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323 P&O Cruises Oriana Cruise Reviews

Our previous two cruises were with Princess Sapphire & Diamond and we were not only happy but impressed with the quality of food and entertainment so we expected no less from P & O. In fact the food on Oriana was basic pub quality ... Read More
Our previous two cruises were with Princess Sapphire & Diamond and we were not only happy but impressed with the quality of food and entertainment so we expected no less from P & O. In fact the food on Oriana was basic pub quality with an amateurish attempt to dress it up as in a fine dining restaurant . Much of it was bland, meat often tough, frozen fish overcooked. Very unusual choice of vegetables served with the main dishes in some cases. Don't have the custard, I think they mixed it with water. Was it the fault of the chefs' or the food they were supplied with to cook? I don't know, perhaps both.I suppose I should add that there were many people on board who have sailed many times on the same ship and cruise line who seemed content with the food. There were perhaps 15 or 20 young people on board, the majority being retired people. A feature film was shown each day . Three of the days/films were for children; poor planning or choice. There were two good comedians, a very good conjurer but a rather amateurish song and dance group with inadequate stage management.There were three formal dress nights. I wonder why. Normally when we dress in black tie or evening gown it is for something special. Apart from the dress, they were normal evenings and you will have already gathered the standard of those.We were surprised to be told that as we approached Vigo, they were not aware that it was a national holiday and all the shops would be closed something they surely must have known. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Entertainment staff...BIG disappointment !!!" Enjoyed the cruise mainly because of the lovely passengers we met Dining: The food in all the restaurants was top class, and among the best we've had. The ... Read More
Entertainment staff...BIG disappointment !!!" Enjoyed the cruise mainly because of the lovely passengers we met Dining: The food in all the restaurants was top class, and among the best we've had. The Conservatory was where we dined most evenings, mainly because we liked the relaxed atmosphere and the wonderful variation in choice of food. Even the times when I personally didn't like the particular theme for the food ie. Mexican, there was always an alternative I could have. The Al Fresco restaurant was brilliant especially for breakfast, and the staff were always friendly and helpful. Overall the food on Oriana was 10/10 Entertainment: First of all I'd like to say that..... the production entertainment in the theatre the singers and dancers production shows or headline acts,etc were great and varied. But the down side was...... The Cruise Director and his staff were among the worst I've come across on any cruise I've done (and thats about 30 cruises). Except for one or two the front of house entertainment staff were awful, it seemed like they thought they had a ship full of elderly passengers and didn't have to do much entertaining. One girl in particular, had boyfriend problems and we the passengers suffered accordingly. The Cruise Director was conspicuous by his absence, he never seemed to get involved with the run of the mill entertainment. The entertainment staff who I personally thought at least tried to entertain were : Anthony McGinley, Emma Grainger, Richard Hall and Donna Randles. I have named these staff rather than list the bad ones which would have been a far longer list. Also I could go on about other entertainment problems, but I think you get the gist of what I'm saying. Stateroom: The stateroom was good, I always travel in an inside room as in my opinion its only for sleeping and getting changed. It was perfect for both things, so no complaints. Service: The service from all other staff (excepting most entertainment staff) was great. I nearly always got a lovely smile along with the service. I would like to single out two rooms were the service was exceptionally good thats the Al Fresco resturant as I've already said and the Lords Tavern, where the serving staff were friendly and very quickly learned the names of the regulars, which in my book is going the extra mile, it's really nice to be greeted with a smile and a "Hello Mr Matthews" it makes one feel just a bit special Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
We booked this cruise as we felt it would be a lovely way to celebrate Christmas. We travel with two severely disabled young adults who are our children and have cruised many times, albeit, not with P & O. I have to state at the ... Read More
We booked this cruise as we felt it would be a lovely way to celebrate Christmas. We travel with two severely disabled young adults who are our children and have cruised many times, albeit, not with P & O. I have to state at the beginning of this review, that it is without a doubt, the worse cruise our family has taken. Firstly, I will highlight the good points. The cabins were good and kept totally clean throughout the cruise by our steward, who spoke little English, but was good at his job. Some of the reception staff were helpful and friendly, but some were not. We were allocated a table in the Peninsular restaurant, and, although we would normally use alternative dining due to my sons dietary needs and disabilities, we had to use the Peninsular as food in the conservatory was so awful! During our cruise, there were a number of Norovirus cases, and apparently, due to this, precautions were obviously taken with regards to stopping self service in the conservatory and Alfresco's. We do feel that if the use of hand gel had been insisted upon earlier in the cruise, this may not have happened. It always amazes us that some people absolutely refuse to use the gel that is there to safeguard them! We feel that if there was one member of staff allocated to making sure this was used, it would save problems in the long run. The food in the conservatory was dire. The choice was extremely limited and the themed dinner buffets made it useless to us as all food in there was spicy. The themes were Indian, Thai, Mexican, Caribbean, Country and Western, with no alternatives. We have never been on a ship where the is so little choice. Also, portion control was practised, which again, we have never had on any ship we have been on. This is the first cruise where 3 of our party has not put on any weight at all. On one occasion, I asked for some Cheddar cheese to accompany crackers in the conservatory. I was given a piece of cheese which was approximately the size of half a cheese triangle. I asked if I could have more and was told that was a portion. We accept that the staff had to serve the food due to the virus on board, but many dozens of people felt that P & O saved an awful lot of money on food during the cruise. We also appreciate that some people are greedy and take food they do not eat. This was not the case, the portions were minute. Alfresco was where we ate our breakfast most days. The staff were good, but again, portion control was practised. My son eats only soft food and so a cheese omelette was the perfect choice. The omelettes were thinner than most crepes and although he has a small appetite, we needed to go back for another omelette for him each day. We were served to one piece of bacon and half a tomato. Scramble eggs were being served by the half spoonful. The Peninsular was good and they tried very hard to cater for my children. I cannot fault them at all. As this was a Christmas cruise, we expected the atmosphere to be festive and the entertainment to match the season. This was absolutely not the case! After the first 3 days, I found myself apologising to my family for taking them away from Christmas. Even the staff were unable to disagree that it seemed Christmas was cancelled. On Christmas Eve, it seemed we may have Christmas after all. Santa arrived on deck accompanied by Christmas music. The choir sang and were really good. Later, the crew sang Carols, and the show, 'Jingle all the way' was very festive. Apart from church services, that's where it ended! Christmas day was a huge anti-climax with very little to do. The only difference to the normal days entertainment was that words were added, ie frosty shuffleboard, Rudolph carpet bowls etc. It was pathetic! Christmas dinner in the Peninsular was good and quite festive. I can truthfully say that I have never heard so many people saying that they couldn't wait to get back to Southampton. I am not just talking about the usual moaners that all ships have, but families and people who had travelled with P & O many times. We spoke to many, many people who felt this way and the staff were apologising for the lack of Christmas. I had people who were horrible to my children, which has never happened on any other cruise. I have never been so glad to leave a ship and return home and will never travel with P & O again. I will also not recommend them to family or friends. We feel we lost our Christmas Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Having just returned from a 11night cruise with P&O on Oriana, leaving from Southampton on the 28th December, visiting Madeira the canary islands Lisbon and Vigo. I feel compelled to write a review so that other ... Read More
Having just returned from a 11night cruise with P&O on Oriana, leaving from Southampton on the 28th December, visiting Madeira the canary islands Lisbon and Vigo. I feel compelled to write a review so that other inexperienced cruise customers can have i hope an unbiased view,as even though i asked other people prior to booking this cruise and also scoured the on line reviews i don't feel i saw the points that i will raise laid out in black and white even though once on the cruise certain aspects that i found were not for us were known to others. So having said all that I'm sure for a lot of others on the cruise it did exactly what it said on the tin,lots of roll out the barrel sing along, talks on swollen joints, knitting classes, ballroom dances, football on TV,old rom com movies and ancient sitcoms in cabin and a headline act of Richard Digance. My partner and i have been on one other cruise about 4 years ago with royal Caribbean mariner of the seas (i will use a system 1-10 ,5 or below is i consider unacceptable for the price of the cruise) 1 the ship itself facilities ,cabin, 2 food 3 service 4 entertainment on all these points without fail Royal Caribbean came in at 8/9 we had a great time. On arriving at Southampton to check onto the Oriana we joined the long queue to board and this is when it first struck us that all was not as we expected we looked around at the majority of our fellow passengers and for one bizarre minute we thought we had got into the wrong queue and were lining up for a post Christmas offer to join a new northern nursing home, We assured ourselves that this was just a statistical blip owing to the prompt time we joined the ship and decided to bravely go on board beyond the point of no return. We found the food during the day ie breakfast and lunch was boring ,repetitive, and unimaginative like one would get at a average works canteen,it was difficult to find a seat and we felt we were participating in a rushed bun fight daily. We were lucky as we went for the late sitting we did find ourselves seated with some very nice people, and enjoyed the evening meals as they were relaxed with a set seat and the food up to the expected standard. The Oriana itself also felt very tired and dated when comparing it to the Mariner of the Seas. so for all the reasons given i would score Oriana 3/4 in all the categories listed above,we would not personally repeat the experience and had the cruise gone on much longer i think after day 5 we would have got off and flown home. As I say I'm sure this may be to some peoples taste and a lot of the fault may be my naivety and or lack of research ,i hope others might just add this review into the mix before deciding if a similar cruise is for them. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Fawlty Towers came to mind when the head waiter told us that the reason why the soup tasted so salty was that someone in the kitchen had put the salt in twice! And this was the story of the cruise - great potential let down by ... Read More
Fawlty Towers came to mind when the head waiter told us that the reason why the soup tasted so salty was that someone in the kitchen had put the salt in twice! And this was the story of the cruise - great potential let down by disappointment over the levels of service and food quality. This was our 36th cruise and our first one on a British ship since a week on Thomson many years ago. We are a Brit couple in our late 50s and nearly always use American ships but, having been caught by the ash cloud last year in the States, we decided to go from Southampton, and this cruise on the Oriana fitted in with our dates and offered some potential for warmer weather. We drove down to Southampton without any snow problems and were met at the dock by the parking service. The whole boarding experience was excellent, very quick - our only thought was that if you suggest passengers arrive at 12:30 (and they are on the ship by 12:45) it seems slightly silly to keep the cabins locked until 2pm. Our first impressions of Oriana were positive. Built in the mid 1990s, it looked very short on balcony cabins, but the public rooms were generous in number and in good condition. Our outside cabin on A deck was fine, if a bit small, but it was showing signs of wear particularly in the bathroom - and the sewage system proved to be very lack lustre, it worked but took its time. There had obviously been some norovirus problems on the previous cruise as the staff were very persistent on making sure you used hand gel (good), public toilet doors were left open and bar menus were put away (but they did not think about the dangers of handling bridge cards). The high point of the cruise was the firework display in Funchal on New Year's Eve - the ship providing the perfect viewing point. We took two ship organised tours in Tenerife and Grand Canaria, which we thought good value for money. Booking was hassle free - even getting off the ship was easy. We did our own thing in Lisbon but the weather in Vigo was so bad it was not worth getting off. We thought that the entertainment programme was excellent - the cruise director was visible and on the ball. There was a good range of quizzes, a bridge teacher, two different lecturers plus a celebrity lecturer (Richard Noble, the former land speed record holder), a range of entertainers, a professional dance instructor and joy of joys, a number of decent dance bands -everything an inveterate cruiser could possible want. Other good points were the reasonable prices of the drinks and the wine, and the fact that P & O do not put an additional percentage gratuity on (I'm sure its there but good not to see it). The level of occupancy in the bars was something most American ships would die for - we are not sure whether it proves that cheaper prices mean better business or is it just that Brits drink more? Either way, every bar was heaving from about 7:30pm onwards. The dining is fixed seating but luckily we had a table for two. The menus were fine - with a British slant which one would expect (liver, kidneys and game - and great hot vegetables served separately- real silver service!) but the actual food quality was variable. Soups particularly were very poor - some looked like dishwater and tasted little better. When the head waiter came round to ask how the dinner was he seemed taken back when told it was not great - but were we one of the few to complain? Other passengers we spoke to were not impressed either but is it a British tradition to grin and bear it? We also ate at Gary Rhodes, the specialty restaurant, which was excellent. The food at the Conservatory buffet was OK but the seating was limited if no one sat out on deck - few did as the weather was cold. The Alfresco Cafe was not good. The main problem for us, used to American 'can-do' attitudes, was the levels of service. Some waiters were just not very cheerful. We had to send back drinks several times when the bar waiters brought the wrong order, and a long wait for a drink (or the bill) was not unusual - there were just too few waiters for the numbers of people. Overall it was the lack of attention to detail that struck us - the returners' lunch and cocktail party were on the same day (they apologised afterwards) and, at the celebrity lecture, the back of house team disappeared halfway through and left the cruise director unable to turn his mike on at the end - he was not happy. We were also given someone else's bill from the Purser's desk when we checked out balance halfway through; and some of the bar menus had incorrect prices - all little things, but frustrating - and it makes you wonder about attitudes to the more important things like safety. A positive was disembarkation which was very good - we did 'do it yourself' and were on the motorway in 15mins from leaving the ship. Overall we would probably go on P & O again - for the entertainment and music, though we would definitely want to go on a newer ship and have a balcony, and perhaps restrict ourselves to a week. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
