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8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
I was so looking forward to my first Christmas Cruise - but 16 nights later I was glad to disembark- disappointed is an understatement - the entertainment was dreadful - and the entertainment team - all five of them - had little experience ... Read More
I was so looking forward to my first Christmas Cruise - but 16 nights later I was glad to disembark- disappointed is an understatement - the entertainment was dreadful - and the entertainment team - all five of them - had little experience - they were geared for entertaining children - not passengers of a mature age - and calling for Santa on Christmas Eve to come out of the funnel went down like a ton of bricks - perhaps Christmas Carols might have been more appropriate- so we waited with baited breath to see what had been planned for Christmas Day apart from a five course dinner - in a word -.nothing - the Horiszon was the same as the previous day with the exception of a film - BFG at 2pm which we went to to pass the afternoon - boredom was setttimg in fast - I was quizzed out but the end of the trip - wasn't into line dancing - didn't want to learn bridge - and wondered occasionally if passengers were asleep or dead - The evening entertainment left a lot to be desired apart from a coup,e of acts - and News Years Eve - was thrown together at the last moment - three or four venues all doing different things - the captain managed to prevent the usual countdown to midnight in the Harlequin- 8 bells eithervside of midnight and that was it - bit of a damp squid - and the dancing re started - The food was excellent as was the service in the dining room and our cabin - but P& O may have a a large fan base but they want to pull their socks up and not take us for granted - change the entertainment and entertainers - don't treat elderly passengers as if we are all on our last legs - Yes I am aware I will have people telling me to stop moanimg etc - but we spent a lot of money for a Christmas Cruise expecting something really special - Apart from the tan - I wish I had stayed at home Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
Our first cruise on 'Oriana' was fifteen years ago, and we were so looking forward to being aboard her again, in fact we were hoping that this Xmas cruise to the Caribbean would be wonderful, but it truly wasdn't. It was ... Read More
Our first cruise on 'Oriana' was fifteen years ago, and we were so looking forward to being aboard her again, in fact we were hoping that this Xmas cruise to the Caribbean would be wonderful, but it truly wasdn't. It was quite dispiriting to see how tired ‘Oriana’ is looking these days, with ‘The Conservatory’ (correctly known as ‘The Piggery’) being the worst. Cabinets broken or deteriorated, dirty walls, filthy windows, crockery grubby, and most people eating up there piling their plates to the rafters then leaving most of it. I had to contact the Deputy Captain to organise for our bathroom to be re-grouted, get a new shower curtain to replace the filthy old one and replace the curtains by the balcony as they were badly torn and stained. We had a balcony cabin on 'B' deck & had rather expected it to be better appointed with scuff marks on the wardrobe doors and on the lovely old wood. However, we realise she is now coming up to 21 years of age and even with the refits she’s had, P&O could give her a lot more TLC, as it’s heart-breaking to see such a graceful ship being so neglected. For example the seats in the cinema & theatre should be replaced as they are truly uncomfortable, sunken and grubby, same goes for Anderson’s Bar with the furniture tired, worn stuffing and discoloured, and although the carpets are kept spotless at night many of them are betraying worn & frayed edges. The best bit about ‘Oriana’ is the staff – who we found to be absolutely tremendous, they are the ones who have made our holiday memorable. Food was good and bar prices reasonable. The worst or most disappointing bit? A great many of the passengers, their meanness, the tattoed crude men who couldn't be bothered to dress halfway decently on black tie evenings, the lack of basic good manners, lack of hygiene, many uncouth – not shy about the ‘F’ word around the ship and just their general boorishness. We witnessed drunken behaviour, women in a mad rush to leave the theatre after a show wearing vertiginous heels then falling over and breaking their ankles or wrists. Why rush when they’re on holiday? And why wear stupid high heels when the ship was experiencing choppy weather & was unstable? It just beats me. In the daily newsletter P&O were constantly having to remind passengers about their dress code, to not save seats in the theatre & cinema, to not take their own litre bottles of spirit or their own wine into the public areas & just ask the staff for mixers or coke & the old perennial annoyance of leaving deck-chairs by the pool with towels & books on them, departing for a 2-3 hour lunch, and wondering why fellow cruisers were cheesed off with them when they eventually returned. On formal nights a great many passengers couldn’t be bothered to dress properly so that they were turned away by staff at the restaurant door then they became aggressive, or on the last night not bothering to tip their waiters or just to pass them a £10 pound note which disgusted us. Next time we will have a really good think about a different line (and this sounds snobbish & I don't mean it to) but if we have to pay extra to get away from the “Butlins-on-Sea” crowd then so be it. I paid a great deal of money for this cruise and I feel robbed. With regret I don’t think we ever wish to return to ‘Oriana’. Have to do our homework before our next one as much of what we witnessed was really off-putting. Many of the staff were unhappy and were badly treated by some passengers who you wished frankly you could chuck overboard. I was also shocked that some passengers had had their cruise paid for by the Government then had the cheek to say they thought the experience to be 'not what they expected and their food was rubbish'.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Arcadia cruise 9-20 December 2014 cruise J421 Our first impression was a good one as we arrived at the new Mayflower Teminal. It is very well designed and set out, much improved on the "shed" we were in in 2008. We had to wait ... Read More
Arcadia cruise 9-20 December 2014 cruise J421 Our first impression was a good one as we arrived at the new Mayflower Teminal. It is very well designed and set out, much improved on the "shed" we were in in 2008. We had to wait two hours for a friend who was joining us but had lost his passport. We were guided to comfortable seats in a roped off area complete with brass stands, brass knobs and royal blue rope. There were refreshments and a ringside view of everyone coming and going. We booked this cruise at future cruise sales when we were on Aurora in June. I use a mobility scooter and need to book an adapted cabin so it was agreed at the time of booking that cabin C2 would be suitable to my needs. I had the scooter with me when we booked. Despite this and filling in all the forms in advance, when we checked in P&O reckoned we were not in a cabin suited to a scooter so another 40 mins while they sorted that one out. Eventually we got on board and after checking the cabin made our way to the Belvedere Buffet for a very tasty lunch. Good first impression on the food, even for my partner who is vegetarian, something very few caterers understand. Muster drill was a bit of a comedy. They kept announcing to keep the lifts for for the lame and lazy but they were full of the fit.  I eventually got into a lift with a woman in her nineties but the lift would not go where we wanted and took us up and down ad nauseam. We were in there so long her father was waiting for us when we got out to demand I make an honest woman of her. You might be surprised at the number of people complaining about what a farce having a muster drill was, you would think that after the Costa Concordia disaster they would see it in a different light. We were on Freedom Dining and it felt like they were operating a smart wheeze at dinner. When you arrive you are given a pager and told there is a half hour wait so "you might be more comfortable waiting in one of the bars". We had just bought a drink when the pager went off. Less than ten minutes, they must have really upped the drinks revenue. We were all pleased with dinner but that awful refined diesel oil that they try to pass for butter had followed us from the last cruise. Thankfully the buffet had little pats of Irish butter so we smuggled some out. We came back after lunch to a letter for each of us accusing us how not having registered a credit card and threatening to stop our credit. This has happened every time we have sailed with P&O despite all the rigmarole of them swiping cards and taking signatures at check in. It turns out that the P&O computer system could not cope with my partner's name which starts O'R...... They do not do apostrophes and said he would need to change the spelling to Or..... I presume he cannot be the only traveller with an apostrophe and as it has been causing problems for us since 2008 I am sure it could have been sorted. The cabin was fine and the steward kept on top of it but it really needed a good deep clean as there was a lot of fluff going back a long time under the bed and settee. There were a couple of inexcusable problems in the bathroom. A very badly scored toilet seat, the scores yellow with urine and a mouldy bathmat. We complained and they were replaced. The food onboard ship has been excellent. Every morsel tasty, good quality and well cooked. A hundred times better than our first Arcadia Christmas 2008. Then we paid £5700 for a balcony cabin for the two of us and parted with the money as we believed they would really push the boat out (if you will pardon the pun) but apart from a wallet "from Santa" tossed unwrapped onto the bed there was nothing extra. On that cruise there was a standing joke about being served potato croquettes and carrot medallions at every meal and by the end of the cruise it was not a joke, it was a recurring horror story. That was the one where at afternoon tea, William, the vegetarian got two slices of bread with just a rocket leaf! He asked if he could not at least have a cheese sandwich and was told he should have given 24 hours notice for that.  So well done Arcadia, you have redeemed yourselves. One of the highlights in the Palladium theatre was a great male singing quartet. Former West End Musical singers who have formed a group. Their performance was amazing on the first night hence the reason we headed off early and camped out in the front row for their next show.  Check our fourtunes.com Ports Our first port was Vigo. A tip for disabled visitors. Ask any taxi driver on the rank to call you an accessible cab and they phone "Eurocabs" for you. I was able to drive my scooter right into the cab. There is a €5 cover charge but it was only an extra €4 to take us to the top of the town. Porto was next. Another tip for disabled visitors. It is very hilly you might make it down to the railway station with its magnificent tile murals and the cathedral, great views of the river from there and the port producers on the opposite bank. If you go further down be prepared to get a taxi back to the coach drop off. We have been to Cadiz many times and we were hoping for good weather to walk along the shore then make our way back into the city via the Roman Amphitheatre but the rain was torrential and relentless so we gave up and returned to the ship. At which tme the sun came out and we got an hour sitting out but it was short lived then back to rain. Malaga was a gem, What a lovely city. A great central shopping street, very stylish with all the top brands. A well developed port with an attractive marina, more shops cafes, bars and well kept beaches. At each corner an attractive square with beautiful historic buildings all very sympathetically preserved.  We took the accessible mini bus shuttle into the city but walked back through the marina and along the promendade. Do not be afraid to stop for refreshments in the marina, it is all very reasonable priced and they have the cutest, tamest sparrows that will eat out of your hand. We were told in the booking info that we would spend the morning in Gibraltar. Once the daily paper has been circulated we learned we dock at 7 and leave at 11.30. People tend to save their shopping for Gib as it is so British but as shops open at 10 there was just an hour before one needed to head back to port. My companions went up the Rock on the cable car but it was not accessible for me, too many steps. So I stayed in the car park below. I tried the Almeda Botanical  Gardens but same again, steps!. I guess that was to be expected from a settlement built for mountain goats.  They found the cable car quick and the top of the rock unusually quiet. The monkeys (Macaques) were there but much better behaved. There are signs up threatening. £4,000 fine for feeding them. There were babies, very cute, we have pictures. Protective adults, not very cute with threatening grimaces and great pictures of the view all around is it was such a clear morning. I was reading that the Macaque population had got out of control so they have introduced a system of modern birth control (Marie Stopes eat your heart out) and exported a few families to a park in Scotland. We had a wonderful day in Lisbon, 7 hours. My companions hired Segways from Red Tour Segways in Rua Dos Fanquieros, a man we have patronised for years.  I was impressed by the performance of my scooter but Lisbon being so flat the load was reduced a little despite carrying half the P&O buffet round my midriff. I set off with such good intention but the food is all so good!!!!! Measuring it out later the scooter did about 7 miles so just made it back to the cabin before the battery died. It is the one question people ask me all the time. "How many miles do you get out of it?" But there are so many variables it is almost impossible to answer.  I found a lovely local deli in a back street selling smelly fish and cheese and got some good wines for the couple who are looking after the car. We had Coffee and Nata, the Portugese custard tart, a Christmas speciality, at the St Nicholas cafe in the main pedestrian street that runs off Black Horse Square.  We had been warned about thieves and pickpockets but the biggest surprise was the number of men who sidled past muttering "cocaine? hashish? Marihuana?" I bet they shopped any tourists who bought drugs to the police for a cut of the profit as there were lots of Polis around who must have known what they were doing. I tried sidling up to people muttering "Sennacot? Omeprazole? Rennies?". Once the rush hour traffic was clear the streets were fairly quiet as there is a two day rail and metro strike on. To those of us who have been coming to Lisbon for many years you can see how badly it has suffered under the recession. Many empty shops and abandoned premises with older shopkeepers presiding over out of date stock that was once their livelihood. Many more beggars, local people and not addled with drink or drugs just abandoned by the state. They have made a good start with dropped pavements and are half way to full accessibility. Half way, in the you drive off the pavement and get to the other side of the crossing to be met by a 6inch kerb.  Then back to the ship and the two day cruise back to Southampton. All in all it was a good cruise. So we would definitely do Arcadia again after this one. Well done P&O .   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
