Forum

The Cruise

Hey there Sue. Please can you share the adventures you had on the high seas? It seems like forever and a day since Mr Poppy and I were drinking sangria under the bougainvillea. ImI already planning/plotting another week there in June!

However, today there’s a yellow wind alert here on the edge of the Atlantic and it’s all very grey and dismissal looking outside so I’m hoping you will tell me what you got up to…? X

Well Poppy, it was a mixed bag, but mostly nice.

We went to northern Spain and Portugal fora week long cruise. The day on the ocean en route to Spain was fine. The ocean was pretty kind to us. It was flipping cold in Riga though. And I don’t care what AD says, Spain can be cold (snowmen wearing sombreros or not). We didn’t do much in Riga, too damn cold to do much other than have a quick look at the town. Plus it was Sunday, so the town was virtually shut. We (OH and me that is) aren’t much for organised ‘excursions’ plus they cost a bomb for the disabled. We did have coffee in a nice little cafe that was of a proper strength, unlike anything on the boat.

The cruise ship was pretty nice. We went with P&O on Ventura, a fairly large ship, it holds about 3200 passengers but you don’t tend to notice the number of people most of the time. It being Easter school holidays, there were quite a lot of children but they were no trouble at all, even for those of us who are not very keen on most kids. (I did have quite an interesting conversation with a couple about being in Charlies Great Glass Elevator though while in the Perspex lift in the middle of the ship!)

The next stop was Lisbon. A much warmer day. We left the ship and found ourselves a nice taxi driver who took us for a longish drive about the city. He was a well informed chap, talked a lot about the history, showed us the April 25th bridge, the monument to Vasco de Gama, the royal palace, the Basilica, and his favourite coffee shop, where he bought us a super strength espresso. (Unheard of, a taxi driver paying for the coffee!)

He talked about his family and his life generally. A really nice man. He kept apologising for his English, which was excellent.

We should have gone to Porto the next day, but there was a high swell of 4.5 metres which meant we couldn’t land there, so stayed in Lisbon overnight. A fact that probably pleased both the stag party and the bar staff of the ship. (There was a wedding on board two days later, so there was a hen night and a stag do. Neither of which we saw anything of.)

So we left Lisbon the following day at lunchtime and went straight to Guernsey. This is a port that is only reachable by tender, so we always knew I couldn’t actually leave the ship here. Mr Sssue did for a while, but I think was bored without me so didn’t stay ashore long.

The sea on route to Guernsey had been pretty wild. To start with it was fine, just a bit rough, but more interesting than nauseating. Later that changed to more nauseating than anything. The Bay of Biscay did what it’s rumoured to be famous for.

The ship arrived back in Southampton the next day. En route we saw a few dolphins, but they didn’t put on too much of a show sadly.

The food on board the ship was mostly excellent. Mr Sssue and I aren’t really keen on formal dressing, so avoided the ‘formal’ nights. In fact, we only ate one lunch and one dinner in the main dining room. We tended to eat dinners in the speciality restaurants for which you pay a bit extra, but the food (and wine) is fabulous. Our room/cabin was great. We had a suite, it gives more room, a larger balcony, services of a butler (who brought us ice and limes every night for gin & tonic), and also means we could eat breakfast in a smaller, posher restaurant.

It was our second cruise, the first was last June to the Fjords of Norway and we are going back there again in June. The Fjords are so beautiful, you could never get bored of the scenery. It’s a brilliant way of seeing different different places without flying. The staff on board ship are excellent. The service is superb and as a wheelchair user, it provides all the necessary essentials for comfort and safety.

The thought of a cruise scared us silly before we did it, partly on account of formality and partly because of the sheer numbers of people on board. But honestly, neither were a problem. In general, the fellow passengers are pleasant enough, friendly without being annoying. Usually ready to shuffle up in a lift to fit us in (you do end up spending quite a lot of time in lifts) and friendly enough.

I recommend it as a means of travel. It is particularly handy for us as we live only about an hour from Southampton so it seems like we’ve hardly left home before being settled on board with a glass of wine and some lunch.

A nice trip, and we’re looking forward to the next one.

Sue

I’m delighted to see you had a great time. I could never see us going on a cruise, mainly for the reasons you mentioned. Posh frocks and formality, plus the thought of encountering people who would insist on being “friends” and spend time avoiding them. All the time we can manage the four hour flight to gran canaria we’ll keep doing it. To alleviate the boredom today, I got a ride to A&E in an ambulance. I might start a new thread actually.