GENERAL OVERVIEW: This was my 21st cruise, so I guess that I have now enough experience to offer a valid assessment of a cruise product. This was my first cruise on P&O. It exceeded my expectations and I left the ship ... Read More
GENERAL OVERVIEW: This was my 21st cruise, so I guess that I have now enough experience to offer a valid assessment of a cruise product. This was my first cruise on P&O. It exceeded my expectations and I left the ship quite satisfied. The itinerary, Singapore to Southampton, was not port-intensive but I love sea days. A cruise to relax indeed and enjoy the ship. Oriana is a beautiful vessel, which offers a variety of lounges and bars and its onboard activities were plentiful to keep one active if so desired. Most memorable were Anderson's, the Libary and Reading Room (Thackeray's) designed by HM's nephew and the panoramic Crow's Nest. Shore excursions were well organized and not expensive compared to other cruise lines. Incidentally, we always prefer booking the ship's own shore excursions for the peace of mind that they offer (the ship will not depart without you in case of a delay), especially in ports out of Europe or USA. This cruise was a great value for money for an excellent cruise product. Other companies charge much more for what P&O delivers. I liked the fact that tips were not automatically charged to our on board account, but we could tip individually at the end of the cruise. The suggested amount ot tipping is what I see as another sign of P&O's honesty towards its customers, as it is much lower than that of other companies, which offer similar standards and experience. Unlike them, P&O does not try to pay its employees by its customers' tips, and this was something that I appreciated much. Price of the drinks in the bars and restaurants were very reasonable and another welcomed feature of the cruise. We found that Portunus, P&O's repeater cruisers' club, offers 5-10% discount on your onboard account, which we found a very nice guesture, especially when compared to other cruise lines. Overall it was a beautiful cruise experience. I would recommend P&O without a doubt and I would travel on them again in a heartbeat. DINING We liked the variety and taste of food in the casual restaurant, the Conservatory. Actually I ended to have lunch exclusively there, while going to the main dining room for dinner only. Food and service in the main Peninsular restaurant were flawless. The menu offered many selections to keep one satisfied. Oriana keeps the old traditions of Silver Service and Petit Fours, which was another nice touch. Interestingly, I did not try the alternative restaurant. Food and service in the main dining room was so good that I didn't feel the need to try something else. ENTERTAINMENT I like going to lectures and these were generally interesting. I especially liked General Sir Michael Rose's presentations. Shows in the Theatre Royal offered a nice variety, following the standards of more expensive cruise lines. The singers and dancers of the Headliners Company were talented people and deserved much praise. STATEROOM We had a wonderful oceanview stateroom on Deck 11. Although we have travelled on larger cabins or suites, it was wisely designed, nicely decorated and we missed nothing. The position of the sofa in the corner enabled one to face directly to the window and enjoy the view when sitting or having lunch. It is a pity that this configuration is not used more widely in other ships and cruise lines. Storage space was ample for a long cruise, with many drawers. The bathroom (with bathtube) was so well designed that it put to shame baths on much more expensive ships and even rivalled some mini-suites in other companies. Our steward provided excellent service and my requests were promptly fulfilled. SERVICE I found the service in restaurants, bars, reception and my cabin flawless. All my requests were kindly and effectively addressed and the crew deserved all their tips. PORTS I would like to speak about ports rather briefly. Singapore was one of the highlights of the cruise. We stayed there pre-cruise at the Changi Village, a nice 4-star hotel with wide spaces and interesting design. We had a private tour of the city before embarking and were impressed by its cleanliness, its wide avenues and modern buildings. A 'Garden City' indeed, it is a western city in the heart of Far East. Don't miss Raffles Hotel in its characteristic British colonial style. Kuala Lumpur was similarly impressive, with its many trees and modern buildings, including the famous Petronas. Like Singapore, it was a pleasant experience to find a clean, western-type city in the East. Mumbai was a slight dissapointment. The city has wonderful buildings, many of them from the time of the British Empire, but they are not well maintained. I heart that New Delhi or Aggra are more interesting. Of special interest was Ghandi's house and the Museum of the Prince of Wales. Sharm-el-Sheikh in the Red Sea is a nice, if somehow sterile and soulless resort. Of special interest is the surrounding desert and its nice beaches. But the top highlight of the cruise in my opinion was the passing of the Suez Canal. As far as I know it is a rare opportunity to cross it by ship, and this is the best way to appreciate its uniqueness. Here the Crow's Nest, Oriana's beautiful front panoramic lounge proved valuable and provided exquisite views. Europe has its own beautiful charm and always fascinates with its culture. Athens, in the 'craddle of the Western civilization', with its Acropolis and Museum is just a 'must' for every traveller and I am sure most fellow 'Cruise Critics' have been there. Lisbon also is said to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. This was my third visit there and I am always delighted with its characteristic atmosphere and its wonderful avenues and squares. Overall very interesting ports of call. As they were cushioned within enough sea days it was relaxing and convenient to visit them. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
My husband and I embarked on Oriana with great expectations. What a terrible disappointment this cruise proved to be. Between Sydney and Brisbane we had two engine breakdowns. In Yorkeys Knob the tenders were so late that we were unable ... Read More
My husband and I embarked on Oriana with great expectations. What a terrible disappointment this cruise proved to be. Between Sydney and Brisbane we had two engine breakdowns. In Yorkeys Knob the tenders were so late that we were unable to go ashore. The refrigerator in our cabin did not work and it took four changes of frig in eight days before we got one which cooled. It took three days for a light bulb to be changed in my bedside lamp. We must have had the worst cabin on the ship. In rough seas it was like being on a bucking horse and I was violently seasick. The noise from the thrusters was apalling and we had to leave the cabin to get away from the noise, which was difficult at 5a.m. The meals were poor other than in the Rhodes restaurant where there is a hefty cover charge. Reception staff were offhand and did not know what was going on. To cap it all off we were told that as there were few people disembarking in Bangkok we would have to take our luggage ashore ourselves. P&O have not even had the courtesy to respond to the letter we sent them on disembarkation. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Our cabin was great, good view from the window, our cabin steward was helpful, kept everything in very good order, I couldn't fault anything there. The dining staff were attentive, friendly, amazed me by remembering things, (like ... Read More
Our cabin was great, good view from the window, our cabin steward was helpful, kept everything in very good order, I couldn't fault anything there. The dining staff were attentive, friendly, amazed me by remembering things, (like did I have coffee with milk or not). The food was well prepared, served and always perfect, the variety of the menu was staggering. Each meal, whether breakfast, lunch or dinner, it would have been impossible to not find something delicious even for the most 'picky' eater. The presentation was excellent. The ship was always clean, the entertainment staff friendly and helpful. The evening shows were always wonderful. The only thing that was unfortunately not up to standard was the reception staff. It appeared to me that they would tell you anything just to get rid of you. We had a problem with the shaver power point in the bathroom, when I asked for someone to check it, I was told that there was another power point near the bed. I knew that this was not so, but she insisted it was correct. Also the captain announced that a survey was being distributed. I went to reception 3 times over 4 days requesting a copy of the survey. Each time I was assured that one would be delivered to our cabin. In fact the last person insisted that he would deliver it personally. It never arrived. Why I couldn't just be given one on the first request is incomprehensible! If for some reason, it was a limited survey, that was not included in the captain's announcement. I feel that it was just slack staff!! Would this minor problem stop me from cruising again, the answer is a definite NO. But I do feel that P&O need to be aware of some staffing problems. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Norwegian Fjords - July 2010 - Second sitting Oriental Restaurant OVERALL A wonderful week on a great ship. Spectacular scenery, a photographer's dream trip, lovely service on board and brilliant food and drink at good prices. What ... Read More
Norwegian Fjords - July 2010 - Second sitting Oriental Restaurant OVERALL A wonderful week on a great ship. Spectacular scenery, a photographer's dream trip, lovely service on board and brilliant food and drink at good prices. What more can you say! ITINERARY Southampton, Stavanger, Nordfjord to Olden, Alesund (A pretty town on an island in a fjord), Bergen, Southampton. WEATHER Unbelievable. Apparently they say in Norway that if you can see the mountains, it's going to rain. If you can't, it is raining. It rains 265 days a year. We never had a drop - We were so lucky - weather fabulous and the North Sea was like the Mediterranean! Everyone got a tan. GETTING ON AND OFF AT SOUTHAMPTON. Really surprised at just how efficiently P&O can do this normally horrendous bit of the cruise. Big praise for CPS car parks as well. It cost £80 for the week but it was well worth it. We arrived in the car beside the ship. Gave the car keys to CPS and P&O took the cases. We walked trough the brilliant check in process and made for the bar. I advise you to get there early, we were on by 11.30 so we got lunch as well (they had a BBQ and Champagne waiting for everyone!) A TIP I WISH I'D KNOWN You get to Nordfjord for the 60 miles inland to Olden at around 4am. I strongly advise you get up, get your camera, go out on deck. We got our pictures on the way OUT of Nordfjord against a setting sun. We could easily have been unlucky with the weather and then regretted for ever that we hadn't got up early to see the magnificent sights which unfold on the journey. You usually only get one chance in your life to see scenery like this. It makes you realise where Grieg's music was inspired - the light and scenery keeps changing, so keep snapping away, then you can go back to bed until brekky time. CASH We paid cash up front, we don't like using cards. On the last evening they balanced up and gave us cash in hand. At Bergen, there was a local Norwegian tax official dealing with tax-free purchases (at a table beside reception). He was also happy to change any Norwegian Krona coins back into sterling. That was very useful indeed. CLEANLINESS Everywhere we went on the ship, the attention to cleaning and hygiene was outstanding. The whole ship was spotless. There are the usual gel dispensers in and out of every eating area but more than that is the way they deal with leaving a toilet area by supplying a tissue to open the door with. No more wrenching the little finger or trying to open a round handle with your elbow! The cabins were serviced twice a day, the usual choccie on the pillow. What impressed us was that they almost seem to watch for us leaving for dinner and breakfast so they could slip in and do the cleaning. Very well organised, many thanks to our chap, who had been given the name Jerry. THE KITCHENS After the chocoholics session on the last afternoon (just when you thought you could eat no more!), we went for a walk round the main kitchens and, predictably, they were absolutely VAST and completely spotless. FOOD - MAIN RESTAURANT This is our fourth cruise and the first with P&O. It would be difficult to overstate the quality of the food. We had lobster, venison, every other kind of meat and fish. How on earth they managed to cook steak perfectly for each person, with the variations of medium, rare, well done etc I don't know, but they did. And they did it again and again. The variety of food was outstanding and the quality was always excellent. FOOD - THE CONSERVATORY This is where you can have breakfast if you like, plus eating at any other time of the day. The variety was mind boggling and the quality - especially English breakfasts - faultless. Never a problem finding a seat, tables cleared all the time, and wiped down. If only we had places like that in the UK! Even the coffee was good. That's a first! One night is CURRY NIGHT in the Conservatory, and we dined there instead of the main restaurant that night. A great curry with all the trimmings. A special mention for the breakfasts because of the very wide variety and the way the fried bread was always perfect! CABIN We were on "A" deck, near the back of the ship but this is the first time we have not had a balcony. Good decision. We were ten paces from the terraces at the back of the ship, which effectively turned