We had cruised in the Caribbean previously, but this was the first time that we had had a direct flight to join the ship.
We have sailed from San Juan, flying via Newark, and from Guadeloupe, flying via Paris, but this direct flight from Manchester to Barbados made the journey so much easier.
It did not stop with the direct flight though. P & O must be congratulated on their organisation regarding getting their passengers from the plane to the ship.
We did not enter the terminal building. Instead, as we left the plane, we immediately boarded coaches to take us to the ship, taking just our hand luggage and leaving our main cases to be brought along to our cabin later.
The check-in was fast and efficient, and we were in our cabin approximately 40 minutes after landing. How does the advert go? "Life doesn't get much better than this."
Once on board, after a quick freshen-up, we started to find our bearings on Oceana, as we had not cruised on this ship previously. Dinner was open seating on the first night, giving the opportunity to take our time, find out what was on offer, and unpack.
We had booked a cabin with a balcony on Arcadia deck. There was plenty of wardrobe and drawer space, and this was to accommodate clothes for a 15-night holiday with four formal evenings. Unlike some passengers, we had not come with the idea of using the launderette halfway through our holiday. As Oceana had previously been part of the Princess Fleet, as with other American ships, the bathroom was quite small, with a shower only, no bath, but as "shower people", this did not concern us.
The entertainment on board was varied, but we did find some of the shows disappointing, especially those of the ship's company and one of the comedians who we did not feel offered family entertainment. Our favourite evenings were the cabarets by Martin Daniels (son of Paul Daniels) and singer/songwriter Gerard Kenny. Each performer did two shows, which differed entirely and were entertainment at its best.
In the dining room, waiters and assistant waiters were attentive but not "over the top", as can sometimes be the case. Our head waiter was exceptional, nothing being too much trouble, and within a very short space of time, he was very aware of everyone's likes and dislikes.
It is a shame that there are not more tables for two on cruise ships. We would have liked our wedding anniversary meal alone, but the only way to arrange this was to pay to book in one of the alternative dining rooms. It can also be the case that if you are seated with passengers who are not easy to get along with, meal times can be ruined, but this is a chance that has to be taken.
The buffet area was where we always took our breakfast, finding an outside table whenever possible to soak in the Caribbean air and enjoy the warmth, having left behind a very cold England.
The cabin was kept spotlessly clean by our attendant. It is a welcome luxury on a cruise to go to breakfast and return to find the bed made and the bathroom replenished with towels, etc., and after evening dinner to return and find the bed turned down, with a chocolate on each pillow.
For those feeling energetic, there was plenty of opportunity to work out in the gym, and for those who wanted to be pampered, the Beauty and Hair Salon could meet their needs. On board, there were always plenty of activities available - art auctions, lectures on ports of call, quizzes, etc. Never a dull moment. And for those who simply wanted to relax, there are many bars and lounges to do just that.
We have sailed with P & O previously and have always been happy with the service provided, but it has to be said that there is a very happy and relaxed atmosphere on board Oceana, amongst both the passengers and crew. They do say that sort of situation comes "from the top", and in this case that was certainly so.
The captain and crew of Oceana should be congratulated on what was an excellent cruise from start to finish with first-class organisation. The return to the airport was just as good as the arrival with full use of the ship's facilities until our coach arrived at 3:15pm.
If anyone is thinking of cruising in the Caribbean, this is a cruiseline that should certainly be considered.