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8 P&O Cruises Panama Canal & Central America Cruise Reviews

Lima up the western coast of South America, through the Panama, up the Hudson River (New York City) at sunrise. Just doesn't get much better than that. Came early and spent 2 nights in Lima, wish I had made more time for exploring ... Read More
Lima up the western coast of South America, through the Panama, up the Hudson River (New York City) at sunrise. Just doesn't get much better than that. Came early and spent 2 nights in Lima, wish I had made more time for exploring the area. This is my first time on a 5+* ship. Have lots of cruises under my keel in 3 - 4 star lines. Food, staff, and most of all fellow passengers on Oceana all outstanding. One of the things I love most about sailing is meeting some many people with interesting backgrounds. Arranged all my shore excursions off the ship, either beforehand with Roll Call and Mix n Mingle on Cruise Critic or fellow passengers whom I met on board. Additionally, did research on Trip Advisor. They all worked out very well, but you must be flexible. I believe "O" shore excursions are a bit too pricey. Gym was clean and equipment kept in top shape. I usually went for early morning coffee in the quiet of the observation deck. One drawback, being a recently retired single male.... just did not find many single woman to meet and mingle with. Would I go again.... you betcha! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Having sailed on a number of cruises with Celebrity and Azamara, I was getting rather fed up with their prices and their service charges. So a chance to sample another cruise line and I decided on a Panama canal transit with P&O ... Read More
Having sailed on a number of cruises with Celebrity and Azamara, I was getting rather fed up with their prices and their service charges. So a chance to sample another cruise line and I decided on a Panama canal transit with P&O Arcadia to Los Angeles on the first stage of their world circumvention. I was a little concerned with some of the negative cruise reviews that I had read but was prepared to accept some downgrade on standards for the fairly large difference in price. That said the first part started badly but that was not all down to P&O. We travelled down to Southampton by car and reached to within one mile of the cruise terminal to be met by total grid lock. Five cruise ships were departing that day and Southampton had road works but a big fat thumbs down to Southampton Council and the Police who did nothing to address or try to rectify this problem It took a further two hours to reach the terminal only to find a queue stretching and snaking out of the small terminal building (with no nearby toilets!). An hour plus later we boarded. No one to meet greet and guide and an immediate contrast in the lack of wow factor seen on Celebrity as we found our own way to our upgraded balcony cabin. The cabin was a good size with a nice large flat screen television but cleaning standards were not as good as they should have been however a complaint rectified this with the exception of the balcony which with many others was totally neglected from cleaning throughout the cruise. The negatives however stop here as there are many things that P&O do well. Firstly having criticised their cleaning in places the hygiene practices to combat outbreaks of the dreaded Norovirus were very thorough. Onto some more cheerful subjects. That night we made our way to the main dining room where we had booked to join a table of 8 on the first sitting. Our dining was extremely well managed by two very efficient and friendly waiters and a wine waiter with whom we enjoyed many laughs. Some regular P&O cruisers were bemoaning the loss of silver Service but in my opinion Silver Service is old hat with modern food presentation practices. We enjoyed some excellent food, very well prepared and served and for the first time in my cruise experiences it was served hot! Drinks were reasonably priced and without the 15% service charge. I do not like Celebritys $12;50 dollar daily service charge followed by drinks served with 15% service charge and a cheeky gap on the bill for extra tips to be given,. I do believe in tipping and do so well, directly to those who give me good service and hope that the £3.50 daily service charge reaches those behind the scenes. Staying on food for a little while, the experiences at breakfast and lunch in the self service restaurant were also very good with no delays and comparative ease in finding vacant tables. We did not frequent the theatre on many nights but those we did were to see shows delivered by the Headliners theatre company, and these were excellent productions. I also enjoyed some excellent lectures by ex flying squad policeman Ian Brown and some very good entertainment in the bars. The weather on this cruise was fantastic throughout and finding deckchairs to sunbathe on was never a problem on the many deck locations available. another first in my cruising experience. We went on a couple of tours, one in Barbados which was extremely good value with a top photographer taking us around some of the many beauty spots on the island. Tours in particular were better value than I have previously experienced on other cruise lines and the