Well, just got back from our latest cruise on P&O’s Oceana and couldn’t wait to write a review. As 2 50 yrs + cruisers we tend to pick our cruise based on the itinerary as well as the ship, and have to travel in school holidays. We ... Read More
Well, just got back from our latest cruise on P&O’s Oceana and couldn’t wait to write a review. As 2 50 yrs + cruisers we tend to pick our cruise based on the itinerary as well as the ship, and have to travel in school holidays. We don’t tend to bother with the shows or entertainment, so can’t comment on this aspect of the cruise. This was our 10th cruise, having sailed on Oceana 3 times in the past, Britannia once, the Celebrity Silhouette 3 times, RCI once and the Ocean Village 2.
The organisation of this fly cruise was excellent. Both embarkation and disembarkation were handled like a military operation. Once checked in we didn’t see our luggage until it appeared outside our cabin at 3pm, having boarded the ship at 11.30am. On the way home we left our luggage outside our cabin at 11 pm and were reacquainted with it at Manchester Airport. The organisation was impressive and the flight times excellent – e.g. we left the cabin at 8.30am, the ship at 9.40 am, flew at 11.40am and were home by 2.30pm.
Yes, the ship is showing her age, but we still loved every moment aboard. The atrium is still stunning and has a wonderful atmosphere throughout the day and evening – something that her big sister Britannia did not manage. We did notice some rust on the platform used for crew to clean the high windows, but over the 2 weeks we saw staff removing this and painting. OK, there was some knocking on days when the overwhelming majority of people had got off the ship, but it was easy to avoid this and repairs have got to be done at some point. We reckon that in another 2 weeks those areas of rust noticed on our arrival will all be repaired. The inside of the ship was beautiful and staff were constantly cleaning and polishing her. For those worried about norovirus, we had no issue whatsoever and did not hear of any problems. Everyone we met seemed to use the hand gels and were sensible with the food ‘handling’ in the buffet, so we have no idea how some people can say that everyone is not careful enough! That certainly was not our experience and staff positioned by the buffet doors ensured that you cleaned your hands. The buffet area was very busy on some mornings, but that tended to be on sea days when people had had a lie in!
Our fellow passengers were brilliant and credit goes to everyone for making our cruise special. Everyone we met was friendly, polite and obviously having a great time. If this is ‘Butlin’s at Sea’ then I’ll book up to go to Butlin’s (on land) any day!! The joy of a cruise like this is that you can make what you want of it. The formal nights were well attended and the over whelming majority of people chose to dress in formal gear (something that surprised us on a fly cruise).
Our cabin was smaller than we remembered, but once we had got used to it we were more than happy. We had a balcony cabin on A deck. The beds are just the most comfortable ever and with the blackout curtains and rocking of the ship we slept like logs for the whole 2 weeks. Our cabin steward, Joe, was wonderfully attentive without being intrusive. He kept the cabin spotlessly clean and always seemed to know what we needed before we asked. OK, the T.V. is rather small and is not interactive, but it was ok for us and did not detract from the enjoyment of our cruise.
That brings us to the crew. We often read that P&O crew are not friendly. Well, if this is the case then they must have been on a different cruise line. We found the crew on Oceana to be genuinely lovely people and we left feeling like we had made some great friends. We tend to find that, if you treat the crew with respect, are happy to chat with them and treat them like human beings then they will respond in kind. Every one of them that we met, or walked past, always greeted us with a ‘hello’ or a smile. The staff in the Ligurian Restaurant were exceptionally good - thanks go to Bernard, Yashdeep, Edward and Sunny around tables 12 and 14. The Captain, Andrew Willard, is a real gem – he was forever present around the ship, chatting to passengers and every crew member we met had nothing but good things to say about him. We had met him briefly in April 2014 and were amazed that he remembered us as soon as he saw us. We also had a few crew members say hello as they had met us before – one on another ship. We aren’t sure if this was a good or bad thing, but it was impressive and did make for a lovely, friendly atmosphere.
The food quality was much as it had been the previous 2 cruises, and though there was a new menu we were still able to order a starter and soup if we so wished. On reflection I would say that the food was not as impressive as it had been on our first cruise in 2010, but we preferred the menu to those found on American cruise lines. The food in the buffet seemed to have improved, though Oceana does not have as big a choice as some of the larger ships we have been on. Having said that, we enjoyed what we had and there was plenty of choice for breakfast and afternoon snacks. We ate in the Buffet Restaurant on our first evening and the food was ‘ok’.
The select dining options were a real treat. The new Beach House is excellent and in a lovely outdoor location by the pool. The food and service was excellent. Similarly, we loved our formal night in the Café Jardin, with a lovely atmosphere above the atrium as the sound of a tinkling piano drifted up to us. Again the service and food was super. At a supplement of just £5 we found the value for money 2nd to none.
