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Oceana Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
525 Reviews

Going through the Panama Canal made this cruise magical

Oceana Cruise Review by irenechambers2012

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jan 2011
  • Destination: the Panama Canal & Central America

We flew in from Manchester and had a bit of a delay getting off the flight and also at the port actually getting off the bus. A bit of a delay booking in but they must had got more people on the desks as this queue soon went down.

On board around 6pm but cases not arrived so checked out where we could get dinner which was in the Lingurian Restaurant (normally used for flexi dining) and had a very good meal before returning to our cabin to find the cases had now arrived.

Cabin was a reasonable size we were in an outside on Deck 8, starboard side near the front. The bathroom was extremely small but adequate and there was a good selection of toiletries from the "White Company" which I assumed was the Luxurious Pamper Package.

Had a wander round the ship to find our bearings and ended up on the top deck having a drink in one of the many bars and pleasantly surprised with the price of the drinks which were comparable to English bar prices and no service charge.

I have covered our port destinations of St Lucia, Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba, Punta Arenas & Acapulco separately. We also visited Zihuatanejo in Mexico before going on to Acapulco. This was by tender and we just got a local water taxi (around US$5 each way) to the Playa Las Gatos which was excellent plenty of space and we used the sunloungers and umbrella of a local restaurant on the understanding we had lunch at the restaurant, very fair deal as the food was excellent and drinks cold and a good price. You can snorkel here as there is a small reef a little distance from the beach and this makes the water quite calm.

There were a number of talks whilst on board about the Panama Canal and navigation which my husband attended and he enjoyed them and found them very informative.

The highlight of the holiday was going through the Panama Canal and we were very fortunate in having just a couple of showers of rain on the day but well worth it.

The entertainment on the ship was very good in some respects, Steve Larkins (Freddy Mercury tribute), Dain Cordean (magician and comedian), Fogwell Flax (impressionist and comedian) and the shows put on by the Headliners which we went to were also very good. Some of the other acts not so good but you don't have to listen as there are other places to go. Disappointing though that there wasn't more on lots of things repeated. The entertainment team were a bit of a mixed bag and some things went really well and others not so. Mainly attended the quizzes just to while away sea days.

If you could manage to get a teak sunlounger or chair on Deck 7 to us this was an excellent place to watch the world go by and read your book and watch the odd turtle pass by. We did not really attempt to go on the sun deck as we had heard so many passengers complaining about being able to get a chair and it was very hot up there anyway. Note that port side of Deck 7 allows smoking.

We opted for first seating dining and shared a table with a lovely couple from Wales and had an enjoyable two weeks with them. The food although not as good as expected was still very good and there was no issues with having extra portions or a different meal if you didn't like the one you had chosen. We also opted for a wine package at the beginning of the cruise which averaged out the cost of the various wines to about £12 a bottle the usual price of the house wine.

Overall we found the cruise to be very good and better than expected having read reviews of Oceana before we left. The ship is a little tired but maintenance was ongoing whilst we were onboard which didn't affect us at all. We were advised though that the Oceana is going in for a £5million refit some time in the next year so hopefully it will be back to it's former glory.

As our last cruise was on Royal Caribbean on a Baltic Cruise, we found this a much cheaper cruise whilst on board and would certainly go on another P&O cruise in the future.

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Cabin Review

This was an outside cabin and we had asked for the beds to be put together. Although small it was more than adequate for the two of us. The bathroom was probably the smallest we have seen but it was functional and there was plenty of toiletries. Good location and large picture window

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

St. Lucia

This was our first port of call having arrived into Barbados for the cruise the evening before and set sail for St Lucia arriving in the morning. As still a bit tired from the flight we had already decided that we would just take a walk round Castries, which to be fair was not very exciting. Came back to the port area and had a drink in the bar in the shopping area which was cheap and met some others from the cruise for a chat.


