Cruise X701 up the Brazilian Amazon on the Oriana

(Please scroll down to read my report)

Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
31/01/2017 Bridgetown
- On board by 4:30 pm
01/02/2017 Scarborough
- Library, Gardens &
06/02/2017 Manaus
City Tour Markets, Museum &
Opera House!
07/02/2017 Manaus
Dolphins, Caiman &
08/02/2017 Parintins
Boi Bumbá Spectacular show!
09/02/2017 Santarém
Highlights Cathedral, Museum,
Viewpoint & Farm
15/02/2017 Mindelo
Cape Verde
- Minibus/Plane/Plane/

Gatwick, England
Monday the 30th of January 2017

I left home just after 10 a.m. and got to Gatwick by 12:30. I checked in to the Melville Lodge Guest House as usual at 2 o'clock. They only charge £2.50 per day for car parking! I lay down for an hour, before walking around Horley. I went to bed at 10 p.m. and slept for nearly nine hours!

Bridgetown, Barbados
Tuesday the 31st of January 2017

I awoke, just before my alarms, at 7 a.m. ready for the full English breakfast at 7:30. I caught the 8:02 service bus to a nearly empty North Terminal. Unfortunately Virgin Atlantic said that they don't do complimentary upgrades! I was sat by a window in row 27, near the front of the cattle class cabin, with my colleague Melissa and her Irish husband Michael, both artists. Both the North Terminal and Virgin Atlantic provided free unlimited newspapers to take on board, and I already had a copy of the Metro picked up on the bus. Virgin also provided free bottles of water on boarding, but I had already filled my bottle from the water fountain directly after security.

The 747 jumbo jet pulled back from the dock on time at 10:05, but we didn't take-off until 10:30 in the rain. I had Swedish meatballs as an early lunch, followed by an ice lolly half way through the flight of eight & a half hours and then cheese sarnies for afternoon tea, just before landing. I watched three excellent movies: Absolutely Fabulous written by and starring Jennifer Saunders; Sully the story of the aeroplane crash on to the Hudson River starring Tom Hanks and directed by Clint Eastwood; and finally Florence Foster Jenkins starring Meryl Streep & Hugh Grant. I only ever get to watch films on planes now, I haven't the patience to watch them at home!

Being near the front of the Economy section, we were soon off the plane and queueing for immigration. The three of us were met by the door and driven to the ship in a minibus. I was able to give Melissa & Michael a quick sightseeing tour as we traversed Bridgetown. On the ship by 4:30, I was given a super outside twin cabin on top deck 11! I had a quick shower, before meeting with John the Production Manager at 5:30. I slipped ashore to use the free wi-fi in the cruise terminal, before the safety briefing at 6:30. I dined with M&M on the tropical buffet, before going to the 7:45 dance session. This consisted of three couples and no single ladies, so I had an early night at 8:30 (12:30 according to my body clock)!

Scarborough, Tobago
Wednesday the 1st of February 2017

I awoke at 5:30 and watched the Manaus port talk on my television, before breakfasting on the full English in the Conservatory at 7 a.m., as we berthed in Scarborough. Off the ship just after 8 o'clock, I found free wi-fi in the impressive new library, before exploring the free Botanic Gardens. I saw lots of birds, including a lovely woodpecker, before climbing up to Fort King George for the marvellous views. It took an hour to reach the top in the hot and humid atmosphere, but only half an hour to walk back down!

Back at the ship, I had an early lunch of pizza and lasagna in the Al Fresco Italian cafeteria, before sleeping for an hour and a half. I then went back into Scarborough to explore the shops and market, as well as again utilising the free wi-fi, this time just outside the new library. Back at the ship, I back-upped the day's pictures and started this blog, before taking my first swim of the cruise. I stayed in one of the jacuzzis whilst Elaine the Ents. Manager led the sail away. This consisted of her leading her troupe of five cruise staff on the stage by the Riviera Pool, rather than dancing on the deck with the pax. The only time they left the stage to mingle was for a Conga dance!

