Archive for the ‘Oceana 2018’ Category

Next Cruise Blues

We’ve been holding off making a booking for our next cruise, for several reasons. Firstly, we’ve been wondering if we’re ‘cruised out’. Well, we’re not sure about that but we haven’t completely gone off them. Second, we’ve been waiting until Val’s work situation was clearer, and it now is – she’ll be working on a big software implementation project until June or July next year. So armed with that knowledge we’d started making plans for September 2018.

We had already spotted a tempting itinerary for a 7-night fly-cruise on Oceana in the right period: Valletta, Split, Venice, Ravenna, Dubrovnik, and back to Valletta. We need to restrict ourselves to just 7-night itineraries for these fly cruises, as the fact that they start mid-week means that Val would have to take three weeks off work, certainly more than two weeks, to fit in the fourteen nights of the actual cruise. But that’s OK – we’ve been feeling on this cruise that perhaps fourteen nights was a couple of nights too long, and in any case P&O helpfully invite would-be passengers to extend their holiday with a pre- or post-cruise stay at the Excelsior Hotel in Valletta. So a couple of extra nights there before the cruise would bring it up to nine nights which feels about right, would give us a day or so to recover from a 6:15am flight from Manchester, and would also allow us to explore Malta, a place we’ve never been to.

We found ourselves opposite the Loyalty and Future Cruises desk here on the ship, ventured in and were soon in conversation with Jack and Christian, the Loyalty and Future Cruise managers for the cruise. They couldn’t have been more helpful. Flights from Manchester? – no problem. A night at the Excelsior in advance? – of course. A second night? – I’m sure that will be OK. What with promises of hassle-free transfers, plentiful OBC (especially for a seven night cruise) and a low deposit, we were convinced and duly signed up; and more importantly from Jack and Christian’s viewpoint, we produced the credit card.

Later that day we got the booking confirmation printout, and that was when one or two questions emerged. The second night at the hotel couldn’t be confirmed, and while the round-trip was described as being Manchester to Manchester, the flight out seemed to be from Gatwick. Driving from Sheffield to Gatwick is not a journey to be undertaken lightly, especially if you have a deadline by which you have to get to Gatwick. So various further discussions ensued.

The issue seems to revolve around the fact that we’re booking so far in advance – more than a year from now. P&O know they’ll be running the cruise so that’s definite. They also know that they will be chartering flights for those travelling on embarkation and disembarkation days, so even though the charters may not have been arranged yet for the dates of our cruise, everyone knows they will be. But P&O don’t normally charter flights on other days to cover passengers staying extra nights at the hotel – they book passengers onto whatever flights are available, and at the moment (late June 2017) none of the relevant airlines have published their schedules for September 2018. So the advice is – contact our TA (the booking has been passed to them) in October to sort out the details.

Our first reaction was to feel very uncertain about this, but on reflection we’ve decided that we’re being wusses. So we’re booked on a fly-cruise plus a pre-cruise stay in September 2018 for which we don’t know the flight details nor even how many nights we’ll be away, and by our standards this feels like living dangerously. I’m sure we’ll come to relish it eventually!

(Update later but before posting: we’ve had the second night in the hotel confirmed so we do at least know how long the holiday will last. That’ll do for now.)

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