Have cruised before with Cunard (QE2 and Queen Victoria) and Classic International Cruises (Athena),never with P&O so was excited when a very good offer became available to cruise on Oriana. I love ships and feel at home at sea,this I will return to later.
My first impression of the ship was that she is very bland apart from a couple of areas aboard (the Atrium area and stern area which I really liked, particularly sitting on the Terrace Bar). The staff are extremely attentive and helpful,no problems there, but again will make a further comment in a while.
The ship herself is tatty in places, rust showing on equipment and around some outside cabins as well as tired decoration and carpeting. Not what I expected and I kept thinking off P&O ferries..
Now the really serious bit. Food in the Conservatory was very poor quality and sometimes restricted in choice, the Al Fresco wasnt much better,if at all. The main restaurants were acceptable, but even then nowhere close to the Cunard or Athena standard. Eat twice in Gary Rhodes restaurant, blown away by the quality, so reminiscent of Cunard. Unfortunately someone brought Norovirus aboard, which affected a number of passengers, including myself for 2 days and my partner for 3 days, missing out on 3 ports between us. Not happy. The staff were working flat out because of the outbreak and passengers were served food in all areas,which was ok but the strains on the staff was very noticeable as time went on. Unfortunately I contracted another illness onboard which I am still suffering with, so I couldnt enjoy my hard paid for holiday.
I understand Oriana is going into refit at the end of 2011, well a lot of work is needed and I doubt whether standards will be raised to the standards I would expect.Hopefully I will be wrong.
Oriana is very popular with elderly people and this was fine but evidently some of them thought they owned the ship and were quite rude. LOts of children aboard too and despite worries they proved very well behaved and looked after.
I was disappointed that on Oriana its very hard to find good places to sit and relax overlooking the water. The only option is the Terrace Bar on the stern and the various 'wings' on the stern. Some people 'hogged' window seats in the conservatory and seemed to spend all their time there. Poor people. Talking of hogging- I was disappointed that people would 'reserve' sunbeds by putting a blue towel on them, then walk off. Numerous times I couldnt find anywhere to relax. Crazy.I even saw a few arguements where people had liberated sunbeds that had been reserved in such a way!
Overall I was disappointed with Oriana, cost cutting seems rife onboard and the bone has been cut into. I love cruising and being at sea, but I could not wait to get home. Thats not right and P&O Carnival need to think long and hard about how to keep their customers, particularly with such an age profile as on Oriana..