Oriana in Search of the Northern Lights March 2014
12 nights from Southampton aboard P&O Cruises Oriana , calling at Bergen, Tromso , Alta (2 night stay) and Stavanger
Oriana is now a grand old lady having being launched in 1995, but is still a favourite amongst passengers. She has had several refits since being launched, the last of which turned her into "Adult Only ". This, and the time of year, has increased the average age of those on this particular cruise. So the night club was not kept that busy.
One item of note is the toilet in our cabin ( and most of the corridor ) we are now on first name terms with the plumbers the toilets got blocked that many times. Not good :-((
Due to a deep clean for Noro virus before we boarded, plus the ensuing precautions at the buffet etc, meant that the crew had even more to do. But do it they did with a smile on their face.
Don't normally do this, but Captain Robert Camby does have to get a special mention. The most visible P&O Captain I have seen on a ship since Hamish Read retired.
Very visible around the ship, he was very personable and would stop and talk to all passengers, and gave regular updates via the PA system. If he is the new way forward for P&O Captains, then well done P&O.
The Headliners, were good, but not the strongest troupe I have seen on board. The vocals when harmonising were excellent, but some of the solo spots let them down IMHO. The various bands and singers in the various bars were all new to us, and slightly better than we have been used to of late.
The speciality acts we did not go and see, but from talking to people, some got a better review than others.
Although not my cup of tea at all, the Elvis Impressionist ( one of the Entertainment Officers) seemed to have gone down well judging from the reaction of the passengers coming out of the Pacific Lounge after his show.
Saturday 22nd saw the crew take to the stage in the Theatre Royal for the "crew show". As always highlighting that not all the talent on the ship is on stage every night. The finally being a rendition of "if I were not upon the sea" which we have seen many times before on different ships and cruise lines. This was one of the better ones, and they milked every ounce of humour from it.
We were booked on 1st sitting, but as we sailed late on the first night, we ate in the buffet. The second night in Sorrento, so in the end decided not to use the MDR. Most nights in the buffet ( The Conservatory )were fine, but on both nights in Alta a lots of passengers were off to see the lights, so there were queues to get in the Conservatory :-(
But we do like the Indian, Asian and Thai buffets, and they lived up to expectations.
I have always been a firm believer of Club Dining, and thought that Freedom dining was not for us. But eating in the buffet has given us so much more flexibility I think I may have changed my view.
The Ocean Grill , we have eaten in many times onboard Arcadia, the food was on par with previous visits, but I just felt the service was nearing the "rushed" stage.
None of the shore excursions were cheap, as nothing is in this part of the world, but the Dog sledge in Tromso, the Ice Hotel in Alta were worth every penny.
The trip that most passengers went on of course was "in search of the Northern Lights" which as they say in the advert was priceless. Although those who chose the second night for their adventure were disappointed as there was a cloudy sky, therefore the lights were not visible.
At the end of the cruise we also received a set of Northern Lights Beer Mats, curtsey of the shore excursion team ( nice touch P&O)
Well, the Northern Lights have been on my bucket list for quite a while. Also if you are a regular cruiser, finding different itineraries, especially for those who choose not to fly can be difficult.
So this cruise met those requirements, even though we had been to some of the ports before, they are totally different in the winter.
Please don't be put off by the very cold temperatures, just buy the correct clothing and you will be fine, and you will experience a cruise of a lifetime, with sights to match.
Would we do this cruise again ? Oh Yes !!
Well actually, we have already booked with Fred for this time next year, to come back to this part of the world to view a Solar Eclipse, so we may even get to see the lights then.
I hope you have enjoyed reading the blog ? If so you may want to join Sue and myself in a couple of months as we sail with Fred, from Harwich (nice and close to home) for some warmer weather than this cruise.
And as the Captain Camby would say, I will leave you with this final thought
If you want a cruise go to the Med, if you want an adventure, book the Northern Lights.