Just returned from the Christmas cruise aboard Ventura. I'll will try to summarise my thoughts .... The service from the steward and dining room staff (early sitting) was excellent. The dinning room food in the evening was largely ... Read More
Just returned from the Christmas cruise aboard Ventura. I'll will try to summarise my thoughts .... The service from the steward and dining room staff (early sitting) was excellent. The dinning room food in the evening was largely good with just a few disappointments but in nearly all cases the meat portion was too small. Our D deck cabin was very average with no internet access when the ship was moving, poor maintainance in the bathroom, a faded settee, questionable AC and ridiculous noise from the tender launching process at 7am (!) in Tortola . To add to this the balcony was not at all private with virtually every cabin above it having a birds eye view of us. The balcony was often littered with cigarette butts which I assume came from the rooms above . The guest entertainers were typically good but the production shows were over ambitious given the singers available and their lack of talent . It's takes a brave girl of any description to offer a "tribute" to Karen Carpenter but if they cannot sing well its just not practical and how 3 white guys can try to mimic the Drifters is beyond my comprehension - they must be able to both sing and dance and do both at the same time! The Calypso band that played in various venues was quite good but the rock band much worse. There was a constant problem with the lack of sun beds . This is down to bad deck design or even ship design and poor management - given though P&O can cure this but they have to want to do it. Similarly the show lounge is too small and requires a 3rd nightly show. P&O employ "minders" around the swimming pool whose sole purpose appears to be annoy the kids who are jumping in and out and enjoying themselves. These pool minders even kick out adults in the pool if the appear to jump in, even though they weren't. Making these people redundant would offer a serious cost saving . They could be re employed as traffic wardens where they could irritate a larger number of people and not damage the cruise's reputation. For some reason the hot tubs were often closed for cleaning - even on Christmas Day - is there no planning or consideration given to the days on which this happens? Ship maintenance, such as refreshing of paint, occurred during day hours. Why? Wouldn't it be easier to do this at 5am or when passengers are sleeping rather than make paying passengers move this lounge chair during the day to accommodate ship repairs? The kindergarten now operates a nonsensical process for signing the kids in and out and this needs to be looked at. As it stands a cruise card with a kids club sticker on it is "worth" a child and a signature the same as the one on that card is the only thing required to release the child. If there really is such a problem a picture of the parents maybe more worthwhile. I suspect the process was engineered by someone at a desk with a pen but little or no practical experience. The itinerary worked well except from Christmas Eve in Dominica. As you may know it rains there a lot so to organise Santa's arrival on the open deck as we left was frankly stupid, it was always going to rain and of course the entire event, witnessed by hundreds of families, was a complete wash out. Clearly a different port or venue or time was needed. At Tortola the dock is being rebuilt and is closed for the duration. The itinerary suggested it was a "possible tender" port. It's a definite tender and those on deck 9 should have been warned of the very loud noise and shuddering vibration a 7am when the tenders are launched. To be fair the tender process seemed to worked ok but there is no need to go there at all until the dock is built - there are lots of other islands. There were too many formal nights - 4 in total. This was way too many and should be re thought on family cruises. Given the fact we all had to fly in with the accompanying baggage problems, a clear dress code itinerary would have been useful ahead of the cruise, sadly it's not provided. The passengers were an eclectic mix of pensioners, couples and families with older and or younger children, some of whom were well heeled educated types and many others who could be described as "tattooed wonders", some of the later may perhaps be better served at a guest house in Blackpool or Butlins. I realise P&O is not going to conduct IQ tests on the passengers at the pier prior to boarding but I recommend they think of something before the entire cruise resembles a remand centre. There were too many smokers onboard and now may be the time to ban smoking completely. This would discourage those who need budget fares and relieve non smokers of ash, smell, and dirty ash trays which ruin otherwise useful deck areas. I noticed on a number of occasions that "housekeeping" was not as it could be with abandoned coffee cups left in halls for many hours and festering nappies in lifts. Some of this will be as result of the passenger mix but P&O should know who they sold the cruise to and prepare accordingly. Throughout the cruise the air conditioning did don't seem to work too well. Cruise ships in my experience are typically really quite cool inside but the Ventura was always warm. Even with the AC set to minimum in the cabin it was often too warm to sleep and other passengers who commented on the issue suggested it was a cost cutting measure..... P&O offer what amounts to late check out of the cabin to those who wish to pay for it. The process for this defies belief - as after paying £85 you have to leave the room you've had to the last fortnight together with your hand luggage at 9am and come back an hour later to room a few doors along the hall. If a good hotel offers late check out they let you have the room you are in - it saves preparing it again - and often they do not charge either. On this cruise all the passengers arrive on flights in the later afternoon and those going home need to leave before that. The only explanation for devising such a scheme is to collect cash and generate work for the stewards, it really is that silly. The additional cost restaurants are multiplying - and getting pricey. We went to the "Beach House" where even the burger is £2 extra - over and above the £6 you've just already agreed to. The place is ok but really you should stay with the dining room. Many of the other dining places are much more money and where often empty. Breakfast in the dining room was a slow a prescriptive saga and I see no reason to go there. The buffet arrangement upstairs seems better with plentiful if rather average food but often a shortage of tables unless you go out on the deck and sit in the cigarette smoke and ashtrays. P&O now serve Costa coffee which is big improvement on the liquid served in the buffet. Given their quest to charge for everything they can they should serve it at all the bars and for breakfast at a "nominal charge" of course. The buffet lunches were a bit tedious with the menu only changing a little each day and offering some bizarre choices for a Carribean cruise including faggots and a hotpot! On deck they serve burgers and hotdogs which are quite good but again the lack of tables either with or without smokers is an issue. The reception desk staff were typically polite but often could not answer many questions sensibly and they also had a habit of not answering the phone at all. P&O want you to buy a "wine" package for dinner but while this appears to offer some value the chosen wines are not good and the wine list selection is a better bet albeit at extra cost The beauty parlour prices where laughably high and it's hard to imagine anybody paying them. The return flights on Thomas Cook were only just about acceptable and only because we paid extra for Premium seats. The economy looked too cramped for an 8 hour flight and the food and drink are extra back there too. To add to this if you want to sit together as a family you have to pay another £15 each - each way - £90 for a family of 3!. This is a rip off and those concerned should be ashamed of such fees on families who have, in some cases, already paid £8000+. The gratuity policy appears now to involve charging every adult £55 (for the 2 week cruise) to there account and this covers the gratuities, however what is less clear is who gets the money, how much of it and what happens if you choose to opt out of the £55 deal. I asked for the money to be credited back to the account and it was and I gave cash to the room steward and dining room waiter and his assistant, but if more than those 3 were about to receive from me did they do without and in any event who were they and what is it they did for me? As with so many other silly fees in this world P&O should scrap the gratuity like they have with the one on the bar bill and pay their, largely excellent, service staff a sensible wage. As Ryan Air will tell you making people mad will not generate repeat passengers and P&O should take a good look at what they are doing before the policies get any worse..... I expect I will sail with P&O again - we are booked already but the Ventura will not be on my shortlist and P&O need to sort themselves out if I am to stay a loyal passenger. I am hoping the issues only relate to the Ventura but I am not hopeful.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
My family consist of my husband and myself , two boys ages nearly 10 & 17 and my father. We had an effortless flight from Manchester to Barbados. I must say I dislike having to pay for soft drinks on such a long flight. Food was ... Read More
My family consist of my husband and myself , two boys ages nearly 10 & 17 and my father. We had an effortless flight from Manchester to Barbados. I must say I dislike having to pay for soft drinks on such a long flight. Food was edible enough. On arrival at Barbados we were promptly escorted on to a A/C bus and driven to the cruise terminal. this usually takes about 45Mins, our driver decided to take the back roads and we arrived within 20 mins. Check in at the cruise terminal is my only bug bear, there must be a simplier system and I feel all passengers should be offered refreshments whilst we wait in line. especially after such a long journey. I really hate been asked to have a photo taken as we board the ship for the first time.! Who wants a picture taken after travelling so long. As we had been on Ventura several times before, we were able to locate our cabins very quickly. Cabins were clean and tidy and adequate foe all our needs A202,A206 balcony cabins deck 12. Cabin boy quickly introduced himself. we noticed our beds had been set up incorrectly, this was mentioned and was sorted upon our return several hours later. Cases arrived very quickly. Within an hour of arriving my youngest was ready to sign up to the Kids clubs. I was happy to be advised that the 9-12 yrs now had to be signed in and out { this wasnt the case previous years and i was a little dubious) I for one would not want my nearly 10 yr old wandering out around the boat whenever he felt he wanted to. I wasnt really impressed with the stickers attached to our cruise cards as they allowed only us to pick up our child. My older son is nearly 17 and I would have like to have been able to send him to pick up the younger one on the odd occasion. As usual the kids club staff were fantastic, i struggle to get my son to spend time with us on the cruise as he loves kids club so much. These staff do a brilliant job with them. I get a little fed up with some reviewers moaning about kids splashing in the pool and wandering around the ship. My kids are very well behaved and in all honesty never saw any unruly kids, but it's there holiday too its a xmas cruise, if you don't like kids dont' go on a family friendly ship. There are plenty of adult only cruises to choose from. I wasn't impressed with the pool attendants this year , they were like the naughty police and really were not needed. They just spoilt the fun for everyone. We had Freedom dining, got a table everytime. Food was adequate but not great. Enjoyed all of the specialised eateries, The white room, east and the glass house. I was disappointed that a surcharge had been added to eat at the beach hut. A little too greedy P & O. The way passengers have to queue to be allocated at table for Christmas day and new years eve, is disgusting. I personally queued for 2.5 hours, other up to 4 hours. The have immigration to a tee why can't they do the same for the tables for special days ???? Entertainment was ok. Really enjoyed Paul Eastwood the comedian and Robbie Williams tribute. A little disappointed with everything else. There is so much talent out there, why are P & O not finding it. We had excursions from the ship but we also did some of our own trips, all thoroughly enjoyed. Enjoyed all the Islands. My only other complaint is the films on the interactive TV, Jaws is over 20 years old we should'nt have to be paying for films at all after what we pay for the cruise in the first place. We are booked to go on the Xmas cruise on Brittannia I hope P & O are taking notes of everyone's concerns as certain things do need revampling. Other than a few hiccups we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves on this cruise. I certainly would rather be on the lively Ventura than the boring block of high rise flats docked at the side of us on St Maarten.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
