For me, setting sail aboard P&Os Oriana from Vancouver to San Francisco was like stepping back into the past my past. British accents, full fried breakfasts, gin and tonics before lunch, English candies I havent seen in years, and jam roly poly for dinners desert.
For my fellow cruise travellers, the Canadians boarding in Vancouver, this short hop down the coast was two holidays in one: a break away from it all on a luxury liner for two full days at sea and a taste of the old country.
As one passenger from Vancouver quipped, Who needs to fly all the way to Britain when Britain picks you up at your own doorstep!
For this is exactly what a trip aboard the Oriana is all about. A slice of Britain away from home and you know it from the minute you step aboard.
Steering a course away from the ever popular neon and glitter of many of the new cruise ships afloat today, the sumptuous interior of the Oriana concentrates on rich wood (let your fingers slide along the shine of the balustrades and youll know what I mean!), pastel fabrics and deep carpets a subtle taste of understated good taste.
Andersons, for example, one of the several lounge bars, is as richly decorated and detailed as one of Londons finest gentleman's clubs. Decorum is everything. The Curzon Room is similarly elegant, as is the Thakeray Room beside the hushed, wood panelled library, appropriately named and perfect for browsing the Trollope I found on the library shelves.
Even the magnificent atrium with the tumbling waterfall that descends the full height of the four-decks (the tallest waterfall of its kind) is designed to impress, rather than overwhelm. A great spot for afternoon tea and people watching.
For those in search of a livelier atmosphere, and my favourite hang-out for the three day voyage, the Lords Tavern, with its stunning, larger than life mural of the famous cricket ground and what can be more British than cricket is filled with cricket memorabilia in a pub-like atmosphere. This is where you have to relearn that old British custom of buying a round and chatting with people from all walks of life sporting accents from the Yorkshire Dales to the East End of London.
Outside, the Oriana offers incredible amounts of deck space including a broad promenade that encircles the whole ship ideal for that favourite British pastime of a stroll before tea and the three pools, one of which is the largest swimming pool of any ship afloat, and open sports deck are more expansive than on many other ships.
This very same deck hosts The Conservatory, the buffet restaurant with floor to ceiling windows that was the scene of the English pub lunch, my personal favourite, and a break from the seven course dinner menus in the Peninsular and Oriental restaurants. Theres nothing better than Bangers & Mash or Fish & Chips and a pint of beer on a lazy day sailing though the middle of nowhere!
Despite the fact that the Oriana was designed and is equipped specifically for the British market, there is plenty to amuse, satisfy and entertain people from all over the world. You don't have to like bangers and mash, or a sing-a-long to old favourites. This is an international ship with amenities and style that everyone can appreciate.
Entertainment aboard has a distinctly British flavour too.
One of the gala shows on the Southbound leg of this world cruise, billed as The Best of British had everyone, young and old, tapping their feet to old favourites like Its a long Way to Tipperary and singing along to Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory.
I just happened to like the British flavour and I revelled in it for a few days. The three nights from Vancouver to San Francisco were the perfect getaway. I'm sold on the idea of short hop trips like this as being the perfect short break from the worries back home.
And if thats not a reason to travel aboard the Oriana the next time she passes your way - I dont know what is!
Photos: P& O Cruises
For more information visit the web site at www.pocruises.com