Oceana Cruise Review by Keith Cope: Beware P and O's charter airline - Thomas Cook !!
Beware P and O's charter airline - Thomas Cook !!
First off the cruise was great. We were giving P and O a second chance after trying Ventura two years ago and finding it to be very poor compared to the dozen or so Royal Caribbean cruises we had previously experienced. This was mainly because of lack lustre food and dismal entertainment. However, the Oceana turned out to be a very pleasant littel ship, friendly and helpful staff and food that was almost up there with Royal Caribbean's. Our particular cruise was made even better by the great people we shared our dining table with - hello Ron & Evonne, Chris & Petra and Sue and Stew.
On to the warnings, stay clear of inside cabin A506. It's next door to some machinery. We noticed the noise on our arrival, which incidentally had been delayed by 24 hours due to snow. We arrived around 22.30 after a 15 hour flight so being very tired we fell into bed with the machines' noise a constant background hum. No problem you might think - as we did, however from about 02.30 the More damned machine kept tuning on and off. After complaining to reception we spent the rest of the night in C517 from 04.30 where we had a restful sleep. The next day I asked to be moved to that cabin but was fobbed off with replies that they would check the noise and get it rectified. I suspected that this was not a machine that they could actually do anything about and that they knew this. It was only at 18.00, some 30 minutes after we decided to fully unpack that we were told we could move to C517. Very annoying and frustrating.
The other comment relating to P and O concerns the rip-off prices for their tours. We did two, one in Mexico that cost £70 to take us to the next bay along from the ship to snorkel over some dead coral and one in Nicaragua to get a glimpse of the country. This one cost £68 and amounted to a short bus ride to a town so we could take a look around, plus a stop at a lakeside hotel to look at two volcano's. Not very engaging. I estimate P & O took over £1,500 for our fully laden bus, yet their costs only amounted to the local guide and bus driver, plus fuel. Given that we didn't drive for more than an hour in total and assuming cheap labour costs, P and O must have made over £1,000 from us. This a blatant rip-off and while I like to support the economy of poorer countries P and O should have charged £10 - £15 for such a trip.
Anyway, my biggest gripe is with Thomas Cook Airlines. The operator chartered by P & O to take us to Acapulco. This is probably the worst airline bar Ryan Air and not a patch on Thomson Airways who are also used by P & O. We flew 'Premium', principally because I need the legroom. Nothing premium about the service though. Firstly they have an outdated in-flight entertainments system with a small seat back TV that if the person in front is fully reclined means you cannot see properly. Secondly it is not interactive, meaning you have to wait for films to start. Thirdly there is only a very limited choice of channels with no games or the like. Fourthly, on our return flight from Barbados it was not working at all - despite repeated efforts by cabin crew to re-boot. All-in-all it's pants.
The second gripe about Thomas Cook are the meals. For our 15 hour flight we had one hot and one cold meal - if you can call it that. My main meal was a chicken breast that was no larger than two McNuggets. The starter was some cold pasta thing, which incidentally was the same coming back. The desert was small but okay and this was followed by a piece if cheddar two inches long, one inch wide and 1/2 inch thick. Barely enough for a mouthful. Mid-flight we were given a tiny cornetto type ice cream that was half melted so that when you peeled back the wrapping it dripped everywhere. Now for the second meal(?), and bearing in mind this was a 15 hour flight was nothing short of a disgrace. A large cardboard box containing two sandwiches not more than 3 inches by 1 inch, both with indescribable contents. It wasn't much better for the return journey with a very small hot meal and then a breakfast(?) comprising of only orange juice and a small blueberry muffin - yes, that's all!! To cap it all there was no toiletries bag on the return flight - which is when you need the eye mask and no headphones were given out, (which in the end didn't matter as the so-called entertainments system was down).
As I said, nothing wrong with the actual P and O cruise but avoid Thomas Cook Airline at all costs. And unless you're tall like me don't bother wasting £400 per couple on booking Premium, 'cos premium it ain't. Less
Read more Oceana cruise reviews >>
Read Cruise Critic's Oceana Review >>
Cabin review: OCA506 Inside Twin with Shower
A506 is next to a room containing machinery which initially has a constant drone, but through the night it switches off and comes back on again with a 'clunk' many times. This is guaranteed to wake you. Should you end up in this cabin don't let staff say they will rectify the problem, they can't. It's a function of the machine and they know that. So insist on being moved immediately. (P and O should tell customers about this sell it at a discount, like you would if it was an obstructed view seat at the theatre).