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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
You know how it is. Days before departure you check that everything you could possibly need is packed and then with hours to go before closing the front door, you realise something is missing. In my case, I like to think there was good ... Read More
You know how it is. Days before departure you check that everything you could possibly need is packed and then with hours to go before closing the front door, you realise something is missing. In my case, I like to think there was good reason for forgetting the crampons. After all, they’re not the first things that spring to mind when you’re packing trousers and shirts. But joining Oriana for her cruise to the Arctic Circle in search of the Northern Lights, perhaps I should have done. I had found space for base and mid layers, pullovers and fleeces – even hand-warmers and a bobble hat – but not spikes for my sturdy shoes. Fortunately a local sports shop had a set for just £5 and I left the house ready for anything that Norway could throw at me. THE SHIP Oriana might be facing her last few months with P&O before she heads to China to join another cruise line, Twinkle, but it was clear from the moment I stepped on board that she intends to leave in style. Officers and crew provided levels of service that were second to none – no wonder that I heard so many fellow passengers say how much they will miss Oriana. In my book, mid-size ships are manageable and 1900 passengers seems just about right. Big beasts might be fine for late night revellers but Oriana has more than enough space to meet my needs and so it is a relief to know that we still have Aurora, a ship of similar size to Oriana and also for adults only. The public areas match Aurora’s as well and include shops, restaurants, cafés, bars, a well-stocked library, a comfortable cinema and a large theatre. There are also card rooms, lounges, an alternative venue for shows and – if you like dancing – Harlequins offers live groups to get you in the mood. My favourite spot was Tiffanys for a Costa coffee and if you time it right, an array of cakes and pastries are served late morning – at no extra cost. During the cruise I used the Peninsular restaurant and enjoyed some excellent dinners. I should eat more fish and so made the most of the wide variety on offer – salmon, lobster, cod, sea bass, scallops, bream, the lot. But occasionally I opted for the beef, pork or calves’ liver and all were delicious. Superb service adds to the pleasure, of course, and Sabir’s friendly welcome into his restaurant each evening was appreciated. Junior staff were equally impressive – in the Conservatory, new recruits Mark and Jitendra cheerfully offered help with everything from making the toast at breakfast to topping up the tea bags. Special events add variety to daily routines. One was a wine tasting seminar, hosted by Donna, Oriana’s chief wine steward. Ably helped by Christina, Jane and Jude, we sampled a range of wines as we listened to advice on wine tasting and learnt a lot about the winemaking process. The supplementary charge of £10 was good value and the convivial company passed a pleasant hour. THE PORTS Sailing closer to the Arctic Circle the prospect of aurora borealis lighting up the night skies became the main topic of conversation and at our first port, Andalsnes in Norway’s Rauma region, mountains draped in snow and lower slopes flecked with frost added to the anticipation. Time to test out my choice of winter wear! It felt good to scrunch through virgin snow on leaving the town behind. Andalsnes is small and you quickly discover trails through beautiful scenery. Around me, I saw young crew members experience snow for the first time, making snow angels and throwing snowballs, and their happiness was contagious. This is why I was here. To feel young again! The air was pure, the temperature freezing and I had no regrets about overfilling my case with warm layers. The crampons were a different story. One of them kept falling off my shoe – I knew they were too cheap - and I had to shuffle back to town to visit a sports shop for advice. It was succinct. Bin them and buy proper spikes. For a mere £45 (Norway is not cheap) I walked out wearing the finest set in Norway and they were worth every penny. At each port we visited I had them with me and I traversed ice and snow with ease. After the smallness of Andalsnes, Tromso felt very different. Walking out of the city across the bridge high above Tromso Sound with snow flurries and chill winds blowing in from the sea was ... bracing? Having crossed, the Ice (or Arctic) cathedral stands before you and is worth visiting for its triangular beauty; it lies about a mile from the shuttle bus drop-off point. Back in the city centre a hot chocolate (£4) in one of the many cafés thawed me out nicely. Alta was our final port before turning south to Stavanger and it was also the town where there would be most chance of seeing the Northern Lights, a natural phenomenon of bands of different colours swirling across the sky. We stayed for two nights and there’s no use beating about the bush – the Lights remained switched off for the duration. To have any hope of seeing them, clear skies and low temperatures are essential but during our stay there was simply too much cloud cover. However there was a bonus in that we had daytime sunshine