Preparing for your cruise
The onboard experience
How do I know what time to arrive at the cruise terminal?
To ensure you embark your ship as quickly and efficiently as possible, P&O Cruises runs a staggered check-in system at the cruise terminal. All passengers are asked to arrive at a particular time between 2pm and 4pm. P&O Cruises will advise you of your allocated check-in time on your ticket pack that you will receive 8-10 weeks before your cruise.
Visa requirements - Russia, Far East, Australasia and Asia
For cruises calling at St. Petersburg, P&O Cruises expects to be able to arrange block visas for passengers travelling on organised shore excursions, however, if this is not possible we will advise you in good time to obtain a visa yourself. If you intend to go ashore independently in St Petersburg, a Russian Tourist Visa is required. This MUST be obtained before leaving home as visas cannot be granted during the cruise. Should you wish to obtain an individual Russian Tourist Visa, you will need to be sponsored by a licensed Russian Tour company. This company will provide you with the necessary documentation to obtain your individual Tourist Visa. After obtaining this information, you will need to contact a visa service or the Russian Embassy at www.rusemblon.org for the visa. You must bring a photocopy of the photograph / personal details page of your passport if you are intending to go ashore with an organised excursion or independently.
Visa requirements - Australia, India and China
A visa will need to be purchased prior to travel, whether you are embarking, in transit or staying on board. Information on how to apply for your visa will be sent to you with your pre-cruise information, 8-10 weeks prior to departure.
Visa requirements - Vietnam, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea
A visa for these countries will need to be purchased. These can normally be obtained on board and the fee will be charged to your on board account. Full details, including any changes or updates to this information, will be sent to you 8-10 weeks prior to departure.
Visa requirements Libya
A Libyan visa will be required. Generally this visa can be organised on board for an additional fee. Everyone needs to buy a visa whether or not they are going ashore. Full details will be advised in the pre-cruise mailing 8 to 10 weeks before departure. Libya chooses to apply rigidly to the Arab League rulings regarding the boycott of Israel, and therefore does not recognise the state of Israel. As a result the following categories of person are not permitted to enter Libyan waters:
• Israeli Nationals
• Persons travelling on other nationality passports containing Israeli stamps
• Persons travelling on other nationality passports with stamps issued by the Jordanian, Egyptian or Lebanese authorities at any border crossing point with Israel
• United States of America passport holders
At the time of writing, we are advised that all visitors to Libya, regardless of nationality, will require a certified translation of their passport into Arabic to allow them entry into the country. This will incur an additional charge. Further, updated information about this requirement will be provided by us around three months before travel.
How much baggage can I bring?
On cruises sailing from and returning to Southampton, you can bring as many bags as you can comfortably fit into your stateroom, but please restrict the weight of each item to no more than 23kg for handling purposes. On Oceana’s and Ventura’s fly cruises the baggage restriction will be 23kg per person. For cruises of 3 nights and under, passengers are required to carry their own luggage on board. If you would prefer to have your luggage delivered to your stateroom for you, our luggage handlers will be happy to provide luggage labels when you hand over your luggage at the terminal before proceeding to check-in.
Can I use my hairdryer or razor in my stateroom?
Staterooms on all ships are fitted with three pin standard British style sockets and the current on board is 220 volts AC at 60 cycles. However, P&O Cruises does provide hairdryers in the staterooms. Additionally all bathrooms have razor sockets with 220 / 110 volt switchable sockets.
How do I keep my valuables safe?
>Every stateroom has a free of charge combination safe.
Do all staterooms have air conditioning?
All staterooms on board are air-conditioned. There is a thermostat control to adjust the temperature in each stateroom.
Where can I eat during the evening?
Come the evening, with P&O Cruises Dining Choice there are a number of alternative dining options, tailoring your holiday to your mood, timetable and lifestyle.
