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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
Sail Date: July 2007
Embarkation-most people ignore their check-in time(including us) traveling down day before we had stayed in the Holiday Inn so wanted to get on early. Holiday Inn was excellent and it was great to open the curtains in the morning and see ... Read More
Embarkation-most people ignore their check-in time(including us) traveling down day before we had stayed in the Holiday Inn so wanted to get on early. Holiday Inn was excellent and it was great to open the curtains in the morning and see Oceana waiting for us. We arrived at 12.15 and there were big queues already too about 10 minutes to get to the desk and then about 10 to process us as we were a party of 6 in 3 cabins. Waiting in Mayflower, called by letter allocated when you arrived in lounge, got on just after 1pm.Just as we got on board the announcement came over that cabins were ready but this didn't sink in with the guy staffing the lift who said we couldn't go to our cabins yet .I repeated the announcement had just been made but it cut no ice, an early sign that SOME of the staff had a bit of an "edge" to them. I wasn't that distressed to have to go to the plaza buffet though and we had a lovely lunch and this was the first and only time the Plaza wasn't very crowded. I had roast Pork with crackling and Meuille Feuille.had a wander round ship and then to cabin which reeked of smoke cabin steward said she would spray but didn't solve problem. Inside cabin quite small not that much drawer space but reasonable wardrobe space.our trolley case wouldn't fit under the bed though which was a bit of a pain. Then had lifeboat drill we were in Le Club it was packed out to a degree that I would say wasn't safe God knows what would happen in a real emergency, God forbid. We reserved a table(Freedom dining) but they got our time wrong they had written it in the wrong column because I had picked a busy slot! Was resolved but had to stand my ground. Meal though was excellent good service and food top notch, I had Duck & Orange pate, Lamb and Rhubarb Souffle. 23rd July at Sea Dublin 6pm. Rachel our youngest wanted to go to club and enjoyed it staff very nice and made her welcome .Also had a swim pool nice but air temperature when you got out a bit of a challenge. Went for early meal so could get off in Dublin. Had Cauliflower Cheese soup delicious followed by game Mixed grill(Ostrich and rabbit) may sound horrible to some but was excellent. Caught shuttle into Dublin all shuttle we very good and prompt and am so glad P&O don't charge unlike most cruise lines now. Sampled some Dublin bars just for atmosphere Dublin is beautiful but very packed with tourists. 24th Dublin-again! Went on open top tour this is brilliant for seeing lots of sights without too much walking and the inevitable crowds! Our ticket got us on the Red and Green buses the Red has recorded commentary but the green which we got later on (as it is hop on hop off) was live commentary and hilarious. Some of the Americans just didn't understand the Irish humor though. The guy at the start said "we are just waiting to sober up the driver by walking him up and down for a bit!" Some looked genuinely worried. Got on and off at few places spent most time at Jamesons Distillery nice pub/restaurant round the corner. 25th Bay of Biscay!!! In a force 7 the ship rolled and all public rooms were packed with people looking bored/ green. Not ideal for Cocktail party but it had calmed quite a bit by then. Went to see Jimmy Nairn show he is very versatile (plays numerous instruments) and quite funny too. 26th Bilbao Had arranged a private tour through totally Spain very reasonable private minibus all day for 450 Euros. Only problem was that the driver spoke 2 words of English "Good Morning" so we had to struggle with my rudimentary Spanish and getting others to translate. We went to the Guggenheim just to have a look which is stunning the flower Dog statue impressed us all young and old. Then went to Bakio via fantastic scenery rolling green hills with lots of Swiss style cottages, lovely unspoilt beach resort with fantastic surf .The on to a church that is on an outcrop of rock San Juan de Gaztelugatxe however you have to walk to it and its very hilly and takes about an hour on the way back,we didn't have the time or stamina really but the views were absolutely fantastic. Went back to Bilbao via the Transporter bridge quite near the terminal in Santurce which basically has a hanging compartment that carries cars and passengers very impressive feat of engineering and very old 1880's. Evening entertainment was Mike Doyle comedian who was so-so. 27th in La Rochelle Had champagne breakfast in cabin but they sent double quantities! Sent a lot back but was nice start to the day. Had been to la Rochelle before which is a lovely harbour town but as we had been we went to a water park in the next resort along at Chatellaion-Plage.It was very cheap to get into (4 Euros) and had indoor and outdoor pools and slides the kids loved it. Came back to ship and had quick snack at Horizon grill impressed with food there had a chicken fajita which was spicy but delicious kids said the burgers were very good. Had lovely meal Cheese and bacon soup Beef Medallions and Meringue. Waiters brought cake and sang Congratulations very nice. Went to see "Seven" I thought some of the singing was distinctly average ,it was a lively show but volume doesn't substitute for talent. 28th Guernsey. Tendering took AGES I got a ticket and was told it would be about a 40 minute wait it took an hour and 40 minutes for us to be called. Loud cheers every time a number was called. Met up with my Mum's friend who was evacuated to my Mum's house in the war and just pottered round shops. Nice final meal Brie and Cranberry tart steak and Apple and blackcurrant Crumble Pie. Saw Gary Newbon who spoke for an hour had some amusing stories to tell especially about Brian Clough. 29th disembarkation we had an afternoon flight so we didn't have to fight to get of in fact our luggage was the last in the hall!! Still only 10 am though when we left. Overall excellent food some good entertainment some patchy stuff and service good in parts some quite surly some very good and friendly. I would certainly recommend the anniversary package £55 for chocolates, bottle of champagne, half bottle of champagne on day you have breakfast in cabin and a voucher giving you a free formal photo of your choice More that 55 if you bought those items singly. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
P&O Oceana is a lovely ship. We are in our sixties, and this was our third cruise (previous cruises were 31 nights in October 2007, from Seattle to Sydney on the Sun Princess, which has the same layout as the Oceana), and two weeks on ... Read More
P&O Oceana is a lovely ship. We are in our sixties, and this was our third cruise (previous cruises were 31 nights in October 2007, from Seattle to Sydney on the Sun Princess, which has the same layout as the Oceana), and two weeks on the Oceana itself in February 2008 in the Caribbean. Our inside cabin was comfortable, quite spacious enough for two; the anytime dining produced excellent food with few queues; the mainly Indian crew gave top-notch service; the Mediterranean itinerary suited our needs and we would certainly consider sailing with P&O again. Embarkation: We parked our car some miles outside Southampton, about £100 for 14 nights, in future we would use the Cruise Parking at the dock, slightly more expensive but much more convenient. We handed our suitcases to a P&O official at the dock and they were delivered to our cabin before the evening meal. We refused the posed photo call, the whole process was quick, pleasant and efficient. This was the first time we had not flown to our embarkation port - no need for an overnight hotel stay or an early start, no jet lag, wonderful. The first public announcement misleadingly invited everyone to join P&O for a glass of champagne on deck: these drinks were NOT free, so we (and many others) declined the invitation. Not very subtle or gracious P&O. The Cabin: Although we had a balcony cabin on the Sun Princess we have found the inside cabins on the Oceana are perfectly adequate for us. No windows mean no early waking by the sun, though it can be disconcerting not to know if we have arrived in port, or what the weather is like. The cabins are very cleverly mapped out with ample storage space, plenty of hangers and more drawers than we have ever needed, with space under the beds for the suitcases. A small television is perched on high. There is a fridge and a combination safe. The bathroom is equipped with soap, shower cap, combination shampoo and body wash, and a complimentary Elemis pack of lip gel, face balm etc. The shower was consistently hot, much better than on the Sun Princess, though bathrobes are not provided with this grade of cabin. Towels were not bathsheets but perfectly adequate and replaced twice daily. In fact, as with most hotels, although the card suggests you help conserve energy by keeping towels on the rail, they were always removed and replaced, wherever you left them. Pool towels were provided in the cabin. The beds were very comfortable, made up in the morning and again at night, with the usual chocolates on the pillow. The air conditioning was quiet and efficient, we were not disturbed by noise from the ship's engines or from adjoining cabins and we would definitely be happy with an inside cabin again. Other than the one we had. Three drawbacks to this particular cabin (C516): when we walked in our nostrils were assailed by a strong smell of smoke - clearly the last inhabitant had been a smoker. We told our steward and she used air fresheners which did help, and although the smell came back occasionally, it dispersed after the first few days, and a second blasting by the steward. Second problem: on the first night we retired to bed early, only to be deafened by loud music coming from the new Monte Carlo Club below. Clearly P&O have not done any soundproofing. The noise continued from 10pm until 12.30 every single night for a fortnight. If we had been in a hotel we would have moved out. We complained the next day but the lady in front of us (from a nearby cabin) was offered the last available cabin on the Lido deck. There was no warning of this noise nuisance and no reduction in the price of the cabin. The music could be heard all along the stretch of corridor so must have affected many passengers. After the first night the sound level was reduced, but we now know all the words to 'Is this the way to Amarillo?' and 'Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chameleon', and if we never hear those songs again it will be too soon. The final problem was that a water pipe broke in the wall between our cabin and the next and our carpet was soggy in patches for 3 days (the first repair did not work). The crew brought in dryers and were very concerned and polite, and on the last day we were presented with a bottle of champagne as an apology. We felt the crew had done all they could. Cabin facilities: there is an inbuilt hairdryer (which worked well on my fine hair), and plenty of mirrors but none where I could easily see myself full length. Only one electrical UK 13 amp wall socket, plus a 110 American style socket for electric shavers. It might be sensible to bring a socket extension plug if you use lots of chargers. The only minor drawback was that the hangers are the type fixed to the wardrobe rail with a metal ring. Very frustrating to use and noisy when loose ones rattle, and no use if you want to carry ironed clothes from the launderette. The cabin lighting is appalling. Wall and ceiling lights and a desk light all failed to provide enough illumination for reading, or sewing, or anything requiring the equivalent of natural light. The bathroom on the other hand was brightly lit and the mirror particularly unforgiving! Coffee and tea-making facilities were provided with a supply of cookie-type biscuits. Our cabin steward, Linda, was excellent, friendly, efficient and beautifully discreet, she never once disturbed