I can still remember my first cruise like it was yesterday: a 12-night voyage to the Canary Islands aboard P&O Cruises Oriana. I really didn’t want to do a cruise, but I went with it and it was probably one of the best decisions of my life. Without that voyage I wouldn’t be writing this today.
As soon as I got onboard I knew it was going to be a great trip, not all of my fears about what to expect vanished, but I definitely felt better than I had in the weeks leading up to the day. It’s strange how sometimes we worry about silly things and then the moment we are in the situation that we were worrying about everything dissipates.
In the evenings, I would dine with a group of 7 others and what a fantastic table of people it was. Having now done 35+ cruises, I know that God himself was watching over me on that cruise because I have never had as good a group of table mates since. We have all heard horror stories from others about the nightmare dinner guests they had and I have shared my evenings with a few over the years, but every single evening on Oriana we cried with laughter and I do mean that literally. I really was incredibly lucky. I am still in contact with some of the people I met on that cruise and I recently bumped into one of our table waiters from the trip, during a cruise aboard Ventura. He still remembered that I don’t like tomatoes. I’ll never know how they remember what they do, especially as I hadn’t seen or spoken to him for 6 years!
The weather throughout the voyage was perfect, hot and sunny every day, which was good because I needed the day times to relax in the sun and recoup from the wild evenings we had every night. I definitely burned the candle at both ends, we all did, but we got on so well (my table mates and I) that we spent every evening together after dinner, either in one of the bars or the casino. I told you I had a great table!
I couldn’t fault a single thing about the ship either. She was superb and back then she was still family-friendly, so you can imagine what the atmosphere was like. I can honestly say that it was love at first sight, although at the beginning I would not admit that. I spent 13-nights on Oriana last year. That was the first time I had been onboard her since my second cruise in 2008 and it felt a lot like coming home. A few things had changed, but in many ways she was still exactly as I remembered her and it was nice to make new memories in new ports. Standing at the top, looking out across her tiered stern will never get boring for me. It is one of the things that makes her very special indeed.
My first cruise will always remain one of my favourites because without it I would never have realised my passion for ocean travel. I don’t know where I would be or what I would do now without cruising. It really has become a way of life and one that I am grateful for each and every day. I have tried many cruise lines, but I think a big part of my heart will always stay with P&O Cruises – that’s where it all started!
To cruise lovers everywhere…keep on hitting the high seas!
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: azuaje, Giuseppe Milo