I ventured out on my first cruise with my mother as a birthday present. Here’s my experience and my top tips that I took away from the trip.
Our cruise was around the Greek Islands with P&O cruises on the Oceana ship at mid-June time.
It’s hard to miss the size of a full cruise ship. The P&O Oceana is a Sun-class cruise that holds up to 2272 people with 11 floors to explore. The size standing next to it at port just took my breath away, but nothing prepared me for what the interior was like. I was in awe of the décor and it literally felt like a three story building when you step into the foyer. You almost completely forget you are on a ship until you venture out on to the deck where there’s enough room to share sun bathing space with all the other sun worshippers on board. There was even a small shopping mall inside with several shops! I was a regular at the jewelry store that stocked local finds wherever we docked. They had all of the latest designs at amazingly affordable prices.
I would definitely recommend paying an extra £100 pp for a twin bed room for a port window, especially if you’re nervous about sea sickness and also for a first time cruise. I wanted to be able to see the sights when we were moving or docked, even if it was just sea for two of the days in a row! My mother is a natural at sea and rarely ever gets sea sick, but having felt it myself before. I didn’t chance it and packed sea/motion sickness tablets with me just in case. Thankfully I did because the seas were quite rocky for two of the nights!
There’s an all day buffet available that serves breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner and always has something different each day. My favorite was the occasional BBQ they had outside when we were at sea and even included entertainment by the pools whilst you feasted! For the last night we indulged and paid extra for a Italian dinner at Café Jadin.
Sports and Spa
I highly recommend adding on the option of a realigning Pilates class or relaxing yoga class followed by a spa package whilst you’re cruising away. I adds a luxury touch to your cruise experience and I took advantage of the spa exclusive packages when they had a talk where we were able to trial all of the stocked Elemis products.
Every night is a different themed night and adds a splash of fun to your evening dinners. For the black tie night, we glammed up and chose to share a table to meet others on the ship. We met some wonderful people and shared the tastiest food! I think people are almost forced to be overtly friendly not only because you’re stuck with them for the whole trip but also the crew on the ship that you interact with everyday always have their customer service A game. So it highly influencing, but makes for a wonderful atmosphere. It made it a lot easier being on a floating island for a few days!
Top tips for next time
It’s easy to over pack for all of the themed nights and exploration attire. But if you can, board from a port rather than taking a plane out. This way you have a lot more or even limitless luggage allowance, always check with your agent first!
I couldn’t live without sunscreen and my facial mist from Garnier with SPF 30 in it. The sun was out every day (except for Mykonos! Which I vow I will give another chance!) and it was a lot easier to burn when you’re sunbathing at sea.
Pre book excursions in advance. You can take advantage of the savings and even if the excursion doesn’t go ahead on the day, you get the money refunded back to you.
If you can, bring some bottles of your own water or take advantage of the water bottle package on the first night. Although there is a water dispenser you are able to use at the buffet, due to hygiene reasons, you should not use this to refill your bottles! Hygiene is important on board and hand sanitizers are available at the entrance of all food areas. Tummy bugs are easily spread in a close environment, so don’t chance it!
Spending can get away from you sometimes as drinks are extras and hitting the on board boutiques makes you feel like you’re not spending any money when you just sign your room number! Everything is charged at the end of your cruise and you get the long bill to pay either by card or cash.
There are many other great tips and helpful advice about on board tipping digressions and health and safety, including emergency information and drills. Always be in the know of these and it will make your cruise more relaxing.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at sea and at the Greek islands of Mykonos, Athens, Sarande and Katakolon! I would definitely have loved to explore Malta more than just the airport and port next time, but I’m already looking at a Caribbean cruise for my next trip! Cruises are a great way of getting a feel and quick overview of different locations. It was a great insight of the Greek islands and now I know which islands I would like to go back to holiday at for longer, like Sarande and it’s cosy village! With the wonderful crew service and daily activities, I can see why it’s a potential retirement plan!