The 77,000-ton, 2,016-passenger Oceana may not be the largest or fanciest in P&O's fleet, but its contemporary vibe is attractive to both the new-to-cruising younger set as well as veteran cruisers.
For adults, plenty of bars, restaurants, shops, lounges and a nightclub provide options for distraction. And Oceana does offer a high-quality cruise -- particularly in food and wine -- for a reasonable price. Inclusive fare in the main dining room is consistently solid, and Cafe Jardin, a for-fee bistro created by celebrity chef Marco Pierre White, is a standout. Wine critic Olly Smith advises P&O on all things wine, and he has come up with an exceptional wine list -- 86 in all, including a blend made especially for P&O, Porta Palo. The wine list also features English wines -- both sparkling and still.
Families, in particular, will appreciate Oceana's informal atmosphere and kid-friendly vibe (at least during school holidays). Oceana has four pools (two in the middle and one at either end), all open to the elements, and six whirlpools. A small sports court occupies the funnel, with a couple of golf driving ranges and basketball hoops.
Launched in 2000, the ship went into dry dock in December 2012 for a £1 million ($1.5) refurbishment. The main changes are:
Le Club, Oceana's nightclub and bar area, has been given a total redesign and refit
the spa and salon have been refreshed
most of the public area carpet was replaced
the Horizon Grill has had new upholstery
an aerobics studio has replaced the golf simulator near the spa
selected cabins have been spruced up.
The passenger mix is almost exclusively British. The average age for couples is late-60's in the winter, with summer cruises attracting more families and a slightly younger crowd.
There are typically two formal nights per week; the rest of the time smart casual is the order of the day. Although this makes for a much more relaxed P&O Cruises feel than in years gone by, don't be caught slacking -- on formal nights, dinner jackets, tuxedos or the optional dark suits are the required attire for the men, and long evening or cocktail-length dresses for women. Children are welcome to dress up as well, but smart casual is allowed for youngsters on formal nights. Dress codes apply throughout the ship after 6 p.m.
Tips are automatically added at the rate of £3.10 ($4.50) per person (over 12-years-old), per day or £43 ($65) for the usual two-week itinerary.
A major bonus for passengers is that there is no automatic 15 percent service charge added to drinks or wine bills, and cash tips are not expected by bar staff.