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7 Southampton to Arctic Cruise Reviews

We selected the cruise because the itinerary met our requirements, and the cruise did meet our expectations in this respect, although a storm kept us out of the scheduled first port of call. Cabin very good, as were the staff on board. ... Read More
We selected the cruise because the itinerary met our requirements, and the cruise did meet our expectations in this respect, although a storm kept us out of the scheduled first port of call. Cabin very good, as were the staff on board. Food in general good, although very bland, probably to cater for the majority of guests on board. It did feel that this was an Old Folks Home on holiday, average age of guests must have been nearly 80, with too many needing walking aids just to get around the ship - some never to leave the ship in port of call! Goodness knows what would have happened in an emergency evacuation. Ship very much showing its age in spite of a recent refit. Didn't like the set meal times, and set table for the duration, much prefer an open table and time seating option. Fortunately we got on OK with our other table guests, but 16 days dining with the same people, we would not do this at home! Didn't likr the Fred Olsen charged extra for everything, from a cup of coffee, soft drink, water,change to a different restaurant, thats extra please! We had the drinks package on offer, very limited, a gin made in Spain, a whisky of unknown origin as were the other spirits on offer. If you want something different, thats extra please! Won't be using FOCL again, we will go back to our other preferred cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was our 3rd cruise and 2nd on a P&O ship. The destination was always the most important aspect of this holiday as we have always wanted to see the northern lights and after looking at the excursions available we didnt hesitate to ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise and 2nd on a P&O ship. The destination was always the most important aspect of this holiday as we have always wanted to see the northern lights and after looking at the excursions available we didnt hesitate to book. Getting on the ship was fine, CPS were great to deal with and after 30mins of arriving we were on the ship. We left Southampton on time and all was good. Id read some negative reviews about how shabby and old the ship was but we thought she wasnt too bad given her age and she ploughed through stormy waters with ease. After 2 days at sea we arrived at Andalsnes, a lovely little Norwegian town surrounded by snowy mountains, a pleasure to walk around. After another sea day we crossed the Arctic circle and docked at Tromso. This could have been better as it was a Sunday and most things were closed, something i think P&O should have considered with the schedule but saying that we still enjoyed our time there. Following day we arrived for a 2 day stop in Alta. What a fantastic place! We visited the Ice Hotel which was out of this world. In the evening we went on the "in search of the northern lights" trip and were not disappointed, we had a fantastic display, something to remember forever. The following day we went to The Holmen Husky centre for a sled ride and got to hear all about the dogs then spend time with them afterwards, totally brilliant. Then it was back to the ship and thats where it all went wrong! Oriana is an "adult only" ship which actually translates as "floating care home". A good 80% of passengers were age 65+ so all shows and activities were catered for them. It was tolerable for a short while then it got boring. I mean really boring. Theres only so many times you can use the gym or drink Costa coffee. Nit and natter or beginners ballroom dancing were as exciting as it got, not fair on the younger passengers. Just something to see or listen to that wasnt pre 1960 occasionally would have been nice. Unluckily for us the weather turned bad which meant we had to miss our last port of Stavanger out and we were at sea for 4 long days! Thank God our destination was brilliant because the time on the ship was dull, and after spending a lot of money on it we didnt expect to spend as much time in our cabin as we did due to the only people onboard being entertained were the OAPs! Its a shame because the ship itself is nice, it didnt let us down, but P&O need to up their game, the food wasnt brilliant either. Had this been our 1st cruise we would never cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
The cruise headed north to Alta in northern Norway seeking the Northern Lights and offering scenic cruising and port calls en route. Despite a few minor niggles the cruise was successful, enjoyable and generally well-run. The ... Read More
The cruise headed north to Alta in northern Norway seeking the Northern Lights and offering scenic cruising and port calls en route. Despite a few minor niggles the cruise was successful, enjoyable and generally well-run. The itinerary was suited to the nature of the cruise; the ports of call were appropriate and the scenic cruising in the fjords was magnificent. Embarkation was slow. We queued standing for almost an hour but once checked in we were on board without much further delay. I was part of a Mr Bridge party so spent much of my time on board at tutorials on bridge or playing the game. My attendance at other talks was limited but those I was able to attend were good. The Arctic weather limited deck games but I participated in a couple of quizzes and other activities which were generally well organised. Evening dining in the Ballindaloch restaurant was very good and a couple of evenings in the Palm Buffet were also good. Breakfast and lunches were also of a good standard; not much variety at breakfast but the lunch menus had good selections and the buffet food was better than on other cruises. Entertainment was varied and of variable standard but there was usually something to enjoy each evening. Daytime entertainment included quizzes, at which I failed miserably, and other activities which I did not have time to try. Talks on Norway were amusing and informative but the port lectures, as often, seemed to feature more on the excursions (many of which were already sold out) than any background to the ports themselves. Other lectures were available but I was not able to attend or not interested in them. Excursions were generally well organised and available at typical cruise prices. One excursion on which I participated left the ship late and was curtailed but my comments to the Excursions Manager resulted in a partial refund and apology, which I considered a reasonable response. Disembarkation was swift and efficient (I was amongst one of the first groups to leave) and the valet parking service was efficient. Overall a very good cruise which has left me happy to sail again with Fred Olsen when a solo cabin is available at a reasonable price. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Our cruise started with embarkation at the Mayflower Terminal which had been updated since our cruise last year. The embarkation process was smooth with just a minimal wait in the new, comfortable seating area. The whole process was well ... Read More
