We have just returned from a pre Christmas Iberian Cruise on board Oceana for 11 nights, and although overall time had was good it wasn't great.
Having cruised with P&O in the past and other cruise lines such as Celebrity, Cunard, NCL and Princess I expected good things from Oceana instead what I did get was okay food, poor daytime entertainment and abysmal service by the reception staff.
Boarding was simple and the ship was beautifully decorated for Christmas and there is a lovely Atrium, we have been on the Sea Princess (her sister ship) and you can tell they are related. Our cabin was compact and adequate, but showing its age. We were well looked after by our steward.
Freedom dining worked well and we sometimes shared a table and often had tables for 2. We never had to wait but then you shouldn’t need to when the ship was only 2/3rds full! Food was okay – generally something that appealed but some odd pub grub type meals on the evening menu – Lancashire Hot Pot comes to mind! Service was okay, but they will insist on clearing a plate as it is empty before the entire table has finished!
The Buffet had themed nights and we ate there on the two Indian themed nights as P&O do cook a mean curry and we were not disappointed. I was surprised at the number of pay for items on room service.
We also liked Café Jardin for breakfast and lunch, but never felt the need to pay the evening cover charge for this location or the Horizon Grill.
Staff were generally polite but I have to say they often looked bored. We liked the fact there was plenty of little bars to have a drink and chill in and they felt like proper venues as opposed to the corridor feel that you get on some ships.
P&O do a soft drinks pre paid card. but have such a limited selection of soft drinks that we could not recomment it and only one diet option.
Entertainment during the day very basic, quizzes, bingo and health lectures. There was one guest speaker, but his subject didn’t interest me. I would love to see craft workshops, these have always been very well attended on other cruise lines. I did enjoy the line dancing and the fitness classes but please stop charging for Pilates and Spin Classes and don’t put the free fitness classes on at 08:00 and 08:30 – we are on holiday after all!
Evening entertainment – the cruise ships do need to re-think “the Broadway Style show” same old same old! Although some of the guest entertainers were excellent (some were dire) and there were some fantastic musicians and singers around the ship.
So to the reception staff – half way through the holiday my sea pass was refused when I attempted to purchase a pre-dinner drink and I was directed to the reception. Where I was told that our account was suspended as there was a problem with our credit card. We contacted our bank and got a complete breakdown of the charges that had been placed by P&O and was told categorically none had been refused and the bank had our cruise itinnery so knew exactly where we were. We went back to the pursers desk and spoke to the most condescending and patronising person we have ever had the misfortune to meet (I was told to keep quiet and listen!). Apparently a measly £5.20 charge has been refused by the bank, something the bank denied.
I asked why we had to find out in such an embarrassing manner and we were told we should have responded to the letter in our room – the letter did eventually arrive in the mail slot outside our room after we returned from dinner much later that evening! At the time P&O had already taken the full holidays worth of service charges, so in effect our account was in credit, as if they are taking drinks charges on a daily basis they should also take service charges on a daily basis.
We should have asked to speak to the guys manager, but his attitude was so appalling we had to walk away from it otherwise it might have descended into an argument. Yes we should have gone back the following day and complained but I wanted to forget the whole sorry incident. Now I am sorry I didn’t, as something may have happened to show this guy the error of his ways – but I have to say I doubt it as every other time I went to the purser’s desk for anything the service was below what it should be. He alone took the edge off the holiday and we would really have to think hard about using P&O in the future.
The ports of call were very good and we were lucky with the weather.
Although the ship itself isn't the smallest it didn't really cope well with the sea other than when it was a mill pond, whether this is down to its smaller size or just by design I don't know although I have travelled on worse seas on plenty of other ships or all sizes without half the movement on Oceana. There is a really odd side to side roll on even calm days!
Overall we had a relaxing time and it did us both good, although I have to say we would only cruise with P&O again if it was at a bargain price as quite simply it isn’t worth any more.