By Jeannine Williamson
Cruise Critic Contributor
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating: Dining

In common with the rest of the ship Oriana's restaurants are very much geared for British tastes - complete with Marmite at breakfast. Early continental breakfast is served in the cavernous Conservatory from 6 a.m. to 6.30 a.m. followed by a full breakfast until 8.30 a.m. There are two breakfast sittings in the Peninsula Restaurant, one of the two main restaurants, at 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. and the smaller Al Fresco from 7 a.m. and Tiffany's from 8 a.m. where caffeine lovers can also get a branded coffee fix at the Costa Coffee outlet, which is part of this popular and elegant glass-ceilinged meeting place, for an additional charge. Room service breakfast is available free of charge from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. and there is a free 24-hour room service menu.

The Conservatory is open for lunch from noon to 3 p.m., immediately followed by afternoon tea until 5 p.m. Passengers eager to get in at opening times result in queues forming quickly, but leave it until a bit later and it's easy to go straight to the expansive buffet serving all kinds of salads, hot dishes, puddings and a cheese selection for lunch and a good selection of sandwiches, cakes and hot snacks at teatime. For a more formal waiter service lunch the Peninsula is open from noon to 1.30 p.m. sharp. The relaxed Al Fresco Mediterranean themed cafe, with pizza, pasta, sandwiches, salads and desserts, is open from 11 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., and at 10.30 p.m. for anyone peckish for a late snack. After breakfast Tiffany's serves snacks and light bites from 11.30 a.m. until 3 p.m. with coffee and bar drinks available throughout the day.

Passengers are allocated one of two dinner sittings, 6.30 p.m. and 8.30 p.m., in the Peninsula and its sister restaurant the Orient and will sit with the same fellow diners for the rest of the cruise. Tables for two are available but once they have gone other tables sit up to eight people. Traditional favourites including shrimp cocktail, Beef Wellington, pheasant and baked Alaska, feature on the daily menus and a good selection of wines start from around £12 a bottle. There's little point in taking your own wine to meals as there's a steep corkage charge of £11. For a more informal dinner, with free seating, the Conservatory serves themed buffets, such as Asian, fish and seafood, Mediterranean and Indian, nightly from 6.30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

When you want to push the boat out and enjoy a more special occasion meal the two select dining options, Marco Pierre White's Ocean Grill and the Sorrento Restaurant are fantastic. The more formal Ocean Grill, which carries an additional surcharge of £12.50, serves modern cuisine and retro English dishes with a contemporary twist, such as chateaubriand, grass-fed English beef steaks and bread and butter pudding made with brioche. I dined there twice and enjoyed the vegetarian grill with chick pea chips and tofu garlic dip, which showed that veggie dishes don't need to be the boring counterpart of their carnivorous cousins, and the tasty brochette of cod, salmon, prawns, scallop and squid. Some dishes, such as the grilled lobster, which looked a bit on the small side, carry an additional surcharge.

The chic and bright Sorrento, with a £5 supplement per person, specialises in all things Italian with novel dishes such as the ‘cook your own' fillet of beef which is brought to the table on a sizzling slab of Italian lava rock and you leave the meat in situ until it's done to your liking. It came with quite a hefty £6.50 surcharge but more or less justified the cost as it was such a talking point. Both select restaurants need to be pre-booked.

Additional P&O Oriana Information

P&O Oriana Details
  • Crew: 760
  • Launched: 1995
  • Decks: 11
  • Passengers: 1800
  • Registry: Great Britain
  • CDC Score: 90

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