provision of free shuttle buses in some locations was a pleasant experience. If you have not transited the Panama Canal yet then I urge you to do this soon as the various enlargement works I feel will take some of the magic and excitement away. The transit was something that Arcadia performed exceptionally well. There were talks on the construction of the canal, an informative commentary during the transit and excellent back up information in the form of documentaries on the television. Finally the photographic team did an outstanding job recording the event and compiling an excellent DVD. Through the canal we sailed up to Guatemala and California. It would have been nice to have another stop on the way in Mexico, however the glorious weather and sea days watching Whales, Dolphins,Turtles and Flying Fish made some unforgettable memories. Well done P&O. Overall a fantastic cruise and very good value for money. Thank you to all the friendly and efficient staff we met who worked so hard to make us enjoy our cruise. We will be back.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
The cruise on P & O's Oceana appeared to have it all. Flying from Glasgow to Acapulco with Thomson Airlines and boarding the ship in this romantic spot (on Valentine's day) Thereafter sailing south on the Pacific Ocean before ... Read More
The cruise on P & O's Oceana appeared to have it all. Flying from Glasgow to Acapulco with Thomson Airlines and boarding the ship in this romantic spot (on Valentine's day) Thereafter sailing south on the Pacific Ocean before a daytime transit of one of mankind's historic engineering feats through the Panama Canal to the Caribbean. Followed by visits to four romantic and exotic Caribbean Islands. My wife and I were not to be disappointed. It was a dream come true. The flights from and return to Glasgow were on time and comfortable. Pre-booking seats took alot of stress out of the flights. Having read previous reviews with some discordant notes in relation to Oceana, we wondered what to expect as this was our first cruise with P&O. We had chosen freedom dining and had a balcony cabin on "A" deck. The freedom dining was excellent and allowed us to choose when and where to dine, at the same time enjoying the four formal nights immensely. Looking out or relaxing on our balcony was an absolute pleasure, especially with a malt whisky in my hand! We found Oceana and her staff to be first class and that includes, ship, staff, food and entertainment. As this was our first visit to this part of the world, we booked trips for every port except Barbados, where because of an afternoon flight we chose to walk into Bridgetown which we fell in love with. A wonderful experience all round. Well done P&O. In each of the ports of Acapulco, Huatulco, San Juan del Sur, Curacao, Tortola, St Marten,and Antigua, we found the trips to be interesting,colourful, and good value for money. The rum punch's were wonderful. Well done Oceana and staff, and well done P&O. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Oceana at 10 years old is a well founded and maintained ship, cabins are beautifully appointed and our steward Pankaj was telepathic, always on hand when we needed him, worked hard and always smiling. We were waited on hand and foot ... Read More
Oceana at 10 years old is a well founded and maintained ship, cabins are beautifully appointed and our steward Pankaj was telepathic, always on hand when we needed him, worked hard and always smiling. We were waited on hand and foot - didn't even have to collect our luggage in Barbados it was delivered from plane to cabin and were made to feel welcome on arrival. The food, standard of catering and organisation was for the most part faultless (minor complaint about hot plates for cold food on the buffet and the coffee not great). Lunches were superb in all venues and our dinners in the Ligurian (Freedom Dining) were awesome. Dinner at Cafe Jardin was not worth paying the extra for - lunches there were excellent but the dinner menu was the same for two weeks and the service poor in comparison to the main restaurants. Sightseeing was superb although in EVERY destination you would do better going ashore and taking one of the many tours on offer at half the price - most people like an easy life and Oceana's staff certainly provided that. Entertainment on board included Fogwell Flax (so very funny), a brilliant concert pianist, after dinner speaker Tommy Docherty (who was amazing and fielded questions from the audience with a true sense of humour), with shows and high octane dancing - they did really well. Daytime at sea there was so much to do we found ourselves racing from ballroom dancing classes to windows 7 seminar, go-yoga, how to improve your photography to talks and films on the Panama Canal. Which brings me to the highlight of the tour - The Panama Canal. Oceana had an expert historian on board with a wealth of knowledge, he kept us enthralled all day with his commentaries - a really fantastic experience. Now comes the downside of our trip Ionithermie: I went along to one of the many seminars 'how to deal with those troublesome fatty areas on your body' The answer was Ionithermie currently not available in the UK, it's a treatment with special clay and electrodes and you can lose up to 8" Too good to be true? I signed up for the free consultation and Stephanie told me I needed 3 treatments on board and she would give me a simple regime to follow at home. If I booked all three appointments there and then with the discounts it would cost only £189.00 - "wow" I said "that is a serious amount of money are you really sure it works with long term results"? She was very confident and said she would measure me before and after. I booked my three appointments. After the first treatment Stephanie displayed the items needed for the simple regime at home the cost...