(Note this cruise was one of our earliest, and looking at it now it reads like an inexperienced cruiser’s review….)
We did this cruise in May/June 2008, and it was probably my favourite cruise so far. I blogged from it as follows:
Day 3 evening – Formal night;
A short cruise (4 nights) on a modern but traditionally-modelled ship. We enjoyed it very much – my favourite cruise so far (written in 2008). I loved Oriana, for her elegance and style. I particularly liked the way that different spaces very close to each other were very different as a result of the decor, furnishing, and usage.
We visited the following lounges and public spaces: Andersons (a bar); Lord’s Tavern (a pub); Tiffany Lounge; The Crow’s Nest (Lounge/bar). All of these were well (often elegantly) decorated, in good condition physically, and were spacious enough. The decor and style served to distinguish between these spaces. For example Anderson & Lords Tavern are close to each other, but Lords Tavern is clearly a pub while Anderson has a completely different feel, much more like a traditional club. Of all these spaces, the Crow’s Nest was our favourite. (The public areas we used were generally better than the equivalent places on Celebrity’s Galaxy, an equivalent ship in terms of size and age.) We didn’t spend any time in either Harlequins, the Pacific Lounge or the theatre – not our thing at all.
We also very much enjoyed the stern terraces and the Terrace bar, especially for sailaways and for general sitting around in. (There isn’t anything on Galaxy to compare with the terraces.) It wasn’t warm enough to lounge around the pools.
We certainly enjoyed the food. We were sat at a table for 8 for second sitting in the Oriental restaurant. Dinner on the first night was OK, but thereafter was better, up to ‘very good’ for the formal night. We also had a lunch (we both had the curry), an afternoon tea and a breakfast on different days in the Peninsular restaurant, and a simple breakfast one morning in Al Fresco. We particularly enjoyed the lunch and afternoon tea in the restaurant.
We felt that the wine waiters were not terribly good – we didn’t feel that we could ask them much about the wines. And on the subject of the wines, we were disappointed that there weren’t more wines available by the glass in the restaurant. One the last night we resorted to buying big glasses (250ml) in Andersons (where the selection was better) and taking them into the restaurant.
The Conservatory was a bit of scrum. Not as good as the equivalent buffet on Galaxy, where we were shows to a table by waiters who also carried our trays. The one breakfast we had in Al Fresco was much more civilised.
We had a standard outside cabin, set up with twin beds. We found it was perfectly spacious enough for a 4 night cruise, with excellent wardrobe and drawer space. We had one suitcase that didn’t fit under the bed, however – too deep (front to back). There were no problems with showers, toilets, etc. In fact the shower was excellent – probably the best yet on a cruise. This cabin was officially smaller than the one we had on Galaxy (150sq ft as against 170 sq ft), but didn’t feel smaller. But to be fair we didn’t spend a lot of time in the cabin.
This was port-intensive – three days, three ports – and we went ashore each time. In each case we did our own thing. At Rotterdam we took the shuttle bus into the town centre and walked back to the ship, via the Cube Houses and a harbour trip on the Spido boat. At Zeebrugge we took the shuttle bus into Blankenberg from where we got the train into Bruges, and just walked around Bruges for the day. And at Guernsey we tendered ashore and just walked around for a while. We found the port information sheets very useful. We were especially pleased that the shuttle buses were free – this contrasted with Celebrity who charge a pretty penny for shuttle buses, even for short rides e.g. from Tourlas harbour to Mykonos town, all of 2 kilometers!
There were some daytime activities but with all the port activity we didn’t attend anything. On a longer cruise with days at sea I’m sure we would have made use of the library and the games room, but not on this one. We did use the internet centre; I paid £12 for 50 minutes of internet time. Connection (of my own lap top, a Mac) was easy, and there was good information about elapsed/remaining time. Internet speed was OK.
Brits. Generally older, although there were some younger people aboard, but not many. It was in school term time, so there were very few children aboard (In 2011 Oriana became adults-only). We were told a the Captain’s Gala that there were 1000 passengers aboard who were new to P&O, and many who were new to cruising.
We were struck by the number of people who had only cruised with P&O. They might have cruised a number of times, but only with the one line. We mentioned that we had cruised with other lines, including Celebrity and MSC (!) and this seemed to elicit some surprise. “I’m not sure I would want to cruise with Americans…” was one comment that was made.