Archive for the ‘Oceana’ Category

Oceana in Hamburg

Above is grab from a webcam shot of Oceana, safely tucked-up at the B+V ship repair dry dock in Hamburg. I believe she arrived some time yesterday evening.

Still no real information from P&O about any major work, so it does appear that the aspects of this refit that passengers will see will simple be redecoration and refreshes rather than any dramatic changes. Additionally, of course, the opportunity will be taken to do a significant amount of technical work on engine and propulsion equipment and locations. She’ll be in Hamburg for nearly two weeks.

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To Glass House or not to Glass House

Oceana arriving at Southampton in the early morning

Specifically, will Oceana’s Cafe Jardin be converted to the next Glass House?

Oceana is going in for a refit in a few days’ time – as far as I can see she’ll return from her current cruise (E722) on 29 November and her next cruise is E725 starting on 17 December. Allowing for transit times to and from Hamburg, that allows 14 days or so for the refit.

When this refit became known about (during spring and summer) there was considerable speculation on various forums that the work would include conversion of Cafe Jardin to a Glasshouse. For example, there were reports that officers on Oceana had told passengers that the conversion would happen. (Although you’d think by now that people would have realised that you should always take casual comments by crew members, even officers, with a generous pinch of salt.) Some people were in favour of the conversion, but I think it’s fair to report that the majority view expressed was one of regret if the conversion went ahead.

However for several reasons it’s now looking as if it may not:

  • the deck plans for next year on the P&O site continue to mark the space as ‘Cafe Jardin’;
  • and in a page on the P&O website there’s an article from the design consultancy that’s handled the changes (for both Oceana and Arcadia) that resolutely does not mention anything about Cafe Jardin. For Oceana there are references to outdoor areas, the Terrace Bar and the Yacht & Compass.

Of course, none of this is definitive. I’m hoping that P&O will make some sort of announcement when Oceana departs for Hamburg giving details of what the refit will cover, so we may have solid information by the end of this week. Indeed, it’s always possible that the Glass House approach could be implemented in the existing Cafe Jardin. There was another announcement from P&O this week announcing new menus for the Glass House with references to new food items and new draft beers. Here’s a link to this page. Given that the Glass House concept may perhaps be being revised from “a wine bar that does some bistro food” to something like “a bistro that serves drinks, including a wide range of wines by the glass” it wouldn’t take a full refurbishment of spaces that aren’t branded as ‘Glass House’ to be able to offer something similar.

My interest in the changes to Oceana is due to the fact that we will be cruising on her (for the first time) in September, of course – see here for some other info about that.

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Once again it has been so long since I last posted that I ought to apologise. For whatever reason, nothing has caught my eye, or my interest in the last couple of months. But I have finally managed to crank the old brain into gear, and produced this pearl.

I posted some while ago that when we were on Azura this summer we had booked our next cruise. This will be a fly-cruise! – our first for nearly 10 years. It will be in September 2018, on Oceana, and just for seven nights – we’ll be doing the Adriatic section of her itinerary, with calls at Ravenna, Venice, Dubrovnik and Split. In addition we’ll be prefacing the cruise with two nights in Malta (the cruise starts and finishes at Malta) which we’re also doing through P&O, by using their ‘City Stay’ add-on package.

At the time we booked the cruise the flights were uncertain, and the documentation we received was a bit confusing – on the one hand it said it was a “round trip from Manchester” but on the other hand it said that the outbound flight would be from Gatwick. All of this was because at the time of booking (June 2017) flight details for September 2018 weren’t known. Obviously P&O would be chartering the regular flights for the start and end dates of the cruise itself, but not for the day we would actually be departing which will be two days before the cruise start date.

Now they are known, and we’ve got exactly what we wanted. Our outbound flight will be from Manchester with Air Malta. We’ll depart just before 11am, and arrive in Malta just after 3pm local time. That’s a pretty civilised time for a flight – we could even just about drive over the Manchester that morning (we’d want to be at the airport by 8 o’clock). However I suspect Val would prefer to not do that, so I think I hear the siren call of the Premier Inn on Runger Lane….