I showered and changed ready for dinner at 6 p.m., going to the excellent open seating "Freedom Dining" Peninsular Restaurant. I was sat at a rectangualar window table with six people: a couple from Cobham in Surrey, a Yorkshire couple now from Oakham in Rutland and Gladys from Goole on the Humber. The Oakham gent offered me a glass of his Argentinian Malbec, my favourite red wine, but I declined as I was worried about the after effects of far too much sun that day! He had been the headmaster of a state, not private, boarding school. He had a BSc in physics and a PhD in ceramics from Leeds and an MBA from Durham. I had the lovely prime rib of beef, but regretted my choice when I saw the lamb shanks that two of the ladies bravely tackled!

At 7:30 I went to the classical duo, who had been billed as playing strictly come dancing music. After a samba and tango, I slipped out to go to the first dance set at 7:45 which was even thinner than the previous night. At 8:30 I went to the excellent 4Tunes singing quartet. The four chaps sang mainly musical theatre numbers together with a couple of classic swing songs. Coming out of the theatre, one of the cruise staff called me "Jacuzzi Man", as that was from where I had watched their sailaway dancing that afternoon!

At 9:15 I went to the second dance set. The pianist was Trevor Price, who I had worked with several times on Saga cruises (three times on the Quest for a Denture and twice on the Pearl II). Then Pauline, who I had danced with on the QM2 and her friend Olive (P&O!), arrived. The dance instructress Roanna, came up and told me that we had several FaceBook friends in common, as she had worked on the Saga Ruby's world cruises. Then Tony Van Laun from Portsmouth and his partner Marianne came up. I had shared a cabin with him on the Black Watch in 2010 going to the North Cape of Norway! I then danced with the four different ladies, but Roanna was suffering from a bad knee. We did the usual ballroom and Latin American dances together with a few sequence dances. At 10:30 I went to bed.

First Sea Day
Thursday the 2nd of February 2017

I awoke just after 6 a.m. and watched the Manaus port talk again whilst updating this blog. I breakfasted on the full English before attending Emma's port talk on Santarém at 10 o'clock. At 11 a.m. I went to Roanna & Goran's Cha cha class. She recapped the basics, the shoulder to shoulder figure and the lady's underarm turn. However, when we came to partner up, I was not needed, so I slipped out. At 11:15 I attended Melissa's interesting 50 minute talk on forensic criminal drawings. At noon I had a bowl of bean soup, before laying down for half an hour.

At 1:30 I went to the Theatre Royal to set up with John the production manager at first and then Ellen the lighting lady. At 2 p.m. I gave my first 40 minute talk entitled Welcome to Brazil! I then had another lie down before swimming and jacuzzi-ing, the latter with Graham a retired Naval Officer from Trowbridge and his wife Maggie. At 6 o'clock I dined on the prime rib of beef again with two couples and a quiet, elderly gentleman from Flamborough in the East Riding of Yorkshire. At 7:30 I went to Julie A. Scott's excellent Cilla Black tribute show in the Pacific Lounge. At 8:30 I went to Ben Makisi's excellent Opera & Musicals show in the Royal Theatre. At 9:15 we had the first Black Tie Ball of the cruise, but I was wearing my silver grey bow tie, hankie and cummerbund, not black! I danced with Gladys, Pauline & her Yorkshire friend Olive (P&O!), with Marianne, with Marcia the lady from North Carolina and Roanna. It was a mixture of ballroom, Latin American and sequence dances. I got to do my first jive with the lovely Roanna. I went to bed at 11 o'clock.

Second Sea Day
Friday the 3rd of February 2017

I awoke at 7:30 and had the full English breakfast, before updating this blog. At 10 a.m. I went to Emma's port talk on Mindelo. At 11 o'clock Roanna taught the first half of the Iris Foxtrot sequence dance, where I danced with Angela from Harrogate. At noon I lunched on fish, chips and mushy peas with Angela, Carole (who remembered me from the Indian Ocean on Discovery), Helen, Gladys, Pauline and her friend Olive (P&O!).

