By Adam Coulter
Cruise Critic UK Managing Editor
3.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating: Entertainment

Oceana Entertainment & Activities

Theatre

The cruise production shows take place either end of Deck 7. Footlights, situated forward of the ship, stages plays, revues and other performances. It also screens films during the day. Starlights, at the aft end of the ship, is home to various comedy and ventriloquist acts, which we found to be hit-or-miss. On select nights, passengers can take in "Killer Queen", a tribute to the rock band, and "Encore", which features songs from well-known West End musicals like "Wicked", "Dirty Dancing", "The Lion King" and others. There are also the usual dire husband and wife musical duos, which seem to find a home on cruise ships. They play variously at the sports bar, Winners, the Atrium and outside on the Lido Deck. The exceptions to this mediocrity are the classical piano and violin recitals.

Daily Fun

During the day, there is a fair range of options for those looking for more than a suntan. Dance classes -- from salsa to country line -- are very popular, as are the variety of cookery demonstrations in the Plaza and the galley tours. The port talks are adequate, but there are disappointingly few other lectures scheduled during the cruise. There are regular art auctions, which are always well attended, with a dedicated space for the featured artists outside Le Club in the Whitewall Art Gallery. Additionally, the Monte Carlo Club casino opens when the ship is at sea, offering slots, three-card poker, blackjack, roulette and other table games, as well as scratch-offs.

At Night

Karaoke, quizzes and discos take place around the ship in the various bars. There's always something going on in the Atrium, from dancing or a guest band to music and dancing with the resident DJ until the early hours. Additionally, the elegant Le Club hosts dancing until passengers decide to go to bed -- often the early hours of the morning on our sailing.

Oceana Bars and Lounges

There are plenty of places to drink, as you would expect on a British ship. An observation lounge would be a nice addition; only the Plaza has views forward, and this is used solely as a dining area. There is no service charge added to drink prices, which are already very competitive.

Le Club (Deck 7): This venue is decorated in a gentle grey, suede and cream colour scheme, which extend to the carpeting, walls and furniture. Rather than just being a disco at night, it is open throughout the day and acts as a multipurpose venue for everything from lectures to craft classes before turning into the disco at night.

Explorers Bar (Deck 5): The Explorers Bar functions as the ship's welcome bar. Found on the first floor of the Atrium, near the shore excursions desk, passengers can swing by after embarkation to grab an alcoholic drink, tea or coffee.

Magnums (Deck 7): Magnums gin bar was outfitted with new furniture during the 2017 makeover. Located just outside Le Club and across from the Whitewall Art Gallery, it boasts a menu of more than 40 gins, including Anderson's, a P&O Cruises exclusive.

Tiffany's (Deck 7): This bar and lounge, situated around one side of the Deck 7 Atrium area, is ideal for people-watching or simply grabbing a drink as you're passing through on your way to the Footlights theatre. It shares a menu with the Explorers Bar on Deck 5.

Yacht & Compass (Deck 7): This nautically-themed bar lounge just outside the Footlights theatre is richly furnished with dark woods, brass and deep shades of blue and green, creating a relaxing atmosphere for quizzes and live music, which often take place there. It's also a great place to snag a beer flight or a pre-show drink.

Winners (Deck 8): Found in the same space as the Monte Carlo Club casino, Winners has seen the addition of new furniture, carpeting and large flat-screen televisions during its most recent refurbishment. With plenty of comfy seating available, it's ideal for watching football with a beer or two.

Riviera Bar (Deck 12): This serves as Oceana's main pool bar, featuring a variety of beers and fruity cocktails perfect for sunny days.

Terrace Bar (Deck 14): Just outside the spa and one deck up, the Terrace Bar overlooks the ship's plunge pool and three refurbished hot tubs. Sun loungers ring the area, which offers stunning views of the wake, and a shade canopy, installed in 2017, offers respite from the sun during warm-weather itineraries.

Pennant Bar (Deck 15): Found at the top of the ship, this bar is the only other thing you'll find on Deck 15 besides the Splash Pool. Because of this, it's often closed and/or empty.

