My mother hadn't been on a cruise for around 25 years and my partner had never been on a cruise at all, therefore as a birthday present I took them and my step-father on the 2 night "minicruise" to Zeebrugge (Bruges) on the 11th April on the Oceana. With it being somewhat of a special occasion, I opted for the highest grade of suite available - and was allocated suite D750 on 8 deck.
Given the type of cruise it was marketed as I know I shouldn't have expected much but some of the clientele were shocking. There were 6 hen parties on board that I counted and some of their antics including wandering around the atrium carrying a huge plastic penis. The amount of tattooed ladies I saw was also surprising - each to their own but some of them were downright ugly (the tattoos - not the people!) I overheard one group talking in the morning stating that they had got into one of the hot tubs naked and radomn strange men had joined them - I'll leave the rest to your imagination..
I'm suprised that Suite passengers aren't given priority access to their cabins?
Firstly, the cabin (suite). I gather the ship has had a refit recently but the carpets looked pretty worn and on the balcony there were lots of paint stains and bits of paint that had flaked off - not just on the floor but also on the furniture as well.
Having travelled with Cunard before, I was surprised and somewhat dissapointed that it was not possible to have a hot breakfast delivered to the cabin - only continental. I would have thought suite passengers would have been offered both.
The butler introduced himself shortly after we first entered the cabin - but on the second afternoon when my Mother fancied a sherry he didn't show or return calls despite repeatedly trying to ring his pager number.
4 of use were sharing the suite so my partner and I used the double sofa bed - however the quilt wasn't big enough for the bed which was far from ideal.
In terms of the "sailaway" there was no band seeing the ship off which I've seen on other P&O / Cunard cruises which was a shame. Also there were staff walking round with trays of champagne shouting quite loudly "Champagne, only 5.99 a glass" which felt very tacky and downmarket.
On to the food / restaurants. Well, lunch was taken on the first day in the Plaza buffet which I was a bit disappointed with when compared to Cunard or indeed the Aurora with the number of choices being limited and the food not very warm.
In the main restaurant (Adriatic) we had one of the hen party groups sat behind us and there was lots of loud noise / swearing etc. I'm not a prude nor am I elderly being only in my mid 30's and am used to people swearing but it wasn't nice at dinner.
The service felt rushed to me with the waiter clearing plates even when some of our table hadn't finished their meals, almost felt like they wanted us out of there as quickly as possible. The menu on the formal night stated that it was a Gala meal but with the exceptioni of a few balloons above some tables it was no different to the previous night so couldn't understand what made it a "gala"
The lack of any selection of premium / vintage wines was dissapointing as I do like to splash out when celebrating a special occasion. Also, I asked our "wine waiter" for a Ricard on the second night as an aperitif and he looked at me blankly and stated he didn't know what it was - nor did he know what Pernod or Pastis was either. He stated he would go and find out but then promptly forgot to bring it. The wine was served pretty late into the meal too. What kind of wine waiter doesn't know anything about Pastis?
At breakfast no sauces were offered and on the day of disembarkation it was very rushed.
We looked at the "Cafe Jardin" for one of the meals but given it overlooks the atrium, it would have been noisy and hardly the place for a "premium" meal - surely these restaurants should be in a more intimate location on the ship?
My partner and I did partake in a massage at the Spa which I have to say was very very good. Just a shame there's no indoor pool on the ship for her voyages to northern climes.
The above taken into account - we did still enjoy ourselves and came away feeling relaxed - it just seemed quite downmarket.
Are my expectations too high or is this reflective of P&O in general?