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115 P&O Cruises Europe - British Isles & Western Cruise Reviews

after 5 cruises on celebrity and 1 on RCI, we were not sure what to expect but even at checkin we soon realised we needed to suspend any previous opinions an stick our tongues firmly in our cheeks. there were about 30 plus hen nights ... Read More
after 5 cruises on celebrity and 1 on RCI, we were not sure what to expect but even at checkin we soon realised we needed to suspend any previous opinions an stick our tongues firmly in our cheeks. there were about 30 plus hen nights onboard and we even saw an inflatable rubber man being taken onboard. the checkin itself was painfully slow. by the time we got on we only had 15 mins for lunch before the safety drill and we were starving at that point. the cabin was very large with lots of storage space but as it was disabled cabin the shower had no lip and we were often paddling in water as there was one tiny shower curtain that only went half way round. Had dinner at marco pierre whites "cafe jardin" which was very nice. the evening entertainment both nights was excellent. a MADNESS tribute band who played lots of ska and did a rock and roll session on night 2. Actually this was more enjoyable than anything on celebrity. great party atmosphere onboard. Had a lovely day in Bruge and came home with lots of chocolate. despite some misgivings we thought this trip was value for money and would def do it again. Celebrity cruises please take note!! P and O only take £3 a day for tips and dont charge under 12s and no 15% surcharge on what was very reasonable priced drinks onboard. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We were first time cruisers and due to a medical my mobility is a little slow (use a walkng aid) and rules out any flying This cruise was advised by travel agency. We live very close to Southampton and our son drove us to check in. ... Read More
We were first time cruisers and due to a medical my mobility is a little slow (use a walkng aid) and rules out any flying This cruise was advised by travel agency. We live very close to Southampton and our son drove us to check in. Within minutes our bags were taken from us and due to mobility was amazed, taken straight to checkin desk and within 15 minutes we were standing in our cabin C431 a twin with shower and balcony. We decided to leave the unpacking till after we had a walk around the ship. What a lady, Ventura had just come back from having her refit. Atrium was bright and airy. Onboard shops were easy to find, walk around and noone jumped on you as soon as you entered the shop ( one of my pet hates. We found most of the places for Dining, the Orangery was already very busy. We had booked with the knowledge we would be given a dining time and table on reaching our cabin. We were on MDR 2nd sitting in Saffron. And so we set sail. We missed the sail away party as we were unpacking. Our cabin was spacious and we had everything we needed. Our cabin steward Winston, was fantastic once we had told him we were first time cruisers. Our nights on board were 2 Black tie. 2 smart casual and 3 casual. We loved the thought of getting dressed for dinner. The meals were very good, waiters very experienced and helpful. We had no issues with the food and rarely ate lunch as we either on an excursion or had a light snack in the Orangery. Eating in the orangery was a little ruff as the few times we ate there reminded us of school caffateria. We ate in the White room one evening, and both the food and the staff were lovely. We had pre-booked 3 excursions as the last one was full, but we were told via the excursion team, we had seats for the Flam railway. Our ports of call in the Norwegian Fjords were Stavanger. Flam, Olden and Bergen. What wonderful sights, to stand on the pier without a coat on to looking up to snow capped Mountains. Excursion were very good. One or two "Eek" moments on the coach going up the mountain on very narrow roads, I swear at one point some of the coach was hanging over a 70mtre drop. On the whole we really enjoyed our excursions. The entertainment was fair as I had been expecting full scenery, lighting and Broadway show so I was a little disappointed with the shows, however we saw the Chapman Brothers twice, only one we liked. There were children on the cruise and most were very polite and courteous, mind u is till cannot understand young, fit children who take the lift to go up or down one floor!!! Overall we were very impressed with the service. Staff very very friendly and helpful. We enjoyed it so much we have recently returned from a 14 night Baltic cruise on the Aurora, but that's another tale. Well done all the staff on Ventura for its them that make or break a cruise Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Another quick 2 nighter cruise from Southampton to Guernsey. Departed on time. Check in opened at 11am and we were quickly processed and on ship by 11:45am. We went to look at our room and it was ready for us!! The Steward was there ... Read More
Another quick 2 nighter cruise from Southampton to Guernsey. Departed on time. Check in opened at 11am and we were quickly processed and on ship by 11:45am. We went to look at our room and it was ready for us!! The Steward was there and said we go in - Fantastic... The ship is big and you can get easily lost on going up and down the stairs to find the bar you actually wanted to get too. The public areas were clean and well staffed. We opted for a balcony room on the Riveria Deck (Deck 14). The room was large enough for 2 with a comfy bed and loads of hanging space. What I felt disappointed with was that we went on the Ventura a few months ago and the Azura is the same? Albeit newer but layout the same. It didn't feel that we were on a different ship.... The Tender to Guernsey was ok and well organised. All in all a good cruise on a good ship. Staff could do with some charm school teachings though. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We were on board Oriana from 18th - 28th March 2013. Never cruised before and we went as a surprise for my in-laws, who were celebrating their 40th Anniversary by going on this cruise and also my father in-law's 60th birthday. They ... Read More
We were on board Oriana from 18th - 28th March 2013. Never cruised before and we went as a surprise for my in-laws, who were celebrating their 40th Anniversary by going on this cruise and also my father in-law's 60th birthday. They were pleasantly surprised when we found them at afternoon tea in the Conservatory! We traveled as a couple along with my brother in-law and his wife. Arriving on the ship we thought it was very grand and were amazed at the size (having never even really seen a cruise ship up close before!) As we arrived fairly late (to not ruin the surprise) our cabin was ready straight away. The cabin was big enough, clean and our cabin steward was friendly and helpful. Food on board was delicious, we ate in the Oriental - late sitting and once we had explained the situation at dinner we were moved so that we could all sit together, very accommodating. Also ate in the conservatory and Al Fresco regularly. We tried all the bars, our favorite for pre-dinner drinks was Andersons. Saw a couple of the theatre acts, Headliners and Lomax Brothers. I went to one film at the cinema, though my husband saw a couple. We also went to the 'Audience with Michael Stark', which was very good. Unfortunately we only used the pool/spa once as weather was not fantastic, but it didn't spoil our holiday at all. Ports visited: La Coruna - Very pretty, lots of lovely shops (I like shopping).We wandered round on our own rather than booking an excursion. Casablanca - We booked on an excursion 'Portugese Connections' which was a two hour coach trip each way to El Jadida. Very interesting tour which we all enjoyed. Having been to this port now I think I would always go on an excursion rather than travel on our own. Cadiz - Lovely place, we walked around for a while then got on one the bus tours. Shops were closed due to it being Palm Sunday, they had a parade in the afternoon. Weather fantastic and we all got sunburn. Other ports visited are listed in the port section below. Fellow passengers were of an older age group than us but we spent one evening chatting to a 93 year old ex navy gentleman who was interesting and good company and overall found passengers friendly. Only thing annoying was an elderly couple at dinner who moaned loudly about everything, every night at dinner!Felt sorry for the waiters as they work very hard and are very polite. All in all, disappointed to have to disembark, I would have loved a longer cruise, however, most workplaces don't allow such extended leave for cruising so maybe when we retire (a long time away yet). Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
General Overview As first time cruisers we did not really know what to expect. My husband is a part-time wheelchair user, able to walk short distances, so we were a little concerned about embarkation and how he would get around the ... Read More
General Overview As first time cruisers we did not really know what to expect. My husband is a part-time wheelchair user, able to walk short distances, so we were a little concerned about embarkation and how he would get around the ship. On arrival at the Terminal we were immediately greeted with aides, whose job it was to make our transition aboard as easy and stress free as possible. They were wonderful, putting us at ease and taking all the worry out of boarding in such circumstances. I hope this will reassure anyone considering cruising who might also be either partially or totally dependent on a wheelchair. We also noticed that some passengers had motorised disability scooters. Of course, whichever type you use, it must be able to fit into your cabin, as you are not permitted to leave any such vehicles in the corridors, for obvious health and safety reasons. We had a deluxe balcony cabin which was very roomy and the folded up wheelchair did not encroach on our space in the least. We were not too lucky with the weather, but that is something beyond anyone's control and the experiences we had and the wonderful ambience of the ship more than made up for that. On our first night out the sea was a little rough and I have to admit to being seasick, but the administration of travel sickness tablets remedied that within 24 hours. Next time (and I hope there will be a next time) I will take them prior to boarding as a precautionary measure. Dining Our allocated dining room was the Oriental, first sitting at 6.30 pm. Can I offer a word of advice when booking your cruise to select a large table, seating at least 6 or 8? In this way, you will be seated with a group of people who will become your friends. We were very fortunate to be seated with 2 other couples who were total strangers to us, but with whom we developed a strong friendship. The dining experience on Oriana was superlative -- the choice of food, the excellent service from all of the restaurant staff and the little "extras" such as the singing of "Happy Birthday" by the waiters only added to our enjoyment. The food is of such high quality that I also suggest taking some clothing along which has a bit of "give" in the waist! (There are, however, excellent gym facilities on board should