£200.00+ I queried why this wasn't disclosed prior to the treatments, she wanted to know why I thought it so expensive, she said some passengers had spent over £3,000.00 on stuff to take home. I felt very pressured and said I need to think it over. Afterward I cancelled my next two appoints (losing the discount and had to pay £89.00) I did lose 4" - I was measured in 8 places and the losses were aggregated IT LASTED ALL OF one day. Having got home I goggled Ionithermie and was so grateful I didn't spend any more money on it. I will be writing with my concerns to P and O. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
What a fantastic holiday we had aboard the Oceana..Staff were helpful and friendly nothing was to much trouble,our waiters Lucas and Dismish were wonderful and went out of their way to look after us nothing was to much trouble..Drinks were ... Read More
What a fantastic holiday we had aboard the Oceana..Staff were helpful and friendly nothing was to much trouble,our waiters Lucas and Dismish were wonderful and went out of their way to look after us nothing was to much trouble..Drinks were the same price as at home no rip offs.Tips were down to the individual.Cabins were comfortable with plenty of storage space, and the cabin steward always kept it clean for us.It was nice to be able to dress up on the formal nights as we don't seem to do that at home any more as things now are more casual.The one disappointment we had was after our 8.30 meal we could not get in to see one of the shows as many of the first sitting stayed to watch the comedian for the second show leaving not enough seats for the second seating.We were very disappointed as he was really good.This was noted and hopefully will be sorted out for further cruises. The highlight of the cruise was of cause sailing through the Panama Canal (which we were up at 5pm to get a good viewing spot) we had gone earlier to listen to the history of the Panama Canal so we could understand what it was all about, this was very interesting and we found it useful as we went through the locks, we could imagine the hundreds of men so many years before many who had lost their lives working on it.It is a truely a amazing piece of History. We also visited Acapulco (where we landed from Gatwick)Huatulaco,San Juan Del Su,Curacao,St Maarten,Tortola,Antigua,and finally Barbados for our flight home.Each place had its own places of interrest and we enjoyed each one very much. We highly recommend P&O Oceana and we are hoping to sail with P&O again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Oceana was the second cruise ship we sailed on, the first being her sister ship Adonia, which went back to Princess Cruises after a couple of seasons. We have been on Oceana 4 times now. We love the theatre and and the starlights lounge ... Read More
Oceana was the second cruise ship we sailed on, the first being her sister ship Adonia, which went back to Princess Cruises after a couple of seasons. We have been on Oceana 4 times now. We love the theatre and and the starlights lounge on Oceana. The staff always seem happy and friendly. Cabins are smaller than some ships, but perfectly adequate for a 14 night cruise. The public rooms and bars are good, and it is easy to find your way around the ship as you can walk all the way round on most decks. The best feature of the ship is the Atrium, which is much more attractive than on other ships. Overall, plenty of positives and no negatives I can think of. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
After a nightmare journey getting to east midlands airport through blizzards on the morning of 6th February, we boarded the flight to barbados and the holiday started then. Plenty of room on the A330 thomas cook flight no need to upgrade ... Read More
After a nightmare journey getting to east midlands airport through blizzards on the morning of 6th February, we boarded the flight to barbados and the holiday started then. Plenty of room on the A330 thomas cook flight no need to upgrade as plenty of leg room. Complimentary drinks and plenty of food. Took 8 hours and arrived 30 minutes early into barbados. Transfer to ship brilliant, cases took about 2 hours to arrive. Cabin was inside and was OK but could do with an update in the shower room. As flights were coming in late because of operational problems we had to stay in barbados an extra night and we had to miss our first island of Mayreau where we were looking forward to a restful day on the beach. Next we were of to Grenada and took a local taxi around the island, We would never book a trip with the Ship as these tours are simply brilliant as we did the same one 10 years ago. Next we were off to Margarita in Ven, this was made via tender and although described as