Our cruise started with embarkation at the Mayflower Terminal which had been updated since our cruise last year. The embarkation process was smooth with just a minimal wait in the new, comfortable seating area. The whole process was well oragnised and within 20 minutes we were aboard and our cabin was available. Our cabin was an inside on F deck, F100 to be precise. This was our first inside cabin and we were keen to see how we got along with it as we have also booked an inside cabin on Oriana's Caribbean & American Adventure for Jan 2016. We had been on Oriana last year on her Fjords and Arctic Circle cruise and had been allocated an outside cabin at the rear of the ship. As other people have mentioned Oriana does suffer from noise and vibration at the rear. We were keen not to have an aft cabin and so jumped at the chance to take a cabin right at the front. F100 is just about as far forward as you can go. There were definitely no vibrations and we did not notice any extra movement due to being so far forward. The cabin itself was quite comfortable and was generally spacious enough. It had two extra pullman berths, which did hamper access somewhat. If in this cabin again I think I would have the beds made up as two singles rather a double as we had, as this would give more space in the middle of the room and avoid the difficulties we had in getting in and out of bed due to the pullman berths eating into the space at the side of the beds. My only real criticism was the ridiculously small safe. The shower was much better than the one we had in our outside cabin last year. There was lots of wardrobe space and plenty of hangers. Our cabin was kept spick and span by our cabin steward Lilybeth who did a terrific job. I think my wife would still prefer an outside cabin but for my part I thought it was fine and didn't really miss the window. I certainly think that it was not worth the £1,000 per person extra cost for the Caribbean & American Adventure in January. The other thing we were keen to try out was freedom dining as we have chosen this option for the Caribbean & American Adventure. Luckily, we were allocated freedom dining this time. Overall, I was very impressed with it. We managed to get a table for two every night and only had to wait on two occasions and both times our pager alerted us that a table was ready after a wait of 20 minutes or less. There was usually some queuing at 6.00 pm when the Peninsular restaurant opened but this moved on very swiftly as the well drilled restaurant team showed diners to their tables. Food quality was just as good as ever and the service was first rate. There was ample choice on the menu and steaks, salmon or chicken were always available as alternatives. The gala menus were particularly good. We also ate twice in MPW's Ocean Grill and enjoyed our meals and the service on both occasions. In January this will have changed to Sindhu and we look forward to trying it out. Something we would like is another select dining venue. We do wonder if there is not a room which could be utilised for this purpose in the evenings. We enjoyed the ports we called at even though the weather was not kind to us. Killybegs was a lovely stop with bright sunny weather. Easy to walk around and the local tourist office had laid on a bus service to Donegal. Reykjavik, Isafjordur and Akureyi were our Icelandic ports. We did a morning Whale Watching tour in Reykjavik. The weather was good and we saw Minke whales and lots of white nosed dolphins. In the afternoon we explored the town on foot. The weather took a turn for the worse in both Isafjordur and Akureyi but we were still able to explore on foot. Fortunately, the weather improved for the Faroe Islands and our Schooner Sail tour which we really enjoyed, although there was a noticeable lack of seating available. We didn't mind standing but a three hour tour without a seat could have been difficult for some. We spent the afternoon exploring Torshavn on foot - a delightful place. Our next two ports were Kirkwall in the Orkneys and Dublin. Dreadful weather in both. Kirkwall was beautiful but very, very wet. We enjoyed looking around the cathedral but the weather was so poor that we searched out the local library and caught up with all our emails. Dublin was also very wet. We had stayed in Dublin before so had seen the sights so we just walked into the city, about 20 minutes from the dock, for a swift pint of the black stuff which was most welcome. We enjoyed the entertainment on offer. The Headliners shows were all very good and we thoroughly enjoyed them even though we had seen them all before. We enjoyed all of the acts we went to see, but one stood out head and shoulders above the rest - The Flyrights. They were superb in both of their shows. True entertainers with great personalties who put on a wonderful show. They put so much energy into their performance. I don't know how they managed to do two shows a night! The cinema had a good range of films. The weak area with entertainment was the guest speaker, she was quite good but it would have been nice to have a variety of speakers rather than just the one. There were no celebrity speakers. I do hope they have more variety in January! Overall, a very pleasant cruise.The ship was well presented as ever and the crew worked tirelessly to keep her at her best. The cruise was great value for money but once again the real stars were the crew. They really do go the extra mile to ensure that you have an enjoyable cruise. I just hope that P&O realise what an asset they are. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We sailed on cruise X512 to Ireland, Iceland, Faroe Islands and the Orkneys. This was our second P&O cruise having cruised with Cunard on a number of occasions. Joining the ship at Southampton was very easy with no rush or hassle. We ... Read More
