Well I have just returned from my first ever cruise, and I have to say in the main I loved it. Even with a very rough crossing across BOB
Smooth and quick. We joined a queue, waited around 10 minutes before being directed to front of terminal where our cases were loaded onto a trolley and whisked away, the car was then whisked away in the opposite direction
Very smooth and quick. Arrived at the Terminal at 12.10pm and we were in our cabin by 1.00pm. Airports could learn a thing or two. We went for a wander around the ship for about an hour and on returning to the cabin our cases had been delivered. We found our way around the ship pretty easily within first couple of days. If you get lost go to Deck 7 - as you can get anywhere from there.
Cabin - we had a Superior Deluxe Balcony on Desk 9 Aft.
Have to say I chose this location even though Mid cabins were available, as we were close to most things (All the restaurants are Aft, as is The White Room, Metropolis Bar and Havana.
The cabin was a good size, perfectly fine for 2 Adults and a Tall Teenager, we could have had one more in fairly easily.
Balcony on D desk is overlooked from above but tbh this did not bother us
Good wardrobe space. Comfy beds
Our Steward Diogo looked after us beautifully
I have to say it was excellent. I have a few negatives to comment on but they are because Daughter is a insulin dependant diabetic and a Coeliac so we are have additional needs to most. And P&O were streets ahead of most places on offering GF so I do not in anyway want to put people off, just to be aware there were a few areas which could still be improved on for those with special requirements
was superb for her. We did Club Dining as I knew have the same waiters each night would be helpful for our daughter. Every night Sangay the head waiter would present our daughter with the menu for the following day, she was able to choose ANYTHING* from the menu and it was adapted to be suitable for her to eat. And they bought her freshly baked GF rolls every night
* - they could not however offer GF pasta which I thought was very strange as this is one of the easiest alternatives to offer
plenty of fruit, eggs, bacon, has browns and Gluten Free Bread. Small negative here were no Gluten Free Cereal on offer at all, it would also have been nice to see some GF sausages. You could however arrange GF pancakes with your waiter the night before. And for those Gluten eaters there were waffles etc on offer too
We ate in the Bay Tree most mornings - as was nice to be relaxed with Table service, we generally got a table for 3, but on one occasion we were asked to join another party of 3 on a larger table, we had no issue with this but the woman at the table was so do rude about having to share a table that we asked to be moved.
We also did the buffet a few mornings and that was fine
A little more problematic, although the chef would always take us through what she could or could not have from the Buffet but it was limited, and they did make sure there was a GF dessert should she want one.
Afternoon Tea - pretty much a No No, do not get me wrong it was lovely. Lots of little cakes, fresh scones etc. But almost nothing she could have at all. They have an on board bakery so a selection of GF cakes/scones would have been nice
It could also be a little difficult getting a table for Lunch/Afternoon Tea, the use both Waterside and The Beach restaurants but it got confusing as they seem to close one half of the each restaurant at different points so you'd switch back and forth.
Pizza/Burger/Hotdog Bar at the Laguna Pool - nothing suitable in GF
The White Room - had a beautiful meal here. We only heard good things from everyone else who ate there as well. for the GF they just asked us to go up the following day and pick her meal, which was excellent. But be warned it gets booked v v quickly.
None of the above was a huge issue, she always found something. But still some improvements could be made
Drinks packages are a good idea for the kids. We paid Â£42.50 upfront for a drinks/ice cream card which entitled us to 20 (Large) soft drinks and 20 ice creams. We should also have got a free drinks bottle - but not one of the bars seem to have them, small issue but would have be nice for them to actually stock the bottles
Alcohol - found this to be on par with most pubs here at home. Small Tip, buy a separate coke/lemonade for your mixer and just order your spirit, worked out better value as the soft drinks are in large glasses, where the mixer is a small can.We are not big drinkers but P&O do allow you to take some alcohol on board. We took a bottle of Malt and a few beers to enjoy on the balcony.
Ports of call
As mentioned our crossings was quite rough, with a few people suffering seaksickness - we took tablets each day and seemed to be OK though
We did not do any excursions as we'd already researched and knew we could easily get into the towns from Port. However, we did not stop at Oporto because of bad weather - again did not spoil cruise as we spent day at Sea where the weather was lovely
In the main very good. One comedian who was not to my taste. But very good singers - Jayne Curry particularly excellent. Phil Collins Tribute, Rob Lewis also excellent. And a young man singing Big band hits/swing who again was excellent. Headliners, the on board company, did an excellent show
Bars - you have a choice of everything from a "pub" - The Exchange. To the Bar Metropolis on Deck 19 (our personal favorite)
Kids - very very well catered for. Over 700 on board and it never seemed like it. Did not see my Teen much at all, she went to Teen club on first night. made friends and was off. Great for me with my daughters medical needs, was they gave us a pager so that if she needed attention, they were able to contact us easily. Yes there were some kids being "badly behaved" But you get this everywhere and remember this is a family ship - noone should be complaining about children being on board. If you do not want kids around then go out of School Holidays, or to one of the Adult only ships
Dress Codes - in the main this was adhered to. Was lovely to see the vast majority of people in their formal wear for the 2 nights - even most of the children. There were a few who chose not to follow the dress code, which was fine, but they stuck out more and were unable to use some of the bars that night.
for me these were the Highlight of the cruise.
Kat, Rob and Jamie from the entertainment team were excellent
Diogo our Steward was also excellent
Prodip and Sangay our head waiters - simply superb
Sohail and Arun our dinner waiters, were simply outstanding
And Godip our wine waiter was just the best.
A lot of the staff are employed out of Mumbai or Goa and they could totally teach staff in the UK a think or two about service with a smile. They work incredibly long hours, and yet still always found the time to be pleasant.
The other Negative was I booked this cruise as Marco Pierre White was supposed to be on board to do some talks. Well he never turned up, and despite repeatedly asking, no-one could explain why. In fact most staff seemed to be oblivious to the fact he was supposed to be on board - so for me this was very very disappointing.
We were however lucky enough to have Rachel Allen the well known Irish cook/baker on board. She gave a lovely talk, and also signed copies of her book for us all
So I really enjoyed by first cruise, would any of the negatives stop me returning... No.......... I just would not booked a cruise to see M.P.W. again !!