see the ramparts of the city. As I was snorkeling in the afternoon the beach held little interest so we headed for the National Museum which is where we could walk around the ramparts with stunning views until we reached where the monstrosity was docked. There was a cannon facing it, and it fleetingly passed my mind that it probably wouldn't do much damage to a ship that size. The entrance fee was only 8 US for seniors and 10 US for adults and there is so much to see. There are Dolphins there which have access to the sea but rarely venture out preferring the life of luxury and safety in their huge pools. There was no set timed display but the Dolphins played and performed at will. We could have easily spent the day there. We purchased a ginger beer which included a wifi password and the quickest wifi we have had all cruise.

We reluctantly left the park as I wanted to visit the craft market before we headed back to the ship for a quick snack then set off once again for the snorkel trip.

The trip was one of the best I have done. We set off by sail but there was not enough wind so changed to motor. I was outside on the front of the catamaran with fabulous views as we sailed for about 45 minutes to the perfect spot for everyone. It was quite shallow so non swimmers could stand and see the fish and for the competent swimmers there was a deeper reef about 200 meters away. The water was very calm and totally clear but not as warm as the Caribbean Sea. It took my breath away as I got in but my body soon adjusted to it. The fish were abundant and very colourful. The sea cucumbers were huge and looked like big black rocks there were far more corals than in the Caribbean where it has mostly been destroyed by hurricanes and people. It was a perfect end to our short overnight call in Bermuda. The rum swizzle was served after the activities were concluded and it flowed well and continuously all the way back. I was pacing myself as we had a special meal booked and I wanted to enjoy it. Many pax were not as cautious and there was a lot of laughter and frivolity on the return sailing.

By the time we returned to the ship we were due to sail but as we have been at sea for so long we had to do another muster drill before we could leave port. They were waiting for us to get back as we were the last trip to return.

After muster was the Great British Sailaway party which was very well attended. It was held on the aft deck 8 but the upper decks were all full of passengers waving their flags, and singing along. The American ship passengers joined in by waving us farewell. They will have Bermuda to themselves tomorrow.

We ate dinner in Sindhu and it was a little busier than last time we visited. Still no where near the amount of pax eating in there as when it was the Ocean grill but at least more atmosphere this time. The food was excellent and the service impeccable as usual.

We finished the night in Harlequins dancing to the Oriana Trio but I was completely exhausted after a mega energetic busy day.

Cocktail of the day Hurricane

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1 st sea day to Ponta Delgada

We have four sea days now so I got back into my usual early morning gym routine after missing it yesterday.

The sun was on the aft deck but it was exceptionally windy. I moved beds a few times before finally settling down and although the wind didn't appear to lessen much it was still hot and quite comfortable once led down. I went in the pool which was an exhilarating experience as the waves were crashing from one end to the next. Great fun and the water was warm.

These sea days go so quickly that I missed all the afternoon activities and the Charleston dance ending will remain a mystery to me unless Donna teaches it again on future cruise, I have no idea on how we are doing in the Battle of the sexes.

Unfortunately our stalker in the form of Manuel Martinez has found us yet again. He was in the theatre so we opted for a relaxing night in the Crows nest listening to the Paul James Band and The Shades duo.

Cocktail of the day Pina Colada.

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2nd sea day to Ponta Delgada

Another glorious sunny day at sea. The wind had dropped slightly and the temperatures higher than yesterday. The pool had also quietened down considerably although it was still like swimming in a wave machine.

By the time the gym session had finished the sun was well on the aft deck and we secured our spot for the day. Each day we think this may be the last we see of the sun for a while.

There are lots of reports of sightings of whales as this is the season for them around the Azores. I often hear the shouts but never seem to be quick enough or patient enough to spot them.

The clocks were put forward an hour at noon which made the day pass even quicker and we are now only 3 hours behind the UK.

It was a friends birthday today so we celebrated with her and other friends firstly by the pool and then at dinner where she had the cake and singing waiters. A very enjoyable dinner and the show afterwards was the Spinettes second performance. A great evening which we finished off in Harlequins. We went to the Lords Tavern where the great British Pub night and Beer festival was in full swing. Not a seat to be had anywhere.

Unlike Arcadia the entertainment on this ship never stops from 10 am in the morning until the early hours. The entertainment team led by Mikey all work really hard including Mikey who can always be seen around the ship as well as his deputy Graham. We thought the entertainment team on Arcadia at Christmas were very poor and the reports we have been getting from the world cruise show that it has not improved at all. We thought it was down to P & O cut backs but the team on Oriana have proved this not to be the case and that it is down to the entertainment manager leading his team and getting the best out of them.

Cocktail of the Day Singapore Sling

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3rd and 4 th sea day to Ponta Delgada

Thursday 5 th May

A glorious hot sunny morning with hardly a whisper of wind. Hotter again than yesterday and the sea was very calm.

Another hour went forward at noon putting us 2 hours behind UK time.

I just spent the day in the sun with regular dips in the pool to cool off and being waited on by my butler who could only tolerate the heat for 10 minutes at a time. Once again I missed the Battle of the sexes but there will be time to catch up once the weather changes as we near home.

We met a couple who will be on the Arcadia World cruise next year and we had arranged to dine together to discuss the trip and some of the countries we will be visiting. We had a very enjoyable evening and it is good to know someone else who will be on board for the full cruise. We will keep in touch once back from this cruise to exchange research into the various ports of call and the dreaded Chinese Visa.

The headliners performed Destination Dance in the theatre and Manuel Martinez was in the Pacific Lounge.

Cocktail of the day Bahama Mama.

Friday 6 May

Brrrr the weather has changed considerably today. The sea is still fairly calm but the cloud has descended and the wind has a chill to it. Forever hopeful after the early morning gym session I set up outside in fleece and trousers as did many other passengers and waited for the sun to make an appearance.