Oceana Outside Recreation

Pools

The main pool area on Deck 12 has one main pool (the Riviera Pool) and another smaller, raised one (the Crystal Pool), as well as two whirlpools. It can be crowded on sea days, with a constant battle for sun beds, but there are plenty of other sunbathing spaces on the upper decks. (Check out Deck 15 forward, which has loads of beds and a splash pool for cooling off.) There is a beautiful light show on Deck 12 as night falls, with the pools and the deck illuminated in glowing colours. There are also three whirlpools and a semi-sheltered plunge pool (adults only) outside the spa in the Terrace Bar area. Additionally, a kiddie pool for wading is found inside the kids' club area.

Recreation

Atop the ship on what is, unofficially, Deck 16, there is a sports court for tennis, football, cricket and basketball. Passengers will also find table tennis on Deck 12, golf driving nets on Deck 14 and shuffleboard and deck quoits on Deck 7's promenade, which offers a walking/jogging track where 3.2 times around equals one mile..

Sun Deck

Oceana offers several places to sunbathe onboard. The main area is Deck 12's pool deck, but it can be difficult to find a lounger on nice days. If you'd like a bit more peace and quiet, head to Deck 14, where you'll find loungers just above the pool area or farther aft near the Terrace Bar. If all else fails, make your way up one more floor to the Deck 15 Splash Pool.

Oceana Services

Most of the public rooms can be found on Deck 7, starting from the aft of the ship. Oceana offers Wi-Fi throughout the ship, but the only place to get online if you don't have a laptop, tablet or smartphone is on one of the five desktop computer terminals beside the Explorers Bar on Deck 5. There's also a small printer available for passenger use.

The ship's Wi-Fi is available in three 24-hour package options; The Connect Package (£7.75 for 24 hours) provides social media access and internet messaging services; The Browse Package (£12.50) offers internet browsing (with the exception of video streaming), internet messaging, email and social network access; and The Works Package (£24.95) offers web browsing, including YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music streaming, video calls, email, instant messenger services and social media access. Each price is discounted per day for cruisers who purchase a package for the duration of the voyage. Pay-as-you-go pricing is also available for 65p per minute.

The dedicated Card Room for bridge and whist leads into the Library, which is well stocked and has a good selection of fiction and reference books. There's also a jigsaw puzzle area and various board games, along with a large DVD library from which cruisers can borrow if they've brought their own laptops or if they're staying in a suite that provides a DVD player. A librarian who doubles as the internet manager can advise you on books and getting online. Nearby is the Photo Gallery, which, as well as selling photos and cameras, also hosts talks about photography. Staff are on hand to offer tips and advice on getting good shots.

The Whitewall Art Gallery is more of a space along the main Deck 7 corridor, sandwiched between Magnums and Le Club, with art hung along a small corridor leading toward the main Atrium.

Linked by dramatic grand staircases and glass-sided lifts, the four-deck Atrium is the focal point of the ship. On the lowest level (Deck 5), a central lounge area (often hosting talks on acupuncture and art) faces the long reception desk. Live music -- from classical to steel bands -- is played there through most of the day. The shore excursion desk is on the other side, facing the Explorers Bar. An onboard florist offering flowers, Champagne and other special occasion items is also located in the vicinity, just outside of the Ligurian dining room.

Deck 5 also houses the ship's shore excursions desk and reception, where passengers can ask questions and request printouts of their onboard bills. Near the reception area, cruisers will also find daily Sudoku puzzles and a daily compilation of that day's news from around Britain.

One deck above are the Bond Street and Regent Street shops, selling jewellery, clothing, watches, bags, P&O Cruises branded items, toiletries, toys, sweets, perfume, duty-free alcohol and cigarettes, and an impressive array of electronics.

One thing worth noting is that the ship's layout is confusing in places. There are three banks of lifts -- one forward, one aft and one in the Atrium. The forward set serves all passenger decks (with the exception of Deck 15, the top deck), but the ones in the Atrium run only between decks 5 through 8. Additionally, the aft lifts do not go down to decks 5 and 6, where the two main dining rooms are located. This can be an inconvenience to passengers with cabins near the back of the ship, as they must walk to the forward lifts and then backtrack to get to dinner.

