Having read some of the critics negative reviews, we were a little apprehensive as to what we would find. I now wonder whether the disappointed passengers were on the same vessel as us! At first sight the huge queue in the embarkation shed at Southampton looked like a cattle market. The marshal's dealt with it very swiftly as did the check in and security staff. We have experienced longer waits at some airport check ins.
Yes, perhaps some odd parts of the ship looked a little dated or showed signs of wear but the vessel is 12 years old. Would you expect a 12 year old 5 star hotel to be in absolute pristine condition - I think not and overall it was certainly as good as any 5 star hotel shoreside; and I have stayed in quite a few world wide. All of the P & O staff that we came into contact with were excellent; friendly, extremely helpful and courteous.
Yes, the Plaza restaurant is like a motorway cafe but the food is good with plenty of choice. If you don't want to cart your own tray around whilst searching for a free table then there are a number of other restaurants on board where you get table service. The breakfasts in the Jardin restaurant (visited twice) didn't impress us but the lunch time menu there did! The evening meals we took in the Adriatic restaurant. The menus and food were splendid and well presented by our two friendly waiters, Pedro and Sunny who kept us amused as they served the "lovely jubbly" vegetables. The variety of meals offerred left us spoilt for choice.
Entertainment - If you want to see a west end show then go to the west end. You wont get one here, but what you will find on board is an energetic group of young entertainers who will put on a decent show for you. I do have to agree though with previous critics that there can be a problem getting into the Starlights theatre if you are on second sitting. It does seem to be the case that people are seat blocking by staying in after the first performance has ended.
The cabin, with balcony was quite adequate. The bed was comfortable, with good storage space and kept immaculate by the steward. The only let down was the size of the bathroom which was uncomfortably small.
Drinks in the bars and wine with dinner were all reasonably priced and very favourably compare with typical UK pub/restaurant prices.
Overall, my partner and I were fully satisfied with all we found on board and felt welcomed and valued customers. We would certainly book to cruise on the Oceana again.