Oceana - Persian Gulf Cruise
Embarkation: Smooth and relaxed with the bonus of being able to access the cabin before noon. Interesting itinerary with some ports that we would like to re-visit and others we wouldnt lose any sleep over if we never heard of them again. Dubai Many changes in the 20 years since we last visited to stay, not all for the good. Pleasing to see that the creek is still used as it used to be to load and discharge the local dhows. The newer Dubai to the south of the port is very impressive architecturally. The hop on hop off tours are good to see as much as possible, although we did find that P&Os preferred partner was more expensive than the alternative (Citysightseeing Dubai). Bahrain Unless visiting the Grand Prix circuit, theres not a lot to the place. The Souk is interesting, but only for a couple of hours. Abu Dhabi We did the sightseeing excursion taking in the major sights with the highlight being the Zayed Grand Mosque absolutely a must for here. A word of warning the officials at the mosque strictly enforce the dress code, so follow the instructions issued by the tour desk. The old fort and palace were also interesting. For topping up on essentials, you cant go wrong with the Abu Dhabi Co-op at the mall virtually anything you need at a reasonable price + free wi-fi in the mall and at the cruise terminal. Muscat You need to travel beyond the port area to see the city. However, the big bus tour price is astronomical at nearly 70 per person! Khasab Nothing in the town but would thoroughly recommend the dhow cruise to the Arabian Fjord with dolphins swimming alongside and the chance to swim from the dhow makes this an excellent trip. Sir Bani Yas The gulf equivalent of the private islands in the Caribbean. Plenty of room and sun loungers if lying on the beach is your thing. The ship put a bar service ashore and provided a cold buffet service. We understand that there were excursions to see the wildlife, but these were expensive and relatively short. Onboard Restaurants: Ligurian Restaurant no waiting time if you are willing to share a table and the service on these occasions was good. However, on the one occasion we opted for a table for two, there was a 30 minute wait that seemed to be pretty standard and the service was not all it could have been. We got the impression that tables for two were the poor relatives and only received attention when the larger tables had been attended to. We only used the Ligurian for lunch once and ended up leaving before the end of the meal because the staff basically forgot we were there and having waited for 10 minutes to have the dessert order taken, we gave up. This was passed on to the restaurant manager. Caf Jardin unusual name for an Italian cuisine restaurant. However, we felt the extra cost was worth it on the occasion we went for dinner with excellent service and standard of dishes. We ate here at lunchtime on one occasion and enjoyed the unhurried relaxed atmosphere. The plaza We ate here on a couple of occasions at night when we didnt feel like dressing up for dinner and found the dishes on offer to be of a good standard. Bar service was a bit hit and miss. At lunchtime, we found the buffet decent with a good choice, but again bar service could have been better. Bars/Drinks: Generally good service throughout the cruise with friendly staff. Prices not too bad, especially in comparison to the likes of Royal Caribbean or Celebrity. We found that the wine packages were not good value for money and we could pick up a decent bottle of wine at dinner for less than the cost of the package per bottle. Cabin: Excellent space and brilliant service from the Butler Sayed, including the occasions when he arranged and served breakfast on the balcony. Very helpful and friendly. Entertainment: The evening shows we saw were good but felt that some of the bar entertainment around the ship was not the best quality. Disembarkation: Again smooth and relaxed with no problems. Flights: Reasonable scheduled Emirates flights. However, as P&O had locked the booking, no one was able to choose seats and some ended up away from companions on the plane. As Emirates Skywards members, we were unable to access some of the benefits because the booking had been locked preventing us from choosing better seats on the flights. Conclusion: Enjoyable cruise, but we would be in no hurry to repeat the itinerary. Overall the ship was good and staff friendly with a few exceptions. We would recommend shopping around for excursions as they are available ashore and P&Os partners are not always the best option. A few niggles onboard that were eventually sorted, otherwise this would have scored a five.
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