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Sail Date: November 2004
We arrived in Barbados to a quick and speedy departure from the airport and straight to the ship. Didn't have to go through customs or anything, straight onto the bus and straight to the ship, this was a bonus and not what we had been ... Read More
We arrived in Barbados to a quick and speedy departure from the airport and straight to the ship. Didn't have to go through customs or anything, straight onto the bus and straight to the ship, this was a bonus and not what we had been used to. Quite a queue when we got to the ship but to be expected as we had all just got off the plane. For first time cruisers it was spectacular going through the atrium to get to their cabins. Unfortunately on arrival at our cabin we were terribly disappointed, the bathroom and the cabin were dirty and also the fridge. We had to ring housekeeping for our cabin steward to come and clean our cabin - we could not have stayed in this cabin if it had not been thoroughly cleaned. Even when it had been re-cleaned we cleaned door handles etc., ourselves as we couldn't be sure. Our first experience of the Plaza buffet was also disappointing as there were only minimal dishes and food available and thought if this was the state of things to come it was going to be very disappointing after our last 4 cruises (all on Princess) and not what we were used to. We went along to our safety drill and then retired to bed as the whole family were really tired (2 children also). The next day things looked rather better apart from the weather (raining) in Mayreau. We went to the restaurant for the first time and had a wonderful first class meal. We had actually been on this ship before when it was Ocean Princess a couple of years ago, so knew our way fairly well around the ship. The children joined the Children's Centre which was excellent and all the staff. This year they were in two separate groups (aged 11 and 8) so their clubs finished at different times. Our whole experience of the children's centre was fantastic. They were entertained, dined, taken to the theatre etc,. etc., all in all they had a magnificent time on the ship the whole 2 weeks. Our restaurant was the Adriatic dining room and every meal we took there was fantastic as well as our two waiters Joe and Chan - they could not have made our experience any better than they did. The Plaza did improve after the first nights experience and we put that down to the fact that it was the first night. The themed buffets that we attended (ie. seafood, chocolate and Mexican and Indian) were all magnificent and we truly enjoyed them. All in all we had a fantastic holiday. We have been used to cruising with Princess and this was the first time with P&O. The themed buffets were excellent, meals excellent, children's facilities excellent. The poolside and ship hygiene was not in the same league as the Princess ships and this was very noticeable to us. It was wonderful not having to pay 15% tax on all drinks etc. but we did miss the children's drink voucher enabling children to unlimited soft drinks - perhaps this is something P&O should think about. Might I just mention that Thomas Cook airlines who transported us on our flights were excellent. There were a few experiences with illness on our flight home and they looked after passengers in a fantastic and professional way. Cafe Jardin (snack bar) we used a lot especially with the children and found it a great experience. If anyone has any questions please feel free to email me about the ship. All in all a wonderful holiday. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
OCEANA - (23 December 2005  6 January 2006). Not having sailed with P & O Cruises over the Christmas and New Year Period before, I chose P&O`s ship the `Oceana`, for my `holiday` cruise in 2005. Oceana was built in 2000, of ... Read More
OCEANA - (23 December 2005  6 January 2006). Not having sailed with P & O Cruises over the Christmas and New Year Period before, I chose P&O`s ship the `Oceana`, for my `holiday` cruise in 2005. Oceana was built in 2000, of 77,000 tons; she has a maximum operating capacity of 2272 passengers and 870 crew. The ship has 12 passenger decks, 2 swimming pools (fresh water) a couple of splash pools and 5 Jacuzzis. There are 2 main restaurants; currently offering two sittings for dinner, but this, I understand is due to change in April, when one of the restaurants will become `open seating`. There is also the Plaza restaurant for casual dining, and in the evening, this restaurant transforms, together with the Horizon Grill, into alternative dining venues, with reservations required and at a supplement (currently £6.75 or USD$11.00) per person. The Cafe Jardin on deck 8 provides food 24 hours a day. There are two primary show lounges, no fewer than 10 bars/lounges serving alcohol and coffees, a casino, a well-stocked library, a cyber study facility, an avenue of shops, a photo gallery, an art gallery and a number of launderettes for use by passengers (washers and driers are free, but guests must supply their own soap, available for purchase from the shop onboard). There is also a very active club with a highly energetic and enthusiastic staff, catering for the needs of children and teenagers. P & O, now part of the Carnival Corporation, operates a fleet of 5 ships. The homeport for their ships is Southampton, England and P & O have a sea-going tradition since 1837, -some 169 years experience. Each year, during the winter months, three of its ships depart on World Cruises, whilst the remaining two ships are based in the Caribbean. During the other seasons, the fleet operates to and from Southampton on cruises of varying durations, offering a wide choice of itineraries. The company claim that they operate a service of `Traditional British Cruising`. The currency on board is the pound sterling (£). Documentation for this cruise was factual, informative and correct and arrived in good time prior to sailing. The full programme of shore excursions was also provided and these could be booked in advance. On this particular cruise, there was a wide range in the ages of passengers, from children in `buggies` to elderly grand parents. All seemed to mix well and there was a relaxed holiday mood on board. The ship had been skillfully and beautifully decorated and it was evident that Christmas was just around the corner. The cruise had been named the `Calypso Island Christmas Cruise`. It was of 14 days duration, sailing to and from Barbados. There were 10 ports of call and 3 days at sea, Christmas Day and Boxing Day being two of the days spent `at sea`. It was a `port intensive` cruise, especially in the latter stages and most passengers, would have liked a `sea day` at some stage in between these ports of call. Consideration should be given to perhaps re-thinking future itineraries, after a long flight from the UK, most passengers would appreciate the first day, being a sea day, to get over the four hour time difference and to take time to relax and get into the `cruise mode`, or perhaps have the overnight stay in Barbados at the beginning of the cruise, rather than at the end. Additionally, a further suggestion being - New Years Day  after the activities of New Years Eve  a day at sea, rather than St Kitts, especially on a Sunday (and a public holiday at that) would have been welcomed. In order to transport passengers to and from the embarkation port, P&O charters a number of aircrafts which depart from various UK airports. Unfortunately all best plans can encounter difficulties and a number of the flights were late in arriving in Barbados, thus delaying our ships departure time by 2 hours. As with all charter airlines, there is very limited seat space and legroom on such flights, in-flight catering was basic to say the least, but the airline did offer a free bar service. One of the convenient things in regard to these flights, is that when you check-in your luggage in the UK, it is transported in sealed units directly to the ship and is delivered directly to your cabin. This saves the hassle of having to claim your baggage at the arrival airport and transfer it to a coach to take you to the ship. Additionally, coaches meet the flight at the airport steps, and passengers are transferred directly to the ship, thus avoiding long lines for Immigration Procedures to take place. P & O Cruises do offer guests, the option of using the service of scheduled flights to and from Barbados at hefty supplements. Similar arrangements are in place for the return flights. Check-in procedures for the cruise, is carried out in a shed adjacent to the ship. These were friendly, quick, and professionally carried out. On boarding the ship, members of the crew were available to escort or direct guests to their cabins. For this cruise, we had chosen an outside cabin with balcony (JD) Grade. . There are 23 grades of cabins on the Oceana, ranging from inside twins to suites. There are no single cabins, but the company do offer solo guests the opportunity of purchasing a twin for sole use at a supplement. These supplements vary, depending of the cruise, the date and duration of the cruise. P & O also offer a `share cabin` programme for solo travellers. On arrival at our cabin, we were disappointed at the size (178 sq feet, including balcony)  the smallest size for this type of cabin throughout P&O`s fleet. However it was well furnished and comfortable. There is also excellent privacy on the balconies. The balconies are best described as another cruise company so describes them as `sheltered balcony cabins` as