Oceana Malta Fly Cruise - Rest of the Cruise

Reports about cruises on Oceana

Topic author
CaroleF
First Officer
First Officer
Posts: 1263
Joined: January 2013
Location: Hampshire

Oceana Malta Fly Cruise - Rest of the Cruise

Post by CaroleF » 20 Oct 2018, 13:51

This is rather long, a lot of it copied from the diary I kept so you might need a cup of coffee or a large glass of wine!
Friday 28th Sept. When we woke we were still in Malta but then the engines started and off we went. We went to the MDR for breakfast and joined two Australian sisters who had been born on Malta but hadn’t been back there since infancy so they’d be staying on Malta for a couple of weeks then come on the cruise. During breakfast the Captain came on the tannoy and told us that due to the Medivane storm our itinerary had been shot to pieces. He was hoping that the next day, when we should have been going to Mykonos we would go to Corfu. He was also hoping that we would still get to Piraeus – although apparently Ventura had been stuck in port there for 3 days as it was unsafe to leave – and possibly Katakalon. We would miss Gythion – I knew very little about that place. There was a lot of hoping in that announcement!
Later in the morning he told us that it would get bumpy in the afternoon and that the tours department were trying to put together excursions for Corfu and Katakalon, neither of these ports were on our original itinerary. We managed to go to Café Jardin for lunch and then as the afternoon went on we experienced the bumpiness the Captain had spoken about. The sea just seemed to get rougher and rougher until it was difficult to even walk across the cabin. We had taken Stugeron that morning when we first got up and we were fine but we learnt later that there were passengers who just stayed in their cabin all day – I was surprised to hear from some people that they hadn’t thought to bring any sea-sickness tablets as they didn’t think the Mediterranean would be rough! I had been intending washing my hair in the afternoon ready for the formal evening and Captain’s Cocktail Party but it was just too rough to consider doing that.

The Captain came on again to say that things were gradually going to calm down and that by the time we got to Corfu the next day it should be calm and hopefully sunny. We went to the Welcome Cocktail Party and sat in Tiffany’s as the Captain always stands in the atrium. I was surprised it was easy to get a seat. This was because it was only for the people who had embarked the day before so only half the ship – more about that later. I suppose people who had been on the previous week could come if they wanted to and I expect some did in order to get a free drink. After that we went into dinner – Adriatic Restaurant, Club, 2nd sitting table of 8. Amazingly we had met one of the couples before, we had shared a table on Oriana 10 years previously. They were Welsh and full of good humour. We learnt later in the cruise that since we met the wife had been ordained and was now Vicar of her local church. The village is lucky to have such a lovely Vicar with such a sense of fun. Another couple came from the Midlands and we got on really well. The remaining couple failed to appear but we thought they may have been affected by the weather. They did eventually appear 2 nights later but only stayed for another 2 nights before disappearing. They seemed to be enjoying everyone’s company we thought. However, our waiter told us a few night’s later that they had decided that 8.30 was too late for them to eat but 6.30 was too early. So eventually they decided to eat in the buffet every night. Each to his own but I can’t imagine anything worse – I hate the buffet at the best of times. We went to the show – a violinist, Craig Halliday and he was really good we thought.

Saturday 29th Sept. Corfu
Well we got there and it was very sunny and warm in fact it went up to 31C in the afternoon. We had been to Corfu several times including a family holiday so we didn’t go on any trips. I was quite happy sat on the balcony and John went to investigate a fort. Breakfasted in Café Jardin and we both had poached egg with ham on a muffin with hollandaise and very good it was. There were some lovely looking pastries but we resisted those. We had a peaceful day and were supposed to leave at 5.30 but apparently two women were late back and we eventually left at 6pm. Those women were very lucky the Captain waited as we weren’t very sure where our next stop was going to be. In fact later on we found out that we were going to Katakalon the next day then Heraklion in Crete then Piraeus. Tours in both latter places to go ahead as planned. That evening we had a drink in Magnums before dinner and I had a Pink Gin Spritz, pink gin, prosecco and lemonade and very pleasant it was. After dinner we went to hear the vocalist in Starlights, can’t remember his name. He had a good voice but not so good trying to inject humour and wanting audience participation.

Sunday 30th September Katakalon
We had been there before when I think we did a Vineyard trip and very good it was too. There’s a small harbour with shops and restaurants lining the shore. We went for a wander and had a look in the duty free shop just by the ship. There didn’t seem to be anyone from security checking if people were bringing any alcohol back on board, in fact I didn’t see any checking going on at any port. We left about 3pm after some sort of technical problem but it was quickly sorted. After dinner that evening we went to see Manuel Martinez who we have seen before. Quite funny but the seating in Starlights is difficult. People who are sitting in the blue seats have little knee room and as we tried to get past some people who insisted sitting at one end they refused to get up to let us past so we ended up almost climbing over them! I think I trod on the woman’s toe – served her right!

