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Heading back to Southampton – At sea
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Wed 15 Jan ’14 – day 32    I was late to bed having listened to the band in The Crow’s Nest until the early hours, so it was Officer of the Watch’s announcement at 08:55 hours that woke me.  Once I had sorted myself it was up to the Crow’s Nest (again) where I sat for some time putting photos in the album; I have now finished the cruise on Azura and am working my way through 2011.

Down to the Theatre Royal for a talk by Tony Yule on supersonic flight after Concorde; there was nothing new for me as what he spoke about had already been well discussed in the various aviation journals, but must have been of interest to ‘Joe Public’ as the talk was well attended.

Then it was straight back to the Crow’s Nest to hear the Oriana Orchestra perform their ‘Movie Music’ concert; it was the same show as the last cruise, but was great listening to again.  The bar was packed and generous applause was given at the end of each piece.

The sea state had increased and the ship was rolling and pitching during the show and the waves were breaking, so white water was visible through the bar windows.  The noon broadcast had placed the ship near Cabo Finisterre and so we would spend the rest of the day on a north, north-easterly course crossing the Bay of Biscay.

A late lunch preceded putting more photos in the album, so with a bit of luck I would have completed 2011 before the end of this cruise.  This was a never ending task as it seems that the more that I travel, the more pictures I take.  I haven’t even started cataloguing the 3500+ snaps from my 100 day trip by surface transport to Japan last summer and that will be a huge task.

The on-board photo shop had managed to transfer my head from the picture taken at the Baltic lunch on the last cruise on to my head in the picture taken at the lunch on Monday as I had my eyes closed, so it didn’t look good.

It was the final black tie night of the cruise and the Peninsular Party, so off to drink some of P&O’s G&T’s; I had my photo taken with the Captain, Deputy Captain, Andrew, Gemma, the F&B Manager and Front of House Manager.  Angus along with the rest of the Engineering department went straight into the Pacific Lounge to chat with passengers.  I had a chance to speak with Andrew and suggest an amendment to the letter sent to all back-to-back passengers which he said he would implement without delay.  Continuous improvement in action.

It was the Parade of the Chefs which always takes place at the final black tie dinner and as always they got a tremendous round of applause.  However this was no longer a Gala Dinner and so this is just another element that has been pared away to save costs – shame really.  The posh card menus with the P&O pictures you used to be offered every night went many years ago.

This was the first black tie dinner for many years when I declined the stilton and a glass of port as a little bit of over-indulgence had caught up with me.

And so to bed.

Thu 16 Jan ’14 – day 33  Up early and I was stood outside the laundry waiting for it to open so that I could do the last washing for the cruise, but will only iron what I need for today and tomorrow as the rest will be rolled up to put in the suitcase and ironed once I get home.

 First stop today was the Future Cruises desk where I put do a £50 deposit against booking another cruise within a year on any P&O ship; this on-board deal gives me an increased amount of on-board credit on whatever cruise I go on.

To the Theatre Royal to listen to the last of Tony Yule’s talks about a successor to Concorde; it was interesting to find out that the firm ‘Reaction Engines’ is based at Culham.  I just wonder whether this will be yet another great British invention that will fail due to lack of political will or because the Americans kybosh it because it ‘Was not invented here’.

I then spent more time putting photos into the albums and have now reached the two cruises I spent on Adonia over Christmas and New Year 2011 / 12.

After a small lunch, two cheese & onion baguettes followed by a fresh fruit salad, I started to pack ready for disembarkation tomorrow.

Back to the Crow’s Nest and yet more photos in to the album; the waiters and waitresses always want to have a look to see if they recognise any ships or ports and if they do then comment on whether they like it or not.

Lots of people in the final individual quiz, but still didn’t win – so no Golden Sticker.

More packing so that I can move around the cabin and I put some of the suitcases out so that they can be move down to deck 4 ready for unloading.  It will be interesting to see whether the yellow ‘Priority’ labels had any effect, or whether the cases were just put in deck order just like all the others.

The ship had switched to the more easterly course so that we can now see lights from the shore, probably somewhere in South Devon.

The final dinner of the cruise was followed by a non-alcoholic nightcap in the Crow’s Nest Bar as I will be driving in the morning.

Then back to the cabin to complete the packing and put out the last of the suitcases.

Having set the wake-up call it was time for bed.