Oceana, Mexican Riviera and Panama Cruise – E904: Oceana Cruise Review by Ivygirl

Oceana 5
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Oceana, Mexican Riviera and Panama Cruise – E904

Sail Date: February 2009
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Acapulco
The dreaded flight to Acapulco. We left home for the drive to Gatwick at 11 pm on Thursday and arrived at the drop off point for the car at 3 am. We were first at the check in desk and only waited half an hour before they opened at 4 am. My case was a couple of kg over but nothing was said so a very relieved me headed to the departure lounge! The flight was just over an hour late leaving Gatwick then well over an hour delay at the refuel stop - Sanford FL for us. I must say I was so dreading this flight but to be fair it was not as bad as I expected. It was not pleasant by any means being so long, but we did get there in one piece, just so very, very tired! After talking to others I think our Thomson flights were the best. By all accounts the Thomas Cook flights were much worse. The journey to Oceana was a bit hair raising!

The driving in Acapulco is certainly interesting!! I must say, nothing we saw on the drive made me want to explore Acapulco further. Then we saw her, as More magnificent as ever - our 18th month wait was over and our cruise had started. We arrived just after 8.30 pm. Our friends who had flown from Manchester had arrived at 11am so they had had plenty of time to settle in. I was so shattered I just wanted a shower and my bed so retired without going for a meal. I was in the shower when our cabin steward Camillo arrived to welcome us - much embarrassment followed and he disappeared until the following day! My hubby went for a quick drink and a snack with our friends but we were all unpacked and tucked in by 10.30pm! I had forgotten how small the cabins on Oceana were. Small but perfectly formed!!

We spent our day in Acapulco recovering from the long journey (nearly 16 hours!) Spent a pleasant couple of hours walking around Acapulco but then spent an even more pleasant time 'chilling out' around the pool.

Our first port of call was Huatulco in Mexico. No tour planned so walked around the shops and spent the morning on the beach. We thought it a lovely place with friendly locals and a charming open sided chapel on the beach. To sit in a pew and see the Pacific and Oceana 'parked' was certainly different! Back on board in the afternoon and another swim in the pool. I love swimming so spent a lot of time around the pool area! The only time my hubby got wet was on the white water rafting tour!

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. We just walked to the beach here and had a beer. Not much to see apart from dreadful poverty. You know, I'm not sure what I think about visiting such places. Are we helping their economy by our visits or are we rubbing their noses in it? I'm really not sure. That evening we sat with a gentleman who was robbed at knifepoint!!! He lost his watch and camera and according to him $500 - why on earth he was carrying so much money beats me! We had been warned not to wander off and on his own admission he did just that.

Fuerte Amador. Nothing to say about this port as we had a lazy day on board. Panama Canal. What can you say about this? This was what we had come to see and we were not disappointed. A memorable day. Limon, Costa Rica. Really enjoyed this port. After reading Cap'n Jack's report Chris and I did the Sloth Sanctuary tour. I was not disappointed! Sloths are lovely creatures, we really enjoyed everything on this tour and would recommend it. Cost Rica, we found interesting and would like to see more of this country.

Aruba. Another ok place if you like wonderful beaches, lots of hotels and lots of Americans! Wish we had done a tour here. I'm sure the island had lots more to offer than we actually saw! St Lucia. Followed Cap'n Jack again here and did the St Lucia Land and Sea tour. Another good one! The volcano - interesting and very smelly! The Botanical Gardens are lovely, especially if you like gardening. It was so hot and we were so tired, we really didn't appreciate them. The ride on the catamaran was amazing, we loved it! We stopped for 40 minutes at a lovely small beach for a swim. I loved that. Then the best of all - around 50 dolphins gave us the most amazing show that was such a privilege to see. The captain of the catamaran said he had been doing this job for 13 years and this was only the second time he had seen dolphins in this area. A memory that will stay with me for a long time!

St Vincent. We had been told by lots of people that St Vincent was one island to miss. It was 'seedy' and there was nothing much to see!!! So we enjoyed our last day on Oceana. In retrospect this could have been a mistake! We had to be out of our cabin by 9 am on Friday, we were leaving for the airport at 2 pm so only had a few hours to pass. An hour of this was passed having a 'nosey' around deck 10 to see how the 'other half lives'!! We promised not to touch anything! So were given permission to look at the suites and mini suites. Wow! They are lovely. I thought at first, the mini suite was a suite!! Until we saw the suites of course! Another hour spent imagining ourselves in a suite and it was time to leave for the airport! The flight home was only 7 ½ hours and once again better than I expected.

Overview This cruise on Oceana was certainly our best to date. She is still looking good and still the friendly ship we remember from our first cruise in 2006. I saw all the Headliners shows and the classical pianist both were excellent. Husband and our friends saw the comedian and enjoyed him. Over the 2 weeks our initial disappointment at not being on club dining soon went and found our first time on freedom dining worked very well. As we were always willing to share a table we never had to wait and quite enjoyed meeting new people each evening. I can now see the benefits of freedom dining and if we could have the same waiters each time would be quite happy with it. Though I still think club is still more of an 'occasion' and would choose it for our next cruise. The food and service was as good as expected. They were especially good at giving me a lovely dessert suitable for a diabetic. We spoke with a few who had diet problems and all spoke very highly of P&O. Dress code was kept by 99% I only saw a couple of people not in formal gear and they were not in the restaurant. To be honest, I found the slightly relaxed dress code to be great. Hubby especially liked not having to wear a suit. I did not wear anything different to what I would wear on other more formal ships - it's just that I didn't worry about it!! Everybody still looked very smart and apart from the men not wearing suits it didn't look very different. Digital Living. I had 3 computer lessons. Computer Maintenance, Digital Photography and All about Wireless - all were excellent and Simon the instructor was extremely good. All in all good value for money (£50). I learned such a lot. Being fairly new to cruising I cannot say if standards have dropped - I just know we had a wonderful cruise on a wonderful ship and enjoyed every minute of it. We are hoping to do a segment of the 2011 worldie for our next cruise. San Franciso - Hong Kong 38 nights. It will mean having to go next year with no cruise as we will have to save hard - I wonder if we saved hard enough could we manage a mini suite???!!! Me thinks its going to be a 'be nice to hubby few months'!!!!!! Less

Published 03/16/09

Cabin review: A614

Our cabin was small but perfectly adequate for our 2 week cruise. Although it was on A deck it was quite quiet despite being under public areas. Very clean and serviced well by cabin steward. Balcony has small table & 2 comfortable reclining chairs. Tea/coffee making facilities with biscuites replaced as soon as they were eaten!

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