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Anniel

Age: 68

Occupation:retired

Number of Cruises: 8

Cruise Line: P & O Cruises

Ship: Oriana

Sailing Date: June 23rd, 2002

Itinerary: Canaries Islands


Promised I would write a review so here goes. Advance apologies if anyone finds my opinions different to theirs!

General Info: This was our eighth cruise.. David is my husband and we take our cruises together! Cruised from Southampton to The Canaries and back to Southampton. The cruise duration was 9 nights.

Getting to ship/embarkation.

We drove to Southampton and gave the car to Andrews to look after. The journey was a bit fraught as there were hold-ups on M27 and we had to leave the motorway and find our way through the centre of Southampton.

The embarkation was smooth.. our cases were taken as we arrived and we saw them again once we reached our cabin. We waited for about 3/4 hour before embarkation and were seated comfortably in the terminal where you could buy drinks, newspapers, magazines and other odds and ends. Quite tranquil. The ship was loaded according to cards handed out as you booked in.. all hassle free.

First we were taken to one of the beautiful lounges on this ship. It was Andersons. We made our own way to our cabin after a decent interval as nobody seemed to be coming to escort us. We were highly impressed on our first glimpse of the interior... most tasteful and the 3 deck atrium was quite stunning. The ship has a high level of cleanliness which was maintained throughout the cruise.

Cabin

We were on deck 9 in the Forward section of the ship...which was very long. I certainly got exercise getting there. The cabin was C128 and was an outside cabin with very large window. The cabin was 150 sq.ft. which included the bathroom. This was the smallest cabin we have ever had. The bathroom had a bath with shower over and it would have been more spacious if there had been just a shower. The cabin used large mirrors judiciously to enhance the size of the room. The bed was 6ft wide..2 singles joined together. We did think to separate the beds to make extra space in the middle.. but were too lazy to bother. The wardrobe space had 3 doors with the rails front to back rather than sideways. This was an irritant as you had to reach in trying to unhook those wretched hangers! This was a space saving device I guess. To be fair we had adequate space and we were able to store our large suitcases under the beds. We had two chests of drawers one each side of the bed with 4 drawers in each, plus a dressing table with 4 very spacious drawers.

One special plus was the fridge.. so much better and cheaper than a mini bar. We took on board our own wine and drinks. Also there was a kettle and mugs plus tea coffee milk and sugar so you could make your own refreshments. There were biscuits and chocolate drinks as well. We thought this was a great plus and we found making your own cuppa whenever you wanted was wonderful. There was a TV with remote and we were able to get BBC World, CNN etc. I would like to ask cruise lines to get Sky news as I just hate BBC World which seems to think giving any news about UK as irrelevant!

While I am on this topic congratulations to P&O who screened the World Cup Matches not only in the Pacific Lounge but in our cabins...my husband was delighted.

The bathroom was well equipped with liquid soap over the shower.. Molton Brown no less which is quite an upmarket brand. There was also a bag of goodies including cotton wool, sewing aid, nail files etc. The two bathroom cabinets were quite adequate. All in all the cabin was good...very light.

Walking around the ship we thought the inside cabins were equal size with outside.. good to know if you plan to have an inside. Also found that cabins in the same letter grade were priced according to location...we were KC forward. KA were on a higher deck and were also in a better location... i.e. midships.

The next grade cabin up D grade were a much better size and were also well located, but on the port side of the ship they had 3-4 people and were used by families. We would look for a D grade cabin if we could get a special price, but if we really wanted a cruise we would go the same grade as this time. The sound insulation was quite good, although we had only couples next door to us and we heard no noise from above. We were pleased as we cannot stand extraneous noise.

Dining & Food

We were late bookers and had no choice of dining. We were first sitting and were on a table for 6 people. The other 4 were 2 couples travelling together and all were very pleasant, so no problems there. The food was quite good...not as good as QE2 or Crystal but nevertheless plenty of choice and well presented. Our waiters were very good.. all came from Goa and were most professional. The portions were generous and there was always a fish dish and vegetarian selections. Considering the number of passengers on the ship the dining experience was good. We ate in the Peninsular restaurant but the other, the Oriental was a better looking room, purely because it was at the back of the ship with a wrap around window. Dining room was according to cabin location so we were placed in Peninsular. We did sneak into the Oriental for some breakfasts and lunches but it was discouraged and we were asked which restaurant we normally dined in.. we of course told a lie.. anything to write a good review.. Our readers need to know these things.

