Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 392 out of 500
Accommodation: 155 out of 200
Food: 244 out of 400
Service: 294 out of 400
Entertainment: 77 out of 100
Cruise: 285 out of 400
Overall Score: 1447 out of 2000
Size: Mid-size Ship
Cruise Line: P&O Cruises
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 6821080
Builder: Meyer Werft (Germany)
Original Cost: £200 million
Entered Service: Apr 1995
Length (ft/m): 853.0/260.0
Beam (ft/m): 105.6/32.2
Draft (ft/m): 25.9/7.9
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel (47,750kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 10
Total Crew: 760
Passengers (lower beds): 1,870
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 36.9
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.4
Cabins (total): 936
Size Range (sq ft/m): 150.6-500.5/14.0-46.5
Cabins (for one person): 2
Cabins (with private balcony): 118
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 8
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 3
Hot Tubs (on deck): 5
Self-Service Launderette: Yes
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: Yes/189
Onboard currency: UK£
British decor, style and food for adults-only cruising
Overview. Anyone cruising aboard Oriana, 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.
The Ship. Although well over 15 years old Oriana has a feeling of timeless elegance. There’s a good amount of outdoor space, with enough (white plastic) sunloungers for all passengers, and there’s an extra-wide, traditional walk-around outdoor promenade deck. The stern superstructure is nicely rounded, with several tiers that overlook a swimming pool and hot tub. In 2011, a refit transformed Oriana from a ship for family cruising to an adults-only ship - and, as such, much better suited to long cruises. Some 27 new cabins were added, which lowered the space ratio and crew to passenger ratio. A sponson skirt was added to the hull, as a stability aid. However, vibration at the stern still persists (it has been a problem for years).
Inside, the design provides good horizontal passenger flow and wide passageways, with decor that is gentle and welcoming. Of note are some fine, detailed ceiling treatments. The interior focal point is a four-deck-high atrium. It is quite elegant but not glitzy, and is topped by a dome of Tiffany glass. The many public rooms provide plenty of choice.
The L-shaped Anderson’s Lounge - named after Arthur Anderson, founder of the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company in the 1830s - contains an attractive series of 19th-century marine paintings and is decorated in the manner of a fine London club.
Atop the ship and forward is the Crow’s Nest, a U-shaped observation lounge with one small wing that can be closed off for small groups. A long bar includes a model of Oriana and others in a glass case. Two small stages are set into the forward port and starboard sections, each with a wooden dance floor. Smoking is permitted only on cabin balconies and in designated spots on the open decks.
The library is a fine room, with a good range of hardback books and a librarian, inlaid wood tables and bookcases crafted by Lord Linley’s company, and some comfortable chairs. By the second day of almost any cruise, the library will have been almost stripped of books by word-hungry passengers. Adjacent is Thackeray’s, a reading/writing room named after the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray, a P&O passenger in 1844. Lord’s Tavern, decorated with cricket memorabilia, is the most sporting place to pitch a beverage or two, or take part in a singalong. There’s also a small casino with table games and slot machines, and, unusually for ships today, not only a small cinema/lecture room but also a large room for card players.
The carpeting throughout is of a high quality, much of it custom designed and made from 100 percent wool. Some fine pieces of sculpture add the feeling of a floating museum, and original artworks by all-British artists include several tapestries and sculptures.
There’s a wide variety of mainly British entertainment. P&O Cruises has a successful program of theme cruises covering areas such as antiques, art appreciation, classical music, comedy, cricket, gardening, jazz, motoring, popular fiction, and Scottish dance.
Most cabin stewards and dining room personnel are from India, and provide service with a warm smile. However, in the quest for increased onboard revenue, even birthday cakes cost extra, as do real espressos and cappuccinos - fake ones, made from instant coffee, are available in the dining rooms. Ice cream and bottled water also cost extra.
Accommodation. With the change to an adults-only ship, the former children’s playrooms were converted into additional cabins. There are various price categories, according to size and location.