We did not book a trip with the cruise ship and decided to do our own thing. On entering the "terminal" we were approached by one of the various taxi drivers and was offer a tour for US$20 each but would need to have a party of 8 to do this. The taxi driver found the remaining people very quickly and we soon set off with "Cutty" on a tour of Grenada. We saw the general sights and Cutty was very knowledgeable on plant life and would frequently stop to pick us some fruit or leaves and explain what they were used for. The trip took around 5 hours and we were back on ship for 2pm although we could have stayed in the port town if we had wished. The island was particularly crowded as there were 4 large cruise ships in port on the same day.


Very pleasant port area with a local craft market taking place which sold a number of interesting items. Took a walk round the port town after booking a tour of the North side of the Island for US$25 as there was a wait. Unfortunately there was still quite a wait once we returned and it was really hot so not so good. We finally got in the minibus with Hank and set off on the tour. Had a brief stop at "1,000 steps" and then on to the flamingos - however this did not happen as the flamingo lake was flooded and they were not there but had not been told beforehand. Went through the main town and didn't stop. Then carried on to a viewing point which was inland and although this was good not very much there, stopped for a comfort break and drink at a local cafe. Drove back and saw a few flamingos at a small piece of water not far from the main port but didn't stop.

Disappointed with the trip but you take your chances and I am not sure if other trips north fared any better.

The harbour water though has a lot of fish which you can see by just walking down the promenade so if you are not particularly interested in going snorkelling this might be a better option.


Took a taxi to Palm Beach where we rented a couple of sunloungers and an umbrella, spent a good few hours sunbathing and people watching on the beach. The sea was blue and sand white as you would expect in the Caribbean. Although due to recent weather the sea was not as clear as it could be. Returned to the ship and just had a quick look round the local shops.

Punta Arenas

We had organised one of the cruise ship excursions in Punta Arenas as we particularly wanted to go on the aerial skywalks. Firstly we went to the Pura Vida Gardens which is about an hour or more drive mainly up a winding road, which were lovely but a lot of steps if you have difficulty walking. Had a view of the local waterfall from a viewing point and saw a couple of macaws in flight. Lunch was at the restaurant in the grounds and this was very good, a good choice of both food and drinks. If you want to shop do so here as we spotted quite a few things much more expensive than the stuff in this shop.

Then we drove to the aerial skywalks and to be fair I was disappointed as expected to see much more wildlife, generally only saw very small birds and lots of leaf cutter ants. It is quite a walk along forest track and lots of steps downhill which is mentioned in the excursion information.

Stopped then at a cultural village for a drink and some fruit which was welcoming and had a look round the local shops.

On the way back we tried to spot some of the scarlet macaws in an area where they are known but only managed to find one. Then on a road bridge on the way back we crossed by foot and saw loads of crocodiles in the estuary area, fabulous.


It would be fair to say that this is a dying cruise destination. There is a lot of gangland killings at the moment (3 the night before we arrived) and lots of police presence. Although this did not affect us it seems it has stopped a lot of tourists coming to Acapulco so there is a lot of rundown areas.

We had booked a tour with "tour by van" which we had arranged before we left on the cruise. The tour was excellent although the van could have been in better condition. Our guide Hector took us to the local market, very interesting and saw local life. Then visited Chapel of Peace & Love, excellent and fantastic views, then on to the Los Flamingos Hotel, pity we did not have more time here but lovely hotel with fantastic views.

The "cliff divers" were next and the tour included ordinary entry to the public viewing areas, we found an excellent viewpoint just on the right hand side as you walk down the steps just down from the divers changing room, there was even a bit of shade. The show lasts about 20/30 minutes but you have to be there approx 20 minutes beforehand so a lot of standing around if this is a problem. It was suggested we tip the divers about US$1 per person.

On our tour we also stopped at a number of "vista" points to see the view which were all excellent.

Was taken to a local restaurant on a beach for lunch - your choice of food and drink which you paid for individually. No rush over lunch just when we had finished. We then took in the local cathedral before returning to the ship.

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