P&O's ORIANA

For once it was not raining on my arrival in Southampton and Oriana looked resplendent berthed at the Mayflower Terminal with the sun shining on her all white hull and superstructure topped by the familiar buff coloured P&O funnel. P&O are one of the few cruise lines that operate adult only ships and Oriana is one of these.

Originally built in 1995 by Meyer Werft in Germany at a cost of £200 million and having had a multi million pound month long refit in December 2011 Oriana is one of P&O’s traditional ships and has over the years built up a very loyal following. Not just operating 14 day cruises Oriana specialises in voyages of longer duration as well as a world cruise each year. Weighing in at a little less than 70,000 tonnes, over 850ft in length and 105ft in width puts Oriana in the mid size of cruise ships, a size that appeals to many travellers.

Starting at the top of the ship I found the “Crow’s Nest”. A well appointed lounge at the front end which is served by a well stocked bar and as expected gives an excellent view to everything around. Illuminated by large windows on three sides and centre staged by a white grand piano this is the place to sit after dinner listening to the pianist tinkling the ivories or later at night to a trio at the opposite side of the lounge.

Also on this deck is the “Cyb@Study”, a room used for those wanting to use the internet. The desks and chairs are reminiscent of an executive’s office. Opposite is the “Medina Room” with its comfortable chairs and wall settees with the focal point of a white grand piano like that in the “Crow’s Nest”. Moving outside you will find the deck sports of quoits and shuffleboard as well as nets for football, cricket and golf.

Moving down to Lido deck are the two main swimming pools. Rivera with 2 whirl pools and the Crystal. Spacious sun bathing area surrounds both. The front of this deck finds you in the Spa area housing the wonderful Oasis Spa, its comfortable green mattressed recliners and whirl pool together with hairdressing salon, well appointed gym to keep you in trim, treatment rooms and sauna.

At the opposite end of this deck is “The Conservatory”, the buffet area of the ship where you can either sit inside or in good weather outside. The open area has wooden tables and chairs. It was good to see a member of the crew by the hygiene dispenser making sure that passengers used it before entering the food area. The choice of food was excellent and in particular the salad bar that offered four different meat dishes, plus fish and seafood. All was of good quality and well presented. Hot dishes were on the opposite side and again offered an excellent selection. There was a good choice of deserts as well as cheese and biscuits. To say it was doing a good trade is an understatement. At the rear of this area is an open deck with wicker style tables and chairs that forms one of the tiers overlooking the third swimming pool. This becomes Sorrento in the evening and houses the Terrace Bar.

Now for some cabins. All cabins on Oriana have as standard, irrespective of grade, a flat screen television, radio, telephone, refrigerator, safe, tea/coffee making facilities, air conditioning and that all important hairdryer. There are also various toiletries in the bathroom. All inside and Ocean View cabins are of approx. 150 sq. ft., balcony cabins are approx. 250sq. ft.

Down to A Deck and the first cabin visited was A214 an outside cabin with shower. Large picture window behind the double bed. Good hanging space with the usual facilities. Light oak colored furniture with off white walls and ceiling with contrasting curtains, bed throw over and carpet.

A216, an inside cabin was a copy of A214 with the exception that it had no picture window. Also the beds were made into two singles which gave the impression of more room.
Down one deck to B250, a deluxe balcony cabin. Finished with blue carpet and curtains, I liked the idea that the seating area could be separated from the sleeping area by curtains so that if one person wanted to go to bed the other person could sit up and watch television without disturbing the other. B238, a similar cabin finished in gold, yellows and orange gave a lovely warm feeling to the area. D184 yet another balcony cabin had wooden recliner chairs covered with thick blue mattresses and wooden table on the balcony.

D Deck is home to Chaplin’s Cinema. A room with large screen and comfortable blue tiered seating for over 180 passengers. Outside are two statues of Chaplin in poses we all associate him with. On this deck you will also find the wonderful wood panelled library with illuminated bookcases, the elegant Thackeray Room and its floral covered chairs and sofas, wooden tables, standard lamps, grandfather clock and ornate ceiling.
Then there is Tiffany Court and Tiffany’s. It looks what it is, a grandiose bar surrounded by superb wood panelled walls with marquetry, comfortable chairs and settees and beautiful table with their inlaid woodwork. Just the place to meet with people for a drink and chat before going to dinner at the restaurant opposite, the Ocean Grill at the Curzon Room, Marco Pierre Whites onboard restaurant where the décor exudes elegance.

The main restaurants, Peninsular and Oriental are situated on deck E with the galley in between them. Both have tables for 4 up to 8 diners. You will be asked at the time of booking the size you require. P&O still operate a 2 seating format. Early sitting at 6pm and late at 8.30pm although the times can vary a little depending on the itinerary. Nice touches are the proper table lamps giving an air of quality.

The deck where most people will spend their time in the evenings will be Promenade Deck. Starting at the front you find the Royal Theatre with its comfortable red velour seats. It has a sloping floor and few pillars ensuring a good view of the stage from most places. Leaving the theatre behind we head towards the Royal Court (shopping area), Monte Carlo Club and Andersons with its pink bar stools, matching chairs, carpets and curtains making it like an executive private club. Moving on past Harlequins with its beautiful wooden dance floor with inlaid marquetry we come to what was my favourite bar. Lord’s Tavern based on the home of cricket, Lords Cricket Ground. What a bright, colourful, lively bar with its flags and memorabilia. Even the stops at the end of the bar rails are formed as cricket balls. Exiting through the Picture gallery you find yourself in the Pacific Lounge, another entertainment venue which was preparing to host a Peninsular Club event.

Having cruised with P&O on their bigger ships I was keen to sample what I call one of their ‘Traditional ships’. The ships that gave P&O it reputation over the last 175 years. I am glad I did. Oriana, the second ship to bear this name, is a delight. That wonderful tiered stern reminiscent of the real ocean going liners of the past instead of the flat stern with balcony cabins of modern ships. The various rooms and bars going from elegant to sporting. The swimming pools with the large surrounding area for sunbathing so that getting a sun bed should not be a problem. A buffet with great selection and quality and cabins to suit all tastes with tea/coffee making facilities. My wife in particular likes being able to make a ‘cuppa’ when she wakes up. If only all cruise lines had this. This ship has laundries that the passengers can use to press clothes and do washing that is so important on long cruises. Add to this some of the lowest drink prices and gratuities in the industry and you have a recipe for success. After 175 years in business it looks like it’s worked.

 
Alan Fairfax