Bye bye, Oriana :-(

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Bye bye, Oriana :-(

We booked this cruise as, like many others, we wanted to sail on Oriana before she is retired next month. We have many happy memories from the many times we have previously sailed on her. We love the smaller/medium ships and the traditional style, with the promenade deck for walking off all that delicious food. 

The crew were, on the whole, fantastic and the service was excellent. Our cabin steward was lovely and so helpful, going the extra mile to make my bed comfortable for my sore hip. She kept the cabin immaculate. We'd not had a balcony cabin on Oriana before and thought we would splash out on this occasion. It was very spacious, with plenty of storage space for us.

We were on Freedom Dining in the Peninsular restaurant for evening meals. As we like to eat early, we tended to have the same waiters, which was lovely, and they soon picked up our preferences. Their service was excellent - friendly and caring. The food was very good most of the time, and we never had a meal that we really didn't like. The wine prices are very reasonable and it was good to have some English wines on the menu, as well as the more well-known ones from abroad.

Our first port of call was Killybegs - a small Irish town, but pretty and very welcoming. A display of Irish dancing had been arranged in a local hotel, together with an art and craft fayre. All very friendly with some lovely crafts on display and for sale. We didn't do an excursion as we wanted to do some walking in the lovely lanes, and see the views around us, which were lovely.

On to Iceland and the first port of call was Reykjavik. We arrived there early as some poor passenger needed to be transferred to hospital. Wonder how she is now? The shore excursion team had worked to get shuttle buses into the city itself, and to lay on some extra excursions for that evening. We did the Golden Circle tour the following day - very interesting, particularly around the American and Eurasian fault lines in the Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and where Iceland's first parliament was established over 1000 years ago. More time would have good here, but there was so much to see and do on this excursion. On to Gulfoss Waterfall - impressive, thundering and powerful. We then went to Geysir, the geothermal area, where we had a lovely lunch at the hotel as part of the excursion. Plenty of choice, with wine, beer or soft drink and coffee or tea included. The sight of the Strokkur geyser was wonderful, together with all of the surrounding area, despite the rain and wind. We didn't have much time at the final stop, a Geothermal Energy Plant, which was unfortunate as it was very interesting. 

At Isafjordur we did the Sights, History and Culture excursion. Again, a great trip, with a fantastic guide who made it all so interesting as it was all so personal to her. She does four jobs and works so hard, as do most Icelanders, it would appear. A young man of 16 played some music for us in a small church in Flateyri - what a thing to do at that age, and he was so confident. It was great. We tried local delicacies at a lovely coffee shop, and then went on to Skrudur Gardens, the first Icelandic botanical garden. Only small but pretty and interesting, and the local people can pick the produce from the fruit bushes!

In Akureyri we did the Jewels of the North excursion. Stunning scenery, with very interesting geological formations. Shame about the flies in the Myvatn Lake area, but at least they were big enough to see and they didn't bite! The Godafoss waterfall was so blue and impressive, and the Dimmuborgir lava labyrinth was fascinating. Finally, a stop at the gurgling sulphur cauldrons - not as smelly as some places we have been to in other parts of the world but greats sights to see. 

Our port of call in the Faroe Islands was changed from the capital of Torshavn to a smaller place called Klaksvig. We decided to do an excursion here to Torshavn and we were glad we did. Our guide was very interesting and the capital was lovely with its grass roofs and colourful houses and official buildings. The scenery there and back was lovely too.

Unfortunately, our call at Dublin was cancelled due to problems with the propulsion of the ship, so we went to Cobh a half day early, but what a lovely place. The sun was shining brightly and we walked up and down the hills to see sights such as the lovely Cathedral and the Titanic Memorial Garden. There was lots of Irish music going on outside the pubs as well - great! This added to the atmosphere of the place, which was very friendly. We could have gone to Cork on the train very easily from here - only 25 minutes on the train, direct access from the terminal, but we decided to stay in Cobh and go to the Titanic Exhibition. Well worth a visit - you can imagine the excitement of the people going to board Titanic, with the hopes of a wonderful new life in America.....

The entertainment was very good on the whole. The Headliners are always very entertaining and in good voice. We did think that the tribute to the war was probably a bit outdated now though - as time goes on, despite keeping the memory of the servicemen and women who fought for the country alive, much of the music was unknown to us and this will become more so with time. However, we did enjoy it - just not as much as their other shows, which were excellent. Local Irish musicians also came aboard in Cobh - a band of musicians and Irish dancers called Gaels Afloat, and the Shamrock Tenors. Both acts were extremely good and it was lovely to have some local performers. 

Despite a few hiccups with the mechanics of the ship, and changes in itinerary due to poor passengers who suffered ill-health, it was a very enjoyable cruise, and such a pleasure to be a part of the Farewell to Oriana. We will miss her! We still think there is a market for this type of ship, instead of the big behemoths that the powers-that-be seem to think they need to build to please us. We like smaller!

Review Details

Views:
214
Overall Rating:
Cruise Line:
P&O Cruises
Cruise Ship:
Oriana
Destination:
Northern Europe

Review Profile

Sailed:
July, 2019
Times cruised before:
10+
Age:
56 - 65
Occasion:
None
Cabin:
Balcony

Cruise Elements:

Quality of Food:
Freedom Dining in the Peninsular restaurant mostly. Also some breakfasts there. We tended use Al Fresco for lunch - may not be as much choice as in the buffet in the Conservatory, but it was relaxed. We ate more fish that we would tend to do at home, but all the meals were good.
Entertainment:
We enjoyed the Headliners shows, especially the tribute to Queen music. The Irish musicians who came aboard were also excellent.
Shore Excursions:
Couldn't pick a favourite - they were all good in their different ways. We liked the scenery in the Akureyri region the most in Iceland, but we were very lucky with the weather. The excursions from the ship in Iceland were quite expensive though, but good.
Staff:
Our cabin steward and the waiters we saw the most were great. Most of the crew were friendly and welcoming.
Onboard Activities:
My husband enjoyed the talks; I enjoyed doing Fitsteps -trying to work off some of those extra calories!
Cabins:
Plenty of space in our cabin - more than the newer ships! Very clean, even though a bit tired now. However, all the upholstery and carpets were fairly new and lovely designs and colours.
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