with evening snowfalls that transformed the landscape and made Alta’s fjord and mountains look even more magical. ACTIVITIES Alta is home to the Northern Lights cathedral, a futuristic building constructed of steel and concrete and virgin snow made it an even more dramatic sight. The entrance charge is around £10. There were plenty of tours available. Mine to the Igloo Hotel to see bedrooms carved from blocks of ice was fascinating. An overnight stay, the ice bed piled with reindeer skins, is particularly popular with honeymoon couples, the guide told us. Unlike hotels elsewhere, this one melts away each Spring to be re-built in late Autumn. Reindeer sleigh rides were popular activities but the most fun seemed to be had by those who went husky sledding. There is no need to worry about the dogs being forced to work – they can’t wait to get started and once they return they expect lots of fuss and thanks. Taryn, the ship’s senior loyalty manager, enjoyed every minute of the experience. “There was so much screaming and giggling,” she told me, “especially when I had to be dragged out of hip-deep snow!” WORTH BOOKING? The failure of the Northern Lights to make an appearance did little to dim my enthusiasm for this cruise. Every port was markedly different from anything I had seen before and returning to the welcome warmth of the ship each afternoon to be spoilt by officers and crew made the holiday even more special. The cruise also felt different in another way: more than 700 of the 1800 passengers on board were new to cruise holidays. Ian and Angela from Staffordshire had never cruised before and enjoyed every minute. “It was brilliant! We’ve never seen so much snow and we’ve never had service like this. No wonder people keep coming back,” Ian said. “We’ll certainly be booking another cruise.” And so will I. My search for the Northern Lights resumes when I board Aurora next February. If you decide to do the same, be sure to pack plenty of warm clothes! And don’t stint on the crampons. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Just returned from a cruise on the 23rd may from Southampton, shop was lovely , very clean , food was lovely especially the beach house but you had to pay a surcharge of £7.50 each but well worth the visit to be honest I think you should ... Read More
Just returned from a cruise on the 23rd may from Southampton, shop was lovely , very clean , food was lovely especially the beach house but you had to pay a surcharge of £7.50 each but well worth the visit to be honest I think you should be able to visit this restaurant free of charge as part of the holiday as it was not cheap to go on this cruise. The cabin was lovely and comfortable and staff were excellent could not fault it. However unless you are aged over 75yrs of age this ship was very boring as far as the entertainment, it was terrible, the itinerary was knit and natter, how to get rid of water retention, seminars on the war and more war, films then on id Dunkirk, Churchill , I am all for remembering what the elderly did for their country but I don't want to have it thrown down my neck on my holidays. The band symmetric were atrocious they should have put them overboard , no idea who auditioned them , had a tropical night and we thought this might be good, my god it was terrible the band were singing oh when the saints come marching in, I have never had this song played at any party never mind a tropical party, everyone gave up and called it a night it was so bad. P@O really need to get their act together for entertainment, you could not get in any of the 8.30 shows as all the old codgers would eat at 6.00 and then all sit in that theatres a good 1/2 hrs before the shows even started so you could never get a seat, they were rude and impolite to the crew , they expect some respect but obviously they need to learn to be respectful to their younger passengers, I am 56 but I felt like I was on my last legsNEver again on this ship Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Could not resist the Black Friday deal a great way to try P&O. Firstly though I must say I do feel for all those who had their 50 night cruise cancelled some of whom were on this one. The cruise exceeded my expectations. The cabin ... Read More
Could not resist the Black Friday deal a great way to try P&O. Firstly though I must say I do feel for all those who had their 50 night cruise cancelled some of whom were on this one. The cruise exceeded my expectations. The cabin was great and our steward Mateus was excellent. The entertainment crew were fantastic, we could all do with some of Georgie's energy!!!!! The food in both the buffet and Oriental restaurant was excellent. The Headliners put on several brilliant shows. Also enjoyed Manuel Matinez my sides ached after his second show in the Pacific Lounge, Peter Howarth and Walk Like A Man. Both Embarkation and Disembarkation went smoothly. Excursions were good value can highly recommend the Toboggan run in Madeira with the cable car would do this again. Holiday went far too quickly, Atlantic very very choppy weather not great but did not spoil one minute Cannot wait for my next trip which will be on Aurora in November then Arcadia in December. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
Oriana was our first cruise. We liked the ports for this and the time of year was good as was the weather. NO complaints at all. Service was excellent throughout. Only problem really was the tender process at a couple of ports ... Read More