Enabling you to dine at any time you wish, with whom you like, Freedom Dining allows you the flexibility to turn up at selected restaurants anytime you choose and every effort will be made to accommodate you. Freedom Dining is included in your fare and available on Oceana and
This style of dining is a wonderful way to share your holiday experiences and meet new people. Operating on a fixed sitting basis P&O Cruises will pre-reserve your seat at a table in one of the sumptuous main restaurants, for the duration of your holiday. Included in your fare, Club Dining is available on all of our ships when you choose between first sitting at 6.30pm or second sitting at 8.30pm. Seating arrangements are made on a ‘first come, first served’ basis when you book your cruise. Please state your sitting preference at the time of booking. Sittings are allocated according to availability. Also, when booking, please let us know if you wish to sit with a specific party or would like a specific table size. Please note that tables for two are extremely limited and cannot be guaranteed. Whether you opt for Freedom or Club Dining you will enjoy silver service in the main restaurants.
In addition to Club Dining and Freedom Dining, Select Dining gives you the choice of enjoying exquisitely prepared bistro cuisine one night and grill fare served al fresco under a moonlit sky or signature dishes inspired by Michelin-stared chefs, another. Simply reserve your table in advance for a time and evening that suits you best, and P&O Cruises will do the rest. Please note that a Select Dining cover charge applies.
The Select Dining venues on each ship are:
Ventura – The White Room, East, Ramblas
Oceana – The Plaza Bistro, The Horizon Grill
Arcadia – Arcadian Rhodes, The Orchid
Aurora – Café Bordeaux, The Pennant Grill
Oriana – Oriana Rhodes, The Terrace Grill
Adonia – Sorrento, The Ocean Grill
Giving you the opportunity to indulge in dinner beneath the stars, a premium menu will enhance the very special and exclusive experience of balcony dining. Balcony dining is available on Ventura. Please note that there will be a charge per person. For more information on our dining options and restaurants please visit our website.
What facilities are provided for children?
P&O Cruises have a wide choice of dining venues where children can enjoy breakfast and lunch. In the evenings, families can dine together or alternatively, parents can accompany their children to a special children’s dinner, choosing to dine later in the evening on their own.
What should I wear?
To help you pack for your holiday, below you’ll find a description of the different dress codes P&O Cruises operates and upon which ship they apply. If you do forget to pack something, then don’t worry as our shops carry a wide range of leisurewear and formal clothing.
Casual shirts, shorts, trousers and beachwear are ideal. For going ashore and walking on deck, flat comfortable shoes are a must. You will also need a lightweight jacket or coat for cool evenings and occasional showers. Don’t forget sun protection cream, a sun hat and sunglasses as the sun is much stronger at sea. Packing a spare pair of glasses and an ample supply of any medicines you are taking is also a good idea.
Stylish resort or leisurewear is ideal for Evening Casual nights, for example casual separates or dresses for ladies and open-neck polo shirts and casual trousers (not shorts) for men. A jacket and smart trousers can be worn but are not compulsory. Smart dark denim is also fine, but not trainers, football shirts or tracksuits.
For a typical two week cruise on Azura, Britannia, Oceana or Ventura there are normally ten Evening Casual nights. On Adonia, Arcadia, Aurora and Oriana there are normally six Evening Casual nights.
Ladies can wear anything from tailored trousers to smart separates or even a stylish dress, while men are in a shirt and trousers with a jacket, such as a blazer or sports jacket, or a suit and tie if they wish.
For a typical two week cruise there are normally four Smart evenings.
Ladies wear glamorous evening wear including cocktail dresses, ball gowns or even smart trouser suits. For men, dinner jackets or tuxedos are the norm, but a dark lounge or business suit and tie can be worn as an alternative. You can also wear formal national dress and army uniform.
For a typical two week cruise there are normally four Black Tie evenings on board (Black tie nights tend to be on sea days. For cruises over 7 nights there will be a black and white themed ball and when it is very hot, the number may be reduced).
Effective in 2016: All ships within the P&O Cruises fleet will only have two dress codes: Black Tie and Evening Casual.
Children: The dress code is applicable to all passengers of 18 years and over and P&O Cruises requests that on Black Tie and Smart evenings children wear, as a minimum, Evening Casual dress, however on these occasions dark denim is not permitted.
Please do not wear your swimsuit in the lounges, interior bars, restaurants or reception area. A shirt and suitable footwear is required while indoors and when using the buffets. In the evenings all restaurants and bars comply with the dress code of the evening.
Are there any facilities for teenagers?