us when we were in. Cleanliness: The single most irritating feature was that the doors to Le Club were kept permanently open, allowing cigarette smoke to flow into the area outside, affecting the Magnums bar, the adjoining chairs, the art display, the photo gallery and sometimes right to the Starlights theatre at the far end of the corridor. Presumably the smoke would also have risen into the casino above and the Winners bar. Whilst we are non smokers we have no objections to others smoking in the designated areas, but because P&O kept the doors open (these were new doors replacing revolving doors) smoke was inflicted on all who passed by. This had not been a problem on the Oceana in February - if people were smoking we were not aware of it in any public areas apart from the open deck on the Port side. We heard lots of people complaining about the smoke on this cruise but none on the previous one when the doors were shut. If P&O really want to employ a no-smoking policy (and we see they intend to ban smoking in inside cabins from the autumn) there is a simple solution - keep the doors shut! The ship in general is clean but not quite so clean as the Sun Princess or as clean as it had been a couple of months ago. There were clumps of fluff from the new carpets not being vacuumed up, tables in the buffet sometimes not cleared away, litter on the stairs, and on several occasions the ladies' toilets were out of order or overflowing with discarded paper towels. None of these problems had been an issue at all in February so we wondered if P&O have cut back on cleaning staff. The crew seemed very thorough in their housekeeping efforts on deck, constantly cleaning, painting and varnishing, though notices warning of wet paint/varnish were small and often not seen in time. The ship had been refurbished between our two cruises, and whilst the new carpets were bright, only some of the carpets had been replaced, and some of the lounge chairs in the Atrium were worn, with loose piping on the covers. Internet cafe: Very expensive (and very slow) though there were packages (about £21 for 100 minutes, or a bit less than double that for 200). It worked out at about 20p a minute, without the package is was approx 30p. We found internet cafes ashore much cheaper with fast connections. The Explorer cafe has been fitted out with extra computers which seemed a shame, the equivalent on the Sun was our favorite bar (tables next to the windows, great view of the waves, a very cosy corner). Library: well appointed with comfortable chairs but a limited range of book titles to choose from, and restrictive opening hours (the cupboard doors firmly locked), 8 till 8 (plus a two hour lunch break between 1 and 3 pm), unlike on the Sun Princess where you could go at any hour of day or night, and were trusted to take and return books. There were lots of books for sale, and the usual selection of board games, cards, puzzles, etc and cds and dvds to rent plus a cupboard for passenger 'swaps'. Launderette: I did not use them on this trip, but there is one on each deck tucked away forward, each with two machines, no soap dispenser, soap must be brought with you or purchased from the shop. Two dryers. Ironing board/iron. Everything free but in February there were no chairs, not good for elderly or infirm passengers, and I hope P&O have rectified the situation. It can take a lot of long trips to find out if the launderette has available machines, to go buy soap when you discover there is none, to check if the wash cycle has finished, to load the dryer, to return when that finishes, etc. Because you cannot use the ship's hangers, I would recommend taking a handful of wire hangers with you (or maybe the ship would provide them). I discovered that the laundry on deck 5 was often empty, when all the others had long queues. Dining: We always ate breakfast and lunch in the Adriatic restaurant. The breakfasts were very good, with quick and efficient service, making a very civilized start to each day. The menu offered a choice of fruit juices, smoothies, cereals, porridge, a chef's special of the day, any combination of egg, sausage, bacon, mushrooms etc, plentiful tea and coffee. We did notice a reduction in portion size since February (for example, poached eggs has become poached egg), but that is not a bad thing and you can always ask for more. Special requests like gluten free toast and skimmed milk were met without fuss. Each lunch menu offered a curry of the day, and the usual three plus courses, all attentively served by the extremely courteous and hard working Indian waiters. In the evenings we were very happy with anytime dining in the Ligurian restaurant. Very few meals fell below excellent, some were marvellous, and we felt the soups had markedly improved. Petit fours every night were a nice touch and all delicious, plus free specialist coffees and teas and a half price liqueur of the day. Unlike Roydini's review of the July 2008 cruise, we never felt rushed and we never found the dining areas congested, but we do appreciate that different cruises may be totally unlike a previous or future one. Neither did we ever experience cold food as other reviewers have (unless it had been ordered as such). Our only complaint was that the bread rolls (handed from a platter and not left on the table) were too hard to break open with the hand, and too challenging for senior teeth, although we discovered that soft rolls are always available on request, at any meal. We prefer to eat at a table for two, and at first were alarmed by the notice saying that tables could no longer be reserved as they were in February, but we we were always able to get one in the evening, though there are very few available, and similarly obtained one just by asking at breakfast and lunch, the waiters were very accommodating. On the Sun Princess a barrier is often used to divide tables for four into two sections, which works very well. On the Oceana they do not use barriers and often placed us on a table for six or eight and told us we would not be joined by anyone else, so it was slightly less intimate. I did overhear other passengers complaining when they were seated with other people at tables for six or eight, but the moral is, if you don't ask you won't get! The optimum time for obtaining a table for two at the late sitting is 8.40pm. and we never had to wait more than a few minutes. Lots of people seemed to be under the impression that they could use the 'anytime' Ligurian restaurant although they were supposed to be dining in the 'traditional' Adriatic, we saw many being turned away. On formal nights most people donned dinner jackets and many of the ladies wore full length dresses, it is more 'dressy' than on the Sun Princess, and there were 4 formal evenings out of 14 nights, compared with 5 out of 31 nights on the Sun, plus five of the newly introduced 'semi-formal' and the rest 'smart casual'. One was 'black and white' night, one 'tropical' and one '60s and 70s' theme night though we had no prior warning of these dress codes and no one at all dressed up for the sixties night. I do not understand why mention is not made of these theme nights in the pre-cruise information. I noticed that the ship was selling Hawaiian shirts for the tropical night - a little opportunistic, we felt. We rarely used the lunchtime buffet on deck 14 (the Plaza) as it always seemed to be crowded and hard to find a table, with limited opening hours. It turned into the specialist Horizon Grill and the Plaze Bistro at night, neither of which we tried. There was usually a theme of the night, with Tropical, Indian, Best of British nights etc. There was a good range of seafood in the lunchtime buffet, (far better than the Horizon on the Sun Princess) with beautiful, huge green-lipped mussels, prawns, smoked salmon etc. Unfortunately the Adriatic closed at 1.30 pm and the Plaza buffet closed at 2.30pm, so the only venue for a late lunch would be the Cafe. From 3pm the Plaza offered 'tea' of sandwiches, scones, cakes, puddings or fruit salads. Tea was also served in the Adriatic, consisting of crumpets, scones, sandwiches and miniature cakes. We dined once (and had the occasional coffee) at the 24 hour Cafe Jardin on deck 8, which is oddly named as it serves an Italian (not French) menu of seafood, soups, antipasti dishes, pizzas, pasta, salads and desserts, tea or coffee (the menus changed weekly and had been redesigned by Marco Pierre White). There was also a buffet for pick and mix salads, meats, fruit salad etc if none of the set dishes appealed. The cafe was well attended (far more than the equivalent cafe on the Sun Princess) but although the food was fairly good, we found the service lax and definitely inferior to the service in the other restaurants. The Terrace grill seemed popular, serving good hotdogs, burgers and chips. Room service was free but we didn't use it. The Magnums bar served champagne and caviar at a price, again we didn't use it, mainly because situated opposite Le Club it smelled strongly of smoke. Drinks in all the bars were priced very reasonably. The chocolate buffet was very well attended with huge queues but we did not go so I can't comment. We did not use the icecream counter either. Reception: In February there was a box for posting comment cards about the service in the restaurants on the reception desk, this time it was not there and when we tried to hand a card in, the chap on reception did not have any idea what we were talking about. You could leave the cards on the lectern at the restaurant door, but as the waiters then read the cards out to each other, it was not an enticing prospect, and very few people did so. I am sure the number of comments will have been reduced by this lack of ease of use. Also, the name tags on cleaning staff and servers in the buffet were in large lettering and easy to read, in contrast, the restaurant waiters wore smaller badges and their names could not be read easily. Entertainment: We went to the 10.45pm performance every night, as we were driven out of our cabin by the noise from the Monte Carlo Club below us. The Headliners, a group of dancers and singers, offered outstanding entertainment, ably supported by a couple of bands. The youngsters worked incredibly hard, the singers all had good voices, the dancers were superb, their performances would be acceptable in any good theatre venue. There were also a couple of comedians (one of whom was receiving a lot of criticism for his cruel interaction with the audience), one of whom was rather 'bluer' than we might have expected, a cabaret singer and a magician. In the Atrium a pianist played or a duo sang, pleasant singalong material. A classical pianist performed concerts, and other groups played nightly in various bars, but we did not hear them. There were a couple of speakers, a nun who had become an estate agent and gave very competent talks on buying property, Tony Gubba talking about his years on Grandstand and a jeweler who gave a very interesting series of lectures on gemstones. He was a very good speaker, and offered champagne in the jewelry store after each lecture, when we were able to see the stones he had been teaching us about. We did, to our astonishment, play bingo on several occasions, and thoroughly enjoyed it. There was also a very informative and entertaining lecture given by the third officer and offered as a replacement of the visits to the Bridge which are now prohibited because of security concerns. The Starlights theatre has a small stage and it is not really suitable for the dance productions (the dancers had to use the floor space and were restricted in their movements), and the lighting needs adjusting (floodlights often shone directly in the eyes of the audience) but the seating in both theatres was comfortable. The Cruise Director Hughie Thomas, who had been conspicuous by his absence on the Caribbean cruise was slightly more in evidence this time, and was very amusing, but still could not compete with Dan Stein on the Sun Princess who managed to be here, there and everywhere, meeting and greeting, had his own tv show, hosted innumerable activities, all with charm and complete professionalism. P&O would benefited from a Cruise