they are not the traditional balconies, but rather, balconies within the ships hull. Facilities in the cabins include a remote control television, tea and coffee making facilities, a safe, hairdryer, air-conditioning, en-suite shower room and a refrigerator. Storage space was limited. The balcony accommodated two recliner chairs and a small table. The net curtains on the window, which lead to the balcony were stained and contained a number of holes (probably resulting in being caught in the sliding balcony door). The en-suite was tiny (I was able to spread my arms and touch both walls, and there was very little space between my knees, when sitting on the `throne` and the door of the unit). Luxury toiletries available, but no bathrobes or slippers or fresh fruit are provided. Towels were, on occasions hard and thread borne. The shower curtain was also badly stained. The shower worked, although noisy, with varying water pressures but with an abundant supply of piping hot water. The water from the taps in this unit is safe for drinking. The cabin was spotlessly clean and was kept in this condition throughout the cruise. Each cabin is equipped with a standard 13-amp plug (British style socket) and a 110-volt American style socket. In the en-suite, there are 110/230-volt plugs for electric shavers. There is a good room service menu available during the day until late evening and then this becomes very limited. Full breakfast is not available via room service only Continental breakfast. The cabin steward, shortly after arrival, came to the cabin, introduced himself and did show us how the cabin facilities operated. He also showed us where our life jackets were located, where our Muster Station were located, and asked that we spend some time, watching the video presentation currently being shown on the television, in advance of the Muster Drill. I requested additional towels, ice and feather pillows and was advised that he would have to request these, and that they would be delivered the next day, with the exception of the ice which he provided. When we retired to bed that first evening, we were surprised to find that there were two separate single duvets on the double bed, this somehow seemed strange. We asked the cabin steward for a double duvet, who advised us that none were available, but when we spoke with his supervisor, one was supplied within 24 hours (a point worth remembering  double duvets are available). Lots of things on this ship appear to be `on request`. The ship itself is well appointed with soft furnishings, interesting art works, comfortable sofas and sympathetic lighting in public areas. The ship is relatively easy to negotiate and is well signed  one things of note, especially for guests who may have walking difficulties, is that only the elevators at the front of the ship, serve all passengers decks. The elevators to the rear only serve 7 of the decks and the glass elevators in the Atrium only serve 4 passenger decks. The ship was full for this sailing, but didnt feel `crowded`. On sea days the area around the main swimming pools did get packed and sun loungers were at a premium. However space and any number of sun loungers could be found in other deck areas around the ship. The Atrium in mid-ships, spans 4 passenger decks, and is a wonderful place for `people watching`. On the ground floor, are the reception desk (open 24 hours), shore excursions office, future cruise sales desk and The Portunus Club Representative (P&O`s loyalty club). One of the first things that one notices on this ship is the immaculate turnout of the staff in all departments (from the middle ranking officers to the deck stewards, from the waiters to the all too important guys who work on their knees polishing the brasses and keeping the ship clean). All seem to be happy and enjoy their work, and almost all had smiles on their faces and greeted and acknowledged guests presence with a simple Good Morning or Good Evening Sir  a feature unfortunately lacking nowadays on so many ships. On previous cruises with P&O, it was common to see senior officers walk around the ship and converse with passengers, not on this ship  the absence of senior officers seen in public areas was very noticeable, in fact it was a rarity and many of the guests were so disappointed - this topic seemed to come up in most conversations, especially among past passengers and first time cruisers were amazed that there was no opportunity to have their picture taken with either the Captain or Staff Captain. ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMME The Entertainment Programme on this ship can only be described as excellent in all regards. There was something for everyone! West End or Hollywood style shows, specialist entertainers, guest lecturers, music of all kinds  a full and varied programme, details of which were clearly outlined in the ships on-board information bulletin `Oceana Today` which was delivered to cabins daily. The highly talented Cruise Director and staff were always visible throughout the ship and again distinguishable by their smart turnout and coordinated dress. A nice touch on board, is that this line really do want single passengers travelling alone to feel welcome and `inclusive` without `intrusion`. Early on in the cruise there was a meeting for such travellers, and each day, it was advertised that a member of the Cruise Staff would be available to meet solos for coffee and a chat at a given venue and time. On the night of the Captains Formal Reception, the group met some 15 minutes prior to the commencement of this reception. Some of the ladies travelling solo indicated to me that this arrangement was excellent, as many felt embarrassed at attending such events on previous cruise ships by themselves. The only adverse comment that I would make in respect of the entertainment on board is in relation to their scheduling of programmes  on some occasions major events did overlap which caused disappointment. On other occasions, one had to make the difficult choice between a featured production show or celebrity entertainment. Guests on 2nd seating dining lost out in this regard, whereas if one of the shows had have been scheduled as a pre-dinner show, we could have then had the benefit of attending each. With the wealth of entertainment at P&O`s disposal on board, it was disappointing at their programme choices on both Christmas night and New Years Eve. The entertainment offered on Christmas night was exactly the same as on offer on Christmas Eve  the same shows and featured entertainment, whilst on New Years Eve, the choice was a deck party or listening to a pianist or attending a church service. On `holiday cruises`, guests pay `over the odds` for the cruise and on each of these evenings, we expect, not only with P&O but with other cruise companies, to pull out all the stops on these festive nights. The late start of some of the events/shows/lectures was annoying. In cabin television options and programming too was excellent, with a wide range and choice of programmes and films for viewing. I particularly liked the `Christmas Channel` - which showed both old and modern Christmas Films  these brought back many childhood memories. RESTAURANT AND FOOD SERVICE. There are two main restaurants onboard Oceana  the Adriatic and Ligurian, both are similar. We were allocated the Adriatic, where the restaurant manager endeavoured to accommodate all of the guests requirements. Totally professional, it amazed me as to how he remembered most peoples names. He was ably assisted by a number of Headwaiters. Tables are very close together in both of the main restaurants; most seating- 4,6 or 8 guests  there were a few tables for 2. The majority of tables are rectangular in shape and we find that there can be difficulty in communicating with all `tablemates` on tables of this design and find that round or oval shaped tables are more user-friendly in this regard. The ceiling in both restaurants is low, thus the noise levels within the restaurants tends to be high. Food service in the main restaurants was excellent. Our regular waiter and assistant waiter at dinner were particularly proficient in this regard. However presentation was very disappointing, except at the Gala Dinners. Food was wholesome, plentiful, varied and tasty. It was `packing` food  it was good - no pretty pictures on the plate here! Currently the vegetables are served `Silver Service`, but unfortunately from April this practice is going to stop and meals served will be plated  this is unfortunate. Breakfast and lunch are `open seating`, whereby dinner is currently by assigned tables. We found that cooked breakfasts in the restaurant would have tasted better if they had have been served hot, rather than lukewarm. There is a `special` on the breakfast menu each day. The breakfast menus were typically traditional British breakfast fare. The selection and variety of bread served at dinner, as did the choice of Danish Pastries at breakfast left a lot to be desired  very little in the way of choice and mostly the same variety each evening -often they were stale. The choice of juices at breakfast in both the formal and casual restaurants was limited. I requested Cranberry juice and was advised that this would have to come from a bar and would be chargeable. One of the things that I enjoy on cruises, is the array and taste of the fresh fruit usually available, not on this cruise  just the basics, melon, pineapple, apples, pears, oranges, bananas and grapes  nothing exotic at all. I found most of the time that the fruits served were not ripe (although this did