This was our third cruise with our family and having only been on P&O before there was some trepidation amongst us as to whether it would reach our expectations and hopes... Suffice to say it did, and then some!
The food was fantastic and our waiters Kittipong and Peter in the 2nd sitting at Botticelli restaurant were brilliant. Marius the maitre d of our section was also exemplary. The food was faultless and the selection broad and every wish is made by these extremely kind and generous people.
Photographer, Nadia, was superb and produced some great family portraits for us - she couldn't do enough and even organised a special photoshoot for the kids. The pricing of the images is ridiculous and they haven't yet caught on to the digital age but I am assured they will. Basically if you want an image of the thousands that are printed (thrown away if not bought at the end) it will cost you $25 but if you just want it digitally to print as you wish later etc it will be $30 More
- a no brainer to me with repro costs being so much cheaper at home.
Rooms were fine - after all its somewhere just to sleep really but the room steward Maria was diligent and very kind and patient.
Kids club was excellent both for our nearly 3yr old and our nearly 8yr old who ended up joining the next group up 8-12 yr olds as the 3-8 was a bit too young for her. The staff in these departments were excellent and offer a packed schedule of entertainment.
Entertainment: Didn't really watch any but the galley tour was fun.
Drinks: We didn't take advantage of any of the bundle deals on drinks but if you drink lots of soft drinks or like decent coffee it would be worth it. The general coffee and breakfast and dinner is undrinkable.
Tours - basically do your own. They are over priced from the ship and a bit of pre cruise homework will sort you out. The one thing they wont tell you before and they don't factor into the cost of the cruise is the transit costs from the shop to the towns. In Barcelona they wanted a crazy figure of $8 e/w to get from the ship to the town cemntre when there is a bus OUTSIDE the terminal which is â‚¬3.50 return!! This charging for shuttles left a slightly bitter taste in the mouth as they know beforehand when they arrange the berths if there is going to be a cost to actually get off the boat and they should include it in the price.
In conclusion: my in-laws who kindly took us on this trip are seasoned cruise pros with many cruises under their belts all mostly with P&O and they were staggered by how this met and exceeded their expectations - so much better they feel both in VFM and quality. They would choose Princess in future which says it all.
A little cramped with 2 adults and 2 children but works ok. TV not great but 24 hr Cbeebies can't be knocked. News channels a bit poor. Good location near lifts, main piazza and laundry and great stewards.
Barcelona - see above - we went first thing and explored Las Ramblas and the Catedral (not the Gaudi) before all the locals had woken and the tourists had arrived. The local market on Las Ramblas was well worth a visit. Stunning sights and smells.
Cannes we went again to a private beach which had lovely loungers, a nice restaurant etc etc. Well worth the â‚¬13 for the day and the kids had a great area to play and rest in the shade. The public beach has no shade and you will have to rent a very expensive umbrella for your 0.5 sq ft of space in the sand.
Livorno has a lovely beach if you walk to it - again you have to pay to get off the ship but grab a Buss 1R from the main square where the shuttle drops you and its 5 minutes to the beaches - which â‚¬5 to enter. They are all used by locals and not a stripy towel in sight! Perfect beach for kids swimming - safe, clean and warm.
Gibraltar was ok - its basically a stop to buy cheap booze (Â£6.75 for a litre of Famous Grouse of Â£10 for a litre of 47% Bombay Sapphire ) but we also visited the WW2 tunnels which for Â£8 was a very interesting way to spend an hour and learn of their pivotal role during the war. We caught the bus from the town centre which was much cheaper than the organised tours or the taxi touts.
To get to Rome from Civitavecchia we caught the train which was â‚¬12 return and took 50 mins - and it was faultless. On time, clean and with power - incredible job. We walked from the train station to the Colosseum and then got a cab to the Trevi fountains and eventually walked back to the train station. Hot work but good exercise after all the ship food!
Alghero (sardinia) has nice beaches within walking distance and the old town near the tender dock is great for food and drinks and ice creams. Beware that there may be a queue for the tenders back and it wont be in the shade.