We have just returned from a wonderful week on the Oriana X308 to Norway and Fjords. This was our first cruise and surpassed all expectations.
We had booked valet car parking at Southampton, which went like a dream. We walked away from the car, the porter took our luggage and we went through a very smooth check in. All staff very welcoming and efficient. Our luggage turned up very promptly a little bit later. A wonderful start!
We found our cabin -- a mid-ship inside cabin on E deck - which we were advised was a very good position for stability and quietness and it certainly was. We slept blissfully without awareness of movement, turbulence or noise. The cabin was a good size with plenty of storage space and was not at all claustrophobic, even though I must admit I did miss a window. The air con was effective and very quiet and the cabin never felt stuffy. An interesting feature is that you slept front -- aft, so alongside the corridor, not port to starboard. The cabin was very clean and kept in excellent order by our Cabin Steward, Orlando, who was very personable and attentive.
We had made a very early booking and were able to choose our dining sitting and table size. We were on a round table of 6 by the window in the first sitting in the Oriental Restaurant and it was lovely. Our waiters Ashly and Agnel were really superb and our wine waitress, Sarah, was also excellent. We got on really well with our table companions. We had been really looking forward to dressing up on the Black Tie nights and the Smart nights and those nights did not disappoint.
You could always eat something at some time on the Oriana and we thought the quality and range of the food was first class wherever we chose to eat. We preferred the ambiance of the main restaurants and Al Fresco, but that was just us. There was always a very good range of hot and cold fresh food attractively presented in the Self Service Conservatory, including freshly made to order sandwiches and plenty of fresh fruit and cheese and biscuits if you wanted to eat simply. We took a liking to Afternoon Tea in the Peninsular Restaurant, which was also a very social occasion as you were seated as you entered and got to meet new people. Waiters were always fast and efficient and excellent at clearing and cleaning tables in all the restaurants.
The price of drinks in the bars was also very reasonable and the range was excellent. I loved the daily cocktails!! Again the waiters were very attentive and kept all tables clear.
We thought there was a very good range of entertainment to suit all tastes, including films like Les Miserable, Quartet, Warhorse and Marigold Hotel which were spread out over the week at different times of the day, so if one session was inconvenient to you,another time would suit. We enjoyed the shows and the Sail Away parties too as well as quiet evenings in the Crow's Nest with its own brand of bands/music. The Entertainment Team were amazingly energetic and worked very hard to provide something for all of us.
We would wholeheartedly praise all the staff/crew on our cruise who were without exception pleasant and helpful and worked so hard
And of course, last but not least, the destination - Norway and the Fjords!! The landscape was just awe inspiring and we enjoyed the different characteristics of all the ports we visited. We didn't eat on shore as Norwegian prices are very high, but there was more than ample food waiting for us when we went back on board.
There was a wide range of shore excursions to choose from, but we preferred to do our own thing and explore the ports by ourselves. There were very good port presentations on board and excellent information sheets on the ports provided for us in the cabins. One of our very interesting visits was to the Sardine Canning Museum in Stavanger, believe it or not!
So all in all, a truly fantastic first experience of a cruise! We loved the Oriana and very reluctantly disembarked for the final time on Friday morning at 09 15. All went very well at disembarkation, which was again very efficient and our car was ready and waiting across the road. We are fortunate to live near Southampton, so were home at 10 am after a fantastic week on the lovely Oriana!