Oriana was our first cruise. We liked the ports for this and the time of year was good as was the weather. NO complaints at all. Service was excellent throughout. Only problem really was the tender process at a couple of ports which took forever and ate into our time on shore. Bit unorganised I think. Shore excursions on P and O quite expensive so we arranged one ourselves and went cycling in Barcelona which was absolutely brilliant and only cost us £26 each. Entertainment I think not quite so good. Headliners were better before but they improved as the cruise went on. Few talks in the theatre from outside personalities than before. The programme was a little bit "samey". The spa was excellent and the girls were really lovely. I went there a few times. All in all - a really good cruise so thank you Oriana and see you again Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
Back on P&O after two Celebrity and one Princess cruise, check in was very crowded but we were onboard quick enough and straight to our outside cabin. A long time since we had not had a balcony, would we miss it ?, well yes we did even ... Read More
Back on P&O after two Celebrity and one Princess cruise, check in was very crowded but we were onboard quick enough and straight to our outside cabin. A long time since we had not had a balcony, would we miss it ?, well yes we did even though it was cold and inclement weather. The cabin seemed small,l although we managed to hang all our clothes which included some very bulky coats etc. The televisions are very small and not interactive as on other ships. The cabin steward happily took away and stored some of the large cases as they did not fit under the bed. The security safe is in the wardrobe at floor level, not easy for the over 60's to access which is most of the clients ? We were on freedom dining and most nights were seated straight away although later diners had to have pagers. The food and service in the Peninsular was excellent. We sampled various venues for breakfast, lunch and an afternoon tea during the cruise and all were very good. I would say however that the conservatory offering was not as good as the American ships. During the sea days we took part in most of the quizzes, and a few of the other activities on offer, the table tennis being on an outside deck curtailed my enthusiasm to play, and the short mat bowls whilst in port was a farce due to the ships tilt. The entertainment was varied and we enjoyed the headliners, comedian Jay Magee, and two good speakers. The formal nights were well supported and the photographers were not in your face all the time which made a change. We were lucky enough to see the northern lights although the full moon did not help, they were generally like a grey wisp of cloud but did come out greenish on the photographs. People on the second night were not so fortunate. The weather on the return leg was very rough, force eleven with the usual array of those that carried on as normal and those that could not. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
The Northern Lights cruise was one of our must do cruises. Embarkation was trouble free and we were soon onboard. We knew our way around as we have sailed on the Oriana before. Our cabin was on deck 9 aft. It had a perfect view of the ... Read More
The Northern Lights cruise was one of our must do cruises. Embarkation was trouble free and we were soon onboard. We knew our way around as we have sailed on the Oriana before. Our cabin was on deck 9 aft. It had a perfect view of the back of the ship and in the perfect position to get back and forth to the restaurant or the promenade deck. We chose not to do the whole dining experience but to to the casual dining in the Conservatory which was buffet style and themed every night. There was always something to choose from or a roast meat and veg. Always a soup and plenty of cold meats and salads. The desserts not my choice but very varied and my husband sampled them all. Our first few days were cruising towards the Arctic Ocean and our first stop Andalsnes, a small town knee deep in snow and looking very pretty. There were various trips going from here but we chose to explore ourselves. Our second stop was at Tromso. We had 2 days here and after exploring the first day, took one of the excursions the second day. We visited the Polar museum, a visit to the Cathedral and a trip on the cable car. Our guide for the afternoon was very informative and we enjoyed the whole experience. Our third stop was Alta. From here we visited the Ice hotel and a husky sled ride. What an experience. We learnt about the upkeep of the dogs and were able to pet them, they are very friendly dogs. We also learnt the history of the ice hotel, how long it's open , how long it took to build etc. Since coming home I have watched the. Joanna Lumley documentary about Norway. And the main reason for going the Northern Lights.Yes we got to see them from the ship on two nights. Fabulous. Our last stop was Stavanger, again we chose to explore ourselves. During sailing days there was plenty to do on the ship. There was a wide range of activities from dancing to shuffleboard. A full programme. If you chose to just relax and read there were plenty of places to do that. Evening entertainment wasn't everyone's cup of tea, we enjoyed some and was disappointed with others but it's all a matter of choice. The service of the crew was excellent always friendly and always polite, they couldn't do enough for you. Disembarkation day was excellent, no problems. It wa a first time cruis for some of our party, they enjoyed it so much they are looking to go again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