The sun did break through the cloud and it turned into a lovely afternoon by the pool again.

We list another hour at noon so now just 1 hour behind the UK.

It was the Peninsular Cocktail Party in the Crows Nest for us where the champagne was plentiful.

Cocktail if the Day Blue Lagoon.

Tomorrow we are in Ponta Delgada in the Azores.

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Ponta Delgada

A fairly rough night crossing the Atlantic and the forecast is worse to come as we near the UK. I gave the gym a miss today due to the motion of the Ocean and took a tablet and stayed in bed until 8 am.

We docked for 9 am and headed straight to the supermarket as I needed to top up the tonic supply for the last of the gin.

We heard that the whale watching trip was cancelled due to rough seas and wind.

Plenty of free wifi in the shopping mall and we managed to get everything updated and contacted home before the mall became too busy and the signal slowed down.

We wandered the narrow streets and finely found the farmers market where we were hoping to find strung garlic. Plenty of strung onions and bags of garlic but stringing garlic must be a Spanish craft not a Portuguese one.

The weather improved and the sun came out but it remained very breezy. The final Sailaway party was on the aft deck in the sunshine but coats were required.

The crew show in aid of Mc Millan was on in the Pacific and another excellent show with some different performances from young cabin stewards as well as senior officers. We will find out tomorrow how much has been raised during the cruise for this worthwhile charity.

Micky Zany was in the Theatre but as we had seen him on a previous cruise decided to give this a miss as the ship was rocking and rolling and the theatre is at the very front of the ship.

Cocktail of the day Strawberry Daiquiri.

We now have 3 sea days back to Southampton and forecast is strong wind and rough seas for tomorrow.

15°C Partly Cloudy

Avenida Infante Dom Henrique, Ponta Delgada, Ilha de São Miguel, Portugal

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1st and 2 nd Sea Day to Southampton

Sunday 8 May

It had been an extremely rough night with anything not fastened down flying off shelves in the cabin. We woke a number of times as the motion worsened through the early hours of the morning.

I managed to get to breakfast so that the cabin steward could make up the room. It was very unsteady around the ship with everyone doing funny walks zig zagging around the passageways.

I started sorting clothes for packing and finished one suitcase before the motion got to me and I had to get horizontal.

The noon announcement did not give any relief as the forecast was for this to continue until tomorrow afternoon. Overnight it had been gale force 11 which had dropped to gale force 10.

No Battle of the Sexes today due to the football matches being shown in the Lords Tavern.

Chocoholics Buffet for afternoon tea in the conservatory which we did not attend.

We had arranged to meet a friend in the Beach House for dinner. Another great meal with excellent company. We chatted for so long that we missed the shows but they will both be on again.

The wind had dropped to force 8 and was more comfortable to walk around but still very tiring trying to stay upright. The Captains announcement was that it would lessen overnight and he referred to the motion as being like a ping pong ball in a Jacuzzi. Vey appropriate.

The After Dinner speaker was Celebrity John Lyons in the Pacific Lounge and Half of the Opera Boys in the theatre. When we have seen these previously there were 4 of them but now they have shrunk to 2 members.

Cocktail of the day Berried Treasure.

Monday 9 May

It had been another fairly rough night but not as bad as Saturday night. I woke in time for the gym but only managed the first class before the motion got to me. Although the wind has died down considerably the ship is still rolling around. We did another hours packing before lunch leaving the the remainder until tomorrow.

The hour went forward at noon and we are now on UK time. After lunch the sun was out on the Aft deck and it was very hot. This has got to be a bonus sunny day and hopefully tomorrow will be the same.

I stayed in the sun for as long as possible before getting ready for our last formal night of the cruise.

Micky Zany was in the Theatre and it was the passenger talent show in the Pacific Lounge.

We sat outside enjoying the evening sun and we saw a pod of whales in the distance. There have been lots of sightings of whales and dolphins this cruise but I was surprised to see them so far up the coast of Spain.

Cocktail of the day Martini Royale.

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Final update from Sue, hope you all enjoyed the ride :)

Final day of the Cruise.

A bright sunny morning but when I went outside after the early morning gym session it was still quite cool. The sun beds were out ready for any pax wanting to brave the temperature.

The fog descended before lunch time and the Captain enjoyed playing his horn as we were in the midst of lots of shipping.

After lunch I went to the Battle of the sexes Final. The ladies were in the lead by 40 points and won by 20 points in the end. A well fought battle.

We finished the cruise in the Pacific Lounge with the the very talented Opera Boys. There was a headliners show in the theatre and a dance night in Harlequins.

We finished the packing and put 7 pieces of baggage out for the porters. The next time we see them will be in the luggage collection hall tomorrow. We have kept 2 hand luggage cases with us and the booze bag which now has our duty free in. No way could we self disembark and carry all of our own luggage off ship. I was amazed that over 150 passengers did so.

Disembarkation Wednesday 11 May.

We were up early and in breakfast for 06:30. Disembarkation was painless and we were in a taxi and on the way to pick our up by 8:45. There were no customs officers in sight and lots of taxis waiting at the Ocean Terminal. The first 3 taxis in the rank were not large enough to carry our 10 pieces of luggage and we moved down the line until we came to a taxi van.

We hit some traffic on the outskirts of Southampton but we were still home for around 13:30.

A really great cruise and I wish we could turn round and do it all over again.

Now it is time to start the diet.

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Great blog of your exhausting trip, another holiday required for a rest? and booking into the health farm to work off the cocktails of the day!!!!

Cracking read and it has certainly given a flavour of one of the longer journeys Thankyou for your time and effort it posting it all

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