When looking at cruise holidays, P&O have many different cruise ships and itineraries to choose from. There really is a ship for everyone. Ships that are only for adults, family friendly ships, medium sized ships carrying 1500 passengers and huge Goliath’s with over 3000.
In this post, I’ll be talking about the cruiseship I holidayed on, the ORIANA, giving you a full overview of the ship and what it has to offer onboard, facilities and features, food and drink and much more.
Before your trip
Once you have booked your holiday you have access to P&O’s online cruise personaliser. This is where you can select your cabin, book onshore excursions, book in to restaurants plus a whole range of other extras that will build up the excitement well before your holiday begins. There is a wealth of information on there answering most questions you may have and some you might not have even thought about.
I travel a lot and the biggest pain is always the airport and the flight. Checking in for my cruise could not have been easier. I took my case to the front of cruise terminal in Southampton with a preprinted luggage tag on where it was whisked away in a second, when I boarded the ship it was outside my cabin. Simple as that. You can take as many bags as you like as long as they are not heavier than 20kgs and can be stored in your cabin.
There is a vast modern cruise terminal where you wait seated for a short time (unlike airports where you’re stood in those mammoth queues), then called to the desk and checked in. After tickets and passports have been checked, a swipe is taken of your credit or debit card and you are presented with your cruise card. This is you mode of payment for everything on the ship, from drinks at the bar to paying for excursions, also it is scanned as you enter and exit the ship to keep an onboard register of passengers. At the end of the cruise, you receive your bill and you can either pay cash at reception or your card is debited, a great system that keeps your pockets free of cash and wallets.
After check-in, you go through the normal metal detector screening (like an airport) before you board the ship, no liquid restrictions being one weight off your mind. Overall check-in is a very quick, easy, relaxed and pleasant experience.
The first 3 days of the journey were at sea so plenty of time to check out the ship. Initially it seems huge and this is only a mid sized ship. After a couple of days you get to know where most things are quite easily. The first couple of days we unfortunately went through some rough weather so this took a little getting used to. Over dinner a few regular cruise goers told us it was the worst they’d been through which provided little comfort. Thankfully it was only the first 2 days that were a bit bumpy, after that it was literally plain sailing. Motion sickness tablets were easily available at reception, my pal travelling companion Dan was very thankful of this haha.
While on a ‘sea day’ you see everyone walking around the ship clinging on to a book, so don’t forget yours. The onboard shop does also stock a wide selection of the latest books and there is also a free library at your disposal.
Placed outside your cabin each night is the ships daily ‘Horizon’ newsletter which has a full programme of activities, entertainment and information about the following day. These are produced each day and provide details on everything you need to plan out your day. I really looked forward to reading this each evening and planning the following days schedule, it’s produced to a very high standard and covers everything going on onboard.
There are various different cabins onboard, from inside cabins for those who don’t require a window, to suites for those wanting to make the journey even more comfortable. My cabin had a large window on the
left hand side of the ship (port side apparently).
The cabin was a great size and had lots of the little things any good hotel has. A hairdryer, tea and coffee making facilities, shampoo and conditioner and a TV with Sky News, a movie channel, a channel showing the ships webcam amongst other channels, thankfully Sky Sports News which was a great added bonus! Cabins are cleaned twice a day, in the morning and also in the evening with a turn down service. The chocolate on your pillow is always nice to come back to each night.
Keeping in touch
Keeping in touch with home can be done in the ships cyber cafe or by purchasing some minutes of wifi for your mobile device. It was nice to simply be detached from the world for a few days whilst at sea though, it’s amazing how much we depend on our phones and wifi now, I must admit I struggled at first but then enjoyed being reconnected when on land in various cafes with wifi.
Food and drink
There is one thing hugely associated with cruise ships, FOOD.
A comedian onboard said ‘you come on as passengers and rolled off as cargo’, he wasn’t wrong. Food food food everywhere, and great food it was. Each meal of the day is provided in lots of different restaurants. You can have a sit down meal 3 times a day, or visit a self service buffet restaurant.
