More than two years ago, regular Fred Olsen cruiser John Fisher switched to P&O. He reported on that first P&O cruise – on Oriana – for this website at the time, and was happy to join her again for a long winter cruise. Was his enthusiasm undimmed? Read his report and decide for yourself.
On our first cruise on the Oriana we were lucky and were upgraded from E Deck to A Deck, which was very nice, writes John Fisher. Our second cruise was a late booking and we were given a cabin on E Deck at the front of the ship. There were two bunks attached to the walls of the cabin, which restricted the space and prevented the two beds being moved. There was no noise at sea on the outward part of the cruise, but when the docking gear was in use the noise was terrible. Leaving Bermuda on the return part of the cruise the bow wave noise was incredible, but such drawbacks are always a risk with a late booking
We were not allocated a table in the Oriental restaurant when we booked, and instead given freedom dining using the Peninsula restaurant and the Conservatory café. We decided to put our names down for the Oriental restaurant, but after dining in the Peninsula – where we could choose a large or small table at each visit – we declined the opportunity to use the Oriental. We were very pleased with the Peninsula, which was very elegant, well organised and quiet. We would definitely use freedom dining in future.
We are very keen sequence dancers, and on cruises find that sequence dancing is very popular with our age group. Unfortunately, when we went to dance in the Harlequins ballroom, we found that sequence dancing was being restricted by the two dance instructors who were teaching the Strictly version of Ballroom Dancing. We complained to the cruise director, and as a result each evening the John James Trio were able to fill the floor with happy sequence dancers. The fact that a Strictly Come Dancing competition organised for passengers during the cruise was cancelled due to lack of entries should tell P&O something.
Oriana ticked all the boxes and we found the food, entertainment, shows, lectures, cinema, library, staff, and deck areas very good. However we were surprised to find a number of regular P&O passengers on board who were not happy. They said that cruise ships were being changed, particularly during refits, and popular venues were being replaced by expensive “Fine Dining” venues that appeared to lack the support of the passengers. The Harlequins ballroom on the Oriana was used extensively every evening and during the day, and the thought of turning this into an expensive fine dining venue on a cruise ship that provides more than enough quality food in the ticket price seems ridiculous.