out to be our balcony. Complete with pool! When choosing a cabin, I recommend up high (A deck) near the back, it seems to be the best place. Oddly enough, we found sitting on the beds reading was quite relaxing because the window is so large and the mirror opposite means you can see the view behind you. Amazing what they can do with the space. We thought we'd spend very little time in our cabin. Hair-drier and tea making facilities included, plus soaps etc in the bathroom. One nice touch was the cooling gel eye-pads. Not seen that before. Great flat screen TV with BBC news, all very clear all the time. On board mobile phones work all the time but slowly because it's uses the ships satellite uplink, but it works. There is the usual daily bulletin left beside the door saying what on, plus a nice "What's happening in the world and the UK" news letter as well. NOISE The pool at the back of the ship is quiet, the one at the front is hi-de-hi, the one in the middle disco music. You choose the one you like, none of them spoil the peace at the back of the ship. All were spotless and there was a constant bar service from helpful and friendly waiters. FACILITIES Special mention about the sun chairs scattered round the ship. They are very comfortable indeed and I slept quite a lot without my usual aching back afterwards. Always plenty of seats and loungers (towels supplied in the cabin) A bar for every kind of person, depending on how you feel, loads of quiet areas round the ship, and of course you can eat your way to freedom, any time of the day. There are also two other restaurants where you can pay quite a lot for the food (£15 cover charge per person!?!). A Gary Rhodes and an Al Fresco. We didn't go there because the food we were enjoying in the main restaurant was as good as anywhere we've been. SHOWS AND ENTERTAINMENT Something for everyone here, we watched the Broadway or Las Vegas type shows but it's not our thing, very well done though. We did like Alan Stewart, I nearly bust a rib laughing! There were surprises too. In the Crows Nest bar (the best place to be on sailaway!) we watched a concert pianist performing Chopin and Schuman. They stopped serving ten minutes before the recital and you could have heard a pin drop. It was magical listening to this while sailing through beautiful fjords. A very special mention to Carlos Paul Santana, lately of Paperlace, the group from the seventies. He surprised everyone, he starts off with a medley of songs which he does well, but then he starts singing in Italian, he plays amazing guitar and his encore .. well, I'm not going to say what he did.. but it is the first time I have been on a ship when the entire audience springs to their feet clapping and cheering. What an amazing artist. DRINKS AND PRICES Another surprise. £2.60 a pint of beer, £12 a bottle of wine and £2.85 for a Pina Colada. Better than most pubs! SERVICE GENERALLY It would be true to say they the vast majority of the staff just couldn't do enough to help. They were all very busy though, and didn't always have time to chat. Quite understandable. SERVICE - ORIENTAL RESTAURANT We were served by two Indian gents who had been given the names Douglas and Cyril. I would have preferred to use their real names but that's the way they do it on P&O so I guess that's fine. I honestly believed they really wanted to do the very best they could regardless of tipping, and it was the first time we both felt that we WANTED to leave a tip rather then feel obliged to. These guys were just wonderful and everyone we came into contact with in the Oriental restaurant, especially Chandra the Maitre Di, were the same. EXCURSIONS We never do the excursions, so we can't comment on them except that they seemed a little expensive for what they appeared to promise. We think the same everywhere we go, so we always do internet research beforehand and go exploring. STAVANGER A very pretty town indeed, very picturesque and lovely to walk. Berth is right in the town centre. We were there on a Sunday when the shops were shut, but the cafes and bars were open. They suggest you look around the area near the dock which has the old houses and cobbled streets. Nice for about ten minutes, then make your way to the other side of the dock (left hand side when facing into the dock) where the high street is. Very nice indeed. (Why do they always assume you want to see just the history, we like seeing the people and their town)Fantastic sailaway round the islands to head north NORDFJORD, 6o miles inland to OLDEN - make sure you have camera memory that can handle hundreds of pictures. Breathtakingly beautiful fjord. Not much you can say because words just can't describe it. Do take the wally-trolly in Olden, which helpfully is waiting where the ship berths. it's £15 each but it's worth it. Also there is the trip to the glacier, £25 a head with the local taxi drivers who sit waiting in a minibus for the ship. An awful lot less money that the ships trip but the last one goes at around 12 noon so get down there earlyish. Unbelievable sailaway ALESUND A lovely town, lots of walking if you want to, highly recommend the wally-trolly because it takes you high up for spectacular views over the whole island and surrounding areas. Lovely sailaway BERGEN A big busy town, big shopping area, nice market on the front but we were in a commercial dock away from the centre. That didn't matter because there was a constant free shuttle, 15 minutes into the town centre. We would have taken the funicular railway but took the wally-trolley instead and found ourselves half way up the mountain so the train ride seemed a bit pointless after that. Gorgeous sailaway up the fjord for about 2 hours (listening to a Chopin recital) DOWNSIDE. The only thing that I have seen better elsewhere was the ship's shopping area. On the Oriana, it's not really a walk along a row of shops like other liners, it's just a large shop selling different things. It couldn't spoil our trip but it was the thing that stuck in our minds. There was a slight glitch with hot water early evening on one of the formal nights. To their credit, they dealt with the early-sitting ladies who were beginning to panic, and they fixed it in time so all's well that ends well. Other reviews and their negative comments. I read one review on another site entitled "rubbish" that says the Conservatory restaurant was disgusting. That is neither true nor is it fair to P&O or the crew. I'm afraid to say, people like that are probably not suited to cruises because, with any holiday, you'll always find something to complain about. Comments about "school food" left me puzzled too because everywhere you eat, the food is brilliant. They did not mention any of the good points I have covered, which puzzles me a little. In fact in their entire review, they didn't even mention the places they visited. People have mentioned in reviews the shuddering - especially in the Oriental restaurant. Yes, it does shudder a bit, we haven't been a ship that doesn't, its certainly not a problem - 69000 tons of food, flesh and steel being pushed at 21 knots through the ocean, you're bound to feel some engine vibration, I would be nervous if I didn't! Entertainment was mentioned and someone said it was like a holiday camp show, they seem to have missed the classical recitals in the Crows Nest. Pity, because they were magical. People who write that sort of thing should consider this - 1000 people with many different tastes. Some like this, some that. The ship has to cater for them all. I didn't like the showpiece glitzy shows with dancers. But they were very good and very professional, the guys and girls worked very hard, as good as any west end show - I personally just don't like that kind of thing. However, I certainly wouldn't complain, because hundreds of others DID like them! Some people didn't like the comedian that we thought brilliant - you can't please everyone all the time but - P&O, you did the best any company could do, trying to please everyone, so well done you! A reviewer on another site thought the average age of passenger was 75 and it was like an old people's home. Absolutely not true at all. The mix was every age and every ability, from 6 months old babies to centenarians. From the super fit to the poignant souls, obviously believing they are on their last ever holiday, but we hope they're not! Some youngsters were there courtesy of charities, which just goes to reinforce the fact that real genuine and fine British people generously extend warmth and compassion to all types of people, and those that feel unable to do that, would probably be better off staying at home. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
We have recently returned from a wonderful cruise of the Baltic and enjoyed every place en route. We had sunny weather every day, except for one morning and this helped in our enjoyment of the lovely cities on the Baltic, especially Oslo ... Read More
We have recently returned from a wonderful cruise of the Baltic and enjoyed every place en route. We had sunny weather every day, except for one morning and this helped in our enjoyment of the lovely cities on the Baltic, especially Oslo and Stockholm. Many people on the cruise seemed to be there for one main purpose and we were no exception - this was to visit and see the sights of St Petersburg. We were certainly not disappointed. We had followed some previous advice and had booked a two-day tour with Alla Tours, who are based in St Petersburg. There were five other couples and we shared a mini-bus with an excellent driver and the best guide we could have hoped for. Her name is Julia and over two long days she gave us a real insight into the lives of her fellow Russians. She had a wealth of information to impart to us and knew every building and which Ministry or Museum occupied it. She brought Catherine's Palace, Yusopov's Palace and the Hermitage alive with her knowledgeable descriptions and background information. Her lovely soft voice was easy to absorb and she didn't have the usual heavy Russian accent you might expect. The meals on the cruise were excellent and the fish dishes especially good. The entertainment was very good and we were treated to an excellent cello player on a couple of occasions. There are several places you can go for a drink in the evening and all have entertainment but one thing we did find rather a shame was that no particular band could be found in a particular bar each evening. Therefore the most relaxing and easy to listen to group - The Tritones - whom we enjoyed very much were not often to be found in the most relaxing bar - The Crow's Nest. This was unfortunate as most people were there for a quiet chat or to read, and sometimes were bombarded with heavy loud music from Natural High, or the John James Trio. There was also a classical pianist who could have been delightful but he preferred to play strident, flashy music that showed off his abilities rather than something beautiful which we could have all enjoyed. Now to the Vibrations. Well our cabin A273 was situated at the rear end of midships portside. When we lay down the first night our bodies were riddled with the vibration and it was impossible to sleep. When we got up and looked at the bed, the pillows were literally jumping. My husband set off to find an easy chair in one of the lounges to try to get some sleep and was found in the middle of the night by a crew member who arranged an inside cabin right at the front of the ship for him to sleep in that night. We asked the next day whether we could be moved to a forward cabin and Carlos the Accommodations Supervisor told us there was absolutely nothing available and the cabin he had been allowed to sleep in was going to be occupied. The ship was complete full he said. When we went in desperation to Reception, Emma listened to us sympathetically and had three keys made to show us three alternative cabins. We chose one right at the front starboard but it was a lower grade of cabin with bunk bed layout and portholes for which we would get no refund. She said we would be moved by Carlos and would have only to empty our safe - but when Carlos came to see us he ordered us to pack our cases and would only take clothing on hangers. An extremely unhelpful man to say the least. We were moved whilst at dinner and had to then unpack in our new cabin at 11.00 pm when we returned. We subsequently came across two other couples on A deck who were also moved to cabins other than the three we were shown. Although not the lovely cabin we had been looking forward to, at least there was no vibration and it was very quiet there. Speaking to regular passengers on the Oriana, we were frequently told that the Oriana has had propeller vibration problems for a long time and there is work planned at some time in the future on the propeller vibration dampers. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
I had booked myself and 2 of the ugly sisters on this cruise as a treat for my sister from the USA who was over to see my dad who was on his last legs plus my other sister who had been looking after dad for years but was under extreme ... Read More
I had booked myself and 2 of the ugly sisters on this cruise as a treat for my sister from the USA who was over to see my dad who was on his last legs plus my other sister who had been looking after dad for years but was under extreme pressure as he had been in hospital since a fall in January. A week before the cruise P&O offered us another cabin (for sole occupancy) at a favourable rate but I decided to take my husband along so we shared one cabin and the 2 ugly sisters the other. (They had the original cabin with the on board credit)! My American sister was looking forward to Dublin but was having trouble with her foot so she booked a tour through P&O and took in all the sights and had tons of photos to prove it. Dublin was very interesting and we did the open topped bus tour and got off at the Guinness museum then walked back at our leisure. We caught the train from Cohn to Cork city but wishes he had just stayed in Cohn as Cork was ideal for shopping but when we got back we did the Titanic tour and felt we wasted our time travelling to/from Cork. Bilbao was fantastic. We did the Guggenheim museum and spent about 3 hours there but my American sister felt there was too much of the same thing in the top floor - I've forgotten what the name of the exhibition was but it was all pieces of junk picked up and turned into "art". The building itself though was stunning and the walk to the museum wasn't too strenuous. Brest was a complete and utter waste of time - so much so we wished we had stayed on the ship. The weather was fine during the trip - not too hot and no rough seas at all. We had a table for 8 and shared it with a mum, her 16 year old son, her mother & her man friend. They were good fun and we enjoyed every meal. The only down side was that our table was a bit too close to one of the serving stations and whoever sat that side invariably got knocked a bit when the waiters were busy. Our waiter & his assistant was excellent. Not over familiar but when they knew your preferences they went out of their way to make sure you were taken care of. My sister and I took part in a few of the onboard quizzes and my other sister liked to find a quiet spot and read her book. My husband attended the lectures (like he always does) and I caught up with my sleep! I like the fact you don't have to pay for the movies on the in cabin TV and would beg P&O to not bring in such charges. I like the tea & coffee in the cabin and the cabin steward was fantastic. I don't think I ever saw them but the cabin was always prepared. I was a bit disappointed there was no Portunus party as it was only a 7 day trip so I make sure from now on I make sure we go for 10 days of more! Yup. It was a good trip. P&O is our favourite cruise line with Princess a close second. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Background We embarked on a 22 day roundtrip of the Caribbean from Southampton. In our party was myself, wife and ten year old son, in addition to my step-son and his partner, both 29. We have cruised a number of times with our son, since ... Read More