Director of his caliber. One member of the Oceana entertainment squad stood out, Jo B, a lady with an infectious laugh and a great way with people. There were quite a number of young children on board and they always seemed happy in the company of the youth crew. The TV sets were too small, and the remote difficult to use, but the service itself had definitely improved since our trip in February, when there had been no BBC News channel at all, only CNN. Now there was constant BBC news on several channels, but otherwise the programme was identical, with the same old films showing. Public announcements are broadcast in the corridors and do not often intrude into the cabin, but you can always tune into the tv to get the announcements if you want them. Movies were again shown in the Starlights theatre on occasions but again were not ones we wished to see. The printed newspaper of British news which had been delivered to the cabins in February was still available but now had to be picked up at the reception desk. The Horizon paper was still not as good as the Princess Patter, being very complicated and hard to follow, with numerous unnecessary additional loose pages and so many grammatical and factual mistakes that I eventually brought it to the attention of the staff. On a cruise it's easy to lose track of the days of the week, and it doesn't help being presented with incorrect announcements of events and very irritating when the wrong questions/answers to the crossword are printed! On the last day we were given a Cruise Log with proper amendments to the itinerary, which is nice to have as a memento. The port talks were recorded (we went to two actual presentations) and shown on the cabin tv. There was again a lot on offer during port days (seminars on health and beauty for instance) but of course we were not on board to take advantage! Deck quoits were popular when the weather allowed, there were two golf practice areas and a golf pro on board, the pools never seemed overcrowded, but when the weather was not brilliant there was less fighting over sunbeds than usual. Shops: Again, very good quality, reasonable prices, and again pleasing to note that toiletries and medications were not at all overpriced, very fair considering passengers are a captive audience. There was a lot of cheap costume jewelry and some perfume, but the watches, t-shirts, bags etc on offer were uninspiring. We did not attend the art auctions nor use the casino. Neither can we comment on the gym or spa. Photographs: The photographers were very pleasant and not pushy at all, could easily be avoided or refused. The prints were very expensive. Again the DVD of the trip did not appeal to us as it appeared to comprise 90% of passengers cavorting and waving at the camera. I think the idea is to capture as many as possible so they would be inclined to buy, but it makes for a boring video and we were not tempted to purchase it. A marked contrast to the Sun Princess DVD - coverage of the ports was excellent, a brilliant souvenir. Destinations: Cadiz was wonderful, easy to walk around and fun to explore the old city of narrow streets. Barcelona was a literal wash-out, with torrential rain. The sea was too rough for us to land in Monte Carlo so we had an extra day at sea, but we had been warned in any case that much of Monaco was closed off for the Grand Prix event. Livorno was excellent, we took a coach tour to Pisa and climbed the leaning tower, then took the shuttle bus into Livorno itself, the shops were closed because it was Sunday, but it is an interesting port. A second coach tour to Rome was fantastic, but of course we wished we had more time to spend. Alicante we cannot comment on, as we caught a local bus to Benidorm, which was very touristy but still interesting to see. Gibraltar was too 'English' for our tastes, and expensive (take sterling with you, as the exchange rate in euros was very much to the islanders' advantage, particularly in the taxi service offered on the dock. If you are fit, the walk into town takes about 15 minutes, the minibus taxis charged 4 euros per person (but it would have been £2 in sterling). Disembarkation: We were allowed to hold on to our large cases until 8pm so dress for the final evening meal was necessarily casual. We had to vacate our cabin next day by 8.30 am. Breakfast was provided in the Adriatic in two shifts, at 6.45 and 7.45, but the doors were only open for 15 minutes each time. We joined the short queue and got a table for two without asking, and the system seemed to work well. I imagine the Plaza would have been very crowded. English newspapers were sold on board and we were able to relax in the Starlights theatre until it was time to leave. Coach passengers were taken off before independent travellers, but if you wanted to disembark early you could tell reception the night before and would be allowed off before the rush. In order to do that you have to be able to manage all your luggage on your own without any assistance. For this reason we did not ask to disembark early. The worst bit was difficulty in locating our cases in the departure hall, by the time we had found ours, we were right at the back of the queue. There were lots of taxis waiting to pick passengers up. Odd tips: However tired you are, try to smile for your security photograph when you come aboard and are given your passcard, the photo is brought up on the screen every time you leave or return to the ship! You can utilize the time between vacating your cabin and leaving the ship by checking out other grades of cabin (now empty)! Make your way to the gangway for disembarkation when you hear the first call for the color in front of yours - by the time they make the final call, it will also be the first call for your color and you will be in the front of the queue and ready to go. Photographs of this Oceana cruise can be seen at: http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/claudianutley/OceanaMediterraneanCruise2008 You can see the Oceana dinner menu collection for Feb 2008 (and if you want to study the pages do not run it as a slideshow but click on individual photos to zoom in): http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/claudianutley/OceanaCruiseLogHorizonWelcomeMenus You can also see photos from our Caribbean trip on the Oceana (Feb 2008) http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/claudianutley/OceanaCaribbeanCruise2008 and videos of all our trips on the Sun Princess and Oceana on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/corbatel Conclusion: the Oceana is a lovely ship. My husband still prefers it to the Sun Princess, I still feel the Princess just had the edge, but we would be happy to do a repeat cruise in either. However our next trip is booked with the MSC line and should be in complete contrast to both Princess and P&O. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2008
My wife and I and 15 year old son went on a cruise to the Canaries. First impressions , great organization and the ship has the wow factor when you enter the atrium,. We had a mini suite with balcony and a separate adjacent cabin with sea ... Read More
My wife and I and 15 year old son went on a cruise to the Canaries. First impressions , great organization and the ship has the wow factor when you enter the atrium,. We had a mini suite with balcony and a separate adjacent cabin with sea views. All was ok, and we had a great cabin steward from Goa. ( Horrified to learn later about his pay and conditions , 9 months with not a single day off) First experience to wave goodbye to relatives on outer decks, invitation received have a glass of champagne,. We were horrified them to be asked to pay for it ! Sorry P and O, a stupid tactic, and naive start to the cruise experience. Its set a tone for the rest of the trip. A real pr disaster. It would cost P and O nothing to throw this in, and start the adventure in the right spirit. Many passengers refused to pay, a view expressed by most .. We chose freedom dining, but its very congested and in the end we often paid extra to have more space and solitude in the Plaza and Horizon Bistros. Food overall very good,verging on excellent but nighttime dining, only one option with very limited menu. Also in the main dining area, the Ligurain service was at high speed with next course out and held whilst still eating the previous one. To be rushed at high speed through the courses is not what you expect Kids club 13-17 doesn't work for teenagers., A new 15 year old is worlds apart from 17 year olds going on 18/19. Romantic liaisons were on their agenda, not activities.. Think again P and O. It needs to be 13/15.. Over that " kids " don't need to be organized. It was very clicky and lots of teenagers avoided it. Some staff seemed to have the same agenda , romantic liaisons between themselves not overly concerned about the guests. Entertainment in two theaters, largely provided by a fantastic group of young people called " Headliners" Amazing changes of shows, costumes and choreography..However, some entertainers , it seemed, were plucked from karaoke competitions. A singer and comedian, Shaun Perry was embarrassingly bad. People were leaving after two songs.. In another bar, Winners, the duo sang repeatedly out of tune. Come on P and O..pull your socks up.. the Passenger cabaret had better acts from among the guests ! There was a future cruise desk manned by the most inept person I had ever met. He was unable to answer any questions, and when one day I said I found the brochure and pricing confusing, he read it for 10 minutes and said " I agree with you ! " How much revenue must they be losing because of him? organization generally was excellent, but you left feeling the main objective was to get you to part with as much money as possible in two weeks. Photographers roamed the ship like cockroaches, and at £14.95 for a one minute photo had everyone groaning. There were hundreds if not thousands of unclaimed photos. Make them more affordable P and O ! Laundry facilities were poor, and overworked. My wife spent hours walking to find them unavailable.. Overall we had a good first cruise experience and the ship has a nice feel about it... The Canaries, las Palmas in particular are not too exciting. I think Gran Canaria should be skipped and instead make an overnight stop in Tenerife.. We had a two hour open top bus tour of las palmas which can only be described as a touring Toxteth by the sea.. Getting passengers on and off the ship was very well planned and executed..and we left the ship having made some new friends, and a little sad. We'll probably come back to the Oceana but we hope that the Cruise directors at P and O read the survey forms and make the improvements that would make the Oceana experience memorable for the right reasons... If we cans see these things why cant they, so simple to fix, and make the Oceana a true champion of the seas... Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
We travelled from Glasgow to Southampton by train the previous day to our departure (but that's a whole other review). We travelled with my parents (60+, my Mother would kill me if I gave her actual age away!) and our children aged ... Read More