improved a little as the cruise progressed) and lacked any sort of taste. I usually enjoy a fruit platter for starters both at breakfast and dinner. On the first evening, I asked if I could have such a platter and was refused, melon only being available. The next evening I was advised, that such a platter is available, but only available through ` Special Order` and requested though the Headwaiter. I made these requests and received my fruit platters, but no thought had gone into their presentation (which is so important on a cruise), just slices of fruit dumped on a plate. The choice of cheeses available was excellent. There are no salad courses on the dinner menus  these are  yes you have guessed it - `by request`. Caesar Salads were however available daily as a main course dish, as was chicken, salmon and sirloin steak. The Gala Dinner served on Christmas Day was however outstanding, in regards to choice, presentation, quality and quantity. Lots of thought, time, and care had obviously been taken into making this particular dinner one of the highlights of the cruise. The Yuletide buffet lunch served in a formal restaurant on Boxing Day was spectacular both in looks and presentation and tasted every bit as good. A chocoholics buffet served one afternoon was most popular and it was pleasing that the needs of diabetics were cater for. In relation to The Plaza  the Casual Dining Restaurant, the first thing that is noticed, is that there are no trays, on which to carry plates, utensils and glasses or cups to the tables - these are needed  especially for those in ripper years, and would also save the need for guests to keep returning to the buffet areas for each course thus avoiding congestions in this area. Food here was reasonably varied and hot food was hot. This venue was the home of rich, fattening and appealing desserts. Unfortunately there was little evidence of the use of `real cream` on these desserts; mostly it was synthetic, as was the cream to accompany the scones in the afternoon in The Plaza. Real cream while more `naughty` does give an enriched taste. Unlike other ships, fruit juices are only available during breakfast service, at other times they have to be purchased from the adjacent bar. Traditional Afternoon Tea (P&O style) is served, is on most days in one of the dining rooms. Throughout the P&O fleet, there are three set dress codes for the evening - Formal  a dinner jacket, white tuxedo or dark suit and tie for gentlemen and long or short evening wear for ladies. Informal  jacket, shirt and tie, or smart shirts which do not require a tie when worn with a linen or blazer-style jacket for men and for the ladies the option ranges from tailored trousers to cocktail dresses. Casual  stylish resort or leisure wear for both men and women. Shorts are not permitted in any of the main or specialty restaurants for dinner. On this cruise, there were 4 formal nights and the remainder were casual. It was pleasing to see that almost every passenger did comply with the dress code. Indeed, many passengers chose on the casual nights to `up dress` (to the dress that is suggested for informal nights  it was obvious that these guests were seasoned P&O cruisers who recalled the days when the dress code onboard P&O ships was either formal or inform only. SHORE EXCURSION PROGRAMME. A wide selection of shore excursions were available at each of the ports of call. The staff in the shore excursions office were most knowledgeable. These were keenly priced and offered value for money. TENDER SERVICE. At ports where tender service was in operation, this transfer procedure was carried out swiftly and smoothly. SECURITY STAFF. Particular mention must be made in relation to the Security Staff on this vessel. They carried out their various duties in a totally proficient and competent manner. No scowls here  pleasant, always a smile on their faces and courteous at all times. BAR SERVICES. A wide range of drinks and cocktails were available from bars throughout the ship. Costs of these beverages were reasonable. Drinks were of good quality and had a kick to them. There was no pressure put on guests to purchase drinks and it was pleasing that there was no 15% gratuity automatically added to the price of these drinks. Gratuities are already been included in the costs. There is a good wine list in the dining rooms, again - these wines are keenly priced. Another pleasing aspect of the bar and beverage service is that the staff are not aggressive in their approach  unlike so many other cruise lines, where staff have targets to meet. GRATUITIES. P & O Cruises suggest that a gratuity of £1.40 (USD$2.31) per day be given to your cabin steward and the sum of £1.50 (USD$2.59) per day to be shared between you waiter and assistant waiter- £2.90 (USD$4.90) a day in total  making the sum of £40.60 (USD$70.00) for a 14 night cruise. * Conversion rates approximate * Most passengers put the gratuity or tip into an envelope and give it to their steward and waiters on the last night of the cruise. Others are known to have skipped dinner on the last night so as not to have to give any gratuities, and these guests usually occupy the most expensive cabins or suits on ships). Yes it does happen and often. INTERNET ACCESS. Internet access is available on the ship, when satellite reception is available, although it is not cheap. The basic time charge is £0.30p(USD$0.51) per minute with a one-time activation cost of £1.95 (USD$3.32). Packages can be purchased when can reduce these costs substantially. THE LITTLE EXTRAS. Each guest on this cruise, received a Christmas card and an extremely up-market Christmas present, wrapped in Christmas paper and delivered to their cabin on Christmas Eve  a nice seasonal touch. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CRUISE. The genuine friendliness of all the crew. The entertainment on-board. The spectacular, Christmas Day dinner menu. The Boxing Day Yule Tide Buffet. The Human touches  like the Officers Choir who treated us to Carols in the Atrium on Christmas Eve. Being treated as if one of an `extended family`  not as a guest or a passenger  but something more than that  the personalisation. The sail-away party on New Years Eve from Antigua, when Oriana (another ship of the P&O fleet) was berthed next to us.  British tradition at its best). DISAPPOINTMENTS. The standard and variety of fruits and breads available. The scheduling of entertainment on board. Entertainment provided on both Christmas Night (this was a repeat of Christmas Eves programme) and New Years Eve. The decision, to transfer the Captains Gala Cocktail Party from the 1st sea day (Christmas night) to the penultimate sailing night. Also the Atrium, which is used for this party, lacks atmosphere for events of this nature. The inconsiderate fellow passengers whose mobile phones ring during dinner or a show and they then proceed to carry out a full conversation with the caller. These devices of modern technology should be banned from cruise ships and not encouraged by installing systems to enhance reception qualities. SUMMARY A good solid product, which caters for all - the Oceana would appear to be P&O`s `party ship` with a less formal and more relaxed atmosphere on board. On a cruise with P&O  there is something for everyone - No-one should be disappointed. A bit more expensive, than some others in the same class, but as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. A few niggly complaints  (but thats me)  nothing so seriousness to spoil the overall enjoyment of the cruise. Traditional British Cruising in a warm and extremely friendly environment. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
OCEANA - (23 December 2005  6 January 2006). Not having sailed with P & O Cruises over the Christmas and New Year Period before, I chose P&O`s ship the `Oceana`, for my `holiday` cruise in 2005. Oceana was built in 2000, of ... Read More
OCEANA - (23 December 2005  6 January 2006). Not having sailed with P & O Cruises over the Christmas and New Year Period before, I chose P&O`s ship the `Oceana`, for my `holiday` cruise in 2005. Oceana was built in 2000, of 77,000 tons; she has a maximum operating capacity of 2272 passengers and 870 crew. The ship has 12 passenger decks, 2 swimming pools (fresh water) a couple of splash pools and 5 Jacuzzis. There are 2 main restaurants; currently offering two sittings for dinner, but this, I understand is due to change in April, when one of the restaurants will become `open seating`. There is also the Plaza restaurant for casual dining, and in the evening, this restaurant transforms, together with the Horizon Grill, into alternative dining venues, with reservations required and at a supplement (currently £6.75 or USD$11.00) per person. The Cafe Jardin on deck 8 provides food 24 hours a day. There are two primary show lounges, no fewer than 10 bars/lounges serving alcohol and coffees, a casino, a well-stocked library, a cyber study facility, an avenue of shops, a photo gallery, an art gallery and a number of launderettes for use by passengers (washers and driers are free, but guests must supply their own soap, available for purchase from the shop onboard). There is also a very active club with a highly energetic and enthusiastic staff, catering for the needs of children and teenagers. P & O, now part of the Carnival Corporation, operates a fleet of 5 ships. The homeport for their ships is Southampton, England and P & O have a sea-going tradition since 1837, -some 169 years experience. Each year, during the winter months, three of its ships depart on World Cruises, whilst the remaining