For children and teenagers (9-12 & 13-17 years) P&O Cruises will arrange a full programme of activities, quizzes, deck sports, pool games, competitions and discos. Their clubhouses have music, videos, games, computers and interactive arcade games - all great fun and sure to keep older children occupied.
What qualifications do the Youth Crew possess?
All our Youth Crew, known as ‘Reef Rangers’ have extensive experience of working in the field and in the planning and facilitating of a wide range of play and leisure activities for children aged 2-17 years. Relevant qualifications for Youth Staff working with the under eights are NNEB/CACHE Diploma in Nursery Nursing, BTEC National Diploma in Early Childhood Studies, CACHE/OCR/EDEXCEL City & Guilds Certificate in Childcare & Education and/or a Teaching Certificate.
Are there any facilities specifically for my younger children?
For children aged 2-4 & 5-8 and under two’s accompanied by a parent, Aurora, Oceana, Oriana & Ventura have playrooms, packed with ballpools and softplay areas, toys, games, books and craft material. Each is open daily and we arrange an extensive programme of play, sport and entertainment. Much as we’d like to, we regret we are unable to take babies under two during the day. In the evening you don’t even need to worry about small children (under 5 years old) as you can leave them in our supervised night nursery, though as there is limited space we operate on a ‘first come, first served’ basis daily. Opening times will be published on board. Please note that parents/guardians must ensure that infants left in the care of the Night Nursery are settled to sleep before they leave.
What facilities are provided for families?
We want your whole family to have a wonderful holiday and The Reef provides a whole range of facilities and daily programmes for children and teenagers on board Aurora, Oceana, Oriana and Ventura. The Reef is split into four age specific childrens clubs and includes Splashers for 2-4 year olds, Surfers for 5-8 year olds, Scubas for 9-12 year olds and H2O for 13-17 year olds. At the start of your holiday you’ll be invited to an informal meeting where our Reef Rangers will explain the facilities in detail, outline the events planned and the few restrictions we impose. Please note that Arcadia and Adonia are dedicated to adults and therefore we do not accept children or teenagers under the age of 18.
Each ship has the following facilities available:
Aurora - has ‘Toybox’ for the 2-4 year olds, ‘Jumping Jacks’ for 5-8’s, Quarterdeck for 9-12’s and Decibels for 13-17’s. The Terrace Pool and paddling pool on D Deck are reserved especially for children under 10 and their parents whilst the Crystal Pool is available for all passengers including children. There is also a Night Nursery for the under 5 year olds in ‘Toybox’.
Oceana - has the ‘Treasure Chest’ for 2-4’s, the ‘Hideout’ for 5-8’s and the two ‘Buzz Zone’ rooms for 9-17’s. In peak seasons of school holidays we may designate one of Oceana’s pools as family only. There is a Night Nursery housed in the children’s area.
Oriana - has ‘Peter Pans’ for 2-4’s & 5-8’s, ‘Decibels’ for 9-12’s and ‘Outerspace’ for 13-17’s. The Terrace Pool and paddling pool on D Deck are reserved especially for children under 10 and their parents whilst the Crystal Pool is available for all passengers including children. There is also a Night Nursery on G Deck.
Ventura - has Tumblers a play area for under 2s for parent supervised play, Toybox for the 2-4 year olds, Jumping Jacks for 5-8s, The Den for 9-12s and Decibels for 13-17s. The small pool and paddling pool on Sun Deck are reserved especially for children 8 and under and their parents.
During peak season we offer Slumber Time between 10.30pm and midnight for the 5-8 year olds. In addition all ships offer the use of a stateroom listening facility, which is available through the telephone system. Please note on some out of season cruises it may be necessary to change the age ranges of the clubs to 2-8s and 9-17s.
We would ask parents and/or guardians to remember that there are other passengers on board and for this reason a few of the lounges and public rooms are ‘out of bounds’ to passengers under 16. Please note that passengers under the age of 18 must travel with a parent or companion over the age of 21 and that we are unable to carry babies under the age of six months (one year for certain sailings).
Please note that children in swimming diapers are not allowed to use the main pools but may use the paddling pools under the supervision of their parents or guardians. We also ask parents and guardians to note that children under 16 must not be left unaccompanied on the ship whilst at a port of call.
Can I use my mobile phone?
