We'd never been on Oceana before and were slightly put off by the reviews we read before we went but I have to say, it was not the nightmare ship some people have created. Yes, the soft furnishings in the cabin had seen better days but on the whole it was in good order and we certainly saw no signs of the dirt and stains in the public areas some have spoken off. The cabin itself is small and the balcony the smallest we've seen so slightly concerned about spending 35 days on Oceana next year!
Embarkation and disembarkation
We travelled with Eavesway Coaches from Leeds and it was an early start (6:30) but after a stop for breakfast of about an hour we arrived at the docks by 12:30. We registered fairly quickly bit then it took ages to get through security, where there was a long queue moving slowly. Disembarkation was fairly quick too and we're always grateful that we put brightly coloured ribbons on our cases so they're easier to locate in the huge baggage collection hall.
We had Club dining in the Adriatic, 2nd sitting and we ate in the MDR every night. We had a table of 8 which is our preferred size. We thought the food was very good, apart from the first night and the portions are definitely smaller than they used to be on P&O. Our waiters were excellent and very helpful: we got various extra courses when we said we'd like to try out something else on the menu. We ate in Le Cafe Jardin for breakfast but there's not a huge selection although what we had was good. The Horizon grill was fine for a quick lunch and we were always happy enough with the choice in The Plaza.
As usual the entertainment was excellent in Footlights. We steered clear of the comedian which few people liked but thought the Headliners shows were fantastic and really enjoyed Rebecca Roberts. Loose Lips was amusing and Tony Gubba an interesting speaker. There's the usual great choice of bars with drinks at reasonable prices and good selection of musical entertainment though we missed having a 'Crows Nest' Bar What makes P&O stand out for us is that there's always a great buzz around the ship late at night whereas on American lines, they seem to go to bed earlier for their whistle-stop tour of Europe the next day!! Sailways are also much more fun on P&O
We were a bit disappointed as Oceana is billed as "The Friendly Ship" that the staff looked pretty fed up at times. This was especially evident in The Plaza and in the bars. Customer Service was also poor. I was sitting with wet hair when the hair-dryer broke down and had to phone SIX times in an hour and a half before anybody came to help. The same thing happened a few days later with the kettle.
Ports of Call
We only did one ship's excursion to Santiago de Compostela from A Coruna. It was a place we'd never visited and it wasn't quite what we expected but interesting. From Le Havre we took a taxi to Honfleur which was worth every penny as the driver took us to some really pretty spots on the hill overlooking Honfleur before we enjoyed lunch and a walk round the town. We loved everything about La Rochelle and just soaked up the atmosphere sampling French food and a good bottle of red wine. What more can you ask for? We also enjoyed our walk along the river in Bilbao, by the Guggenheim. We visited the market and the old town. The weather was warm and sunny in every port of call which was the icing on the cake.
We had a great cruise and Oceana certainly doesn't deserve the reviews it's been getting. P&O provides a good package and although we also like Celebrity and Princess, P&O probably suits us best overall.