Day 1: of our 7-day Med cruise aboard P&O Cruises Oceana was one filled with mixed emotion. We were so excited to finally be on the ship, but to not have any sleep for over 24 hours because having to get up so early meant we were physically drained.
A late breakfast was first on the agenda just to try and get some much needed energy back. It certainly did the trick, and once refuelled we were able to then spend some time exploring Oceana, especially as she came highly recommend by a few friends.
We’re glad to say that first impressions are very good, although we do aim to give you a more detailed review in the coming days. While some people will tell you that there are areas of the ship where she is starting to look old, let’s remember that she is in line for a refit, which will help breathe new life into her.
From what we have seen so far in just a few short hours there is a lot to look forward to, although that will have to wait, as we have a Florence and Boat Ride excursion booked for tomorrow.
We would very much like to thank Michele Andjel, and also Robert Dunn for their generosity, firstly for £250 of on-board credit, some of which will help go towards Internet access. We were also given a free bottle of Champagne, a Belgian Chocolate Selection, a set of P&O Cruises bath robes, which the wife was very happy about. And, also a lovely little surprise waiting for us this evening, a selection of fresh fruit and also a plate of canapés.
Sorry we could not give you much more today, but as we said; tomorrow is a new day, and also one where we will have a lot more energy, and also a better outlook on Oceana.
Day 2: Well, we said we were tired, and the proof of that was having the best nights sleep in ages. What was so amazing was the fact that we never felt Oceana moving at all during the night, and finally woke up as the ship got into port at Livorno. Breakfast was pretty much the same as the day before, and so have made the decision to eat in the main restaurant in order to have something that is not only warmer, but a little less crowded as well – so we will let you know our thoughts on that breakfast experience tomorrow.
The excursion today was a Traditional Boat Ride, and Florence. The journey was a bit of a long one, but once there we were taken to a leather shop, which we never knew about, and so we were shown a demonstration. Something like this always happens, and while we were told we get a good discount, we cannot help but wonder how much commission the tour guide gets?
Next was the boat ride down the River Arno, and have to say was a very pleasant, and relaxing experience. After that it was 4 hours to walk around Florence on our own, and we used up some of that time to eat. What was overlooked were the long queues to visit the museums and other attractions, and so had to give them a miss.
Once back at the ship after such a long day it was nice to get back to our room. Ok, so we know that this particular cabin is compact for one with a balcony, but there cannot be any complaints because this was already known at the time of booking.
One thing we will say, do not book this stateroom if on the larger side, because the bathroom can be a bit of a squeeze, and not to lower the tone too much, but when you sit on the toilet you often feel far too close to the door.
While we have been pretty much positive, there is some negative criticism in regards to the buffet meal tonight at Plaza, as the Italian theme night was poor to say the least. Most of the food was either warm, or close to cold, and the selection of Italian food was not what we would expect.
It’s for this reason why we have decided to not eat in the buffet restaurant for our evening meals from now on. We will go to the main dining room, or one of the speciality restaurants.
Thankfully, the poor food this evening was made up by some great entertainment. Headliners put on a great show this evening by bringing us some of the most popular songs from several West End Shows. This has left us wanting more, and cannot wait for the next show from them in a few days time.
We finished the day by listening to some live music and a late night snack – yes eating yet again.
There you have it, another day done, and cannot wait for Friday, as this will be a relaxing day at sea.
Day 3: It was a good start to the day because rather than the rush to the buffet restaurant for breakfast, we thought we would head to the Ligurian restaurant for a different experience. The food was far better, and ideal if you are not in a rush on a day that you do not have to worry about meeting up for an excursion. There is one issue that we have noticed throughout the ship though, and that is the orange juice, as it tastes more like water than anything else – maybe P&O Cruises are watering the OJ down to make it go that bit further?
We came back to our room to find that our Cabin Steward, Melvyn had done a fantastic job as ever with our room. We have not needed to ask him for anything or to do anything different, as it’s all perfect. Our happiness did not last for very long because it was around 9 or 9:30 when we thought we would look for a sun bed, but found that most of them were occupied, although hardly anyone was on them – so a lot of towels about.
You cannot tell us that all of these people had already been on their beds, and just came away for a while; it’s clear that they got up early to reserve their beds, and then went back to their rooms to get ready, and then get breakfast.