This was our 4th festive cruise on Ventura around the Caribbean islands. The usual efficient P&O system of dealing with flights and luggage soon had us in the holiday mood. This time we were on a Dreamliner from Manchester. We were ... Read More
This was our 4th festive cruise on Ventura around the Caribbean islands. The usual efficient P&O system of dealing with flights and luggage soon had us in the holiday mood. This time we were on a Dreamliner from Manchester. We were happy with our balcony cabin on B deck and this was kept immaculate by our Steward Edward. Overall this was one of the best cruises we have done with wall to wall sunshine for the whole trip. We thought the quality and quantity of the food and also the quality of service had improved since the previous Christmas and also the standard of dress of the passengers was very high. Many ladies and girls opted for long dresses or cocktail wear even on the non-formal nights. Also on formal nights there were more men in evening dress than previously. So we were well happy. In the evenings we drank mainly in the Glasshouse or Tamarind. Prices seem to have held since the previous year both for drinks and meals in the speciality restaurants although they have introduced a cover charge for the Beach House restaurant in the evenings. This clearly had the effect of reducing the once mandatory queuing to zero and on the evening we ate there, hardly any other diners. The one blot on the proceedings was the requirement to queue to reserve your dining times for Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. I was near the front of the queue and it still took 1.5 hours for me to be seen to. Some people were queuing for up to 4.5 hours. This is appalling and P&O need to find another way of addressing this matter for example by using Cruise Personaliser. Like many others we will not be on Ventura for Christmas 2015 as we will all be on the Britannia. All in all an excellent cruise on the home from home Ventura . Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Having cruised twice before in the Med with Thomson and having enjoyed my experience thoroughly as a special treat I decided to book a surprise cruise to the carribean for my wife's 50th Birthday. We booked a week prior to travel and ... Read More
Having cruised twice before in the Med with Thomson and having enjoyed my experience thoroughly as a special treat I decided to book a surprise cruise to the carribean for my wife's 50th Birthday. We booked a week prior to travel and flew out from Manchester T1 early on the 6/12/2014. The chartered flights with Thomas Cook airlines went very smoothly, good quality food and service and the fact that this was chartered by P&O which meant we loaded the cases in Manchester and then didn't touch them again until they arrived at our cabin door on the ship made the flying experience really great. We arrived in Barbados to gorgeous warm sunshine and where then off loaded by P&O directly onto the transfer coach and taken directly to the port, no hassle with customs etc. on arrival at the ship we then went through a short process to take our photographs, present our credit card and be issued with our boarding cards. Again this was very swift and professional. The ship as an awesome site, biggest that we have been on. The cabin allocation again was swift but we did encounter a problem in the cabin with the set out of sleeping arrangements, we had requested a double room but where allocated a twin and unfortunately this couldn't be changed to a double due to the configuration of the lamps attached to the bedside tables, this was the main weak area of the service we received as INfeltvthat P&O didn't do enough to rectify the fault.. The facilities on board are great, choice of 4 swimming pools, plenty of sun beds, great waiter service, brilliant gym, sauna, spa and plenty of places where you could escape and relax. Food on board was good, plenty of choice and most of it served 24/7. We also used the Beech House for a small surcharge which was good, the MarconPierre and Athol Cuutcher restaraunts also seemed nice. We had early dining in the Bay Tree restaraunt at 6:30 which we found too early. Service again was outstanding but portions where a little small. Evening entertainment was good, we did the theatre after dinner then onto an internal bar such as Havanah, Tamarind or Metropolis and finish off the night with a few drinks on deck. The Headliners theatre company who performed in the theatre are a must to see, as is a comedian by the name of John Martin. Beer pric scare not bad but be aware that some of the bars do not serve draft beer, only from cans or bottles. We did feel that entertainment on board overall wasn't as good in some areas as on the Thomson ships. We where also a little disappointed by the formal evenings which didn't seem to be a celebration of a special event unlike the Thomson ships. The ship overall is neat and tidy, consistently cleaned, quite spacious and modern. The ports we visited on our Itinerary where good although some are up and coming ports which do need further development, the nicest places where St Maarten, Tortola, Curaçao, Bonaire and of course Barbados. I do still struggle to understand why the ships sail so early ( 5pm ) from some ports when the next port is only a short distance, we would have loved to stay ashore at places like St Marrten and Curaçao to get a taste of the nightlife. Same withnthe 2 days at sea on the return journey to Barbados, we could've called at one more stop on the way. All of the islands accept the US dollar but be aware that a couple of places have their own dollar so some change could be given in this currency which can only be spent on that Island. In Barbados also most prices are quoted in Barbados dollars to which there are 2 to every US dollar, make sure you ask when buying something or quoting a price for a taxi. You also need to try the flying fish in Barbados, yummy. The people in the Carribean can't do enough for you, very friendly and eager to help. Taxis are positioned at each port as well as numerous tours etc which are priced reasonably, the Beaches are stunning, the water is just as you imagine in a brochure and the climate is a steady 27 to 28 day and night, the humidity takes a bit of getting used too as does the 4 hour time difference.. Overall our first experience with P&O was good although we did feel that it could have been better, we do love the Carribean and will re visit. We would recommend P&O cruises to others and will be cruising again with them   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
I am sure some of the views on these forums, reflect what some might have thought a cruise today would be the same as in the 1950's!!! Today the ships are on a huge scale, and the clientele far removed from that era. The flights to ... Read More
I am sure some of the views on these forums, reflect what some might have thought a cruise today would be the same as in the 1950's!!! Today the ships are on a huge scale, and the clientele far removed from that era. The flights to Venice and from Genoa were on time, and the P&O team at each end were superb, baggage checked in and then the next one sees it - it is in the cabin. Cabin steward was good, polite, although we kept it tidy so all he had to do was re-arrange / new towels etc. There were two beach towels in the cabin, and more available in the ' spa ' changing room - which would answer a previous complaint in a review- that persom did not look far enough. We dined in the Cinnamon Restaurant, and thought the choice and standard high.We did try the White Room, and yes £25 cover charge, was it worth it, YES for a one off experience, as we were able to dine outside, the ambiece was superb, and a few foodie extras thrown in too, service was brilliant, the food was exceptional, really enyoyed it, we lingered and whay not. The ship is big and it took the week to find one's way around, the ' observation deck ' at the front front on Lido deck was not listed in the leaflet, found it by chance - and a great viewing area. The Theatre is very good, on two deck levels, ( far better than on the Oceana- just a minor point ) we went to the two ' Headliner shows' good singers, and how they change the costumes so many times in seconds is beyond me !!! well done. The '' 4 Tunes '' four guys singing in harmony were outstanding, again we managed their two shows. Ports of call - Kotor by tender- and a trip up the mountain, the 25 bends are NOT for the faint hearted. Rome - we did the Tuscania village trip, beautiful countryside, a very relaxing morning, good wine too at the olive grove farm, and olive oil to purchase too. Corfu & Corsica - suggest just go on foot around the towns, the walk up to the old fort in Corfu, and lunch there was a highlight. P&O do offer very good value for money, the prices on board are in £'s and in my opinion the drinks prices are very reasonable, this is my 2nd P&O cruise. My suggestion - avoid the buffet restaurants, just people not knowing where they are going or what they want- food quality fine though. We did NOT enjoy a might in the Beach House resaurant- menu disappointing. We chose freedon dining- which is ideal, and usually had a table for two, but no problemd sharing as we did from time to time. Afternoon tea in the Saffron was of a high standard. We did use the ' adults ' only oasis pool - although as slightly out of school holidays few children on the ship. The sun loungers are close together and there IS the towel on the sunbed syndrome, which P&O DO need to address. Would I use P&O again - certainly yes, would like to try the Britannia when she comes on stream.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
we have recently returned from the christmas cruise to the canary`s apart from the rough weather which p&o have no control over the cruise went quite well mainly due to the efforts of the captain Neil Turnbull [who is up there as the ... Read More
we have recently returned from the christmas cruise to the canary`s apart from the rough weather which p&o have no control over the cruise went quite well mainly due to the efforts of the captain Neil Turnbull [who is up there as the best captain we have sailed with [16 with princess and 7 with P&O ] but our main complaint was with the food which was the worst we have had on any cruise!!! also my wife had trouble understanding the bar and waiting staff although we cannot fault them for service. The ship we think is showing signs of her age but needs some updating in some public areas our cabin inside on A deck was comfortable and clean especially the shower/ bathroom the entertainment was what we expect from the on board dancers, comedians very good also colin the Queens pastry chef gave very interesting accounts of his time working for the Queen all in all a pleasant cruise apart from the poor food especially the Christmas dinner Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
Sailed from Southampton on 21st Dec. for the Canaries. This is the first time we have sailed with P and O,although we have sailed before with their sister company, Princess. Well what can I say, although the ship is in need of updating as ... Read More
Sailed from Southampton on 21st Dec. for the Canaries. This is the first time we have sailed with P and O,although we have sailed before with their sister company, Princess. Well what can I say, although the ship is in need of updating as the decor was a little tired, this did not spoil anything for us at all. We found the staff polite and friendly although sometimes we had to wait for a drink. Our cabin steward Reagan was exceptional, always ready to help and assist us with anything that we asked for. The entertainment on board was good. We used the theatre on most nights as there was always something on that we wished to see. The food was to die for. There were some people on board who were moaning about it but I expect those people usually eat every night at the Ritz. The Captain Neil Turnbull was brilliant, he kept us informed about everything and was often seen about the ship talking to the passengers. What a nice man. The only thing that I didn't like or appreciate where some of the passengers who thought that they were better than anyone else. Sheer snobbery abounds still on P and O and a lot of the older passengers are guilty of this. Some of them are downright rude with no manners (which they usually accuse the youngsters of) To these passengers I would say , this is 2014. Not 1924 the class system on cruises no longer exists. My money is the same colour as yours lose the attitude. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