Breakfast in the dining room ended at 9am..a grave mistake in our opinion. We feel that breakfast should last until 9.30am at least. Dinner began at 6.30 and second sitting was 8.30pm. Because we do not like to dine so early we took advantage of the restaurant in the conservatory...you know, the Lido. Each evening part of this restaurant was transformed into Le Jardin and there was a cover charge of £3.50 per person, which was well worth it in our opinion. We were able to sit in the perfect location overlooking the water with our own waiter taking care of all our needs and the food was really good and very well presented. We ate there more than in the dining room as we enjoyed the experience so much.. well done P&O.

Turning to breakfast and lunch in the conservatory, I simply do not like the hugger mugger atmosphere of these places.. they are generally crowded and noisy and this was no exception.. kids shouting others crying and a generally unrelaxed atmosphere. Give me the starched tablecloths and the dignity of the main restaurant any day.

There were no themed dinners and no baked Alaska nights.. good.

My birthday was one night and we managed to avoid the usual happy birthday song, but when we got to our cabin there were the balloons on the door and inside a plate of Belgian chocs. and a card signed by the captain. Very tasteful and much appreciated.

The dress code was always adhered to, and we were impressed with the standard of dress on formal nights.. people on the Oriana were in my opinion better dressed than on QE2. Of the nine nights 3 were formal, 4 were informal and 2 were casual (first and last nights)There were more men in Tuxes than I had thought would be and I certainly never felt overdressed in my finery.

Ship's facilities

Found the staff at all levels very helpful and polite.. except for one waiter who took umbrage when I asked for fresh tea at breakfast.. the cup he poured was stewed. He told me many people liked it like that and made a big production of it. Then he asked my husband if he should go and get another pot of hot water to serve the coffee.. very sarcastic.. but there is always the odd rude person isn't there.

On board shops had a lot of stock.. but the evening clothes for sale were pretty awful and one dress was marked as though it had been worn. Lots of jewellery and perfume.. usual inch of gold. Not much to talk about really though quite adequate and there were two shops one on deck 7 and another on deck 6..do ask any questions you would like answered about the shops. They did give a talk about Tanzanite, which I had seen in the Caribbean. The young woman giving the talk about it seemed to read the details and knew very little. When I went to look at the display in the jewellery section, I thought it was vastly overpriced as was the Swarzovski jewellery. The Pave was good and they had a reasonable selection.

The Casino gave me a pain.. I just love to play the slots but I was convinced that these were calibrated to give least return...I went through £10 in about 10 minutes and this was the worst result on Slots that I have ever had. The other gaming room was well organised and attended,.. but we did not play.

Looked at the equipment in the gym which was on a high deck.. very good and there was a spa there too which was always deserted. Dear reader, I took all my gym clobber but regret to inform you that after looking at all the young men and women exercising ferociously, I just did not get round to my regular exercise.

The decks at the aft section where the pools were situated were always crowded on fine days at sea and I have to tell you the German towel syndrome was well in evidence (please do not take offence German readers.. this is a British joke) In my opinion British people are very guilty of the towel on sunbed habit. This was a great drawback for us.. You simply had to go out and stake your claim about 9am to get a bed. I was unable to get one except on the side promenade deck during the entire cruise. Not to sound too snobbish but the types who do this kind of thing were a bit downmarket and I would not have liked to confront them.

The jacuzzis were also quite crowded.

I did not visit the hairdresser.. I find them generally overpriced and not that good, so prefer to take my own dryer and fix my own hair.

Looked at the cyber study, but sessions on the internet were very expensive and I did not use it. Nor did it ever seem crowded. Liked the library, though I do wish there were some audio books to borrow. I always take one or two as they are amazingly soporific and I never get to listen to more than one side before I am asleep. Hellishly expensive on three batteries! You could borrow 2 books at a time and titles were up to date.. some very new ones. You could also buy paperbacks on board, a good idea. The Tackeray room attached to the library was a lovely relaxing room in which to read. I used it all day on the rough day we had on the way home.

My husband was disappointed by the lack of bridge players on board. There were 8 others and nobody else came, so he did not get a game. We went to the trivia quizzes. One was at 5.30pm..a stupid time as those going to first sitting found it inconvenient. There was always a good crowd there.

Photo gallery same as any other ship.. nothing to say really, although as it was on a walkway, it was a bit inconvenient at times.

Lots of bars to drink in...not that interested in this so really can only tell you if bars are your scene, you will not be disappointed on Oriana. We loved Tiffany court where a pianist tinkled away before and after dinner.. we sipped our cocktails and listened to his great improvisations.

I have to say that drink prices on Oriana were very reasonable. I think the drinks on the ship were cheaper than on any other ship we have cruised on.