At 2 p.m. I gave my 45 minute talk on the Story of the Amazon, before lying down for an hour. The clouds came over, but the wind dropped, so that the top deck could be re-opened. I then swam and jacuzzied, before dressing for dinner. My first talk was now playing on the TV. At 6 o'clock I dined on gammon, egg & chips, despite having had chips for lunch already! I sat with two new couples, one pair of which came from Welling in Kent, and the same quiet gent from Flamborough in the East Riding of Yorkshire who I had sat with the previous night, at a round window table. The dinner ran on a little, so I missed the start of the second classical concert, so I went to the dance session at 7:45 instead. This was quiet as usual, but Christine the married lady asked me to do the Square Tango with her. At 8:30 I went to the pianist/comedian's show. I knew most of his jokes, but his playing was good. I kept falling asleep during the show, so I went to bed at 9:30.

Third Sea Day
Saturday the 4th of February 2017

I awoke at 6 a.m. to see that we were already in the estuary of the Amazon. I worked on my Manaus presentation, before having the full English breakfast with fruit smoothie. At 9 o'clock I went to see the Shore Excursion Manager ready for my afternoon lecture on Manaus. At 10:00 I attended Emma's 30 minute talk on Tenerife. At 11 p.m. I went to Roanna & Goran's Tango class. They taught the American basic (which I call the Social Tango) followed by the progressive link to promenade and progressive link into a rock turn. The latter had one extra slow step which rather threw me!

At noon I lunched on lamb moussaka with Angela, Gladys, Carole, Pauline & her friend Olive (P&O!). I saw the start of the sail-in to the Amazon party, before getting ready for my next lecture. At 2 p.m. I gave my 40 minute Story of Manaus talk to a depleted audience. I then slept for one hour. After a coffee and slice of pizza, I went swimming in the cool aft swimming pool. In the jacuzzi I met up with Graham & Maggie again. They told me that they had originally met at an Open University summer school. Maggie has had her first World War One novel published and is working on her between-the-wars sequel! At 6 p.m. I dined on a lamb steak with the couple from Cobham, a couple from Anglesey and a single gent from Bristol. At 7:30 I went to the crew cabaret which culminated in If I were not upon the sea. I then escorted Pauline from the packed Pacific Lounge to the Theatre Royal for the 4Tunes's second show at 8:30. I felt this wasn't as good as their first show and included a repeat of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. From 9:15 until 11:00 I danced in Harlequins Lounge with Pauline, Olive, Gladys, Marcia, Marianne, Roanna and Christine the married lady. I finally got to have a first cha cha with Roanna and then a second jive!

Fourth Sea Day
Sunday the 5th of February 2017

I awoke to bright sunshine at 6:30 and had the full English breakfast with fruit smoothie at 7:30. I then updated this blog and worked on my next lecture. At 10 a.m. I attended the Headliners line dance class. One of the dancers taught Copperhead Road, Honky Tonk Stomp & Stroll Along Cha Cha together with a couple of partner dances. At 11 o'clock I went to Roanna & Goran's balloom Jive class. She taught the basics, the change of place (which I would call a basic turn) and the whip. She didn't teach the change of hands (which I would call a change of place)! At noon I lunched on prawn salad with the usual ladies, minus Carole.

At 2 p.m. I gave my 30 minute talk on the Boi Bumbá festival in Parintins. I then slept for an hour and a half, before swimming and jacuzzi-ing with a retired dentist & former yatchsman and his wife from Lymington. I dined on the roast beef (it was Sunday!) at 6 p.m. with the couple from Welling in Kent, a couple from Swindon, a couple from Maesteg in South Wales and the quiet gent from Flamborough in the East Riding of Yorkshire. At 7:45 I went to the early dance session which was quiet as usual. I did get to have one Melody Foxtrot with Christine the married lady. At 8:30 I went to Ben Makisi's second and even better show. He was joined on stage by the 4Tunes, and then one of the quartet sang falsetto as Celine Dion to Ben's Andreas Bocelli! At 9:15 I went to the second ball of the cruise and danced with Gladys, Marcia, Christine, Marianne, Pauline & Olive (P&O!). I did the Jive and Cha cha with the lovely Roanna. When Angela briefly arrived between late sitting dinner and the late show, we did the Party Samba. At 11 p.m. I escorted Pauline back to the lift and went to a completely empty midnight buffet for the first time this cruise.

