On arrival at Ocean Terminal I asked for wheelchair assistance from one of the lovely helpful gentlemen, he took me directly into the terminal & booked me in to receive my cruise card. i was then taken onboard & up to the buffet area to await my friend. Incredibly efficient.
My Deluxe cabin was wonderful, even bigger than I had expected. A decent sized bathroom with bath + shower; large bath sheets, face cloth & toiletries. There was a dressing area with plenty hanging space & generous sized soft robes. There is a small safe inside the mirrored wardrobe, along with shelf space.
My suitcase arrived outside my room by about 3pm, about the same time my friend arrived, this was her first cruise & she was also delighted with the accommodation.
This is the first cruise ship I have been on with tea & coffee facilities, including mugs, just lovely touch & appreciated.
Our room steward, Morris, introduced himself to me as soon as I arrived in the cabin & was extremely polite, friendly & helpful. I had asked for a feather pillow & an extra blanket but they were not in the room, Morris managed to provide these while we were at dinner.
We were allocated Freedom Dining in the Cinnamon restaurant, a new experience for me & we both really enjoyed dining this way, meeting new people each evening & sitting in different parts of the restaurant. There was plenty choice on the menu & food was well presented, there always seemed to be plenty staff around and they worked really hard. We were always offered a large glass of cold water as soon as we sat at the table. Wine waiters would arrive soon after we sat down & everything was well organised.
I have particular dietary issues & the ever helpful Joy, Senior Waiter, in Cinnamon, ensured that my needs were met. each evening he would provide me with the following days menu & later discuss any changes I might need. This was done very discreetly & I was never made to feel awkward.
One of the first things I did was to fill in a form at reception to withhold tips, choosing to tip staff at my choosing, this way i ended up spending more but I gave to those who made my experience better, including restaurant staff & room steward.
The ship had a lovely feel about it, a mix of traditional, stairways & lift areas but also modern, in the atrium.
Being Whitsun, there were a lot of families with children aboard & they were all well behaved. The only place one was really aware of them en masse was around the pool areas which we tended to avoid.
Not that I was hungry but I tried afternoon tea in Saffron, goodness this was a full on affair. i joined a family & we were offered plenty hot tea, selection of sandwiches, muffins, toasted teacakes, warm scones + jam & cream. In addition to all this there were tiers of cakes on a stand. The children had a bit of everything but I only managed tea & the toasted tea cake. glad to have tried it but I decided it was just too much.
We had room service breakfast once but thereafter ate upstairs from the generous buffet in the Waterfront restaurant.
Despite the ship being so big & about 3,000 guests we never felt crowded & often wondered where everyone else was.
I was disappointed with the library, it was rather small & only4 or 5 chairs to sit on. One was able to pick up a free daily crossword & sudoku from the library, a very brief daily news was also available in the atrium area near the Costa coffee bar.
There were a few shops as always. I thought the choice of daily extra sale stands offered rather a poor standard of merchandise compared to other ships I have been on (Cunard & Holland America).
We appreciated the shuttle buses as we did our own thing in ports rather than taking one of the fairly pricey organised excursions.
The local bus from Brankenburg to Brugge took about 20 mins & was only â,¬5.80 for 2 of us one way. Brugge was lovely, a sort of medieval feel to it. Large lovely old tall buildings, a large central square, plenty of cafe/bars & horse drawn carriages. We had a beer & a coffee at one of the prominent cafes in the square.
As I was short on energy we did not do Brugges justice, other guests who took a canal trip said it was good value at about â,¬9 each. We walked to the station, about 15 mins from the centre, through a park. The lovely clean double decker train only cost us â,¬6 for both of us back to Brankenburg where we got on the shuttle bus. We were back on board for a late sit down lunch in Saffron. I would like to return to Brugge.
Our sea day was a lovely relaxing excuse to do nothing, along lie & then a meander around the ship. Although there were some activities on offer none of them appealed. A craft session would have been appreciated.
I had a Fire & Ice pedicure, 60 mins. It was very pleasant & included a cooling gel, hot stones, exfoliation, massage & nails varnished. It did feel rather impersonal but the girls work a very long day. It cost 45 which was ok but I did not like that they automatically added 10% service charge - this meant I did not then leave a personal tip to my therapist.
The sea was very choppy when we arrived at Guernsey where tenders were needed to get ashore. A lot of folk were wanting ashore & the waiting area was very busy, at one stage they stopped handing out tickets for tenders as the weather took a turn for the worse. We did get on a tender, it was definitely choppy but nothing awful.
St Peter's Port was overcast, a bit cold & threatening to rain. We opted for the local bus that I had sourced pre cruise, it went all the way round the island from the town's bus station. Although buses generally only go once an hour, they put on extra buses as the cruise ship was in. 2 took us all the way around the island on a journey that took about 1 hour 20 mins - what a bargain. If you wanted to "get on get off" it cost the princely sum of 4.50.
Guernsey was rather boring but this is maybe an unfair judgement as we did not get off at any of the tourist spots - you would have needed to take a ship's tour to make the most of this 24 square mile island. Again, we were back onboard for a late lunch & relaxing aft.
Our only Formal night was on our sea day & 99% of guests made a real effort which was lovely, it made for a good atmosphere around the ship.
Disembarking was efficient although mine was done through the mobility section & not the same experience as others. My friend chose to take her own case ashore & this worked well, I met up with her in the Ocean Terminal entrance while she waited for her Eavesway coach & me for my lift. I was surprised to see people arriving to get aboard on the next short cruise while we were still getting off!
All in all a wonderful time, really relaxing, lovely escape from reality & great value. My first but not last time on P&O.