I’ve put off taking a cruise for a long time due to the fact that I thought I would feel claustrophobic or seasick (or both!) but after jumping on board P&O’s Oceana ship for a week, I can now see that I had nothing to worry about. Nobody fell overboard, there is nothing claustrophobic about a gigantic, luxurious 5* ship and you can barely feel her moving underneath the best holiday you might ever indulge in.
There are so many things that I loved about the cruise we took on board Oceana that I am struggling to put it all into words. Simply put, it was one of our
favourite family holidays E-V-E-R
and we will be going back again and again. They say that about cruises though don’t they? Once you try them you’ll never look back etc. I think in our case this is true.
Our itinerary saw us take a short flight (3.5 hours) to Valletta, Malta’s teeny and ancient capital city and then on we visited the ports of Pireaus (near to Athens), Mykonos, Katakolon in Greece and the unusual choice of Sarande in Albania. In amongst these days in port were two dreamy days on the ocean, sailing, relaxing, eating far too much incredible food and generally living it up before heading back to Valletta for our flight home.
So many people have asked us what a cruise holiday is really like when you have a toddler in tow. I had my own reservations and so did Shaun but it turns out that they were completely unfounded. Should you wish to be entertained morning, noon and night then there are about a gazillion activities suitable for young children. Over 2’s can take part in the kids club and under 2’s can still join in so long as you stay and play too. The swimming complex isn’t massive but it is perfectly formed, there are shady areas to sit and relax so you don’t have to have a toddler under the mid-day sun, there are theatre shows, cinemas showing popular movies, endless places to sit and relax and most of all the most friendly and accommodating staff I have ever had the pleasure to meet. However, should your little one take a nap and you want to indulge in that book you’ve been coveting all summer, then there are plenty of places to do this too.
Let’s talk food for a minute though. I am not usually an all-inclusive kind of girl. I usually hate those mediocre buffets and all that goes with them.
But on Oceana? Not a bit of it. Yes, there was a buffet (including a kid’s tea time one which was fab) but the food was actually delicious, it was piping hot, there was a lot of variety and it was meticulously clean in the dining areas too. You could have eaten there all week and never have been bored. Except you didn’t have to. We ate in the Ligurian restaurant with something called Freedom Dining which is basically silver service meals for breakfast and dinner. Seriously, we are talking 8 courses in the evenings and a civilised brandy to finish. It was I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E. I am lactose intolerant and they created a bespoke menu for me every single day without so much as a tut. Sophie was pampered and fussed over to the point where it felt like she was our very own mini-celeb and eating here with these incredibly hard working, dedicated staff was possibly our very most favourite part of the whole holiday. I just want to say a massive thank you to the staff in the Ligurian restaurant for their kindness to us as a family, impeccable service and unbeatable positivity. In a way, it’s the staff on board Oceana that give this holiday the edge over anywhere else we have stayed.
Equally, the cabins although a little dated in décor, were always spotless. Each cabin has a dedicated cabin attendant who makes sure you have everything you need. The first night on-board we were greeted with a little plate of appetisers, a turn down service and chocolate on the pillow, a fresh fruit basket and a whole load of milk for Sophie’s all important milky business. There was a phone call to ask if there was anything at all we might need for Sophie to make us more comfortable and each day they took away the used bottles, washed, sterilised and replaced them in our room ready for her next feed. All without asking. There was even a bag of sweeties and a balloon for each child.
It was these little details that made us feel so at home and so welcome with a toddler in tow. Nothing was inconvenient or too much trouble and everyone we spoke to who had children felt the same way. The staff on board Oceana just make you feel so incredibly pampered and welcome from start to finish.
I have way more posts lined up to talk about our time in the various ports but for now I will leave you with a few snapshots from ours days in and around Greece. It has always been one of our favourite corners of the world and it never disappoints. Seeing the Greek islands from the water was an extra special treat and one we won’t be able to forget in a hurry.
Wanderlust is something that I live for but extensive travel and backpacking etc with young children always makes things a little trickier. From our week with P&O I can say that this is a brilliant way to get out and see the world with all the conveniences and luxuries that make a holiday a really relaxing and wonderful occasion. You can quite literally have your wanderlust cake and eat it with this type of holiday.
If you are thinking about taking a cruise then I cannot recommend this one enough. Next year we hope to go back for a full 14 night adventure and I cannot wait!
If you have any questions about our cruise with P&O drop them below and I will get back to you.
Until next time