Manaus, Brazil
Monday the 6th of February 2017

I awoke at 6:30 and had the full English breakfast with fruit smoothie at 7:30. I then updated this blog. I went up on to the top deck to watch the passage across the Meeting of the Waters, where the brown, alkaline, cooler, denser, faster flowing Solimoes meets the black, acidic, warmer, less dense and slower flowing Rio Negro to form the Amazon proper! We were a little late getting into Manaus and I had to sit in the Theatre Royal with my tour participants for an hour before disembarking. I was escorting my first choice City Tour. We began at the fruit market, had half an hour at the main market and then went to the Indian Museum. The best exhibit here was a large dug-out canoe. We ended our tour at the famous Opera House. Luckily they lowered and raised the stage as we were sat in the stalls.

Back at the ship just after three o'clock, I had a snack lunch in the Al Fresco cafeteria, before catching the shuttle bus the short distance to the cruise terminal. Here I was able to utilise their free wi-fi and post a couple of selfies! I walked, via the main shopping street, to the public library, but it was closed. I walked back via the cathedral, outside of which a gaggle of prostitutes giggled!

Back at the ship again, I slept for an hour and didn't wake up until 6:15. I dined on the naughty table in the corner of the Peninsular restaurant by the linen cupboards. I was sat with a well-travelled couple from Ely and a couple from Maidenhead. We had a lovely view of the Iberostar river cruiser going out. I had the roast lamb for dinner. At 7:30 I went to the double bill in the Pacific Lounge: the Liverpudlian singer and the Northern comic/pianist. I had to slip out before the end in order to get to the Theatre Royal at 8:30 for the amazing Argentinian flamenco dancers. Their boot stomping, palm drumming and ball swinging was tremendous. No wonder they had been on America's Got Talent! After their show I took the shuttle bus back into the cruise terminal for another free wi-fi session. Dance Afloat had confirmed my September cruise around Britain on the Braemar. I didn't venture out on to the streets, where one of the ship's photographers was mugged! I went to bed at 10:15, when my first lecture on Brazil was playing for a second time on the TV.

Manaus, Brazil
Tuesday the 7th of February 2017

I awoke with the dawn at 5:45, and caught the shuttle bus back into the cruise terminal for a third and final time. At 7 a.m. I had the full English breakfast and fruit smoothie in the Conservatory as usual. I then updated this blog. I led my first choice Amazon Experience tour down from the Pacific Lounge to the green river boat on the other side of the quay. We headed upstream to see the site of the original fort on the Black River (Rio Negro) and the brewery. We turned downstream and headed for the Meeting of the Waters. I saw one pink river dolphin (Boto) and a few smaller, grey ones (Tucuxi pronounced Too-KOO-she).

We went through an interesting floating village, before stopping at a floating restaurant. We then walked along a boardwalk to get to a large kapok tree and a pond full of giant Victoria water lilies. We saw several tiny squirrel monkeys. We then lunched on a buffet of chicken, beef and fish (the largest freshwater fish in the world)! The fresh fruit: pineapples, water melons, bananas etc. were ripe and sweet. I had a can of Coca-Cola zero to drink. After lunch, we had an hour and a quarter's cruise through the tropical rain forest in ten seater motor boats. I saw one caiman, one sloth, three snakes and various kingfishers, egrets, terns & vultures! Back at the floating restaurant we re-boarded our river cruiser just as a huge thunderstorm broke. The wind whipped up large waves and there was thunder & lightning!

Back at the ship I slept for over an hour, interrupted by the noise of the sailaway party on the top deck above me and the captain's annoucements. I dined at 6 p.m. on sirloin steak and chips with the couple from Cobham, the quiet single gent from Flamborough in the East Riding, three youngish women and Debbie the Canadian art instructress. At 7:30 I sat with Gladys for CJ's excellent female singing icons of the sixties show in the Pacific Lounge. At 8:30 I went to my first production show: "Stop! in the name of love" a MoTown tribute in the Theatre Royal. This cleverly told the story of three young couples: meeting, dating, proposing, marrying, working, falling out and making up again! At 9:15 I went to the dance session, including a jive, cha cha and several sequence dances with the lovely Roanna. I also did one waltz with a new, single lady who appeared. All the regulars had gone to bed, with Olive amongst others having a cold. At 10 p.m. I too went to bed and watched my Boi Bumbá lecture on the television.