Monday 1st October Piraeus
It was grey and showery when we woke and still showers when we left the ship to go on our trip to the Corinth Canal. There was chaos in the terminal building with several ships in plus ferries, a huge number of people. Eventually we found out where we were supposed to be. Could have done with more P&O people guiding people on the right direction. It took about 75 minutes to get to the canal with a stop very near to use loos and have a drink. The depth of the walls of the canal were very impressive – 240ft, and there was a bungee jump but it was closed – what a shame!! The sun was trying to come out and by the time we got on the small boat that would take us along the canal it was really warming up. It was really interesting sailing along looking up at the different striations of rock with plants growing out at intervals. There was a bridge at the other end of the canal which was able to sink down to enable ships to pass through. The cars etc. must have had a long wait and we went through and then went and turned round and returned and they were still waiting. The journey back to the ship was a little shorter as the traffic wasn’t so bad. One thing that I don’t remember in Greece and it was the same in Crete was the amount of rubbish just left at the roadside. Britain seems incredibly tidy in comparison.

Tuesday 2nd October Heraklion, Crete
We had booked a trip to see a little more of the island. We had a very chatty guide who initially I thought may be one of those that never stops talking. Well she was but what she told us was incredibly informative and interesting all about Crete, its history, culture, food etc. Our first stop was at a small village, Plaka where we had a sort of breakfast in a restaurant overlooking the island of Spinalonga. Now I must confess I was extremely ignorant and hadn’t heard of Spinalonga and the Leper colony. Now I know about Victoria Hislop’s book “The Island” and intend to read it. The breakfast was a brown rye baked crust with tomato spread over it and a lot of Feta cheese on top. Now I don’t eat cheese but I managed to scrape most of it off. We also had a local lemonade with herbs and cucumber. There must have been some sort of pepper in there too as it was certainly spicy, not to my taste but John enjoyed it. Plaka is a very picturesque village with lots of little stores lining the village street. Then we went off past Elounda to the town of Agios Nikolaos where we had an hour’s top by the harbour. It was quite pleasant and we found a café overlooking the water and had a coffee which was very good. We both enjoyed the trip and learnt a lot about Crete. That evening was the Peninsular cocktail party and we chatted to two young electro technical officers. Much to our surprise one of them talked about the future only being huge ships as far as P&O were concerned and that some of the younger officers felt that P&O are ignoring the people who are the mainstay of their longer voyages and those cruises out of school holiday time, forcing them to look elsewhere.

Wednesday 3 October At Sea
It was good to have a sea day after the previous days.

Thursday 4 October Malta
So, back to Malta after our first week. I had booked to eat in Café Jardin that evening as I guessed that with the change over of many passengers that Club Dining would be suspended that evening which it was. One of the couples on our table joined us for an excellent meal in CJ. It’s now Gino d’Campo’s menu, lots of choice. I had a starter of King Prawns and Tuscan sausage in a lovely tomato sauce. Then both John and I had Sea Bass with artichokes, asparagus and salsa verde. Then we had a selection of three small desserts. Our meal was interrupted by having to listen to the broadcast of the muster drill – the whole broadcast while we were eating! I’ll comment further about this at the end. We also had one of the Wine Flights, as there is in the Glasshouse. I had the White one and it was excellent.