Standard interior cabins and outside-view cabins are well equipped, but compact. There is much use of rich, warm limed oak or cherry wood, which makes even the least expensive interior cabin quite inviting. All cabins have good closet and drawer space, a small refrigerator, full-length mirror, and blackout curtains (essential for North Cape cruises). All cabins have premium Slumberland mattresses, duvets, and high-quality bedlinen. Some can accommodate a third or third/fourth person, so sharing with friends can make for an economical cruise. Satellite television typically includes BBC World. Cabin soundproofing could be better.
There are a number of cabins for passengers traveling alone. Solos who share a cabin should note that only one personal safe is provided in most twin-bedded cabins.
The modest-size standard cabin bathrooms have mirror-fronted cabinets, although the lighting is quite soft; all have a wall-mounted hairdryer. High-quality toiletries are by Temple Spa; suite occupants get larger bottles and more of a choice.
There are eight suites, each measuring 500 sq ft (46 sq m), with butler service. Facilities include a separate bedroom with two lower beds convertible to a queen-size bed, walk-in dressing area, two double closets, and plenty of drawer space. The lounge area has a sofa, armchairs and table, writing desk, binoculars, umbrella, trouser press, iron and ironing board, two TV sets, video player, personal safe, hairdryer, and refrigerator. The bathroom has a whirlpool bath, shower, and toilet, and there’s also a guest bathroom. All in all, the suites, and particularly the bathrooms, are disappointing when compared with similarly sized suites in other ships. The private balcony has two sunloungers, tables, and chairs. Suite occupants get priority embarkation and their own lounge in the Southampton cruise terminal.
Other balcony cabins (called outside deluxe) measure 210 sq ft (19 sq m). There is plenty of closet and drawer space. The bathrooms are somewhat disappointing and dated, and have a very small, plain washbasin. One would expect marble or granite units in these grades.
Dining. Peninsular (located amidships) and Oriental (aft - it can only reached by the aft stairway) are the two restaurants, each with two seatings and with one galley between them. Both are moderately handsome, with tables for two, four, six, or eight. But in the aft dining room the noise level can be high at many tables, because of the room’s position above the propellers, and vibration at almost any speed. The meals are mostly of the ‘Middle-England’ variety, and the presentation generally lacks creativity. Curries and other Indian-style dishes are heavily featured, particularly on luncheon menus. Afternoon tea is disappointing. The typical menu cycle is 14 days; anyone on a long voyage may find it quite repetitive.
Other dining options. Marco Pierre White’s Ocean Grill (Marco Pierre White also has restaurants aboard Adonia and Arcadia) is a pleasant alternative dining spot. Reservations are required and there’s a per-person cover charge. The menu is uncomplicated, but preparation, presentation, and taste are all good. An adjacent Tiffany’s Bar serves as a pre-dinner anteroom for drinks.
A 50-seat Sorrento’s, added in a 2011 refit, features Italian fare and has ocean views from its upper-level location at the aft portside section of the buffet venue (mainly with outdoor seating).
The Conservatory is for casual self-serve breakfast and luncheon buffets, and 24-hour self-serve beverage stands, although the selection of teas is poor, and the coffee is … well, let’s not talk about that.
Entertainment. The Theatre Royal, a well-designed room, has a sloping floor and good sight lines from almost all seats. The fare is mainly British, from production shows staged by a resident company to top British ‘names’ and lesser artists. A second, smaller Pacific Lounge is a multi-function venue for cabaret acts, including late-night comedy, and can also act as a lecture room. However, pillars obstruct the stage from a number of seats.
Ballroom dance fans will appreciate the four good-sized wood dance floors aboard his ship, and a professional dance couple acts as hosts and teachers (social dancing time is always included in the programming).
Spa/Fitness. The Oasis Spa is reasonably large, and provides the latest alternative treatment therapies. A gymnasium has high-tech muscle-toning equipment. The unisex sauna is a large facility; there is also a steam room each for men and women, and several massage/body treatment rooms, an aerobics room with wood floor, plus a relaxation area with hot tub.