This was my first time with P&O and on the Oriana. At first everything was fine and the crew were very lovely. We had problems with the air conditioning sticking on either too hot or too cold but we could forgive that as it was going ... Read More
This was my first time with P&O and on the Oriana. At first everything was fine and the crew were very lovely. We had problems with the air conditioning sticking on either too hot or too cold but we could forgive that as it was going in for a refit in November. Mid week a the Norovirus broke out and everything changed. The hygiene standards actually worsened and did not improve. They had no idea of infection control and I witnessed on lots of occasions very poor disinfectant techniques. The staff obviously had very little knowledge of how to disinfect adequately. There were many empty soap dispensers on the ship and the only hand sanitation was in the dining room, where we had one squirt as we went in.Very little information was given to passengers. The staff were obviously under pressure from their supervisors and their attitude changed, especially the waiters who were rude and incompetent. They didn't even look at or acknowledge when people thanked them. This was my fourth cruising experience but first with P&O. Thankfully the first three lovely and staff were brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed them but had this been my first ever cruise I would never step board on a ship again. There were so many other things that went wrong or were bad practises that I would have to write a book to include them. Thankfully we didn't contract the virus but I wasn't in the least bit surprised it was a problem on board. I felt so sorry for the passengers boarding the Oriana as we were getting off. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
We like cruising with P & O, but we did have issues with this cruise, mostly to do with the location of our cabin. We were on the lowest aft cabin deck (D) in a balcony cabin, and dined in the Oriental Restaurant, two floors ... Read More
We like cruising with P & O, but we did have issues with this cruise, mostly to do with the location of our cabin. We were on the lowest aft cabin deck (D) in a balcony cabin, and dined in the Oriental Restaurant, two floors immediately below. Others have commented about the vibration in the restaurant (so much so that we could not place our cutlery together at the end of the meal, because this prompted so much noise). We were very pleased, on viewing our cabin, to find it one of the nicest balcony cabins we had occupied. However ...... My sister and her husband, whose cabin was alongside ours, decided they couldn't cope with being woken at night and requested a move which had to be to a lower-grade cabin as no balcony cabins were available. One of the Reception staff said they advised passengers to go for mid-ship cabins, but I always heard that this was to avoid movement, not noise. This implies that it's just bad luck if you've chosen an aft cabin (because we don't mind the motion of the ship so that's never been an issue) but excuse me, everyone has to sleep! We being in our 80s my husband and I decided that we couldn't cope with the upheaval in moving cabin, so just had to put up with the noise. On a positive note, the food was mostly good and sometimes very good, but there is a definite problem with items described as "pan fried" which never come out with crisp skin which is rather unappetising (fish, duck). The speed with which food is served is astonishing, but the lovely vegetables which used to be served separately is now a thing of the past, sadly. The shows we saw (Headliners Theatre Company) were excellent, the best we have seen. This particular group were getting off the ship with us, so hopefully the quality will not suffer for subsequent cruises. Would we go again? Definitely not in this cabin (D231) or any of the D Aft cabins. Despite this negative review we did enjoy our cruise and the ports were lovely. Average score reflects the fact that it seems the vibration is something passengers will have to put up with for a while yet. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2015
Embarkation was in Venice and one of the ports on the trip was Rome. I so wanted to see both these places and P & O were going there. Never go in October, the sea was rough and instead of having 2 days at sea and 4 days in ports, we ... Read More