We travelled from Glasgow to Southampton by train the previous day to our departure (but that's a whole other review). We travelled with my parents (60+, my Mother would kill me if I gave her actual age away!) and our children aged 15, 12 and 2. We made our way to the ship from our hotel by taxi (there are a large number of cheap hotels less than a mile away from the Doc's)our luggage was duly taken from us and re-appeared at our cabin within a matter of hours. The embarkation process was relatively quick and easy, we arrived around 12noon there was some queuing but it didn't take long to get our boarding cards and security checks sorted and before we knew it we were on the ship, it was all very accessible as we had our youngest in a buggy and were guided to the lift. Once onboard we were met by the front of house staff, the girls from the spa were selling special packages which included one for all the formal nights which I signed up for @ £149.00. You step immediately into The Atrium which is lovely with a beautiful fountain and staircase in the center, there is a bar, reception area and lounge chairs all in this area. We were directed to the Plaza Buffet for lunch while our rooms were made up. Unfortunately though there were very few seats left and those that were left were outside, it wasn't the best of weather and it had started to rain so we sat huddled up and tried to eat something but it was pretty pointless the food was cold before we got it to the table. The food is definitely the high point of the holiday though, the standards are fantastic, rarely was anything left or refused - although we did try to be a bit adventurous and try out things we had never ate before including the lobster (which was a bit disappointing). The seafood in the main though was outstanding and I highly recommend the seafood risotto, my husband loved the dessert menu and on occasion ate our daughters helping too. The waiting staff in the Adriatic Restaurant are superb, friendly, polite, efficient and knowledgeable. Nothing was too much to ask for and given the need to cater to the whims of 2 teenagers and a 2 yr old that is no easy task! There is usually 4/5 choices and if you don't fancy any of them then there is constantly steak, chicken, cesar salad or a vegetarian dish to choose from. The cabin was slightly small but big enough to meet our needs and we did have a cot and a buggy in there! It was good to have the minibar and safe in the room free of charge, but I was unaware that you could ask the cabin steward to fill up the ice bucket which would have been nice, instead of running to the nearest bar to get it filled. There were lots of little extra's in the cabin which was appreciated, this included shower gel, eye cream, lip balm and the magic foot cream which worked wonders after a long day walking around on shore. Chocolates on the pillows every nite which our little one always managed to get before we did! and lovely complimentary biscuits I recommend the orange ones great with a cuppa. Our cabin steward was a lovely lady although as some others have said it is disconcerting to hear that the cabin staff work for 9 months solid with no time off for good behavior and they seem to get less favorable perks to the other staff - ie they are not allowed to use the plaza restaurant but all the entertainment staff, the spa staff and officers are. All the kids used the entertainment facilities on board, the staff seemed to try hard to keep them amused and offered a variety of activities for them my 12 yr old loved the girlie nite in and pampering session and pool party and my 15 yr old just loved coming and going as he pleased. We had to complain about the video arcade as most of the equipment was broken and switched off then we discovered the other equipment was also broken and useless and we had to go to the Casino for a refund of our money. For the younger kids there was a range of activities a ball pool area and lots of arts and crafts. Special visitors like Noddy would appear now and then (although my little one was terrified by the 6 foot Noddy but most of the other kids loved it). My only complaint here would be that more often than I would have liked the kids were sat in front of the TV watching various kiddy programmes or films. This meant our little one often wouldn't settle there as she was more interested in the ball pool and toys which were discouraged at these times. The entertainment in Starlights and the Footlights theatres was of a very high standard the Headliners theatre group were excellent and the singers and dancers worked there socks off in there every nite and even received a standing ovation for their final performance which was enjoyed by every age group (even my 15yr old son!). We did complain about one of the "comedians" that appeared in the Yatch and Compass bar, he was the worst comedian I have ever heard, people left the place in droves and he insulted just about every member of his audience, the worst part though was when he tried to tell a joke about the 7/7 bombing. My husband took the time to report this to the entertainment director in writing but he failed to even acknowledge the complaint. The drinks were reasonably priced and the cocktail menu was excellent - each day there was a different one on offer usually priced about £2.50 well worth a try. Just be careful ordering a draught lager in the Yatch and Compass though we witnessed the staff serving slops to customers then placing the remainder of the slops back in the fridge! Needless to say my husband and father only drinks canned lager/beer after discovering this. Our cruise was affected by some bad weather so we were unable to call into the port in Ibiza but these things can't be avoided. Vigo and Lisbaon was a bit disappointing, this could have been in part down to the weather as this meant we headed back to the boat earlier than we might have done but Barcelona, Cannes and Ajaccio were lovely and definitely worth a visit. P&O offer free transfers into the main part of the cities in most ports so we didn't bother with any of the organized excursions deciding instead to do our own thing. The zoo in Barcelona was massive and had every type of animal you could imagine with different shows planned throughout the day we spent nearly 4 hrs there and still never managed to see it all, for about 15 Euros I felt we definitely got value for money, there is also a theme park in Barcelona and the open top busses provide an excellent service and are a good way to get a sense of the City for about 20 Euro. Don't bother with the organized trip to the Football stadium, it is easily reached either by tour bus or the metro and works out far cheaper than the organized trip. Finally the spa and Gym, they offer just about everything you could imagine, the gym equipment is modern and easy to use with plenty of equipment available and friendly staff around to help out if needs be (they even offer a personal training service) The spa and hairdressing salon is a lovely place to relax and be pampered and the services on offer were excellent. They offer a range of specials throughout the cruise especially in the second week,so look out for these if you fancy trying it out. I booked the package for the formal night which included hair and make-up, it was nice to have some me time which isn't always easy with 3 kids but it helped to make the holiday. All in all I would thoroughly recommend cruising for families, I know we had some complaints but they were pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. The kids have been raving to all their friends about the fantastic time they had and we definitely feel rested and relaxed as a result. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
We only booked this Cruise at short notice as it was advertised as having Direct Flights from Leeds Bradford to Barbados and same on Rtn from Acapulco. Two wks before we were due to leave we were informed that our Flt to Barbados would ... Read More
We only booked this Cruise at short notice as it was advertised as having Direct Flights from Leeds Bradford to Barbados and same on Rtn from Acapulco. Two wks before we were due to leave we were informed that our Flt to Barbados would need to make a Technical Stop to refuel(Runway at LB too short to take off with full fuel load), we had a 20min Flt to Manchester where we sat on the Aircraft for 1hr 10mins whilst they refueled it. During the Flt we had free drinks and reasonable meals compliments of P&O served very well by Thomsons Staff, the Flt was operated by Thomsonfly on behalf of P&O. We arrived in Barbados on time and within 20mins were on a bus on the way to the Ship, Traffic was heavy and our Driver thought he knew a quicker way to the Ship/port, we eventually arrived 2hrs Later(normal time for rest of Buses was 1hr) we ended up in a queue of buses and sat for another 30mins before being allowed off the bus, just what you need after a 10hr+ flt. Check in when we eventually got there was quick and we boarded the ship and were shown to our cabin on A deck our luggage arrived 1hr Later. The ship itself was fine but did some signs of wear and tear but nothing untoward, we were allocated Freedom Dining which did work out quite well as we like to eat early and managed to get the same table every night, our 2 Waiters(Ved & Jo) were excellent. The food in the MDR was varied with lots of choices and quality was excellent. However our cabin A506 which was directly below the pool deck was very noisy with banging and scraping when the staff were arranging the sunbeds late at night and early morning, there was also some sort of machinery starting up on a regular basis which kept us awake, after bringing this to P&Os attention we were eventually moved to another cabin on the same deck A437 which was quiet while in Port but as soon as we sailed there was a constant Tapping from the bulkhead/ceiling, this was investigated and as it could not be fixed we were moved to B542, this cabin was fine with no noise other than normal ship noises. Entertainment was good with the CD being Mr Rob Boyd who in our view is one of the best CDs around, the Singers and Dancers were terrific with their shows and full of energy, guest entertainers were Ok and did 2-3 shows each wk of the cruise, John Sergent did a talk and that was very well received. We did miss Mayreau due to bad sea conditions but did get into St Vincent instead, we didn't find St Vincent to good, all other ports of call were completed and the weather was fine and hot everyday except for Colon when we had a Tropical Thunderstorm in the afternoon, so we can say we really enjoyed the cruise. Our highlight was a visit to a Embara Village with "My Friend Mario Tours" highly recommended. Now the Ugly, our rtn flt from Acapulco, we were informed on the ship that once again we had to stop to refuel this time in Miami, we took off on time then once airbourne we were then informed that due to the crew that was taking us from Miami to LB not having had enough rest, we would have a 2hr wait on the plane in Miami, however the 2hrs turned into 3hrs 50 mins as they did not to start to refuel the aircraft until 30mins after the new staff had got onboard, we had been told that with the 2 hr delay the air-crew would look after us however this consisted of 1 cup of tea or Coffee or a glass of water during the 3hr 50min wait, not what you would call being looked after, to complete the rtn flt misery when we were 20 mins from landing, we were told that due to LB being Fog bound we had to divert to Manchester and were then then taken by coach to LB. Not the best rtn flt from what had been a good holiday, all in all it took us 19hrs 30mins to rtn back to LB. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
After a nightmare journey getting to east midlands airport through blizzards on the morning of 6th February, we boarded the flight to barbados and the holiday started then. Plenty of room on the A330 thomas cook flight no need to upgrade ... Read More