you prefer that option!) We particularly enjoyed the Room Service facility and utilised it on several occasions, most especially for breakfast, where we were able to enjoy it at our leisure in our cabin. The Peninsular Restaurant offers open seating for breakfast, which we visited a couple of times. The choice and quality of fare in all of the food outlets can only be described as exceptional. Entertainment The range of entertainment on board was limitless. The Theatre Royal offered such diverse acts as ventriloquists, vocalists and pianists, as well as the in-house theatre group which entertained us with a variety of performance genres -- our favourites being tributes to Abba and Queen. We were also occasional visitors to the Casino where we were taught the principles of Black Jack and Roulette in a very interesting workshop one afternoon. The stakes in the casino are usually quite low, but we did manage to come out with some winnings nevertheless, despite being total novices! There are numerous other entertainments on board, ranging from Bridge to Quizzes, there is something for everyone, whether you decide to use the facilities or not. Our cabin We had a deluxe balcony cabin on B deck. As previously mentioned, apart from one day, the weather was not really warm enough to utilise it to its full extent, but our cabin was roomy and comfortable. The compact bathroom was kept fully stocked with beautifully laundered white cotton towels, and came with a complimentary supply of toiletries. The beds were amazingly comfortable; the bedding of soft Egyptian cotton. The cabin steward did a magnificent job of keeping it clean and tidy, and turned the beds down each night, leaving a delightful little chocolate on the pillows. It was these little extra touches that made the holiday so unforgettable. There is a TV and fridge in the cabin for your convenience and shipboard messages are relayed through the speaker system, as well as on the TV channel devoted to the bridge, on which essential details such as weather conditions and current placement on the globe can be tracked. Services It would appear that "Service" is the watch word for every single member of staff on the Oriana, as indeed I am sure it also applies to all the other ships in the P & O fleet. Whatever you are doing, the staff are always meticulously polite and eager to meet your every need. I have never been called "Madam" so many times (but in the most fitting circumstances!) Many of the staff obviously work behind the scenes, but their efforts are nevertheless apparent --the invisible cleaners, the staff who work in the kitchens, laundry and engine rooms all played their part. We could not find any negative points to comment on as far as all the previously mentioned areas are concerned, but if I must pinpoint one irritation it must be the difficulty encountered on many occasions when traversing the raised areas of the corridors of the ship. These are the metal ridges or lips along which the watertight doors close. We found them to be high enough to bring the wheelchair to a halt when the front wheels hit them, forcing us to have to "lift" the front wheels over the obstructions. The fact that we had to do this so many times resulted in some damage to the said wheels, which fortunately will be repaired under the insurance, but this is something to be aware of. If these areas could be made more wheelchair friendly, then this single point of contention would be resolved. Ports of call Our ports of call were La Coruna, Casablanca, Gibraltar, Cadiz and Lisbon. At all of the ports we were able to go ashore as the staff were so helpful getting the wheelchair down the gangway and helping my husband to disembark and embark on his return to the ship. We had a particularly entertaining day in Casablanca where we took a Petit Taxi, driver by Mushtak, on a whistle stop tour of the city (and some!) visiting off the beaten track sights, including an authentic Berber Pharmacy (Mustak's words) - sure the pharmacist must have been one of Mustak's relatives! Great day all round. We found various levels of accessability in the other ports we visited, mainly due to the "friendliness" of the pavements and kerbs towards the wheelchair. We found Lisbon to be particularly bad for wheelchair users. We enjoyed our cruise very much and will certainly look to repeating this experience, probably with P and O again, as their staff were absolutely brilliant. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Surprised to see a virtually empty terminal for embarkation at 12.30, checked in and on board in 15 minutes!! The Captain did warn of storm force 7 or 8 on the first night and boy he was right, heavy seas and high winds made for a very ... Read More
Surprised to see a virtually empty terminal for embarkation at 12.30, checked in and on board in 15 minutes!! The Captain did warn of storm force 7 or 8 on the first night and boy he was right, heavy seas and high winds made for a very bumpy night and following day, it wasn`t much better until late afternoon when it did calm down. Although around half the ship seemed to be stricken with sea sickness, i thought Aurora coped very well in the conditions compared to other ships we have sailed on. Vigo was stop number one, being a Sunday very little was open, but its quite a nice place to walk around, the weather was lovely around 23 degrees and sunny. Lisbon was stop number two, a busy city centre with a wide variety of shops and historical buildings, heavy police presence around the city, which we found quite re-assuring, given that Lisbon is well known for pick pocketing and petty crime, another hot sunny day after a cloudy start. Day at sea, warm and sunny with Dolphins swimming in the sea, wonderful sight!! Guernsey was supposed to be stop number three, but due to heavy sea swell the tenders from the ship were unable to operate safely, disappointing for us as it was the only port on the cruise we had not visited before, but we could see from our cabin the test run of the tenders and they were not coping at all well in the swell. The Captain made the decision to abandon the call and headed for Le Havre, the next destination, for an overnight stop. Le Havre has a great shopping mall "Les Docks" with many major designer stores and other retail outlets. The Town centre is rather spread out and a lot of leg work needed to negotiate the area. Pretty dreary day, cloudy and not that warm either for an August day. Right, the ship itself, its our first time on Aurora and not sure what to expect given the wildly differing reviews. In our opinion its not in desperate need for a re-fit, some public room furnishings are looking a bit tired, but nothing drastic. The duty free shop on board is a big bonus, Lite bottles of spirits for £10.00!! The other shops are Mayfair and Piccadilly which sell a range of clothing, gifts, perfumes etc at fairly high prices. The other little shop sells day to day items such as sweets, crisps, also a range of toiletries. Dining on board we found to be generally very good, the main restaurants were busy and the food very good, The Orangery for more casual evening dining was a bit hit and miss, average food with average quality, the breakfasts and lunches were much better. The Cafe Bordeaux was well worth the £7.50 a head surcharge for dinner, quality and service was supreme, has Marco Pierre White quality stamped all over it. Also we tried the Pennant Grill for dinner, again a surcharge but again well worth it, open decked restaurant, a very mild evening, excellent quality food served by willing waiters, would recommend to try dining here. Overall all the staff were helpful and with a smile, our cabin steward was very good, he done the job efficiently without ever being intrusive, top marks. We did have a water cut off one morning to the cabin due to a blockage elsewhere, but were un-affected by this, as we were off ship when the problem was rectified. Entertainment on board is generally very good, with two theatres providing evening entertainment and something going on in most other bars day and night. Seems a more relaxed ship than some others we have sailed on with P and O, child friendly with plenty to do for the younger ones, all in all a very enjoyable cruise despite missing the Guernsey stop. Please do not take any notice of other comments criticising this ship, there are no major problems, cabins are modern, bright and clean, more TV channels also added, food and entertainment is good, book without hesitation, we will definitely be sailing again on Aurora Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We were all looking forward to our cruise, and it certainly did not disappoint! The ship was fantastic in the main, and the facilities excellent. We normally holiday in the UK in Bournemouth or Centre Parcs and was worried about some of ... Read More
We were all looking forward to our cruise, and it certainly did not disappoint! The ship was fantastic in the main, and the facilities excellent. We normally holiday in the UK in Bournemouth or Centre Parcs and was worried about some of the negative reviews about CHAVS and Butlins at sea. However I found the fellow cruisers to be not at all like that. I would book the cruise again today if they were to repeat it, however I have checked and they are not, not even in 2013! We chose Freedom Dining and were allocated Cinnamon. The food was excellent in the main dining room, and the service was very good. I chose Gluten Free meals and in Cinnamon the request was well taken care of, the head waiter taking my order each night for the following day to allow the chef to prepare it in advance. I researched on here before we went and was glad to have discovered afternoon tea, really enjoyed it on the ship, again gluten free sandwiches, and some cakes too! Although the buffets served a purpose when returning from shore I would always have eaten in Cinnamon given a choice as I found it much nicer food, just wish we had been around to try lunch in Cinnamon too. The cocktails we had were nice, however I found if you went to the bar directly the strength of the cocktail increased remarkably compared to ordering it from your sun lounger! We travelled independently to Bruges using Ronys Taxi, it cost only 95 euros for 7 of us return and was amazing value compared to the tours, and dropped us straight to the market place. They were reasonably prompt however the driver on the return drove far too fast, if anyone uses Ronys Taxi and the driver number is 00066 be afraid, very afraid! We all felt relieved to be back at the ship. Le Havre was much better than we expected, the weather made it being around 30 degrees. We got the shuttle to town which was quick and easy, and spent some hours around the beach which was really nice. Great choice of beach bars where we enjoyed several drinks. Guernsey was great for a few hours too we walked to Castle Cornet, and around St Peters Port again the weather made it, not a cloud in sight and around 30 degrees again. Our cabin was spotlessly clean, James the steward kept nipping in, changing towels, making the beds up, it seemed like he checked it nearly every time we left it. I was concerned about our cabin allocation, we got allocated D123 first, and I got it changed due to the many bad reviews of that cabin for noise, however we were certainly no better in E116 and we got woken numerous times the last two nights with staff bounding up the staff metal stairway that was next to our cabin. I reported it in the morning the first time, but they were a bit dismissive as I had not rang them as the noise was occurring. I did not want to wake my daughter up however the first night. The night manager came down the second night as I called reception, and explained the problem, its a main route to the bridge apparently for crew. It was really noisy shoes clanking up and down metal steps. He offered to move us but since it was 11.30pm final night thought it would be less disruptive to stay put as was not looking forward to a 6 hour drive after a changing cabin. That was the only real negative to a wonderful holiday however. I will follow it up with P and O. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Travel To Port of Embarkation & parking: Always traffic on M3 into Southampton but set off a bit earlier. Arrived at port about 12:00. CPS Parking are pricey but very professional and would use again. The ease of embarkation was ... Read More
