Oceana Cruise Review by Tacu
- Sail Date: May 2019
- Destination: Europe
- Cabin Type: Balcony Stateroom with Shower
The itinerary was changed about a month before we sailed. Split was removed, to be replaced with Hvar, and the other ports were re-ordered - allegedly so that we could return to Malta from an EU port. Hmmm.
This was my second cruise, and the first from a non-UK port. It went really well.
I'd booked into a budget hotel at Gatwick for the night before embarkation (a purple hotel chain right next to Gatwick North - would recommend to anyone who needs for the convenience and for potential views from hotel room) so it was just a case of waking up in time and walking over the road to check in. From Malta it was a simple coach trip to the port and then the route to the ship was very well posted and every 100 yards or so there was a sign directing us in the right direction. We'd left Gatwick at 07:30ish and were onboard by 14:30ish, from memory.
Valetta looks pretty and I wish I'd had more energy to explore. There's a fun lift, which only costs 1 euro, to take you from port level to the town. The Upper Barrakka Gardens, which are right off here, are quite attractive. I also visited St Paul's Shipwreck Church, which is a few streets away - has a couple of reliquaries of St Paul and is very impressive. I spent the rest of the afternoon just chilling out and familiarising myself with the ship layout, since it was the first time I'd been on Oceana.
The next port was Kotor, Montenegro. Luckily I woke soon after dawn so was able to watch the sail-in - so quiet, I assume we were being tugged. And then came my first tender experience, which was enjoyable although it's a nuisance taking so long to get to/from the ship.
I'd booked the Best of Montenegro P&O excursion, and enjoyed it thoroughly! My only complaint for the day would be that I would have liked to spend more time in Kotor. After the tour had finished we only had a couple of hours left before the ship left (around 1630ish I think), and I wasn't comfortable spending too much more time looking around the town when I knew I wanted to be back onboard in an hour or two. Would recommend this excursion though - we saw a lot of the countryside, learnt a lot about the town and also got to sample some of the local produce :)
The next day was Zadar. I will be honest now and say don't bother with the Discover Zadar on Foot excursion. It took 4-5 hours and could quite happily have been done in around 2 hours, unless your hobby is Benedictine Nuns and their reliquaries (relics?).
It was informative but spending an hour or more in the nunnery did not add to the experience at all in my opinion. There is also little of interest to see in the town itself: I will not be going back there.
That evening I had my dinner in Cafe Jardin. It was most enjoyable! The staff were friendly and I liked the decor although I think P&O still struggle with ambience when they place these restaurants on mezzanines.
Port 3 was Venice. I have never seen such rain! To add some context - the last time I owned an umbrella was 30+ years ago when I was doing my A-levels... I bought an umbrella in Venice! (I don't speak Italian. *Me pointing at an umbrella for 20 euros - I have no idea how much 20 Eu is - , saying "Poco"* *Shopkeeper erupting in Italian bringing out several models and quoting prices at me* *Me finding one for 7 Eu and subsequently finding out that's a pretty decent price for a functional umbrella *)
Anyway. Venice was interesting. It was a way-point on the way to the Croatian ports so nowhere near any sort of highlight for me, but it was good to see.
I would 100% recommend St Mark's Basilica to anyone. It is absolutely stunning and I wish I could have had more time (and fewer crowds) to appreciate it. If you're in Venice then you really should make the effort to see.
Doge's Palace was nice but I had some 'gilded ceiling overload' - there are only so many you can see [around 3] before the wow factor is gone. Sorry to the Doges Palace artists x.
Oh, the other note about Venice is get off the ship asap. I went out around 08:30ish. It was deserted and very pleasant [until torrential rain stopped play and I had to go back to change into dry clothes :P ] By the time the tour happened in the afternoon it was like Piccadilly Circus, not nearly so nice.
The fourth, and final port, was Hvar. This was a late replacement for Split so I didn't know too much about it before I arrived there. I'd booked the Island Highlights tour, and enjoyed it hugely. We had a quick walk around Hvar then hopped on a coach and saw some of the island before stopping off in Stari Grad for a short visit, then did another quick tour of attractions before returning to Hvar. It might be because this was the first nice day of the cruise (the rest were all grey and/or chilly - we were so unlucky with the weather), but I really liked this town and it's on my list to revisit if I ever get the chance.
Overall I enjoyed the cruise. I had concerns about Oceana but she's a lovely ship and there's nothing really wrong with her - I had a nicer vibe on this cruise than I had on Brittannia 2 yrs ago. I loved Montenegro and Hvar; could take or leave Venice and Zadar. But it was all enjoyable and would overall recommend to anyone else considering.
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In the end, I was 100% happy with my cabin. It was nice and quiet, and felt very spacious The layout was good and there was plenty of storage space. (NB: I was travelling as a solo.) I should also say that I was a little concerned about the number of mirrors in the room - I'm one of those strange people who doesn't like looking at herself - but they were great and really contributed to the light and airy feel of the room so worked well.
Being on L-deck means that you're very handy for the bars and Grab & Go so I was able to take advantage of both and spend some nice leisurely lunches sitting on my balcony, watching the scenery and enjoying a quiet pint on my own. The balcony was bijou but adequate - I spent hours out there every day!
As far as the facilities went, the bed was very comfortable and I had no problems at all with the shower curtain despite my original concerns. I didn't use the minibar and hardly used the TV, so can't feedback on those I'm afraid.