Cruise no E330 - OCEANA - 19th - 29th Dec 2013 Been on this ship a number of times, always had a good cruise. We were looking forward to a wonderful Xmas experience on board this trip what a big disappointment and may I add waste of ... Read More
Cruise no E330 - OCEANA - 19th - 29th Dec 2013 Been on this ship a number of times, always had a good cruise. We were looking forward to a wonderful Xmas experience on board this trip what a big disappointment and may I add waste of money. We are not party animals, but there was no Christmas atmosphere on this cruise, which is why we paid the extra for this cruise. 2012, we went on a Warner's Xmas break, better than excellent, P&O could learn from Warner's Xmas festivities. Everything about this cruise was not up to what is promised and expected of P&O.  Even the presentation and quality of the food was not up to the usual standard. The entertainment was also not of the calibre expected and Headliners were rubbish, compared with other cruises. This was also voiced by other passengers. Our plan was to book in advance while on board a 2014 Xmas Cruise, but as we found this cruise to be so poor, we declined and are considering another option. Unfortunately we have already committed ourselves and our payment is now due for a cruise on the Azura departing 19th April, and are not looking forward to this. We can only hope Azura's standards are a great deal higher. If not it may well be our last cruise with P&O. Having cruised a number of times we have only cruised with P&O and have always been satisfied. Our friends are asking if we had a good holiday, they are not sold on a cruise with P&O. The only efficient part of our holiday was the service by Eavesway coaches, and now I am told to use another company for my next cruise. The cutbacks were extremely noticed by all who have sailed with P&O. Considering Oceana has had some refurbishment, having cruised on this ship a number of times it was not noticeable.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
Just returned from a 10 day cruise on the '' Oceana'', which set out from Southampton on the 19th Dec.2013, obviously taking in Christmas. We had been on the boat for about 5 hours, when both my wife and I started ... Read More
Just returned from a 10 day cruise on the '' Oceana'', which set out from Southampton on the 19th Dec.2013, obviously taking in Christmas. We had been on the boat for about 5 hours, when both my wife and I started vomiting. This lasted for about 30 hours, and was caused by the boat being unstable and rolling all over the place. During this time, the toilet packed up, and we were without a toilet for about 6 hours. Both my wife and I were not well for most of the cruise, because of the instability of the boat. In fact, on Christmas Day, my wife had nothing to eat, and I only managed to keep a half a bowl of soup down. The only time we felt O.K. was when we went ashore. I had a couple of cooked breakfasts towards the end of the cruise, and my wife had one on the last day. We had booked a couple of shore excursions, in Casablanca and Cadiz, but because my wife was ill on the day we were in Cadiz, she dare not go on the coach. I went to tell them that we would not be able to go on the trip after all, but I was told that because we hadn't given 48 hour's notice, we would forfeit the cost, £72. How we were expected to know, 48 hour's in advance that my wife was going to be ill, I'll never know. The last straw was when we couldn't get a decent cup of coffee one evening, from one of the bars, as there had been black-tie dining that evening. We were told we would be able to get one after 9.30 pm, but just then they would be serving cocktails. We have found out since returning, that the Oceana was built for the Caribbean, and not for going down the Atlantic Coast , and that the ship's bottom is too flat to go where we went. The entertainment was pretty amateurish too, and all together the whole experience of the cruise was pretty awful, and a waste of money. I doubt whether we shall ever cruise again, after this experience, but if we do, it certainly will not be with P&O!   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
Oceana E330. We are seasoned Thomson Cruisers, having been on 8 or 9 of their cruises, one NCL and once on the Oceana around 2 years ago, so you have an idea what we are comparing to.... The ship was very similar to how we found it 2 ... Read More
Oceana E330. We are seasoned Thomson Cruisers, having been on 8 or 9 of their cruises, one NCL and once on the Oceana around 2 years ago, so you have an idea what we are comparing to.... The ship was very similar to how we found it 2 years ago, modern and new looking compared to the Thomson ships we are used to. The food was good, nothing spectacular, but good quality and well presented. The weather was poor on the BOB crossing and to say we were in a force 9 at times the ship handled it well, it got better as we headed home. We were in cabin F229 (we did book late) which is right at the front, so some nights were sleepless. It was like being in a tumble dryer sometimes. The cabin was spotless and kept well by Joris our lovely Stewardess. The only good weather we had was in Casablanca, the rest of the ports having dull days. I would have to think hard about whether to do a similar cruise at this time of year again, the Canaries or Caribbean being a better option. This was a Christmas cruise but it was no party ship. 12.30am Christmas Day and the ship was dead, they had all gone off to bed. This doesn’t happen on a normal Thomson ship night never mind Christmas. There was no atmosphere on the ship, this probably comes down to the entertainment team, they don’t mingle with the guests and get people involved in anything. After the main shows finish there is not a lot going on, no late night cabaret from the show team that gets everyone up dancing, the disco is quiet, it’s just a hot chocolate or horlicks and bed.... The acts performing were good, Lloyd the Comedian was good, Clem Curtis (singer ex Foundations) and Matthew McGurk the magician were excellent. Howard Hughes the Children’s Magician was also excellent, great shows and he along with his wife were wonderful company on the dinner table. However the rest of the entertainment left something to be desired. The headliners company could be considered to be OK as long as you have not been spoiled by Thomson show teams in the past. These guys probably work about a quarter of the hours the Thomson teams do, hence the atmosphere on the ship.... It was however good to have real life backing Musicians to the shows, they really are professional. Having two good venues to perform in I found it strange that on some nights there would be one of the acts in one venue and a film being shown in the other, where were the show team? In general the waiting on service was slow and poor. We waited half an hour one night for a drink, and the lounge was mostly empty, this was not uncommon. It took 1.5 hours to have Lunch in the MDR one day, and a lot of the evening services took around 2 hours. Again there is no atmosphere in the MDR, too few staff waiting on, most (but not all) are miserable, no groups of waiters going around playing guitars and singing if they a spare 5 minutes (which these guys do not have). I get the impression that the staff are told not to get too friendly or interact with the guests, just do your job with a stiff upper lip. On Christmas Day the kids were all meeting Santa on his sleigh, parents were told they could not take their own pictures and were being turned on by the ship’s Photographers. Come on guys, we know you have a job to do but it’s Christmas Day for crying out loud! One excellent service was the Eavesway coach transfer, they have been dropped by P&O as they want a large upfront payment to be the “preferred” provider. If you need a coach service to Southampton I suggest you take any OBC offered instead of the P&O coach service and give Eavesway a call, it will more than likely work out cheaper for a guaranteed quality service. There was a free WiFi connection on the coach back too. Would we go back on P&O? Yes we would, as despite these little niggles we did have a good time, and a cruise is as much about the itinerary as the ship, and after all we wouldn’t get entertainment this good in a 5 star Hotel anywhere for the price we paid. Still, glad I’m back on Thomson Majesty for my next cruise ;-)   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This was a Christmas cruise and as such perhaps anomalous of other experiences, but my main bugbear was a feeling that I wasn't getting value for money. My dad went on the Oceana 2 weeks prior, and paid £750 for the balcony cabin ... Read More
This was a Christmas cruise and as such perhaps anomalous of other experiences, but my main bugbear was a feeling that I wasn't getting value for money. My dad went on the Oceana 2 weeks prior, and paid £750 for the balcony cabin next door to the one we later got for £2600. At the end of his cruise he was told if he wanted to do a back to back, he could have his same cabin for another 12 days for £449. So while I appreciate that there is a premium to be paid for holiday cruises ( I am a teacher and can only travel during those times) it meant I couldn't help feeling that I was eating the same food, watching the same shows, visiting the same ports as my dad had, only for almost 4 times the price - and my cruise was 2 nights less! Still that can't be helped and I'm sure is the same for all cruise lines. I haven't sailed with P&O before, my previous 7 cruises have been on RCI (3), NCL (1), Carnival (1) Cunard (1) and Celebrity (1). The entertainment on the Oceana was great I thought - the Headliners shows were really fun and had extremely talented performers. The food was much better than I expected - always hot (we had Freedom dining and this may have been the difference) and with plenty of choice, though I do get tired of the whole fancy food thing on any cruise about halfway! I certainly disagree with a reviewer who complained about lack of choices as breakfast - we ate in Plaza buffet, dining room and Cafe Jardin for breakfast and I can't imagine what we could have wanted that wasn't available - maybe some American choices like grits I suppose, but the Continental and English breakfasts were very varied and good. I do wish there had been more choices of bread though - it was sliced white or brown, small white or brown rolls. None of the lovely fruited, grain or malted crusty loaves I remember on Celebrity, or any 'slice-your-own' baguettes etc. Still the afternoon tea was lovely, though at 4pm, too late for me to try more than once, due to proximity to dinner! I'd have happily skipped lunch and had afternoon tea instead if it was served from 2 or 3pm. The food is indeed very English, so if you like to go on holiday and eat outside your usual experience, this may be lacking in diverse cuisine. I managed to try several things I hadn't had before like pheasant and partridge though, so I was quite happy! Other positives were the staff, our waiters, barstaff and stewards were all exemplary. Cleanliness was good also and there were nice touches like bathroom amenities (The White Company) and quality coffee, tea and biscuits in staterooms, always topped up generously as soon as we made our preferences known. Now for my big criticism, and the reason I would be unlikely to pick P&O again. The nickel-and diming. The prices on P&O seem comparatively competitive, compared to other lines. I was happy to see the soda package was less than the one I always get on Royal Caribbean - until they told me it was for 20 sodas only. If I pay for a package, it's because I DON'T want to consider whether or not I am thirsty enough to order a Diet Coke during a show. I want to have the freedom to get one without considering the cost, because I've already paid for that privilege! I don't want to have to calculate and keep trackof the number of sodas and whether my package will run out with 2 days to go. Let's be honest - they are well-drinks, poured over whole glasses of ice, I doubt even I am able to consume enough Diet Coke for them to make a loss on the same unlimited packages that other lines offer. I decided against the package, and it left me feeling irritated from the get-go. Then the beauty salon. £41 for a haircut, I arranged with a spa receptionist who agreed my hair (a chin length bob) was short. That's cheaper than my salon at home, so yay! Then I turned up for the appointment and was told 'Oh no, your hair is MEDIUM length, that will be £48'. So I left. Not because £7 is a huge amount, but again, because it left a sense of being scammed. The internet packages are also cheaper than RCI, but my brother spent time almost every day in the Library trying to find out why it didn't work properly, only to be told the whole system was down, so when he disembarked he still had almost 2 unused hours on his package. I paid for laundry, and they hung a sweater up to dry so it came back to me 8 inches longer