Not just for the old folk!
We sailed on the Oceania from Southampton to Barbados with 5 stops along the way. P&O were very professional, the coach transfer from Manchester Airport went without a hitch, check in at Southampton was very well organised and we had to wait for only about 15 minutes before we boarded the ship and got into our cabin. We had booked a balocny room but upgraded to a mini suite as it was our honeymoon. The room was lovely, 2 patio style doors leading to a double balcony that you could see the sea from your chair, plenty wardrobe space, a jacuzzi bath, separate roomy shower and separate toilet and sink. The 2 TVs needed upgrading and the channels were very limited, especially when we lost the signal in the middle of the Atlantic! The balcony was well worth the money and we would always have one on future cruises - it was lovely to sit out and watch the world go by and provided somewhere to hang my bikini out to dry! The cabin steward did all that was asked of him and we rarely saw him More
which was good in that he got used to our habits and cleaned when we were out and about.
The food was wonderful. Plenty of it at any time of the day. We visited the Cafe Jardin for evening meal which was £4.95 per head and well worth it for a change of scenery and lovely food. This restaurant also served lovely lunches and breakfasts although the menu only changed 3 times over the 2 weeks and it would have been nice for it to change more frequently. The other chargeable restaurant, The Horizon Grill, was £7.95 per person and was the only restaurant outside. We ate there twice under the stars and the food was lovely however the drinks service was slow as just one bar steward looked after all tables and there was no bar in the restaurant.
When we got closer to the Caribbean and the weather got hot it was a frantic hunt to find a sunbed. You had to be on deck before 8.30am to guarantee you would get one and this is probably my biggest complaint. To be fair, the ship is not usually at sea for so long so 2,000 sunbeds are not always required but it was very early to be up and out! By 3pm the sunbeds were empty and you could snooze for the last couple of hours of daylight.
The talks on the ship whilst we were at sea were very interesting, entertainment was good and the guest speakers were very entertaining. The Cruise Director Rob Boyd was a star! Alcoholic drinks were reasonably priced and we experienced no issues boarding the ship from any port with duty free alcohol purchased on land. Bottles of spirits in your cabin were cheaper than Tesco and bottles of wine with dinner were around £12-£15 and they kept them until the next evening if you did not finish them. Soft drinks were pub prices (£.50 for a large Diet Coke) and small cans of mixers were 75p which were served with all shots or in your cabin (they were on offer in the cabin, buy 9 get 3 free!).
We were on the second sitting for dinner and the food was gorgeous. 5 courses every night and the portions were just the right size so that you could squeeze it all in. Lunch in the Adriatic restaurant was a daily delight for us - the Plaza, the buffet style restaurant, was a little chaotic for us and we prefer a proper meal on a plate! Sitting with different people at lunch time was good and we met some very interesting people who shared their travel stories. We did opt for a table for 2 sometimes at Breakfast as you don't always want to make small talk that early in the morning. We also had room service Continental breakfast a few times which was delivered on time, hot and just as we had ordered it - this was a complimentary service.
The trips we did were very well organised and the disembarkation process was faultless. We booked all of our trips through P&O and although I am sure we oculd have got them cheaper on land, they wouldn't have been so well organised and easy. The on board shops sold perfume, jewellery, a little Channel make up and lots of watches. There was also a shop that sold clothes, chocolate and snacks, sun cream and some toiletries. We had to leave our cabin at 9am on departure day and there were optional trips at our final port of call. Overall we had an amazing honeymoon and loved cruising - we were at the travel agents 5 hours after landing back in Manchester looking at brocchures for 2011! Less
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Cabin review: Oceana
Great cabin choice - very spacious, plenty storage space, comfortable sofa and chair in the lounge area. Good bathroom and the Temple Spa toiletries were lovely! Right near the launderette which was very handy on formal nights for ironing shirts - it did get very busy. Very quiet location which was impressive considering we were opposite the launderette and near the lifts so everyone had to walk by. We didn't hear our neighbours once. We were on the Starboard side so never got the sun due to our journey however my husband would have found it too hot had it been in the sun. I would have loved it! The 2 TV's were small and old and the picture quality poor. We did have a DVD player although we never used it. It was in a good location near the lifts making it easier to get used to the layout of the ship. I wouldn't pay full price for a Mini Suite but would definitely pay that bit extra for a balcony - worth every penny!
Port and Shore Excursions
We didn't really see much of Barbados as my husband didn't want to get all hot and sweaty before our flight home. You could rent a cabin from 10am to 3pm from £50 but we decided to spend the morning on the ship. To get to the Town involved a taxi ride, there was nothing within walking distance of the port. The journey from the ship to the airport showed a good Town with plenty of shops and some recognised brands (Mac and Victoria's Secrets). The beach along the road was small but pretty. Barbados looked to be the most developed of the islands and the airport was fine if a bit hot and very expensive for drinks and snacks although no more expensive than you would pay at Manchester airport!