After a nightmare journey getting to east midlands airport through blizzards on the morning of 6th February, we boarded the flight to barbados and the holiday started then. Plenty of room on the A330 thomas cook flight no need to upgrade as plenty of leg room. Complimentary drinks and plenty of food. Took 8 hours and arrived 30 minutes early into barbados. Transfer to ship brilliant, cases took about 2 hours to arrive. Cabin was inside and was OK but could do with an update in the shower room. As flights were coming in late because of operational problems we had to stay in barbados an extra night and we had to miss our first island of Mayreau where we were looking forward to a restful day on the beach. Next we were of to Grenada and took a local taxi around the island, We would never book a trip with the Ship as these tours are simply brilliant as we did the same one 10 years ago. Next we were off to Margarita in Ven, this was made via tender and although described as mosquito hell it was your typical tropical island, people who visited inland said it was a dump with rubbish all over the place and not very nice, should have stayed on the lovely white beach and enjoyed a swim - not a mosquito in sight. next off to Curacao a dutch island that looks like amsterdam, lovely for photos. Day at sea then arrived at Colon, this was one time when everyone should take an organized trip as Colon and Panama City are very dangerous places to walk around. We went in a mini bus with 5 other passengers and was dumped in the middle of dock area and everyone had guns. We had wanted to go to the local mall but was taken to the warehouse quarter where you could only buy in bulk no less than a dozen items a time. Early the next day we started our transit through the Panama canal and I can only describe this as truly breath taking, it was fantastic, I will never never forget the experience, through the locks and into the gatun lake was unbelievable wow, wow, wow. A helicopter went around the ship and took photos and film which we could buy as a DVD for £16 it was well worth it as we could see ourselves at the front of the ship waving. Tell family that they can watch you transit the canal either via the ships web cam or the one on the side of the canal (panama web cam). Some mobile phones did not work while we were in Panama or the pacific. Someone said that the Panama authorities blocked them. My vodafone did not work until I was back in the UK. Then at sea and off to Puntarenas in Costa Rica. This was truly wonderful as we went on an organized trip to the jungle and went skywalking across several rope bridges (like the one in I'm a celebrity) fantastic and worth the £32 which the trip cost. Day at sea and onto Porto Quetzal in Guatemala more jungle trips if you wanted. Day at sea and off to Acapulco we berthed right by the beach and the town. we were looking forwarding to spending a day and night there but we were told that we had to move back out to sea for the night as the ship had to take on sea water for processing into drinking water. This caused some problems as people wanted to spend the evening in Acapulco and had to be back on board by 10.30, we got the letter telling us about this change after we arrived home. Don't do the trip Amazing Acapulco as it is the same trip that takes you back/from the airport. We went on a trip to see the divers and you could do this by hiring a taxi for a few dollars as it is only around the corner. Oh I forgot to mention Oceana, it was a very clean comfortable ship but is beginning to look its age and a passenger said she had heard that it was being downgraded to an Ocean Village but it may be just a rumor. Food was excellent and a good choice was available although I have had just as good on a Thomson cruise. Weather and sea conditions were perfect as one officers said it was the best weather he had every had in all the years he had been cruising, sunny and very hot especially in Acapulco. Diana Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
The dreaded flight to Acapulco. We left home for the drive to Gatwick at 11 pm on Thursday and arrived at the drop off point for the car at 3 am. We were first at the check in desk and only waited half an hour before they opened at 4 am. ... Read More
The dreaded flight to Acapulco. We left home for the drive to Gatwick at 11 pm on Thursday and arrived at the drop off point for the car at 3 am. We were first at the check in desk and only waited half an hour before they opened at 4 am. My case was a couple of kg over but nothing was said so a very relieved me headed to the departure lounge! The flight was just over an hour late leaving Gatwick then well over an hour delay at the refuel stop - Sanford FL for us. I must say I was so dreading this flight but to be fair it was not as bad as I expected. It was not pleasant by any means being so long, but we did get there in one piece, just so very, very tired! After talking to others I think our Thomson flights were the best. By all accounts the Thomas Cook flights were much worse. The journey to Oceana was a bit hair raising! The driving in Acapulco is certainly interesting!! I must say, nothing we saw on the drive made me want to explore Acapulco further. Then we saw her, as magnificent as ever - our 18th month wait was over and our cruise had started. We arrived just after 8.30 pm. Our friends who had flown from Manchester had arrived at 11am so they had had plenty of time to settle in. I was so shattered I just wanted a shower and my bed so retired without going for a meal. I was in the shower when our cabin steward Camillo arrived to welcome us - much embarrassment followed and he disappeared until the following day! My hubby went for a quick drink and a snack with our friends but we were all unpacked and tucked in by 10.30pm! I had forgotten how small the cabins on Oceana were. Small but perfectly formed!! We spent our day in Acapulco recovering from the long journey (nearly 16 hours!) Spent a pleasant couple of hours walking around Acapulco but then spent an even more pleasant time 'chilling out' around the pool. Our first port of call was Huatulco in Mexico. No tour planned so walked around the shops and spent the morning on the beach. We thought it a lovely place with friendly locals and a charming open sided chapel on the beach. To sit in a pew and see the Pacific and Oceana 'parked' was certainly different! Back on board in the afternoon and another swim in the pool. I love swimming so spent a lot of time around the pool area! The only time my hubby got wet was on the white water rafting tour! San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. We just walked to the beach here and had a beer. Not much to see apart from dreadful poverty. You know, I'm not sure what I think about visiting such places. Are we helping their economy by our visits or are we rubbing their noses in it? I'm really not sure. That evening we sat with a gentleman who was robbed at knifepoint!!! He lost his watch and camera and according to him $500 - why on earth he was carrying so much money beats me! We had been warned not to wander off and on his own admission he did just that. Fuerte Amador. Nothing to say about this port as we had a lazy day on board. Panama Canal. What can you say about this? This was what we had come to see and we were not disappointed. A memorable day. Limon, Costa Rica. Really enjoyed this port. After reading Cap'n Jack's report Chris and I did the Sloth Sanctuary tour. I was not disappointed! Sloths are lovely creatures, we really enjoyed everything on this tour and would recommend it. Cost Rica, we found interesting and would like to see more of this country. Aruba. Another ok place if you like wonderful beaches, lots of hotels and lots of Americans! Wish we had done a tour here. I'm sure the island had lots more to offer than we actually saw! St Lucia. Followed Cap'n Jack again here and did the St Lucia Land and Sea tour. Another good one! The volcano - interesting and very smelly! The Botanical Gardens are lovely, especially if you like gardening. It was so hot and we were so tired, we really didn't appreciate them. The ride on the catamaran was amazing, we loved it! We stopped for 40 minutes at a lovely small beach for a swim. I loved that. Then the best of all - around 50 dolphins gave us the most amazing show that was such a privilege to see. The captain of the catamaran said he had been doing this job for 13 years and this was only the second time he had seen dolphins in this area. A memory that will stay with me for a long time! St Vincent. We had been told by lots of people that St Vincent was one island to miss. It was 'seedy' and there was nothing much to see!!! So we enjoyed our last day on Oceana. In retrospect this could have been a mistake! We had to be out of our cabin by 9 am on Friday, we were leaving for the airport at 2 pm so only had a few hours to pass. An hour of this was passed having a 'nosey' around deck 10 to see how the 'other half lives'!! We promised not to touch anything! So were given permission to look at the suites and mini suites. Wow! They are lovely. I thought at first, the mini suite was a suite!! Until we saw the suites of course! Another hour spent imagining ourselves in a suite and it was time to leave for the airport! The flight home was only 7 ½ hours and once again better than I expected. Overview This cruise on Oceana was certainly our best to date. She is still looking good and still the friendly ship we remember from our first cruise in 2006. I saw all the Headliners shows and the classical pianist both were excellent. Husband and our friends saw the comedian and enjoyed him. Over the 2 weeks our initial disappointment at not being on club dining soon went and found our first time on freedom dining worked very well. As we were always willing to share a table we never had to wait and quite enjoyed meeting new people each evening. I can now see the benefits of freedom dining and if we could have the same waiters each time would be quite happy with it. Though I still think club is still more of an 'occasion' and would choose it for our next cruise. The food and service was as good as expected. They were especially good at giving me a lovely dessert suitable for a diabetic. We spoke with a few who had diet problems and all spoke very highly of P&O. Dress code was kept by 99% I only saw a couple of people not in formal gear and they were not in the restaurant. To be honest, I found the slightly relaxed dress code to be great. Hubby especially liked not having to wear a suit. I did not wear anything different to what I would wear on other more formal ships - it's just that I didn't worry about it!! Everybody still looked very smart and apart from the men not wearing suits it didn't look very different. Digital Living. I had 3 computer lessons. Computer Maintenance, Digital Photography and All about Wireless - all were excellent and Simon the instructor was extremely good. All in all good value for money (£50). I learned such a lot. Being fairly new to cruising I cannot say if standards have dropped - I just know we had a wonderful cruise on a wonderful ship and enjoyed every minute of it. We are hoping to do a segment of the 2011 worldie for our next cruise. San Franciso - Hong Kong 38 nights. It will mean having to go next year with no cruise as we will have to save hard - I wonder if we saved hard enough could we manage a mini suite???!!! Me thinks its going to be a 'be nice to hubby few months'!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
Our journey started at Manchester Airport (UK). For this trip we had upgraded to Premium Class. - Slight hassle, we were not offered the express security route by the Servisair Air Check in person, fortunately the queues were not long so ... Read More
Our journey started at Manchester Airport (UK). For this trip we had upgraded to Premium Class. - Slight hassle, we were not offered the express security route by the Servisair Air Check in person, fortunately the queues were not long so no delays. Boarding the aircraft - no so good, despite being in Premium Class we were held back until all the main cabin was boarded - (for safety reasons). P&O as charterers of the aircraft need to get hold of this type of activity, it this lack of attention to detail that lowers the production and enjoyment. The flight was however good - Thomson, and Premium worth paying the extra for. The Airport to Ship transfer was very tedious, a half hour enforced wait on the aircraft, due to no busses being available, and again premium passengers not afforded an early exit from the aircraft. Anyway finally on board Oceana,all was well.The cabin was as I expected,a good size complete with a huge window virtually ceiling to floor. The cabin steward appeared within five minutes, and was eager to help. All was well. As I noted earlier the ship was in excellent condition, the crew extremely helpful and happy. Certainly Oceana has a soul, not like Arcadia. The other passengers were the usual mixed bag of age, and all mixed very well indeed. The Caribbean ports of call all went well, although my personal choice would be to bin Dominica, having been to all the ports before we did our own thing - St Lucia, St Maartin, and Antigua all fine. So to my first Eastbound crossing - very good. The on board food was to the usual high P&O standard, although one little niggle was the lack of hot tea and coffee in the Restaurant at both Breakfast and Dinner, something that RCL and HAL would not allow. We eat out in the Horizon Grill on 2 occasions - at UK£7.50 per person great value. We considered the Peirre White Jardan, sadly 2 not so good experiences with slow service at Breakfast put us off. Entertainment was very good,the stage shows and single performers all excellent. although I have encountered better on board speakers, and excellent ex Captain giving sea themed lectures, and the a poorly presented series on the BBC by and ex Manager, not so good And so to Southampton, embarkation at the City Cruise Terminal (Ventura was alongside Mayflower) was slick, we were off by 09:15, and on route to Manchester in a Eveasway Coach by 09:45 Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