Travel To Port of Embarkation & parking: Always traffic on M3 into Southampton but set off a bit earlier. Arrived at port about 12:00. CPS Parking are pricey but very professional and would use again. The ease of embarkation was superb and better than both Royal Caribbean (RC) and Celebrity. Everything was smooth and well organised by P&O. Ship Info: The first impressions of the ship are good. It still feels new with a large focus on relaxation rather than lots of activities. There are lots of private areas to curl up with a drink and/or a book. Ports: The Fjords are simply stunning. Bergen was ok but Andalnes and Olden will take your breath away. Recommend you go there before the larger ships are stopped from travelling there. P&O put on courtesy buses at some of the ports which was a bonus. However, we tended to stay on the ship apart from odd trips out at the ports. Activities: Azura has the usual facilities and activities including a nicely kitted gym and various quizzes and talks during the day. These are much more low-key than RC and Celebrity but this suited us and made for a relaxing holiday. Worth noting that the only heated pool is within a paid for area of the spa (The Retreat - cost of approx £12 per day on port days). Seascreen is a fantastic treat so dress up warm and head out in the evening to experience it - you have to experience watching a film under the setting sun cuddled up under a blanket with the sound of the sea in the background. Brilliant! Service: Service on the whole was excellent. The cabin steward (Simon) was excellent and although we hardly saw him, our room was immaculately maintained and every request tended to. The dining room staff (particularly the head waiter Kalpesh) are also friendly and very professional. These guys work so flaming hard to keep us happy! If you have a birthday then be sure to order a cake and enjoy the waiter's sing-song! One of the group did have a bad experience from a stylist in the spa but upon complaint to the spa manager a full refund was provided. Stateroom: Balcony stateroom was lovely and an essential for the Fjords. We were at the end of a corridor (at front) which meant less foot traffic past the door which was nice. Deck 11 was perfect as the balcony was covered and others below were more exposed to the elements. Shower is small but what do people expect? Dining: The food is excellent in the dining rooms but a bit more conservative than RC and Celebrity. I suspect this is to suit the British palette and suited our group's less adventurous tastebuds (including one vegetarian). Sindhu deserves a special mention as the meal and experience were well worth the extra cost per head. The buffet restaurants (Verona & Venezia) are huge but a little disappointing. The food was average with limited choice - as each area simply duplicated others. The poolside grill is lovely with pizza, burgers, chips all available and tasty (for no charge). The ship has a Costa Coffee which was lovely but coffees being chargeable. Entertainment: Entertainment (including shows) was ok but we didn't rate the main performers that highly (Headliners). Celebrity and RC both exceed P&O here by quite a way. Disembarkation. The Freddie Mercury tribute was good though. Summary: P&O Azura is absolutely up there with some other ships we've sailed on. The ship seems tailored for British passengers and a very relaxing experience. Staff and unobtrusive but helpful when needed. P&O are a cheaper alternative to RC and Celebrity and would absolutely recommend this trip! Be sure to book a balcony and be as high up as you can. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We recently returned from a 7 day cruise on P&O Azura to La Corunna, Bilbao, La Rochelle and Guernsey. For all of our party of 6 (3 generations of a family) it was the first cruise and we were all absolutely thrilled with it. We older ... Read More
We recently returned from a 7 day cruise on P&O Azura to La Corunna, Bilbao, La Rochelle and Guernsey. For all of our party of 6 (3 generations of a family) it was the first cruise and we were all absolutely thrilled with it. We older ones had been very sceptical about cruises, thinking they'd be like floating coach tours. These fears were quickly dispelled and we can't wait to go on another cruise next year. Maybe we were spoilt because we had 3 suites, but we're sure we would still have enjoyed it with a balcony cabin -- sorry, we couldn't settle for anything less. We had a butler who covered 9 cabins and he was marvellous, especially with our 2 year-old grandson who loved the room service. One night he brought us all the full 5 course dinner menu from the restaurant. Another perk with the suite was being able to have breakfast in Seventeen, one of the feature restaurants. Service was superb. Evening meals in the Peninsular, one of the Club dining restaurants, were also great with a fabulous choice. Some our group tried Sindhu, the Indian restaurant, as well as Seventeen in the evening and were very impressed. An alternative option at no extra cost was Trattoria, an Italian restaurant which was OK but service was slow. The place to avoid was Venezia, the 24 hr buffet restaurant, where the food was bland and the piled up plates of some of the diners quite off-putting. We went ashore at each of the ports. We only once used an official tour -- to Santiago di Compostela from La Corunna. It was well worth a visit and the coach was probably the most convenient way of getting there, but the guide insisted on giving a running commentary all the way there and back. At Bilbao and La Rochelle we used the shuttle buses. We were rather concerned on the Bilbao bus. It was just like an airport bus and lots of us were standing for the 20 minute journey and they piled passengers on including a wheelchair that was put in the aisle. We complained to Azura reception about this but haven't had any feedback. The other downside of the shuttle buses was that everyone seemed to want to catch the bus back at lunchtime and we had to queue for up to 30 minutes in the midday sun. The ship anchored in the bay at Guernsey and the tenders used to ferry us ashore were a lot more efficient than the buses. We hired a car to tour the island and it worked out a lot cheaper than the P&O tours. On the "at sea" days we sunbathed for a few hours each day and were agreeably surprised by the availability of sunbeds in lots of different areas of the boat. We only saw one argument over leaving towels on the beds. One of our party used the Oasis gym and found the facilities equal to any he had used in London. The kids clubs were also very good. Yes, we shall definitely go on a cruise again and, quite probably, on the Azura. We've been on all kinds of exciting holidays in the past, notably Cape Town, Dubai, Las Vegas and New York and 5 star hotels in the UK, and whilst this may not have had spectacular destinations, it was amongst the top for sheer comfort and holiday experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Hello, My wife and Son and i have just come back from a very pleasant break on the P & O ship Oriana.The Oriana is a mid-size ship, adult only,and is geared for the UK market.The car parking at The QE2 terminal was hassle free.we were ... Read More
Hello, My wife and Son and i have just come back from a very pleasant break on the P & O ship Oriana.The Oriana is a mid-size ship, adult only,and is geared for the UK market.The car parking at The QE2 terminal was hassle free.we were on the ship in under 20 minutes. The luggage outside our Cabins on A Deck waiting for us. The Cabin steward Seby middle aged from India was A1+ for service with a smile,nothing too much bother for him.The cabin was a Large inside with bath & shower,twin beds & sofa and dressing table,double wardrobe & two sets of drawers with Fridge,Safe and Remote TV,very nice, Tea & coffee & biscuits constantly replaced.The Oriana is a elegant ship without being too " Glitchy". All the staff very friendly and helpful. The food in the Peninsular restaurant 2nd sitting 8.30 pm Table 38 was first class, both our Indian waiter's helpful and gave a well organized meal. The wine steward Regina from the Philippines was a delight to deal with every thing A1.The drinks were very reasonably priced.a Bottle of the House Red £12.50,very nice.The Entertainment was of a good standard as always on P & O ships.The excursions were well organised and again reasonably priced. With free coach shuttle service or Tender boat a each port. All the interior of the ship was in an excellent state, spotlessly clean. The disembarking was as smooth as the boarding,Car ready & waiting. We would recommend the Oriana to any one, as good all round value for money cruise ship. Regards Julie & Graham & James Gilbert Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
had a fantastic time on the Oriana although a few things need improving. We arrived in Southampton and soon found the drive way we had paid to park on for the five days as it worked out A LOT cheaper than parking at the terminal would ... Read More