Nothing to say about discos.. I am well past that age!

Entertainment

The theatre Royal was highly impressive.. a really large theatre with tiered red plush seats, complete with individual aircon. in each seat.. how different!. can only say that this was the best theatre on board that I have seen. The shows were fine.. We did enjoy the productions. We heard that they had changed the dance troupe and were trying out a new company.. well done P&O as we enjoyed the music and verve of the artists.

There were two nights of classical piano recitals in the Curzon room. Most music was well known and well played and I found them most enjoyable. Another artist was an excellent illusionist plus a stand up comedian on a couple of nights....and that was it.

The ports of call were well known to us:

Vigo.. for Santiago De Compostela. We have done the tour before so went shopping in Vigo for ciggies for friends in UK. We do not smoke but the cost of a carton was £10..very cheap.

Lanzarote.. where we took our only organised tour. The guide was one of the best we have ever had and the landscape of the island was highly dramatic. I would thoroughly recommend this tour.

Santa Cruz Tenerife... we wandered around the town of Santa Cruz and found it most relaxing.

Madeira.. last port of call

We had been there twice before, but always like a wander around the town of Funchal. Heard that our tablemates enjoyed their tour greatly.

There was always a bus to get into town, except in Funchal where a boat was laid on to take you to the middle of town.. all very satisfactory.

We had one very rough night on the second night out.. I was rather scared, but that was just because it was uncomfortable. The only other rough weather was just after we left Madeira when a strong wind whipped the sea up and there was a most uncomfortable day spent indoors.

OK, Now how would I improve this cruise experience..

There were 200 children on the ship...children got very heavy discounts. I think some even went free under a certain age. For us this was one of the downsides. We have children ..and in fact we have grown up teenage grandchildren, but we do not like to spend our cruises with kids.. OK you can slate me if you like, but we had thought that in June the kids would still be in school and I have to say I heartily disapprove of parents removing their children in term time to go on hols. I know it is expensive to holiday in the school hols. but we were surprised to see quite so many children. They were well catered for on board and I am sure they enjoyed themselves.

We certainly did not like them around at meal times. Why is it that young children wait until meal times to bawl, scream and generally carry on? This was especially apparent in the conservatory where I advise you to keep away if you are looking for tranquillity.

I am now looking for ships other than Saga where children are not catered for.. having read the review about Arcadia maybe that ship will be the one for me!

Next.. cinema listings. The cinema is superb and was under utilised both for talks and decent films. They had Charlotte Grey and A beautiful Mind on.. but films were poorly advertised and I have written to P&O to suggest they have an advert. outside the cinema to say what is showing. The films shown in the cabins bore no resemblance to the written prog. so I did not see any I liked. I am a real film fan and so I was disappointed, especially as the cinema is so good. Saw Harry Potter and Monsters Inc. Both were rather spoilt as parents dropped their children in the cinema and left them.. whereupon some played merry hell.

Guest Speakers...where were they?? There was an erudite gentleman who spoke about ports and the tours. We enjoyed his knowledge and thought he was great. There was one other guest speaker, a lady who spoke twice about getting your life in balance.. bit jargony and I have a really great balance in my life and did not go on a cruise for self improvement.

This lack of guest speakers was a great disappointment to us, having been on other cruises where the guest speakers were pure enjoyment.

The under utilisation of so many wonderful lounges. The lounges on this ship were some of the best I have ever seen. How great to serve afternoon tea in such gracious surroundings.. but no! Afternoon tea was served in the restaurant or in the dreaded Conservatory.. not at all gracious. I like a serene room with a musician in the background and waiters in elegant gloves serving finger sandwiches, scones and cakes using china that is elegant.. maybe too much to ask? But this is a British ship and we should be doing tea in style!

Well I think by now you will all be bored. As I have been writing I can see that I did really like the Oriana, especially as I paid only £799 for this cruise booked only 3 weeks in advance. There were many other passengers who had paid the same price as us. An inside cabin could be had for £699..so who can complain. I think that the World Cup affected sales and so we were lucky. Just to let you know the cruise was booked via http://www.cruisesandvoyages.com Wayne Frieslander is very efficient.. tickets and info on time etc. I understand P&O also offered this fare direct to customers as well.

I would give the cruise 7/10 and would have given a better score except for my moans outlined above.

Please feel free to ask questions.. but do it soon as we are about to leave on another cruise.. this one booked a year in advance. We leave on 11th July on Saga Rose to Iceland, Norway, Shetlands etc and then to Ireland and Scotland.

Cheers
Anniel

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