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4 P&O Cruises Oriana Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Europe - All

You know how it is. Days before departure you check that everything you could possibly need is packed and then with hours to go before closing the front door, you realise something is missing. In my case, I like to think there was good ... Read More
You know how it is. Days before departure you check that everything you could possibly need is packed and then with hours to go before closing the front door, you realise something is missing. In my case, I like to think there was good reason for forgetting the crampons. After all, they’re not the first things that spring to mind when you’re packing trousers and shirts. But joining Oriana for her cruise to the Arctic Circle in search of the Northern Lights, perhaps I should have done. I had found space for base and mid layers, pullovers and fleeces – even hand-warmers and a bobble hat – but not spikes for my sturdy shoes. Fortunately a local sports shop had a set for just £5 and I left the house ready for anything that Norway could throw at me. THE SHIP Oriana might be facing her last few months with P&O before she heads to China to join another cruise line, Twinkle, but it was clear from the moment I stepped on board that she intends to leave in style. Officers and crew provided levels of service that were second to none – no wonder that I heard so many fellow passengers say how much they will miss Oriana. In my book, mid-size ships are manageable and 1900 passengers seems just about right. Big beasts might be fine for late night revellers but Oriana has more than enough space to meet my needs and so it is a relief to know that we still have Aurora, a ship of similar size to Oriana and also for adults only. The public areas match Aurora’s as well and include shops, restaurants, cafés, bars, a well-stocked library, a comfortable cinema and a large theatre. There are also card rooms, lounges, an alternative venue for shows and – if you like dancing – Harlequins offers live groups to get you in the mood. My favourite spot was Tiffanys for a Costa coffee and if you time it right, an array of cakes and pastries are served late morning – at no extra cost. During the cruise I used the Peninsular restaurant and enjoyed some excellent dinners. I should eat more fish and so made the most of the wide variety on offer – salmon, lobster, cod, sea bass, scallops, bream, the lot. But occasionally I opted for the beef, pork or calves’ liver and all were delicious. Superb service adds to the pleasure, of course, and Sabir’s friendly welcome into his restaurant each evening was appreciated. Junior staff were equally impressive – in the Conservatory, new recruits Mark and Jitendra cheerfully offered help with everything from making the toast at breakfast to topping up the tea bags. Special events add variety to daily routines. One was a wine tasting seminar, hosted by Donna, Oriana’s chief wine steward. Ably helped by Christina, Jane and Jude, we sampled a range of wines as we listened to advice on wine tasting and learnt a lot about the winemaking process. The supplementary charge of £10 was good value and the convivial company passed a pleasant hour. THE PORTS Sailing closer to the Arctic Circle the prospect of aurora borealis lighting up the night skies became the main topic of conversation and at our first port, Andalsnes in Norway’s Rauma region, mountains draped in snow and lower slopes flecked with frost added to the anticipation. Time to test out my choice of winter wear! It felt good to scrunch through virgin snow on leaving the town behind. Andalsnes is small and you quickly discover trails through beautiful scenery. Around me, I saw young crew members experience snow for the first time, making snow angels and throwing snowballs, and their happiness was contagious. This is why I was here. To feel young again! The air was pure, the temperature freezing and I had no regrets about overfilling my case with warm layers. The crampons were a different story. One of them kept falling off my shoe – I knew they were too cheap - and I had to shuffle back to town to visit a sports shop for advice. It was succinct. Bin them and buy proper spikes. For a mere £45 (Norway is not cheap) I walked out wearing the finest set in Norway and they were worth every penny. At each port we visited I had them with me and I traversed ice and snow with ease. After the smallness of Andalsnes, Tromso felt very different. Walking out of the city across the bridge high above Tromso Sound with snow flurries and chill winds blowing in from the sea was ... bracing? Having crossed, the Ice (or Arctic) cathedral stands before you and is worth visiting for its triangular beauty; it lies about a mile from the shuttle bus drop-off point. Back in the city centre a hot chocolate (£4) in one of the many cafés thawed me out nicely. Alta was our final port before turning south to Stavanger and it was also the town where there would be most chance of seeing the Northern Lights, a natural phenomenon of bands of different colours swirling across the sky. We stayed for two nights and there’s no use beating about the bush – the Lights remained switched off for the duration. To have any hope of seeing them, clear skies and low temperatures are essential but during our stay there was simply too much cloud cover. However there was a bonus in that we had daytime sunshine with evening snowfalls that transformed the landscape and made Alta’s fjord and mountains look even more magical. ACTIVITIES Alta is home to the Northern Lights cathedral, a futuristic building constructed of steel and concrete and virgin snow made it an even more dramatic sight. The entrance charge is around £10. There were plenty of tours available. Mine to the Igloo Hotel to see bedrooms carved from blocks of ice was fascinating. An overnight stay, the ice bed piled with reindeer skins, is particularly popular with honeymoon couples, the guide told us. Unlike hotels elsewhere, this one melts away each Spring to be re-built in late Autumn. Reindeer sleigh rides were popular activities but the most fun seemed to be had by those who went husky sledding. There is no need to worry about the dogs being forced to work – they can’t wait to get started and once they return they expect lots of fuss and thanks. Taryn, the ship’s senior loyalty manager, enjoyed every minute of the experience. “There was so much screaming and giggling,” she told me, “especially when I had to be dragged out of hip-deep snow!” WORTH BOOKING? The failure of the Northern Lights to make an appearance did little to dim my enthusiasm for this cruise. Every port was markedly different from anything I had seen before and returning to the welcome warmth of the ship each afternoon to be spoilt by officers and crew made the holiday even more special. The cruise also felt different in another way: more than 700 of the 1800 passengers on board were new to cruise holidays. Ian and Angela from Staffordshire had never cruised before and enjoyed every minute. “It was brilliant! We’ve never seen so much snow and we’ve never had service like this. No wonder people keep coming back,” Ian said. “We’ll certainly be booking another cruise.” And so will I. My search for the Northern Lights resumes when I board Aurora next February. If you decide to do the same, be sure to pack plenty of warm clothes! And don’t stint on the crampons. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Just returned from a cruise on the 23rd may from Southampton, shop was lovely , very clean , food was lovely especially the beach house but you had to pay a surcharge of £7.50 each but well worth the visit to be honest I think you should ... Read More
Just returned from a cruise on the 23rd may from Southampton, shop was lovely , very clean , food was lovely especially the beach house but you had to pay a surcharge of £7.50 each but well worth the visit to be honest I think you should be able to visit this restaurant free of charge as part of the holiday as it was not cheap to go on this cruise. The cabin was lovely and comfortable and staff were excellent could not fault it. However unless you are aged over 75yrs of age this ship was very boring as far as the entertainment, it was terrible, the itinerary was knit and natter, how to get rid of water retention, seminars on the war and more war, films then on id Dunkirk, Churchill , I am all for remembering what the elderly did for their country but I don't want to have it thrown down my neck on my holidays. The band symmetric were atrocious they should have put them overboard , no idea who auditioned them , had a tropical night and we thought this might be good, my god it was terrible the band were singing oh when the saints come marching in, I have never had this song played at any party never mind a tropical party, everyone gave up and called it a night it was so bad. P@O really need to get their act together for entertainment, you could not get in any of the 8.30 shows as all the old codgers would eat at 6.00 and then all sit in that theatres a good 1/2 hrs before the shows even started so you could never get a seat, they were rude and impolite to the crew , they expect some respect but obviously they need to learn to be respectful to their younger passengers, I am 56 but I felt like I was on my last legsNEver again on this ship Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Oriana was our first cruise. We liked the ports for this and the time of year was good as was the weather. NO complaints at all. Service was excellent throughout. Only problem really was the tender process at a couple of ports ... Read More
Oriana was our first cruise. We liked the ports for this and the time of year was good as was the weather. NO complaints at all. Service was excellent throughout. Only problem really was the tender process at a couple of ports which took forever and ate into our time on shore. Bit unorganised I think. Shore excursions on P and O quite expensive so we arranged one ourselves and went cycling in Barcelona which was absolutely brilliant and only cost us £26 each. Entertainment I think not quite so good. Headliners were better before but they improved as the cruise went on. Few talks in the theatre from outside personalities than before. The programme was a little bit "samey". The spa was excellent and the girls were really lovely. I went there a few times. All in all - a really good cruise so thank you Oriana and see you again Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Back on P&O after two Celebrity and one Princess cruise, check in was very crowded but we were onboard quick enough and straight to our outside cabin. A long time since we had not had a balcony, would we miss it ?, well yes we did even ... Read More
Back on P&O after two Celebrity and one Princess cruise, check in was very crowded but we were onboard quick enough and straight to our outside cabin. A long time since we had not had a balcony, would we miss it ?, well yes we did even though it was cold and inclement weather. The cabin seemed small,l although we managed to hang all our clothes which included some very bulky coats etc. The televisions are very small and not interactive as on other ships. The cabin steward happily took away and stored some of the large cases as they did not fit under the bed. The security safe is in the wardrobe at floor level, not easy for the over 60's to access which is most of the clients ? We were on freedom dining and most nights were seated straight away although later diners had to have pagers. The food and service in the Peninsular was excellent. We sampled various venues for breakfast, lunch and an afternoon tea during the cruise and all were very good. I would say however that the conservatory offering was not as good as the American ships. During the sea days we took part in most of the quizzes, and a few of the other activities on offer, the table tennis being on an outside deck curtailed my enthusiasm to play, and the short mat bowls whilst in port was a farce due to the ships tilt. The entertainment was varied and we enjoyed the headliners, comedian Jay Magee, and two good speakers. The formal nights were well supported and the photographers were not in your face all the time which made a change. We were lucky enough to see the northern lights although the full moon did not help, they were generally like a grey wisp of cloud but did come out greenish on the photographs. People on the second night were not so fortunate. The weather on the return leg was very rough, force eleven with the usual array of those that carried on as normal and those that could not. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Oriana Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins N/A 3.8
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms N/A 4.1
Fitness Recreation N/A 3.6
Family 2.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 3.9

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