had a fantastic time on the Oriana although a few things need improving. We arrived in Southampton and soon found the drive way we had paid to park on for the five days as it worked out A LOT cheaper than parking at the terminal would highly recommend http://www.parkatmyhouse.com/uk/ have used them several times before for cruises as the price difference can be enormous. Upon arriving at the QE2 terminal we were dismayed to see an enormous cue winding its way all round the terminal to where the waiting area is, however we only waited about 15 minutes and were checked in and through security and on-board. Much better than our previous experience of boarding the Balmoral at Mayflower where we waited over an hour after checking before boarding even commenced. Cabin F161 was ready and easy to find as it was just on the starboard side of the atrium. our suitcases arrived at exactly the same time that we did so we had plenty of time to get unpacked and settled in before drill and sail away. Cabin was spacious and nicely decorated although a bit tatty in some places on the drawers and the dressing table. sides were also dusty and stayed this way throughout the cruise. Apart from the that our steward Mahamod was very friendly and saw to any small requests we had. Emergency drill soon crept up on us and we had to make our way to ocean grill at the top of the atrium this i found quite odd as in the case of an emergency we had to pass the boat deck and carry on going up. Although it was a very nice room, could have almost been steaming our way across the Atlantic on on of the original queens. However it got very busy and really couldn't hold the amount of people required to muster there. After this it was time for some tea and we went up to the conservatory and it was manic in there! Many people refusing to use the hand sanitizer upon entry. Sail away was in windy and drizzly weather and had the assistance of tugs to get away from the berth and was only a few minutes late leaving as i believe the Independence of the seas was leaving before us. Exploring the ship we found her to be showing a lot of wear and tear surprising because she only had a refit at the beginning of the year, for example the brass on the banisters of the stairwells showing a lot of tarnishing and the tables in the crows nest and pillars in theater both extremely scratched, this surprised us as the Balmoral at the end of May was in nothing but but mint condition apart from the dated decor could almost have have been brand new. Dinner came with a fair bit of apprehension as we were on a table for four and not our customary table for two, we needn't have worried however as we ate with a couple from the isle of white who were possibly the nicest people we have ever met on holiday and dinners became a highpoint of the day as conversation flowed easily and was entertaining. The menu however wasn't to my taste now I am a fussy eater but have always found at least one soup/ starter I liked in the past however I could only have one on the last night, this wasn't a major problem as it left more time for conversation. The mains and desserts I never found anything short of delicious. After dinner entertainment is where although i believed the cruise was lacking especially for the age demographic on board at the time, I understand that the Oriana normally attracts a more mature traditional clientele but as on this cruise there was a lot of passengers in the early 20's to 30's range there really wasn't much to do for them apart from the 60's and 70's party one night. However the the show Stage Door on the last night was wonderful. As i said there where quite a few different passengers on-board and some i think were surprised by what they found. I even heard a lot of comments such as "It's not as good as PO ferries Pride of York!" this pretty much sums up a lot of the passengers on-board. Many were rude. Ports of call- Brugge: We did the excursion 'taste of Brugge' it was extremely good and very informative although it was a walking tour it was not fast paced and manageable. Guide was wonderful and could easily answer even the most vague questions. Le Havre: Didn't get off and spent the day in the steam room and relaxing on deck and our table companions said we made the right choice. Guernsey - First time there and found it lovely! going ashore by tender was easy and organized and we had hired a car and drove round the island thoroughly enjoyed it. went to the occupation museum and the little chapel both were wonderful. Never been to such a wonderful place. will definitely be returning! Disembarkation was slow as they were running behind. Now for the pros and cons Pros: Nice sized ship and a proper ship not trying to be a floating resort. Very clean at all times. Beautifully decorated. Lots of outdoor deck space. Good shops Comfortable seats in both theater and cinema. Cons (room for improvement nothing was terrible) Staff not as friendly as on Balmoral did what they had to nothing more. Showing some major wear and tear. Cafe Al Fresco not large enough for the amount of people wanting to use it late at night. Hand sanitizer not strictly enforced. Overall we had a fabulous holiday and met some wonderful people. First time with P&O and as I have said staff not as friendly as Balmorals, But by far the superior ship, basically give me the Oriana with Balmorals staff and I'd be in heaven. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We used CPS parking, no problems and would use again, very convenient. Loved the Sailaways, fantastic food ( both Evening Meal and breakfasts ) in the Peninsular Restaurant, enjoyed dressing up in the evenings, the company of the people ... Read More
We used CPS parking, no problems and would use again, very convenient. Loved the Sailaways, fantastic food ( both Evening Meal and breakfasts ) in the Peninsular Restaurant, enjoyed dressing up in the evenings, the company of the people on our table of 6, people very friendly and enjoyed the entertainment (especially Jimmy James). Brugges was lovely, we made our own way by free shuttle bus and then train (€3-80 each return on the Sunday, with hourly trains ) Not keen on Le Havre, would probably book a tour if we were there again. Guernsey was delightful, timed ticket for the tender over, try to return slightly earlier than the 3-30 peak queue, but this only took 30 minutes to wait for the return tender. We walked past the castle to the underground U-Boat fuel storage museum, displaying war memorabilia, very interesting, then walked back to the (Duty free shops) Our friends took a local £1 bus tour round the island which lasted an hour and a half. We found the cruise very relaxing, the daily newsletter ensured we knew what was happening and when, so loads to keep us occupied. Already looking for another cruise, but this time with our son. We really liked the atmosphere of the Oriana, particularly the open decks at the back of the ship, the Sailaways, with everyone singing and flag waving were a highlight. We were driving home within 20 minutes of walking off the ship, everything was very well organised. We hope to return to the Oriana. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
June 9, 2012. Ports: La Corona (one star); Bilboa (three stars); La Rochelle (three stars); Cherbourg (two stars; bad weather forced the cancellation of a trip to St Peter Port, Cherbourg was a lack change of port. Southampton ... Read More
June 9, 2012. Ports: La Corona (one star); Bilboa (three stars); La Rochelle (three stars); Cherbourg (two stars; bad weather forced the cancellation of a trip to St Peter Port, Cherbourg was a lack change of port. Southampton arrival: Due to sail at 4.30 pm we eventually sailed during dinner at 8.10 pm, however, this did not affect our cruise. Check in was very busy, but very efficient. We arrived by car, we queued in car lines for 30 mins, but still managed to be in our cabin within the hour. The excitement of a first cruise, in our case, cannot be exaggerated and the delay in sailing only enhanced our first experience. We spent time in the cabin clicking cameras, watching the world, and cruise ships pass by . . . memorable times. Oh, before I ramble on. My own personal disappointment was the influence the weather had. The Bay of Biscay can, evidently, be a very inhospitable place, luckily for us it only reared a fraction of its ugly head, but it was enough to give my wife sickness problems twice. I do question the cruise itinerary, our next cruise (and yes there will be a next!). Will to guaranteed sun somewhere. Now to summarise: Entertainment was at times dazzling, Dusty Springfield and Freddie Mercury tributes were just remarkable, standing ovations. Comedians likewise. The show we witnessed, Swing, only verged on average and sadly was disappointing, the setting, in an 800-seater theatre, was stunning. Bars: Varied and reasonably priced. No complaints. Food: What can I say? More than we expected, staff were courteous and very efficient and the menus catered for, I believe, every person in the restaurants in which we ate. Conversation included this statement: 'It's like eating in a top London restaurant every night'. And yes, it is possible to eat 24 hours a day. Amenities: check out the P and O website. Three pools, jacuzzi, the list goes on. Service: Five star. Ship: Huge! The deck layout caused some confusion, especially with some of the 'mature' passengers. Nutshell to finish: Cruise itinerary questionable. All else fabulous. Oh, I forgot the room service, try it please . . . spoil yourselves. Time to close our book and begin saving. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
This is our First 7 day P&O Oriana cruise. We had a taster two night on the Ventura. This was in a balcony suite. Very good experience but were undecided for a full cruise as the 'STAG' 'HEN' 2 night was ... Read More
This is our First 7 day P&O Oriana cruise. We had a taster two night on the Ventura. This was in a balcony suite. Very good experience but were undecided for a full cruise as the 'STAG' 'HEN' 2 night was hectic. And very busy during embarkation & leaving ship (queues) We are pleased to report that the 7 day was well organised & easy going. We parked across river & 'bused in' Also well organised & Friendly with car waiting ready to go. Oriana accommodation,food,lounges & restaurants smart & well presented. Better than expected as advised by some previous reviews. Ship does show signs of wear, but all minor. We did not need to visit any of the other specialist restaurants. We had an enjoyable time, albeit disappointed that the French visit was cancelled, winds and shallow harbour. We had constant threat of tail end of hurricane winds off America but only slight seas. Weather Hot in Vigo, Lisbon & Bilbao. Trips were half day, well organised. Two days at sea but increased to three when missing Port of Brest. food well presented & tasty first sitting Oriental restaurant. we had a rear window table over props. Vibration and swell at times, but ok. Selection of vegetables were set each evening for all available meals. At Home we would have matched veg to dishes, Although all cooked to a high standard. All staff friendly & polite. O/all a very good experience. We have been used to Thompson Fly cruise holidays which we have enjoyed. They offer full day trips & less days at sea. P&O experience is above that of Thompson Celebration & Spirit ships in nearly all aspects except staff which are on par. one advantage not having to wait at airports & loss of time. We will consider more cruises from UK ports, but are mindful of heavier seas than the med; Albeit one day we had a slight swell & no ripples & glassy . Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Our first ever cruise on Ventura last summer was unforgettable for all the right reasons, and after a 4 nighter on Celebrity Ecplise to Cork in May, we went for a last night 7 nighter on the most elegant looking of all cruise ships, ... Read More