On a similar note, we still appreciated P&O’s alcohol policy and were able to take on a box of wine to enjoy in our cabin. A bottle of wine was about £15 and bottle water about £1.50. Anyone who has been on an American cruise line will know just how reasonable that was! The bar service around the ship – i.e. on the open decks during the day – was very good. We enjoyed many cocktails and agree with anyone who says that they are not as strong as on American cruise lines. This may be to do with the fact that an American measure is double one of ours.
We found the ports of call for this cruise to be excellent and we have come home with happy memories of perfect days. We tend to do the ship’s excursions and had booked them in advance. Annoyingly, we had 2 of the ones for Venice cancelled, but in the end it did us a favour as we did our own thing and had a great 2 days. The ports were as follows:
We did a wine tasting tour which was very enjoyable and as it was an afternoon tour it gave us the chance to catch up on some sleep on our first real day.
We have stayed in this area in the past so chose to visit Herculaneum. It was an excellent afternoon tour and the guide was very knowledgeable.
We did a half day excursion which covered the cable car, with the most amazing views of Dubrovnik and a short stay in a local port Cavtat. It was a lovely way to see the local scenery and it gave us plenty of time to see the old town in the afternoon. We walked the walls and had the chance for a meal in the old harbour area. A fabulous day.
As stunning as ever. After a lovely sail-in we stayed on the ship to relax and then went in to the town using the ship’s water shuttle for about 5pm. We went up the old Bell Tower in St Mark’s Square, which is well worth the 9 euros entrance fee. The views were incredible. We then enjoyed a meal just off St Mark’s Square that cost us just 70 euros. We then had the evening strolling around. Simply magical!
The next morning we decided to go back in to the town to visit the Doge’s Palace. Again, this was spectacular and we were able to spend most of our time strolling around and getting lost! Lots of time for real pizza and ice-cream
The sail-away was a little disappointing – the music played just dire! Apparently, there is a restriction regarding the noise that can be made by ships, but silence would have been better than the music we had to endure going out of port. Whoever chose those tracks must have been the same person responsible for playing the British Classics at breakfast that included the Last Post and Abide with Me (I joke not!)
Words can not describe how beautiful this place is. The mountains take your breath away and despite being a little edgy about it, we managed to complete the 90 minutes hike up the mountain to the fort. Well worth the effort – especially at 3 euros each! The old town is beautiful and we had a massive, beautiful salad and beer each for just 14 euros in the Harbour Pub – a lovely ‘eatery’ in a small square in the old town. The sailaway that evening was stunning and something never to be forgotten.
We had done this port last April and decided to do something different. We booked a Cruise and Swim excursion which was excellent. We had a 90 minutes sail to a small harbour town of Kassiopi before an hour’s swim in the crystal clear water of a small, quiet beach nearby. We then had a meal out to sea by a small island before another chance to have a swim before returning to the port. It was an incredible day, made even more enjoyable by the fact the Aurora was docked up by the side of us. The sailaway was brilliant, with a super ‘horn battle’ between the two ships. Again, a day to remember.
We chose to stay on the ship in Civitavecchia as we had visited Rome recently, so enjoyed the peace and quiet lacking on a normal sea day. (More of that later). Ventura was docked by us here which gave us the chance to check her out.
Probably our least favourite port out of all – it really didn’t do much for us at all and we wished that we had booked an excursion as this was our last day. We went for a walk for about 2 hours along the promenade and noticed that a lot of cruisers were on the lovely sandy beach. We also took the small train for a short tour – good value at 8 euros for 45 minutes. Having said that, we would have preferred Monte Carlo.
Looking back on our cruise the only thing that we found frustrating was the sunbed situation. It seems that this problem never seems to go away! Unless you were up at the crack of dawn it was almost impossible to find a sunbed and on all 4 sea days we saw people having to sit on the deck while other beds sat with their blue towels (but no people). I do wish that P&O would have a system where the crew noted the sunbeds not being used with some marker and then removing possessions if people do not return. There were regular messages in the Horizon News and announcements, but they fell on deaf ears and were a waste of time. Thankfully, we had a balcony cabin and could retreat there at times, but the whole situation did cause ill feeling. As a result, we chose to spend some of our time enjoying the ship when she was quiet – and it gave us the chance to enjoy a swim in the pool/s.
Finally, 2 things that we loved were the chance to just sit on our balcony at sailaway, glass in hand, watching the sea go by. Similarly, sitting on there at the end of an evening watching the moon shine across the sea. We also enjoyed our evening strolls around the Promenade Deck. Simple things I know, but it was magical.
Finally, to sum up our last 14 days on Oceana. The words fabulous, fantastic and wonderful come to mind. It has been one of the best cruises we have ever done and we are very sad to be home. We did not speak to anyone who had anything other than good things to say about their cruise. We would return to those stunning locations, on this beautiful ship, with its super crew and same great fellow cruisers in a heartbeat. Read Less