Our first cruise on 'Oriana' was fifteen years ago, and we were so looking forward to being aboard her again, in fact we were hoping that this Xmas cruise to the Caribbean would be wonderful, but it truly wasdn't. It was quite dispiriting to see how tired ‘Oriana’ is looking these days, with ‘The Conservatory’ (correctly known as ‘The Piggery’) being the worst. Cabinets broken or deteriorated, dirty walls, filthy windows, crockery grubby, and most people eating up there piling their plates to the rafters then leaving most of it. I had to contact the Deputy Captain to organise for our bathroom to be re-grouted, get a new shower curtain to replace the filthy old one and replace the curtains by the balcony as they were badly torn and stained. We had a balcony cabin on 'B' deck & had rather expected it to be better appointed with scuff marks on the wardrobe doors and on the lovely old wood. However, we realise she is now coming up to 21 years of age and even with the refits she’s had, P&O could give her a lot more TLC, as it’s heart-breaking to see such a graceful ship being so neglected. For example the seats in the cinema & theatre should be replaced as they are truly uncomfortable, sunken and grubby, same goes for Anderson’s Bar with the furniture tired, worn stuffing and discoloured, and although the carpets are kept spotless at night many of them are betraying worn & frayed edges. The best bit about ‘Oriana’ is the staff – who we found to be absolutely tremendous, they are the ones who have made our holiday memorable. Food was good and bar prices reasonable.
The worst or most disappointing bit? A great many of the passengers, their meanness, the tattoed crude men who couldn't be bothered to dress halfway decently on black tie evenings, the lack of basic good manners, lack of hygiene, many uncouth – not shy about the ‘F’ word around the ship and just their general boorishness. We witnessed drunken behaviour, women in a mad rush to leave the theatre after a show wearing vertiginous heels then falling over and breaking their ankles or wrists. Why rush when they’re on holiday? And why wear stupid high heels when the ship was experiencing choppy weather & was unstable? It just beats me. In the daily newsletter P&O were constantly having to remind passengers about their dress code, to not save seats in the theatre & cinema, to not take their own litre bottles of spirit or their own wine into the public areas & just ask the staff for mixers or coke & the old perennial annoyance of leaving deck-chairs by the pool with towels & books on them, departing for a 2-3 hour lunch, and wondering why fellow cruisers were cheesed off with them when they eventually returned. On formal nights a great many passengers couldn’t be bothered to dress properly so that they were turned away by staff at the restaurant door then they became aggressive, or on the last night not bothering to tip their waiters or just to pass them a £10 pound note which disgusted us.
Next time we will have a really good think about a different line (and this sounds snobbish & I don't mean it to) but if we have to pay extra to get away from the “Butlins-on-Sea” crowd then so be it. I paid a great deal of money for this cruise and I feel robbed. With regret I don’t think we ever wish to return to ‘Oriana’. Have to do our homework before our next one as much of what we witnessed was really off-putting. Many of the staff were unhappy and were badly treated by some passengers who you wished frankly you could chuck overboard. I was also shocked that some passengers had had their cruise paid for by the Government then had the cheek to say they thought the experience to be 'not what they expected and their food was rubbish'.
As we thought the prices of the ship's excursions were steep, we had arranged to take a local tour with Cruising Excursions. Right from the outset we had a simply wonderful time. We were taken up into the hills, up to the blue and green lakes, then via the windmills to the rugged and beautiful North Coast, stopping en route for a drink, before returning via the beautiful tropical botanical gardens. A professional commentary was providing throughout the 3.5 hour trip and our guide was very knowledgeable in response to all our questions. The experience was far more personal and friendly than being on one of the P&O shuttles with 30-40 other people being herded around and we will certainly repeat this if we ever return to Ponta Delgada.
Wonderful, very enjoyable though it’s sad to see the over-commercialism of some islands especially Antigua with Nelson’s Dockyard now home to a massive marina full of Russian billionaires yachts, the bars & eateries staffed by stroppy, rude bar-staff with the old lovely atmosphere of the place gone. We had done this tour 15 years ago and Nelson's Dockyard was so interesting, unspoilt but the whole naturalness of the place has gone overtaken by the need for cash. Also sad to see the economic suffering about Antigua quite obvious with rundown buildings & unemployed youths sitting around the streets drinking beer looking at the tourists almost resentfully. (Very understandable) We had an enjoyable and thoroughly interesting tour guide, so….so intelligent, really interesting & knowledgeable, who said his children were studying hard and already had university places lined up, and intended to leave the islands so they could continue studying overseas – probably Cuba where a lot of young degree students are apparently heading - to become professionals at whatever they choose. He & his wife didn’t want them sitting around on the dole. Also sad to see rubbish piled high on main streets with gutters full of stinking water with yet more rubbish blocking the drains. Still, its a gorgeous island, and we came away having had a delightful few hours.View All 194 Island Tour Reviews