Background We embarked on a 22 day roundtrip of the Caribbean from Southampton. In our party was myself, wife and ten year old son, in addition to my step-son and his partner, both 29. We have cruised a number of times with our son, since he was born. Travel To Port of Embarkation For the first time we took the Eavesway coach from Manchester which was a revelation. Being the main driver normally it was really nice to be able to relax into my holiday immediately. No problems with luggage but leaving from a service station on the M6 did require some booking of a minibus. Ship Info Oriana was the first ship we ever sailed on. She is a lovely small vessel (~1800 passengers) with a really small friendly atmosphere but P&O's trademark large amount of public rooms. We have travelled RCI in the past and found the 3,000+ ships to be terribly large and impersonal. Our preference in hindsight is Oceana, which does have more public spaces without a significant increase in passengers. Oriana is classically good looking thought with a real stepped stern. Stateroom We always go for a basic inside twin with bunk bed for the boy. You're not in it enough to need much more. Good facilities, plenty of room, well tended by the steward. Recent upgrades mean there is an LCD tv and improved linen. Dining We found that the formal dining had improved, although it has always been good, just on this occasion we found the dining room food to be excellent. The conservatory buffet leaves me a little cold though and I'm never really interested in eating there for lunch and breakfast. Nothing wrong with it just I'm not bothered about a cooked lunch but you can't really get a good sandwich either. The staff captain invited us to Oriana Rhodes one night and that was fabulous. It really is a chance to try out some fine dining for £15 each. The service and food there was excellent. A real experience. Kids meals are good, although adults often need to be stopped from stealing food for themselves. The food is vailable only for kids for 45 minutes out of 24 hours, can't they have a break from eating for once. Children's Clubs Kids club was ok. It didn't adhere totally to the timetable but I think this is because it was really the first cruise in the ramp up to summer and family cruising. There were about 90 children on board. Our son used to love the 5-8s but doesn't like the 9-12s as much because it lacks structure, with kids free to wander in and out. he would rather stay in place with lots of activities, which doesn't happen. This stopped him making friends as quickly, although by the end of the cruise he was happily asking to stay there all day. Youthies are a universally lovely and supportive team. Entertainment P&O have taken on board feedback and really upped the amount of quiz-tye entertainment on offer (used to just be an individual quiz at 5:15) for those who are not as interested in shows. These were really good, led by a great Ents team. One of the great sides of the Oriana is the dedicated cinema which we have traditionally used a lot (Why don't other ships have this, rather showing films in the afternoon in the theatres). This had a lot of good, recent films on. We don't normally take in the shows because we're not really musical people but often check out other acts. On this cruise Roy Walker did two comedy routines which were actually excellent. I didn't know he used to be a comedian before Catchphrase so was pleasantly surprised. Service Service as always is excellent with all the waiting, bar and cabin staff being very polite and helpful. Our waiter was frequently giving us 2 starters each when we couldn't decide. Entertainment staff and Youthies were also very good. Ports Ponta Delgada in the Azores was a revelation. We took a taxi to the crater lakes and were amazed by the beauty of the place. If the weather is bad you can't see anything though, so don't book the P&O excursion and just get a taxi. 40 Euros for about 3 hour trip. We went to St Kitts and again got a taxi around the island for $15 each. Nice air-conditioned mini bus. The taxi rates and booking is really structured by the tourist information office. Went to the UNESCO heritage site Brimstone Hill fortress which is an amazing place with terrific views. On the way you stop at a Carib place and can buy authentic batik shirts which are great. ST Lucia we did the Land and Sea excursion which is on a Catamaran with snorkelling, and a bus tour back via the botanical gardens. If you book this get off the ship early so that you do the land bit early and sea later. We were stuck the other way around and would have preferred to sail back at leisure. Grenada I did a snorkelling tour of the Underwater Sculpture Park which was amazing. Wife and son did a tour which was by most accounts fairly dull. ST Vincent again we did a taxi tour through the rainforest and plantations. This of all the islands was the least touristy. My step son and partner caught the ferry to Becque, another island which was apparently all beautiful sandy beaches. Barbados was the place we liked the most which was a surprise. All the islands were quite samey - volcanic, black beaches and fair amount of poverty. Barbados is not volcanic so is the first one you see that really looks like the caribbean. It is more built up though and a bit americanised. Finally Madeira was lovely as usual. Warm, green, lovely sea food Disembarkation Got off smoothly at Southampton. We had been given the wrong disembarkation cards to get our coach though and found Tracy on the reception desk downright rude when it came to getting the right ones which she refused us. Summary This was a wonderful cruise. I thought I would be bored with so much travelling but found it very relaxing with plenty to do. Only one thing spoiled it and that was our fellow passengers. A large proportion were elderly of whom a significant amount were extremely rude and horrible to children. I never saw the kids being rowdy or anything but frequently saw other passengers reprimanding kids for not letting them go first and once hitting a child with a stick. One woman demanded I give the last Muffin from my son's plate to her because she wanted it, despite it being the only thing he would eat for breakfast and the huge range of alternatives available to her. There was apparently a lot of grumbling about children but lets face it Oriana is a family ship, advertised as such, and there are alternative P&O ships that are adult only. I have seen ships with 300 kids on board and they have been a bit rowdy, this wasn't at all. To be fair there were more lovely older people (probably grandparents) who very very kind and interested in the children. I don't think its necessarily old people either, I just think that a proportion of people who can afford to cruise when they retire (I doubt I'll be able to) have been wealthy, rude and used to getting their own way all their lives. Otherwise this was a wonderful cruise and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
When we arrived at the ship we had a greeting that made you feel special from the start. It didn't take very long to find your way around, as the layout is very simple. We had first sitting in the dinning room (Peninsular) We were met ... Read More
When we arrived at the ship we had a greeting that made you feel special from the start. It didn't take very long to find your way around, as the layout is very simple. We had first sitting in the dinning room (Peninsular) We were met with a very warm welcome and shown to table to be feasted on the finest food possible. (and plenty of it). The waiters could not do enough for us Always with a smile. The conservatory is well worth a visit we went every day The cabin steward was always very helpful and was there for all your needs. The evening entertainment in the theatre was outstanding The Headliners Theatre Co Martin Daniels Bobby Crush 10/10 What made it real special were the People we shared our dinner table with Annie Dave Mick Sonia & Chris Also the Staff Captain Chris Bourne went out of his way to make our stay on board very memorable. And also we must say Jane in the Anderson bar was most helpful too THANKYOU ALL Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
.....We stayed the previous night at the Holiday Inn close to Dock Gate 8 Southampton who do a cruise package of one nights stay, breakfast and up to 3 weeks parking (we paid for an extra night parking as our cruise was 22 nights) with ... Read More
.....We stayed the previous night at the Holiday Inn close to Dock Gate 8 Southampton who do a cruise package of one nights stay, breakfast and up to 3 weeks parking (we paid for an extra night parking as our cruise was 22 nights) with complimentary taxi to the terminal...this cost less than the parking provided by CPS in the dock. We were informed by text message the day before the cruise that Oriana would be berthed at City terminal rather than the planned Ocean terminal (our taxi driver told us that if its windy they can't use the 9 million pound Ocean terminal!!) Embarkation was quite slow, we arrived about 11.30 ish and it was over an hour before we got onboard. We made our way to our cabin and asked our steward if we could leave our hand luggage there as it was made up...he agreed and we went to the Conservatory buffet restaurant where we had a bite to eat and then explored the rest of the ship. There was a team around the ship putting up the Christmas decorations which were quite tasteful and not overpowering. We were allowed into our cabins at 2.00 pm...ours was c144 and was quite sufficient for our needs although the wardrobe rails were front to back x 3 which didn't give much hanging space, plenty of drawer space, a fridge and a safe. The air con was very efficient. The bath room was pink with bath with shower over and plenty of storage We sailed at 5.00 pm and once we rounded the Isle of Wight the force 8 winds were quite evident ...these strengthened to a force 9 over the next day and night and the first of many Stugeron tablets passed my lips ! Our first port of call was Vigo where it was a grey, rainy day we were slightly late leaving as they had put a tender boat down and couldn't retrieve it as it was too windy...as we left they turned the ship and retrieved it in the lee of the ship..the Captain later told us that it was a force 11 wind as we left Vigo and we had our third noisy bumpy night in a row. He made the decision to go south of the Azores to try and find some calmer weather...but it was our fourth day before we could go out on deck and sit in some warm sunshine...the outside decks had been closed before then. We had one more wet and windy day confined to the interior of the ship before we arrived in St Maarten .Next was St Kitts, then St Vincent, St Lucia, Grenada and Barbados.... We then had five days at sea ...two sunny, one cloudy, and two not so sunny ....our planned stop at Madeira was not possible as it was a tender port and the sea was much too rough and wind and rain prevailed. Disappointing for a lot of passengers but the Captain had no choice in our opinion....the comedians and singer had to disembark by rope ladder onto the pilot boat which must have been scary...Gary Rhodes who was due to join us there was unable to fly in because of the weather.....so after two hours treading water off the harbour we set off for Southampton and what would be eight days at sea. It became noticeably cooler as we travelled further north and our entry to Bay of Biscay was very rough ... the exit was calmer and we arrived at Southampton on time. Disembarkation was quite chaotic...I think they disembarked too many passengers too quickly (we left half an hour earlier than anticipated) and there was a mad scramble to find suitcases and then a huge queue for customs....however we emerged unscathed from the terminal at 10 am ish... Ports of call Vigo - it was pouring with rain here - we did walk up through the town , into the church - then around in a big circle and through the shopping mall near to the terminal where there were some quite nice shops including a huge electrical retailers which we thought was amazing (and useful as we needed a new mouse for the laptop!) St Maarten - we were late arriving here because of the bad weather on the way down....but we didn't leave until 11 pm ...we got a water taxi to the shopping centre $6 return....this is the place for cheap cigarettes £20 for 400 Marlboro ....nowhere else had them cheaper. We started to walk to the salt ponds area to see if there were any unusual birds but we felt a bit uncomfortable after a while as there were no other tourists anywhere to be seen....so we returned to the shopping area. 84 degs here ! St Kitts - we did a trip here 'Best of St Kitts'. It was a quite good overview of the island visiting an old sugar plantation Romney Manor and a Batik factory shop and then we went to Brimstone Hill fortress National Park. 82 degs here ! St Vincent - we did a trip to some Botanical Gardens here - Kingstown where there were nice lawned areas and trees and shrubs and then our favourite Montreal gardens which was 3000 feet above see level in the rain forest area...there were lots of beautiful flowering shrubs and plants here and paths down a little valley to a fast running stream it was lovely. St Lucia - we did a private tour with Cosol tours here which was excellent...saw lots of the island with some super photo stops, visit to the sulphur springs inside a volcano, waterfall and botanical gardens, and got a water taxi to the beach between the pitons travelling there in a torrential tropical shower at great speed!!!!! Walked into the water and was immediately surrounded by a shoal of yellow and black striped fish!! Then we had another torrential downpour before returning to Souffriere in the water taxi via the bat cave full of fruit bats. Had a typical Caribbean breakfast in a private house and hot bread baguette type things with cheese for lunch along with a couple of rum punches.... Grenada - we just wandered the Port complex of shops here as we were quite tired so decided on a day off! Barbados - we did a trip here which was a bit disappointing just a photo stop in the Highlands area and then a drive to Dover beach where we had two hours use of sunbeds and sunshades. The beach was very nice but the sea was quite rough with a strong current so I didn't feel safe to swim. We were disappointed because we actually berthed at the 'flour mill' dock and this was within walking distance of a nice looking beach with much calmer water which we could have enjoyed for free !!! Madeira - we did not go ashore here as detailed above. Entertainment The Cruise director is Gary Glading who did a fairly good job - he did wonders with the passenger choir who performed a concert of Music from the Films which was excellent. The Headliners Singers and Dancers were good - if a bit too energetic - one singer Lisa stood out - she was excellent. There were up to date films in the Cinema and some older ones on cabin TV . We felt that the cabin TV was underused and that there could have been a music channel all day - especially when there were no satellite signals. We also felt that the Cruise director could have appeared on the TV and summarised the days activities, especially as there were so many sea days on this cruise. Martin Daniels (son of Paul Daniels) was on twice in the theatre and was the best of the individual entertainers (in my opinion). Singer called Mark Porter, Elaine Delmar, singer, a Welsh comedian who we didn't see but heard not so good reports on, another comedian Kevin Devane who was quite funny, a couple of young lads who did two concerts one of Beatles songs and another of 50s and 60s songs, they were excellent musicians but a bit nervous, however we did enjoy them. Bobby Crush was also on twice but we gave him a miss. We also had Diana Moran, the Green Goddess, on board for the duration, who gave five talks I think....we just went to the first one. There were also talks by the Tate gallery, a fingerprint expert, Philip Hobday ex BBC, the Captain Paul Brown, Executive Purser Kathy Jones, and Second Officer Wendy O'Donnell. We went to the last three and they were very interesting. We weren't impressed with the young 'Future Cruise sales manager' who did a presentation in the Cinema. Food We ate breakfast and lunch in the Conservatory (buffet) and dinner in the Peninsular restaurant. We had some good food, but it was not always easy to find something that we liked, especially in the Conservatory at lunchtime. We did have to resort to the alternative of Chicken Breast, or Sirloin Steak in the Dining room on more than one occasion. The meat was very good but we never had good roast potatoes, they were always hard and anaemic looking ! There was always a good variety of vegetables in the dining room. We liked the size and style of the ship...there was always space to sit somewhere quiet if we wanted....we used the gym which seemed quite well equipped....we also used our laptop in the internet room to send emails (30p per minute pay as you go)...there was a nice library with a good selection of books. The age range was quite elderly...