Sue

Really pleased you enjoyed your cruise holiday on Ventura.

May I ask a couple of questions.

I struggle walking unaided and have to book a disabled cabin so I can take on my little scooter.

There are only a limited number of these cabins , so we have to book a couple of years in advance.

You can book an en-suite and take on the scooter but I am unsure about the shower and toilet.

My right leg is ok and I lead with it but I can only lift my left leg about 4 inches off the floor.

Was there a step into your bathroom or a grab rail I could get hold of.

We have been on Ventura a few times and did not know about the smaller posher restaurant for breakfast where is it and is it only for the en-suiters ?

We love cruising with P and O enjoy the formal nights and just bought a new pair of formal pants with a bigger waist because they would not fasten at the end of the last cruise.in January, cannot wait for June and the Med.

David

Hi David

The Ventura (and Azura - it’s sister ship), have lots of grab bars in the bathrooms of the disabled cabins, and no steps anywhere. Sadly, the posh breakfast is only for those in a suite. And there is only one adapted suite on each of those ships. There are two on Britannia but only one on the newest ship, Iona. So just as you’ve had to book way in advance, it’s even worse if you only want an adapted suite. It’s a case of wait until the next set of dates are announced, register interest, then find out if you managed to book the cabin a week later.

We booked the suite last year on Azura and it was perfect for us. Being a full time wheelchair user, extra space is always good. Plus the suites have a curtain separating the bed area from the ‘living’ area, which meant my husband could get up as early as he liked and not wake me up as he made tea and went out onto the balcony to drink it. Also, I could sleep in the afternoons without light or disturbance.

So we’ve pretty much decided that it has to be a suite.

You can book equipment from Mobility at Sea if you are sailing in and out of the same U.K. port. I’m not sure it works so well if you are on a fly-cruise. There is always a drop down bar at the loo and a shower ‘bench’ type seat, so that would work for many people without having to get extra equipment.

Our issue is always going to be that we don’t do ‘formal’. At all. Mr Sssue threw away all his ties when he retired from work and won’t wear another one. So while we don’t do buffets either (people barge in front, and trying to get buffet food when you’re a wheelie is impossible), we do like nice food. So only want to go on ships where there’s a good alternative - and the Azura, Ventura, Britannia and Iona have a ‘Glass House’ wine bar / restaurant. The food and wine is great, and the dress code is always casual.

Sue

Hi Sue. Glad you had a great time. I cruised with P & O two years ago on Arcadia to the fjords and loved it. I also don’t do formal and there was no expectation to do so. But we did see some ball gowns on the night of the Captain’s cocktail party that made me wonder how on earth they got them in a suitcase!!

Once we found the buffet restaurant though, that was were we mostly ate. There was no barging, it was all very relaxed, not formal at all, loads of room and plenty of tables and the crew couldn’t do enough for you. As soon as I walked in with my stick, there was a crew member at my side straight away, to carry my tray or get anything I wanted and because it was open more or less all day, the food kept coming so there was no time pressure. As well as traditional meals they also had theme nights such as Mediterranean or Chinese etc, all delicious. Wheelchair users that I spoke to also had the same good experience in there so don’t despair, it’s might be alright!

Val

Good information Sue, thank you.

Disappointed we cannot go into the posh breakfast.

Did not know about Mobility at Sea, thanks.

Do not do buffets on my scooter either as it is a free for all, people are **starving** and will not queue in a civil manner.

We live up north and share driving down in my car, it is an automatic, so I do not need my left leg.

Do not like long coach travel as I feel trapped.

This time, not done it before, we are sending our cases down a few days before, so we do have have the hassle of putting them in the boot and we can easily get my scooter out of the boot, we both lift one side together.

We stop over in Oxford to break the journey with an overnight bag.

We have already booked the Iona in a couple of years time in an adapted cabin, taking daughter, husband and 2 grand daughters.

Will tell my wife to look for adapted suites, sounds fantastic.

I have joined the MS Preston group and I go to the sit down Pilates class and there is a guy called Keith who is a big cruise fan, so I will tell him about your suite experience and the posh breakfast, he will be impressed.

David