Check in and disembarkation
The actual check in went very smoothly, which is more than can be said about the security area, great inconsistencies, some passengers were asked to remove their belts, others were not. When my belongings ... Read More
Check in and disembarkation
The actual check in went very smoothly, which is more than can be said about the security area, great inconsistencies, some passengers were asked to remove their belts, others were not. When my belongings were going through X-ray I was told I had a knife in my carry-on bag, which it goes without saying I did not. They insisted I did, they emptied the contents of my bag out into trays, after putting everything through and not finding any knife they decided a mini bambi stapler (less than 3 inches long) was the culprit. When I travel this stapler is always with my office bits and pieces in my carry-on bag, over the years it has been through at least 20 different airports and 10 cruise terminals without any problems, but obviously someone at Southampton security thought I might hijack the ship with it. Security are very good at taking things out of bags, but their training hasn't got as far lesson 2, how to repack a bag.
Disembarkation was a pain, on most boats you receive a form to request a disembarkation time, but not on this cruise, in the daily events sheet it stated that you had to telephone reception to request a time, we did this within a hour of receiving the events sheet and were informed that we had already been allotted a disembarkation time of 9.30 and were told it was not possible to change it. So on disembarkation day we carried off our own luggage at 7.30.
Huge Gastrointestinal Health Problem
On our arrival in our cabin there were health warning letters and leaflets. It appears there had been numerous cases of gastrointestinal illnesses on the previous cruise and this continued on our cruise, for the first eight days the ship was on a permanent state of 'Sickness Red Alert' with the captain announcing that they were working with Public Health England to try and resolve the problem. In the Conservatory passengers were not allowed the help themselves to food, not even water or a cup of tea, in the main dining rooms there were no salt and pepper pots, this was to stop the passengers infecting them by touch. Although the Captain repeatedly stated that extra deep cleaning was taking place throughout the ship, l believe much more could have been done, such as changing table cloths and wiping down chair arms between dinners. Think about this, no salt and pepper pots to help stop the spread of infection, but the tables were re-laid on tablecloths which could have been used by an infected person. Also I thought there should have been much more cleaning of the handrails on the stairways and corridors, I am sure there must have been some cleaning of them but I only saw this once on day 17 of the cruise. One of the Headliner's theatre shows was cancelled a few minutes before it was due to start because of illness in the cast, but it was not said what the nature of the illness was. On day nine of the cruise the 'red alert' was withdrawn and the paper sickness bags were removed from the stairways. My wife and I were lucky, we did not catch anything.
Overall the food was far better than that we had previously encountered on the Arcadia, but was still not quite as good as that found on the average Princess or Holland America ship. The restaurants were well run with excellent management and friendly waiters.
We were on freedom dining and like to have a table for two as listening to a load of rhubarb rhubarb as to how many cruises someone has been on can be more than a little boring, most nights we did not have to wait for a table, and when we did the longest wait was only ten minutes or so. One thing which did let the restaurant down was the sauces, it did not matter if it was tartar, béarnaise or custard etc. all were watery, however the soups were thicker and always hot. Excellent wine selection, good wine packages, the wine stewards were friendly but their finesse and experience varied with Karen being right on the ball, but others not knowing it was not the done thing to empty the sediment dregs out of the bottle into the glasses, a little more training might be needed?
Average buffet type food, the deserts were below the average.
The Beach House
During the evening part of the Conservatory is converted to the Beach House, ate there twice, would struggle to find things on the menu I would like to try for a third visit. Much more could be done to make it look like a separate restaurant, such as portable screens between the walkway through to the Conservatory and the restaurant. You have to pay to eat there, then pay even more supplements for certain dishes, thought this was bit naughty.
This is the Indian/Asian restaurant which is situated where the Grill used to be and before that the piano lounge. Ate there three times, had both menus one and two both were excellent, thought it was well worth paying the supplement.
Room Service Menu
Very poor, no hot dishes available, it appears that the Oriana is the only P & O ship where this is the case, not good at all.
This was a music festival at sea cruise, but we had not booked the cruise because of that, we just liked the itinerary. The general entertainment was excellent with Tom O'Conner and The Four Tunes both doing two fantastic shows each, plus in the bars there was the excellent Chris Shaw. The Headliners theatre group was a little below the average, their dancing was better than their singing, the worst entertainment act was a musical group named Blue Wave, the singer was not good at all, but she might have been suffering with a sore throat, the on-board illness or something like that?
There was only one tender port on this cruise, the operation could have been a little better, the resulting delays might have been caused by the use of some of the local boats as tenders, they were of different sizes and quite slow.
Did not like the way it was charged, you could not buy any packages by the minute, only by 24 hour periods, at three different levels of service, at three different prices, did not like this at all.
This is in a good location on deck 10, with passenger cabins below and above it was nice and quiet, well designed with useful drawer and wardrobe space, but the television was too small. Size wise the cabin appeared a little bigger than the average balcony cabin found on other ships. The beds were comfortable. Would be happy to stay in this cabin again.
Having a good cable steward makes a big difference to a cruise, my wife and I fell very lucky by having Avelino as ours, he was excellent, the cabin was spotless, he had the knack of being around when we needed him and being invisible when we didn't. He's probably the best steward or butler we have ever had.
At 3.00AM on the first night the ships emergency alarm went off, it seemed like ages before any announcement was made to say it was a false alarm, we were starting to get dressed as it was impossible to get through to reception because 1,800 other passengers were trying to do so at the same time. The Captain announced this had been caused by a computer fault.
Late one afternoon further into the cruise there was an emergency announcement for a specialist crew team only, this was to go to a fire in the AC room on deck 13, this was not a drill.
On another day at 5.45AM by mistake there was an announcement in the passenger cabins wanting the Medical Emergency team.
Overall the ship appeared to be well run and maintained. My wife and I were a little surprised by this as the ship was due to go into dock in a month or so for a major refit, yet apart from some rather worn areas of carpet the ship looked to be in excellent condition. We have been on many ships which were not due for refurbishment, but were in a much worse condition than the Oriana. We have already booked another Oriana cruise. Read Less