than before. I registered a muted complaint at the front desk, saying I knew I couldn't get a refund or anything as they have a disclaimer on the laundry slips, but I wanted to suggest they don't hang woollens up to dry in future so it doesn't happen to anyone else. I never heard back from them, not even an acknowledgment. The best value for money is the alcoholic drinks - I don't drink but everyone in my party and other passengers said they were commensurate with pub prices and wine at dinner was reasonable. The other extra we paid for that annoyed me was the meal at the speciality restaurant, Cafe Jardin. We always eat at least once in the speciality places on cruise ships, and I have never been told how many dishes you can order (3 - a starter, main and dessert). I asked for a seafood starter and also a salad from the appetiser section, but the waiter seemed alarmed and said he didn't think that was possible and would have to ask the chef. I was mortified - as if I had asked for 4 desserts or something, and he said perhaps I could settle for a side salad, so I agreed happily. It never came. And again, left me feeling that I was being unrealistically greedy or trying to get one over on them, when in fact it's standard practice in the steakhouse on Carnival, Chops Grille/Portofinos on RCI, Cagney's on NCL etc that you can order what you like from the menu, just as you can in the MDR. So my advice to P&O would be to nix the White Company amenities - no one but me in my party had even heard of them, and though I appreciated them, I'd rather have had an unlimited soda package, without quibbling over how many Cokes make me seem like a freeloader :) RCI don't give you a crappy square of waxy chocolate on your pillow any more, but they at least let me drink 21 Diet Cokes. They don't give us a free small bottle of water in our mini-fridge like P&O do, but at least they don't begrudge me a salad with my otherwise vegetable-free pork Milanese when I've paid a cover charge. And to be honest - I know I am moaning a bit much at this point - but a free bottle of water on Day 1 only sort of highlighted the fact that I wasn't to be given any more without paying. Lastly, this isn't a complaint as it's hardly P&O's fault, but just a warning for other would-be Xmas cruise travellers out of Southampton. I've never been on a ship that rocked this violently - the weather was poor, and the Bay of Biscay crossing can be bad in winter, but pretty much everyone I spoke to agreed this was EXTREMELY rocky, one of the ship's officers my brother spoke to in the sauna told him over 300 people had paid for a seasickness injection (£80) and I met plenty of people who spent all 4 sea days in their cabins. I could tell it was bad because of the unusual number of room service trays in corridors on those days, though I didn't experience any seasickness myself. So if you are prone to this, don't go on that route at this time of year, a piano fell over at one point and we often heard crashes from the art gallery! To end on a positive note though, I was pleased when I called to ask if I could bring a bottle of champagne on board for us to have on Xmas Day as it was a gift. P&O have no issue with you bringing a reasonable quantity of alcohol for consumption in your room, which is a nice change as once we won a bottle of wine on an RCI cruise, and they wouldn't even give us a corkscrew to open it and drink in our cabins, even though they gave us the wine! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
My husband and myself have just returned from a very disappointing Christmas & New Year cruise on Ventura. Disappointing to the point that we also will never cruise with P & O again. This is our fourth Caribbean cruise. We ... Read More
My husband and myself have just returned from a very disappointing Christmas & New Year cruise on Ventura. Disappointing to the point that we also will never cruise with P & O again. This is our fourth Caribbean cruise. We stupidly booked through P & O and we were totally ripped off - we booked "the last cabin" (14 months ago) which unfortunately was inside and were assured that because we had booked directly with them we would certainly be upgraded. Of course it didn't happen. We were told that there were no upgrades and yet we met many people who had been upgraded without requesting it on embarkation day. So the choice of having a relaxing time watching the world go by was denied to us. The buffet lunches were very monotonous curry, curry or curry with the odd stew now and then. The self service area itself is very small and cramped. We ate in the cinnamon restaurant every night and the choice of food was ok, steaks were cooked exactly as we requested and the service was excellent. The main thing that ruined our holiday was the gangs of teenagers ( who's parents obviously couldn't care less where they were or what they were up to ) it was like being thrown onto the set of TOWIE or Made in Chelsea. Kids lying around drunk, throwing each other in the pool after one too many cocktails and gypsy wedding type girls crying because NYE was a disaster for them as they hadn't pulled ! We avoided the top decks because of all this but we still had to step over the occasional body on the stairs !! There was never any security present and I am amazed none of these out of control teens didn't end up over board to be honest. We were also disappointed with the service on deck 7 which was non-existent until disembarkation day when half a dozen crew sit in the arena chatting and popped out now and then to make sure they get the last bit of money they can from you. We certainly didn't have to fetch our own drinks that day! There was even a nice cream man - we hadn't seen him at all during the cruise ! Smokers were definitely catered for - we had a job to find anywhere to relax without having smoke blown in our faces - deck 7 at least had one side which was non smoking. We tried to go up to the oasis spa exclusive area for peace without cigarette smoke but although it was empty, we were told it was completely booked out ! We never found out what the extra cost was for peace and quiet ! Also, If you do decide to try Ventura don't expect much from the onboard shops they are truly basic and vastly overpriced. Announcements from the bridge were regular, Captain Carr is a marvelous delegator - I'm not sure he ever docked or sailed away (which always included a reference to 'winding up the big elastic band' and encouraging us all to grab a gin and tonic) but I for one always felt safe. The highlight of the whole on board experience was the Panto which the crew put on for us - absolutely fab! Unfortunately, we will be looking at other cruise companies for our next cruise - we paid for a luxury christmas cruise which fell short of our expectations on many levels. You can't beat cruising the Caribbean - the majority of the Islands are amazingly beautiful but apart from the locations We could have spent the festive season at The Blue Water Centre still surrounded by chavs and chavettes but at least the shopping choice would have been better. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
Our Christmas and New Year cruise was brilliant and we have recommended the cruise to friends and family. I have no links or allegiance to P&O although it is the only cruise line that we have experienced. We are a family of ... Read More
Our Christmas and New Year cruise was brilliant and we have recommended the cruise to friends and family. I have no links or allegiance to P&O although it is the only cruise line that we have experienced. We are a family of 'foodies' who like the occasional glass of wine and I think we are representative of most working families in the UK. With regards to the food, which appears to be a common thread for some complaints, I think that there are a multitude of options available to suit everybody at lunchtime. Yes, there is always a curry, or two, but these are extremely popular with most passengers and are on the menu because of customer demand. Alternatives are the extremely popular and good quality salad bar, a range of cheeses and biscuits as well as fresh bread buns, a BBQ grill, pizzeria and silver service dining. The silver service restaurants on an evening offer two menus; a 'classic menu' which contains old favourites such as prawn cocktail, tomato soup and other options to start with, followed by a salmon dish, steak or chicken. In addition there was a menu of the day which changed daily. We ate venison, guinea fowl, goose and a good range of fish dishes. Not once did we have a poor meal. The meals on Christmas night and New Years Eve were excellent. I genuinely fail to see how people are disappointed with the food. Our only misgiving is the fact that P&O have introduced the concept of pre-plated meals in the dining rooms so your meal comes with the vegetables already on the plate, as does the cheeseboard. This does make the dining experience slightly less special as it isn't conducive to 'fine dining'. We always sat on deck 7 beside the Beachcomber pool and there were always plenty of staff from whom to order drinks. There were always a high number of drinks staff on duty on the poolside and in the bars and restaurants. There was a high number of children and teenagers on the cruise. Some parents clearly had no idea where their offspring were or what they were doing. We did see a rowdy group in the swimming pool but they were stopped by an officer within a few minutes. We did see groups of teenagers sprawled on the floor in the buffet restaurant on one occasion late at night and commented that they should have been told to sit at a table. On previous cruises we have been aware of youth security officers patrolling the ship whose job it is to monitor groups of youths but we didn't see any on this cruise. That said, I regularly saw youth staff clearing groups of kids away from the stairs and lifts. Overall it is a family cruise during a school holiday and there are always going to be a number of passengers under the age of 18 and the majority were well behaved and polite. There were 12 lifts on board and one was out of service but that left 11 remaining. Having had many conversations with other passengers all but two said that they had had a fabulous time and loved every facet of their cruise (apart from Dominica). The two dissenters gave me the impression that they would have found always something to complain about. The staff were excellent and attentive but not to the point of being obsequious. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This was our first Christmas P&O Caribbean cruise and we were very impressed with the organisation at the airport once we arrived in Barbados on the 20th December. We were taken by minibus directly from the plane to check-in at the ... Read More
This was our first Christmas P&O Caribbean cruise and we were very impressed with the organisation at the airport once we arrived in Barbados on the 20th December. We were taken by minibus directly from the plane to check-in at the ship and this was efficient but a little slow. We were on E deck with a restricted cabin view. Our cabin was comfortable and kept clean by Dennis, our steward. Our overall impression of the Ventura was good, offering excellent entertainment and the entertainment team did their utmost to ensure everyone enjoyed themselves. One of the best nights was the pantomime, it was a great laugh and even the staff enjoyed doing it. Overall the restaurant staff were very friendly and the food quality and menu choices were excellent. Only one little criticism was that the waiters should all be trained in the same way to ensure that the female orders are taken before the male orders and that the food should be served from the side rather than across people. We enjoyed freedom dining as it gave us greater flexibility. We did feel that the price of the professional photographs at £9.95 were rather expensive and unfortunately some of the ones we liked were slightly blurred and not worth the money. We also were happy with the prices of drinks on board and the offer of soda packages and would have welcomed a draft beer package! and it was good to see everything priced in pounds. We returned from Bonaire to Barbados in one day instead of two due to a medical emergency and we do hope that the person involved makes a speedy recovery. We thoroughly enjoyed the combination of ports we visited and since we have returned we have already made a booking for December 2014 on Ventura for the same dates so this proves it was a good holiday and we look forward to meeting up with people from this cruise. Overall a great atmosphere on board for Christmas and New Year with a very Great British sail away from Bonaire. We are both nearing our 60s and were amazed that people have complained about the younger generation being loud and drunk. We feel this comment was not fully justifiable as we only came across a couple of younger drunk people late on New Year's Eve. Considering this was a Christmas cruise we felt the young people should allowed to enojoy themselves and they caused us any problems.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
We loved the idea of spending Christmas away so having done 2 cruises preciously the Caribbean seamed perfect. The flight was perfect mainly down to the new Dreamliner, I can honestly say we felt refreshed even after a nine hour flight. ... Read More