two ships are based in the Caribbean. During the other seasons, the fleet operates to and from Southampton on cruises of varying durations, offering a wide choice of itineraries. The company claim that they operate a service of `Traditional British Cruising`. The currency on board is the pound sterling (£). Documentation for this cruise was factual, informative and correct and arrived in good time prior to sailing. The full programme of shore excursions was also provided and these could be booked in advance. On this particular cruise, there was a wide range in the ages of passengers, from children in `buggies` to elderly grand parents. All seemed to mix well and there was a relaxed holiday mood on board. The ship had been skillfully and beautifully decorated and it was evident that Christmas was just around the corner. The cruise had been named the `Calypso Island Christmas Cruise`. It was of 14 days duration, sailing to and from Barbados. There were 10 ports of call and 3 days at sea, Christmas Day and Boxing Day being two of the days spent `at sea`. It was a `port intensive` cruise, especially in the latter stages and most passengers, would have liked a `sea day` at some stage in between these ports of call. Consideration should be given to perhaps re-thinking future itineraries, after a long flight from the UK, most passengers would appreciate the first day, being a sea day, to get over the four hour time difference and to take time to relax and get into the `cruise mode`, or perhaps have the overnight stay in Barbados at the beginning of the cruise, rather than at the end. Additionally, a further suggestion being - New Years Day  after the activities of New Years Eve  a day at sea, rather than St Kitts, especially on a Sunday (and a public holiday at that) would have been welcomed. In order to transport passengers to and from the embarkation port, P&O charters a number of aircrafts which depart from various UK airports. Unfortunately all best plans can encounter difficulties and a number of the flights were late in arriving in Barbados, thus delaying our ships departure time by 2 hours. As with all charter airlines, there is very limited seat space and legroom on such flights, in-flight catering was basic to say the least, but the airline did offer a free bar service. One of the convenient things in regard to these flights, is that when you check-in your luggage in the UK, it is transported in sealed units directly to the ship and is delivered directly to your cabin. This saves the hassle of having to claim your baggage at the arrival airport and transfer it to a coach to take you to the ship. Additionally, coaches meet the flight at the airport steps, and passengers are transferred directly to the ship, thus avoiding long lines for Immigration Procedures to take place. P & O Cruises do offer guests, the option of using the service of scheduled flights to and from Barbados at hefty supplements. Similar arrangements are in place for the return flights. Check-in procedures for the cruise, is carried out in a shed adjacent to the ship. These were friendly, quick, and professionally carried out. On boarding the ship, members of the crew were available to escort or direct guests to their cabins. For this cruise, we had chosen an outside cabin with balcony (JD) Grade. . There are 23 grades of cabins on the Oceana, ranging from inside twins to suites. There are no single cabins, but the company do offer solo guests the opportunity of purchasing a twin for sole use at a supplement. These supplements vary, depending of the cruise, the date and duration of the cruise. P & O also offer a `share cabin` programme for solo travellers. On arrival at our cabin, we were disappointed at the size (178 sq feet, including balcony)  the smallest size for this type of cabin throughout P&O`s fleet. However it was well furnished and comfortable. There is also excellent privacy on the balconies. The balconies are best described as another cruise company so describes them as `sheltered balcony cabins` as they are not the traditional balconies, but rather, balconies within the ships hull. Facilities in the cabins include a remote control television, tea and coffee making facilities, a safe, hairdryer, air-conditioning, en-suite shower room and a refrigerator. Storage space was limited. The balcony accommodated two recliner chairs and a small table. The net curtains on the window, which lead to the balcony were stained and contained a number of holes (probably resulting in being caught in the sliding balcony door). The en-suite was tiny (I was able to spread my arms and touch both walls, and there was very little space between my knees, when sitting on the `throne` and the door of the unit). Luxury toiletries available, but no bathrobes or slippers or fresh fruit are provided. Towels were, on occasions hard and thread borne. The shower curtain was also badly stained. The shower worked, although noisy, with varying water pressures but with an abundant supply of piping hot water. The water from the taps in this unit is safe for drinking. The cabin was spotlessly clean and was kept in this condition throughout the cruise. Each cabin is equipped with a standard 13-amp plug (British style socket) and a 110-volt American style socket. In the en-suite, there are 110/230-volt plugs for electric shavers. There is a good room service menu available during the day until late evening and then this becomes very limited. Full breakfast is not available via room service only Continental breakfast. The cabin steward, shortly after arrival, came to the cabin, introduced himself and did show us how the cabin facilities operated. He also showed us where our life jackets were located, where our Muster Station were located, and asked that we spend some time, watching the video presentation currently being shown on the television, in advance of the Muster Drill. I requested additional towels, ice and feather pillows and was advised that he would have to request these, and that they would be delivered the next day, with the exception of the ice which he provided. When we retired to bed that first evening, we were surprised to find that there were two separate single duvets on the double bed, this somehow seemed strange. We asked the cabin steward for a double duvet, who advised us that none were available, but when we spoke with his supervisor, one was supplied within 24 hours (a point worth remembering  double duvets are available). Lots of things on this ship appear to be `on request`. The ship itself is well appointed with soft furnishings, interesting art works, comfortable sofas and sympathetic lighting in public areas. The ship is relatively easy to negotiate and is well signed  one things of note, especially for guests who may have walking difficulties, is that only the elevators at the front of the ship, serve all passengers decks. The elevators to the rear only serve 7 of the decks and the glass elevators in the Atrium only serve 4 passenger decks. The ship was full for this sailing, but didnt feel `crowded`. On sea days the area around the main swimming pools did get packed and sun loungers were at a premium. However space and any number of sun loungers could be found in other deck areas around the ship. The Atrium in mid-ships, spans 4 passenger decks, and is a wonderful place for `people watching`. On the ground floor, are the reception desk (open 24 hours), shore excursions office, future cruise sales desk and The Portunus Club Representative (P&O`s loyalty club). One of the first things that one notices on this ship is the immaculate turnout of the staff in all departments (from the middle ranking officers to the deck stewards, from the waiters to the all too important guys who work on their knees polishing the brasses and keeping the ship clean). All seem to be happy and enjoy their work, and almost all had smiles on their faces and greeted and acknowledged guests presence with a simple Good Morning or Good Evening Sir  a feature unfortunately lacking nowadays on so many ships. On previous cruises with P&O, it was common to see senior officers walk around the ship and converse with passengers, not on this ship  the absence of senior officers seen in public areas was very noticeable, in fact it was a rarity and many of the guests were so disappointed - this topic seemed to come up in most conversations, especially among past passengers and first time cruisers were amazed that there was no opportunity to have their picture taken with either the Captain or Staff Captain. ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMME The Entertainment Programme on this ship can only be described as excellent in all regards. There was something for everyone! West End or Hollywood style shows, specialist entertainers, guest lecturers, music of all kinds  a full and varied programme, details of which were clearly outlined in the ships on-board information bulletin `Oceana Today` which was delivered to cabins daily. The highly talented Cruise Director and staff were always visible throughout the ship and again distinguishable by their smart turnout and coordinated dress. A nice touch on board, is that this line really do want single passengers travelling alone to feel welcome and `inclusive` without `intrusion`. Early on in the cruise there was a meeting for such travellers, and each day, it was advertised that a member of the Cruise Staff would be available to meet solos for coffee and a chat at a given venue and time. On the night of the Captains Formal Reception, the group met some 15 minutes prior to the commencement of this reception. Some of the ladies travelling solo indicated to me that this arrangement was excellent, as many felt embarrassed at attending such events on previous cruise ships by themselves. The only adverse comment that I would make in respect of the entertainment on board is in relation to their scheduling of programmes  on some occasions major events did overlap which caused disappointment. On other occasions, one had to make the difficult choice between a featured production show or celebrity entertainment. Guests on 2nd seating dining lost out in this regard, whereas if one of the shows had have been scheduled as a pre-dinner show, we could have then had the benefit of attending each. With the wealth of entertainment at P&O`s disposal on board, it was disappointing at their programme choices on both Christmas night and New Years Eve. The entertainment offered on Christmas night was exactly the same as on offer on Christmas Eve  the same shows and featured entertainment, whilst on New Years Eve, the choice was a deck party or listening to a pianist or attending a church service. On `holiday cruises`, guests pay `over the odds` for the cruise and on each of these evenings, we expect, not only with P&O but with other cruise companies, to pull out all the stops on these festive nights. The late start of some of the events/shows/lectures was annoying. In cabin television options and programming too was excellent, with a wide range and choice of programmes and films for viewing. I particularly liked the `Christmas Channel` - which showed both old and modern Christmas Films  these brought back many childhood memories. RESTAURANT AND FOOD SERVICE. There are two main restaurants onboard Oceana  the Adriatic and Ligurian, both are similar. We were allocated the Adriatic, where the restaurant manager endeavoured to accommodate all of the guests requirements. Totally professional, it amazed me as to how he remembered most peoples names. He was ably assisted by a number of Headwaiters. Tables are very close together in both of the main restaurants; most seating- 4,6 or 8 guests  there were a few tables for 2. The majority of tables are rectangular in shape and we find that there can be difficulty in communicating with all `tablemates` on tables of this design and find that round or oval shaped tables are more user-friendly in this regard. The ceiling in both restaurants is low, thus the noise levels within the restaurants tends to be high. Food service in the main restaurants was excellent. Our regular waiter and assistant waiter at dinner were particularly proficient in this regard. However presentation was very disappointing, except at the Gala Dinners. Food was wholesome, plentiful, varied and tasty. It was `packing` food  it was good - no pretty pictures on the plate here! Currently the vegetables are served `Silver Service`, but unfortunately from April this practice is going to stop and meals served will be plated  this is unfortunate. Breakfast and lunch are `open seating`, whereby dinner is currently by assigned tables. We found that cooked breakfasts in the restaurant would have tasted better if they had have been served hot, rather than luke-warm. There is a `special` on the breakfast menu each day. The breakfast menus were typically traditional British breakfast fare. The selection and variety of bread served at dinner, as did the choice of Danish Pastries at breakfast left a lot to be desired  very little in the way of choice and mostly the same variety each evening -often they were stale. The choice of juices at breakfast in both the formal and casual restaurants was limited. I requested Cranberry juice and was advised that this would have to come from a bar and would be chargeable. One of the things that I enjoy on cruises, is the array and taste of the fresh fruit usually available, not on this cruise  just the basics, melon, pineapple, apples, pears, oranges, bananas and grapes  nothing exotic at all. I found most of the time that the fruits served were not ripe (although this did improved a little as the cruise progressed) and lacked any sort of taste. I usually enjoy a fruit platter for starters both at breakfast and dinner. On the first evening, I asked if I could have such a platter and was refused, melon only being available. The next evening I was advised, that such a platter is available, but only available through ` Special Order` and requested though the Headwaiter. I made these requests and received my fruit platters, but no thought had gone into their presentation (which is so important on a cruise), just slices of fruit dumped on a plate. The choice of cheeses available was excellent. There are no salad courses on the dinner menus  these are  yes you have guessed it - `by request`. Caesar Salads were however available daily as a main course dish, as was chicken, salmon and sirloin steak. The Gala Dinner served on Christmas Day was however outstanding, in regards to choice, presentation, quality and quantity. Lots of thought, time, and care had obviously been taken into making this particular dinner one of the highlights of the cruise. The Yuletide buffet lunch served in a formal restaurant on Boxing Day was spectacular both in looks and presentation and tasted every bit as good. A chocoholics buffet served one afternoon was most popular and it was pleasing that the needs of diabetics were cater for. In relation to The Plaza  the Casual Dining Restaurant, the first thing that is noticed, is that there are no trays, on which to carry plates, utensils and glasses or cups to the tables - these are needed  especially for those in ripper years, and would also save the need for guests to keep returning to the buffet areas for each course thus avoiding congestions in this area. Food here was reasonably varied and hot food was hot. This venue was the home of rich, fattening and appealing desserts. Unfortunately there was little evidence of the use of `real cream` on these desserts; mostly it was synthetic, as was the cream to accompany the scones in the afternoon in The Plaza. Real cream while more `naughty` does give an enriched taste. Unlike other ships, fruit juices are only available during breakfast service, at other times they have to be purchased from the adjacent bar. Traditional Afternoon Tea (P&O style) is served, is on most days in one of the dining rooms. Throughout the P&O fleet, there are three set dress codes for the evening - Formal  a dinner jacket, white tuxedo or dark suit and tie for gentlemen and long or short evening wear for ladies. Informal  jacket, shirt and tie, or smart shirts which do not require a tie when worn with a linen or blazer-style jacket for men and for the ladies the option ranges from tailored trousers to cocktail dresses. Casual  stylish resort or leisure wear for both men and women. Shorts are not permitted in any of the main or specialty restaurants for dinner. On this cruise, there were 4 formal nights and the remainder were casual. It was pleasing to see that almost every passenger did comply with the dress code. Indeed, many passengers chose on the casual nights to `up dress` (to the dress that is suggested for informal nights  it was obvious that these guests were seasoned P&O cruisers who recalled the days when the dress code onboard P&O ships was either formal or inform only. SHORE EXCURSION PROGRAMME. A wide selection of shore excursions were available at each of the ports of call. The staff in the shore excursions office were most knowledgeable. These were keenly priced and offered value for money. TENDER SERVICE. At ports where tender service was in operation, this transfer procedure was carried out swiftly and smoothly. SECURITY STAFF. Particular mention must be made in relation to the Security Staff on this vessel. They carried out their various duties in a totally proficient and competent manner. No scowls here  pleasant, always a smile on their faces and courteous at all times. BAR SERVICES. A wide range of drinks and cocktails were available from bars throughout the ship. Costs of these beverages were reasonable. Drinks were of good quality and had a kick to them. There was no pressure put on guests to purchase drinks and it was pleasing that there was no 15% gratuity automatically added to the price of these drinks. Gratuities are already been included in the costs. There is a good wine list in the dining rooms, again - these wines are keenly priced. Another pleasing aspect of the bar and beverage service is that the staff are not aggressive in their approach  unlike so many other cruise lines, where staff have targets to meet. GRATUITIES. P & O Cruises suggest that a gratuity of £1.40 (USD$2.31) per day be given to your cabin steward and the sum of £1.50 (USD$2.59) per day to be shared between you waiter and assistant waiter- £2.90 (USD$4.90) a day in total  making the sum of £40.60 (USD$70.00) for a 14 night cruise. * Conversion rates approximate * Most passengers put the gratuity or tip into an envelope and give it to their steward and waiters on the last night of the cruise. Others are known to have skipped dinner on the last night so as not to have to give any gratuities, and these guests usually occupy the most expensive cabins or suits on ships). Yes it does happen and often. INTERNET ACCESS. Internet access is available on the ship, when satellite reception is available, although it is not cheap. The basic time charge is £0.30p(USD$0.51) per minute with a one-time activation cost of £1.95 (USD$3.32). Packages can be purchased when can reduce these costs substantially. THE LITTLE EXTRAS. Each guest on this cruise, received a Christmas card and an extremely up-market Christmas present, wrapped in Christmas paper and delivered to their cabin on Christmas Eve  a nice seasonal touch. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CRUISE. The genuine friendliness of all the crew. The entertainment on-board. The spectacular, Christmas Day dinner menu. The Boxing Day Yule Tide Buffet. The Human touches  like the Officers Choir who treated us to Carols in the Atrium on Christmas Eve. Being treated as if one of an `extended family`  not as a guest or a passenger  but something more than that  the personalisation. The sail-away party on New Years Eve from Antigua, when Oriana (another ship of the P&O fleet) was berthed next to us.  British tradition at its best). DISAPPOINTMENTS. The standard and variety of fruits and breads available. The scheduling of entertainment on board. Entertainment provided on both Christmas Night (this was a repeat of Christmas Eves programme) and New Years Eve. The decision, to transfer the Captains Gala Cocktail Party from the 1st sea day (Christmas night) to the penultimate sailing night. Also the Atrium, which is used for this party, lacks atmosphere for events of this nature. The inconsiderate fellow passengers whose mobile phones ring during dinner or a show and they then proceed to carry out a full conversation with the caller. These devices of modern technology should be banned from cruise ships and not encouraged by installing systems to enhance reception qualities. SUMMARY A good solid product, which caters for all - the Oceana would appear to be P&O`s `party ship` with a less formal and more relaxed atmosphere on board. On a cruise with P&O  there is something for everyone - No-one should be disappointed. A bit more expensive, than some others in the same class, but as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. A few niggly complaints  (but thats me)  nothing so seriousness to spoil the overall enjoyment of the cruise. Traditional British Cruising in a warm and extremely friendly environment. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2006
Embarkation was quick, simple and friendly. Once on the ship, the staff were brilliant, very helpful. Suitcases were taken directly to your cabin and most were there before you. Cabin facilities were very good and our cabin stewardess ... Read More
Embarkation was quick, simple and friendly. Once on the ship, the staff were brilliant, very helpful. Suitcases were taken directly to your cabin and most were there before you. Cabin facilities were very good and our cabin stewardess was polite, helpful and made up our cabin twice a day . Our 14 year old daughter thought it was beautiful, the way her pyjamas were laid out in the shape of a fan and that every night her loyal teddy was placed differently inside the sheet. The cabins are clean and tidy and a balcony is a must as it does make a big difference to be able to get a first view of the ports and a relaxing area for yourself. Food is amazing and so is the service. You cannot beat their variety of food and it's available 24 hours a day. Entertainment is very good, each to your own personal choice. Brilliant if you can find time to relax but there is so much to do at the time. Excursions are excellent, the way they are dealt with, that again is fast, simple and always someone there to help. The daily magazine , which is left outside your cabin each night, is very good and must be read. It tells you everything you want to know about the next day's events. Television is again, letting you know what is going on where, very useful. On a whole the entire cruise was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2006
A regular cruiser. Lines to date are Royal Caribbean, Fred Olsen and Costa. Oceana is well behind in fourth place. Embarkation and disembarkation well organized and reasonably efficient. Captain Officers and Ships Company excellent but ... Read More
A regular cruiser. Lines to date are Royal Caribbean, Fred Olsen and Costa. Oceana is well behind in fourth place. Embarkation and disembarkation well organized and reasonably efficient. Captain Officers and Ships Company excellent but their job made almost impossible by excessive cost cutting. Ship fairly well maintained but lacks wow factor. Good swimming pools/lobster pots but these areas crowded with plastic chairs. Superb wrap around promenade deck but with insufficient number of steamer chairs. Balcony grade cabin smallest ever and shower cupboard so small as to be almost impractical. Fairly good service from ultra friendly steward. Menu range tended to be un-ambitious with absence of fresh food. Fresh fruit should not run out when in major Mediterranean ports, tinned fruit is unacceptable although offered at most meals. Singers/dancers excellent but possibly too much repetition. Insufficient segregation of smokers except in dining rooms. Shore excursions OK in general but insufficient tenders in service when at anchor. Fellow passengers comparing this ship with last year were very disappointed. This ship is obviously under attack from accountants and if not successfully repelled, P&O will sink without trace. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2006
OCEANA CRUISE REPORT E627 27TH OCTOBER TO 10TH NOVEMBER, 2006. Day 1. 27th October, 2006. Arrived at Manchester Airport at approx 8am with the buses waiting for us. We then set off at approx 830am and had two stops for breaks on our way ... Read More
OCEANA CRUISE REPORT E627 27TH OCTOBER TO 10TH NOVEMBER, 2006. Day 1. 27th October, 2006. Arrived at Manchester Airport at approx 8am with the buses waiting for us. We then set off at approx 830am and had two stops for breaks on our way down to Southampton. Arrived at approx 1.20pm but with all the buses coming at the same time the queue for check in was very very long. We finally made the lounge and had to wait another 1 hour before we were on the ship. The luggage had made it to our cabin before us!! We were disappointed to find that we were put on Freedom Dining but after a trip to see Alan Carr the Maitre'D he soon had us transferred to second seating dinner at 830pm. After Emergency Drill at 4.15pm everything was made ready for sailaway from Southampton. We left our berth at approx 5.05pm and set sail down Southampton water with the band playing. We then went to our cabin and unpacked and get ready for our dinner. We had a very good table and everyone seemed to get along very well, most of the passengers on our table had cruised with P & O many times. We had an early night and got ourselves ready for the following two days at sea. Day 2. 28th October, 2006. At Sea. Most of the day was rather cloudy with a slight sea. In the evening we went to see WestEnd a new show for P & O this was very enjoyable and the Stadium Theatre Company should be congratulated. Day 3. 29th October, 2006. At Sea. Today the weather started to pick up and we were on deck most of the day sunning ourselves. In the afternoon it was announced from the bridge that in 5 minutes we would be passing Aurora on her way back to Southampton. We passed approx 1 mile from her and both ships gave the usual 3 blasts on the ships horn and everyone waved. In the evening the show was Gary T Thompson a Comedian, not to our taste so we left and went to listen to the Steel Band in the Atrium, this was very good. Day 4. 30th October, 2006. Madeira. We arrived in port at approx 1.00pm and the ships already in port were Thomson Destiny and Aida Bleu, this was very strange in that we had sailed on both of these ships when they were Sunbird and Crown Princess. We spent the afternoon walking around Funchal and had a few bevies in our usual places. This evening the show a was cancelled due to the singer having lost his voice. The Stadium Theatre Company put on What a Feeling again a very enjoyable show. Day 6 to 10 31st October, to 6th November, 2006. All at Sea. The temperatures had started to climb once we left Madeira and we had a very good crossing, not at all choppy in our opinion, but there were some people who felt the swell, so they said. In the five days at sea we had Susan Maughan the sixties singer, a Halloween Party in Starlight's, a show which was a tribute to Freddie Mercury. On the last sea day we also had a Party Night on Deck with the Stadium Theatre Company performing Summer Sunshine. This was very well attended and the weather was very kind to us with balmy breezes across the open decks. Day 11. 5th November, 2006. St. Maarten. Today was very hot and we went to a fantastic beach called Little Bay and Divi Resorts. The snorkeling along the reef was one of the best we have ever done. I could recommend this to anyone. The cost of chairs here were $5 dollars and the sun shades the same price. The staff at he hotel were excellent and the taxi fare to here from the dock was $10 return. Later that afternoon we took the water taxi into Phillipsburg and did some shopping. In the evening the Theatre Company performed Body Rockers. Day 11. 6th November, 2006. Antigua. We arrived at 8am with blue blue skies and the temperature was rising also. Today we took a taxi to Long Bay and the Occidental Pineapple Beach Resort. Again about a 35 minute taxi ride across the island and to a marvellous beach, plenty of pelicans diving for fish and the snorkeling again was very good. The resort allowed you to use the washroom facilities and there were plenty of beach bars for the occasional tipple.!!! In the evening the entertainment was a 60 and 70's night out on deck again. One or two people had brought all the gear and looked the part. Day 12. 