Parintins, Brazil
Wednesday the 8th of February 2017

I awoke at 6:40 and had the full English breakfast with fruit smoothie. I sat watching Fred. Olsen's Braemar which was anchored half a mile from us, opposite Parintins. It was exactly five years ago to the day that I was last here on the lovely Braemar! I then backupped my 99 Manaus pictures and updated this blog, waiting for the tender service to begin. I caught the first pax tender ashore at 8:45. I visited the market, the cathedral, the public library (to use their free internet terminals), the Boi Bumba stadium and the river frontage. One of the Braemar pax shouted out "Hello Martin!", as they went past in a convoy of pedal carts.

Back at the pier, I said hello to the lovely Sandra Harvey, Braemar's tours manager. I asked her to give my regards to Elliot Taylor, the cruise director from Bournemouth. As a local tender arrived from the Braemar, I was able to speak to Trevor & Linda Lewis from Karl's Wednesday night line dance class in Poole! I then caught the 11:15 tender back to our ship. As we were leaving, a pink dolphin surfaced only 10 yards from the tender. At 11:45 I had an early lunch of soup, pizza and cheese tart in the Al Fresco cafeteria.

Unfortunately one of the tenders crashed and lost a window, soaking some pax after getting some debris tied up in its propeller and another had electrical problems. So we had to wait an hour in the Peninsular restaurant. I was on the first, newly launched tender, away and once ashore, helped guide the pax into the Convention Centre for the famous Boi Bumbá show. We all had a strong local drink, whilst waiting another hour for the rest of the pax to arrive. The show was just as exciting as the last time I had seen it, five years ago to the day on the Braemar! The best bits were the four huge floats that each opened to reveal a character in the story. I joined in the communal dancing at the end. This was followed by a photographic session with the principal members of the cast. I then walked east along the front to photograph the other main church, which I had missed in the morning.

Back at the ship I slept fitfully for one hour, before dining at 6 o'clock as usual. I had the excellent sirloin steak again with a couple from Oxsted near Reigate, a gay couple from Antwerp (who spoke French not Flemish) and a single lady from Guildford. At 7:45 I went to the first dance set which was as thin as ever, but I did get to dance a quickstep with Christine, who said it was the first she had ever done with someone other than her husband! At 8:30 I attended Dain's piano show, followed by dancing with Marcia, but none of the regulars, back in Harlequins Lounge. Doing the quickstep Marcia, who is taller than me, fell over, only the second time that has happened to one of my partners! I went to bed at 10:30.

Santarém, Brazil
Thursday the 9th of February 2017

I awoke at 6:15, but it was now 7:15 local time. I breakfasted on the full English with fruit smoothie, before backing up my photographs and updating this blog. At 8:30 I escorted my first choice Scenes of Santarém tour. We began at the cathedral, then moved to the old city hall, which is now the municipal museum. They had free wi-fi, which I discovered, but which quickly led to a crowd around me, slowing the whole system down. At the Wedding of the Waters viewpoint, there was much better outdoor wi-fi, so I was able to upload a couple of selfies to FaceBook! We then headed out of town to the manioc farm. We saw the locals peel, grate, squeeze, sieve and toast the manioc.

Back at the ship, I had salad for lunch with Helen, Pauline, Olive, Angela and, for the first time, Lesley. I then walked about one mile into town taking photographs. At the fish market, I watched the locals tempting the huge pink river dolphins (Boto in Portuguese) to come to the surface for the tourists to watch. On an earlier trip, a guide had said that they are actually white skinned albinos, but their generous blood supply makes them look pink. He compared them to white people, who also appear pink! It was awfully hot and humid, so I didn't progress into the city centre, but returned to ship, where I slept for an hour and three quarters. I then swam and jacuzzied whilst the entertainment team, led by an enthusiastic Chris, performed the sailaway on the stage next to the Riviera pool.