(I felt young at 62) but there were a dozen or so school age children and also several babies/toddlers in pushchairs. It seemed to cope well for the disabled passengers with several motorized and manual wheelchair users. We felt the ship generally handled well in the rough weather but our bed was positioned under the window so was side to side of the ship rather than front to back and when seas were rough it felt like we would fall out of bed ....but we didn't ! It was the noise of the ship hitting the waves that kept us awake at night. All in all we enjoyed the cruise very much...in spite of the rough weather ...and the resulting 8 continuous days at sea! We covered nearly 8500 nautical miles in three weeks. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Let me start by saying that my wife and I are experienced cruisers (20+) but have never been with P. & O. Before. So expectations were high. Without doubt this cruise ranked with the best. We got off to a great start, and despite ... Read More
Let me start by saying that my wife and I are experienced cruisers (20+) but have never been with P. & O. Before. So expectations were high. Without doubt this cruise ranked with the best. We got off to a great start, and despite arriving at Southampton an hour early, from leaving our car to arriving on board took just 20 minutes! We had lunch on board and our room was ready, with cases, as promised at 2.00 p.m. The ship was well staffed, with excellent service throughout. Food was of a high standard, especially the lunchtime buffet in the Conservatory. Dinner in the Peninsular restaurant was of good quality, quickly served by excellent waiters. However we found the menus a little unexciting. Alternative dining in the Conservatory (themed buffets) and Al Frescos (Italian) were excellent. We did not try the Terrace Grill or Rhodes Restaurant (both cost extra). Getting ashore at ports (including one by tender) was a dream with no waiting at all, and all shuttle busses were plentiful and free of charge. We did pay extra in Venice for a water bus from the ship to St. Mark's Square - well worth it. On board entertainments were fairly predictable but OK and the resident band and Headliners Theatre Company were again excellent. Bar prices (in sterling) were reasonable and you are allowed to take your own alcohol on board without being searched, a real bonus (other cruise lines take note!). Cabins have fridges to keep a few drinks cool. Finally disembarkation was a dream. We opted to leave independently and take our own cases. We left the ship at 7.20 a.m. and were on the road within 15 minutes! Overall a great cruise experience and we would certainly recommend P. & O. base on this. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
We too have just returned from this wonderful cruise on Oriana. Our first taste and we were not disappointed. We had a cabin on A deck and felt that it was probably the smallest and most cramped cabin we have had. The wardrobe space we ... Read More
We too have just returned from this wonderful cruise on Oriana. Our first taste and we were not disappointed. We had a cabin on A deck and felt that it was probably the smallest and most cramped cabin we have had. The wardrobe space we felt was very limited and we only just managed to get our clothes in, they were packed very tightly and it was difficult to get them in and out of the wardrobe. We had to ask our steward, Vimal, for extra hangers for the space above the safe. As for the safe, we couldn't understand why it was almost on the floor (and very small). OH had great difficulty getting down on the floor to open it, particularly when clothes were hanging down over it. I don't know how anyone with mobility problems managed to get to it. We dined in the Oriental restaurant - first sitting. We had a table for 2 (having requested a table for 6). We did try to get this changed, but because so many people were travelling as large family groups we could not be accommodated. However, this did not spoil the cruise but we did miss sharing the days exploits with our table companions. Our waiter Richardo, was a little sullen on the first night, but we soon managed to get a smile out of him and he was always very pleasant (if not a little serious). Alex the other waiter was a delight and called us by our Christian names. We found there to be plenty of choice on the menu, the food was good (not excellent). I have seen posts that say that the cheeseboard was never offered. This was not the case for us, my OH likes a bit of cheese occasionally - particularly Stilton - and he was always offered the cheeseboard, whether he partook of it or not. We ate in the Terrace Grill on two occasions and were very impressed with the menu and the service. It was wonderful to dine out on deck. Our first time was when we left Mytiline on our way to Istanbul, a wonderful evening with the coast of Lesbos on one side and Turkey on the other. The other occasion was when we left Almeria, the sea was flat calm, the day had been very hot and it was a balmy evening. The evening was further enhanced by a very large school of dolphins who followed the ships wake for some considerable time and gave the diners a real performance. A very memorable evening and certainly worth the £7.75 cover charge. We didn't sample Oriana Rhodes as we didn't think much of the choices on the menu. We breakfasted most days in Al Fresco's (much more civilized than the conservatory and not as congested). We also had lunch there on a few occasions, particularly avoiding the congested conservatory on sea days. We also liked to pop up to Al Fresco's for a cup of hot chocolate before retiring for the night (I know seems crazy when we had temps up in the mid 30's but a cup of hot choc always ensured we had a good nights sleep). The entertainment by the Headliners Theatre Company was excellent with very slick, professional shows. We saw 8 production shows during the 16 night cruise, and each one seemed to be better than the last. We had seen a couple of them before but we enjoyed seeing them again. "We are the Champions" and "F-abba-lous" are held in the Pacific Lounge and this venue gets very busy and the sight lines are not always good if you get stuck behind a pillar. If you intend to see these shows, I would suggest that you get to the venue early, we made the mistake of arriving just before showtime and had a blocked view. Both these shows are on three times during the evening, 7.30 pm, 9.30 pm and 11.45 pm. Natural High were also on board, and as every they were very good. We particularly enjoyed the two jazz sessions held in the crows nest. Again these got very packed, so get there early. We also enjoyed dancing in Harlequins, the dance floor is well sprung and just the right size to ensure you can do a good waltz etc. Natural High provided most of the music for dancing. The dance instructors, Phillip and Christine, were very good hosts in the evening, and although we didn't attend their dance classes I know that they were well attended. The "guest" entertainers were OK, but nothing special. The fact that they could not fill the Theatre Royal, but the Headliners TC could, I think says a lot. There were three party nights held out on deck, the tropical night, 60's & 70's night, and the Country and Western Shindig. We didn't get to the 60's night as on this evening we were both shattered and decided to have a reasonably early night, but the other two evenings were very enjoyable and proved very popular with the younger element on board ship. There were 260 children on board and we were a little worried about this as we usually cruise in May/June, but our concerns were unfounded. Yes the children did hog the pools, and the sun beds were always taken by about 8.30 am, but we always managed to find a bed at the front of the ship. It was sometimes a little windy, but with temps in the mid 30's it was a relief to have this air circulating as the area around the pools became like sauna's. The children were kept entertained by the various clubs on board. We used to enjoy seeing them all dressed up on the formal evenings, the girls looked fabulous in their dresses and the young lads looked very handsome in their DJ's. The children never gave us any problems, but I do believe that one or two families were thrown off the ship. Gary Gladding is an excellent Cruise Director and was at just about every event that took place on the ship, from the coffee morning for those travelling alone at 10.00 am, to dancing in Harlequins at mid-night. He never sat down and would always dance with ladies travelling alone. He was amazing, as was the rest of his team. They all worked so very hard to ensure that the passengers had a wonderful cruise. Captain Wells was a hoot, we looked forward to his noon broadcasts each day. I have never been on a cruise where the captain has taken part in the noon announcements every day. All those of you who have cruised on Oriana recently, or who will be on board in the near future will understand what I mean when you hear his dulcet tones. The ports - well this was one of the reasons for choosing to cruise in August on Oriana. We absolutely loved Athens, Naples and Istanbul, they lived up to our expectations (and more). We took the P&O organized tours in these three ports as we had not visited them before and felt that this was the best way to see all the main sights. Istanbul was a fantastic experience, our tour was all day (8 ½ hours), we spent 6 of these hours on our feet and when we returned to the ship we were absolutely exhausted, but looking back it was a wonderful trip and we had a very knowledgeable guide who was passionate about the history of Turkey. We did our own thing in Malaga, hopped on the city sightseeing tour and then did a bit of "retail therapy". Mytiline is a charming port which we walked around and took in the sights and sounds; we wandered down some back streets, through the shops and found ourselves at a large fort (2 euros entrance) which was well worth the visit. Dilkili saw us head for the local beach, along with many Turkish families, who pitch "tent" for the day and bring out large picnics, cooking equipment etc and the whole family is there from granny down to the youngest member. It was fascinating to watch them. We managed a swim in the sea and headed back to the ship. We were a little disappointed with Almeria, we went off the ship with an elderly lady who was travelling alone and wanted someone to accompany her off to the shops. Unfortunately she decided to stay with us so we ambled round some shops, had a coffee and then went back to the ship as it was so hot and she was a little unsteady on her feet. We would have liked to have found the old part of the town and visit the castle, but this something to do if we visit again. We were not particularly impressed with the shops and the place did not seem to have much character/charm (although we may not have visited the right part). All in all an absolutely fantastic trip and we would not hesitate to cruise on Oriana again, she certainly has a charm about her and is much loved by many people who return time and time again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
The whole experience of our little mini cruise was good from beginning to end and there were so many things that as a first time cruiser I was not expecting that hopefully other first timers will find this review useful. We pulled up ... Read More