Enjoy the flexibility of using your mobile phone to chat to family and friends back home, even when you are miles out at sea. You can even send pictures, media clips and texts. The network will be activated when the ship is at sea. When the service becomes available for use your mobile will show either MCP or 901 12 in the display. This will mean that you are using ‘International Maritime Roaming’. You will be supplied with pre-printed contact cards in your travel documents.
Can you arrange special diets?
Naturally, we can provide diabetic, fat-free, vegetarian and gluten-free meals etc. A limited range of kosher food items are carried on board our ships though you should note that kosher food production is unsupervised. In order to give us plenty of time to place the necessary orders and also to give you the best possible service, please let us know your needs and any food allergies that you may have when you make your booking or by calling our Reservations Centre no later than 12 weeks before you travel. Please note, however, that we cannot guarantee specific brands. Substitute items may apply.
Do you provide children’s meals?
Normally, children sit with their parents at breakfast and lunch. But, since even the most affectionate parents may look forward to dinner on their own, we lay on a special children’s tea on board Aurora, Oceana and Oriana for children accompanied by their parents. On Ventura, families can dine together at The Beach House.
We look after babies too, with a selection of baby foods. Again, the earlier you let us know what you need, the better we’ll be able to stock up for your little one(s), though please note that we are unable to guarantee specific brands.
Can I eat when I want, where I what?
On all of our ships, we have myriad dining choices specifically designed to add greater flexibility and spontaneity to your time away. As you would expect from any world-class restaurant or hotel, the care and skilled lavished on the cuisine and the standard of service you receive will be exceptional, wherever you choose to dine, at whatever time of the day. And, with 24 hour dining available on all of our ships, you can enjoy a broad variety of dining venues. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, or even a midnight snack, you will be spoilt for choice.
What about tipping?
First of all, please do not worry about it. Who, when and how much you tip is at your discretion. Tips are usually given in cash at the end of your holiday to your stateroom Steward, Restaurant Stewards in the Club Dining restaurants, and to any other staff who you feel you wish to reward. The amount you tip is entirely up to you although, as a guide, we recommend a total amount per person (aged 12 and over) of ~$5.00 per day, which covers all staff who have looked after you during your holiday. The only exception to this is for passengers travelling on Oceana and Ventura who have opted to enjoy the flexibility of Freedom Dining as, with this style of dining, you may be seated at a different table and served by a different waiter on each occasion. We will therefore add an automatic service charge per passenger, per day to your shipboard account for the Restaurant Stewards. You will, of course, be able to increase or decrease this charge at your discretion by visiting Reception at any point during your cruise. You can also tip any other staff, including your stateroom Steward, as you feel appropriate. Further details of who and when you should tip can be found in your stateroom.
We have reviewed our pregnancy policy in light of current medical research on gestation risks and infant mortality outside of specialised neonatal intensive care units.
As a result pregnant women are only allowed to sail if pregnant for 24 weeks or less at the date of cruise disembarkation. All pregnant women are required to produce a doctor or midwifes letter stating that mother and baby are in good health, fit to travel and that the pregnancy is not high risk. The letter must also include the estimated date of delivery (EDD) calculated from both Last Menstrual Period (LMP) and ultrasound (if performed).
What is the smoking policy onboard?
Smoking is prohibited in all cabins and public spaces. Guests who smoke may do so on balconies and on designated areas of open decks.
How do I get in touch with a ship?
If any of your family or friends need to contact you while you are on board, they can do so by dialing 001 732-335-3264. There will be an American call charge for dialing this number in addition to the per minute call charge.
If you are not in your stateroom at the time of the call a message will be taken and delivered to your stateroom. We recommend that you give the relevant number to your family and friends prior to travel. You will be supplied with pre-printed contact cards in your travel documents.
How can I stay in touch with home?
Not just a place to send emails and keep in contact with friends and family back home, the Cyb@study offer the opportunity to acquaint yourself with the latest software packages and technology. You could, for example, discover how to get the very most out of your digital photography with Photosuite. There may even be some of the more standard Microsoft packages like Excel and Word that you might have been waiting for the right time to learn how to use.
If you are a complete novice when it comes to computers then the relaxed, friendly environment found in the Cyb@study is the perfect place to be introduced for the first time – we can help you to surf the internet and set up an email account so you can write home and let everyone know what a wonderful holiday you are having.