Friday 5th October Messina

Weather not too bad this morning, threat of rain later. We had booked a trip round Messina. I had thought this would be going out of the city but no, we saw a lot of traffic, some incredible parking. We had been there before and on that occasion visited Taormina – a wonderful place – and knew that the traffic was bad in the city. Our guide, Sergio, was excellent, very proud to be Sicilian. We went to a local hotel for breakfast – it was supposed to be 5 start but I wouldn’t have thought it was 3 star, let alone 5. We had a sort of Brioche plus a cup of lemon granite. The Brioche was huge, not wonderful. Then we went back into the city, got stuck in traffic in various places but it was interesting to see how the drivers coped – we did breathe in at various times! We went to the Cathedral Square in time to see the amazing clock strike mid-day – a lion roaring, a cock crowing and then gold figures moving. If you haven’t seen it then do look on You tube, very impressive. We went inside the Cathedral and then out to look a various monuments. The trip was made more interesting by all the information we got from Sergio.
After dinner that evening we went to see the Magician, Mark Shortland – not really my cup of tea but John wanted to see him and I’m sure we have seen him before and he is very clever.
Saturday 6th October Naples
We have been here several times before and didn’t have anything booked. When we first boarded a week ago we noticed that there were a couple of stained areas on the carpet in our mini suite. Our steward told us that apparently rust had come through after the new carpet had been laid during the refit. He said it was going to be replaced. We were the asked to be out of our cabin for a couple of hours when we were in Naples as they were going to redo the carpet – just cut out the stained parts and put in new. Also apparently some work was going to be done on the balcony which wouldn’t take long. So we had a long leisurely breakfast then went and got the crossword and sudoku and sat on deck to attempt to complete those. Managed the sudoku but not the whole crossword. When we went back to the cabin the men were just finishing and certainly it wasn’t obvious where the new pieces of carpet had been put in. The steward told us he wouldn’t be surprised if the rust came through again and as far as he knew nothing had been done about the underlying problem. John decided he wanted to go and visit Herculaneum and decided to try to go by train. My walking is limited so I left him to it with a warning not to be late back! He’s not good where time keeping is concerned – unless it’s business and then he’s never late! As the afternoon went on the weather worsened until eventually there was a terrific downpour and thunderstorm. Luckily John had his waterproof with him. Anyway he enjoyed his trip despite the rain.
That evening after dinner we went to see the Headliners but can’t say we enjoyed it, the women really seemed to screech, why do modern female singers sing like that? The weather worsened and the thunder got louder with incredible lightening and later on when we were in bed there was the most almighty bang, scared us to death. We heard later from the Senior Techno officers that lightening had struck the ship and melted one of the aerials, no danger though.

Sunday 7th October At Sea
Lovely, another peaceful day. We decided to go to the MDR for lunch for a change, really because they had a Tuna Jacket Potato on the menu and they don’t seem to have jacket potatoes in the buffet any more. Usually when you go to lunch in the restaurant it’s open seating and you’re asked if you’d share a table. This time we were asked for our cabin number and the restaurant manager consulted a list and told the waiter which table to take us to – a table for 2 by a window. He said it was a new system they were trying – not sure what that was all about.
Formal night tonight, Gala Menu, Beef Wellington was excellent, asked for it rare and it was. Then there was Tarte Tartin which is one of our favourite desserts with Vanilla Pod ice cream. After dinner we saw Jay McGee in the theatre – apparently part of the Rockin’ Berries – comedy and vocal. He’s going to do a late night adult humour show later on – not my scene at all.

Monday 8 October Ajaccio, Corsica
We had a family holiday here quite a few years ago and we’ve been here twice on a cruise previously so we didn’t have any tours booked. When we got back from breakfast there was the deck officer with our Steward and they wanted to ask if they could do repairs on the balcony the next morning which would take all morning and they wanted to know if we were prepared to leave the cabin. Well the next day John was going on a whole day trip to Rome from Civitavecchia and I was staying on board. So I said that I really didn’t want to have to be out of the cabin all morning especially as we’d already had one day where we were requested to vacate the cabin for two hours. The deck officer said it was no problem they would postpone the work to the next cruise. I know this has all got to be done but I thought once in a cruise was enough. We both went ashore for a wander round Ajaccio, a lovely sunny morning. It was very crowded as there were 2 other ships in. We eventually found a café and sat and had a coffee and people watched. Then John went for a further wander and I went back to the ship. This afternoon we went to see a film – “The Post” with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks about the attempt to publish the Pentagon Papers, about the US involvement in the Vietnam war. It was a very good film, really enjoyed it. Took me a little while to recognise Tom Hanks, looked very different with grey slicked back hair. We didn’t go to any of the shows after dinner as John had to be up early for his 10 hour trip to Rome.

Tuesday 9th October Civitavecchia
I had a peaceful day on board and went and got some goodies so John could have something to eat when he returned. No meal was included with his trip and there was time given at the end if people want to find something to eat but John would have preferred to have been able to go and visit something else – doesn’t believe in time out for eating! He enjoyed most of the trip though and said the guide was good. After dinner that night we went to see the singer Roy Locke. He is a very good singer but I didn’t like all the wandering round the audience, lights on, getting people to stand up. I like a performer to perform but when I’m enjoying listening to a singer I don’t appreciate the lights suddenly being turned on in the middle of the song. I must be getting old!

