We flew on a Thomas Cook plane from Manchester to Barbados and the flight was pretty good - chair back tv screens, free drinks and a reasonable meal.
On arrival in Barbados we were bussed to the ship - a distance of around ten miles through territory I wouldn't necessarily wish to return to on foot, but on arrival at the dockside, we joined a queue to get our photo taken for the on-board card you need to pay for items and get through security.
The ship seemed enormous, and our superior balcony cabin was lovely, with the only downside being that the balcony is completely overlooked by all the decks above it. Two tv screens, full sized bath, coffee/tea facilities and fridge. The tv is nothing to get excited about however, as you get Sky News/Sky Sports/ BBC World News, one terrible channel full of wannabbee Madonnas in LA, and then a few channels flogging the P & O DVD, Tanzanite jewellery, and repeats of the lectures given in previous days.
Most of the staff are Indian - our waiters (2), wine waiter, and steward were all from India. They gave us fabulous service.
We went on the fixed dining (first sitting) and were allocated the "Peninsular" restaurant.The food was excellent and service superb. If you wanted to eat in the top deck buffets, at peak times it was pretty full and you might not find a free table.
It was disappointing to find that cabins don't have internet access, and to use the computers in the library costs 50p a minute, which is horrendously expensive.
The bar waiters are on commission, so they are constantly looking to get orders for drinks - prices are similar to British pubs, and you don't feel ripped off.
The majority of the cruisers were in the 50+ age group, with very few children on board.
On the 9 day sail back to Southampton, I did get somewhat bored with the same daily entertainment schedule, and the lack of variety - apart from one night when Eddie Large gave a talk, there were a series of lectures on a daily basis about Concorde, a few films were shown (some several times over the 13 nights), and quite a few dance lessons. They organise daily Bingo, which again, isn't cheap - Â£10 for 3 tickets covering five games. The idea is to build up a "snowball" for the last day, so that they sell hundreds of tickets, and presumably, make a mint.
Some of the shows are very popular, but I preferred to watch a guitar duo called "The View" who appeared in "Brodies" pub type bar.
Duty free shops sell limited ranges of goods, and prices of spirits can be extremely good value - Â£12 for two litre bottles of Teachers whisky seems good to me.
On arrival at Southampton, we were efficiently directed onto a smart "Eavesway" coach taking us back to Manchester airport, and setting off at 9-10am, with a 45 minute stop at the Motorway Services, we arrived at T2 Manchester at 1-50pm - brilliant.