OCEANA CRUISE E906 A CARIBBEAN ODYSSEY 20TH MARCH 2009 TO 3RD APRIL 2009 We booked this cruise less than one month before sailing, this was the transatlantic bring Oceana back from the Caribbean. Barbados to Southampton 14 ... Read More
OCEANA CRUISE E906 A CARIBBEAN ODYSSEY 20TH MARCH 2009 TO 3RD APRIL 2009 We booked this cruise less than one month before sailing, this was the transatlantic bring Oceana back from the Caribbean. Barbados to Southampton 14 nights. We checked in early for our flight on Thomas Cook Airlines, no problem getting seats together or asking for window seats. Soon we were on our way and all the negative comments about Thomas Cook Airlines were soon blown away. The flight and the service were really good. Soon we were landing at Barbados and the coaches were pulled up to the aircraft steps and we were on our way to Barbados docks. Once there the check in was so smooth, not a queue in site. We have sailed on Oceana 4 times so the WOW!! Factor is not there anymore. The ship though is kept spotlessly clean and soon we were in our cabin and meeting our Cabin Steward and very smiley young man called Xavier. We had tried to book 2nd seating for dinner but were told that we had been allocated Freedom Dining. Never had this before and we did try to change it once onboard. Alan Carr the Maitre'd said that they had so many passengers trying to get 2nd that he thought we had no chance to change. We went along the first night, and each night after, to Freedom dining and choose which time we went we did not have to wait for a table. As long as you are willing to share then we had no problem. We eat at different times each night from 6.45pm to 8.15pm on table of 8 or 6 people. All the people we spoke to said that this was their first time on Freedom but like us they will definitely try it again. Soon it was 9pm and we were sailing from Barbados to St. Lucia. In St. Lucia we decided to go to Marigot Bay we took a taxi to Doolittle's Hotel, this was very pleasant in that you took a small ferry to get their which was 2 dollars return. We stayed on the beach for the morning and returned to the ship around 1.30pm. We then sailed that evening to Dominica where we snorkeled at Champagne Reef. Again a very memorable day with lots to see at the reef. That evening we sailed to St. Maarten, one of our favorite islands and here we took a taxi to Little Bay, Divi Beach Resort. Last year around October this beach was hit by a large amount of water and the beach bar is no more. The staff said that the beach is now larger than before. They still allow you to have beach chairs and umbrellas for a fee. -2- We returned in the afternoon to the shops for a little retail therapy. That evening we sailed to Antigua our last Caribbean island before our transatlantic crossing. In Antigua we took a long taxi journey to Pineapple Beach resort and had some very interesting snorkeling along the two reefs. Anyone going here please remember to haggle for the chairs, they at first wanted 8 dollars per chair but we got them for 4 dollars per chair in the end. One of the good things about this beach is that it has a fabulous beach bar called Mamma Pasta, you must go and try their Rum Punch!!!!!!!!! We then had 5 sea days before our arrival in Madeira. Then another 3 sea days before our home port of Southampton. Overall Oceana is still looking good, we found that the food had improve, in our opinion, since the last time we were on her. Cafe Jardin is now Marco Pierre Whites restaurant in the evening, with a supplement of £4.99, well worth the money!! We also had breakfast and lunch in here most days and found the food and service to be tip top. I must mention The Headliners Theatre Company, in our opinion they were the best troupe of singers and dancers we have seen on any cruise ship. It is hope that P&O will renew their contracts if they so wish. The After dinner speakers were also excellent, we had George Layton, the actor, Derek Redmond for sports and Johnny Breerling on the BBC. A very enjoyable cruise all round. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2009
This cruise really started for us in October last year when we attended a Dinner Dance organised by The Crows Nest, an on-line Cruise Forum I use. I was fortunate enough to win first prize in the Raffle, which was a choice of 2-night ... Read More
This cruise really started for us in October last year when we attended a Dinner Dance organised by The Crows Nest, an on-line Cruise Forum I use. I was fortunate enough to win first prize in the Raffle, which was a choice of 2-night P&O cruises in 2009, kindly donated by Cruisekings and arranged by Les, one of the staff there. As we had already travelled on some of the ships and don't fancy Ventura, we opted for Oceana, as she would not be our first choice ship. Fast-forward almost a year and we set off on the Friday afternoon to stay overnight in the Holiday Inn overlooking Southampton Water. We had cruised aboard Oriana in June and enjoyed the company of Kathy & Mike (amongst others) on our table. Kathy & Mike are local to Southampton so we were pleased to be able to arrange to have dinner with them on the Friday night. We went to La Regatta on Town Quay for a very pleasant Tapas meal. The food & wine were good, service okay and prices reasonable. After a hearty breakfast on Saturday morning, we re-grouped the packing and left for Dock Gate 4 about 1110. I wondered if we would be some of the first to arrive that early but there were at least 100 - 200 people already there I would estimate. We got the car parked and strolled to the Ocean Terminal, popped the one large case through the 'hole in the wall' and then up the escalator to departures and were given 'E' check-in cards. We then relaxed with some refreshments from the 'cafe', some complimentary magazines and that day's copy of Horizon - what a great idea to give it out before actually boarding! I wondered why, when they spent millions on the new terminal, the cafe has been built like a 1950's Rail Station 'hole in the wall'. Surely you can do better than that Carnival/ABP? Check-in started around noon and the first 4 groups took about 20 minutes or so before we were called and the formalities were quickly and efficiently completed. We were directed to the Plaza for some lunch but Tony took a swift detour via our cabin to drop off the valuables. There was a good selection for lunch and I was fortunate enough to be at the counter when some lovely freshly cooked fish goujons were brought out. I followed that with a tasty dutch apple pie and custard (oh P&O, why do you have to challenge the waistline so J). After lunch, we had a wander around the ship to familiarise ourselves. We had been on Sea Princess so at least we had an idea of the layout. Overall, I was impressed with the Ship. I thought it would probably be much glitzier than Sea Princess as she was known to be quite restrained. I am pleased to say that I didn't think Oceana was wildly glitzy - well maybe Winners Bar is a bit over the top camp but other than that she is quite pleasing to my eye. We then made our way to our cabin - a JA grade Balcony Cabin on A Deck. Again, I was very pleased with this. We had upgraded from the Inside I won in the Prize Draw to a Balcony for a modest charge and Les at Cruisekings certainly did us proud procuring this particular cabin. The cabin was quite compact, especially the bathroom but as we like to spend a lot of time around the ship, this did us nicely. It was very clean and well maintained. Lifeboat drill was carried out without too much fuss and then we enjoyed our usual glass of Champagne on Promenade Deck whilst we sailed away to the strains of a Caledonian Pipers Band - from Essex! Tony fancied an afternoon nap, so I went to Explorers Bar for a Coffee and read a magazine. We had been allocated a table for 6 on our requested 2nd sitting and went for a pre-dinner drink in Tiffany's. We immediately felt comfortable with our table- mates, one couple slightly older than us and one considerably younger than us - who were celebrating their 1st Wedding Anniversary. Conversation flowed easily and we had to move quickly at the end to catch a show. The food was very pleasant indeed - well cooked, hot and tasty. Our waiters were pleasant and efficient. We went to see Jimmy James (of the Vagabonds, if you are old enough to remember) who did an absolutely excellent set. After this, I went for a wander around the ship. Most venues were absolutely heaving with passengers determined to have a good time. The nightclub was jumping when I passed about 1245 and we found out the next day it did not close until 5.45. I am pleased to say however that none of the noise or boisterousness reached anywhere near our cabin. I awoke early enough to see us slide into Zeebrugge around 7.45 on Sunday morning. The day started quite overcast but gradually cleared to sunshine. We had breakfast in the Adriatic Restaurant to avoid the likely chaos of the Plaza - it was first morning on board after all. The food and service were a bit of a hit and miss affair, although I suspect that is not the case on longer cruises where the passengers and waiters both get into the swing of it a bit more. After breakfast we got the free shuttle transfer into Blankenberge about 15 minutes away. We had decided not to do Bruges because of a previous visit and so thought we would relax a bit more this weekend. Blankenberge is pleasant enough for a stroll around and has a fair selection of restaurants, cafes and shops. We had thought we might have lunch here but the combination of a stiff, cold wind off the sea and the weak pound making food expensive, swayed us to take the shuttle back to the ship about 1245. Once on board, we checked out the Adriatic menu and decided to look at Cafe Jardin. We settled there and had a lovely lunch in very calm, peaceful surroundings. Both food and service were very good indeed. We then took a stroll around the ship to see what was happening. Obviously not too much in the way of organised entertainment (it was a port day after all) but lots of comings and goings and sport on the large TVs in Winners Bar. A little later I opted to go to the spa area for a relax in the sauna and steam room (which are open to all and free). Unusually on this ship they are single-sex areas. Both were very pleasant and not at all crowded. The changing and locker areas however are very small and poorly equipped. We had arranged to meet out tablemates in the Atrium before dinner to toast the 1st Anniversary. It was Formal Night and I must say that the dress code was (thankfully as far as I am concerned) very well adhered too. Captain Reid had announced that he would not be at the 'Gala Reception' as he would be "driving the boat" but I was very surprised that no-one stood in for him. Consequently, although the drinks were still free, there was certainly no 'reception' and the whole Atrium was packed. This was followed by a wonderful Gala Dinner, which for me included a beautifully rare Beef Wellington and Hot Raspberry SoufflE. The whole meal was absolutely delicious. After dinner, once again the ship was buzzing - although maybe just a little quieter than the previous night. Perhaps some of the partygoers were struggling with the pace? Had a good wander around the ship inside and out and then retired to the cabin. I awoke several times in the early hours (as I am prone to do) and saw the lights of the South Coast