We booked this cruise last minute to give us a few days away and chose this option as it offered good value for money and no flying was involved and took a Guaranteed cabin fare. Having starting out cruising with P&O over 10 years ago we moved on to other companies such as Royal Caribbean and Celebrity as they offer a wider range of activities and dining options rather than the more limited ones offered by P&O. We had sailed on Oriana before and felt it a little dated compared to newer and bigger ships, but in this instance we were prepared to compromise and did not raise our expectations.
Embarkation was quick as we had apparently missed the queues of earlier on.We were pleasantly surprised with the general condition of the ship especially considering its age- while a number of the public areas were in need of a refurb there were pleasant surprises as well, with the addition of a renewed gym and spa area which provided a great place to relax.
Our cabin was clean and tidy and offered all you would need for a few days, towels were changed at least once daily and the bed linen was spotless. Staff were friendly and welcoming - the food in both the buffet restaurant and the Pennisular restaurant was tasty and the plates were always hot- salads were rather limited though.
Excursions were disappointing for us as having booked last minute all those we wanted had sold out - we took the free shuttle bus (always a bonus from P&O) and one paid excursion. Now we come to the really disappointing aspect of the cruise- pre cruise we believed that the itinerary stated that we would have 2 days in Amsterdam, thinking we would set sail for Southampton around late afternoon on the 4th day. With this in mind we thought we could spend some time in the city in the morning before re-boarding by lunch time. However it turned out that the overnight stay was followed by an early morning departure which left us feeling let down- we were not the only passengers who felt this way, many we talked to complained about it- that somewhere only the line there had been some kind of misinterpretation and lack of clarity in the itinerary.
The celebrity concerts from Catherine Jenkins were on three nights allowing everyone the chance to see one, but for some reason only the first one was at 8.45 while the others were at the really late time of 10.00pm- surely with a full last day at sea one could have been offered earlier.
All in all the cruise was a welcome break but was definitely marred by the absence of the 2nd day in Amsterdam.