At 6 p.m. I dined on the scampi with Gladys from Goole, Sue from Salisbury, Sarah from Aberdeen and Cindy and her husband from Ely. I sat with Gladys again for the International piano duo in the Pacific Lounge at 7:30, but had my first bout of heartburn of the cruise. At 8.30 I enjoyed the musical theatre songs of Gerard Bentall, without heartburn. At 9:15 I danced with Marcia, Marianne, Christine & the lovely Roanna. I was able to do the jive, cha cha and several sequence dances with the latter. Towards the end of the evening my heartburn returned, so I went to my cabin at 10:30 for a tablet. I then back-upped the day's pictures and updated this blog, before going to bed at 11 o'clock.

Fifth Sea Day
Friday the 10th of February 2017

I awoke at 7:45 and just had a fruit smoothie for breakfast, in case my heartburn returned. At 10 a.m. I went to the line dance class where they recapped Country Walkin' & 5,6,7,8. They then taught two new dances, the second of which they had choreographed themselves. At 11:15 I went to Bernard's interesting talk billed as the Amazon delta, but actually mainly on the river itself. I don't understand why P&O didn't fly him out a week earlier instead of me! At noon, I gave the first outdoor BBQ a miss, instead I had the lentil and garlic soup with Pauline, Olive, Helen, Gladys and Angela. When Carole arrived I gave up my seat and came back to my cabin to finish off my next lecture.

At 2 p.m. I gave my 45 minute talk entitled The Story of the North Atlantic. Numbers were reduced as it coincided with the Crossing the Equator ceremony by the Riviera pool! One gent came up to me at the end and said that, on the basis of his fishing off Cornwall, the decline in North Atlantic fish stocks was not happening! I then slept for an hour and half, before swimming and jacuzzi-ing in our first cool, wet afternoon as we went back into the Atlantic Ocean. At 6 p.m. I dined on sirloin steak yet again with the couple from Maidenhead, another new couple and the single chap from Bristol. At 7:30 I went to the super ABBA tribute production show in the Pacific Lounge. At 8:30 I heard the excellent Jamie Michael Stewart singing in the styles of Frank Sinatra, Matt Monroe, Barry Manilow & Michael Bublé in the Theatre Royal. At 9:15 I danced with Marcia, Marianne, Christine, the lovely Roanna and two new ladies. At 10:30 I went to the Conservatory for my second hot chocolate of the cruise, before going to bed.

Sixth Sea Day
Saturday the 11th of February 2017

I awoke at 6:45 and breakfasted on a cheese, ham and marmite croissant. Out on the rear deck, I exchanged business cards with Maggie from Trowbridge, as we turned back into the Para River near Belém for fuel. At 10 a.m. two of the professionl dancers re-capped Tush Push, Blackpool Belle, Lemon Tree & Cut a Rug. They also taught one new dance and re-capped one circle dance. At 11:15 I went to Bernard's second lecture on the Amazon. At noon I dined with the usual ladies on roast ham, but when Angela arrived I moved to the adjoining table with a Midlands couple who now live in Abergele on the North Wales coast. They were full of praise for the Indian Village tour from Manaus.

At 2 p.m. I gave my 40 minute Christopher Columbus lecture. I then slept for one and a half hours, before swimming and jacuzzi-ing. At 6 p.m. I dined on the lamb chop with Gladys, Sue, Sarah, another lady and the single gent from Flamborough in the East Riding of Yorkshire. At 7:30 I went to the funny comedienne/magician in the Pacific Lounge, but didn't enjoy her silly magic. At 8:30 I went to hear the excellent Spanish flautist in the Theatre Royal. She played many favourite tunes including excerpts from Bolero, Carmen, Granada and the inevitable Viva Espana. She made good use of the two video screens on either side of the stage, which hadn't worked for Jamie the night before. Half way through her performance she changed into a stunning Flamenco outfit! I then escorted Pauline to and from Harlequins ballroom. I also danced with Marianne and the two new ladies, but not Christine nor Roanna, who was on her night off. When Angela popped by in between the two late shows, I danced the Saunter Together with her and then the Party Samba with her and Pauline. At 11 p.m. I had a hot chocolate, burger and chips at the midnight buffet.

