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Sailaway from Rotterdam was done in warm, pleasant sunshine, and we had a drink at the Terrace Bar, which is one of my favourite spots. One of the things that I like most about the Terrace Bar is that it gives excellent views over the the stern terraces. I think this is a very strong feature of Oriana (and Aurora, of course) and one that I especially enjoy. Some other ships I’ve been on have had a feature like this, but to a lesser degree – e.g. Braemar has a terrace but it’s just smaller – and I can’t help feel that ships that don’t have this feature, e.g. Arcadia with the stern cabins – are actually losing something quite important. But going back to today, while we were here we noticed that the port-side, rear of the Conservatory was being set up for evening meals, and access to and from the Terrace was restricted. 

 

Dinner was good, better than the day before in fact; we were at our table for about two hours in total (8:40 to 10:40 or so). It was a semi-formal night, and was reasonably well observed; almost all the men had a smart shirt, a jacket and a tie, or at least two of the three!

 

 

Day 3: Zeebrugge / Bruges. We docked in Zeebrugge pretty promptly, and the excursions were away early as usual. We went to Bruges on our own: we used the P&O shuttle bus to Blankenberg, and then got the train to Bruges. P&O say that the shuttle bus takes ‘about 20 minutes’, but I reckon it wasn’t much more than 10 (in light traffic). The shuttle bus was free – definitely a point in P&O’s favour, Celebrity were very keen to charge for shuttle buses, including the 2 kilometers from Tourlas harbour into Mykonos town! The train to & from Bruges cost us €5 each return and the journey is just 11 minutes. However there’s just one train an hour each way, leaving Blankenberg at 10 minutes past the hour, and from Bruges at 38 minutes past. P&O had told everybody that the last shuttle bus would pick up at Blankenberg at 4:45, which was before the 4:38 train got to Blankenberg station, so the 3:38 train was pretty full with go-it-alone passengers; this lead to some queuing for buses in Blankenberg, and at the gangplank on the quayside. One thing that was unexpected was that the 3:38 train from Bruges, although indicated as an ‘IC’ train (Inter city?) from another starting point in eastern Belgium, was actually provided by local rolling stock and was already in Bruges station at 3:25. So I don’t know if they knew there were a lot of passengers and ran a ‘special’. We had brought back some packages from Bruges – chocalates & beer – but there was no problem at the gang plank. (They had to go through the scanner, of course.) One last thing – Bruges station is a good 15 to 20 minutes walk from the Markt area, although we think that the pick-up for the ‘on your own’ excursions was by the station anyway.

 

So now we’re back on board waiting for our 5:30 sailaway. Tonight is the formal night, preceded by the Gala Reception at 8:15. Before we depart Zeebrugge we want to examine the menu and perhaps order a bottle of wine to be ready for us at our table. Just one full day left, and we are already beginning to think about the end of the cruise. Not having to worry about getting to airports or about flights is actually quite welcome; although we will have to be awake enough to do a 200 mile drive home! But before that we have the formal dinner, and then a final day, hopefully at St Peter Port, as long as there are no problems tendering.

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