We finally found a couple of beds, and so did a couple that we had met a few times before on the cruise. The rather annoying this was, the young lady had just left her sun bed for 2 minutes to show her mother where she had found a bed, and she was given a letter saying you cannot leave your sun bed for more than 30 minutes – we feel these letters were passed around far too late, and should have kept an eye on all those empty beds with towels on much earlier.
This is not meant to put anyone off this cruise, as the time so far has been wonderful; it’s just an observation. That brings us to another issue, and that is some of the toilets on the upper decks outside do not seem to be filled with soap, and some of the hand dryers are not in use. This is not an issue for us, as we always have anti-bacterial cleaner with us – but it’s not a great way to promote hygiene and reducing the risk of spreading a virus.
Our day at sea has been such a great one, and because the ship has only been travelling at 12 knots, it’s been a very calm one as well. It’s amazing just how fast the time goes, and had to come in a little earlier to prepare for Black Tie Night, and a chance to meet the Captain and have a few photos taken in the Atrium.
Tonight was the first time we tried the Ligurian restaurant, and was more than pleased with the service and food. It really was so much better than the buffet, and so yet another reason not to use the buffet restaurant. We do not want to put anyone off, but because of the bad experience the day before, this has enforced the decision not to go there for an evening meal again.
We only wanted to do the one show tonight after dinner because of an earlier start in the morning, and so decided on Songs From 88 Notes. This was performed by the Headliners Theatre Company Vocalists, and have to say yet another wonderful performance. We really would like to give P&O Cruises a lot of credit for putting a great team of entertainers together, and cannot wait for their next show, which we believe is Killer Queen.
One thing that did drive us crazy before the performance was the fact two guys were taking up a huge seat to themselves, and also had t-shirt and shorts on. We just find it annoying that P&O Cruises give us information that they enforce the dress code, and under no circumstances can shorts be worn of an evening – and it was even worse seeing as those most men were in a tuxedo, and women in beautiful dresses – if you have such a rule please enforce it.
Tomorrow we are in Naples, and so cannot wait to tell you all about our excursion to Sorrento and Pompeii.
Day 4: Another early start this morning, as had to be at the dockside for 7:50 to go on our Sorento and Pompeii excursion. This trip was well worth the money and gave us a taster to what the region has to offer, as well as offering a history lesson.
We are still unhappy with being taken to a couple of demonstrations during the tour, as this was not done on any of the excursion on our previous P&O Cruises. The guide was very informative though, and great value for money on the whole.
Once back at the ship it was not that long until the sail away party began, so had to rush to the Lido deck. The ship was a little late leaving port, as two passengers were late coming back on, but thankfully made it. It was certainly a fun atmosphere, although i’m sure a lot of alcohol was involved where some people were concerned.
The food in the Ligurian restaurant was superb as always, and it was a nice touch to have the photographer going around, which we later went to purchase a few photos. We did have to rush a little to make the show, which was the FlyRights. We were treated to some soulful tunes from the trio, and cannot wait to see them again in a couple of nights.
Tomorrow is a day at sea, and also a black tie event – let’s hope more people make an effort.
Day 5: This was another sea day, and after a little hunt around because people still put towels on beds, we managed to finally find a couple. There really is a huge issue with people saving beds at so early in the morning, yet almost an hour goes by until those people finally come back. It was a little later in the day when the staff finally removed a few towels after people had left them for too long.
We fully understand that it is hard for staff to always keep on top of this, but they do need to come round and check much earlier, because many of these beds are occupied very early, with no sign of people coming back for more than an hour. We have seen some people at the front of the ship laying on the floor with just towels because of these beds being taken up with no one on them.
With this being the second sea day we were looking forward to some relaxation, and we certainly got that thanks to calm waters, and the bar staff coming round often to ask if we wanted drinks. Another thing that we find impressive was how often they would come back to make certain that the deck was clear of any rubbish, such as empty plastic glasses, cups and food trays. If there is one thing we can say about Oceana, is that she is kept very clean, although they have still to fix a few of the broken hand dryers, and not even any hand towels. This seems more an issue in the upper outside deck on the port side towards the front.
Just as writing this there was a knock at the door, and it was kids messing about and running off. A bit annoying, although I’m sure I did worse when I was younger. Going back to today, we really do love P&O Cruises, as this is now the third cruise with them, although the daytime entertainment does seem a little stuffy and caters more for older passengers. Don’t get me wrong, this is not an issue for us, seeing as though there were only two sea days, but if there was any more, it would be nice to have some other form of entertainment.