7th November, 2006. St. Lucia. We arrived at 8am again and the weather was a little overcast but very warm. Again we teamed up with some of our table mates and took a taxi to Reduit Beach, no snorkeling here. In the afternoon we had a terrific storm and the skies were very black with torrential rain, we just sat under the umbrella and waited till the storm abated. Some people just sat in the sea it was all very amusing. In the evening we had our third party on deck this time it was Tropical Night with all the men in outlandish shirts. They had a Worst Shirt Competition. Day 13. 8th November, 2006. Grenada. We docked again at 8am and the sun shone as usual. We did not recognize Grenada since our last visit due to the hurricane. Unfortunately this was our worst island in that we again went to the beach and we were hassled from the moment we hit the beach. In fact most people from the ship complained about this when we returned and said that they would stop on the ship if they ever went to Grenada again. Such a shame really. We did not venture off the again that day. In the evening the Stadium Theatre company performed Seven which is a show about the seven deadly sins, again enjoyable but with a few moaning about the content of the show. Also they had a show called Late and Live Comedy with Adult material. Day 14. 9th November, 2006. Tobago. We docked again at 8am again blue skies, we have been so lucky on this cruise. Today we went to the beach for snorkeling and found one called Mount Irvine Bay. This was a little off the beaten track but again shade and sun beds were to be had. The costs again were $5 per chair. This beach was just as the brochures, palm trees to the waters edge and a great reef for snorkeling. There were numerous fish of different kinds. The temperature rose to a high of 94 degrees. On our return the taxi driver took us on a roundabout tour and we ended up at his house to say hello to his family. We really loved Tobago, having never been here before, but would love to go back. Day 15. 10th November, 2006. Arrived at Barbados to disembark at 1pm. Unfortunately our plane had problems coming from Manchester and we were delayed 3 hours. On arriving at the plane we were informed that one of the navigational aids had broken and we needed to change route. This meant that an 8 and a half our flight turned into a 11 hour flight. Not that we need this after our initial 3 hour delay. We arrived in Manchester at 11 am and we should have arrived at 4.05am. Good Points of the Cruise, The Company at our table. Meeting the many cc'ers and putting faces to names etc. P & O pulling the stops out for decorating the dining room for special nights. i.e. Halloween, Tropical Night etc. Minus Points. Flight delays. Not P & O's fault. No Cruise Log at end of Cruise. Some, not all, moaning passengers. No Champagne Waterfall. Other little cut backs by P & O. R.E. LEES. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2007
For our 1st ever cruise which was a birthday surprise for my wife I decided on the Caribbean. Was not sure if she could take the long flight. After having a some turbulence on the way over we were happy to get on the ground and more that ... Read More
For our 1st ever cruise which was a birthday surprise for my wife I decided on the Caribbean. Was not sure if she could take the long flight. After having a some turbulence on the way over we were happy to get on the ground and more that glad not to have to go through customs, but straight on a bus and straight to the ship. Overwhelmed by the size. getting on board was a breeze, no hassle, unlike the queuing you go through at the airports. Cabins were more than adequate for there purpose, as you only used them to get dressed and sleep in. Dressing up for dinner was a joy for us both as it was a gentle reminder of regimental dinners from an earlier time, meeting like minded people at meal times was also a bonus. The onboard facilities were very good and the trips were well worth the money, unlike a package holiday there was no pressure on board to take them. The entertainment was for the most of the cruise was very good quality and mixed. Our only minus was on the day of departure when you get the feeling you are no longer part of the ship, but that is the same on any holiday. One of the bonuses about cruising is the value for money. When you consider the many different places you visit and to visit them all separately, the cost would be very high. We are looking forward to our next one which is in 11 weeks time again to the Caribbean with friends on the same ship. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2007
What a great ship. Everywhere was spotlessly clean, the food was very good and the staff could not be more helpful. The only thing you should be careful of is where your cabin is located and the time at your destinations. I myself did not ... Read More
What a great ship. Everywhere was spotlessly clean, the food was very good and the staff could not be more helpful. The only thing you should be careful of is where your cabin is located and the time at your destinations. I myself did not book this short break so I never researched the cabin layouts. Be aware do not book any inside cabins at the rear of the ship unless you like the constant drone of the air conditioning plant. As it was only a four might stay we put up with it but there is no way you can last any longer. We visited Brugges and Amsterdam and they were both great. The only niggle was that on our intinery we were told that we will be leaving Amsterdam early evening the next day, but left at 7am the next day instead. We asked at reception about this and mentioned that we were not informed about the change of departure times either by post or e mail. The polite reply was, "it's on our web site", so beware. Due to the time of departure and the speed the ship was going ( 15 mph ) it took over 24hours to reach Southampton was this a ploy of P&O for people to spend more money on board. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2007
This was our first time on Oceana although we have been on Adonia when she was with P&O so we knew what to expect. Flight: The one aspect of the trip that most people hate. We travelled with Monarch and upgraded to Premium seating - ... Read More
This was our first time on Oceana although we have been on Adonia when she was with P&O so we knew what to expect. Flight: The one aspect of the trip that most people hate. We travelled with Monarch and upgraded to Premium seating - worth it for extra luggage allowance and a little extra room. Flights both ways on time, going out good flight. Arrived at Barbados, straight down steps and onto coaches - fantastic. Arrival: On arrival at port check in, receive cruise card and register credit card at same time. Cabin: We were in the same aft minisuite on Adonia so we knew what to expect. It's a great cabin, huge balcony, 4 upright teak chairs, a table, 2 teak steamer chairs, 2 loungers all with new fireproof cushions. Large seating area in cabin, wet bar, two tvs, DVD player. Large bathroom, marble surround, jacuzzi bath. Extras, champagne, chocs and flowers on arrival, nightly canapes, priority boarding on tenders. Very efficient and friendly steward, Karl, who has worked for P&O for 10 years. Dining: 2nd sitting table for 8, we always choose that. Have always been lucky with table companions and this time very much so. Met up with them for drinks, went to shows etc. Food: First experience of plated meals, we thought them good; food always hot and well presented. Had alternative choice of steak twice, excellent, tender meat. Gala dinners were exceptional. Alternative dining: Booked on day of arrival for Horizon grill for Tropical evening. Don't know what happened but when we arrived waiter had no record of booking. Head waiter soon appeared and found us a table overlooking pool. Unfortunately it then rained so had to move to side. Food excellent, fillet steak fantastic. Worth extra cost. Plaza: Buffet, I don't like it my husband does. We went there for breakfast on some days, don't like plastic mugs and awful plastic water glasses. Food quite good. Had breakfast in restaurant twice, much better for me, husband likes choice of buffet. Cafe Jardin: Often had breakfast there, somewhere we both liked. Good choice of cereals and fruit. Had lunch there once - good. Much nicer atmosphere than Plaza. Bars: We don't frequent bars much as we tend to have pre-dinner drinks on our balcony. When we did, used Tiffanys good service, liked cocktails. Entertainment: Mixed. Good comedian, Mike Doyle, saw his two shows. Stadium Theatre company good musicals. Illusionist, Van Buren, was like being taken back to Sunday Night at London Palladium! Didn't see female singer/comedienne. Theatre full most nights. On night of deck party they showed Helen Mirren in "The Queen" in theatre, not full but nice alternative. Ports of call: Enjoyed all. Tortola: beautiful, been before did Beautiful BVI trip, part land part sea. Good land trip, motor boat trip not so good. Didn't see as much of coast line as I'd hope, still worth doing. St. Maarten: Husband did Americas Cup trip. Fantastic time - he has done racing before so was able to be active on board but plenty of things for newcomers. Wandered into Philipsburg, husband had haircut! Very good. Lovely drink by water. Antigua: Did jeep trip, off road, very good, excellent chatty drivers. Ended up at beach hotel for drinks. Lovely to see interior of island. St. Kitts: Railway trip, best trip of cruise. Do it if you have change. Double decker train, up opensided, comfortable seating, below airconditioned. Free drinks all the way, choir singing good commentary. It was lovely. 