The whole experience of our little mini cruise was good from beginning to end and there were so many things that as a first time cruiser I was not expecting that hopefully other first timers will find this review useful. We pulled up at the Dock Gate and unloaded the luggage and suddenly realized we just handed it over to the guys on the conveyor and that was it - how simple - none of this in a long queue shuffling the bag further forward to check in, the next time we saw our luggage was when we went to our cabins and there is was outside the! Okay we did have to join the snaking queue to check in, but that moved freely (and we only had hand luggage) and everyone in the queue was in holiday mood. The actual check in was friendly and informative and very efficient with a lot of information being imparted and the security pass being issued and the passport formalities being completed. We had turned up early - midday ish and so were delighted to be let straight onto the ship although hardly surprising we were told cabins would not be ready until 2ish, we were invited to use the time to explore the boat and partake of lunch in the conservatory. First impressions were good - lovely floral arrangements and an ice sculpture as we boarded by the main reception area. Walking around the ship we were very pleasantly surprised with all the facilities available and the plentiful outside space. We really loved the area at the rear of the conservatory that looked down on the various other levels down to the pool. It provided a great deal of outdoor space and looked lovely, it would appear from other ships plans that they are not as well planned as this and this wonderful space has been given over to Cabins. There were loads of lovely quiet areas (despite the cruise being fully booked) and again perhaps because it is a slighter older ship there were enclosed spaces, where as plans of other boats indicate that some of these spaces are free flowing and therefore wouldn't give you the peace and quiet the places like Crihtons and Andersons gave us. I could easily imagine myself spending time curled up with a book in the library on a longer cruise. The cabin was fine - we had booked the cheapest option - for two nights when we knew we were going to be busy there didn't seem much point in spending money on a view or facilities we were hardly have time to use. Certainly next time around, if we are on a two week cruise I would upgrade to hopefully a balcony cabin. There was plenty of storage space and some nice touches - lovely toiletries, bud vase and dish of sweets, the evening turndown service and good night choccy all added to the pampered feeling. The Daily newspaper was useful and very informative and a great port guide was provided with loads of useful information on. The restaurant (we were in the Oriental) was lovely and the food choice good (but not brilliant) and at times the service could do with being a little faster - you wanted to start your main as it would be getting cold before the vegetables had arrived. The staff were friendly and helpful. The evening shows were good and the Theatre Royal a lovely setting. Some of the bars felt a little crowed at night but there was always space, some times you just needed to wonder off to find a new place. Tiffany's was lovely at night, and so was the Crows nest (although the fact that you could smoke in here did spoil it a little for us). There was never any hard sell - tours were available if you wanted them but also a courtesy bus to take you into Blankenburg so you could do your own thing and local maps provided. Prices on board were very reasonable, all in pounds sterling so no exchange rate issues, and no service charge automatically added. On our last night were asked to have our luggage out by 2:00 am but we didn't know that until we stopped off in our cabin mid evening, ad were asked to vacate the cabins by 8:00 am which meant taking hand luggage into the restaurant for breakfast. We in fact asked our steward if we could leave a bag in the cabin and she was happy for us to do this and we just collected it straight after breakfast. We didn't rush to disembark and left about 9:45am, by that time most people had left and the boat was being cleaned and prepared for the next cruise. We arrived in the baggage hall to find our luggage ready and waiting on a trolley for us - what service. It was the smoothness of the check in and departure that we loved and beats flying any day. Overall we loved it - only complaint being it wasn't long enough and we will defiantly book another cruise soon. I enjoyed the traditional feel of boat and will probably look to another P&O boat for the future. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
How do a couple celebrate 40 years of marriage? Not many reach that milestone these days so it had to be something special! I believe my wife and I found that something special. From the moment we found ourseves at the terminal at ... Read More
How do a couple celebrate 40 years of marriage? Not many reach that milestone these days so it had to be something special! I believe my wife and I found that something special. From the moment we found ourseves at the terminal at Southamton to the minute we left at San Francisco it was a time to remember. The fact that we had arrived earlier than our booking time did not faze the staff in any way and they were only too willing to assist us and guide us through the embarkation procedure. When we did board we were amazed at the sight which met our eyes. My only experience of ships had been the Dover Calais crossing and the Hull Rotterdam crossing so it was an awe inspiring tour of the ship and facilities to see what was on offer. Being a Brass and Military Band enthusiast it was a special treat to cast off from the quayside to the stirring music of 'Rule Britania' with the confetti, streamers and fireworks. Our first three days were spent at sea and we quickly realised why so many people had advised me to buy a dinner suit with trousers a size larger. If I continued to eat how I started then one size larger would not have been the correct choice so some serious decisions had to be made re my eating habits!!! Madeira This was our first port of call and perhaps the only dissapointment of the trip. We had pre-booked all of our trips prior to embarkation and on this particular excursion were dissappointed to find that we spent three hours on a coach looking at clouds fog and rain. It was little comfort to us to hear a guide telling us what beautiful scenery we were missing! Especially when people(obviously a little more experienced cruisers than us) who had spent a fraction of the cost of our excursion enjoyed the lower altitude weather. St Lucia Now this was better -an excellent coach and boat trip to introduce us to the Carribean with a smashing dip in the sea before heading back to the ship. Margarita As our daughter had married a Venezuelan we were interested to see where they had been on Honeymoon. The day was a mixtute of torrential rain and hot sun. It was an amazing sight to see the local roads turn into rivers and the skill whch our driver showed in the negotiation of these roads/rivers. We also experienced the difference between the old and the new and the have's and have nots. Curacao An island which I had never heard of but an experience to remember taking the bus(an old army vehicle) with a bush roof to a local beach and enjoying the white sands and snorkelling afterwards a visit to the local town before re embarkation Panama Canal What can we say? one can only get the real experience by travelling through it. Thanks to the crew members for a very informative commentary throughout. Acapulco Well I am sure that the people who paid for excursions to watch the divers had their moneys worth but this trip was perhaps one of the highlights of the cruise when we released baby turtles into the sea - a truly memorable occasion San Francisco The end of the cruise for us we had further adventures to face up to(but thats another story) oh how I wish we were wealthy enough to stay on board!!!!! Life on Board Cruising was everything we had been told and more! From a fantastic captain who was always friendly, conspicuous, informative to our cabin steward and waiters were so friendly; helpfull,couteous and polite to the entertainment team -wow what talent. Thank you all so much Will this be our first and last cruise? ROLL ON OUR NEXT ONE THANK YOU P AND O for such a memorable occasion. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
My wife and I have just returned from a terrific New Year Canary Islands cruise on the P&O Oriana. The highlight of the cruise was the spectacular fireworks in Funchal Madeira on New Years Eve - they are simply awesome. We had a ... Read More
My wife and I have just returned from a terrific New Year Canary Islands cruise on the P&O Oriana. The highlight of the cruise was the spectacular fireworks in Funchal Madeira on New Years Eve - they are simply awesome. We had a fabulous view from the ship and there was dancing on deck until 1am as the weather was so nice. I must say that this cruise was in stark contrast to the bad press reports (at the time of my writing this review) on the New Year Cruise on P&O Ventura in the Caribbean. There are reports of bad behavior and drunkenness. No such thing on the Oriana I didn't see anyone drunk and the young people (which covered young babies to late teens) behaved impeccably and also looked splendid on the formal nights - this was a very "dressy" cruise I didn't see one single guy without formal evening dress. Now a bit of background on us - we are both in our early sixties and have taken several cruises but only 3 with P&O. Most of our cruises have been with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity the latter being our favorite. P&O ships don't 'do it for us' in the glamour stakes against the American ships (our other P&O cruises have been on Aurora and Arcadia), however we felt that the Oriana whilst older and smaller was our favorite. It is a very refined and elegant ship with a very nice teak wrap around promenade deck. The public rooms are elegant and a bit along the lines of a very nice English Hotel - no glitz., no bling not even in the casino which is tiny. The ship has a nice atrium with winding staircases and some rather nice shops on two of the decks. The atrium is crowned by Tiffany court where they serve speciality coffees, light lunches and alcoholic drinks. The ship sadly does not have an indoor pool but 3 outdoor. The entertainment on the ship was mostly very good. The production shows are provided by Headliners Theatre Company - 6 productions on an 11 night cruise. On an American ship you might get 3 such shows. The shows were without exception excellent - the group were very talented - 5 singers and 8 dancers always backed by a live band. We also had a brilliant comedian Andy Wilkins who was absolutely fantastic. The food in the dining room was outstandingly good - none of the cut-backs which we experienced with Royal Caribbean last September. Dinner comprises Appetizer, Soup, Main Course, Sweet, Cheese and biscuits, Coffee and petit fours. The choices were excellent. Our Waiter Francis and his assistant Prem gave a very high level of service always with a smile. Afternoon tea is served both in the Buffet and the Dining room - it's much nicer in the dining room where in addition to all the usual goodies the scones come with clotted dream and they serve hot crumpets and tea cakes. The finger sandwiches are without crust and have some excellent fillings. We chose an Ocean View Cabin ( we normally have a balcony but not at this time of year) which was quite small at 150 square feet. It was a little tight but perfectly adequate with lots of storage space, very comfortable bed and nice bathroom with shower. Again we had excellent service from our Stateroom attendant Agnelo who like our dining room waiters always had a smile for us. Service - we could not fault the service on Oriana however it doesn't come with the flair which we have come to enjoy on Celebrity and to some extent on Royal Caribbean. Not one waiter remembered our favorite drink; even smiles are in short supply amongst bar staff - this is an area which P&O need to pay attention to. One of the big bonuses about taking a P&O cruise is the price of the drinks which are considerably cheaper than their American counterparts and without the 15% service charge added to drinks bills. This coupled with the discount of 5% which we currently receive as Portunus Club Members makes a more pleasant bill at the end of the cruise. I haven't told you how we joined our cruise and this is another plus point for us when sailing P&O. We use Eavesway Coach Service which picks us up at our local bus station. We don't have to worry about traffic hold-ups etc. and when we get off the coach at Southampton we simply check in and our bags arrive an hour or so later outside our cabin - perfect! The check-in on this cruise was excellent we were on the ship with in 15 minutes of leaving the coach. You won't find many reviews on Cruise Critic for Oriana but I can tell you that Oriana provides a very nice comfortable cruise. Whilst it doesn't compare in the beauty stakes against its American counterparts it does excel in other areas - give it a try. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
As experienced cruisers, sailing mainly with P&O, this was a last minute booking, just for a seven day break. The Oriana is a ship that we love, although this was the first time on board since the refit. Embarkation was fine, ... Read More
As experienced cruisers, sailing mainly with P&O, this was a last minute booking, just for a seven day break. The Oriana is a ship that we love, although this was the first time on board since the refit. Embarkation was fine, although we went to the P&O terminal to be be told that Oriana was in fact berthed at the QE2 Terminal at another Dock Gate, further along the road. It would have been nice to know this prior to departure. We dropped off our bags at check in, which was clear at 12.00 lunchtime and went back into Southampton, however, returning at 3.00pm, we ended up queuing again, despite the fact we didn't have to unload bags, we still had to wait in the unload queue!. We encountered no other hold ups and were on board immediately. To be honest, the decor didn't look that much different to me, yes there are some new carpets and the cabins have new upholstery (the heavy throws over the beds have been disposed of), but she seemed her usual self. The theatre has very obviously been redone, which was much needed and of course 'dying room', as we used to call it is now Gary Rhodes. We had an inside cabin, which was all that was left at the time of booking, however, it was directly below Andersons and with a 3 year old we were in bed by half ten, and endured a lot of noise from high heels over the marble tiles and drink drawers being pushed in and out. We hoped it would stop by 12.00, but it continued through the night, peaking at 4.00 when the cleaners came in and we could hear stools being scrapped around on the floor. Hubby went down to reception and complained and they said they would sort it out. However, at 6.00 the hoover started scraping over the floor above. We were exhausted!. I am pleased to say, that after some negotiation, we were moved and although said we would accept any cabin and didn't want to check it out first - it didn't matter what it was like, we just needed to be moved - we ended up with an outside, which was lovely and made all the difference. The first time in 11 years we have ever complained about anything on a cruise! It was interesting to see the changes in a year since we had been on P&O, there is obviously cost cutting going on in a number of places. No towels at the pools, no midnight buffets and them selling at every opportunity. I also felt that although our cabin staff were wonderful and the waiters excellent. The Officers seemed a little haughty and dismissive. Our daughter went to Peter Pans, which was well equipped and much cleaner than the Oceana which we were on last year. The staff weren't particularly switched on and we didn't get a list of what was going on, so she missed a couple of things. Also they changed venues a couple of times and we ended up looking around for the group. A note on the door would have been a good idea. First day at sea, and the usual bridge, dancing etc., I think P&O really need to think about a younger age group for activities, the age group on the ship was middle aged + and not as many 'oldies' as we usually experience. The weather was warming up and we realized we had left our daughters hat in the car, we tried to buy one in the shop, but nothing, so asked the youth staff if they had any in 'lost property' that we could borrow, they didn't and couldn't suggest anything, although they didn't try very hard. Later in the cruise we were given a small backpack as a gift and inside was a sun hat!!! I don't know why they couldn't have given us this on the first day! Dinner in the Oriental was lovely, food was quite heavy and stodgy generally I suppose typical English stuff, but plentiful and the staff excellent. The first night we were on a table with a young girl who was being fed through a tube in her stomach at the dinner table and I found this particularly hard to deal with, however we were on second sitting, which proved too late for our little one in the Nursery, so we changed to 1st and thus avoided any embarrassment. I was not happy on return to the Nursery to find Charlotte strapped into a pushchair, she had obviously been upset at us not being back and they had strapped her in an pushed her around, I felt they should have let us know she was unhappy, after all it was the first night. This knocked my confidence a bit and therefore we changed to first sitting, so we could get there for 8.00 when they put the videos on, as she told us the video was scary and she 'didn't like it'. We tend not to use films