twinkling in the darkness. Also awoke just as we were approaching Southampton to find the most dreary, damp morning beginning. Welcome back to Southampton! We were taking our own luggage off with us but our stewardess was quite happy for us to leave everything in the cabin until after breakfast, which we took in the Plaza. Naturally, it was very crowded but we found a table without too much problem and I tucked into a tasty, traditional full English (but restrained in quantity!) followed by a pancake with some maple syrup. I was quite surprised that there seemed to be no rush getting people off and when we were ready, we made our way to the disembarkation point and joined the moving hordes in getting off the ship. We then easily found the car and left the docks for a straightforward journey home without delays. So - overall impressions? This trip certainly exceeded my expectations. I am left feeling that a weekender is a good way to see a ship for the first time and gives a good impression of whether you would like being at sea if you haven't cruised before. I don't however think it really represents an actual cruise as there is not enough time to fit things in. I would not rush to do another weekender unless maybe combining it with a full cruise before or after on the same ship. As for Oceana, she too exceeded my expectations but still would not be my first choice of P&O Ship. This is more a personal taste issue than anything else - I would much prefer to be aboard Arcadia, Oriana or Aurora. I would certainly not rule her out for another cruise however but it would need to be one to guaranteed sunny climes as I feel her outdoor spaces are much better than those indoors. As nice as the Plaza is, I would miss a Crow's Nest lounge and overall feel the public spaces of those other ships appeal to me much more. I am however extremely grateful to Les at Cruisekings and the Crows Nest Forum as their raffle provided us with a great weekend away and the chance to experience the lovely Oceana. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2009
Ever since our 1st cruise, we have the cruise bug, having done the Transatlantic to the Caribbean aboard the Oceana, we re-booked for 2009, same cruise, we love it, food, service, entertainment, can't fault it, on the 2009 cruise we ... Read More
Ever since our 1st cruise, we have the cruise bug, having done the Transatlantic to the Caribbean aboard the Oceana, we re-booked for 2009, same cruise, we love it, food, service, entertainment, can't fault it, on the 2009 cruise we met Sue Holderness from the green green grass what a lovely lady had many a conversation with her and photos, she left my mum a letter in her room with a signed photo. We also made friends with Maureen & Billy from Manchester, we happened to get sun loungers next to them everyday! only sorry we never got their address to keep in touch, we did not know what to do for this hol and did not fancy a normal package hol so we have just booked a cruise for December 2011 on the Azura can't wait Ed Stuart and Roy walker were great as were the headliners as usual, sorry we missed the Freddie Mercury tribute as we heard he was great, we went to see Rob Boyd who was also very entertaining. I must add that the staff and the entertainment staff were all very friendly and helpful, they all work extremely hard and for long periods of time, some away from their family's for many months. The waiters in the dining hall the Adriatic in our case, Mario and his team were great, could not do enough for you and were always very friendly, they make your hol that bit more special. Just hope the Azura will be as good, can't wait to try. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2009
My husband and I have only sailed on small "boutique" boats prior to this trip. By comparison the Oceania's 700 or so passengers was large. Friends who cruise often had told us about this cruise line and praised it so off we ... Read More
My husband and I have only sailed on small "boutique" boats prior to this trip. By comparison the Oceania's 700 or so passengers was large. Friends who cruise often had told us about this cruise line and praised it so off we went. We were not disappointed. the boat is well managed and maintained. The strongest plus is the international and ultra warm staff. They are well trained and up to the task of making you feel at home. The food in both the main dining room and the two specialty restaurants compares favorably with any top New York restaurant and the Open Seating policy is a great way to meet other people if you are so inclined. For our sailing most of those traveling were couples - from 40 - 80 with the majority in the 60+ range. Predominantly American with a smattering of British and Canadian. Many had cruised on more expensive lines (Crystal, Seabourn' said that this ship compared favorably. A word of warning - if you like glitzy entertainment and lots of on board organized activities this is not the boat for you. The major fault we found was with the excursion desk. If you took the cruise tours each day - no problem. We took one and were pleased with it but doing multiple tours doubles the price of the cruise itself and you get so much more local color going off in a small group or on your own. The negative is if you are "independent". Each port has a tour agent that comes on board to help you arrange your day. These people are very knowledgeable but only come on board or are available once the ship has docked. The staff at the itineraries desk provides meager information so, unless you've really done your homework, this can be very disconcerting. The ship does provide a loop DVD and dailytaped itinerary briefing but it might be better to have a daily in person port of call seminar. You are always conscious of arranging your day so that the boat doesn't sail without you (and they will). Overall our experience was a wonderful one - we would definitely sail with this cruise line again Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2009
Transatlantic Crossing - E928 Booking Debbie and I have taken quite a few cruises over the years, with Thomsons, Airtours, NCL, Ocean Village, and P&O, mainly in the Med and to the Caribbean. What should we do this year? Well. we ... Read More
Transatlantic Crossing - E928 Booking Debbie and I have taken quite a few cruises over the years, with Thomsons, Airtours, NCL, Ocean Village, and P&O, mainly in the Med and to the Caribbean. What should we do this year? Well. we have previously completed two transatlantic cruises, one on Airtour's Sunbird (now Thomson Destiny) and the second on P&O's Oceana, and we really enjoy the lazy days at sea, so why not do it again. The next question is who should we cruise with? Should we go with P&O or should we try someone new? So it was time to get the brochures, surf the cruise web sites, and visit Cruise Critic for the reviews and forums. We finally settled on another cruise with P&O, and chose Oceana as we had such a good time on our last cruise. We booked via the internet and got a fairly good deal with a nice amount of on board credit to help pay for our drinks etc. We don't get too hung up on whether we got the cheapest deal after all there can only be one cheapest fare on each cruise! We were happy with what we paid. We requested an inside cabin with second sitting on a table for 8 in the main restaurant. We have always enjoyed formal dining far more than the informal type we experienced on OV. About 3 months before our cruise I e-mailed P&O to book the free coach transfer from Gatwick Airport to Southampton and booked the airport parking. This would allow us to get off the aircraft at Gatwick and drive straight home on our return. Travel and Embarkation Finally, after the normal shopping for posh frocks and all the other essential items for a two week cruise, it was time for the off. We left home early to try to beat any queues on the M25 and arrived at Gatwick ahead of schedule, left the car at airport parking and headed inside the terminal for breakfast. Then it was off to join the queue for the coach transfer to Southampton. This was a little chaotic - no one knew which way we were supposed to queue and no one to ask, so a queue formed both ways from the coach stop. The coaches turned up on time and off we went with only a slight detour due to a crash on the M27. We arrived at the new cruise terminal at Southampton and were surprised at how nice the new terminal was. We were given a coloured boarding ticket and waited for our colour to be called. The embarkation process went like clockwork and before long we were smiling nicely for the photographer as we boarded the ship. First Impressions There were 1982 passengers booked on our cruise and we were told that the ship was more or less full. Oceana can take more passengers but it depends on how many cabins have the third and fourth berths occupied. We found our cabin (D204), freshened up and went up to the Plaza for lunch and a drink. Our first impressions of Oceana are always good - the stunning atrium, the cleanliness, the friendliness of the staff - and today was no exception. Our cases arrived quickly (we hadn't seen them since they were loaded on the coach at Gatwick!), we unpacked and then went off to our first sailaway to the delightful sounds of the Police Brass Band. We cast off from the quay at around 5 pm. Cabin D204 is an inside cabin on D deck (deck 8) It was configured as a twin but can be changed to a queen size if that is what you want. There was enough space for all of our clothes and our suitcases fitted neatly under the beds. The bathroom was of a good size as was the shower, which for me is good as I need a lot of room! The cabin contained all we needed - Fridge, TV, Tea making facilities, Safe, Radio, Hairdryer, Telephone Complementary toiletries and Lifejackets. Although there was no natural light we both find it very comfortable and we tend not to spend too long in the cabin anyway. Our cabin steward was very thorough and anything you requested he provided - for example extra teabags, ice, water, etc. The cabin was cleaned and tidied in the morning and the beds turned down in the evening. Dining We ate in the main Adriatic restaurant every evening and did not try the select dining restaurants. We were very impressed with the quality and service provided by all the team, nothing was too much trouble. There was a good wine selection and we had a mixture of house carafes, and bottles of Rose and Red wine. All were very nice and very reasonably priced in my opinion. We were on a table for eight, three married couples and two sisters. We all got on very well and the conversations flowed nicely. We took our breakfasts in the Plaza most days and sometimes ate out in the sunshine. Again a very good selection was on offer, from cereals, fruit and yogurt through to a full English cooked breakfast if that is what you wanted. Lunch was again a casual affair either at Cafe Jardin or at the Plaza. Cafe Jardin was not a select dining venue during the day and I would recommend it as a quiet, classy place to have lunch. Drinks As mentioned above, I thought the drinks and wine prices were reasonable - pub prices, in my opinion, and without the extra service charge you get on American ships. You would pay far more at an hotel bar. Ports of Call Madeira - we opted for an open top bus tour and a trip to the flower market Antigua - we joined with another couple from our table for a taxi tour of the Island via Shirley Heights and ended up on a nice beach for a couple of hours. A great day! Tortola - The best day yet, we joined another couple from the ship for a day at Cane Garden Bay Beach by taxi. It was $10 per couple each way - not bad. What a beach - fresh coconut pina coladas, dolphins swimming in the bay, pelicans diving for fish, warm sea, and warm sunshine. Wow! St . Maarten - We pre-booked an internet tour with Bernard's Tours which was quite good with stops at the airport beach (it is great to see a jet passing only feet above your head), a trip to the beach, a nature stop to see sea urchins star fish etc, a trip to the capital and market. It was good but we had a bit of waiting about at the start of the day waiting for