Coming back we’ll be on the Thomson Airline charter flight, departing mid-morning and arriving in Manchester early afternoon. We couldn’t really ask for anything more convenient.

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Burj Khalifa, Dubai, from the walkway to the Dubai Mall

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been away on holiday recently, and therefore missed the announcement of the winter 2018/2019 cruises. I’ve been catching up since I returned.

The obvious eye-catchers are Oceana’s Arabian Gulf cruises. Leaving aside the voyages out and back, the cruises all seem to be for 10 nights, start and finish in Dubai, and include 5 other ports. Abu Dhabi seems to feature on pretty much all of the cruises, while Muscat is a call on all but one of them.

This caught my eye because pretty much when these itineraries were announced I was in – Dubai. This was one of the stops on my recent holiday which was mainly to Singapore. As my flights were via Dubai I took the opportunity to have a couple of nights there on the way home.

I’ll be honest, I came away from Dubai with mixed feelings. I think it’s a very strange place. I visited the Dubai Museum, walked around the Batakia preserved district, and visited the Dubai Mall. It was the museum that left the strongest impression one me. Filled with very effective and evocative displays and descriptions of old Dubai and the Bedouin way of life, I felt that the subconscious message was “This is how we were then – look at what we’ve lost!”. (In contrast, Singapore’s National Museum seemed to be saying “This is how we were then – look at what we’ve achieved!”)

At least in January to March the weather should be kind. ‘Average High’ temperatures should be in the mid- to high-20s (ºC), although the ‘record high’ in March is just over 40ºC – hopefully, no new records will be set during Oceana’s calls. In any case, it should be cooler than in mid summer, when the ‘average high’ goes into the 40s ºC, and the record high is high 40’s. At least it’s a dry heat – although I enjoyed Singapore more in terms of attractions and general life, I have to admit I found the heat in Dubai much easier to take, even though temperatures were about the same (30ºC or just over).

Is there enough to do at these ports on a 10-night cruise in the Gulf? I think there will be attractions in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Muscat, but I’m not sure about the other places. There again, P&O wouldn’t take people to places where there was nothing to do … or would they? Perhaps I need to do some more research.

However, I do think that P&O can take credit for coming up with these innovative itineraries. It will be interesting to find out just how popular they are.

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I’m hearing stories that Oceana requires repairs (I know not what for), and that these will be done during s three-day stop in Barcelona during her next cruise. That’sE406, starting on Saturday, and due to call at La Coruna, Gibraltar, Alghero, Livorno, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Cartagena. Some of the ports are going to be missed – I understand that Alghero will be one of them, but I don’t know which others – and she will stay in Barcelona for three days (two overnights).

Passengers will be offered a 25% reduction in the cruise fare they’ve paid, plus some additional excursions and entertainment, and a free 2-day HoHo bus pass. Initial reaction seems positive.

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I’ve had a bit more opportunity to look through P&O’s just-announced programme for summer 2015. What seems clear to me is that there’s a bit of a divide opening up – prices on Britannia, Ventura and Azura seem to be noticeably lower than prices on the rest of the fleet.

Oriana and Aurora definitely seem to be the most expensive. I’ve looked at a couple of Mediterannean cruises for mid-June 2015, 14 nights on Azura and 17 nights on Aurora, and in each case have compared the prices for a balcony cabin. (more…)

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It’s a terrible night in the English Channel. It’s reported that Marco Polo was hit by a very large wave while passing up the channel on her way back to Harwich (update: Tilbury, not Harwich). A window was broken and passengers were injured, and two needed to be airlifted off. One of them, an 85-year old man, has since died. Other passengers on board Marco Polo were injured.

The captains of two P&O ships decided that shelter was better than sailing. Oriana got back to Southampton this evening, ahead of her scheduled arrival tomorrow morning, and Oceana’s departure this afternoon has been delayed until sometime tomorrow when it will be safer. Southampton therefore has the very unusual experience of having two cruise ships berthed overnight.

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