We loved the idea of spending Christmas away so having done 2 cruises preciously the Caribbean seamed perfect. The flight was perfect mainly down to the new Dreamliner, I can honestly say we felt refreshed even after a nine hour flight. We opted for an inside cabin which was perfect, the steward Ebison was very good. Great location on deck 12. We choose the 6.30 dinning in Peninsula, shared a table of eight. The waiters were great, worked extremely hard and always served you with a smile. The food was great, and the wine was particularly good value. The waiting staff made Christmas Day very enjoyable and the Turkey was lovely. The entertainment was generally good, my only suggestion would be to have more comedians and less singers but that's a personal thing. The Headliners are superb, very talented performers. The cruise director, Neil Oliver was very good especially at the sale away parties. Being very patriotic I loved the great British sail away. I choose to do the behind the scenes tour which included a 3 hour guided tour of the ship. This involved a visit to the print room, engine control room, storage areas, galley, theatre and culminated in half an hour on the bridge with the captain then champagne and canapés. We spent time in all the ports however we chose to arrange trips ourselves, the P&O trips were quite expensive. We heard a number of people complaining about various things however I think you need to understand you don't pay 5 star money to travel on a P&O cruise.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
We flew from Manchester on 13 December to join Azura. We were in Premier seating and the cabin was only one third full. Excellent flight out and met at the plane by the coaches to whisk us off to the ship. No immigration, no cases to ... Read More
We flew from Manchester on 13 December to join Azura. We were in Premier seating and the cabin was only one third full. Excellent flight out and met at the plane by the coaches to whisk us off to the ship. No immigration, no cases to collect. On the ship within 1 hour of landing and straight to our mid ships balcony cabin. When we booked this cruise 20 months ago we had opted for an outside obstructed view cabin but PO looked after us as loyal and regular passengers and upgraded us to this balcony cabin. We ate in the Meridian restaurant on Freedom Dining which suites us. Same menu as both Peninsular and Oriental restaurants but we could eat when we wanted to rather than being dictated by times. The food was very good and the choices vast. This is not fine dining but better than pub grub. We also chose to eat in the select dining restaurants and also Verona the Italian Trattoria. I do not eat meat so registered as a fish eating vegetarian. The special diet waiter brought me the main menu and the vegetarian menu for the following evening round each night. He took my choices and these were specially prepared. The entertainment was very mixed. Having seen most of the Headliners shows we gave all but one of them a miss. We did not enjoy the star entertainment of the cruise P. P. Arnold but many did so it just shows that you cannot cater for everyone. On Azura there is a great choice of entertainment available each night. The crew panto was excellent entertainment. The ports were all very good even though we had visited them before on cruises. They were all old favourites and we would choose to cruise to them again. The crew on board were all excellent and couldn't do enough for us. The passenger base was very mixed with both young, middle aged and elderly on board. There were approx 200 children of various ages and they made the cruise special at Christmas with their nativity play. The children we met were all well behaved and a credit to their parents. My only criticism of this cruise was the pre cruise experience from the Southampton shore based staff. We booked our flight seats as soon as they were available as we wanted 2 seats together at the rear of the Thomas Cook aircraft. 3 days before we travelled we were informed by e mail that these seats did not exist and we were seated on a row of three. We refused these seats and eventually had to change planes and pay £500 extra for premium seating to ensure we were sat together on a row of 2 seats. Even then this info had not reached either the airport checking in system or the on board flight officer. Luckily we had it in writing that we had booked these seats and these were honoured but only after having to go out of our way to ensure this result. If only the Southampton based staff were trained as well as the ship based crew then our cruise experience would have been excellent.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
Technically, this was my second cruise with P&O-but the first was on the Canberra in 1992 so I can't really compare this trip to any P&O ships. This was my ninth cruise and also my 50th. birthday cruise. To say I was a little ... Read More
Technically, this was my second cruise with P&O-but the first was on the Canberra in 1992 so I can't really compare this trip to any P&O ships. This was my ninth cruise and also my 50th. birthday cruise. To say I was a little disappointed would be an understatement. I have been planning this for nearly two years and I was really looking forward to it, but as the trip started, I became aware of a few problems. These were minor glitches, but they made the trip less enjoyable. As with my previous reviews on this website, I am going to split the review into catergories starting with.... Embarkation/Disembarkation. P&O (along with Princess) have this process down to a fine art and all of the details had been worked out beforehand. I travelled on a scheduled flight from Gatwick and had to recalim my baggage in Barbados but the charter flight passengers from Birmingham and Manchester had their baggage handled by P&O so the next time they saw their bags, they were outside everybody's cabins onboard. After passing through Barbados Immigration, we were taken to a large shed-like building to get our cruise cards. All of the P&O staff were extremely helpful, the entire process was very quick and I was on the ship in no time at all. It was the same in reverse..Superb arrangements with P&O taking your bags to the airport with loads of very helpful and friendly staff to guide you on your way. If only all of the cruise companies were like this. Brilliant! Demographics. According to who you spoke to, the average age of the passengers was around 66. In my opinion, I would put this figure a little lower to around late 50's/early 60's. There were several families with children aboard but not many-I estimate that there were less that fifty kids (I don't count teenagers-only under 12's). The ship was not fully booked. Azura can carry 3,600 but again depending who you spoke to, there was about 2,750 onboard. This meant that the ship was around 76% full meaning that almost two decks were unoccupied. This was comfimed by my cabin steward (Inacio) who told me that of the cabins he was responsible for, almost a third were empty. This resulted in the ship being very quiet and one of the reasons I was disappointed with the trip. I will elaborate in my section "Conclusions" at the end of this review. The passengers were exclusively British. Apart from the crew, I only heard one foreign accent. I would have expected a few Americans or Europeans but Azura is targeted at the British market. The only foreign voice I heard was a German Swiss guy called Paul who sat at the same bar as me. The ship and it's staff. This ship is big! A little too big in my opinion. As I have said in "Demographics" above, this made the ship feel empty. When we docked in St. Lucia, I was on an excursion and when we got up in the mountains looking down at the main town, the biggest thing we saw was the ship. In fact it was the biggest thing on the entire island! I think that cruise companies need to rethink their policy of building bigger and bigger ships and start building smaller, more intimate cruise ships. P&O have another ship coming online in 2015. This ship is the "Britannia", and at 142,000 tons, will be P&O's biggest-Azura is 115,000 tons. The lower order of the crew (waiting staff and cabin crew) were almost all Indian with a handfull of Filipinos. Additionally, the Indian crew were (almost) all male. I only met a few female crew members who were Filipino. I was told by some of the senior staff that because of the recent tornado in the Philipines, a high percentage of the Filipino staff went home to look after family members who had been affected. The staff were extremely attentive, very helpfull, very friendly but they seemed to be a little stand-offish and didn't seem to want to interact with the new passengers. The ship itself was spotless. The decor in the public areas was in neutral colours-beiges, muted browns/reds/blues etc. and in my opinion a little too beige. The decor in the main public areas needed to be spiced up a little with a splash of colour here and there. My own cabin was an Oceanview with a partially obstucted window. This made the cabin very light and airy and was kept immaculate by my cabin steward. Also, throughout the entire cruise, the main public areas of the ship had piped music fed through the ships speaker systems. This music was Reggae. I am aware that the overiding type of music in the Caribbean is Reggae, but how many times do I have to listen to "Young, Gifted and Black" played at mealtimes? Food and drink. The food on offer was top notch. I was in the Oreintal restaurant on traditional dining first sitting at 6.30pm. I was on a table of eight. Two gay guys George and John, Two Welsh sisters, a mother and daughter, a bloke called Jeff and me. They were very friendly and we had a great time. The fly in the ointment was Jeff. He is a Brummie who now lives in Hartlepool. All Jeff did was talk all of the time about anything and nothing. We wouldn't have minded, but his speech was very blurred and most of the time we couldn't understand a word he was saying. On the last night before we all left, Jeff didn't turn up and we all breathed a sigh of relief (it later turned out that Jeff had gastrointestinal problems). On the first sitting, the restaurant was virtually empty all of the time. I estimate that over 50 tables were unoccupied the entire trip-and that was just on one side of the restaurant. The second sitting was a little better with around three quarters of the tables full. An alternative was the "Freedom Dining" restaurant Meridian. There was always a queue to get a table and I heard of waiting tilmes of over an hour. The menus were exactly the same as the other two resaurants, So why didn't P&O put some of the "Freedom" diners in the other two restaurants? It makes sense to me. The buffets-Verona and Venesia-also had great grub. Lunch and dinner offerings were very varied and very good food indeed. One part of Venesia turned into a trattoria in the evening offering Italian cuisine with a (very small) charge on some of the menu. My only complaint on the buffet was breakfast. This was permanently "Full English". Just how many fry-ups can you eat in two weeks? There was cereals/fruit/yogurts and kippers/smoked fish on offer as an alternative but a little variation would have been welcome. The beers on offer were Stella, Carling and Boddingtons on draught with a large, varied selection of premium bottled beers, along with all of the usual spirits, cocktails and champagne. Prices were a little dearer with the Stella at £3.75 a pint. In my local, I'm paying £2.90 for Carling. Refreshingly, there was no "automatic gratuity" added to your drinks bill. On past cruises, an automatic tip of 15% was added to your purchases and there was nothing you could do about it. P&O don't do the automatic tip-Hurrah! It's about time the rest of the cruise lines did the same. There were three speciality restaurants-Sindhu (run by Michelin starred chef Atul Kotcher), the Glass House and XVII-appropriately on Deck 17! There were cover charges of between £15/£28 per person depending on which restaurant you went to. I had first-hand reports of these restaurants and all of them were very good to fantastic. Entertainment. There was the usual in-house troupe "Headliners" doing musicals etc. in the Playhouse Theatre. I didn't see a show-I'm not a show person. Reports from those who did were all "very good". There were a number of guest acts onboard. I'll start with Miss Gemma McDowall-a Liverpool singer with a very powerful voice and at only 20, has a bright future in front of her. She mainly did 60's/70's songs and her shows were very well attended. BUT, inbetween all of the songs, she carried on talking a bit too much. Apparently, she was a resident singer at Ricky Tomlinsons' club (of The Royal Family fame) and all she kept on saying was "..I was a singer at Ricky Tomlinsons.." and "..Ricky Tomlinson said this.." and "..Ricky Tomlinson said that..". Additionally, she kept on about Cilla Black trying to compare herself to Cilla with "..do you think I look like Cilla?..". And to cap it all off, she rattled on about her boyfriend all of the time and the fact that she was on "Stars in their eyes" or "Britains got talent" or some other TV talent show-I didn't need to know any of this. People were starting to complain. All I can say is that Miss McDowall needs curtail her comments about Ricky Tomlinson, her boyfriend, Cilla Black and the TV shows she was on-she kept calling Cilla a "chipmunk". Miss McDowall does not look like Cilla-Cilla has red hair for starters. There was a Neil Diamond tribute act. I did see one of his shows and he does look and sound the part. However, the singer kept on saying things like "Neil Diamond wrote the next song for.." and "Neil Diamond wrote this in..." We know that Neil Diamond wrote the songs you're singing-you're a Neil Diamond tribute act. I wouldn't expect a song by The Stranglers or "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" by The Smiths! Acts like this just need to get on with the songs-I for one would have enjoyed the show a lot more. There was a Kenny Rogers singer