For those that have the energy there are virtually non-stop activities and things to do from 8 a.m. morning exercise sessions until after midnight. Even on sea days the ship never seemed crowded with room to spread out in the 10 bars, most of which open at noon, and six lounges. By the end of the cruise many passengers migrated to their favourite spots on a daily basis.
Daily outside activities included golf chipping, shuffleboard, deck quoits and short tennis and inside there's bingo, whist drives, non-hosted bridge, art classes and dance lessons from the resident teachers and light-hearted quizzes on a variety of topics. Informative 45-minute presentations set the scene for the various ports of call, and on my cruise the guest entertainers included former MP Edwina Currie and stars from the Strictly Come Dancing series. A selection of the latest films can be seen in Chaplin's Cinema.
Shore excursions, graded into three levels depending on the amount of walking or activity involved, erred on the leisurely side, with plenty of coach excursions, and I particularly enjoyed a canoe trip through the fjords. Trips were enlightening and well run but at around £40 quite pricey. In ports such as Bergen there were frequent complimentary shuttle buses, making it easy to get around under your own steam. A few passengers said they could not get on all the excursions they wanted so it's best to pre-book before embarkation or at the start of the cruise to avoid disappointment.
Evening entertainment gets underway at 6 p.m. with options including pianists tickling the ivories in the glass-roofed Tiffany Lounge and Crow's Nest and more lively music in the Lord's Tavern sports pub. My personal stand out feature was the Crow's Nest at the front of the Sun Deck, the perfect spot to watch the passing scenery at sunset over the reasonably priced, around £3.75, cocktail of the day. The nightly shows in the Theatre Royal, at 8.30 p.m. and 10.30 p.m., were excellent and always well supported and the resident Headliners Theatre Company staged varied and well-choreographed performances. The Pacific Lounge is a more intimate entertainment venue, generally hosting solo singers, and the Harlequins venue alternated between middle of the road disco music and ballroom dancing. A casino with slot machines and gaming tables opens at 7 p.m.
Oriana isn't the ship for all-night party animals and most of the bars thinned out well before midnight.
Oriana Public Rooms
Located next to each other on D Deck, the dark and wood panelled environs of Crichton's card room, well-stocked library and Thackeray room exude the rather reverential hush of a gentleman's club. I got the impression that if you talked or laughed too loudly there would be disapproving looks. Squashy leather chairs provide the perfect environment for catching up on some reading, doing the crossword or having a snooze.
Everything from forgotten toiletries to perfume, clothes, jewellery and souvenirs can be found in the decent sized shops making up Knightsbridge and the Emporium and long lasting mementos can be snapped up at the usual photographic studio, which featured several special promotions and discounts throughout the cruise.
There's Wi-Fi throughout the ship and the cyb@study is well equipped with 12 computers and space for passengers to use their own laptops if they prefer to sit at a proper desk rather than in their cabin or one of the other public areas. A computer savvy ‘cyber manager' is also on hand at set times of the day to sort out any problems and laptops are available for hire. Internet plans range from 50p a minute pay as you go to a 250-minute package costing £62.50. The one-off £2.50 connection fee is a bit mean. It's worth noting that connectivity is patchy or non-existent in areas such as the fjords, and the reception desk doesn't tell you that on the first day you sign up you won't be connected to the system until the evening or when the ship sails, which can be frustrating.
Passengers can do their own washing in the launderette on E Deck.
Oriana Spa & Fitness
The Crystal Pool and Riviera Pool on the teak Lido Deck provide enough room to swim decent lengths and, along with the smaller Terrace Pool at the aft of the ship on D Deck, they are surrounded by plenty of fabric covered sun loungers and comfortable padded chairs. There are adjoining hot tubs and as all the facilities are open air they are weather dependent. Pool towels are provided.
The Oasis Spa and hair salon on the Lido Deck features Elemis products and a good selection of beauty and pampering treatments, including more specialist therapies such as Ayurveda and acupuncture, although the latter is not available on all cruises so check in advance. Treatments start at under £10 for waxing, rising to an eye-wateringly expensive 75-minute 24 Karat Gold Facial nudging almost £220. My 50-minute £69 Swedish massage by a very experienced therapist was exceptional. Along with the usual sauna and other facilities the spa has two cosy thermal loungers, installed as part of the 2011 refit, where it's nice to stretch out, although slightly odd to see some passengers lying on them fully clothed complete with shoes.
The L-shaped gym, open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. is surprisingly big with a fleet of modern high-tech cross trainers, running and rowing machines, free weights and other fitness equipment. When I was onboard it appeared under-used and there was never a problem finding a free machine. The gym is unsupervised and an induction is offered at the start of the cruise. Classes, which are fairly low key and aimed at beginners and intermediates rather than fitness fanatics, include an early morning 30-minute deck walk, body conditioning and fab abs classes. Most are free with a charge of £7 for yoga and Pilates sessions.
As well as the deck walking and jogging track there's shuffleboard, quoits, table tennis, golf and tennis nets.
Next: Oriana Family
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