We fancied an Xmas cruise so we would not need to cook this year, and also for a little chance of winter sunshine. I and my wife have now completed some 16 or so cruises, but this is our second one with P&O, the first being a year or ... Read More
We fancied an Xmas cruise so we would not need to cook this year, and also for a little chance of winter sunshine. I and my wife have now completed some 16 or so cruises, but this is our second one with P&O, the first being a year or two ago on the Ventura, which was just 'OK'.
Our choice was based upon destination and price, and the Oceana fitted the bill, it was going to the Canaries and Madeira over the festive period. We had never visited the Canaries, so it was an opportunity to see if we liked them, and would go back and to get some sun. We had an evening at the Holiday Inn Southampton prior to the cruise with inclusive parking for up to 15 days and two-way ship transfers, which we booked ourselves. This turned out to be good value and close to the Mayflower Terminal.
The morning of departure was a breeze. We were due to board at 1 pm, but arrived about 12 pm in an early taxi. No problem check in was very fast and we simply walked on the ship after depositing our cases. Our first cruise with P&O had a quick check in and this was no different, probably better and faster than any other company we have been with.
This speed and efficiency on disembarking and boarding continued throughout our trip and at the destinations. Very easy and stress-free, and on our final disembark at Southampton. Wewll done P&O
Our cabin was soon ready, within the hour in fact, and the buffet of course was open!. ( See points on cabin below )
First impressions were good, and overall the staff were attentive, and as my wife was diabetic they helped her with the diabetic meal choices. Food everywhere was of a good standard ( we did not each much in the buffet as we prefer the main dining room ). over the 12 days there were recurring 'favourites', ie steak, chicken etc but overall a good choice. Meals were well presented and hot which is vital for me. We heard someone moaning about the poor standard, but to be honest what do they want ?. There was a wide choice at every meal, so something for everyone.
Again,service was good and we had no complaints. The restaurant staff work very hard as do the wine waiters. I had pre ordered a wine package of 6 bottles, and this suited us fine as we had about half a bottle per evening. We also had drinks in the bar, a gin, or Martini in the evenings and the odd beer. Prices are UK pub prices as I dont think they do a specific drinks package. However we both got £115 cabin credit as part of the deal and this was great, as we did not spend much in total. A bit of a moan though. More than once they did not have the advertised drink, particularly the selection of beers, and beware of the 'cocktails'. One guy asked for extra alcohol in his as to be fair, some taste very weak!.
I think the bar managment need to get their act together, as it could be improved in the bars. We also found the ship busy,. but it was Xmas, but there was often a lack of a quiet space to have a drink. The Yacht and Compass Puib was always noisy with some activity going on, so no quiet drink in there. Most nights we opted for Magnums bar which was OK
The voyage was fine, but for 24-36 Hrs we hit a force 9-10 in the Bay of Biscay on the outbound leg. No effect on myself and my wife who dont get seasick, but a massive shock to some first time cruisers and many of the passengers who wewre ill. In fact we heard a couple complain at reception about the weather !!!.
I think folks need to realise that if they book a cruise, particularly in December, and it the Atlantic then this is a chance you take!. Its not P&O's fault. Once we got through it conditions were calm for the rest of the cruise and all the way back to the UK, although I think a few passengers got off at Madeira and flew home !.
Ports of call were fine, as was the weather. We missed Lanzarote due to winds and tidal conditions so had two nights in Tenerife which was fine by us. We love Madeira, but we were not too impressed by the Canaries, but that is a personal thing and we would not go back, although we got the nice weather. We only had one excursion ( only as we had two days in Santa Cruz and I had not planned on another day ) to mount Tede, which was very good and we enjoyed it. Overpriced as always, but we did end up spending less than we thought. Lisbon was nice, but it was colder than the UK !!
The entertainment overall was varied and quite good, we varied our shows each night which is something we like doing; so there was something for everyone. I did not like the magician, and normaly I do, but he did not impress me at all. The crew dancers were great and there was plenty to do all over the ship. Guest speakers ( one on planets and space, and the other on showbusiness ) were both entertaining.
The ship, well, OK but I am not keen on the Fincantieri ships, dont know what it is, but just not my scene. That said we felt very safe with a first class crew. One issue though. we are not old yet, but I thought we had got on a Fred Olsen ship!!. The number of passengers with walkers, wheelchairs and chronic problems ( which they loved talking about ) must have kept the sick bay busy.
Far from being a booze cruise at times I thought I was in a rest home...Well perhaps its Xmas, but we would prefer a somewhat younger crowd, but again maybee its the ship. Overall a nice cruise, better than our first P&O experioence, so we would probably book with them again on a different ship Read Less