Embarkation was in Venice and one of the ports on the trip was Rome. I so wanted to see both these places and P & O were going there. Never go in October, the sea was rough and instead of having 2 days at sea and 4 days in ports, we spent 4 days at sea. Kotor was the first port we missed, we were so disappointed, too rough to land. A we didn't visit Kotor, a non EEC country, we were unable to purchase duty free goods after that. We visited Corfu {which was lovely} but they couldn't sell us duty free goods. Our last port was Monte Carlo. When the captain announced he had tried to land but couldn't, for our safety we were all so very very disappointed. The worst thing was, we could see another P & O ship that was taking passengers ashore on their shuttle boat. We complained as did many people but were just fobbed off. There was absolutely no compensation whatsoever. Back in UK, I wrote to P & O stressing my disappointment but they said they had a NO COMPENSATION POLICY. Rob Bryden can swan around on those adverts, I am sure at the expense of P & O but Mr and Mrs Ordinary get nothing. I tried complaining via emails and was told that the captain had tried to land at alternative ports but couldn't, this was not mentioned in the ship's log. I don't think they really did try. I will never book a cruise with P & O again if I can help it. Also, I found they seem to charge for everything and most goods on board were quite expensive. Every lecture or demonstration I attended always involved some form of payment should I wish to take it further. I have been on 2 other cruises and found them marvellous in comparison they seemed far more generous than P & O. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2015
Having been on the Azura to Norway was hoping that this ship and crew would exceed the shortcomings I found on the Azura. Having arrived an hour late because of a massive traffic jam on the A3 outside Guildford, the embarkation was a fast ... Read More
Having been on the Azura to Norway was hoping that this ship and crew would exceed the shortcomings I found on the Azura. Having arrived an hour late because of a massive traffic jam on the A3 outside Guildford, the embarkation was a fast doddle. Within a short time we had the emergency drill which turned out to be the worst ever. A massive amount of people were cramped into a small space with inadequate seating and we waited and waited and waited for the announcements to start. About half an hour later the event began, whilst the air conditioning failed in its duties and was getting hotter by the minute. A really bad start. Got to the cabin and found that the wardrobe was cramped and the safe was right on the floor. The taps in the bathroom refused to give cold water, only hot and warm, and this persisted over the whole cruise, besides reporting it on several occasions. The excuse given was that it was an old ship! Found that the Freedom dining option in the Peninsular restaurant worked well; really nice room with tables well spaced out. Food in there was adequate but service was rushed and a meal that could have been enjoyed over an hour and three quarters was over sometimes in just over an hour. Meat portions were sometimes enough to feed a mouse and vegetables were sometimes barely to be found on the plate. The bread provided looked unappetising and was. Sometimes food had to be sent back because it was undercooked. Had game one day and almost broke my tooth on lead shot. when I complained about this they asked for my cabin number but I never heard from them. I liked the swimming pools on the ship but unbelievably they were not heated, so except on very hot days were underused. There were no art gallery on this ship, unlike many of the other P&O vessels. Also unlike many other shipping lines there was no free minutess of use on the Internet bearing in mind the number of times I had been on P&O. My worst criticism was on the Conservatory, the buffet restaurant on deck 12. The choice of food at lunchtime was the worst of any ship I have ever been on, over 50 cruises. No carvery and barely any British food in sight, hardly any vegetables. 90 per cent of the passengers British, and curries and pasta galore. Not only that but the food was often tasteless, unappetising and lacked quality. At breakfasts the waiters did not come round to bring or refill tea or coffee. Went with 6 others to the recommended main speciality restaurant one evening. £12.50 a head plus an extra £3.50 for lobster or similar for specialty steak.had to wait ages for the main course and when it finally arrived the chips, nicely arranged on separate plated look appetising until we found they were raw inside. We called the waiter who promptly took them away to get them replaced. We waited and waited and finally had to start because the rest of the food on the plate was getting cold. Eventually the new chips turned up after we had finished. After our sweet we ordered coffee, and we had to wait an age; eventually In total frustration we asked for service only to be told that they were waiting for one of us to finish their cheese. We replied that they could at least have asked us when we wanted it served. When it came to the bill, we said that under the circumstances we should have our bill reduced but they refused. Consequently we did not recommend this restaurant to others. Went to most of the shows after dinner, and although the dancers strutted their stuff well, the main singers in the theatre company were well below par. Not all the cruise was bad and enjoyed most of it, but thought I should at least report here some of the shortcomings. To cap it all on the final night I returned to my cabin after the show only to find that it had NOT been made up, hence a much reduced tip in the morning. Read Less
Oriana Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins N/A 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms N/A 0.0
Fitness Recreation N/A 0.0
Family 2.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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