We LOVE the old Rennaisance ships and had sailed on four (of the eight) [R2 Oceania Regatta; R5 Oceania Nautica; R6 Azamara Journey (which is our favourite overall cruise ship); and R7 Azamara Quest]. We thought it could be nice to sail, one way or another on all the other 'R' ships and to this end took the Christmas/New Year 16-day cruise on P&O's Adonia which was R8. What a disappointment.
It started well enough - an excellent rail journey to Southampton and onboard within 20 minutes of arriving at the Departure Lounge. Approaching the ship via the walkways however, I noticed a certain shabbiness, especially of the lifeboats. We boarded and were invited to take lunch in the buffet (The Conservatory) and to tour the ship's public rooms until our staterooms were ready for us at approximately 14:00. We found The Conservatory lacking in atmosphere with an unimpressive array of food (looking like school dinners or a works canteen on a bad day). Only one side of the servers was open, and the waiting staff were there solely to clear tables - there was no relationship with passengers whatsoever.
An announcement at 14:00 advised us that our rooms were ready and we made our way to our cabin. Much the same layout that we are used to but a few minor alterations. The minibar (which contained two complimentary small bottles of water and an ice bucket) is located in the writing desk adjacent to the window, and the wardrobe contained mostly wire coat hangers. Tea/coffee making facilities are provided in the room. No stationary is provided (though there was a cheap Bic (P&O branded) biro. The standard bathroom layout was unchanged but the towels were well used and the face cloths were the meanest - they were like the finger cloths you are given in Chinese restaurants. One good aspect of the bathroom - the soap, shower gel, conditioner, etc were provided by The White Company.
Being familiar with the layout we were unpacked and settled in in no time and ready for boat drill which was called at 15:30. Our Muster Station was 'B' so we were directed into the main dining restaurant where, once everyone was gathered the usual programme of what to do was demonstrated, this after the captain had (over the tannoy) welcomed us aboard and given us a detailed warning concerning noroviris and what to do. The correct way to put on a life jacket was demonstrated and we were told how to repack the life jacket and replace them in our stateroom wardrobes. There was, however, no roll call taken so I don't know how they checked that everyone was accounted for.
We toured the ship noticing that many of the original fittings have been retained. However there are quite a number of differences - the shops are as per other 'R' ships but the area where the coffee bar usually sits and the area between that and the shops, is all shops, and there was no seating in the centre area. On the opposite side a player piano was playing (no pianist) and the usual seating was provided.
Dining in the main (Pacific Restaurant) in the evening is divided into two sittings at 6:15pm and 8:15pm. We had requested a table for two at the second sitting. A notice arrived informing us that we had been allocated a table for the second sitting at a table for four. Approaching the maitre d' we were informed that he had a list covering at least three pages of guests that had requested a table for two which couldn't be accommodated and that we were on the list but way down. I think that this demonstrates that P&O are not listening to their clients because they have not provided more tables for two - a quick look at the layout showed that there were very few, most of the tables accommodating four, six, eight, or more, and this is an 'adults only' ship not catering for families. At dinner time we therefore we returned to The Conservatory - no music, no tablecloths, no atmosphere and very little service - we were not offered a drink with our meal until we had finished our main course.
Later I went to the Curzon Lounge to see the Welcome Show featuring Paraguayan Harpist Francisco Yglesia. On the wall approaching the lounge was a display board showing photographs of the eight members of The Adonia Theatre Company including Cruise Director, Tracey Clegg. Tracey came on, introduced herself and then called on her 'A Team', Gavin (from Fareham), Kathy (from The Black Country & London), and Katie (from Seaford).
On day 2 (Sunday 24th December) The captain (commodore) announced that because of the rough weather he planned to change the itinerary to arrive in La Caruna earlier than previously arranged and to moor alongside by 6:00pm and stay alongside overnight instead of arriving about 08:00am. Our Room Steward (Gladstone) delivered a P&O Christmas card and two Christmas presents (P&O towels in gift bags). At seven o'clock an announcement was made apologising to those passengers in those cabins around the forward stairwell for the loss of power and requesting care in moving around in the dark! This just as we were preparing to shower and change for the Captain's (Commodore's) Gala Reception in the Curzon Lounge (7:45pm) before dinner. Black tie night!
