Basically good cruise spoiled by P&O dropping standards.
Ship was spotless except that public toilets are too few and too small (men have to be VERY friendly to squeeze past each other!). Also, after water problem at 1st port, public toilets often were smelly and the cabin WCs had a black scum after every flush – no explanation or apology for this.
Apart from appalling problems with the wine package and some dreadful wine service (not the excellent wine waitress at our evening table), overall service was top notch and friendly.
The good outweighed the bad and I’ve booked an Oriana cruise leaving 29 Jan 2014 BUT at "Getaway" prices (will NOT be drinking wine on board and I love wine!). Beer drinking is OK with P&O - wine drinking is NOT !!
Some reviews said the food was cold. Even in the buffet, food was always hot – only the dreadful Ligurian restaurant at lunchtime showed a problem. In this restaurant for lunch (3 times), service was indifferent, could be surly, and twice food was inedible and cold – tiny tiny portions.
Service at our regular table in the evening in the Adriatic was impeccable – food and wine – two very poor meals others were good to very good.
Early morning room service with coffee and croissants was perfect and always on time. Buffet was surprisingly good and Café Jardin very pleasant for light breakfast and lunch. No ambience for select dining on the Oceana – it wasn’t built for that.
Apart from a rather poor solo guitarist, evening entertainment was excellent. The Headliners worked so hard and were superb – at least two stars should come from this troupe. Daytime entertainment was bingo and quizzes – popular but not my thing.
Balcony cabin was good and kept spotless by steward, Sidney. The cupboard used for the WC and shower is very small and showing its age.
Overall service was good everywhere except as mentioned above. Now that P&O allows T shirts, shorts and flip flops in the evening, beer drinking is encouraged, wine drinking is NOT. I booked the excellent quality “Commodore” wine package – good value and good wines. BUT, just try to order. In both the Ligurian and Café Jardin at lunch, two wine waiters REFUSED to fetch me a bottle when I tried to use the wine vouchers. Two meetings with the purser were necessary to partially resolve this issue. Other people had similar problems with wine packages and sadly, although such good wines, I have to advise that the wine package is NOT taken.
8 page letter to the captain was not acknowledged. 2 letters to the purser (one thanking him) and one to the bar manager were not acknowledged, Only by "bumping" into the purser accidentally, did I get to speak to him about very serious problems. As other reviewers are commenting - customer care is officially dead at P&O. In the service industry problems happen. It is how those problems are addressed that marks the good and caring companies.
The photographers were dreadfully pushy and actually (legally) assaulting passengers by grabbing them and trying to stop them walking past. The word “No thank you” quickly became a loud “No!” – still ignored and grabbed twice, actually walking on while the appalling woman assistant kept her hands round my neck – I saw this happen to other passengers. When “No” was finally accepted the photographers were sarcastic and sometimes quite rude.
Rumour rife in the Adriatic on formal evenings, is that P&O will soon allow shorts into formal dining but, only for safety reasons, not flipflops. If Thomson and Going Places 3* Spanish hotels can insist on long trousers in their (buffet) restaurants, why is P&O dropping standards for the few while offending the many?