Instead of our usual 7 night mediterranean cruise with Royal Caribbean, this year we elected to book a 4 night P&O cruise to France and Guernsey. I assumed that whilst it was a shorter cruise we would still have the same level of service and facilities that we had experienced on other P&O cruises.
Sadly this was not the case and since P&O changed their gratuity system the staff don't seem to have the same attitude to service. As there is no longer an incentive to 'go that extra mile' they don't! We found that any request outside of the normal menu was met with a resounding "No". There was no offer to find alternatives, and in the main restaurant it was even too much trouble to find a milkshake or a non-alcoholic cocktail for my son as he doesn't drink fizzy soft drinks. The food in the restaurants was incredibly poor on two nights, and very good on the other two nights. Each time I chose seafood it was overcooked and lacking any flavour. The potatoes, in any form, were always full of grey bits and the vegetables were tired and flavourless. The coffee was so strong and stewed I couldn't drink it.
Entertainment on the ship seemed to be geared to the older generation, and adults only. There were no family activities such as a quiz or bingo, as they were all adults only. There were tournaments of deck quoits, shuffleboard, table tennis etc but again adults only. I would have preferred to have family tournaments that my 12 year old could participate in, but instead if he wanted to do any activities he had to go off to the Kids Club. The evening entertainment was, quite frankly, not worth bothering with. There was no 'show' as such, just a load of 1980's hits with groups of dancers performing to them. Not my idea of entertainment. I thought this was a cruise ship, not a cheap version of Butlins. Other reviewers have commented on here that the entertainment in general all day was no great shakes and they would be correct.
The shops constantly advertised via the tannoy that their prices could not be beaten, so I was amused to note that when I visited the Swarovski shop in Guernsey their prices were notably lower than those on the ship. They did have a selection of items each night such as handbags and jewellery, but I was disappointed to find that when I did purchase a pair of earrings the stone fell out of them the day that I got them home, and at £29.99 I did not expect that to happen.
The mini-suite was comfortable and spacious, and had adequate storage space. There was nothing lacking which we needed and everything had been thought of, even down to hairdryer, iron and ironing board, binoculars, mineral water, etc. The White Company toiletries were a nice touch. The bathroom was an odd layout as it had a separate WC which also included the washbasin in there, whereas the shower cubicle and bath were in a separate room. This made it awkward to use as you couldn't move in the space where the toilet and washbasin were. It would have been better served to have the washbasin in with the shower cubicle and bath.
The pool areas were clean and there were plenty of sunbeds. The Costa Coffee bar was very popular and my son was quite taken with Sundaes Ice Cream bar. The Plaza self-service buffet wasn't worth bothering with unless you wanted to jostle everyone else for food that had been left out for a while and was either bordering on stale, dry or tasteless. They regularly ran out of items and if you asked for more you really did feel as though you were being a nuisance.
The disembarkation process was sadly lacking. Rooms had to be vacated by 8am but the restaurant only served breakfast until 8 am which is not long enough to cater for everyone. The Plaza buffet was open until 8.30 am but after going round the entire restaurant area three times to try and find a seat - and failing - we gave up. Surely it would make more sense to have breakfast available in BOTH the restaurant and the Plaza self-service area until 9 am which is when disembarkation commenced? We ended up stopping at a service station on the way home to get some breakfast.
So, in summary, I was disappointed. We have cruised with P&O before and it was fabulous. This time we were completely unimpressed and I would not sail on the Oceana again. The ship does not compare well in terms of facilities for families when pitched again its larger versions such as the Ventura. Also, Royal Caribbean do the whole entertainment and Kids Club thing so much better. P&O really could take a leaf out of their book. Next year it's Royal Caribbean for us all the way. Sorry P&O but you really need to up your game.