Our first ever cruise on Ventura last summer was unforgettable for all the right reasons, and after a 4 nighter on Celebrity Ecplise to Cork in May, we went for a last night 7 nighter on the most elegant looking of all cruise ships, Oriana. We thought Celebrity Eclipse was a stunning ship, but lacked a certain something of the P&O ships...she felt like a floating hotel more than a cruise liner. Along with QM2, Oriana is probably the most famous cruise ship in Britain. When you mention her, everyone knows her. After mentioning our cruise on her, people think I earn mega money! So does she fit the reputation? Why do we find so many negatives with these holidays which are always a relaxing and exciting experience....even if you think the food is not as good as it once was or that you were being ripped off? It makes me feel that some of the comments about ships on here are so picky, people would find fault with perfection. Loved the traditional layout of Oriana. You felt the tradition and style of cruising on her lost with the modern floating hotels, but she has all the modern features you want from a ship. We made straight for the Crows Nest for our departure from Southampton and the trip through the Solent. We felt the Crows Nest knocked the Sky Lounge on Celebrity for six. Especially as you cannot smoke there! The captain informed us of a strong south-westerly wind Force 6-7. Oriana didn't move an inch in the choppy English Channel and we retired at 1am after a wonderful evening. Sadly at 4am, I was awake as we hit big waves as we entered the Bay of Biscay. Apparently we hit the tail of a hurricane and encountered swells of over 5 metres off the bow quarter. A few of us were up and wondering around the ship trying to find our sealegs! Baring in mind we were doing 22 knots through those conditions, Oriana handled them superbly, as the water in the stern pool emptied all over the deck! The next day we stayed in our cabin as she continued to move in the swell and after being ill, I gave up and took some tablets! By the evening Captains Cocktail party, the sea eased and from the on Oriana came into her own in lovely conditions. We stayed onboard for Vigo as the idea of the cruise was for some late summer sun. A wonderful day sunbathing at 23C was had on a quiet ship. Lisbon was even hotter at 33C and we took the shuttle to the city centre. We walked about for a bit, but wasn't too impressed with it. Maybe we should have gone on a tour to the big tower further up the river, but the sunbeds were calling us again. Bilbao was a real surprise. 38C! Again we stayed onboard. What we loved the most was the slow cruise from Lisbon to Bilbao at a steady 15 knots....proper cruising. A beautiful sunset and dinner in the exceptional Oriana Rhodes restaurant ended a perfect day as we settled down to another fabulous evening. The captain made an announcement at 8am on the Saturday to say that Gale Force 8 winds meant that our call at Brest had been cancelled, but we weren't bothered as we planned to stay on the ship anyway. That was a bonus too, as the Entertainment Team put into action a new schedule of entertainment, including another fascinating session with Antiques expert John Cameron from BBC1's Cash in the Attic. We slowly 'pottered' our way back to Southampton at 16 knots and although we hit a weather front with Force 7 winds and a 3 metre swell, Oriana hardly moved, with just a gentle pitching. We had 1,000 first time cruisers onboard and three weddings! After the rough passage on the way out, many people spoke to the captain who was excellent in explaining everything. He also made the trip back over the Bay as smooth as possible considering the conditions, so 10 out of 10! So in summary. Yes in places Oriana is in need of that refit. Only one of her jacuzzis were working, but apart from this, she was excellent. Food. Oriana Rhodes was fantastic, a real shame it's ending. We ate in the Oriental Restaurant, the 8:30pm sitting. Superb, friendly service. Our wine waiter was excellent too. Every meal was excellent and in many cases, we only had two courses as it was so filling. We did notice a certain amount of vibration from the ships props, but seeing as you are sat right above them, it wasn't that bad....try doing on the Isle of Wight ferry for vibration! We found the Conservatory really good. The breakfast knocks socks off Celebrity. On her, we felt like we were eating in the restaurant at John Lewis! Too big! Oriana's was just right. Our favourite bar turned out to be Andersons...what a wonderful atmosphere in there....our kind of place. Crows Nest was a lovely place to be during the evening, very sophisticated with quality entertainment, from jazz to talented pianists on each night. Being in our 30s with no kids, we just wanted to relax and enjoy the ship, we were not too bothered about tours and the entertainment was just a bonus for us. We felt the Headliners were really good but maybe not as good as the team on Ventura last year. I really enjoyed the talk on the Channel Tunnel (my other half sunbathed!!) and we both enjoyed John Cameron and the Queen tribute. The whole team were thoroughly professional and put 100% into each performance. We felt the prices for alcohol were spot on. We felt Celebrity was too expensive and it's never nice spending in dollars. Maybe she could do with a heated, covered pool in the future for cloudy, wet weather, but apart from that, Oriana is a special ship. Walking around the wooden decks and the tired stern you get a sense of breeding and tradition in which the ship was designed. A portrait of the Queen by Andersons gave a real sense of occasion too. With this in mind, we've booked another cruise. We will enjoying the pomp and ceremony of the 175th anniversary on Ventura's 17 night Eastern Med cruise next year, this will also be our honeymoon!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Well i have just read a reveiw about this ship and i cannot disagree more we took my partners daughter son in law and 2 children on the oceana 6th to 13th of aug and we loved every minute of it.My partner and i had been on it before 3 ... Read More
Well i have just read a reveiw about this ship and i cannot disagree more we took my partners daughter son in law and 2 children on the oceana 6th to 13th of aug and we loved every minute of it.My partner and i had been on it before 3 years ago and must say it was a good as ever and better than the Venturs last christmas it was very clean and tidy the tiolets were clean as they were NOT on the Ventura.The food in the lingurien was very very good but we went to the buffet twice as we had a 15 month old and was hard trying to keep him happy in the highchair and thought it was not fair to other diners.We were pleased with th itiniery as we would proberbly never go to some of the places i was taken by La Rochelle very pretty also Bilbao.We thought the drinks were very good as on the Royal Carribean you pay a 15% sevice charge every time you buy a drink it soon mounts up.The night nursary was free but you need to get the child to sleep but as ever our little one would not do that we did use it once and what a good idea it was.All in all we had a great time and have converted 2 more young people that a cruise is not for the older person. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
My wife and I embarked on our first cruise and chose this short duration on P&O Oceana. We had free parking at Southampton which was well organised and drove straight to the ship, just a short walk to the terminal building, on ... Read More
My wife and I embarked on our first cruise and chose this short duration on P&O Oceana. We had free parking at Southampton which was well organised and drove straight to the ship, just a short walk to the terminal building, on return again a short walk to pick up the car. Once inside the terminal it was well organised for embarkation, we were handed colour coded tickets and then waited a short time for the call to board. Once on board we waited a short time before we could enter our cabin, we were on C deck in a LA grade outside cabin which was very spacious as it was the same deck as balcony cabins, so you had the extra balcony space in the room. Everything in the cabin was very clean, the shower and toilet area quite small but that's to be expected on board a ship. The only fault in the cabin was the TV, really needs upgrading to a flat screen with more channels and improved reception. Our cabin steward looked after us very well, even topping up the ice bucket in the fridge. We thought all the public areas on board were spotless, after reading some reviews I was expecting worn out carpets and fittings but did not see any of that. We chose freedom dining, this suited us very well as we like to eat quite late and when we feel like, never a problem getting a table for two at 8.30/9.00.I was a bit disappointed I never got to use the paging system! We ate in the main dining room in the evening and the food and service was excellent, the waiters very friendly. Dress code was adhered to on formal nights, I wasn't looking forward to that as I'm not fond of formal attire, but was surprised to find I enjoyed it, although I did wear just a dark suit and tie. After returning to the ship from a port of call in the afternoon we ate in the Plazza buffet restaurant, We read some reviews liking it to a cattle market, not so, queues yes but what do you expect on a peak time cruise ship! we always found a table as the waiters were very quick cleaning tables when someone left. We also ate at the Marco Pierre Restaurant at lunchtime, a short wait after booking a table, food excellent but not a huge choice. Entertainment was good in the evenings, something going on in all the bars and theatres, although we went to Winners bar a few times and the same band were doing the same set as the night before. Bar prices were comparable to a night out at home. Plenty of space if you wanted to sunbathe, especially at the front of the ship away from the pool area. At each port shuttle buses were laid on to take you to the centre, La Rochelle we found the prettiest. Brest was disappointing, mainly because all the the main streets were being dug up for a new tramway system. We were very pleased with the cruise and would go again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
P&O Azura A116 - 15th to 22nd July 2011 Introduction We booked this cruise following two very enjoyable trips with Princess to the Mediterranean (2009) and Baltics (2010) and thought it would be interesting to write up a review of ... Read More