How do I pay for purchases on board?
For your convenience, P&O Cruises operates a cash-free system on board with Sterling as the currency. This is an automatic process; all you have to do is register your credit card during check-in at the beginning of your cruise. No further action is then necessary. You sign for all purchases and simply settle your account by credit card or debit card at the end of your cruise. We accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners Club, Visa Delta and Visa Debit. We regret we are unable to accept Switch/Maestro, Solo cards, American Express Prepaid Travellers Cheque Credit cards or Visa Electron. We are also unable to accept payment via cheque or by cash.
If you are travelling on a consecutive cruise, you must settle your on board account at the end of each individual cruise and payment will be taken from your registered credit or Visa debit card. If you are planning to use your credit card ashore, we strongly recommend that you advise your bank or credit card company that you will be visiting several different countries during your P&O Cruises cruise. As a continuing effort to combat credit card fraud, unusual activity, such as transactions in a number of different countries, can often be questioned.
How do I obtain foreign currency?
Passengers will be able to obtain suitable foreign currency for most ports of call on board. This can be purchased using travellers cheques or with cash. As
Mobility - Southampton cruise terminals
When cruising from Southampton, the effortless experience of your P&O Cruises cruise starts before you have even reached the ship. You can rest assured that all of the cruise terminals used by P&O Cruises in Southampton are fully accessible for passengers using wheelchairs. All Southampton terminals have a dedicated check-in desk and accessible toilet facilities, with the majority of cruise terminals featuring lifts and high-level linked walkways to the ships, including P&O Cruises’ very own Mayflower Terminal.
If you are bringing a wheelchair on board with you, you must notify us at the time of booking. We will then be able to ensure that our dedicated Mobility Assistance Team will be on hand to offer boarding assistance should you require it.
We can also offer assistance for passengers who are not bringing a wheelchair, but may need wheelchair assistance in order to board the ship. If you do require boarding assistance, please call our Reservations Team to register you request. This will help us to ensure that we have adequate staff available on the day in order to keep check-in times to a minimum.
Mobility – Staterooms
Each of the ships in our fleet has a number of wheelchair accessible staterooms. The positions of these staterooms are indicated on the deck plans which can be found in the back of our current brochure. All of our wheelchair accessible staterooms feature wide doorways into the stateroom and bathroom, as well as sufficient floor space for wheelchair manoeuvrability. All wheelchair accessible balcony staterooms feature ramped access to the balcony. The bathroom in all of these staterooms is a wetroom style shower room with a flush threshold into the stateroom and grab rails for shower and toilet.
Mobility - Going ashore
At the majority of ports visited by our ships, we are able to deploy a short low-level ramped gangway in order to provide all wheelchair users with easy access to shore. At some ports this may not be possible, especially if the port has a large tidal range. At ports where we are unable to deploy a short low-level ramped gangway, all access to the shore will be by a narrow stepped gangway that pivots to take account of the tide. In order to use the stepped gangway you must have some independent mobility, however, where conditions permit we will endeavour to use a ‘stair climbing machine’ that can be found on each of our ships. In order to use the stair climber you must be able to transfer to and from your own wheelchair, which will be taken ashore separately.
At ports where the ship is unable to dock at the quayside and where conditions permit, passengers are taken ashore by the ship’s launches (also known as tenders). Every effort will be made to offer access to the shore by the ship’s launches, but you must have some independent mobility in order to step in and out of the launch. For Health and Safety reasons, our crew are unable to lift passengers into and out of the launches. If no individual part of your wheelchair weighs more than 32kgs when disassembled, our crew will be able to transfer it to the launch as appropriate. You or your travelling companion will be responsible for assembling and disassembling your wheelchair, although if requested, our crew will be able to assist you where safe and practical to do so.
Mobility - Shore excursions
We will send you a shore excursion brochure around 8-10 weeks before your cruise departure date. The brochure descriptions set out to offer practical advice based on our operating experience. We strongly recommend that you read the brochure descriptions in order to make sure that your chosen excursions are suitable for your individual personal requirements.
If you have registered with us that you are a full time wheelchair user, you will also be sent a separate guide detailing access at the various ports of call, as well as information regarding fully accessible vehicles where available. If you are a full time wheelchair user and require further information about going ashore, please contact our Shore Mobility Advisor.