out home much so she is very limited to Noddy, Nemo and such like. First stop Vigo, we did our own thing, as have done the excursions and find them slow and poor value for money. Having to pay for the three year old now, it is cheaper for us to hire a cab. We caught a cab to Bayona, worth the trip and had a coffee at the hotel on the hill, where Charlotte could run around and be fascinated by the seagulls that are cheeky enough to come down to the tables as soon as they are vacated. A quick walk around the town and back to the ship. We picked up Charlotte from the nursery, although when we arrived she was upset, I asked where her comforter was, as I had left this tonight in case she got tired and upset again, and they had forgotten to give it to her! Not good. We all went off to the show Eurovision, which was enjoyable the small company do try very hard, but this was only one of two shows that they did in a week, so they didn't do much for their pay that week. Other nights were a singer Robert Meadmore (OK, but not our cup of tea and several people walked out) and then later in the week a singer Suzanne Gayle. To be honest we were disappointed at the evening entertainment and after picking up our daughter, spent the evenings wandering around with not much to do. We did go into Harlequins a couple of times and we all had a little dance to the CD's playing, but when the second sitting came out and the band started, it was like really serious ballroom and we were getting dirty looks for getting in the way, so we went elsewhere! A Lisbon second stop, lovely city and free shuttle to town, we got the hop on hop off bus trip, well worth doing, but leave plenty of time. Sat on the open top and had a blast with the earphones - great for the kids. Tonight there was supposed to be a party by the pool, but it was too blowy and breezy, it transferred to inside, but wasn't the same the speakers were too loud in the smaller lounge and we didn't stay long. Another day at sea and time spent in the pool, lovely time had by all and Charlotte spent time in the nursery. There were however, so few children, that the activities took very little time and we felt they were hanging around a lot, not doing much at all. La Rochelle our penultimate stop, the shuttle into town and spent time wandering the streets. We didn't do a tour here, but did our shopping for gifts and sat in the pavement cafes, a nice stop and one that P&O should think about on the way back from their usual Med cruises. This evening was poor by way of entertainment a classical singer and or a talk by General Sir Michael Rose, hubby found this interesting, but I went to bed early and he went to the late talk. Missed the Weakest Link at 11.00, which we had seen on cruises before, but was too late for us with a little one, I thought this would be good family entertainment, perhaps they should try and put this on earlier? The Crows nest is a lovely place for a drink and look at the stars, they had a pianist playing which was lovely, but when we came out of dinner and went there for 8.00 he was just finishing! Recently on a Celebrity ship there was a Piano bar which was great after dinner for a coffee or a drink and P&O lacks this type of thing. Final day in Brest. Not the most inspiring of towns, don't stay in the town, take a cab, or an excursion. We went to the Aquarium just along from the ship. There was an excursion, but we found the local bus, goes in a loop past it, before returning to the ship, so we saved loads of money by doing it ourselves. When we got there we caught up with the tour, who were taking ages to get around and kids were getting bored with commentary. We listened in a bit, but then moved on swiftly at our own pace. Arrival in Southampton was good, disembarkation excellent, no hold ups, luggage was waiting, they seem to have improved on this a lot since previous cruises. All in all an interesting cruise, I would think twice about just doing 7 days, you don't have time to switch off and recharge, and also I think that P&O cut down on the entertainment. There were times we were bored and felt there should be more to our holiday than wandering around trying to find something of interest. We have booked the Ventura for May, but only because of the 'family' marketing, which we hope will mean the ship is younger and there are more age appropriate activities (for us, not the kids). However, I do think P&O are going downmarket and with the selling they are doing on board with the cheap gifts in the atrium, along with the little cost cutting exercises, I think we may be graduating to Cunard! Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Oriana June 2006 Last year we took a short cruise on Arcadia and were shocked to hear all the time not to go on a short cruise, there were so many times we were told not to go on a short cruise, so with some trepidation we took a ... Read More
Oriana June 2006 Last year we took a short cruise on Arcadia and were shocked to hear all the time not to go on a short cruise, there were so many times we were told not to go on a short cruise, so with some trepidation we took a 4-day cruise on Oriana. We went Wednesday the 21st. As normal a pleasant and easy trip down to Southampton, we arrived at 1150 am and the car park chaps were waiting, they took the car and then a guy came over and took our bags, all this took about 2 mins and was great service. None of this happened on Arcadia, it was not on a short cruise. Check in opened at 12 and we were whisked through in no time at all. We had a drink in the lounge and waited to board and that was pleasant. Boarding was fast and easy we were on board by 2 and our bags were at the cabin waiting, we had an outside on c deck c141 and its was perfect, last time on Arcadia we had a suite and the cabin on Oriana did not disappoint. Our steward was there while we unpacked and was so nice, she said anything you want just ask and she meant it. So we unpacked and did a tour of the ship, starting on the top deck and walking along every deck from top to bottom. The ship is ten years older than Arcadia but much much nicer , all the rooms are better, the bar lounges, shopping it's all so much better . Arcadia was a cold ship quite plain but Oriana was so much nicer. We were seated in the peninsular restaurant and had asked for a table for 2 and first sitting, both of which were given to us as requested. This was not the case on Arcadia. The met office had forecasted strong winds, very unusual for the time of year they said, so we thought it could be an interesting trip to Rotterdam our first port. The ship sailed on time, and we dropped into Andersons for a pre dinner cocktail this is such a nice bar, nothing to compare on Arcadia and the staff were so welcoming. The cocktails were to die for, so so nice. Dinner followed superb food service was brilliant if you can find a fault here then you're a really sad person. As we passed calshot the sea was busy, white horses every where and I thought this does not look good, we're only in the Solent. As we passed bembridge and hit the open water it got worse a fairly heavy swell and white horses every where. But the ship was perfect, hardly moved and took it all in its stride so no worries there at all. So off to the show, its was hits from the musicals and was very good, the only place Arcadia is better was here the seat and layout were better in that theatre. After the show off to the pacific lounge for the 70s night and the group natural high did a great job. We danced the night away and went up to the cabin about 2 am it was the most perfect first day. Next morning we awoke early and watched out progress up the river to Rotterdam its a long ride from the sea to the city and was fascinating. We decide to breakfast in the peninsular again and it was the best breakfast anywhere in the world nothing is too much for those guys. We took the courtesy bus into town for some retail therapy and the guide was great gave us loads of info all free of charge of course. We returned to the ship for lunch and again it could not have been better. Another walk round the ship then back in the afternoon to town, to look round the shops we missed in the morning. Dinner again was just perfect and followed by a show with Tom o Connor who is really good, he was also on Arcadia last year. Yet again more cocktails in Andersons and then off to the pacific lounge again for a sailaway party. We danced the night away again. This ship is really good and your made to feel welcome everywhere. Next morning we arrived on time in Zebrugge and went into town after another amazing breakfast. Bit more retail therapy this time big bottle of chocolate milk and Belgium chocolates. Back to the ship cocktails by the Rivera pool and it was so nice up there, then off to lunch in the conservatory again a wide choice and cream cakes to die for. The afternoon was spent sunbathing and sleeping on the rear pool deck. We both got a bit burnt, as it's a real suntrap. Gala dinner night the only formal night on the cruise followed by the captains cocktail party in the pacific lounge, the Captain made a speech and was genuinely funny. We talked to some officers and they were friendly too and of course free drinks and nibbles. Another show followed this time the Buddy Holly story and that was well done too. By now I suspect you're bored and thinking this is a love story of one couples love for Oriana. Well it's true we loved Oriana and almost hated Arcadia. I smoke and on Arcadia I was told you can't buy cigarettes as it's against customs regulations on a short cruise, on Oriana they delivered my smokes to my cabin and it was not a problem. Arcadia is not finished and decorated in the same way, ok they say its contemporary and modern. That may be, but its cold and not welcoming, the atrium is a waste of time with its boring curtains, on Oriana its grand and welcoming. Little things were different, outside the restaurant the days menus were displayed and on Arcadia it was a secret what was for dinner in the evening, they did not display the menus on a short cruise. If you're thinking of a cruise and can't do the full monty because of costs or work commitments, please treat your self and go on the Oriana you will be hooked for life it's a real experience, to add to our rapture we only paid £ 299 for a double outside we got a free upgrade of about 5 grades too. I hope Arcadia personnel read this and suggest they travel on Oriana to see how to get people to fall in love with cruising and show off the real true way P and O cruising should be. Next trip for us is a one-night taster on the QE2 and we paid £ 49 each for this so we can't wait to see how the ship compares. But I can promise we will be cruising again and P and O are going to see a lot more of us we can't wait and all of you out there wondering if you should try it all we can say is go for it, but not on Arcadia. One tiny footnote, the hand sterilising on the ship was almost non existent, only in the conservatory was any effort made, this is the same on Arcadia so come on P and O sort it out its causes problems so make it more strict please. Happy cruising to you all. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
As [our travel agent], provided a taxi from home to the Mayflower Terminal, joining the ship was very stress free. The actual embarkation process was quite efficiently carried out by P&O staff and we were soon in our cabin on ... Read More
As [our travel agent], provided a taxi from home to the Mayflower Terminal, joining the ship was very stress free. The actual embarkation process was quite efficiently carried out by P&O staff and we were soon in our cabin on deck 10 and our luggage was delivered to our cabin within a few minutes. The Oriana is a fine well built ship and no expense has been spared, it seems, in quality of the furnishings and equipment. We were pleased with our cabin with balcony which seemed well sound proofed. The Captain, Rory Scott and his officers ran the ship in a very professional manner. The Captain was to be seen around the vessel chatting to passengers but was also we were told quite strict which is always a good thing. Entertainment was really extremely good with the ships dance and song troupe being very versatile and putting their all into their shows. The other entertainers, John Evans; the comedian; Martin Daniels the conjurer/Comedian and Gerard Kenny, the singer/song writer were really excellent. The Maritime Theme lecturers were also very good with the cinema venue often filled to overflowing. The food in general was good with breakfasts being excellent, lunches a bit variable as regards some choices. For instance hot pot and cottage pie are not what one expects on a P&O cruise. Our biggest disappointment however were the main courses at dinner (second sitting) in the Oriental restaurant. Apart from the Captain's Gala Dinner the meat was sometimes tough or overcooked and the fish rather tasteless. We were not alone in commenting on this as others on our table for six echoed this. A pity as this the main meal of the day on a cruise. Our waiters were again very good indeed and perhaps we should have complained about the meat, etc. to our head waiter. We enjoyed the ports of call and the excursions we went on we enjoyed with the guides doing a very good job, one or two having a great sense of humour as well. We had good weather almost throughout the voyage with only quite a gentle swell in the Bay of Biscay. Arriving back in Southampton the disembarking process was pretty efficient probably because of P&O'S considerable experience in Southampton. Finally one or two criticisms: We think P& O are wrong to carry children of up to 11 years old free of charge outside school holiday times, this encourages parents to allow them to miss schooling. It also means that people who book cruises at these times have to put up with noisy and sometimes badly supervised children The children on this cruise completely ignored pool rules and the ships staff made no effort to our knowledge to enforce the rules regarding jumping and diving. We also noticed that P&O are not giving those little touches that other cruise lines give such as chocolates on the pillow each night, fruit in the cabin, toiletries in the bathrooms. This was our first cruise with P&O, but people told us that these used to be provided. In fairness however the provision of binoculars and an atlas in the cabin was a plus point. Overall we did really enjoy our cruise on the Oriana. CopeEdwards@aol.comNovember 2002 Read Less
I promised I would write a review so here goes. Advance apologies if anyone finds my opinions different to theirs! Prices are in £ sterling. General Info This was our eighth cruise..David is my husband and we take our cruises together! ... Read More
