In July 2012 we did a short cruise on P&O’s Oriana. It was for just four nights and had two ports of call: Amsterdam, for a day-and-a-bit including therefore an overnight stay, and Zeebrugge. This cruise was one of the P&O Grand Event cruises to celebrate their 175th birthday.
As usual I’ve included links to the blog entries I made while we were on the cruise. Those are followed by a short review.
Links to blog posts:
- The first few posts were preliminaries: travelling to Southampton the day before and what we did when we got there, then another post covering activities before embarking on The Day; and yet another one all about embarkation and what we did before the sail away (you’re thrilled, I know);
- Then after embarking I did a post about the Grand Event itself (about time, I hear you say;
- For the following two days we were at Amsterdam, and I did a could of posts. The first one covered our activities that day, while the second one covered an all-day excursion we did.
- Now one for the P&O aficionados: a post about formal night;
- Then we were in Zeebrugge for the final full day of the cruise;
- And after that there was a final post about the last night, disembarkation and going home.
This was a cruise of two halves, Brian….. actually, probably more than two. Some of it was excellent, some of it was was not so good, and some of it was just plain frustrating.
First the good bits. We really liked Oriana, especially the public areas. Val especially liked the Atrium – I’ve heard her comment that compared to it, Ventura’s is tacky. We also enjoyed Anderson’s and the Crows Nest. The two restaurants that we used were also good: we thought that the Peninsular restaurant was very well decorated with light colours and we weren’t squeezed on our table (which was against the port-side windows). We also found the Conservatory acceptable – we never hit any huge queues, we always found something we could enjoy, and never had problems getting seats. Service was good enough – possibly not excellent, but we didn’t have any problems. Then there were the open deck areas which seemed OK while the Promenade was excellent.
Less good things? well, the most obvious thing would have to to be the cabin which after the larger one on Ventura seemed quite cramped. We had problems with hanging space (even for four nights!), and the fact that Val’s case wouldn’t go under the bed but had to be left out meant that space was even tighter. And no balcony, of course. All that said, the cabin was perfectly functional, the air-con worked well and quietly, the bathroom did its thing without problems and there weren’t any annoying rattles or creaks.
We were a bit disappointed by the food, Val probably more than me as I did find one meal (the vegetarian dish on the last night) that I really enjoyed, whereas I don’t think Val ever did. I know she was disappointed with the curry she had, and I gather that a steak she had on another night just was not very tasty at all.
Finally, the frustrating element concerned the weather. Not P&O’s fault in any way, of course, but frustrating nonetheless. Everyone on board had been looking forward to the Grand Event sail out for over a year, but the weather for it was dire. That was a serious disappointment – it was 90% of the reason why we’d gone on the cruise – and I at least went to bed that first night feeling deflated and depressed. However the sun came out in full force in Amsterdam and Zeebrugge (eventually) so that began to make up for things.
But back to the good points. We really enjoyed Oriana, so much so that we’re wondering if we could either put up with the small cabin for a longer cruise, or if we could afford one of the significantly more expensive ‘Deluxe Staterooms’.
Photographs: Here’s a link to some pictures of the Grand Event.