Seventh Sea Day
Sunday the 12th of February 2017

I awoke at 6:30 and had a cheese, ham and marmite croissant with a fruit smoothie. I then updated this blog. At 10 a.m. two of the professional dancers taught California Frieze, Stroll Along Cha Cha and their own dance done first in lines and then in circles! At 11:10 I spoke to Alex the tours manager ready for my afternoon talk, followed by Bernard's talk on Devil's Island. At noon I had a quick bowl of chickpea soup as the clocks were advanced to 1 o'clock. At 2 p.m. I gave my 45 minute talk entitled Welcome to the Cape Verde Islands! to an audience diminished by the shortened lunch hour. I then slept for 45 minutes, before jacuzzi-ing in the drizzle, but not swimming, as the pool was now cold. I worked on my presentations and this blog before slipping into my formal outfit for the third and penultimate time this cruise. I dined on beef AND pork medallions with a couple from Worthing, a dancing couple from Bridlington and the single chap from Flamborough in the East Riding of Yorkshire. At 7:30 I went to the International piano duo, who began with Schubert's March Militaire and finished with Saint-Saens' excellent Danse Macabre. The Debussy and Fauré in the middle were less enjoyable! At 8:30 I went to Gerard Bentall's second show which I felt was less good than his first show with too much screeching. At 9:15 I went to the second Ball in Harlequins and danced with Pauline, Marcia, Marianne, two other ladies and the lovely Roanna. At 11 p.m. Pauline and I had a hot chocolate and I had a few chips in the Midnight Buffet. I went to bed at 11:30, my latest time this cruise!

Eighth Sea Day
Monday the 13th of February 2017

I awoke at 8:10 and had the full English breakfast. I watched my Story of the Atlantic lecture on the TV. After ironing a couple of shirts, I attended the line dance class at 10 o'clock. The girls recapped Stroll Along, Blackpool Belle, Little Red Book, Lemon Tree & One Step Forward. The also taught their own dance, but it was now just two walls instead of four! At 11:15 I went to Bernard's talk on cetaceans. At noon I lunched on Southern fried chicken with the usual ladies. Richard Read from the Isle of Man wrote: "We are still doing 22.8 knots (about 27mph) which is pretty amazing for a conventional vessel." At 2 p.m. I gave my 30 minute talk on La Laguna: Old Capital of Tenerife. I then slept for an hour, before updating this blog. I jacuzzied for half an hour, before getting ready for dinner. I dined on the gammon and chips with a couple from the Isle of White, a couple from the Isle of Man and a couple from Bedfordshire. I didn't bother going to the comedienne/magician's second show, but waited until 8:30 for the Spanish Flautist's excellent second show. At 9:15 I danced with Pauline, Marcia, Marianne, the two single ladies, the lovely Roanna and Christine the married lady. The latter had been absent the previous evening suffering from the side effects of her Malarone anti-malarial tablets. I had a hot chocolate at 11 p.m. before going to bed at 11:15.

Ninth Sea Day, St. Valentine's Day
Tuesday the 14th of February 2017

I awoke at 7:15 and breakfasted on a croissant with ham, cheese and marmite accompanied by a fruit smoothie. I then invested £12.50 in my one and only 24 hour internet pass, in case they had emailed by flight borading card(s). At 10 a.m. I went to the line dance class, where the girls taught Rio and recapped some other dances. At 11:15 I attended Bernard's lecture on the CVI marine life. I grabbed some chicken a la king as noon was advanced to one o'clock again. At 2 p.m. I gave my final 45 minute talk on Hitler & Putin: A tale of four cities to an audience diminished by the shortened lunch hour and the sunshine. I slept for half an hour, before jacuzzi-ing, but not swimming, in the aft Terrace hot tub for another half an hour. I then packed and updated this blog. I dined at 6 p.m. on tenderloin beef with the Welsh couple, a couple from Lichfield and the single lady from Guildford. At 7:30 I went to the Queen tribute production show, followed by Jamie's Sinatra show at 8:30. This again had technical difficulties with his video accompaniments, and we kept hearing the 'click' backing tracks. I then danced at the formal Valentine's Day ball with Pauline, Gladys, Marcia, Marianne, Christine, the two single ladies and the lovely Roanna! I had a hot chocolate at 11 p.m. and went to bed at 11:15, but couldn't get to sleep until 2 in the morning. I started to cough, which developed into a full-blown cold when I got home.

