Archive for the ‘Oceana’ Category

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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I’ve read a couple of suggestions that Oceana might be doing P&O’s Mediterranean fly-cruises in 2015.

P&O (and other lines) have a problem from November this year – their biggest ships won’t be allowed to call at Venice. P&O’s Ventura, which is doing the fly-cruise programme this year, comfortably exceeds the 96,000 ton limit that will apply for transit of the Giudecca canal from November, which means that they have to find an alternative ship. Azura is the same size and Britannia will be even bigger, so they can’t be used. They will also want a family-friendly ship and that leaves just Oceana and Aurora – the remaining ships (Oriana, Adonia and Arcadia) are adults-only.

The evidence for this seems to be that port calls at Civitavecchia for 2015 have been located. I gather that Oceana is apparently listed there once every 14 days, which looks like the same schedule as Ventura’s calls for this year. This strongly suggests that P&O will be persisting with their Mediterranean fly-cruises in 2015, and probably with the same itineraries as they will be doing this year. If I can find the links to the list of port calls,  I’ll post them here.

The picture of Oceana above was taken at Lisbon a few years ago.

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I’ve done a few posts about Oceana’s recent refit, specifically on the subject of what was and was not changed. She went back into service just before Christmas, so there have now been several cruises on her and therefore quite a few people reporting back. I did a post about the details just after Christmas. Since then some more information has come my way, and here it is.

  • Several people have reported that a number of carpets have been replaced – there are references to ‘new carpet fluff’ in public areas and in at least some cabins;
  • one person reported that it seemed as if some some of the soft furnishings in their cabin (cushions, curtains, bed coverings) were new, albeit the same pattern and design as before. Other people either didn’t notice this, or perhaps it was only done in some cabins;
  • the bathrooms in the cabins don’t seem to have been touched, but there’s at least one report of a re-painted balcony and new Ventura-style reclining chairs on it;
  • the upholstery on the chairs in the buffet looked to have been either cleaned or renewed.

It’s not all good, however. Several people have mentioned that there were one or two buckets out to catch ceiling drips. And there was something about cabin bed-side lights: it seems that the bulbs for these were replaced but then found to be drawing too much power, or buring too hot, or something like that. So they were all removed during (or just before before) the first post-refit cruise and were due to have been replaced in Southampton at a later call (which means it’s probably already been done). Apparently passengers were advised of the problem and what was happening in a note that was left in cabins.

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Oceana refit – verdict

The first reports of Oceana’s refit are have come in, and they suggest that actually it’s a pretty minor affair.

The refit was aimed at three areas of the ship: the cabins; the disco, ‘Le Club’; and the Cafe Jardin area. Here’s what I think I’ve learned so far:

  • As regards the cabins, several posts I’ve read on another forum suggest that the only change is that there are now flat-screen TVs. Specifically, there have been a couple of comments to the effect that there were no changes to the soft furnishings, in cabins or suites.
  • Le Club has definitely been significantly changed. Unfortunately I don’t know this ship at all so I can’t really get a picture of the differences, but there are references to it being “really lovely, with comfy chairs”, and possibly being “somewhere quiet to hibernate during busy sea days”. So that sounds good.
  • The reports of the changes to Cafe Jardin are mainly about the menu. One person said that “it’s gone Italian”, with lots of pasta and pizza, and this is apparently not getting a lot of approval. Someone else commented to the effect that before that area’s incarnation as Cafe Jardin it was somewhere you could get pizzas, etc, as an alternative to dinner. Now it’s gone full circle – once more it’s somehere you can get pizzas, etc – only now you have to pay for them.

Finally, there is a suggestion that the lighting around the main pool deck has been enhanced – it’s apparently now LED-based and changes colour – but of course you need to be in latitudes where the pool deck can be used during the evening for this to be of any benefit.

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