P&O Azura A116 - 15th to 22nd July 2011 Introduction We booked this cruise following two very enjoyable trips with Princess to the Mediterranean (2009) and Baltics (2010) and thought it would be interesting to write up a review of our trip and include some comparisons between P&O/Princess and the ships themselves (Azura and Grand Princess) Embarkation We were asked to arrive at Ocean Terminal no sooner than 1pm for embarkation. Having not much else to do, and from previous experience, we drew up at the terminal just before 11, where our luggage was offloaded and taken away, swiftly followed by our car courtesy of CPS. On entering the departure hall, we were given our embarkation cards (E!!. Wonder what time A-D arrived!!!!), completed the health questionnaires and waited. Complimentary magazines seemed to help the hour pass before registration was opened at 12. After a quick credit card registration and photograph we passed security and headed down the gangway The Ship Upon arrival onboard, we were advised that our cabins would not be ready until. 2:30pm but that the buffet was open. This was our first encounter of a difference between P&O and Princess. On our previous cruises, we have always been able to head straight for the cabin even at this early time. A wander around the ship was made easy by the fact that Azura and Grand Princess are built from the same basic template. The decor was more Contemporary than the Grand and had a fresher feel to it but, to be fair, the comparisons I make are prior to the Grands refit. What was extremely disappointing was that our luggage was not delivered to the room until 16:30 which meant a mad rush for sailaway.? Over the week, several differences would become apparent both with the ship and on-board culture: There was no way to access the area above the bridge as this was through "crew only" doors You could not walk completely around Promenade deck as there was no way to get around the nose of the ship on that deck. From the deck plans you would have to go up one deck and out doors at end of corridor which we didn't try. You could walk around the front of the ship above the bridge area, starting on the starboard side but the port side was blocked by cabin balconies. The Manhattan venue located at the rear of Promenade was the ships nightclub (as opposed to the Planet Bar or, as was, Skywalkers on the Grand. this seemed a good decision as it was always busy until about 2am, leaving the Planet Bar as a quieter location for drinks Azura has two dining rooms for fixed dining and one for freedom dining whereas the Grand had two freedom and one fixed. I was slightly surprised at this as i thought freedom dining was gaining popularity Both top deck centre pools are open to the elements whereas the Grand has one covered Azura has 3 staggered layers of decking which can be used to view the seascreen (aka movies under the stars) Azura outer doors onto decks are largely automatic (helps on those blustery days) Cabins have tea/coffee making facilities In-cabin tv has the facility to view hour bill making reception (as its called on Azura) a much quieter place Azura only had one ping pong table whereas it could have done with four as this was a very popular activity amongst teens Tipping on Azura was set at £1.60 per person per day for restaurant staff through an automatic charge and a recommended £1.50 per day for cabin steward. At £3.10 per person per day, these charges compared very favorably to Princess who charge d $10.50 (£6.56) Shuttle buses from the ship to the town centre in each port were free. Princess charge approx $10 for each person return trip Drinks were very reasonably riced. The very agreeable house white wine was priced at £11.95, Princess cheapest were near $20 (£14). Two beers was £6.40, again not too bad. All prices were what you paid, i.e. No 15% gratuity visible on top (not to say its not built in somewhere) Strangely, P&O seem to miss a trick in the main theatre by not offering drinks, whereas Princess had waiters in the theatre who were very attentive. On port days there is no water or soft drinks to take ashore, albeit this may change from cruise to cruise. Shop prices excluded VAT so you had to remember to add 20% to all prices The popcorn on Azura for Seascreen was not free There is no unlimited kids drinks card with P&O. coke was £1.50 or £1.75 a glass but you could buy a 20 drink package for £30 which was a bit pricey considering the base cost of these mixers. However, to sweeten the deal a little you could add a 20 ice cream card for £10. Both cards were identical and any many staff would not have noticed an ice cream card passed for a drink. Ethics aside, useful for those trips which turn out to be less sunny than expected. Ice-cream is of the soft whippy type served in a nice thick chocolate tipped cone. This type of Ice-cream was free in Princess Breakfast - largely a full fried breakfast and could really have done with more fruit/smoked salmon a la Princess. Compared to the waffle station on Princess, the Azura failed badly with no cream, almonds or fruit. Dinner - food was very good but portions of the main part (beef etc) were quite small and fleshed out by veggies. At one sitting the waiter offered another portion as "the chef was not giving big portions". Good for the water to do it but shouldn't be necessary. However, on the flip side I hate wasted food so tough to call. Besides Formal and Smart Casual, P&O have a semi-formal dress code some nights. I found this a real pain as I didn't mind bringing formal and casual but just didn't like to have to bring a jacket for one night. Personally, I don't see the need for this and think that P&O should get rid of semi-formal Buffer venues - three serving stations as opposed to the Grands two which alleviated the queues although not the dash for tables!!!! the ship was 90% UK passengers with slightly less observing formal evenings than I saw on Princess Photo prices were high i felt - £15.95 for portraits and £6.95 for casual prints. Printed books containing 5 portraits could be bought (and printed) on board - not a bad deal as you also got the hard copy prints free. However, this compared very badly to the Panraven book i ordered on Princess last year which worked out at 100 pages for £40 and you could fill the book with all your own photos and any you had bought, the only downside being you did this when you got back and required some effort. P&O do not offer any type of Ultimate Tour experience. The Captain advised that they had considered it but, in his opinion, it was down to security. This is understandable in todays world but doesn't explain why another line under the same Group differs in opinion.. All in, I believe that both cruise lines offer a great experience but the drink prices, free shuttles and lower tips result in P&O offering better value fr money. On a weeks long cruise, i would expect a family of four to save £250 plus ($400) by traveling with P&O. Ports Brest At this port, the shuttle stopped at three points - maritime museum, town centre and "marina". Docking on a Saturday, we were very surprised at how quiet the town centre was (we are talking ghost town here at 11am) so we didn't stay long. We hopped on the shuttle to the "marina" which seemed to comprise of some very poor cafes and industrial buildings. Very poor and we would certainly not get off the ship at this location again. We were back on boat in less than two hours and were not the only people by any means and throughout the cruise there were various jokes we heard about how bad the port was.?I appreciate it can be tough deciding on ports and that you cant please everyone but this port definitely felt like a "filler" to me. Bilbao Split into two areas (old and new town), we found this port to be very pleasant. Unfortunately we docked on a Sunday which meant that most of the new town was closed but a pleasant walk down by the river and across to the old town soon had us in a bustling and vibrant area. After a pleasant stroll around the old town, we returned to the new town area and wandered until we came across a nice park and, in particular, a servery selling possibly the largest ice cream cones I have ever seen... yum yumm!!! By the time we headed back to the shuttle bus, a queue had formed around the corner and down the street but this very quickly moved and we were heading back to the ship in under 20 minutes. Cork Azura docked at Ringiskiddy which meant we had a nice 20-25 minute through the countryside to arrive in the centre of Cork (thank goodness the shuttles are free!!).?Cork is a typical city with many of the same shopping brands as here in the UK. ?We opted for the "dual" city bus tour which encompassed an inner city tour and an outskirts tour, each lasting 45 minutes. The dual tour was good value at only 6 euros more for a family of four than either of the single tours. The inner city tour was narration was prerecorded but the outer tour brightened things up with an amusing and pleasant driver adding his unique and tongue-in-cheek comments to the proceedings. Dublin Undoubtedly the cream of the ports we visited, the town centre was a short drive from the port. The shuttle buses dropped us in the centre of this architecturally beautiful city.?There are two main bus tour companies (CitySightseeing and Dublin bus) and this competition was to prove fruitful for us. Our shuttle dropped us right in front of the CitySighseeing tours which were doing a roaring trade. However, a very short walk around the corner was the Dublin Bus. Although seeing the prices displayed (�60 for the four of us), i opted to play it a little dumb and ask how much. Pleasantly surprised, the guide confessed that the other tour company had got prime spot and offered us the tour for �28 which was even cheaper than if we had pre-booked online and got 20% discount!. With Dublin Bus being state run, it turned out a good decision and the tour was informative and stopped at the main attractions. The rest of the day was spend meandering along o'Connel street and into St.Stephens Green which was very pleasant. Entertainment I felt the onboard entertainment was very very good - particularly the onboard Headliners shows a not to be missed and surprisingly a young classical act whom was superb. The comedians onboard were nothing to shout home about as they had the same old jokes i have heard in the past three years!!. I understand the need to use venues for rehearsals etc but when the weather is poor, I would have hoped that the company used the main theaters more for movies etc to keep both adults and children occupied.?It is fair to say that, similar to Princess, the daily schedules follow the same base structure with a few features changing each day. Room & Cleaning On our previous trips, we had sailed in a balcony cabin on C deck with a larger balcony.?This trip, we opted for an inside cabin for the four of us due the upgrade costing an additional 50% of what we paid. The cabin was very clean and functional with a surprising amount of hanging and shelf space. The four of us comfortably managed to enjoy the week in the room but I would add that (as with any cabin) organisation and tidiness are the key. ? The cabin was clean and well decorated with the mirrors used to good effect to make the room seem much larger than it actually is. ??The one difference with the interior was that due to the layout of the cabin the top bed ladders could not be put at the bottom of the bed but were put down at the side, meaning they crossed each other. On more than one occasion I did almost trip over them whilst walking between the beds. Room cleaning was friendly, extremely fast and efficient, everything you want it to be. ?I actually have no idea how the room was cleaned within the time we were out of the room! Captain We were lucky enough to be early for photos with the Captain and he was extremely approachable with excellent people skills. Now, in my limited experience this is a rarity as they are often engrossed in their jobs and don't like to be seen front of house. The Captain was happy to spend ten minutes chatting about experiences onboard, the Grand, our prior cruises etc... Very pleasant and a credit to the company Summary Another excellent trip, slightly let down by the weather and the first port (but hey, thats why we cruise to learn). I feel that P&O/Princess would do well to study each others onboard operation and take the best bits from each. Thats not to say they should retain individuality but i do think both sides could learn from the other. