I chose the Oceana because she was a medium size ship, so not too big for a first voyage, as I was travelling on my own. I did a fly-cruise holiday as I love flying and flew from Manchester Airport to Venice where I boarded her. The ... Read More
I chose the Oceana because she was a medium size ship, so not too big for a first voyage, as I was travelling on my own. I did a fly-cruise holiday as I love flying and flew from Manchester Airport to Venice where I boarded her. The transition through the airport was fairly smooth and I boarded the plane and found my seat very easily. I really enjoyed my flight, and thought that the extra £10.00 I paid for my window seat, was exceptional value as I got a beautiful view of the sunrise (we had taken off at about 6.30 am BST, and I was seated on the port (or east side) of the aircraft as we flew south) and the Alps as we flew over them. The cabin staff couldn't be more helpful, and the drop down screens above some of the seats, showed a more or less continuous map of our flight, which I also enjoyed watching.
When I reached Venice my transition from the aircraft to the coach (which took me to my ship) was very uneventful and my embarkation of Oceana went very smoothly as I was told what to do and where to go. My first meal on board was a bar-be-que style meal and very enjoyable (as were all the meals that I had on her). When I was told that my cabin was ready for me, I thought that my cases would be outside my it, but I had to wait a little while for them to arrive. I was pleased with the fact that for my first evening meal, the dress code was smart casual (which meant that, like most people, I was able to stay in the clothes that I had travelled in for it).
The Black Tie evenings were all fairly low key affairs but I was pleased to see that many families made sure that their children also dressed up for them. Even though I was led to believe that black and white would be the main colours for these evenings, other, brighter, colours were acceptable. The only criticism that I have about the evening meals was that the menus tended to be very "samey" (i.e. there was not much difference in the choice each evening). I chose Freedom Dining so that I could sit at a different table each evening and meet new people. This was an experience that I enjoyed as I don't socialise very much at home.
The ship herself was a lovely one for sailing on as her passage over the seas was mainly very smooth. There were a few nights and days when the sea was a bit "choppy" and she had to use her stabilisers, but that was at the end of the voyage when we entered the Bay of Biscay (which is known for its rougher seas) and because of the time of year (October). This meant that I felt the motion of her sailing through the sea a little bit more than for the rest of the trip, but it was still not enough to make me feel seasick. I knew when I booked my holiday that she was a family ship, but, due mainly, again to the time of the year, there were not many children on board, and the ones that were travelling with us, were either very young or kept under control most of the time.
My cabin was very well looked after, especially during the 3 or 4 days that I was unfortunately confined to it, due to an outbreak of the Norovirus (which I unfortunately caught). My cabin steward came in about 3 or 4 times a day to clean it whilst I was ill. As soon as the outbreak was over, the captain ordered a deep clean of the ship, and the hygiene standards were maintained during the rest of the trip. I don't know how many of us suffered from it, but I think that it was quite a few. I was very glad that I had paid out the extra for a Balcony cabin, as I was able to sit out on it and watch what was going on in the ports. (My cabin was on the port (or left) side of the ship, which is the side she was mainly tied up on whilst she was in dock). Lucky for me the weather wasn't too bad so I was able to do some sunbathing as well. I found the bed to be very comfortable and, being a Queen sized one, very spacious. I could not hear any noise from outside my cabin or the cabins either side of it. I really enjoyed watching the on board tv channel which showed me where I was, the weather and sea conditions, our itinerary and our speed and direction of travel at all times (especially whilst I was ill).
I only attended a couple of the entertainments, but this was due solely to my choice, and they were very good, also, I did not take part in many of the activities (again due to my choice). I did try to have a walk around the decks at least once a day, after my cabin confinement, depending on the weather, as well as I having a couple of swimming sessions in 2 of the pools which were situated on the Sundeck. I preferred the smaller one as it was a similar depth all over so I could put my feet down whenever I needed to, and the water was a bit warmer. I did think that the fact that there were no lifeguards on duty at any of the pools was wrong, but this did not prove to be too hazardous as most parents kept an eye on their children whilst they were bathing.
The service in the self-service restaurant was very good and even though, during the Norovirus outbreak, the catering staff had to serve me the food that I chose, I found that this did not mean that I had less to eat, or that the variety of food on offer was deminished. The quality of this food was very good indeed and I enjoyed a full breakfast everyday (once I was allowed back in to the restaurant). When I was allowed to serve myself again, I did tend to over-eat, which meant that I chose to skip my lunches in favour of my evening meals.
I decided not to go ashore on any of the excursions, as I cannot walk too far due to the fact that I get puffed out very easily. Also, my sense of direction is not very good and (because I was travelling on my own) I was afraid of getting lost and, maybe, being left in the port when the ship sailed (not that anyone was).
I thought that the fact that the on board shops were shut whilst we were in port, was very disappointing as that is when I would have preferred to do my shopping. I also thought that some of the prices in the shops and bars were a bit dearer than I was originally lead to expect, but, in retrospect, I can understand that this was due to the fact that it was a case of "captive custom". As to the library I found this to be well stocked with a variety of authors and types of books. I also enjoyed reading the daily newsletter which told me about the next day's activities both on and off the ship, and was delivered to the cabins each evening. The captain kept us informed of the progress of the virus, and the hygiene suggestions and rules both before, during and after the outbreak.
Finally, our transition from Oceana to the shore at Southampton was again very smooth. The only thing that went wrong (and this was not P&O's fault) was the fact that 3 of the passengers that our coach driver thought he was meant to be taking home, did not turn up to board the coach. He waited about an hour for them, and tried everything in his power to find them (he rang their mobiles, and someone went back into the luggage hall to see if they were still there) but they were not to be found. It turned out that they were booked on another coach as well as our one, and whether or not they managed to get on that one is anybody's guess, as we had to leave without them in the end. Our driver could not have been more helpful and accommodating and he made the drive to the dropping off point was very uneventful.
All in all I had a very enjoyable and safe holiday (apart from the fact that most of the serving staff were foreigners whose accents I found hard to understand) thanks to P&O's ship Oceana and her crew, and would love to sail with P&O again. Read Less