OVERVIEW: Anyone cruising aboardOriana, an adults-only ship, will get a well-organized cruise experience. It suits mature adults seeking to cruise aboard a large ship with the facilities of a small resort.
Recently we joined P&O’s Oriana for a 10 night cruise to La Coruna, Casablanca, Gibraltar, Cadiz and Lisbon. This was our second cruise and our first on Oriana. What a lovely ship, she has a great feel, very cosy. Captain Pemberton is a lovely man who kept us well informed right from the start, when he explained why we were departing Southampton with haste! During the cruise, he advised us about the weather and sea conditions we could expect in the next 24 hours. We tried an inside cabin this time, it was kept clean and tidy to an excellent standard by our friendly, helpful cabin steward, Antonio. The lack of a window was not a problem for us. The restaurants provided food and wine of the highest standard. P&O have not disappointed, we are now saving and planning for the next cruise with them. To give you a taste of what we saw and did, the following is a précis of our cruise.
A prompt Monday afternoon departure from Southampton to enable an incoming container ship to berth without delaying us meant a fairly fast run down Southampton water. Soon it was time to meet our fellow diners in the Oriental Restaurant. We could not have wished for better company; they were friendly, entertaining and knowledgeable companions throughout the cruise.
After a full day at sea, we woke on Wednesday morning in La Coruna. The locals were pleased to see us as we brought their first sunshine since Christmas. La Coruna is an easy place to get around, with plenty to see.
Another day at sea saw us crossing the Bay of Biscay. The wind reached force 8 and the sea was rough. One or two passengers found this a little uncomfortable while others found the rocking motion an aid to getting to sleep. Friday morning and we were docked in Casablanca. Our original plan was to follow a walking tour I’d copied from a guide book. Fellow passengers advised against this, so we booked on the afternoon sight-seeing tour. This trip included a mint tea at a hotel. I really enjoyed the warm, sweet mint tea. Our guide was very good and spoke clearly directing us around the sights. He invited us to walk one section of the town centre with him, this was quite an experience. Although there were a few street traders, a polite “No” was all that was needed to be left alone. Fellow passengers bought wooden bowls, carpets and postcards. Casablanca is evolving, with the old and new complimenting each other.
An overnight crossing took us to Gibraltar. This was a change from the original itinerary and instead of having to criss-cross the Spanish coast, we now had a whole day and evening in Gibraltar. The port is within easy walking distance of the town centre. Although it was a Saturday, not every shop was open and many were closed by mid afternoon. This is worth bearing in mind if you are due to visit Gibraltar.
An overnight sailing took us to Cadiz and bright sunshine. This is a beautiful city, full of lovely buildings, narrow streets and passageways. Cadiz caters for tourists by painting coloured lines on the edge of the footpath, you simply follow the colour of your chosen walking tour, allowing you to confidently find your way around. We were surprised to see orange trees in the many public gardens, with ripe fruit hanging from the branches. It was Palm Sunday and the processions were quite a sight and it would have been lovely to have had the evening to soak up the atmosphere of the event.
Monday morning saw us in Lisbon with cloudy skies. Using the shuttle bus, we went into the town centre. We had planned on visiting a particular location but the bus and tram route numbers had all changed since our guide was published. As our Portuguese is not that good, we looked around the city.
All that remained was the two day cruise home. There was no need to worry as throughout the cruise, P&O had provided activities and entertainments to suit everyone. The theatre is a great venue for the Headliners Theatre Company, who were excellent. We saw great performances by Jimmy Tamley and Jayne Curry. The music quizzes hosted by DJ James tested our knowledge and were great fun. We dropped into the cinema and saw three films during the cruise. We ate our lunch in either the Conservatory (self service) or the Peninsular Restaurant (waiter service). We tried afternoon tea one day in the Peninsular Restaurant, it was super. We took our evening meals in the Oriental restaurant, where the waiters introduced themselves on the very first evening and gave an excellent, friendly service throughout. During the cruise, we dressed up for the three evening black tie events, which it makes it really special. The food and service is of a very high quality and would rival that of the best hotels. The entire crew are a real credit to P&O, offering an excellent, friendly, first class service to all of their passengers.
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Times cruised before: 1-2 Sailed: March, 2013
Quality of Food
The two outstanding shows were by Jimmy Tamley and Jayne Curry
Head Waiter Paul, aided by Suti, provided an excellent, friendly service in the Oriental Restaurant.
We were spoilt for choice, from shows in the theatre, cinema, quizzes held in Lords Tavern, talks and demonstrations.
We chose an inside cabin on deck 10 near the bow of the ship and were completely happy with this. It was plenty big enough and the ensuite bathroom was ideal.