mosquito hell it was your typical tropical island, people who visited inland said it was a dump with rubbish all over the place and not very nice, should have stayed on the lovely white beach and enjoyed a swim - not a mosquito in sight. next off to Curacao a dutch island that looks like amsterdam, lovely for photos. Day at sea then arrived at Colon, this was one time when everyone should take an organized trip as Colon and Panama City are very dangerous places to walk around. We went in a mini bus with 5 other passengers and was dumped in the middle of dock area and everyone had guns. We had wanted to go to the local mall but was taken to the warehouse quarter where you could only buy in bulk no less than a dozen items a time. Early the next day we started our transit through the Panama canal and I can only describe this as truly breath taking, it was fantastic, I will never never forget the experience, through the locks and into the gatun lake was unbelievable wow, wow, wow. A helicopter went around the ship and took photos and film which we could buy as a DVD for £16 it was well worth it as we could see ourselves at the front of the ship waving. Tell family that they can watch you transit the canal either via the ships web cam or the one on the side of the canal (panama web cam). Some mobile phones did not work while we were in Panama or the pacific. Someone said that the Panama authorities blocked them. My vodafone did not work until I was back in the UK. Then at sea and off to Puntarenas in Costa Rica. This was truly wonderful as we went on an organized trip to the jungle and went skywalking across several rope bridges (like the one in I'm a celebrity) fantastic and worth the £32 which the trip cost. Day at sea and onto Porto Quetzal in Guatemala more jungle trips if you wanted. Day at sea and off to Acapulco we berthed right by the beach and the town. we were looking forwarding to spending a day and night there but we were told that we had to move back out to sea for the night as the ship had to take on sea water for processing into drinking water. This caused some problems as people wanted to spend the evening in Acapulco and had to be back on board by 10.30, we got the letter telling us about this change after we arrived home. Don't do the trip Amazing Acapulco as it is the same trip that takes you back/from the airport. We went on a trip to see the divers and you could do this by hiring a taxi for a few dollars as it is only around the corner. Oh I forgot to mention Oceana, it was a very clean comfortable ship but is beginning to look its age and a passenger said she had heard that it was being downgraded to an Ocean Village but it may be just a rumor. Food was excellent and a good choice was available although I have had just as good on a Thomson cruise. Weather and sea conditions were perfect as one officers said it was the best weather he had every had in all the years he had been cruising, sunny and very hot especially in Acapulco. Diana Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
The dreaded flight to Acapulco. We left home for the drive to Gatwick at 11 pm on Thursday and arrived at the drop off point for the car at 3 am. We were first at the check in desk and only waited half an hour before they opened at 4 am. ... Read More
The dreaded flight to Acapulco. We left home for the drive to Gatwick at 11 pm on Thursday and arrived at the drop off point for the car at 3 am. We were first at the check in desk and only waited half an hour before they opened at 4 am. My case was a couple of kg over but nothing was said so a very relieved me headed to the departure lounge! The flight was just over an hour late leaving Gatwick then well over an hour delay at the refuel stop - Sanford FL for us. I must say I was so dreading this flight but to be fair it was not as bad as I expected. It was not pleasant by any means being so long, but we did get there in one piece, just so very, very tired! After talking to others I think our Thomson flights were the best. By all accounts the Thomas Cook flights were much worse. The journey to Oceana was a bit hair raising! The driving in Acapulco is certainly interesting!! I must say, nothing we saw on the drive made me want to explore Acapulco further. Then we saw her, as magnificent as ever - our 18th month wait was over and our cruise had started. We arrived just after 8.30 pm. Our friends who had flown from Manchester had arrived at 11am so they had had plenty of time to settle in. I was so shattered I just wanted a shower and my bed so retired without going for a meal. I was in the shower when our cabin steward Camillo arrived to welcome us - much embarrassment followed and he disappeared until the following day! My hubby went for a quick drink and a snack with our friends but we were all unpacked and tucked in by 10.30pm! I had forgotten how small the cabins on Oceana were. Small but perfectly formed!! We spent our day in Acapulco recovering from the long journey (nearly 16 hours!) Spent a pleasant couple of hours walking around Acapulco but then spent an even more pleasant time 'chilling out' around the pool. Our first port of call was Huatulco in Mexico. No tour planned so walked around the shops and spent the morning on the beach. We thought it a lovely place with friendly locals and a charming open