This did not start well as a couple of weeks before the cruise we got an email saying we had been upgraded. I was not happy as we had specifically asked to be removed from an automaic upgrade when the cruise was booked. We had been moved ... Read More
This did not start well as a couple of weeks before the cruise we got an email saying we had been upgraded. I was not happy as we had specifically asked to be removed from an automaic upgrade when the cruise was booked. We had been moved to another inside cabin just under pool deck, that is actually the same grade this year and is certainly not a location we wanted, due to potential noise. A rather strained conversation with P&O got our chosen cabin back, although I was originally told they may not be able to do that. It seems our 'no upgrade' request had got lost somewhere along the line.
We set sail late, having had a text the previous day saying Oriana would be late back from the previous cruise so to turn up 2 hours later than original time. Investigation of forums identified the delay as being due to engine problems.
Engine and thruster problems were mentioned about 3 times during the cruise by the captain so iI suspect the problems persisted. The air in the cabin was ridiculously dry, whcih made my asthma problematic from the outset and must have contributed to the severity of my illness, although mosy people were coughing by the end of the cruise.
The captain did not make regular broadcasts as we normally get on cruises and was never seen around the ship. He did not even attend our welcome party on he first formal night!
Dining - We were on freedom dining and freedom is the last word I would have used for that as there were regularly queues to get into the restaurant. The second day we went down at about 7.45pm and had to wait 45 minutes to get in!! We filled a comment form in about that and when we turned up the next day, we were admonished for filling the form in by the restaurant manager, who was really quite irrate! It took some time for us to get him to let us into the restaurant - other people were queueing at this time of course!! The food in the main restaurant was not good either, varying from OK to extremely salty, tasteless or just totally inedible. Everything seemed to come with sweet sickly things, rich sauces or a lot of grease - and that was just the savoury courses. A small piece of stale bread was available and two or three malteser sized pieces of potato were fairly usual. We are not fussy eaters - the food really was bad. I lost 4 lb over the course of that cruise, which was a first on any cruise ship.
The self service restaurant was open in the evenings but on a 'themed menu' basis and had some very strage and extrememly poor quality food, so that was not really an alternative in the evenings. Also the 'hot' food there was regularly quite cool and I had taken some meatballs one late night snack time, (well used on this cruise as many people were on deck), and the blood could be clearly seen inside as I cut into them. I am not in the slightest surprised that there was an increase in people with stomach bugs by the end of the cruise, but I do have a suspicion that it was not norvirus, which had been blamed by the staff of course.
Water supply - At one stage there was a notice in the daily sheet that water would be off on decks 8.9.and ten, from 10.00am - 2pm one day. I was told by someone who had a cabin on one of those decks that it was off on another occasion as well. Again, I wonder what caused the stomach problems!
Staff - Our Philipino cabin stewardess was excellent, but many of the restaurant staff and some bar staff caused us much surprise. We have never had cause to criticise crew on any ship before, but a good number of the restaurant staff in particular were not pleasant people and some where downright rude on a number of occasions. It was not even that they were busy as they seemed to have plenty of time to stand round and chat with each other, even after norovirus had been declared. Table clearing in the self service was very slow, if it happened at all before you left.
Some bar staff were good, but others were very variable and one even snatched a receipt away at one stage. We had done nothing whatsoever to annoy him. It was obvious though, that all Philipino staff were excellent.
Reception staff, (as well as our cabin stewardess), were the exception and they were always excellent.
We do not attend much in the way of entertainments, so I cannot comment on most, but there was an extrememly good speaker on astromomy, (solar eclipse, northern lights etc), called Robin Scagell and he was one of the best speakers we have seen on any cruise.
Torshavn - Luckily we were not able to dock due to wind, but we did in fact see the solar eclipse, which we would not have done from the dock in Torshavn. We had a short afternon in Torshavn that day following the eclipse. We took a very pleasant walk uphill, through a park beyond the town and visited an art gallery there.
Tromso - we were in a crowded crow's nest as we sailed towards the port surrounded by dirty tables which had been used for an art class. There were only two bar staff available for the whole bar, but we did manage to buy two coffees by waiting a considerable time at the bar. The scenery was lovely, but great shame the ship was not organized for scenic cruising. They could easily have cleared the dirty tables (or better still held the cless elsewhere) and deployed more staff to the bar - lots of cash could have been made by bar sales, so that was just bad management. We again had a late arrival in Tromso, reducing the planned afternoon and evening visit to an arrival only about 2.5 hours before the museums closed. By rushing, we did manage to go to Polaria, which was very good.
Alta - First day we went on a 'Sami Village and Reindeer Sleding' trip. This trip was good and even the drive there was very pleasant as it was a scenic journey. The weather was cold, as expected, but dry so it was good weather for the trip from our point of view. The next day my husband went into the town independently and then on a northern lights trip that night. I had to cancel my northern lights trip due to a very bad chest infection, but as I had visited the doctor onboard, he had signed the back of my ticket, so I could be refunded the £135 paid. I was thankful for that. The lights were seen that evening, but my husband could not see the colour by eye. This was only seen on time lapse photos. We had been warned previously that the colour(s) are often not visible by eye and that any movement is usually only seen with time lapse photography. That all seemed a bit of a swizz really and is not what is usually advertised as viewing the northern lights.
Sea Day After Alta - I went up to the deck to the rear of the self service restaurant late this day as we were sailing south, not far from Tromso to see if the lights had been sighted. I was told they had, but had subsided at that time. So I went back to the cabin and put all my warm clothes on and went back up hoping to get my first sighting. After waiting about half an hour (mainly sitting down near the the restaurant entrance for warmth and rest), I was richly rewarded by a very bright green band of light, which spread around the sky, like a rainbow. I was standing next to one of the passengers with a camera and tripod. He said that was the best he had seen and he had been on the same cruise the previous year, so I was very lucky to see that and it was actually better than my husband had seen.
Bergen - My husband had been diagnosed with Flu by then and prescibed Tammyflu as well as the same anti biotics I had. I went for a short walk and got a couple of postcards of the northern lights - which, surprisingly, were not on sale in the ship.
Stavanger - We were both quite ill that day, but I managed to go out to post the cards which I had bought the previous day.
The ship was showing its age, with many windows in the crow's nest and elsewhere with condensation between the double glazed pains of glass and one was even filled with water to three quarter's of the window height. The bottom of many of the big posts between the front windows were also quite badly rotted. Also, there were obviously mechanical and plumbing problems on the ship.
The above was not a major fact in our feelings about the ship, which otherwise looked reasonable. However, the extremely dry air and the food/restaurant situation and the poor quality of many staff was totally unforgivable. Thinking back over our cruises, more than half have been with P&O, but we have no intention whatsoever to travel on one of their ships ever again. There are far better cruise companies out there, and not necessarily at a higher price. Read Less