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was our first cruise on Azura, although we had cruised with P&O some years previously. The ship was fresh and new. We enjoyed the art work on all of the staircases (climbing the stairs was good for the waistline too), and ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Azura, although we had cruised with P&O some years previously. The ship was fresh and new. We enjoyed the art work on all of the staircases (climbing the stairs was good for the waistline too), and although we didn't try all of the bars we liked the Glass House and the Planet Bar. The design of our cabin was a little different to the usual outside cabin. It seemed to be quite spacious, and the bathroom opened on to a walk-in wardrobe/dressing area which effectively created a separate sleeping space. The weather was not good in the early part of the cruise, and it was only on the final day that we were able to make use of the sun beds. We ate mainly in the Peninsular restaurant, but lunched on the first sea day on tapas in the Glass House and on the second sea day had Sindhu Nashti. No complaints about the food. Drinks prices were low compared to other cruise lines and the suggested tips (handed over in an envelope at the end of the cruise) very low given that the service we received was just fine - nice clean cabin and good food service. We visited Brest, in France. I am sure that it is very nice if its not raining and will be much improved when the road works, which have apparently been there for about a year, are completed. Our next port was Bilbao, on a grey Sunday. We visited the Guggenheim (again) to marvel at the building. We were luckily inside during the showers. In Cork the ship sailed past the usual(pretty and historic) port of Cobh and was berthed in the totally dull and boring freight or ferry port of Ringaskiddy which didn't even have an entrepreneurial Irishman selling shamrocks to attract the tourist Euro. We took the shuttle to Cork itself, which was a nice little town. We wandered around and found the English Market before the drizzle drove us back to our ship. Dublin was so busy!! We took a HoHO bus around the city and saw lots, accompanied by a witty commentary from our local guide. And it didn't rain!!! A bit more sun would have been good (P&O couldn't have done anything about that); overall we enjoyed the ship and the the holiday. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We had a great time on our first cruise holiday with our 11 month old son. He loved the attention from the great staff and we loved the food and attention from the great staff. Nothing seemed too much trouble and even though we had ... Read More
We had a great time on our first cruise holiday with our 11 month old son. He loved the attention from the great staff and we loved the food and attention from the great staff. Nothing seemed too much trouble and even though we had the lowest grade cabin, we didn't feel any different from the more expensive cabins. The facilities provided for children were great and we enjoyed the relaxed nature of the ship, not too big and not too small (at 77kt!) You could still find quiet areas of the ship for yourself even though there were 2500 people on board. The ship is a little worn in some areas, but generally the fixtures are well maintained and they didn't detract from the enjoyment we had. My wife wants to book again straight away and I am sure we will at some point. People we spoke to on the ship who had travelled with P&O on other ships said that Oceana had a much better feel to it than some of the bigger ships in its fleet. We were not dissapointed in our trip and had got what we thought was good value. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Having read some of the critics negative reviews, we were a little apprehensive as to what we would find. I now wonder whether the disappointed passengers were on the same vessel as us! At first sight the huge queue in the embarkation ... Read More
Having read some of the critics negative reviews, we were a little apprehensive as to what we would find. I now wonder whether the disappointed passengers were on the same vessel as us! At first sight the huge queue in the embarkation shed at Southampton looked like a cattle market. The marshal's dealt with it very swiftly as did the check in and security staff. We have experienced longer waits at some airport check ins. Yes, perhaps some odd parts of the ship looked a little dated or showed signs of wear but the vessel is 12 years old. Would you expect a 12 year old 5 star hotel to be in absolute pristine condition - I think not and overall it was certainly as good as any 5 star hotel shoreside; and I have stayed in quite a few world wide. All of the P & O staff that we came into contact with were excellent; friendly, extremely helpful and courteous. Yes, the Plaza restaurant is like a motorway cafe but the food is good with plenty of choice. If you don't want to cart your own tray around whilst searching for a free table then there are a number of other restaurants on board where you get table service. The breakfasts in the Jardin restaurant (visited twice) didn't impress us but the lunch time menu there did! The evening meals we took in the Adriatic restaurant. The menus and food were splendid and well presented by our two friendly waiters, Pedro and Sunny who kept us amused as they served the "lovely jubbly" vegetables. The variety of meals offerred left us spoilt for choice. Entertainment - If you want to see a west end show then go to the west end. You wont get one here, but what you will find on board is an energetic group of young entertainers who will put on a decent show for you. I do have to agree though with previous critics that there can be a problem getting into the Starlights theatre if you are on second sitting. It does seem to be the case that people are seat blocking by staying in after the first performance has ended. The cabin, with balcony was quite adequate. The bed was comfortable, with good storage space and kept immaculate by the steward. The only let down was the size of the bathroom which was uncomfortably small.Drinks in the bars and wine with dinner were all reasonably priced and very favourably compare with typical UK pub/restaurant prices. Overall, my partner and I were fully satisfied with all we found on board and felt welcomed and valued customers. We would certainly book to cruise on the Oceana again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We'd never been on Oceana before and were slightly put off by the reviews we read before we went but I have to say, it was not the nightmare ship some people have created. Yes, the soft furnishings in the cabin had seen better days ... Read More
We'd never been on Oceana before and were slightly put off by the reviews we read before we went but I have to say, it was not the nightmare ship some people have created. Yes, the soft furnishings in the cabin had seen better days but on the whole it was in good order and we certainly saw no signs of the dirt and stains in the public areas some have spoken off. The cabin itself is small and the balcony the smallest we've seen so slightly concerned about spending 35 days on Oceana next year!Embarkation and disembarkationWe travelled with Eavesway Coaches from Leeds and it was an early start (6:30) but after a stop for breakfast of about an hour we arrived at the docks by 12:30. We registered fairly quickly bit then it took ages to get through security, where there was a long queue moving slowly. Disembarkation was fairly quick too and we're always grateful that we put brightly coloured ribbons on our cases so they're easier to locate in the huge baggage collection hall. DiningWe had Club dining in the Adriatic, 2nd sitting and we ate in the MDR every night. We had a table of 8 which is our preferred size. We thought the food was very good, apart from the first night and the portions are definitely smaller than they used to be on P&O. Our waiters were excellent and very helpful: we got various extra courses when we said we'd like to try out something else on the menu. We ate in Le Cafe Jardin for breakfast but there's not a huge selection although what we had was good. The Horizon grill was fine for a quick lunch and we were always happy enough with the choice in The Plaza.EntertainmentAs usual the entertainment was excellent in Footlights. We steered clear of the comedian which few people liked but thought the Headliners shows were fantastic and really enjoyed Rebecca Roberts. Loose Lips was amusing and Tony Gubba an interesting speaker. There's the usual great choice of bars with drinks at reasonable prices and good selection of musical entertainment though we missed having a 'Crows Nest' Bar What makes P&O stand out for us is that there's always a great buzz around the ship late at night whereas on American lines, they seem to go to bed earlier for their whistle-stop tour of Europe the next day!! Sailways are also much more fun on P&O Staff We were a bit disappointed as Oceana is billed as "The Friendly Ship" that the staff looked pretty fed up at times. This was especially evident in The Plaza and in the bars. Customer Service was also poor. I was sitting with wet hair when the hair-dryer broke down and had to phone SIX times in an hour and a half before anybody came to help. The same thing happened a few days later with the kettle. Ports of CallWe only did one ship's excursion to Santiago de Compostela from A Coruna. It was a place we'd never visited and it wasn't quite what we expected but interesting. From Le Havre we took a taxi to Honfleur which was worth every penny as the driver took us to some really pretty spots on the hill overlooking Honfleur before we enjoyed lunch and a walk round the town. We loved everything about La Rochelle and just soaked up the atmosphere sampling French food and a good bottle of red wine. What more can you ask for? We also enjoyed our walk along the river in Bilbao, by the Guggenheim. We visited the market and the old town. The weather was warm and sunny in every port of call which was the icing on the cake. OverallWe had a great cruise and Oceana certainly doesn't deserve the reviews it's been getting. P&O provides a good package and although we also like Celebrity and Princess, P&O probably suits us best overall. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
I'm not in the habit of writing holiday reviews, but before we boarded I had read some reviews that pulled the Azura apart and I was quite concerned that I had made a mistake in booking. Thankfully, I now realise some people just ... Read More