Very pleasant reception where the senior officers were introduced and drinks were offered. We then went to dinner in Pacific Dining Room (Barramundi for Chris & lamb shank, followed by ice cream and mango mousse which was beautifully presented).
The evening show was Cruising into Christmas with the Adonia Theatre Company (who were excellent).
On Christmas Day we had a pleasant enough time - we sat in Crows Nest during the morning and later enjoyed a Bloody Mary! Lunched in the restaurant and then watched the amateurish entertainment in the cabaret lounge (charades followed by Christmas songs show). Dinner in the main restaurant was excellent though, due to first sitting overrunning the second sitting was late. Consequently we weren't able to see the evening show ('String Angels').
On Boxing Day (La Caruna) we took an excursion - a trip to Santiago de Compostela where we had an excellent guide. That evening the air conditioning inconsistent in the cabin and we were cold so we requested blankets but apparently P&O don't carry spare blankets. Unbelievable! We sat with towels around our shoulders and slept under towels as well!
Special Boxing Day dinner in Ocean Grill (Â£20 supplement).
On the 27th - a day at sea, We were seated at a table for six for lunch, then in the evening after visiting the Crow's Nest for a cocktail we took dinner in the main restaurant (table 2 for 2!).
On the 28th we arrived in Cadiz where we enjoyed a delightful wander. Dinner that evening in the Italian restaurant - the show was violin playing by two young ladies...
29th Arrived in Casablanca and took a tour (excellent), watched "Marigold Hotel", and took dinner in the Pacific Restaurant.
On 31st we arrived in Tenerife where we had a delightful day. That evening the ship left the dock and we watched the New Year fireworks being let off in the town from offshore. There was very little distance to travel to our next destination so we appeared to just drift with minimal progress spending a day at sea until we arrived in Gran Canaria on the 2nd January. The Adonia Theatre Company shows included 'Reel to Reel' (songs from musical films) and 'Tuxedo Junction' which were well staged and they are a very talented company of two girls and three boys.
On the evening of the 2nd, after dinner, we went to the 'Variety Show' (not by the ATG) - which we described as 'amateur night at the village hall', though Jimmy James did close the show.
Thursday, January 3rd - Funchal, Madeira - Entertainment by Annette Wardell (excellent).
Friday, 4th (at sea). An amateur production of Noel Coward's 'Private Lives' was given in the Curzon Lounge but couldn't watch it. After dinner in the Sorrento Restaurant we enjoyed a Polly Darton entertainment given by Kelly O'Brien (excellent). On another day at sea Annette Wardell gave an excellent Afternoon Soiree in the Curzon Lounge followed by Murder on the Good Ship Adonia (dire - didn't stay to the end!).
Reviewing the overall cruise - the best thing about this cruise was the Adonia Theatre Group whose entertainment was excellent. Of the entertainment staff only one appeared to do any work (Gavin was given the task of the daily trivia etc. Only the winner received an award (Gold Star) so only winners were able to trade Gold Stars for gifts). Non-ATG entertainment was very amateur. Cruise Entertainments Director Tracey seemed to only do announcements. Food in the main restaurant and speciality restaurants was very good, but the buffet was awful - and this (on other 'R' ships is our favourite place to eat!). The ship is NOT maintained (yet alone well maintained) with worn carpets showing their joins and obviously not properly cleaned. The stairwells are not cleaned and no brass work polished. In the main restaurant some of the windows were well-rusted where condensation had run down the glass and rust stains were in evidence. It it obvious that P&O do not LOVE their ships as other cruise lines do.
Senior officers were only in evidence at formal gatherings, except the Captain (Commodore) who went around the ship to chat, but his conversation appeared to be limited to the career of the Commodore (we couldn't get him on to other ships/cruise options unless he had sailed it.)
It is simply unbelievable that P&O are not able to supply additional bedding/blankets.
This was our thirty-seventh (37th) cruise and the first with P&O. We have all our keycards to prove it, but not for this one - our key cards were confiscated as we left the ship! Rather worrying this as the card contained personal details on the information strip. I queried it with P&O and they have not deigned to reply - Just one more reason to never sail with P&O ever again!