Hey everyone, it’s Jordan again. After getting back from my cruise on board Brilliance of the Seas it was just a week before it was time to head to Southampton to board P&O’s Oceana. It was the first time I had ever been on a P&O cruise and my first non-RCI cruise. In this post I will compare the two lines to find out which line is better.
Royal Caribbean’s staterooms are averaged sized. They feature the modern necessities such as a safe, fridge and TV. Although the design and layout is practical, space is an issue on all of the cabins I’ve stayed in. For instance, when the beds are split into a twin, you have about 30cm between the end of the bed and the TV stand, so getting to the balcony for example can be a squeeze. The sofa is a nice addition in the cabins as it gives you another place to sit other than your bed. A great touch is that each night your Stateroom Attendent makes up a towel animal on your bed.
P&O’s Inside cabin was much larger than I was expecting. It did not have a sofa, so that made more space. The thing that impressed me the most, however was the amount of draw space available. All in all there was 12 draws between us, not including the large wardrobe with even more draws! So finding a place for all your clothes was easy. A nice feature by P&O was a ‘Welcome’ balloon and sweets. You also recieved 2 bottles of complimentary water and biscuits each day. Unfortunatly, the Stateroom Attendent never made a towel animal, unlike Royal Caribbean.
Food (Dining Room)
Food on Royal Caribbean is always good. I have never had a bad meal yet. Although the quality of ingredients may not be as good as other cruise lines, the presentation and variety of all the food is excellent. Even if you request something thats not on the main menu, they will present your food to you in a great unique way.
The quality of food on P&O is better than Royal Caribbean. However presentation needs to be worked on. Especially meals with gravy, as every time we had a meal with gravy, splash marks were all around the plate. There was not always a great variety on the menu either. On Royal Caribbean there is always a list of 4-5 meals that are on the menu every night, so if you don’t see anything you like on the main menu, you can always pick something off the alternative menu. The accompaniments were sometimes quite strange. I had a Chicken Kiev one night and it was served with boiled potatoes, where as one night I had a Leg of Lamb in gravy, which was served with potato croquettes.
Winner: Royal Caribbean
The Windjammer is the buffet restaurant on board Royal Caribbean. The selection is always very good. Finding a table is always the hardest part of the operation though. Free Lemonade, Ice Tea and Summer Fruits are available as well as Tea, Coffee and Hot Chocolate. You can also buy drinks from the number of bar staff walking around the restaurant. Seperate counters make finding the food you want easy to find.
The buffet restaurant on P&O’s Oceana is called the Plaza. It was always easier to find a table, compared to Royal Caribbean, and you felt like you could take your time eating, which were really the only positive things about our experience in The Plaza. I found the size of the actual food counters very small for the size of the restaurant. This led to the space being very crowded at busy periods. Plenty of staff were on duty to help you find/clear a table or to help carry your tray, which was a good thing, but no one ever seemed to come round and offer you bar service. This was a common problem throughout our cruise too. (I’ll be talking about this later.) The selection was also very poor. If you didn’t like curry, there was very little to choose from. Chips were available, but what with? There was very rarely anything to go with them.
Most of the time we ate at the Horizon Grill instead. The Grill serves burgers, fish, jacket potatoes and a few other things all freshly made in front of you.
Winner: Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean is known for pushing the boundaries for entertainment on cruise ships. All their ships offer broadway quality shows and fancy stage productions. The ‘Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers’ always put on a great show. The theatre onboard is always like a theatre you would see on land.
P&O’s main theatre is very small for the amount of people onboard. You have to get their early to get a seat and only recently have you actually been allowed to take drinks into the theatre, which I was suprised to hear. The shows are more low budget, however I have to congratulate P&O on their guest acts. Unlike Royal Caribbean, where the acts are relatively unheard of. During our cruise, P&O had ‘Diddy’ David Hamilton, who is a British radio presenter with 50 years of experience under is belt and has hosted over 12,000 radio shows. Another guest act during our cruise was Mark Walker, the son of Roy Walker who used to present ‘Catchphrase’ in the UK. He performed 2 great different comedy/variety shows. The ‘Headliners Theatre Company’ are the equivalent to the RCI ‘Singer and Dancers’ except with less talent. They reminded me more of an amateur dramatics group you would expect to see performing at a school or community centre. Despite all this, I did prefer every show on board P&O compared to Royal Caribbean.
Royal Caribbean’s staff always give you great service. Royal Caribbean refer to it as ‘The Gold Anchor Service.’ Bar staff are always present to fetch you a drink. In the main dining room, the Assistant Waiter always keeps your drinks topped up or offers you if you would like another drink.
The service on P&O is something not to be desired. There seems to be a lackluster approach. Bar staff are sometimes hard to find and even when they are present, there very rarely ask if you would like a drink. At dinner time, if you say no to a drink when they ask you the first time, don’t expect to get asked if you would like one later.
Very little selling is done on P&O. i.e. If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. Royal Caribbean are always promoting the Drink of the Day and speciality drinks/food.
Winner: Royal Caribbean
The way the tipping works, is why the staff give you the level of service, in which they do. Because tipping is optional on Royal Caribbean, the staff work extra hard to get a tip.
Unlike P&O where tipping is added automatically at the end of your cruise whatever, most of the staff have less enthusiasm because they get their tip no matter what.
Royal Caribbean clientele are mostly families or young adults. Therefore their activities and events are set up for that market.
P&O attracts an older audience. Although there are child activities and kids club, you see very few children on board unless during holiday time.
Overall I still prefer Royal Caribbean. The service is really a cut above the rest and I think that is the main reason why I love Royal Caribbean so much. P&O is still a good cruise line, but for my taste and age group, it really wasn’t for me. It is certainly geared up for older people.