We sailed on cruise X512 to Ireland, Iceland, Faroe Islands and the Orkneys. This was our second P&O cruise having cruised with Cunard on a number of occasions. Joining the ship at Southampton was very easy with no rush or hassle. We used the valet parking which is excellent. One of the reasons we now choose to cruise is we were fed up with hanging around airports for hours and then getting onto an aircraft that afforded very little leg room. The Oriana is now twenty years old and some of it shows. Our cabin was adequate but the en suite facilities really do look like they are from a nineteen nineties caravan and desperately need upgrading. The toilet repeatedly broke down, this does appear to be a common problem with this ship. Our cabin steward was first class. My advice to travellers is not go to the Conservatory for breakfast at or around 9am. It borders on complete chaos and it is very difficult to find a seat. 10am is a much better time if you want to avoid the scramble for food. The same at lunch time, leave it until after 2pm. We chose 2nd sitting for dinner which was in the Oriental restaurant. We were towards the rear of the room with lovely views out of the rear of the ship but it is noisy and there is a fair bit of vibration when going at normal speed. We found the service excellent and the food was always good quality and nicely presented. If you chose freedom dining be prepared to have to wait for a table. Comments from other passengers were that they always felt rushed in the Peninsular restaurant. Our favourite place for drinks was the Crows Nest. Once again the service there was really good and the live music added to the atmosphere. The Amethyst Duo and Chris were particularly enjoyable. The entertainment is always down to personal choice and we did go to the theatre four times and enjoyed each visit. Why do people want to leave before the end of the performance? It's not as if they have a bus to catch. Is it they need more food? Bad manners. Black tie nights were enjoyable and it is nice to see people dressed up, but it is not the same experience as on a Cunard Ship. We visited Killybegs in Ireland, only a small town but nice and friendly. They do charge 2 Euro per person for a two minute shuttle bus trip. Reykjavik was nice city although there is a lot of graffiti. Isafjordur was a tender port and one of my favourites. A small very calm fishing village with spectacular views, I loved this place. Sunny but a biting cold wind. Akureyri was a lovely small town with some interesting shops, most people spoke English. After our visit into the Artic Circle we headed south to the very pretty Faroe Islands. We went on a panoramic tour during the morning but unfortunately we did not see a great deal due to thick fog, but this is a chance you have to take in this part of the world. The afternoon was spent in lovely warm sunshine in the very colourful Torshavn. We then went to Kirkwall in the Orkneys. It was dull overcast and raining, Kirkwall is only small and to my mind very plain and grey. I did not like it at all. I was glad to leave. On to Dublin. This city is buzzing and there is nothing not to like. There are a lot of road works as they are building a tram system and it does hold up the traffic but we still managed to get around. If you are thinking of going on the Oriana it is getting old but it is still a nice ship. They do seem to have major plumbing problems and this part of the ship does need up dating. The service we received was always excellent and everyone was very friendly. The food was good and evening dinner was very good. If you are planning to go to Iceland it will be cold/cool in the summer take suitable clothes. The midnight sun is amazing something not to be missed. A good value for money cruise Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We just came back from a 15 night cruise to Norway, Arctic Circle. It was a relaxing cruise and we thoroughly enjoyed it, although it was not a perfect cruise. Then we always enjoy cruising, as there is so much to do and not a dull moment ... Read More
We just came back from a 15 night cruise to Norway, Arctic Circle. It was a relaxing cruise and we thoroughly enjoyed it, although it was not a perfect cruise. Then we always enjoy cruising, as there is so much to do and not a dull moment if U R flexible. The movies we saw were one of the best selection we had ever encountered and that include movies based on the life of Dr. M. L. King and Pros. Stephen Hawking, as well as Cinderella, McFarlane etc, 12 in total. The shows were not up to the high standard we would expect, as there was no Ice shows, the one we enjoy most. But to be honest, not all ships put on such extraveganza. Shore excursions were good but a bit expensive and there were too many ports with tendering, a little bit of a problem for someone like me with slight disability. The food was good, especially in our "Any Time Dinning" where Chefs would prepare our favourite dishes, as we are vegetarians. But the food in the buffet restaurant on deck 15 was cold most of the time, although variety was good, especially variety but it could be better. The ship on the whole is in need of refit and I understand it is going in the dockyard in 2016, not before time. The Princess Theatre was our favourite spot for afternoon movies and evening shows. But it is a bit small, need a bit bigger capacity with some 3500 passengers. But being a disable person and going in well before starting time, we always found the seats. All the staffs were wonderful and would go out of their way to help us, especially in the dining room and our Cabin stewardess, although we never saw the Captain. Being a journalist, I also enjoy lectures but they were few and at wrong time, clashing with other, more enjoyable shows. On the whole it was a great experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it. But it could have been better. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015

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