There is one launderette on each cabin deck (except Deck 12) that's free to use, but you must supply your own soap powder or buy it in one of the shops. For-fee laundry services, including wash/press and specialist cleaning, are also available for a reasonable cost.

A medical centre is located on Deck 4, offering limited services to passengers for a fee.

Note that smoking is not allowed in cabins or public areas (including the casino) or on balconies. Smoking is permitted in designated areas, including the whole of Deck 7's promenade (unless the ship is refuelling) and on the port side of Deck 12's pool area.

Oceana Spa & Fitness

Spa

The Oasis spa and adjoining fitness centre received new flooring and an updated look and feel in 2017. The style of the spaces is probably best described as contemporary, with stone, steel and taupe colours throughout. There are nine treatment rooms and an extensive menu of different treatments, ranging from a £72 back, neck and shoulder massage to a £230 24 Karat Gold facial. Tip: look out for all sorts of spa offers and packages, especially on port days.

Opposite the spa is the beauty salon, which has superb ocean views. It offers haircuts and colouring, manicures and pedicures, as well as men's grooming services.

Fitness

There is a decent sized and well-equipped fitness centre, which offers a variety of treadmills, rowers, stationary bikes, ellipticals and weight machines for both upper and lower body, as well as free weights up to 32 kilograms. Benches and step boxes are also available. A large aerobics room and a Pilates/spinning and lecture room host for-fee (£7) exercise classes, including Pilates and yoga. However, some free classes are offered as well. There are also men's and women's saunas and steam rooms, as well as changing areas with showers and lockers.

Oceana For Kids

There are great facilities -- collectively known as The Reef -- for children, who have their own fun pool, a video games and disco on Deck 12. The areas were revamped during the 2017 refit, adding new flooring, new toys and soft play areas, and a more modern teen facility.

The Reef offers supervised daily activities in port as well as on sea days for children aged 2 to 17. These are separated into four age groups: Splashers, 2 to 4; Surfers, 5 to 8; Scubas, 9 to 12; and H20, 13 to 17. Participation is free for all children.

Babies

There are no set programmes for kids younger than 2, but they can sail as young as 6 months (12 months on longer sailings and transatlantics). When few children are onboard, the older children's clubs are combined, creating space for parents to use the Splashers facilities to play with their under-2s.

Kids

Splashers have their own room packed with toys, climbing equipment and quiet areas to read or watch films.

Surfers might enjoy face painting, inventing their own chocolate bars or activities such as three-legged races and treasure hunts. Special parties might feature pirate duels or gladiator bouts. In the evening, they can relax with milkshakes and a film.

Scubas have a room just for them with a jukebox and video games. Activities might include a shipwide scavenger hunt, pool games and drama workshops, nighttime fun features pool parties, discos and games.

Teens

Teens have the adult-free -- yet supervised -- H2O club to call their own. Options include watching films and playing video games, air hockey or pool. Teams can also try out a drum set, electric guitar or even DJ equipment during school holidays. At night, there are organised competitions and a teen disco.

For parents who want to enjoy dinner sans their children, there is a special children's tea every night during family cruise holidays in the Plaza buffet from 5 p.m., which needs to be pre-ordered through the kids club. Young diners are offered sausages, fish fingers, pizza, salad, soup, fruit, vegetables and pasta at no extra fee, and will be supervised by the youth staff (though parents are welcome to join).

There is also a free night nursery for children 4 years old and younger from 6 p.m. to midnight. From midnight to 2 a.m., it becomes Night Nursery Extra. There's no cost for either service, but arrangements for Night Nursery Extra should be made in advance. In-cabin babysitting services are not available.

The ship is popular with families for summer cruises and far less so for the winter cruises; check what will be available for your kids before booking a cruise. Please note, outside of holiday periods, or on long cruises that overlap with school holidays, Oceana might as well be an adults-only ship, considering the attitude of the other cruisers toward younger people and the few children onboard.

P&O Oceana Ship Stats

  • Crew: 875
  • Launched: 2000
  • Decks: 15
  • Passengers: 2,016
  • Registry: Bermuda
  • CDC Score: 92

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