I promised I would write a review so here goes. Advance apologies if anyone finds my opinions different to theirs! Prices are in £ sterling. General Info This was our eighth cruise..David is my husband and we take our cruises together! Cruised from Southampton to The Canaries and back to Southampton. The cruise duration was 9 nights. Getting to ship/embarkation. We drove to Southampton and gave the car to Andrews to look after. The journey was a bit fraught as there were holdups on M27 and we had to leave the motorway and find our way through the centre of Southampton. The embarkation was smooth..our cases were taken as we arrived and we saw them again once we reached our cabin. We waited for about 3/4 hour before embarkation and were seated comfortably in the terminal where you could buy drinks, newspapers, magazines and other odds and ends. Quite tranquil. The ship was loaded according to cards handed out as you booked in..all hassle free. First we were taken to one of the beautiful lounges on this ship. It was Anderson's. We made our own way to our cabin after a decent interval as nobody seemed to be coming to escort us. We were highly impressed on our first glimpse of the interior... most tasteful and the 3 deck atrium was quite stunning. The ship has a high level of cleanliness which was maintained throughout the cruise. Cabin we were on deck 9 in the Forward section of the ship...which was very long. I certainly got exercise getting there. The cabin was C128 and was an outside cabin with very large window. The cabin was 150 sq.ft. which included the bathroom. This was the smallest cabin we have ever had. The bathroom had a bath with shower over and it would have been more spacious if there had been just a shower. The cabin used large mirrors judiciously to enhance the size of the room. The bed was 6ft wide..2 singles joined together. We did think to separate the beds to make extra space in the middle..but were too lazy to bother. The wardrobe space had 3 doors with the rails front to back rather than sideways. This was an irritant as you had to reach in trying to unhook those wretched hangers! This was a space saving device I guess. To be fair we had adequate space and we were able to store our large suitcases under the beds. We had two chests of drawers one each side of the bed with 4 drawers in each, plus a dressing table with 4 very spacious drawers. One special plus was the fridge..so much better and cheaper than a minibar. We took on board our own wine and drinks. Also there was a kettle and mugs plus tea coffee milk and sugar so you could make your own refreshments. There were biscuits and chocolate drinks as well. We thought this was a great plus and we found making your own cuppa whenever you wanted was wonderful. There was a TV with remote and we were able to get BBC World, CNN etc. I would like to ask cruise lines to get Sky news as I just hate BBC World which seems to think giving any news about UK as irrelevant! While I am on this topic congratulations to P&O who screened the World Cup Matches not only in the Pacific Lounge but in our cabins...my husband was delighted. The bathroom was well equipped with liquid soap over the shower..Molton Brown no less which is quite an upmarket brand. There was also a bag of goodies including cottonwool, sewing aid, nail files etc. The two bathroom cabinets were quite adequate. All in all the cabin was good...very light. Walking around the ship we thought the inside cabins were equal size with outside..good to know if you plan to have an inside. Also found that cabins in the same letter grade were priced according to location...we were KC forward. KA were on a higher deck and were also in a better location...i.e midships. The next grade cabin up D grade were a much better size and were also well located, but on the port side of the ship they had 3-4 people and were used by families. We would look for a D grade cabin if we could get a special price, but if we really wanted a cruise we would go the same grade as this time. The sound insulation was quite good, although we had only couples next door to us and we heard no noise from above. We were pleased as we cannot stand extraneous noise. Dining & Food We were late bookers and had no choice of dining. We were first sitting and were on a table for 6 people. The other 4 were 2 couples travelling together and all were very pleasant, so no problems there. The food was quite good...not as good as QE2 or Crystal but nevertheless plenty of choice and well presented. Our waiters were very good..all came from Goa and were most professional. The portions were generous and there was always a fish dish and vegetarian selections. Considering the number of passengers on the ship the dining experience was good. We ate in the Peninsular restaurant but the other, the Oriental was a better looking room, purely because it was at the back of the ship with a wrap around window. Dining room was according to cabin location so we were placed in Peninsular. We did sneak into the Oriental for some breakfasts and lunches but it was discouraged and we were asked which restaurant we normally dined in..we ofcourse told a lie..anything to write a good review.. Our readers need to know these things. Breakfast in the dining room ended at 9am..a grave mistake in our opinion. We feel that breakfast should last until 9.30am at least. Dinner began at 6.30 and second sitting was 8.30pm. Because we do not like to dine so early we took advantage of the restaurant in the conservatory...you know, the Lido. Each evening part of this restaurant was transformed into Le Jardin and there was a cover charge of £3.50 per person, which was well worth it in our opinion. We were able to sit in the perfect location overlooking the water with our own waiter taking care of all our needs and the food was really good and very well presented. We ate there more than in the dining room as we enjoyed the experience so much..well done P&O. Turning to breakfast and lunch in the conservatory, I simply do not like the hugger mugger atmosphere of these places..they are generally crowded and noisy and this was no exception..kids shouting others crying and a generally unrelaxed atmosphere. Give me the starched tablecloths and the dignity of the main restaurant any day. There were no themed dinners and no baked Alaska nights..good. My birthday was one night and we managed to avoid the usual happy birthday song, but when we got to our cabin there were the balloons on the door and inside a plate of Belgian chocs. and a card signed by the captain. Very tasteful and much appreciated. The dress code was always adhered to, and we were impressed with the standard of dress on formal nights..people on the Oriana were in my opinion better dressed than on QE2. Of the nine nights 3 were formal, 4 were informal and 2 were casual (first and last nights)There were more men in Tuxes than I had thought would be and I certainly never felt overdressed in my finery. Ship's facilities Found the staff at all levels very helpful and polite..except for one waiter who took umbrage when I asked for fresh tea at breakfast..the cup he poured was stewed. He told me many people liked it like that and made a big production of it. Then he asked my husband if he should go and get another pot of hot water to serve the coffee..very sarcastic.. but there is always the odd rude person isn't there. On board shops had a lot of stock..but the evening clothes for sale were pretty awful and one dress was marked as though it had been worn. Lots of jewellery and perfume..usual inch of gold. Not much to talk about really though quite adequate and there were two shops one on deck 7 and another on deck 6..do ask any questions you would like answered about the shops. They did give a talk about Tanzanite, which I had seen in the Caribbean. The young woman giving the talk about it seemed to read the details and knew very little. When I went to look at the display in the jewellery section, I thought it was vastly overpriced as was the Swarzovski jewellery. The Pave was good and they had a reasonable selection. The Casino gave me a pain..I just love to play the slots but I was convinced that these were calibrated to give least return...I went through £10 in about 10 minutes and this was the worst result on Slots that I have ever had. The other gaming room was well organised and attended,..but we did not play. Looked at the equipment in the gym which was on a high deck..very good and there was a spa there too which was always deserted. Dear reader, I took all my gym clobber but regret to inform you that after looking at all the young men and women exercising ferociously, I just did not get round to my regular exercise. The decks at the aft section where the pools were situated were always crowded on fine days at sea and I have to tell you the German towel syndrome was well in evidence (please do not take offence German readers..this is a British joke) In my opinion British people are very guilty of the towel on sunbed habit. This was a great drawback for us..You simply had to go out and stake your claim about 9am to get a bed. I was unable to get one except on the side promenade deck during the entire cruise. Not to sound too snobbish but the types who do this kind of thing were a bit downmarket and I would not have liked to confront them. The Jacuzzis were also quite crowded. I did not visit the hairdresser..I find them generally overpriced and not that good, so prefer to take my own dryer and fix my own hair. Looked at the cyber study, but sessions on the internet were very expensive and I did not use it. Nor did it ever seem crowded. Liked the library, though I do wish there were some audio books to borrow. I always take one or two as they are amazingly soporific and I never get to listen to more than one side before I am asleep. Hellishly expensive on the batteries! You could borrow 2 books at a time and titles were up to date..some very new ones. You could also buy paperbacks on board, a good idea. The Thackeray room attached to the library was a lovely relaxing room in which to read. I used it all day on the rough day we had on the way home. My husband was disappointed by the lack of bridge players on board. There were 8 others and nobody else came, so he did not get a game. We went to the trivia quizzes. One was at 5.30pm..a stupid time as those going to first sitting found it inconvenient. There was always a good crowd there. Photo gallery same as any other ship..nothing to say really, although as it was on a walkway, it was a bit inconvenient at times. Lots of bars to drink in...not that interested in this so really can only tell you if bars are your scene, you will not be disappointed on Oriana. We loved Tiffany court where a pianist tinkled away before and after dinner..we sipped our cocktails and listened to his great improvisations. I have to say that drink prices on Oriana were very reasonable. I think the drinks on the ship were cheaper than on any other ship we have cruised on. Nothing to say about discos..I am well past that age! Entertainment The theatre Royal was highly impressive..a really large theatre with tiered red plush seats, complete with individual aircon. in each seat..how different!. can only say that this was the best theatre on board that I have seen. The shows were fine..We did enjoy the productions. We heard that they had changed the dance troupe and were trying out a new company..well done P&O as we enjoyed the music and verve of the artists. There were two nights of classical piano recitals in the Curzon room. Most music was well known and well played and I found them most enjoyable. Another artist was an excellent illusionist plus a stand up comedian on a couple of nights....and that was it. The ports of call were well known to us: Vigo..for Santiago De Compostela. We have done the tour before so went shopping in Vigo for ciggies for friends in UK. We do not smoke but the cost of a carton was £10..very cheap. Lanzarote..where we took our only organised tour. The guide was one of the best we have ver had and the landscape of the island was highly dramatic. I would thoroughly recommend this tour. Santa Cruz Tenerife...we wandered around the town of Santa Cruz and found it most relaxing. Madeira.. last port of call. We had been there twice before, but always like a wander around the town of Funchal. Heard that our tablemates enjoyed their tour greatly. There was always a bus to get into town, except in Funchal where a boat was laid on to take you to the middle of town.. all very satisfactory. We had one very rough night on the second night out..I was rather scared, but that was just because it was uncomfortable. The only other rough weather was just after we left Madeira when a strong wind whipped the sea up and there was a most uncomfortable day spent indoors. OK, Now how would I improve this cruise experience.. There were 200 children on the ship...children got very heavy discounts. I think some even went free under a certain age. For us this was one of the downsides. We have children ..and in fact we have grown up teenage grandchildren, but we do not like to spend our cruises with kids..OK you can slate me if you like, but we had thought that in June the kids would still be in school and I have to say I heartily disapprove of parents removing their children in term time to go on hols. I know it is expensive to holiday in the school hols. but we were surprised to see quite so many children. They were well catered for on board and I am sure they enjoyed themselves. We certainly did not like them around at meal times. Why is it that young children wait until meal times to bawl, scream and generally carry on? This was especially apparent in the conservatory where I advise you to keep away if you are looking for tranquility. I am now looking for ships other than Saga where children are not catered for.. having read the review about Arcadia maybe that ship will be the one for me! Next..cinema listings. The cinema is superb and was under utilised both for talks and decent films. They had Charlotte Grey and A beautiful Mind on..but films were poorly advertised and I have written to P&O to suggest they have an advertisement outside the cinema to say what is showing. The films shown in the cabins bore no resemblance to the written program so I did not see any I liked. I am a real film fan and so I was disappointed, especially as the cinema is so good. Saw Harry Potter and Monsters Inc. Both were rather spoilt as parents dropped their children in the cinema and left them.. whereupon some played merry hell. Guest Speakers...where were they?? There was an erudite gentleman who spoke about ports and the tours. We enjoyed his knowledge and thought he was great. There was one other guest speaker, a lady who spoke twice about getting your life in balance..bit jargony and I have a really great balance in my life and did not go on a cruise for self improvement. This lack of guest speakers was a great disappointment to us, having been on other cruises where the guest speakers were pure enjoyment. The under utilisation of so many wonderful lounges. The lounges on this ship were some of the best I have ever seen. How great to serve afternoon tea in such gracious surroundings..but no! Afternoon tea was served in the restaurant or in the dreaded Conservatory..not at all gracious. I like a serene room with a musician in the background and waiters in elegant gloves serving finger sandwiches, scones and cakes using china that is elegant..maybe too much to ask? But this is a British ship and we should be doing tea in style! Well I think by now you will all be bored. As I have been writing I can see that I did really like the Oriana, especially as I paid only £799 for this cruise booked only 3 weeks in advance. There were many other passengers who had paid the same price as us. An inside cabin could be had for £699..so who can complain. I think that the World Cup affected sales and so we were lucky. I would give the cruise 7/10 and would have given a better score except for my moans outlined above. Please feel free to ask questions..but do it soon as we are about to leave on another cruise..this one booked a year in advance. We leave on 11th July on Saga Rose to Iceland, Norway, Shetlands etc and then to Ireland and Scotland. Cheers, annspeakman@homechoice.co.ukJuly 2002 Read Less
Oriana Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins N/A 3.8
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms N/A 4.1
Fitness Recreation N/A 3.6
Family 2.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 3.9

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