passengers from other cruise ships. St. Lucia - After shopping at the new cruise terminal we joined a taxi minibus tour to an ecology style walking trail with the chance to try original traditional foods and the odd rum or two! - the tour also stopped at a beach and a market. Barbados - On the morning of our departure we took a short taxi minibus tour via the island capital, the highest point, an old sugar cane factory, a few posh hotels and the Governors house. It was OK but a bit rushed! Days at Sea We found the days at sea very relaxing, there was a full programme of events going on throughout the ship that you could join in with if you wanted to, but there was no one twisting your arm. If you wanted to do nothing or just read you book you could - so we did! We found there to be enough sun beds for those that wanted them. There were busy times and if you went onto the sundecks on a sunny day at 12 noon you probably would struggle to find sun beds where you wanted them. My advice is to get yourselves organised, pick out where you want your sun bed in advance, and amble along there a bit earlier! Debbie went along to the series of talks on "The history of Cruising", which she found extremely interesting. I hit a few golf balls at the regular golf competitions at the golf simulator - chipping, putting and driving - quite good fun now and again. Staff All the staff that we came across on the cruise were polite and smart. Our table waiters and wine waiter were very pleasant and helpful, as was our cabin steward. We often had a drink before dinner at Explorers bar and by the second or third day the waiters knew what we were going to order as we arrived - great service! Entertainment The guest celebrities on board were Ed Stewart, Roy Walker and Sue Holderness. We went to see Sue Holderness give a brief talk which, although interesting in parts, was mainly clips from her TV shows. Roy Walker was quite entertaining with jokes and anecdotes. We went along to see most of the theatre shows which were all high quality and the normal mixture of show songs, tribute style rock songs, and musicals. Disembarkation We stayed on board until our transfer was called to take us to the airport in Barbados. This all went very smoothly and our flight back to Gatwick onboard a Thomas Cook aircraft went without hitch. The most disappointing aspect was all the rubbish left by people leaving the ship. There were flights leaving throughout the afternoon and early evening. As it got near to the time that the flight transfers were due, people dived into the toilets to change and freshen up but, as their suitcases had already left the ship, there was nowhere to pack their leftover toiletries dirty clothes etc., so many people abandoned their bits and pieces in the toilets. There was stuff everywhere, shoes, underwear, toiletries, etc. etc. I think that P&O could have done more to alleviate the situation - provide more day cabins for changing and showering, provide more receptacles for things being dumped, have more people keeping the public areas clean. Likewise disembarking passengers should have been more mindful of how they were leaving the ship for the next passengers. New passengers were arriving as we left and they cannot have had a very good first impression. Positives A well run ship which offers good value for money, great good quality food & entertainment, and friendly & helpful staff. We visited great ports and had good weather. Well done P&O. Negatives Negatives are: the state of the public areas / toilets on the last afternoon of the cruise, the chaotic queues at Gatwick airport waiting for the coach transfer, and the lack of enough seats on the promenade deck. Overall A brilliant cruise overall with the positives greatly outweighing the negatives, good quality food, accommodation and entertainment. I can't wait for my next cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2009
We sailed on the Oceania from Southampton to Barbados with 5 stops along the way. P&O were very professional, the coach transfer from Manchester Airport went without a hitch, check in at Southampton was very well organised and we had ... Read More
We sailed on the Oceania from Southampton to Barbados with 5 stops along the way. P&O were very professional, the coach transfer from Manchester Airport went without a hitch, check in at Southampton was very well organised and we had to wait for only about 15 minutes before we boarded the ship and got into our cabin. We had booked a balocny room but upgraded to a mini suite as it was our honeymoon. The room was lovely, 2 patio style doors leading to a double balcony that you could see the sea from your chair, plenty wardrobe space, a jacuzzi bath, separate roomy shower and separate toilet and sink. The 2 TVs needed upgrading and the channels were very limited, especially when we lost the signal in the middle of the Atlantic! The balcony was well worth the money and we would always have one on future cruises - it was lovely to sit out and watch the world go by and provided somewhere to hang my bikini out to dry! The cabin steward did all that was asked of him and we rarely saw him which was good in that he got used to our habits and cleaned when we were out and about. The food was wonderful. Plenty of it at any time of the day. We visited the Cafe Jardin for evening meal which was £4.95 per head and well worth it for a change of scenery and lovely food. This restaurant also served lovely lunches and breakfasts although the menu only changed 3 times over the 2 weeks and it would have been nice for it to change more frequently. The other chargeable restaurant, The Horizon Grill, was £7.95 per person and was the only restaurant outside. We ate there twice under the stars and the food was lovely however the drinks service was slow as just one bar steward looked after all tables and there was no bar in the restaurant. When we got closer to the Caribbean and the weather got hot it was a frantic hunt to find a sunbed. You had to be on deck before 8.30am to guarantee you would get one and this is probably my biggest complaint. To be fair, the ship is not usually at sea for so long so 2,000 sunbeds are not always required but it was very early to be up and out! By 3pm the sunbeds were empty and you could snooze for the last couple of hours of daylight. The talks on the ship whilst we were at sea were very interesting, entertainment was good and the guest speakers were very entertaining. The Cruise Director Rob Boyd was a star! Alcoholic drinks were reasonably priced and we experienced no issues boarding the ship from any port with duty free alcohol purchased on land. Bottles of spirits in your cabin were cheaper than Tesco and bottles of wine with dinner were around £12-£15 and they kept them until the next evening if you did not finish them. Soft drinks were pub prices (£.50 for a large Diet Coke) and small cans of mixers were 75p which were served with all shots or in your cabin (they were on offer in the cabin, buy 9 get 3 free!). We were on the second sitting for dinner and the food was gorgeous. 5 courses every night and the portions were just the right size so that you could squeeze it all in. Lunch in the Adriatic restaurant was a daily delight for us - the Plaza, the buffet style restaurant, was a little chaotic for us and we prefer a proper meal on a plate! Sitting with different people at lunch time was good and we met some very interesting people who shared their travel stories. We did opt for a table for 2 sometimes at Breakfast as you don't always want to make small talk that early in the morning. We also had room service Continental breakfast a few times which was delivered on time, hot and just as we had ordered it - this was a complimentary service. The trips we did were very well organised and the disembarkation process was faultless. We booked all of our trips through P&O and although I am sure we oculd have got them cheaper on land, they wouldn't have been so well organised and easy. The on board shops sold perfume, jewellery, a little Channel make up and lots of watches. There was also a shop that sold clothes, chocolate and snacks, sun cream and some toiletries. We had to leave our cabin at 9am on departure day and there were optional trips at our final port of call. Overall we had an amazing honeymoon and loved cruising - we were at the travel agents 5 hours after landing back in Manchester looking at brocchures for 2011! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
This was our 3rd trip on the magnificent Oceana. The ship remains a classy lady and is in my opinion what cruising is all about. If you are looking for an air of sophistication coupled with a sense of freedom and adventure, look no ... Read More
This was our 3rd trip on the magnificent Oceana. The ship remains a classy lady and is in my opinion what cruising is all about. If you are looking for an air of sophistication coupled with a sense of freedom and adventure, look no further. she is quintessentially British and lives up to the high standards set by discerning British Cruisers. OK let look at the ship firstly. She is 177,000 tons of gleaming white with a spectacular atrium and a marvelous teak wrap around deck. She has a number of pools and hot tubs ( although getting a sunbed is sometimes an adventure). The pools are clean, well kept and very inviting. The on board Casino is fairly small and suffers a little from not being on a major walk through. That said it is a nice place to be and has been greatly improved by the addition of a "sports" bar within it. all of the major games are available ( roulette, three card poker and blackjack) as well as around 50 (approx) slots. There is an on board night club ( Le Club) which caters for the more energetic amongst us going on into the wee small hours, again a pleasant ( if not very big) club. Although they do have a tendency to crank up the air con in here ( be warned) There are two show rooms, footlights and Starlights. One is a traditional Theatre with room for around 500 and the other a show lounge catering for about the same. Both rooms are good places to watch the entertainment on offer. My only concern here is that on 2nd sitting dinner it can be hard to get a seat sometimes, but i guess if you prefer 2nd sitting like we do it is a small price to pay. The heart of the ship ( apart from the atrium) is without a doubt the Yacht and Compass. A classic Nautical them adorns this "pub" with plenty of seating, including sumptuous leather chairs. A resident band plays here nightly as well. Very nice Magnums Champagne bar is a nice place for a small one pre dinner or if you want a quiet drink after dinner as well ( try a kir royal - spectacular) The atrium area houses a nice coffee area and a waitress service bar. A Great place to sit and people watch. Food What can i say about the food....i know....fantastic The two main restaurant serve up incredible food, especially in the evening. I have never had a bad meal and it defies me how they can turn up such incredible food night after night to so many people. a logistical marvel. There is also a pretty good buffet open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon teas etc. Again very high quality and you wont be disappointed. There is also the 24 hour cafe Jardin. This transforms in ot a Marco Pierre White restaurant in the evening ( a supplement applies) it is truly amazing. Entertainment I have to say at long last it has improved. The "star cabaret" turns were all ( well nearly all) of the highest quality and the in house troupe have definitely raised their game. I can also say the Entertainment officers are all magnificent - never intrusive but always there if you need them. I wont talk about the itinerary as this is a personal thing and everyone has there own favourites. In closing i will say The Oceana is truly lovely and caters for all ages ( i am 48) and in my honest opinion is one of the last bastions of what cruising is all about. Enjoy Read Less
Oceana Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.6
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.6
Family 4.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 3.9

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