Wednesday 10th October At Sea
Packing day. Also the Baltic Lunch, not very good organisation. Not many passengers at the Baltic Lunch. We were sat with one of the Senior Techno Electro officers who was Greek but now living in Bulgaria and had his wife and young daughter on board with him. The meal was excellent – Salmon Terrine and then Fillet of beef which was the best I’ve had for a long time. The wine was flowing as usual but had to bear in mind that the packing had to be finished. Had a pleasant final dinner and said our goodbyes. I saw some people handing over envelopes. We had left the auto tips on and didn’t tip any extra.

Thursday 11th October Malta
As we had a late flight – 18.55 we had decided to do the Farewell to Malta trip which ended up dropping us at the airport. This was a good way of spending the final day which otherwise would have seemed rather long. The tour was interesting and we saw a lot of the island. I hadn’t realised how much building there would be on the island, scores of apartments in every town we passed. Finally we went to a fishing village just near the airport and saw a huge number of brightly painted small boats. There had been stalls set up round the harbour but they were all packing up by the time we got there. Just as we were due back on the coach it started raining so it was well timed. From there it was back to the airport. Our luggage had been collected the night before so it was straight through security to the gate and this time no delay thank goodness. By the time we got to Gatwick it was about 9.30pm.

Thoughts on the cruise:

I find the older I get the less I like flying – I don’t mind the actual being on a plane it’s everything else that goes with it and after this cruise I think I would take some convincing to do another two week fly cruise. Now the other thing I really didn’t like was the fact that although this was sold to us as a 14 night cruise it really wasn’t. It was two 7 night cruises joined together. Half way through we couldn’t have our usual Club Dining so we went to Café Jardin and then we had to have our very pleasant meal interrupted by hearing the entire Muster Drill. When I went to the Photo Gallery to look at some photos that were taken of our table I put our cruise number into the machine only to be told it wasn’t recognised. I had to put the cruise number of the cruise that was the first 7 nights, if you see what I mean. The ship has an entirely different feel when it’s a proper 2 week cruise with everyone doing the same amount of time. This time in our first week there were people like us who had come for two weeks, there were people who came at the same time as us but only for one week and there were people who were coming to the end of their second week – all very muddling.

Food: For the first time I did feel that cuts were more obvious, in Café Jardin in particular. It’s always been a favourite of ours when on Oceana, for breakfast and for lunch. There used to be cereals, Bircher muesli, fruits, yoghurts, compote, cold meats, cheese and pastries, plus a couple of hot options. Well the hot options are still there but no cereals, Bircher muesli only on certain days, no yoghurts or compotes and only almond croissants, no plain ones, I asked. At lunch the salad selection was pathetic. On the first day we went all the hot options included cheese in some way, shape or form. Now I know it’s my choice not to eat cheese but when I asked if I could have something without the cheese I was told no it comes ready done. I just felt it was bad planning to have every hot option including cheese.
As I said previously I really don’t like the buffet but we did have lunch there on a couple of occasions. It was the desserts that amazed me. One day there was a mousse on offer and then five different creamy gateaux! What has happened to all the tarts and things like hot puddings with custard that used to be on offer? We did go and investigate the Grab and Go which we really enjoyed on Aurora but there was nothing like the choice. On Aurora there were things like Jacket Potatoes with various fillings – tuna, egg mayonnaise plus the hot options like chicken wings, burgers etc. plus the baguettes, wraps and sandwiches, also boxed salads. There were sandwiches, and some boxed salads plus the burgers etc. on Oceana.
I thought breakfast in the MDR was still good but it did make me smile to see much smaller slices of bread used for toast and in a four rung toast rack you now only get three slices! Of course you can ask for more if you want it/
The evening meals in the MDR were good on the whole, very obliging waiters only too happy to get more vegetables or whatever or, in my husband’s case ice cream with every dessert!

We did enjoy the cruise even thought it may seem I’ve talked of a lot of things I didn’t like. We do like Oceana – our first P&O cruise was on the old Adonia, sister ship to Oceana, now back to being Sea Princess so we have a soft spot for Oceana. However, we did enjoy the extra facilities that Aurora offers, Anderson’s lounge, the Cinema, the Glasshouse, the excellent Grab and Go and for those who like it Sindhu – we don’t. Oceana has an excellent library which Aurora used to have until it was taken and formed into Sindhu. I don’t think I mentioned but at the Peninsular Cocktail Party for some reason the Captain, who was present, got the Deputy Captain to do the talking. Of course it was all about Iona, how wonderful it was going to be, the number of restaurants, the number of bars etc. This was received in complete silence by his audience. He asked how many people had already booked on Iona, not one hand went up but the Maiden cruise is apparently sold out so some people obviously like what’s on offer.
For us we will continue as long as we can go on Aurora, Oceana and Arcadia but once they go then we’ll be looking elsewhere. As the young electro technical officer said, P&O seem to be pushing people like us to look elsewhere, probably more up market – if we can afford it!

