Oceana Cruise Review by kclarke
- Sail Date: March 2015
- Destination: Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Inside Twin with Shower
Our experience of cruising is limited and entirely related to late booking saver fares involving allocated interior cabins. Presumably, any responses to complaints (and any sympathy) is likely to be viewed on that basis. However, our previous two cruises were with Cunard (QM2 and QV) on these arrangements and we would rate both of these as excellent. These cruises are, therefore, our benchmark and we approached our first P&O cruise expecting something similar (we paid slightly more, on a per day basis, than on the Cunard cruises).
Firstly, there were some positives. The Oceana is a comfortable, clean and generally attractive ship, comparable, in many ways, to the Cunard QV. The embarkation procedures were highly efficient and the allocated cabin was exactly what we expected. The Cabin steward was a smiling, friendly and efficient young man on his first cruise. The itinerary was attractive and the weather was fine. The staff was generally polite and friendly and the entertainment was generally very good (Vernon Lewis was outstanding).
A major problem became apparent on the first night. The allocated cabin was on Deck 6 below the Yacht & Compass pub which featured live music until 12.15am. This was apparent in the loud transmission of bass sounds (you know what I mean – you can’t hear the music – just a continuous thumping sound). This drowned out the television and made any attempt at sleep impossible – we are early risers and prefer to be in bed and asleep by before 11pm. We naturally complained but with little result – apparently no other cabins were available although we were offered an upgrade, for around £400, but with no guarantee of peace and quiet. Anyway, the P&O representative assured us that it would not occur every night (it did!). Thus we were obliged to keep out of the cabin until after midnight, going to the late shows and amusing ourselves in the ship until then.
The other major disappointment was the food. We were allocated to Freedom dining which generally worked well apart from a chaotic evening when other passengers boarded at Genoa – we abandoned the long queues that evening and ate (I hesitate to say dined !) in the Plaza buffet. The food in the Ligurian restaurant was pretty standard fare for the first few nights then appeared to deteriorate rapidly until some of the food toward the end of the 17 day cruise can only fairly be described as awful. Examples were two chicken dishes consisting mainly of chicken wings and skin, lobster consisting of shell with virtually nothing in it and a desert (Bananas Foster) which seemed like tasteless black substance with a few flakes of pastry and a little syrup. The omnipresent curry dishes were virtually all the same flavour (the naan bread was like rubber) and the Wednesday breakfast special, kedgeree, turned out be a curry with a few egg slices in it. Fine dining? I don’t think so!
The service in the restaurant also deteriorated with menus being snatched away and obvious signs of impatience when making selections from usually quite unattractive menus.
The Plaza buffet was best avoided most of the time, particular to avoid that small, but growing, number of cruise passengers who have never been introduced to any concept of good manners and respect for other people. This group, of course, ignored all dress codes and, presumably because of political correctness, these were not enforced. In contrast, the great majority of the many children embarking in Genoa were well dressed and extremely well behaved and a credit to their parents.
We were informed by a fellow passenger that a lot of the problems could be attributed to a transfer of experienced staff to the new Britannia. Certainly many of the dining room staff seemed awkward and poorly trained and the attitude of the reception staff could be much improved.
Well, as we say, you probably get what you pay for and cruising is generally quite attractively priced. We largely enjoyed it because it is always our intention to do so - concentrate on the good points and try to live with the bad. Every cloud has a silver lining – weight gain (for two) after the last Cunard cruise was 11lbs whereas we lost 2lbs during this one.
We never say never but a further cruise on P&O in highly unlikely unless there is no realistic alternative.
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