8 miles an hour, round 3/4 of island, rest of trip by bus. Dominica: I didn't do trip, husband went river tubing really enjoyed it. Friend on table did aerial tram trip and thought it was great. St. Lucia: did the Land and Sea trip, fantastic, lovely lunch at restaurant, saw volcano, gardens, then catamaran trip back. Worthwhile. St. Vincent: Best of St. Vincent, fort, gardens then across island to beach hotel, free drinks on balcony overlooking beach. Very good. Grenada: We'd been there before so did not do trip. Went round spice market, husband went to fort. Barbados, had whole day and night there. Husband did Bike trip which he enjoyed. We tend to do ship's tours because we like the security of knowing we'll be back at ship on time and if not it will wait for us. We thought apart from the Tortola trip all were worth the money. However, some people did their own thing very successfully. Overall: We like travelling with P&O and any criticisms are very minor. We believe we got value for money. As we have Portunus points we got discount on most things we bought on board, including all drinks. Drink prices, we think are good. We love the layout of Oceana and think the aft minisuites are exceptional. Don't think I'd pay the extra for a full suite. Most of the staff are efficient and friendly, no complaints there. The restaurant manager kept coming round to see that everything was ok. Children: We saw children around the ship but were not really conscious of them very much. They looked great all dressed up for formal nights. Cannot comment on kids' clubs. It was not school holiday time so not too many on board, a few babies. Spa: Didn't use it. Had one blow dry which was ok but not great. Probably wouldn't do it again. Pools: We don't use the loungers by the pool as we use our balcony. People on our table seemed to be able to get loungers although we did hear the occasional moans about people bagging loungers and then disappearing. We are going on Arcadia next year, inspite of all the anti comments so we will travel with an open mind. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
Our family (myself, husband, 14 yr old son) travelled on the Oceana in July 2007, sailing from Southampton and touring the Western Mediterranean. A mixed experience. Many parts excellent, others perhaps in need of addressing by P&O. ... Read More
Our family (myself, husband, 14 yr old son) travelled on the Oceana in July 2007, sailing from Southampton and touring the Western Mediterranean. A mixed experience. Many parts excellent, others perhaps in need of addressing by P&O. Getting onboard was hassle-free with a friendly check-in assistant and people to park the car for us (at extra cost). We had booked two cabins - an outside balcony and an outside twin. Ours (with the balcony) was very much smaller because the balcony takes up part of the cabin room. Very clean, very comfortable, but fairly basic. The TV was fairly old, the decor good but more 'Travelodge/motel" than high quality hotel. I understand they are refitting the ship soon, though. First impressions of the ship itself were very favorable: She is simply beautiful. The central atrium is stunning and the top decks with the pools are amazing. She's also fast: We overtook just about every ship on the high seas. We were all invited to go to the welcome reception, and to our astonishment, the very first thing that happened was that we were charged for the welcome drink. I would think it would make a better impression if they let you have the first one 'free' (built into the cruise price). We had to queue for about 20 minutes to book a table for dinner, as they do not accept telephone bookings on the first day (why not?). We could not fault the food throughout the cruise. How they manage to get 2000 people seated and fed so superbly is extraordinary. A great choice of places to eat, too. The Plaza Buffet has a good forward view (the only place that does on the ship, oddly), but do watch out for having to clean your hands with alcohol gel each and every time you enter the buffet zone. It is a good precaution against germs but it's not always handled with dignity by the staff. The italian restaurant at the atrium was excellent, as was the Ligurian restaurant, the Plaza Bistro and the Horizon Grill (latter two at extra cost). We were on the Freedom Dining package, which means we could choose where and when to eat from the various choices, although it pays to book early if you want a table just for your own family. Breakfast is buffet style with a very wide choice, or you can order free room service (and not just for breakfast either). Service from our cabin staff was absolutely excellent. Polite, friendly, prompt, helpful - wonderful! Activities on board. Hmm. Mixed. The evening entertainment was in places very good indeed, with particular applause to the Starlight company who put on a variety of shows and musical events that were excellent entertainment. It's not big-name stuff though, which is odd. No doubt there is a reason for this. We would have loved a wider range of talks and interesting information rather than the guy who simply talked us through why we should buy this tour or that tour. Many of the activities were quizzes and bingo, which is good if you like quizzes and bingo. Many people did, too. The others were mostly sunbathing. You get a free newspaper each day and a free activity guide. On average, the activity guide contains 40 attempts to sell to you per day. Health club things, art work (cheap prints mostly), cheap jewelry (although there is one expensive jewelry shop on board), happy hour drinks, etc. I counted on average 80 attempts per day in total to get us to buy things on board. It was pretty wearing after a while. Not high-pressure sales, as such, just a relentless set of announcements, notices etc. I know they are there to make money, but I think there has to be a better way than this. Shore excursions were again a mixed experience. Some were excellent, others were money that was not well spent. So much seems to depend on getting a good tour guide rather than a poor one, and that is sheer "luck of the draw". If you go to Gibraltar, do get the tour to the top of the rock - don't just wander into the town. Watch out for Rome's thousand upon thousand of people selling fake goods (same for the Pisa experience). What was jaw-dropping was the stay in Monte Carlo, where you open your bedroom curtains to be greeted by scenery so very, very beautiful. That's certainly the magic of cruising. Not all arrivals in port are the same, though. I once opened the curtains in my nightgown to find a surprised docklands worker staring back at me from a very industrial scene indeed (oops!). Children's entertainment: We can only speak for our teenage son. He's a sport fanatic and a big reason we chose the Oceana was because of her excellent sports facilities (football, tennis, basketball, swimming etc). Unfortunately we had not factored in two things: The staff who were sometimes more interested in pursuing their own romantic interests than in helping the quieter teens join in, and the fact that many activities were cancelled due to lack of interest or started way later than the time given. The age bandings were awkward too, since the 13-14 yr olds are way younger emotionally than the 16-17 yr olds who were there to drink, party and find themselves some 'romantic' interest. Many younger teens did not appear to be joining in with the teen club at all, despite the range of activities on offer, and I do think they need to consider this aspect of things again. Washing: Big warning here. With so many sports and beach activities, children get through their extensive range of clothing in no time at all. If you want to use their onboard laundry, it's about £3 per large item (6 dollars at the time of writing). And it takes at least 24 hours to get your clothes back. They do have onboard laundries, but there are only four washing machines, four ironing boards and four tumble-driers per floor, and there are a LOT of passengers. Those with children were spending a very long time pacing up and down the corridors to see if the machines were free yet, and we soon got used to loading and unloading each other's 'smalls' (amazing what some people wear on holiday!!). If you don't want to endure this, pack enough for every eventuality! Senior staff were a mystery. Whilst the cabin crew and waiters were wonderful, and the entertainments officers were good fun, the senior staff (those operating the ship) were distant and wanted nothing to do with the passengers as far as we could tell. The security crew were also far more menacing than they needed to be, given that they already knew who we all were and didn't have to suspect that we had suddenly become terrorists after visiting the beach. A bit more cheerfulness would have been a welcome change after returning from a long hot day ashore. Disembarking was another fairly effortless process, although there followed a long tour round the docklands to find our car. Why not deliver the car back to people? They'd pay. Overall? Lovely, yet flawed in places. The ship has many people who return time after time, perhaps because they've learned to avoid the sales pitch and learned to take enough clothes to avoid the laundry situation. She's a beautiful vessel and well worth experiencing, but it could be better still with those few changes. Read Less
Oceana Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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