Mindelo, St. Vincent, Cape Verde Islands
Wednesday the 15th of February 2017

Me on Praia Grande, São Vicente

Me on Praia Grande, São Vicente

I awoke at 7 a.m. and breakfasted on a croissant with ham, cheese & marmite, together with a fruit smoothie. At 9 a.m. I had a conference with John the Production Manager and Chris the Assistant Cruise Director, about my departure. My ship's card and Reception's computer said I was staying on until Southampton! My cabin steward said I would be staying in the same cabin, but sharing with an incoming lecturer! I went back to see John at 10 o'clock to be told I would be flying home that day after all. At 10:30 I had a sausage wrapped in bacon in the Al Fresco cafeteria.

At 11 a.m. all the other entertainers departed, but my visa wasn't ready. At 11:15 I joined my colleagues who had been forced to wait in the minibus on the quayside for me. We stopped in town, when the Port Agent brought a Brazilian Vendor, who now lives in Miami, from the ship to join us in going to the airport. He then sat beside me in row 2 of the Executive Class on the TAP plane going to Lisbon. He had the large codfish to eat and I had a small piece of beef, as our late lunch on board. Both plane trips took off 40 minutes late, but both arrived on time. We had a rush to change planes at Lisbon Airport, but when we got to the gate it still had a long queue. I had a mini tuna baguette for supper en route. Unfortunately it transpired, when we got to LHR, that our baggage, not surprisingly, hadn't made the connection! This was actually a blessing given my onward travels. (My case finally arrived home in one piece at 2:15 p.m. on Friday the 17th!)

I only had to wait 15 minutes for the £25 National Express coach to LGW. At Gatwick the main taxi firm had changed their telephone number, but not updated their placards. When I finally got the right number from a travel leaflet, they came quickly and took me to my B&B for £10. I was in my car by 1:30 a.m. and home at 3:45 in the morning! I only slept until 9 a.m. and only had an hour's siesta in the afternoon. The following day I had two siestas in the afternoon, catching up on the jet-lag!

It had been a really super cruise, my first time on P&O, who looked after me well, overall!

One lady later wrote: "Glad you got your flight. It was a pleasure dancing with you. Hope to meet again on a future cruise."

Another lady wrote: "Enjoyed your cruise diary. Fun that we were mentioned in dispatches. Did not realize it was your first P&O and that you are a twinkle toes :) Reading, brought back happy memories of an amazing adventure."

Richard Read from the Isle of Man wrote: "Listen to Martin P Lee’s talk on the similarities between Hitler and Putin. Scary."

Score card:

14 Dinner tables hosted
14 Evenings of dancing
 9 Lectures given
 6 Ports of Call
 4 Tours escorted
 3 Evening balls attended

Good points were:

  1. Colour photograph in the Horizon daily programme
  2. Open seating freedom dining (6 - 9 p.m.)
  3. Efficient Cabin Steward (Cajetan)
  4. In-cabin Tea, Coffee and Biscuits
  5. Filled a big gap in my programme
  6. Outside Twin Cabin on Deck 11
  7. Speciality buffets every evening
  8. Three outdoor swimming pools
  9. First time on the lovely Oriana
  10. Gave me some winter sun
  11. Tours in all ports bar one
  12. Plenty of dancing ladies
  13. Choice of restaurants
  14. Full promenade deck
  15. Full top deck circuit
  16. First time with P&O
  17. Giving ten lectures
  18. Four storey atrium
  19. Three jacuzzis
  20. Full sized bath
  21. Getting paid!

For the record ...

Good free wi-fi:

  1. Bridgetown, Barbados Cruise Terminal
  2. Scarborough, Tobago public library
  3. Manaus port terminal
  4. Parintins public library (internet terminals only)
  5. Santarem museum
  6. Santarem viewpoint