Are passengers who are bringing wheelchairs on board able to travel alone?
As a ship is not always the easiest environment for using a wheelchair, we require all passengers who are bringing a wheelchair on board to travel with a personal assistant / travelling companion. Although our crew are always happy to help, they are unable to assist you in moving around the ship, or in any other day-to-day tasks.
Are you able to provide wheelchairs for passenger use?
We have a number of wheelchairs on board each of our ships, however, these are for medical emergency use only and can not be allocated to passengers for day-to-day use.
Do you provide storage for wheelchairs and other mobility aids?
Unfortunately, we are unable to provide storage for wheelchairs and other mobility aids. These must be stored in your stateroom when not in use.
I’m not fully mobile - is a cruise for me?
You will be pleased to know that all of the ships in our fleet cater for passengers bringing wheelchairs or mobility scooters (referred to collectively in this section as wheelchairs). With lifts and wheelchair accessible routes to the vast majority of public areas on board, as well as a number of staterooms adapted for wheelchair users, including wide doorways and bathrooms featuring wheel-in showers, we aim to make your stay as relaxing and comfortable as possible. If you are planning to bring a wheelchair on board with you, it is essential that you let us know at the time of booking. We will then contact you to obtain further information.
Please note that on board we are unable to provide wheelchairs, walking frames, or other mobility aids for passenger use. Before making a booking, please familiarise yourself with clause 9 of the Booking Conditions. Please be aware that a ship is not always the easiest environment for using a wheelchair. Although our crew are always very helpful, they are unable to assist in moving you around the ship, or in any personal day-to-day tasks. For this reason, we require passengers who use a wheelchair to be accompanied by a personal assistant/travelling companion to provide these services.
Standard staterooms (i.e. not adapted) are not accessible for full-time wheelchair users because their doorways are not wide enough for most wheelchairs to pass through and the bathrooms have raised thresholds. Part-time wheelchair users who wish to travel in a standard stateroom must bring a collapsible wheelchair and negotiate the stateroom without assistance from the ship’s crew. For the safety of the ship and everyone on board, all wheelchairs and other aids to mobility must be stored inside your stateroom at night and when you are not actually using them.
When choosing your cruise please bear in mind that it may not be possible for wheelchair users to get ashore at ports of call. At the majority of ports visited by our ships, we deploy a short ramped low-level gangway, commonly referred to as the ship’s brow, to give all wheelchair users easy access to shore. We do our very best to make sure that all passengers get ashore in as many ports as possible, although there will be times when it is not possible to deploy the ship’s brow. This is normally due to ports with a large tidal range. Some examples of ports with a large tidal range (but not an exhaustive list) are Hamburg, Zeebrugge, Atlantic ports (such as La Rochelle, Vigo and Bilbao) and most Canary Island ports.
At ports where it is not possible to use the ship’s brow, all access to shore will be by a narrow stepped gangway that pivots to take account of the tide, known as the accommodation ladder. When the accommodation ladder is in use, you will need some independent mobility in order to walk down the gangway. Each of our ships carries a wheelchair “stair climbing” machine which allows wheelchair users to go ashore provided they transfer between their own wheelchair and the wheelchair that is fitted to the stair climber at the top and bottom of the accommodation ladder. The stair climber cannot be used with electric wheelchairs – these will need to be taken ashore separately.
At ports where the ship is unable to dock at the quayside, and where conditions permit, passengers are taken ashore by the ship’s launches (or “tenders”).
Every effort will be made to offer access ashore via the “tenders” but you must have some independent mobility in order to step into the tenders and out of them on the shore side. Please note that for Health and Safety reasons, the crew are unable to lift passengers into and out of tenders. For passengers who use a wheelchair part-time and have sufficient independent mobility to step into and out of the tender, we will transfer wheelchairs into the tender or onto the quayside as appropriate, provided no individual part of the wheelchair weighs more than 32kgs when disassembled. You or your travelling companion will be responsible for assembling and disassembling your wheelchair, although if requested, we will endeavour to assist where practical and safe to do so.
Occasionally, at certain terminals at which the ship berths there are specific access issues and we aim to provide information wherever possible in advance of the cruise.