Ship: Beautiful to look and beautiful inside - very traditional with lovely bars including Crows Nest at the top and front and my favourite "Andersons" (upmarketish) with superb, friendly bar and waiting staff. Large theatre; separate cinema with movies 5/6 times daily; large cabaret lounge; excellent large disco/dance club (much nicer than Oceana's grotty little grey box!
Food: Much better than Oceana; excellent service for food and wine; even the buffet had good food (I just don't like some of the pushy customers there!).
ALL Staff/crew: VERY friendly: the captain walks round ship 2/3 times daily and is approachable (and speaks English unlike the one on my Oceana cruise!); other senior officers walk round and also are very approachable. ALL bar staff friendly and get on well their bosses which shows a good ship.
Entertainment: Apparently the best Headliners troupe ever; no weak links. Excellent entertainment during the day unlike the Oceana's non-stop quizzes and bingo. Spanish lessons, ballroom and line dancing lessons, port presentations, etc. Classical guitarist daily; pianist daily; three bands; various excellent guest performers in both theatre and cabaret lounge.
Singles: EVERY morning coffee meeting (not just once as on Oceana!) AND special section of restaurant for singles afternoon tea every day.
Choir: MD of orchestra trains and develops a passenger choir and solo singers during the cruise with show on last day. Also a passenger talent show.
Weather: Rough throughout cruise but Oriana has a proper bottom and bow and rides the waves very well. Oriana is fastest in fleet and captain used this to beat the weather. A severe storm was forecast on leaving Lisbon so ship went full speed on leaving to get ahead of the worst. On return we were sailing into the near hurricane winds hitting the UK. Captain held back to let the first storm hit then full speed to get into Southampton early - we arrived Friday 2pm instead of Sat 6am. We would not have been able to dock if on schedule. Oceana meant to sail from S'ton on Thursday; still there when I left the Oriana on Sat.
Carbuncle ! : Every beautiful “body” is allowed one of these and sadly Oriana has the “Alfresco”. P&O web site describes this cramped dump as “specialising in pizza” and also serving burgers, open sandwiches, etc. This is a clear breach of the Trade Descriptions Act. There are no burgers and I didn’t see any open sandwiches. The so-called “pizzas” are tiny, overcooked segments with next to no topping or cheese. Think of the party host in a panic who burns their Iceland pizzas but still puts them out for the guests. Chefs train for years to produce “creations”. In Alfresco, “chefs” train for minutes to produce “cremations” !! Also, if you want a cup of coffee, expect to wait up to 30 minutes as the staff congregate in one corner chatting; many customers left with no coffee. P&O please, please close this abomination – perhaps replace with vending machines?
Cabins: On Getaway fare I managed to afford an excellent and large balcony cabin – twice the size of Oceana’s and kept immaculately clean.
BEWARE: Cabins numbered D180 to D231 (as mine was) are situated above the night club “Pacific Lounge”. Unless you go to bed after midnight and do not want to lie down in the afternoons, avoid these cabins at all cost.