Cruise - Ocean Cruise
Our P&O First Experience!
126 people found this review helpful
After cruising on a regular basis for many years it was somewhat of a surprise to realise we had yet to cruise with a British company. Our choices are generally itinerary driven and it was precisely the itinerary which drew us to this 11 day cruise on the Oriana. Casablanca and Gibraltar were the main draw, although the other opportunites offered by the itinerary were also appealing, Santiago de Compostela and Seville appealed greatly, Lisbon perhaps less so.
So how did P&O Cruises compare with our other cruises which have mainly been on US carriers?
Less polished is perhaps the immediate response. There was a lack of panache in most areas but that is not to say that there were not some very pleasant surprises and overall we did enjoy our cruise.
Check in was quite speedy but going through security and boarding was slow and poorly organised. There were many physically challenged passengers who were not afforded any additional assistance and we all had to stand and queue for a not inconsiderable time prior to boarding. As we have cruised from Southampton on a number of occasions and never experienced this problem before we can only put it down to a P & O organisation.
General decor of the ship was rather plain and mundane, cabins comfortable but uninspiring. The dining venues were satisfactory apart from the Conservatory which had to be one of the most disorganised and chaotic casual dining venue of any ship we have been on. Definitely not recommended! Al Fresco's was a quiet little escape which offered variable standards of food but was ruled over by a rude and offensive head waiter. We did not experience the speciality restaurants on board – all seemed rather unsubscribed. Our set dining area was the Peninsular – pleasant but lacking pzazz but the staff there were the most pleasant we experienced on the ship. In fact the staff attitude seemed to be one of Oriana's biggest problems – generally they did not seem a happy crew and lacked the personable service we have experienced on US carriers.
Shore excursions were well organised and incredibly reasonable. We did not do one in every port but the ones we did were excellent. Good guides and good choice of destinations.
So what were the highlights? Undoubtedly the entertainment came into it's own, in particular the Headliners Theatre Company who provided stunning entertainment. Their shows were first class and we would go as far as to say the best we have seen on any ship we have been on. The other artists who performed were also of reasonable calibre but it was noticeable that when a Headliner show was on there wer few seats left in the theatre.
Drink prices were awesome. My husband was a very happy chap able to drink draught bitter at usual pub prices in the UK. There were wine packages which again afforded a reasonable enjoyment of the grape! The best…..no 15% service charge on top. What a pleasure! It means we can afford another cruise in the not too distant future!
The low points were the Entertainment Crew. The weather throughout the cruise was pretty poor – a lot of rain and cold days – just what we left the UK to escape! Obviously the entertainment crew did not look outside ttheir windows….sea days were covered by an entertainment programme dominated by deck quoits, short tennis, shuffle board and other wonderful external activities!! As was expected there were no participants – which begged the question, just what were the entertainment crew doing? Quizzes which are very popular were at totally ridiculous times – often during the evening show times. When we rate the Headliner Theatre Company the best then the ship's entertainment crew were definitely the worst!
We did enjoy the cruise after some initial reservations. P&O have a very loyal following – totally British it appears as there were very few other nationalities on board. It could just do with sorting an obvious staff attitude problem out and tweak a few areas to make it a worthy competitor of some of the other cruise lines.
Will we travel again with P&O Cruises? It will depend on the itinerary as always!
126 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.