A cruise on P&O cruises Oceana in the Mediterranean Sea in April 2019.
Early in the morning my alarm sounds again, time to get up and drive to Brussels Airport for a morning flight to Malta. We flew on an Air Malta Airbus A320 (9H-AEK) and I was surprised that even though this is a national airline they don’t give anything for free anymore, it feels like a Ryanair flight! Bad points for Air Malta, apparently they only have 9 airplanes in their fleet and only 1 is an A319, all the rest are A320’s.
Once we arrived at MLA airport went to the exit and hopped on the free transfer provided by P&O cruises to the cruise terminal, after a short check-in process and clearing security we were finally onboard Oceana of P&O cruises in Valletta. The Oceana has stylish interiors like I expected and the staff is friendly, on the downside it looked like the staff was not completely up to the task of getting the luggage quickly to the cabins as my bag arrived pretty quickly but Kim’s bag was still missing 3 hours later, so we asked twice to check if they could find her bag as well and they finally delivered it to the cabin by 6pm. After a quick shower we went to dinner and were surprised that dinner arrangements were “sit where you like”, not what I ‘m used to on cruises! Later that evening I spoke with some fellow passengers and apparently, it’s always like this on Oceana on the first day, the food is quickly prepared, and seating arrangements are free, cabin service is not up to usual level and people are still cleaning the ship everywhere, the second day things are usually much better. So, the rest of the evening we relaxed, and I took some photos around the ship. Tonight’s show was a movie instead of a live show but nevertheless a good finishing touch for this evening.
Sea day! This morning we went to breakfast in the Plaza where you have a great view on the surrounding sea, by noon we were approaching the Messina Strait in order to pass through it in the following hours, giving me a great view on some surrounding coastlines, later on we passed close by the Stromboli volcano, from time to time the volcano vents some smoke, and our close position presented me with some great photo opportunities. The sea was very calm, and the weather was sunny with moderate winds, but the pools are protected from the wind and the open deck areas were great to pass the time. By 8pm we went to the Captains welcome reception and directly after this it was time for dinner, this evening the quality of food, service and seating arrangement were much better, as expected. We ended the evening with cocktails and light music before going to bed.
Today’s port of call was Naples, we arrived early in the morning and when we woke up the ship was already tied up at Naples passenger terminal. We went to the Plaza for breakfast and then walked off the ship to get bus tickets for Pompeii where we arrived by early afternoon, this is a historic site right at the foot of the Vesuvius, the very same volcano that initially buried this Roman city and is now a nature reserve and dominating feature in the landscape surrounding Naples, it’s at the same time a beautiful feature in the landscape and a threat to the city of Naples as it could erupt any moment and destroy the city or any other village around its base. After a pizza for lunch and a walk around the tourist market in Pompeii we took the bus back to the port of Naples where we got back onboard Oceana for tea time in the Plaza. The rest of the day we relaxed in various places on the ship and ended again with some good cocktails and a show.
Easter Sunday and we are docked in Civitavecchia … doesn’t ring a bell? Civitavecchia is the gateway port to Rome … on Easter Sunday … the Vatican … you understand now? So, I decided to take a tour operator transport to the Vatican in order to go in and see the Pope for the famous Urbi et Orbi speech from the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s square where thousands of people gathered to watch this event. Once the speech was over I made my way out of the Vatican and walked in the direction of the Colosseum, it took me over an hour to get there on foot passing multiple monuments and interesting sights on the way. By the time I reached the Colosseum it was time to make my way back to the ship, so I took a subway train to a train station and from there a direct train to Civitavecchia where a bus took me to the port and another shuttlebus dropped me off at the ship. The rest of the day we relaxed at various places around the ship again and went for dinner at “Le Jardin” for a change. After seeing todays show we ended up at Tiffany’s for cocktails before going to bed.
Another day and another port of call, this time the town of Ajaccio on the island of Corsica, France. This is a well-known location for cruise ships and the port is well organised and very close to the town centre, because of the good weather I was able to take some great shots of the town, the coast and the ship. I didn’t take an organised tour so after a walk for a few hours I was back onboard Oceana for poolside snacks, jacuzzi and relaxing in the sun. After dinner in the Plaza we went to one of the bars, but the best part of the day was probably the evening show in the Footlights show lounge, it featured a tribute to Queen in the show called “Killer Queen”. After the show we ended up at Tiffany’s again for cocktails before going to bed.
Today we docked in Olbia on the island of Sardinia, Italy. After breakfast we left the ship on the shuttle provided for passengers to get to the centre of Olbia and found this amazing little town with cosy shopping street and a very old little church. From the church we went back to the coast and slowly made our way back to the ship. The rest of the day we relaxed onboard and by the time the ship was leaving port we had a great view on all the other … smaller … ships that were docked in Olbia, a perfect photo opportunity for me! When the ship left port I spent some time on deck for photos of a ferry coming in and the lighthouse that guided ships into Olbia. By now it was time for dinner so went to the restaurant we booked earlier that day and as usual after dinner and the show we went for a last cocktail before going to bed.
Second full day at sea! And also the last full day of the cruise. We did our best to enjoy everything the ship has to offer on a day at sea, from lectures to jacuzzi and sauna and in the evening the last show and specialty restaurant. Overall I have to say that this ship although it targets the families it also has some very relaxing adult-only areas on the stern with sheltered pool and jacuzzi. The food is in general good but the specialty restaurants are way above standard food quality so it really is an added value to pay a small fee for a specialty restaurant. You will never go hungry on this ship as there is plenty for everyone and the service is better than I expected. All in all this is a ship that deserves at least 4 stars for me!
The end, last stop, Malta. This morning we overslept a bit and when we were finally out of our cabin we were informed that we didn’t have to leave the ship yet, we could stay onboard as long as we wanted so I went out to visit the city first as there was also a British warship docked in front of us, and from the higher viewpoints of Valletta I had a better view on the ships and surroundings. After a walk trough the city from the port to Barrakka lift, trough the Barrakka gardens and on to the city. One of the major buildings is the Carmelite Church, tough small in size it does have a fantastic dome. After my walk I went back to the ship where we went to lunch, and spent the rest of our time at the pool where they served poolside grill food again and we packed a few things to get us trough the rest of the day. When it was finally time to go home we left the ship and took a taxi to the airport to get our flight back home to Brussels on another Airbus A320 (9H-AEQ) of Air Malta.