along with a Dolly Parton tribute. The Kenny Rogers guy was good but I can't comment on Dolly Parton. There was also a magician/comedian-again I can't comment as I didn't attend a show. The highlight of the entertainment was a Mr. Pete Finlay. Mr. Finlay is a retired Flight Engineer on the Concorde aircraft and has flown countless times on Concorde all around the world as the Chief Flight Engineer. He gave four lectures on Concorde-the development of the plane, the crash of the Air France Concorde, the rival planes that other airlines tried to produce and the future of supersonic passenger aircraft. On this last lecture, Mr. Finlay outlined a British company-Reaction Engines-who are currently developing an engine to power a Hypersonic (that's Mach 5 or beyond) passenger aircraft to get from London to Australia in four hours! Reaction Engines have got the financial backing of the EU and the European Space Agency and expect to be producing a prototype engine in a couple of years. Mr. Finlay is an extremely articulate lecturer and is a delight to listen to-P&O need to get more people like Mr. Finlay onboard. His lectures were very well attended with "standing room only" on some occasions. The islands and excursions We visited St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Maarten, St. Vincent, Grand Turk, Tortola-British Virgin Islands, Grenada and of course Barbados. We were supposed to visit Antigua but due to quite severe weather conditions including a 60/70 mph. crosswind, the captain couldn't get the ship in port and after five or six attempts decided not to try again. Antigua is unique in the Caribbean as the entrance to the main port has a deep water channel which is only 90 metres wide. The ship is around 40 metres wide which means there isn't a lot of spare room to manouvre. The excursions I chose were quite enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed the Concorde Exhibition in Barbados, a rum distillery in St. Lucia and botanical gardens in St. Vincent-despite the fact that in St. Vincent we were caught in tropical rainstorm and got drenched. The rest of my trips were Best of/Highlights of various islands. P&O (like other cruise companies) make a daily charge to your account. This is for gratuities for the staff. In this case it was £3.50 per person per day (including kids). I had mine stopped as I don't like to be told who/when/how much I'm tipping. Additionally, as I am a "cash only" passenger, I placed around £900 on my account at the start of the trip. The day before Barbados, I asked when I could close my account only to be told it was already too late as I had to close my account by 6.30 pm. I did argue that I was a "cash" customer but the reception assistant was adamant. I eventually spoke to a deputy Pursar who extended my time until 10pm. I went to reception at around 9.45 to close my account only to be told by another assistant that "I could close it anytime" so I left my account open. I did go back at 10.45pm. and spoke to (yet another) assistant who then said that 6.30pm. was the original time and that the rest of my deposit was "lost". By now I'm getting angry (I'm not a patient man). I suggested-quite loudly and forcefully-that if I didn't get my money back (around £260), that when I got back to the UK, I would sue P&O in the Small Claims Court in my home town. I also suggested that I would be looking for damages and costs for this action. This did the trick and I got my money back. A warning to "cash only" passengers-P&O will make your life difficult. Make sure you get your money back as they won't hesitate to keep it. On a personal note, as the ship wasn't full, I asked if I could upgrade to a better cabin-even a balcony- only to be told that this "wasn't possible". Considering that I knew that a lot of the balcony rooms were unoccupied, I thought that it was a little unfair. Why leave them empty if they're not being used? I know that a lot more passengers also asked for an upgrade only to be told the same thing. Also, as I have to plan things well in advance due to my work shift pattern, I was disappointed to hear of all the offers-P&O calls them "getaway prices"-to get people on the cruise. As a single traveller, I have to pay a lot more than two or more occupying a cabin. I heard of passengers paying £600 to £900 for the cruise including flights! Conclusions. All things considered...4 out of 10. P&O must do better. The fact that the ship was not fully booked didn't help. The cruise didn't have the fizz or buzz of a busy ship and the atmosphere onboard wasn't there. It seemed as if the staff were "going through the motions" and didn't seem to be interested. This spoilt my trip and as I have previously mentioned, I had been planning this for nearly two years, and I was very disappointed. Would I reccommend? Errrrmm...No. P&O need to try a lot harder. I WILL give P&O another chance in the future, but it won't be on the Azura. As a Post Script to this review, two or three days before the end of the trip, we were hearing rumours about the Christmas cruise which sailed on December 14th. Apparently the ship was fully booked BUT there were 700 (THAT'S SEVEN HUNDRED) kids onboard. Anybody that booked the Christmas cruise hoping for a quiet trip has made a huge mistake. I for one (along with a great many of my fellow travellers) were delighted to get off the ship before all of the kids showed up! An update to this Post Script (I wrote this review in December with additions in January)....Since writing this review, I have been contacted by several people who travelled on the Christmas cruise which left Barbados on December 14th. They tell me that the number of kids on this cruise numbered at only around 200-250. The rumours (and the staff) on the cruise I was on said 700 and yet the passengers who were actually on the trip said 200 to 250. I will leave the reader to make up their own mind.   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
When it comes down to value for money my wife and I have always rated P & O very highly - first class standards of comfort, cleanliness, fine dining, entertainment, all round customer care - and these elements were all present and ... Read More
When it comes down to value for money my wife and I have always rated P & O very highly - first class standards of comfort, cleanliness, fine dining, entertainment, all round customer care - and these elements were all present and fully met our expectations on our latest cruise to the Norwegian fjords - 28th June, 2013 - 7 nights. The check in and boarding procedure in Southampton was very well organised and it took us no more than 20 minutes from handing over the car to the meet and greet parking company (worth every penny it cost) to boarding the ship. Just in time for a light lunch in the buffet as we waited for the cabins to become available at 2pm. Greeted at the cabin by our steward, and found a welcoming bottle of champagne - a good way to start our holiday! The first night's sleep was interrupted as a medical emergency aboard required passenger to be evacuated by helicopter to a hospital ashore. A special announcement was made by the Captain at around 3.30am, apologising for disturbing everyone, and advising all passengers that this would be taking place - for safety reasons everyone was asked to stay in their cabins and NOT to go out on the balconies before or during the arrival of the helicopter and subsequent evacuation of the passenger. Unfortunately the Captain had to make two further broadcasts to request those passengers who had ignored his instructions to get off their balconies and to go back inside their cabins! It always amazes us how many people one comes across on cruises who do not have a good word to say for almost any aspect of the ship, its facilities, staff, food quality and choice, entertainment, excursions, etc and, unfortunately, it seems more of these feel driven to share these views, during and after the event, than do people who have thoroughly enjoyed their cruise. It might perhaps be more understandable if these were first time cruisers who had no idea that ships do move in rough weather, that there would be a lot of other passengers also wishing to share, use and enjoy the facilities and who simply find the experience is not for them and not something they would repeat. Strangely however, most of these unhappy people are regular cruisers, as they are only too prepared to tell anyone and everyone who will listen or who happen to be within earshot - if things are so bad we sometimes wonder why they keep coming back for more? We are happy cruisers and decided to post this, our first, review to redress the balance a bit perhaps. We have heard moans that the staff are hostile and rude - not so, every crew member we encountered was friendly, anxious to please and more than happy to go out of their way to assist in any way possible. Perhaps this has something to do with how one treats them - saying please when you ask for something, and thank you when receiving service - a simple smile, saying good morning or just Hi, how are you today? .. and treating those who are serving you with respect works for us. In a recent review of the Azura, we read prior to embarkation that Cabin D214 (the one we were booked in) was noisy with banging and creaking and that sleep was impossible - really? We did not notice anything other than the occasional slight creaking that one gets on any ship, in fact it was a very quiet cabin and sleeping was not a problem. The Ports of Call: Bergen - free shuttle from ship to town centre, famous old wooden houses, delightful port area. Fish market a "must", and the funicular ride to the top of the mountain overlooking the city is well worth taking; two other cruise ships in town that day though did make the queues for this rather long. Andalsnes - The Scenic Train trip to Bjorli from Andalsnes is spectacular and we can recommend this. Olden - Mainly trips going to see the Glacier - there were a number of excursions where one could actually walk on the glacier or, for those wishing just to see the beautiful countryside sights the open-top bus available from the quayside is to be recommended. Not much else to see or do in Olden so an excursion of some sort is a good idea. Stavanger - Nice town centre with charming old wooden buildings - an easy walk from the Quay so no need for shuttles, etc. Overall the cruise was great, fantastic scenery in the fjords, calm seas and reasonable weather. Consistently good, the food was the best we have experienced on any P & O ship, and service in the Peninsular Restaurant was very good. The Glass House offers great value wines by the glass or bottle as well as excellent food at a low cover charge. Entertainment was well up to standard with a hard-working, talented ship's theatre company and a couple of comedy shows by Roy Walker which were great fun. Guest speaker David Shute, a former BBC producer, very interesting. With the usual broad spectrum of other entertainments and the added bonus of Lions rugby and Wimbledon Tennis on the TV's in Brodies and on the outdoor screen on Deck 15, there was plenty to keep us occupied. As usual, the bar prices were sensible and without service charges - wish the other cruise lines like Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, etc would follow this example. Disembarkation was well organised in groups and ran right on plan for timing - it was all really easy and we were in our car and leaving the port within 15 minutes of our designated disembarkation time. In summary, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, "You can please some of the people some of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” Despite having a huge range of different requirements to meet for age groups, mobility, dietary requirements, entertainment preferences and expectations we think Azura and P & O very successfully manage to please most of the people, most of the time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2013
We were first introduced to cruising back in 2002 by my dad who would only ever sail with P&O and we last sailed with them on Aurora in 2006. Since then we have cruised with both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and I always told the ... Read More
We were first introduced to cruising back in 2002 by my dad who would only ever sail with P&O and we last sailed with them on Aurora in 2006. Since then we have cruised with both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and I always told the passengers on those cruises that P&O were still the best. So this year we chose to return to P&O on the Ventura, what a shock we got!!.Standards in all areas have fallen dramatically especially the food. Food selection for both breakfast and lunch in the Waterside was very limited and the service area chaotic.This was the first ever cruise my wife lost weight instead of putting it on!! No wonder P&O seem to get bad press for Norovirus the lack of hand hygiene regime was the worst I ever experienced and when I challenged the head waiter why no member of staff was giving out hand gel as on other ships he said that he had been cut back so much on staff he could no longer provide that service. The other big let down was the poor organisation of getting off the ship by tender at Cannes. It was so slow we gave up and this was the only port we really wanted to visit. There are also no live port talks, again another cutback. Entertainment was generally good but as another reviewer stated the noise level was so high we some nights had to leave the theatre to escape the screeching of some of the performers. If P&O continue their policy of discounting and reducing standards I am sure many of their loyal old customers will desert them. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We travelled down from Lancashire the day before sailing and stayed in the Holiday Inn at Eastleigh. This was a comfortable hotel and a relaxing start to the cruise. Boarding was stress free as we had priority boarding and we were on ship ... Read More
