This is the first time we had sailed from Southampton, having before always flown out to Venice or Bareclona to pick up the ship. We particularly liked the itinerary of this cruise having always wanted to see the Azores but put off by the flying times from the U.K. We thought the Oriana was a lovely and spacious ship, but we had been told on more than one occasion and latterly by an entertainer who was on the Pacific Princess last September, that it really doesn't sail that well. I have to agree with this. I have always slept soundly on previous cruises but found the movement of this ship (not to mention the vibration) quite disconcerting.
We were impressed with the spaciousness of our stateroom and the attention of our cabin steward Rony, who we really couldn't fault. The food on the ship was good, but not execptional in comparison to other ships we have sailed on. It struck me that P&O have introduced considerable cutbacks since I last cruised with them on the Victoria eleven years ago.
The ports of call on this cruise I would give mixed reviews. Ponta Delgado was lovely, very little to see or do in Horta, Las Palmas was cloudy as always, Lisbon scruffy and most disappointing, but thoroughly enjoyed Vigo, which we thought was charming.
There were many very elderly and quite disabled passengers on the cruise. Whilst I have every admiration for the determination of someone who is physically challenged to embark upon a cruise, I found it quite wearing towards the end of the cruise because not only did it take much longer to traverse the ship due to the many wheelchairs and walking aids that always seemed to be in front of you, some of these people were really not that pleasant. I would note, in particular, the difficulty of getting food in the conservatory where someone always seemed to be spinning around in a circle in front of you with their mouth wide open, quite oblivious to the presence of others.
As a musician, I was horrified to encounter one of the rudest individuals I have ever met, when I approached him to ask for a particular melody to be played. He was also rude to my Mother, who berated him for the way he spoke to me. The assistant cruise director seemed out of her depth when we complained about this incident and as yet, I have heard nothing back from P&O.
All in all, a pleasant cruise on an ageing ship that doesn't hold the sea that well. Weather not great but that can hardly be attributed to P&O.