I'm not in the habit of writing holiday reviews, but before we boarded I had read some reviews that pulled the Azura apart and I was quite concerned that I had made a mistake in booking. Thankfully, I now realise some people just moan and whinge about everything....so read on if you want an honest opinion!We sailed on P&O Azura from Southampton on Good Friday 2011 on a short 4 day cruise, heading for Rotterdam, Zeebrugge and Le Havre. First impressions were very good. From arriving at the Ocean Cruise Terminal to plonking down on a sun longer was no longer than 1 hour 15 mins, which was also well before our original 1pm slot. The embarkation process was faultless, allocated a 'letter' when we arrived, then called in alphabetical order (we were G so not long to wait!) to the desk to confirm details and off we went. We also took advantage of P&O allowing you to take your own wine etc on board to drink in our cabins.Moving on, the ship is very nicely decorated, cabins are comfortable (we had got a free balcony upgrade) and well appointed. After all, who goes on a cruise to sit in the cabin! Making a comparison, I would say the Arcadia is a little more grand in decor. Plenty of public lounges and all finely done out along a theme. I was a little concerned that the presence of children may spoil the holiday, as my previous cruise was on the adult ship Arcadia, but fears were unfounded. The families with children tended to gather around the 2 main pools, so we just stayed away as we wanted more peace and quiet. Only small niggle would be that the adult pool area was situated very near to a kiddies pool, so some noise there, but the kids were having fun, so not a moan!Staff all pleasant and helpful, our personal waiter 'Om' was happy to get us anything we asked for, that might not have been on the menu - such as chips!! Very friendly and keen to find out about us and tell us about himself if we asked. Cabin steward great, asked her once for ice and then found that she took it upon herself to make sure we always had a bucket full in the fridge. Touches like that are great!Went on one excursion, as I felt they were a little on the pricey side. Great day out, very informative guide and enjoyed very much. Watched whilst 7 passengers arrived back very late and missed the ship's sailing! Oops, the captain waited 45 mins but they got left on the dockside....let that be a lesson for anybody who dawdles!Drinks prices were brilliant.....no more than the local pub for anything, so a weight off your mind if you are on a spends budget. Also, we took a glass of wine with us from our cabin and it was never commented on by any staff in the bars we sat in.Entertainment was very good, I'm sure it is better in the West End, but then those seats are not free night after night! They also put on a 7.30pm show so that 2nd sitting diners did not have to go to the 11pm show if they didn't want. Perfectly watchable 'Headliners' Theatre Group and some other specialty acts too, such as pianists, rock bands and singers. There was a film on each day, we watched 'The King's Speech' one afternoon. Films were also on in the evening on the sea screen.All considered, a very nice time on the Azura....yes I could moan that my key card stopped working a couple of times or that the food in the buffet was similar each day, but I don;t care about things like that. The food was lovely and plenty of it to keep us going. There was enough choice to have different lunches/dinners each day and pizza/burgers whenever you wanted a snack. I ate whenever I felt peckish and it was always gorgeous!Azura was great for us 'normal' people.....P&O all the way for us in the future! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
This was our first cruise on Arcadia but our tenth cruise altogether - our fifth on P&O. Our other main cruise line is Celebrity. We did cruise this specifically to get some experience of Arcadia; on this occasion the itinerary was ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Arcadia but our tenth cruise altogether - our fifth on P&O. Our other main cruise line is Celebrity. We did cruise this specifically to get some experience of Arcadia; on this occasion the itinerary was secondary. Quite a bit of this review compares facilities, etc, on Arcadia with the equivalent on Ventura. Embarkation: Very quick and easy, we were only waiting in the Ocean terminal for about 5 minutes, barely long enough to complete the health declaration. We were on the ship by 12:30 or so, I think. Cabin: We had a stern-facing balcony cabin, D187. Again, we'd specifically picked this cabin to try out a cabin facing aft. The cabin itself was fine: roomy and comfortable. I think we still prefer the Ventura cabin with the walk-in hanging area (even though that does reduce the rest of the cabin space a bit) but I'm not complaining about the Arcadia cabin. We were however a little disappointed in the balcony. It so happens that D deck stern cabin balconies are completely covered by the cabin & balcony above. The D Deck balconies are bigger than standard - longer - but this just made it seem a long, shadowy & gloomy place. Not a problem on a short English Channel in mid-September, however, because we used it very little. If I was to cruise on Arcadia again, I'd either pick a different deck and have a stern cabin or (more likely) pick a cabin on one of the sides. Internal Facilities: We really, really liked Arcadia's internal spaces. We felt that the bars (Spinnaker, Intermezzo and Piano) were better than the equivalent spaces on Ventura - they felt more welcoming and the decor was very restful. We also enjoyed The Rising Sun much than The Exchange - the latter is big barn of a space, whereas the Rising Sun is split into smaller areas, more like a real pub. We had a fun evening in there on the Saturday. We also really liked the Crows Nest, especially during the daytime. At night it wasn't so impressive - too big, perhaps - and we felt that the night-club acts performing there were struggling to create any atmosphere. Ventura's Metropolis works much better in the evening, I think (Although in the daytime Metropolis feels like a closed nightclub.). We also enjoyed just walking around Arcadia - we very much liked the decor, and we thought that the art work on display was stunning. Finally we spent a short while in The Globe late on Saturday night. Da joint wuz jumping, but sadly we were very tired by that time so we forbore from joining in. However, many people appeared to be enjoying themselves greatly. Deck spaces: obviously on a three night English Channel cruise in September, the open decks aren't going to get much use. We enjoyed the Promenade, however, and walked round it several times. It's wider than Ventura's and is all on one level, so score one to Arcadia here. We also visited the open area on the Lido deck around the Aquarius pool. This didn't work so well for us. It got very busy at times - this was where the entertainment team did their sailaway thing - and we also had some difficulty getting away from the smokers. We decided we prefer the Terrace on Ventura. But it wasn't a bad deck on Arcadia. The Neptune Pool stayed covered thoughout this cruise, so it felt a bit like an indoor swimming baths. Not its fault - in the Med it would be different, I'm sure. Eating & Restaurants: We were on a table for 8 on the upper level of the Meridian restaurant. We enjoyed the restaurant - we prefer larger multi-level restaurants to multiple smaller ones - and the food was fine. We ate all our dinners here. For breakfasts and lunches we ate in the Belvedere. We found this area confusing - it took us several visits to realise that different areas were serving different things. Also there didn't seem to be many seats. The first 15 minutes on board were especially chaotic. But the food was OK - I don't ask much for breakfasts and lunches. We had a coffee in Caffe Vivo. We thought this space was small, cramped, dingy, and generally horrible. It was the only place in the ship that we really didn't like. We greatly preferred Tazzine on Ventura. We didn't eat in either the Orchid or Arcadian Rhodes restaurants. Entertainment: we didn't visit the theatre. Ports of Call: Zeebrugge and Le Havre. For the first day we just went into BlankenBerge on the shuttle bus and wandered the town. Then at midday we found a bar where had a couple of drinks before finding a restaurant, and eventually staggering back to the ship. Other passengers said later that Bruges had been absolutely packed, so we were pleased with what we'd done. On the second day we stayed on board all day - we didn't set foot off it. We didn't fancy the long slog to Paris and back, nor the visits to Rouen or Honfleur. So in the morning we really explored the ship and took pictures, then after lunch we parked ourselves in the Crows Nest and spent the afternoon there, reading and relaxing. There was enough activity in the Crows Nest to make it feel occupied, but not so much that it felt busy. This was a wonderful relaxing time. Other: We were pleased to see that almost 100% observance of the dress code on the formal night. Conclusion: we enjoyed this cruise very much, and we'd be very happy to cruise on Arcadia again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We are in our early sixties and were invited to join my cousin and his wife on Ventura. We have been on Celebrity and Princess cruises previously. After driving to Southampton we met a long queue of traffic for the docks. There was the ... Read More
We are in our early sixties and were invited to join my cousin and his wife on Ventura. We have been on Celebrity and Princess cruises previously. After driving to Southampton we met a long queue of traffic for the docks. There was the Southampton Boat Show and two other cruise ships joining that day, not surprising there was a lot of traffic. Once in the port we used the CPS car park which was a slick operation and very efficient. Inside the terminal building the boarding process was quite quick, and we were soon on our balcony, with a mug of tea admiring, the fantastic view of the port and the other two cruise ships. Our cabin was very clean with all we needed. What we miss on the American ships is the capability to brew tea and coffee in our room. Heaven! - lots of tea and wonderful shortbread biscuits plus a tray of delicious sweets. A tour of the ship revealed a similarity to Caribbean Princess. After reading the days info' sheet we realised there was much on offer. The gym was good with loads of kit. I used the mountain bike simulator which I thought was brilliant - only wish I had one at home. We dined in the Bay Tree restaurant on 2nd sitting, sharing our table with two other couples, who were great fun. The food was superb, as was the service from our waiters and wine waiter. We did, however, think that Celebrity had the slight edge on creative presentation. We dined in the Waterline and Beachcomber for lunch and breakfast, both superb too with excellent choices of food. Walk to the rear of the ship and there was always a table. Entertainment was very good. The Ventura Co. did Masquerades - a series of Lloyd-Webber hits from the shows - brilliant - West End quality! The comedian - Peter Piper had us crying - hilarious. His take-off of Basil Fawlty was very realistic. Ventura visited Vigo, Lisbon, La Rochelle and Brest. I would rate La Rochelle as a 5. Free shuttle to the centre. Loads of squares and side streets with bars, eateries and under- archway shops to browse. Coffee overlooking the marina was a treat. Lisbon and La Rochelle were our favourites. Brest was the final stop. We did the 'Breton Delights' tour to the Landenou Bridge, a manor house for crepes and delicious sweet delights with coffee and cider. The manor and people were terrific but the smell of pigs outside was overpowering. 1000 or more! Finally visiting one of the church closes which was very interesting. Overall - Thoroughly enjoyed the cruise, the ship, the food, the service all excellent. Better than Celebrity and Princess. Tea and coffee and biscuits, free shuttle buses, cheaper drinks and wine for meals, cheaper for tipping. We will certainly sail with P and O again and Ventura - thank you for a great holiday. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
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