Madeira was not a port we were particularly interested in visiting but it was good to step on to dry land after 3 days at sea. We opted to go it alone in Madeira so we wandered in to the Town, around the shops near the port and then got the cable car up to the Botanical Gardens. We had to queue for a while for this and it wasn't cheap at €15 per person for about 10 minutes, if that! We didn't bother looking at the gardens instead we decided to walk down the famous taboggan run which was a mistake! It was very, very steep, we only had flip flops on and it was about 5kms down. We struggled to walk for the next 3 days due to tight calf and thigh muscles but we had a laugh watching the toboggans hurtling down and the people in them screaming! The restaurants around the port looked nice but we decided to go back to ship and eat for free! There is some building work going on at the port where they are building new port facilities and shops which I am sure will enhance the location once open. We spoke to people who had done trips on Maderia including wine tasting and they had enjoyed them.
We arrived in St Lucia and took a trip to the Rain forest to experience the Zip Wire they have there. This was our favourite trip and well worth the £55 it had cost. There were 11 zips, a couple of rope bridges and lots of stairs to climb - definitely not suitable for those with a fear of heights or a bit of exercise. After the safety briefing it absolutely poured it down with rain so we waited for it to stop then headed off in to the rain forest. I obviously hadn't listened the briefing properly and my first zip was out of control and saw me hurtling towards a tree. I soon got the hang of it though and it was amazing flying through the air so fast which such great views. We got a drink after the zipping and then the coach tour back stopped for a photo moment of the Atlantic however we had seen that for the past 12 days we weren't that bothered! In the afternoon my husband and I got a taxi to the beach on our own. To get out of the port you have to walk through shops - either the local stalls or the larger duty free mall. The taxi fare started at $25 and we paid $15 but it was hassle getting a taxi. The taxi driver arranged to collect us at 4.30pm and gave us a little ticket with his number on but as soon as we sat down on our loungers it started to rain so we left at 4pm with a couple off our ship who had been on our trip in St Maarten. The taxi "rank" was a bit chaotic with everyone wanting your fare and one chap who seemed to maybe run it who phoned your taxi driver. He phoned the number that the other couple had been given and the taxi arrived with another couple off our shop already in it! we paid $5 each to get back. We went to Reduit beach but the other couple in the taxi had been to Pigeon Bay Beach which they said was much nicer. The hotels we passed on the way to the beach looked like the ones you see in the travel brochures and some friends went on the organised beach trip and they ended up at a Sandals resort which they said was gorgeous. There were local people selling jewellery on the beach and one man selling bits of palm for good luck! They weren't too pushy. There were beach bars and vendors selling drinks
We arrived in St Maarten on St Maarten Day, a local bank holiday so we were told that the shops would be shut. The shops in the port were open and on the day, 4 ships actually docked as 3 were destined for St Baarts but couldn't tender due to the sea conditions. These extra arrivals made the port very busy and we were glad we had got off early before they arrived. The Port shops sold jewellery, t-shirts, cigars, a big duty free shop with very cheap alcohol and cigarettes and there were bars and food stalls. You could get a water taxi to the main street but we didn't as it started to rain. Our trip on this island was a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) tour around the Island. This was lots of fun but not for those with injuries or faint hearted! It bounced us around for 3.5 hours but was a good laugh. We went through the Simpson Bay Lagoon where boats are moored and the guide showed us local landmarks and gave us a brief history lesson on the island. We went to s beach that the tour information from P&O had said we may have to wade in - actually we anchored in 8ft sea so you had you jump in the sea and swim to the beach which was a nudist beach! We had a swim in the sea and a wander down the beach then got back on board for good old Rum and coke! We also stopped for some snorkelling where there was better sea life than in Antigua but still not a patch on the Red Sea. The equipment was clean and the life jackets here substantial! St Maarten itself looked pretty, small and green!
Tortola was a very pretty island, very green and quite small. We spent the morning looking around the Town at the Port which was very small and apart from banks and jewellery shops, had very little else. The local spice shop, called Sunny Carribee was quite expensive but we bought some marinades and fruit tea which are really nice and we will be stocking up on-line now that we are home! The market stalls around the Port sold the usual t-shirts, hats etc and every stall was priced the same. Our booked trip to the smaller island of Virgin Gorda was cancelled due to swells in the sea so we booked on a sight seeing tour with a stop off at the beach. The tour was OK but the island is very small and apart from great views of the sea and surrounding islands there is not a lot else to see. The beach we were dropped off at was very small from the back to the sea and the waves crashed under your sunbed - put your bag high up! We had some lunch at one of the beach bars which was nice and the cocktails were good too. There was plenty of choice of places to eat and drink and use their toilet facilities - the beach toilets had no water so you can imagine what they were like! The guide was funny but hard to understand but he got us back to the ship in one piece which was amazing considering the hills and engine in the mini bus!