We've been back a week and I have to say we didn't want to leave the ship. As 1st time cruisers we really had no idea what to expect and were not disappointed in any way. There was a massive snarl up with the traffic coming into Southampton but being locals we could drive around it. Embarkation was a snip, no waiting around for hours, turn up, drop luggage off, check in, and on board inside 15 mins, better than airports. We had lunch in the Plaza (self service) which was nice and by the time we had finished our luggage was outside the cabin.
We chose a balcony cabin and were allocated C733 (starboard side) despite some people moaning about the size of cabins it was perfectly adequate for us and 4 suitcases which all fitted under the bed. There was loads of storage space and quite frankly we took too many clothes with us and didn't get to wear them all, a lesson for our next cruise. There was a free laundry on board which we used not as much as some but still quite often. The cabin was clean and airy and the balcony was big enough for the 2 of us.
We opted for silver service freedom dining in the Ligurian restaurant and made many friends in this way as we were not tied to one particular table. Service was exceptional and I cannot say anything negative about the waiting staff who were attentive and well drilled. The wine waiters got to know my wife's drink requirements within a couple of days which I have to say was pretty impressive, She eats very little and on the menu one day was a full trout on the bone, The waiter said don't worry madam I'll get you a smaller portion, along comes a fully boned fillet of trout, can't fault that kind of service.Our cabin steward Stanley was a wonder, nothing was too much trouble for him and his attention to detail was excellent.
The Atrium was impressive and the on board activities were OK, my wife spent a lot of time in the hot tubs of which there are 5, I swear she' growing gills. There were quizzes, art talks, dance classes, piano recitals, and talks in the daytime and although we didn't attend them all, what we did attend, we were pleased with. The evening entertainment consisted of 2 shows at either end of the ship in the Starlight and the Footlights theatres we saw Jimmy James who at 71 has still got it,Fogwell Flax from Tiswas, Jimmy Love as Elton John, Naomi Edemariam a great concert pianist, and the Headliners theatre company who were OK sometimes, but perhaps I'm being too picky.
We stopped at El Ferrol and took the trip to La Corruna, which was enjoyable. Our next port of call was to be Malaga but due to a problem on board we had to go to Gib instead, hey ho these things happen. We took our own trip around town as we know Gib quite well. Next stop Alicante we went on the Guadelest excursion as we have been to Alicante before and it was very wet and cold in Guadelest we were right on the snow line, so, interesting tour but very cold and wet. Next stop Barcelona, having been here several times we opted for the Montserrat tour which was cold but dry, great vistas from the basilica but did not want to queue for ages to see the black Madonna so walked around and had a lazy lunch. Next stop Malaga been there also so went for a walk around town. Next stop Lisbon, see past the graffiti and you will find a beautiful city, we went to Estoril warm a and sunny day great.
Crossing the Bay of Biscay both ways was great, no problems, but getting in to Alicante was touch and go due to the storm off Italy which we caught the edge of but we made it easily in the end.
All in all for our first cruise, it has been a wonderful experience and we wish we had done this much earlier
Oceana for us, was small enough to enjoy and we would certainly recommend this ship and crew.