Carole

User avatar

GillD46
Senior First Officer
Senior First Officer
Posts: 2966
Joined: January 2013
Location: Gower Peninsula, South Wales

Re: Oceana Malta Fly Cruise - Rest of the Cruise

Post by GillD46 » 20 Oct 2018, 16:55

A very interesting read Carole, thank you.

As for other companies, I would urge you to try Cunard.
Gill


Whynd1
Senior Second Officer
Senior Second Officer
Posts: 937
Joined: February 2013
Location: Gower, Swansea

Re: Oceana Malta Fly Cruise - Rest of the Cruise

Post by Whynd1 » 20 Oct 2018, 17:53

Thank you Carole for an excellent report.
I am on Aurora on the 28th and we are visiting Pireaus and Katakalon and Corfu as well.

I always liked Oceana but am very reluctant to do a fly cruise now.

Lindsey


Quizzical Bob
Senior First Officer
Senior First Officer
Posts: 3501
Joined: January 2013

Re: Oceana Malta Fly Cruise - Rest of the Cruise

Post by Quizzical Bob » 20 Oct 2018, 18:43

Thanks for the report Carole, always interesting to see other people’s experiences. We too like Oceana but unfortunately she seems to be mainly used for fly cruises these days. Living close to Southampton it’s either leave from there or get on a long-haul flight for us.

I know I said that we wouldn’t go on P&O again but we have booked Oceana to Spain and Portugal on the 21st November. Our first P&O cruise was also on the previous Adonia so like you we have a soft spot for these ships. A proper promenade deck :)

If P&O do go down the route of big ships then I’m sure they will lose their loyal oldies. We shall see.

User avatar

Gill W
Senior First Officer
Senior First Officer
Posts: 2647
Joined: January 2013
Location: Kent

Re: Oceana Malta Fly Cruise - Rest of the Cruise

Post by Gill W » 20 Oct 2018, 20:43

Thanks for your reports Carole, very interesting to read.

I like Oceana, but she's not one of my favourites, and wouldn't be my first choice for a cruise.

We were last onboard in 2016, for a 35 night cruise. Although we enjoyed the cruise, there was a lot of maintenance going on, and it did impinge on our enjoyment.

I think in the next 5 -10 years, all the medium sized ships that P &O operate will be sold off. I don't know how this will affect the more 'Interesting' itineries. Time will tell, I expect.
Gill

User avatar

Onelife
Senior First Officer
Senior First Officer
Posts: 4715
Joined: January 2013

Re: Oceana Malta Fly Cruise - Rest of the Cruise

Post by Onelife » 21 Oct 2018, 00:01

Hi Carole ...l generally don't read cruise reviews theses days but as my wife has gone out clubbing till whatever hour (Kate Tunstall concert ) l find myself here all on my own again. Just spent half an hour reading your 'excellent ' cruise review, thank you....btw... it's much better than any of the other reviews l've read on here :thumbup: ....but let's keep that to ourselves.... no point in upsetting the others ;) :D

Regards

Keith

User avatar

Manoverboard
Deputy Captain
Deputy Captain
Posts: 7238
Joined: January 2013
Location: Dorset

Re: Oceana Malta Fly Cruise - Rest of the Cruise

Post by Manoverboard » 21 Oct 2018, 11:39

Thanks for doing such a positive report given that there were a fair number of ' issues ' to contend with.

We really enjoyed the Fort that John visited on Corfu … how did he get on ?

' The Island ' is a very good book and deffo worth a read.

I recall it is also known as Mouse Island, the Island that is not the book :lol:


Topic author
CaroleF
First Officer
First Officer
Posts: 1263
Joined: January 2013
Location: Hampshire

Re: Oceana Malta Fly Cruise - Rest of the Cruise

Post by CaroleF » 21 Oct 2018, 13:03

John tells me there are two forts, he thinks he went to the newer one but he's not sure. It's the one with a lighthouse at the top. He didn't have to pay to get in but he thinks there may be a charge on some occasions. There are guns, cannons I suppose and the fort isn't in ruins. He doesn't think it's used for anything other than to attract tourists. There is a restaurant outside on one of the terraces which he says looked very pleasant. He said the part he enjoyed most was the walk up to the lighthouse, worth a visit. He's not sure about the other fort and he didn't have time to go to both.

Carole

Return to “Oceana Cruise Reports”