Fabulous Norwegian Adventures
This was our first Norwegian cruise. We have sailed with P&O before, on the Arcadia, in 2006. The cruise was booked one month before departure so our cabin and dining arrangements were allocated on arrival. We were given a 3.00 p.m. slot to join the ship. The embarkation was extremely efficient and we were quickly in our cabin on deck 8 aft. This was a standard inside cabin which we prefer and had plenty of wardrobe and drawer space. We were allocated to the Peninsular restaurant on Freedom dining. This was actually our preferred option. We thought we would be on first sitting having booked so late. This worked very well for us. We just walked in every night and shared a table with other guests. We had a table for two on a couple of occasions which meant a short wait of 10 minutes or so. The restaurant will give you a pager so you can either go off for a drink or just sit in a waiting area outside the restaurant. We found the restaurant to be a very slick operation compared to others we have experienced. Food in the restaurant was very good overall with some dishes comparable to very good restaurants shoreside. Dishes are aimed for the Brits with lots of steamed puddings, pies and curries and plenty for veggies who we have found to be overlooked on some other ships. My wife was particularly pleased to find a vegetarian full English breakfast available. We used the conservatory buffet a couple of times for lunch and found a good choice of food but I can't really argue with passengers who have compared it to a cafe. It is rather small and crowded at peak times ( aren't they all?) which is why we chose not to use it very often. Service in the restaurant, bars and cabin was efficient and unobtrusive. All the staff and officers we met work very hard and are approachable and friendly both around and off the ship. We enjoyed all the ports, preferring to do our own thing. We booked the scenic train ourselves in Flam and Andalsnes and the funicular in Bergen and saved ourselves a bit of money. The Lofoten Islands in the Arctic Circle and Geiranger were simply stunning and left you breathless. We had to laugh when we heard passengers complaining because they thought there were too many trees in Norway and that the scenery never changed- you can't please everyone. The sail away up the Fjord from Geiranger was amazing and the captain actually stopped the ship and rotated it 360 degrees so the whole ship could witness the Seven Sisters waterfall in full flow. The entertainment we saw was first class. The Highlights Theatre Company put on some excellent shows. The Oriana orchestra were superb as were the Entertainment staff led by Natalie. Stand out shows for us were Beverley and her violin, hilarious Cuban comedian/magician and the fabulous 4tunes. We have never witnessed "standing room only" for shows on any ship. We also did Zumba classes and sang in the 70 strong Oriana passenger choir on the last day. There were loads of other activities for passengers, but you can't do them all can you? So for us, a stand out cruise, one of the best ones we have done. We found the Oriana to be an extremely friendly and well run ship. A real ship that reminded me very much of the Canberra. I love the wide promenade deck with wooden floors that you can walk all the way round. I like the fact you can actually walk around the upper decks with the wind in your hair and not be surrounded by plastic walls you have to peer through. I don't mind that some of the ship is starting to look its age. We have been in far more elaborate theatres on cruise ships but they are only half full. My acid test for a ship is would I do a World Cruise on it. I certainly would on the Oriana.
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