We set sail from Southampton about 2 hours later than we should have due to a car carrier ship being in the way. The Sailaway party didn't happen as it should have but there was no announcement to this effect.
First port was La Corunna, we chose not to get off here and judging by people's comments, we didn't miss much. Second port was Bilbao, not that impressed here either. The best was the Guggenheim Museum. The streets of Bilbao are quite littered and unclean. there are quite a few beggars, some of who really hound you and follow you. My 17 year old daughter was quite intimidated by them and wanted to go back to the ship.
Third port was La Rochelle. This port was totally different to the Spanish ones. It was a pretty, quaint little port. People and shop staff very very friendly and accommodating. The streets were very clean. Lovely little market stalls with hand made goodies for sale, right outside where the shuttle bus drops you off. That's one good thing about P&O, they provide free shuttle buses too and from the ship to the towns.
We didn't get to Guernsey as the weather was rough so had to divert to Cherbourg. This again was a nice place, plenty of shops and again staff were very friendly.
That's the ports, now onto the boat. Overall the boat was good in its decor and cleanliness. There was a lack of toilets throughout the ship. The ones closest to the main venues such as Manhattan were always full and queues. The shops were the typical cruise ship shops. The majority of the waiting staff were Indian and some Philipino. They couldn't do enough for you.
My husband and I are in our 40's and felt that the clientele on the ship were much older than us, hence the daytime entertainment being geared for this age group with whist drive, bingo, deck quoits etc. There could have been more choice in the evening entertainment. The sea screen was good and in the evening you had sun beds with blankets on to watch movies under the stars.
We ate in the Meridian restaurant most nights as a Freedom Diner and the food and service was excellent. We did try the buffet Verona/Venezia one night when it was Chinese theme and found the food to be very tasteless. My younger daughter (17) and I tried a treatment package in the spa which was very nice but a bit expensive.
The pools on the lido deck were freezing! The jacuzzis were luke warm and had children in them a lot of the time, even though the sign says 'no children under 16 unless accompanied by a parent'.
The drinks onboard are very much in line with British pub prices and you can take drink onboard with you, unlike a lot of other cruise lines. The comedian in the Manhattan club, Gary T Thompson, was brilliant, very funny. We also had a Lulu and Freddie Mercury tribute act, who were both very good.
Overall, we enjoyed it, would have been better with some nicer weather. We had cloud, rain and rough seas and on that, I will say, my daughter and I experienced sea sickness on a few days. The boat was no where near as stable as the Norwegian Epic we went on last year. So pack your travel sickness tablets.
I think anyone with children or of the older generation will enjoy this ship, but for our age group I think we will be going back to NCL.
Embarkation and disembarkation was on the whole very quick and well organised.