We do understand that Oceana is an older and smaller ship, and so only so much she can cater for. We have been on Azura, and she does have more to offer, and we suspect Britannia has even more, and so would love to sail on her at a later date.
Tonight was a black tie night once again, so took the opportunity to have a few photos taken after dinner, speaking of which; the wife was unhappy waiting 40 minutes for a table and then another 20 minutes just for our order to be taken. She has now insisted that we go to the buffet for the final two nights – I do not mind waiting because the main restaurant is a far better experience, but it’s all about give and take.
Gong back to the entertainment, and there is no issue the evening, as tonight it was Killer Queen, which was just superb, P&O Cruises really do make an effort with these evening shows.
Well, tomorrow we are in Dubrovnik, and have decided to do our own thing and walk around the town on our own – we’ll let you know how we got on.
Day 6: This was the day we have been looking forward to, and that was sailing into Dubrovnik, so much so that I got up just after 6 to see us sailing in. The scenery did not disappoint, and was one of the first off the ship to get the shuttle bus to the old town. This was the first time doing things on our own, and so things did work out far cheaper. Although, I would admit that not going on a P&O Cruises excursion meant that we had to work things out ourself of what the old town was all about.
We decided to walk the wall, and also walk down to the harbour for a boat tour, although this was not informative. Having said that, it did provide us with some stunning views.
After 5 hours we decided to come back, and the P&O Cruises team were easy to spot and guided us to our free shuttle bus back to Oceana. We then took the opportunity to use the jacuzzi at the back of the ship, and then take in the sun, seeing as though there were far less people on board. After another great sail away it was time to relax in our room, which was great timing, as our free canapés were delivered.
It was the wife’s turn to choose where to eat, and she chose the buffet – which I was not happy about, as I do prefer the finer dinning. Like I said yesterday, give and take. If there is was thing that I will say about Oceana, is that here evening entertainment is superb. The first show that we saw was all about hits of the 80’s performed by Headliners, and the second was FlyRight again with a different set from a couple of days back.
Tomorrow is our last day, and so will be very said to know this 7-day cruise will soon come to an end. We do have a dilemma on our hands though, and that is whether to stay out in Venice for the evening to eat, or come back to the ship to eat, and then go back out again later? We will let you know tomorrow what we decided.
Day 7: Today was a late start, and so we decided to order breakfast in bed, and certainly made a change to the often mad rush when everyone else is going for breakfast. The coffee was certainly much nicer being brought to your room, than what is offered to you in the buffet.
We then spent part of the morning preparing our cases for the flight home tomorrow, which we are both sad and happy about. We are sad because this has certainly been a wonderful cruise on the whole, but also happy because the cabin we are in while nice, is showing signs of its age, and very much in need of a makeover, as are several other areas of the ship.
Something else that has just occurred to use while sitting at one of the Costa’s aboard, and that is the fact they do not offer pastries or cakes, as you get on Azura. We are not sure why this is, and so will enquire why.
Gong back to our day and we decided to pay in advance for the water taxi, which took us to where the main attractions are. P&O Cruises did a good job of letting us know how to find our water taxi again once ready to go back to the ship, which is especially good for those daunted by such a busy place. We decided to just walk about and see where we ended up, and on several occasions we found ourselves sitting down taking in the atmosphere while drinking a coffee and water.
However, this best part was a trip on a Gondola on our own – it was so nice to see other parts of Venice that cannot be seen by walking. In all we spent about 5 hours in Venice, but it was far too hot, and knowing that we have an early start in the. Morning, decided to head back about 6:00pm.
There is not really much to tell you about the evening on the ship, as we just had dinner and spent the rest of the time chilling in the cabin. Oh, we did purchase some more pictures, but feel as though the price of these have increased at an extraordinary rate. It’s over £40 just for two pictures after tax, which is far more than it was 3 years ago on our 3 week Caribbean cruise on Aurora. We got six pictures today, which was just over £60.
Final verdict: This truly was a wonderful cruise, and you cannot take it away from P&O Cruises that they have a different philosophy compared to the likes of Royal Caribbean, and most people know this before booking. However, personally these older, smaller ships lack that certain something for people of a younger generation, and se we can only see ourselves enjoying the larger, newer ships, and we know by personal experience that Azura is a beautiful ship – just wish we could see what Britannia has to offer.