We travelled down from Lancashire the day before sailing and stayed in the Holiday Inn at Eastleigh. This was a comfortable hotel and a relaxing start to the cruise. Boarding was stress free as we had priority boarding and we were on ship before noon and enjoying the complimentary champagne and lunch in Carmens. We had our hands squirted with gel 5 times before we actually got into Carmens. Cabins were ready for 2pm and we were pleasantly surprised by how clean it was and the amount of storage. It is a few years since we last had an inside cabin but as the balconies on this ship are at a premium we decided to book inside. The cabin was compact but it did fit everything in and we had taken a lot. Our cabin steward was friendly and professional as were all of the crew we came into contact with. The Captain Neil Turnbull was a character and probably the most informative Captain we have sailed with. His influence on the crew was apparent and it was a happy ship. Lots of different venues on this ship with many choices of entertainment. Large Cinema, theatre, show lounge, nightclub, crows nest, and various bars. We sampled them all during the 22 nights we were on board. The show lounge Carmens has a super dance floor and most nights there was ballroom dancing in there to a live group or CDs. The theatre shows were very energetic but this is an older ship and the theatre productions were more limited than on the newer ships. The Cabaret artistes were varied but no big names for a Christmas cruise. We had booked 1st sitting dining as we enjoy the evening entertainment and find there are more choices for early diners. We ate in the Alexandra restaurant on a table for 6. Great table companions and the food was probably the best MDR food we have encountered. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the alternative dining restaurants. These were very mixed in our opinion and not up to the same standard as the other ships in the fleet. The weather was rough up to Madeira and the ship hit many pot holes. I am not a good sailor but managed okay with over the counter medication. After Madeira the weather was sunny and got warmer each day. There were many sea days and lots of activities around the ship. We wanted a lazy relaxing cruise so didn't attend any of the day time activities. The pool areas were quite small for sun worshipers but the aft desks make up for this with lots of spaces for beds and chairs. The prom deck is wide which is also a bonus. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were very special with carol services, and the children watching out for Father Christmas. The Christmas Eve deck party was great fun with live music and dancing. Nothing better than spending Christmas Day on a sun lounger with a bottle of Champagne. At the ports of call which in the Caribbean were Barbados, Antigua, Tortola and St Maarten, we did our own thing. The trips were expensive and as we had been to all the islands many times decided to DIY. New Years Eve there was a deck party again. This was well attended and the Captain counted in the New year. Not sure what time the party went on till but early hours of the morning. On the return journey the weather was warm and sunny right up to the day before Southampton. We should have called at the Azores but this was changed to a 1/2 day call in Madeira due to a passenger becoming seriously ill after we left the Caribbean. Overall we liked the Aurora but it is in need of some TLC. There were strange smells in the corridors and buckets made regular appearances to catch water dripping from the light sockets. We were on C deck so not sure if this is the only deck with this problem. I think that we prefer fly cruising as this means more port of calls but this was certainly a relaxing cruise. Disembarkation was a breeze because we had priority and were off the ship by 08:30 collected the luggage without problems and car from CPS and were on the road before 9am. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We travelled on Ocean for their New Years Cruise to Amsterdam. The berthing procedure at Southampton was faultless. We spent the first day in Zeebrugge which was lovely. We were then to go onto Amsterdam spending new Years eve and part of ... Read More
We travelled on Ocean for their New Years Cruise to Amsterdam. The berthing procedure at Southampton was faultless. We spent the first day in Zeebrugge which was lovely. We were then to go onto Amsterdam spending new Years eve and part of New Years day in Amsterdam. The captain announced adverse weather conditions and we could not go into Amsterdam. There was no adverse weather conditions the sea was calm there was some wind but I have spent and uncomfortable night in a force 8 gale and I can assure you this ship was as calm and stable as a rock with hardly any movement. I complaind to p&o on arriving home about our cruise which ended up on New Years day in the English channel with a view of Dungerness power station. There response was that there passengers safety was paramount and that we were not entitled to any compensation. I feel this is not acceptable as they did not have to pay any berthing costs in Amsterdam and also they had two days of passengers spending money on their cruise ship when they would have been ashore if we had been allowed to dock. The ship was very crowded P&O chose to keep a large lounge/bar closed therefore very little room to sit around the ship and enjoy any of the facilities. We have cruised with P&O on many occasions and this is the first time I have made a complaint they are usually very good but on this occasion I feel they failed miserably to placate the passengers (a free glass of champagne may have helped)and feel there was another reason that we did not berth in Amsterdam. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
I will start by giving an honest review about this cruise as it was our first with P&O. Embarkation We arrived at 2.00 pm for embarkation at the Ocean Terminal and we were greeted by the staff and porters. The car keys were ... Read More
I will start by giving an honest review about this cruise as it was our first with P&O. Embarkation We arrived at 2.00 pm for embarkation at the Ocean Terminal and we were greeted by the staff and porters. The car keys were handed over as it was to be parked in Valet Parking, and the suitcases were taken swiftly by the porters. The cases arrived at our room around 5.00 pm. After going through check-in, security we had boarded Oceana by 2.40 pm (very good timing). On boarding Oceana we were informed that our cabin was ready, so we proceeded to the cabin to drop off some items we were carrying. Cabin & Cabin steward when we arrived at our cabin C739 deck 9, we met our cabin steward "Roy", our first impression of our cabin steward was not friendly, and we know its a very long day on "turnaround day" so we gave him the benefit of this and thought that may of been the reason for him not being friendly & welcoming. His general attitude during the remaining few days did not really change. We had the feeling that he did not want to be there,but never asked him this as we did not want to pry.... We have been on lots of cruises before P & O and this was the first cruise where our cabin steward was not very nice.. This was first time we have taken an inside cabin, purely because this cruise had been sold out when we came across this cruise, and we were told that we would have to go on a waiting list for a possibility of getting a room. When it came up we accepted the inside cabin and booked, and thought at least we were on the ship and paid around £679 each which was not cheap for a 4 night cruise but it was over the new year festivities, and thought it would be great! First impressions of the room was small, dark and not very welcoming. Looked like the room was due an update and I believe it had a small mini refit in December just gone, (apparently not on these rooms). Bathroom was not very clean, and my husband found hair from previous guests and dirty shelves and towels that had pink stains on them!! Staff P & O staff are not as friendly as other ships we have cruised with before, and the general impression was "the staff were not happy"! We spoke to lots of other guests and they all agreed that they had noticed this. Dining venues We had requested the traditional 2nd sitting, but was informed that it had been fully booked since last March 2012, and we were offered anytime dining; As we have never done this before, we thought OK lets try it and compare the difference "we might of preferred it". However on the day of embarkation we were told that we had been allocated the 1st sitting, (which was just to early for us). This then meant like many others we had to stand for over 90 minutes to change the dining, and missed the sail away party! We ate in the Lingurian Restaurant, "anytime dining" which was nice, but you are not given your own waiter so even though a waiter comes and takes your order, you are not sure who is your waiter as you are served by many others also. so on a personal level we have decided that we prefer the traditional sitting! We booked a night in their speciality restaurant "Marco Pierre" which had a cover charge of around £6.75 per person. The restaurant was situated in the main atrium deck 8. Our impression of this was like a small Bistro, the food was good, but again found another of the waiter staff rude. My husband had asked one of the waiters for a moment of his time to explain to him that we wanted to watch a show at 10.30 pm and did not want to miss it as we only had around 20 minutes till the show started and could we skip the puddings and just have the coffee. He replied to my husband I'll be with you in a few minutes. We waited another 5 minutes whilst watching him stand with other staff members talking and discussing who was going to serve us, not very professional in my opinion! We decided to leave the restaurant and made a complaint to the head waiter about the staff member. The head waiter was very apologetic and removed the cost of the dining from our bill! Entertainment The entertainment was very good on P&O and this is one of the positives that other cruise liners could take from P&O. We watched various shows and there was always something to do in the evenings. They had very good show times so you did not miss them. One show in particular we watched was "Mecury rising" Steve Larkin! His tribute Act was to Freddy Mercury and I can say he was a very good singer and played the piano as well. It would be so nice to see more acts like this on other Cruise ships!!! In General In our opinion this was our first cruise with P&O and there was a multitude of things that niggled us, a few you can over look but when their is a lot, they seem to pile up. (just to note I have not noted them all, too many to list) Our first port of call was Zeebrugge and we had booked to go into Brussels for the day and we had a lovely day, on arriving back at the ship we had been on around an hour when the Captain announced that we would not be travelling to Amsterdam due to reports that there was adverse weather conditions in the Netherlands and he had exhausted all avenues on where to take the ship, but he was left with no alternative but to drop the anchors just outside the port of Zeebrugge, and that all our safety was paramount ( which I do agree), however like I and lots and lots of other passengers said it did not seem right and thought it sounded quite suss!. Anyhow the ship ended up spending the night anchored outside Zeebrugge until the morning, and I must say the ship never moved all night (swaying motion). In the morning around 11.20 am the captain made another announcement that the weather was still not great, but we would try and head to Amsterdam and would take around 6 hrs to get there and he would come back to us all with his next decision. Whilst we set sail to Amsterdam the sea was not that bad, some slight swells and rain but that's all (we have experienced worse in the Caribbean sea). However around 6.20 pm the captain came back with another announcement that we were 30 miles from Amsterdam and we would not be going to dock at Amsterdam as the weather was not good conditions for the pilot to board the ship, and that we would be turning around and heading back to Southampton! On the way back again there was no movement in the ship and again passengers were all questioning the Captain decision!!! Just to point out no-one saw the Captain at all on this cruise, I guess he knew that guests were not happy! More to the point as we were disembarking we walked passed a VIP person and we heard them over talking about the captains decision and they said he should of went to Amsterdam. On a positive note, we did enjoy our New Years Eve dinner and party-ed hard till 5.00 am I believe that other passengers were still partying at 7.00 am..... the ship was very quite on New Years Day. As I said this was my first cruise with P&O, and I do not think I will rebook another cruise as other cruise company's seem to be miles ahead on lots of things. If you are looking for a cruise with good customer satisfaction who generally care about their customers, have great Gala dinners free champers and canapes and lots of other things to inspire you, then there are other cruises than just P&O. If this had been my first cruise experience then I truly believe I would not of bothered booking again. Read Less
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