I will start by giving an honest review about this cruise as it was our first with P&O.
We arrived at 2.00 pm for embarkation at the Ocean Terminal and we were greeted by the staff and porters. The car keys were handed over as it was to be parked in Valet Parking, and the suitcases were taken swiftly by the porters. The cases arrived at our room around 5.00 pm. After going through check-in, security we had boarded Oceana by 2.40 pm (very good timing). On boarding Oceana we were informed that our cabin was ready, so we proceeded to the cabin to drop off some items we were carrying.
Cabin & Cabin steward
when we arrived at our cabin C739 deck 9, we met our cabin steward "Roy", our first impression of our cabin steward was not friendly, and we know its a very long day on "turnaround day" so we gave him the benefit of this and thought that may of been the reason for him not being friendly & welcoming. His general attitude during the remaining few days did not really change. We had the feeling that he did not want to be there,but never asked him this as we did not want to pry.... We have been on lots of cruises before P & O and this was the first cruise where our cabin steward was not very nice..
This was first time we have taken an inside cabin, purely because this cruise had been sold out when we came across this cruise, and we were told that we would have to go on a waiting list for a possibility of getting a room. When it came up we accepted the inside cabin and booked, and thought at least we were on the ship and paid around £679 each which was not cheap for a 4 night cruise but it was over the new year festivities, and thought it would be great!
First impressions of the room was small, dark and not very welcoming. Looked like the room was due an update and I believe it had a small mini refit in December just gone, (apparently not on these rooms). Bathroom was not very clean, and my husband found hair from previous guests and dirty shelves and towels that had pink stains on them!!
P & O staff are not as friendly as other ships we have cruised with before, and the general impression was "the staff were not happy"! We spoke to lots of other guests and they all agreed that they had noticed this.
We had requested the traditional 2nd sitting, but was informed that it had been fully booked since last March 2012, and we were offered anytime dining; As we have never done this before, we thought OK lets try it and compare the difference "we might of preferred it". However on the day of embarkation we were told that we had been allocated the 1st sitting, (which was just to early for us). This then meant like many others we had to stand for over 90 minutes to change the dining, and missed the sail away party! We ate in the Lingurian Restaurant, "anytime dining" which was nice, but you are not given your own waiter so even though a waiter comes and takes your order, you are not sure who is your waiter as you are served by many others also. so on a personal level we have decided that we prefer the traditional sitting!
We booked a night in their speciality restaurant "Marco Pierre" which had a cover charge of around £6.75 per person. The restaurant was situated in the main atrium deck 8. Our impression of this was like a small Bistro, the food was good, but again found another of the waiter staff rude. My husband had asked one of the waiters for a moment of his time to explain to him that we wanted to watch a show at 10.30 pm and did not want to miss it as we only had around 20 minutes till the show started and could we skip the puddings and just have the coffee. He replied to my husband I'll be with you in a few minutes. We waited another 5 minutes whilst watching him stand with other staff members talking and discussing who was going to serve us, not very professional in my opinion! We decided to leave the restaurant and made a complaint to the head waiter about the staff member. The head waiter was very apologetic and removed the cost of the dining from our bill!
The entertainment was very good on P&O and this is one of the positives that other cruise liners could take from P&O. We watched various shows and there was always something to do in the evenings. They had very good show times so you did not miss them.
One show in particular we watched was "Mecury rising" Steve Larkin! His tribute Act was to Freddy Mercury and I can say he was a very good singer and played the piano as well. It would be so nice to see more acts like this on other Cruise ships!!!
In our opinion this was our first cruise with P&O and there was a multitude of things that niggled us, a few you can over look but when their is a lot, they seem to pile up. (just to note I have not noted them all, too many to list)
Our first port of call was Zeebrugge and we had booked to go into Brussels for the day and we had a lovely day, on arriving back at the ship we had been on around an hour when the Captain announced that we would not be travelling to Amsterdam due to reports that there was adverse weather conditions in the Netherlands and he had exhausted all avenues on where to take the ship, but he was left with no alternative but to drop the anchors just outside the port of Zeebrugge, and that all our safety was paramount ( which I do agree), however like I and lots and lots of other passengers said it did not seem right and thought it sounded quite suss!. Anyhow the ship ended up spending the night anchored outside Zeebrugge until the morning, and I must say the ship never moved all night (swaying motion).
In the morning around 11.20 am the captain made another announcement that the weather was still not great, but we would try and head to Amsterdam and would take around 6 hrs to get there and he would come back to us all with his next decision. Whilst we set sail to Amsterdam the sea was not that bad, some slight swells and rain but that's all (we have experienced worse in the Caribbean sea). However around 6.20 pm the captain came back with another announcement that we were 30 miles from Amsterdam and we would not be going to dock at Amsterdam as the weather was not good conditions for the pilot to board the ship, and that we would be turning around and heading back to Southampton!
On the way back again there was no movement in the ship and again passengers were all questioning the Captain decision!!! Just to point out no-one saw the Captain at all on this cruise, I guess he knew that guests were not happy! More to the point as we were disembarking we walked passed a VIP person and we heard them over talking about the captains decision and they said he should of went to Amsterdam.
On a positive note, we did enjoy our New Years Eve dinner and party-ed hard till 5.00 am I believe that other passengers were still partying at 7.00 am..... the ship was very quite on New Years Day.
As I said this was my first cruise with P&O, and I do not think I will rebook another cruise as other cruise company's seem to be miles ahead on lots of things. If you are looking for a cruise with good customer satisfaction who generally care about their customers, have great Gala dinners free champers and canapes and lots of other things to inspire you, then there are other cruises than just P&O. If this had been my first cruise experience then I truly believe I would not of bothered booking again.