sided chapel on the beach. To sit in a pew and see the Pacific and Oceana 'parked' was certainly different! Back on board in the afternoon and another swim in the pool. I love swimming so spent a lot of time around the pool area! The only time my hubby got wet was on the white water rafting tour! San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. We just walked to the beach here and had a beer. Not much to see apart from dreadful poverty. You know, I'm not sure what I think about visiting such places. Are we helping their economy by our visits or are we rubbing their noses in it? I'm really not sure. That evening we sat with a gentleman who was robbed at knifepoint!!! He lost his watch and camera and according to him $500 - why on earth he was carrying so much money beats me! We had been warned not to wander off and on his own admission he did just that. Fuerte Amador. Nothing to say about this port as we had a lazy day on board. Panama Canal. What can you say about this? This was what we had come to see and we were not disappointed. A memorable day. Limon, Costa Rica. Really enjoyed this port. After reading Cap'n Jack's report Chris and I did the Sloth Sanctuary tour. I was not disappointed! Sloths are lovely creatures, we really enjoyed everything on this tour and would recommend it. Cost Rica, we found interesting and would like to see more of this country. Aruba. Another ok place if you like wonderful beaches, lots of hotels and lots of Americans! Wish we had done a tour here. I'm sure the island had lots more to offer than we actually saw! St Lucia. Followed Cap'n Jack again here and did the St Lucia Land and Sea tour. Another good one! The volcano - interesting and very smelly! The Botanical Gardens are lovely, especially if you like gardening. It was so hot and we were so tired, we really didn't appreciate them. The ride on the catamaran was amazing, we loved it! We stopped for 40 minutes at a lovely small beach for a swim. I loved that. Then the best of all - around 50 dolphins gave us the most amazing show that was such a privilege to see. The captain of the catamaran said he had been doing this job for 13 years and this was only the second time he had seen dolphins in this area. A memory that will stay with me for a long time! St Vincent. We had been told by lots of people that St Vincent was one island to miss. It was 'seedy' and there was nothing much to see!!! So we enjoyed our last day on Oceana. In retrospect this could have been a mistake! We had to be out of our cabin by 9 am on Friday, we were leaving for the airport at 2 pm so only had a few hours to pass. An hour of this was passed having a 'nosey' around deck 10 to see how the 'other half lives'!! We promised not to touch anything! So were given permission to look at the suites and mini suites. Wow! They are lovely. I thought at first, the mini suite was a suite!! Until we saw the suites of course! Another hour spent imagining ourselves in a suite and it was time to leave for the airport! The flight home was only 7 ½ hours and once again better than I expected. Overview This cruise on Oceana was certainly our best to date. She is still looking good and still the friendly ship we remember from our first cruise in 2006. I saw all the Headliners shows and the classical pianist both were excellent. Husband and our friends saw the comedian and enjoyed him. Over the 2 weeks our initial disappointment at not being on club dining soon went and found our first time on freedom dining worked very well. As we were always willing to share a table we never had to wait and quite enjoyed meeting new people each evening. I can now see the benefits of freedom dining and if we could have the same waiters each time would be quite happy with it. Though I still think club is still more of an 'occasion' and would choose it for our next cruise. The food and service was as good as expected. They were especially good at giving me a lovely dessert suitable for a diabetic. We spoke with a few who had diet problems and all spoke very highly of P&O. Dress code was kept by 99% I only saw a couple of people not in formal gear and they were not in the restaurant. To be honest, I found the slightly relaxed dress code to be great. Hubby especially liked not having to wear a suit. I did not wear anything different to what I would wear on other more formal ships - it's just that I didn't worry about it!! Everybody still looked very smart and apart from the men not wearing suits it didn't look very different. Digital Living. I had 3 computer lessons. Computer Maintenance, Digital Photography and All about Wireless - all were excellent and Simon the instructor was extremely good. All in all good value for money (£50). I learned such a lot. Being fairly new to cruising I cannot say if standards have dropped - I just know we had a wonderful cruise on a wonderful ship and enjoyed every minute of it. We are hoping to do a segment of the 2011 worldie for our next cruise. San Franciso - Hong Kong 38 nights. It will mean having to go next year with no cruise as we will have to save hard - I wonder if we saved hard enough could we manage a mini suite???!!! Me thinks its going to be a 'be nice to hubby few months'!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
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