On this cruise there was a dress code for each night. Evening casual, Black tie and Smart, jacket required. I was a bit unsure about the first black tie night, this is something I hadn’t experienced before. Not surprisingly, It’s not that often I wear a suit and dickie bow. If you don’t fancy the dress codes, there are always the buffet restaurants you can visit, so don’t worry if you don’t have a tux hanging up in your wardrobe. The Black tie nights did become a holiday highlight though.
If you choose to dine in the sit down restaurant you can choose to sit just in your group but are urged to share tables with fellow passengers. This is a great way to get to know more people onboard and forge some new friendships. It did feel a bit awkward on the first night sitting with strangers but this awkwardness soon went away and was something to look forward to on following nights. You could be sat next to a surgeon, a bin man or even a singer off TV, you just never know.
Each day breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, evening meals, and midnight snacks are put on for you. You will definitely not go hungry at any point during your cruise.
There are numerous different bars and lounges on the ship catering to everyone. From the Lord’s Tavern pub where there is daily entertainment, karaoke, quizzes and live football, to the more sophisticated Anderson’s bar with lovely armchairs and ambience. My personal favourite was the Crows Nest lounge at the front of the top deck providing a great view of the sea ahead of us. Drinks are very reasonable and competitively priced onboard, a menu is available on the P&O website so you can check the prices and if your favourite tipple is available before you sail.
For the coffee lovers out there a great bonus was to find a Costa coffee outlet onboard, a daily iced latte being a personal highlight.
There is a cinema that shows one different movie a day, plenty of different screenings to work around your day. One cruising tip is to go during rough weather, it can really take your mind off it!
Over our 10 day itinerary there were 3 great guest artistes. Each act doing 2 nights and 2 performances on each of those nights, providing a great blend of comedy, magic and vocals. Each ship has its own onboard entertainment team providing high quality production shows. This cruise saw the team perform 6 different shows 2-3 times a night, I appreciate how difficult this is and they deserve great credit for doing so much variety. There are also guest speakers and world class musicians giving recitals in various lounges of the ship during each day, every aspect of entertainment is covered, nobody is left out whatever your taste in entertainment.
For the active amongst you there is a fully equipped gym which is free to use, plus regular classes and talks you can attend if you want to push yourself a little further. A personal trainer is on hand if you require 1-1 classes or attend one of the many group sessions that are scheduled in over the trip. There is also a spa with a sauna, jacuzzi and steam room, plus several heated swimming pools on deck that are extremely relaxing and a quite unique sensation being in a swimming pool on the middle of a boat.
On deck there are numerous sports facilities, golf nets, cricket nets, badminton, ping pong and shuffle board to name a few.
There are numerous ways you can part with your money onboard. After drink and the casino there are shops where you can buy duty free, chocolate, books, bath robes, diamonds… plenty of things to spend a few quid on.
There is a full team of onboard photographers who snap you from the moment you join the ship, when you get off at different ports, black tie nights and just around the ship. Photos go on display and are a great memento to take home and remember your cruise by. Of course we had to buy the customary black tie photo as a momento.
And then it’s all over. After 10 days of eating, drinking reading and exploring, my time was over on the Oriana. My onboard tab was available at reception and automatically settled with the card I registered at check-in, a great simple system.
You can leave your cases outside your cabin and they’ll be taken off for your collection at the cruise terminal, or if you wish, you can leave the ship early and carry them off yourself if you want to beat the crowds and get a quick getaway.
Cruises are a fantastic way to travel, you get to see bite sized chunks of many places in one go, a kind of try before you buy. Take a look at what cruises are available. You’ll be surprised at how reasonably priced they are and how much you get included in that. You can easily eat your monies worth if nothing else! Now where shall I go next!?
Click HERE to visit P&O’s website and take a look at what’s on offer.
There are more posts to follow telling you all about the ports of call on this itinerary. Stay tuned!