Being a large ship, we were not surprised to wait an hour or so, going through the usual reception system. Once on board, it did not take long to get into the cabin and make that important cup of tea, preparing to wave goodbye to Southampton. That's when we first noticed just how smoky the ship was. Of course, P&O allow smokers on the balconies - it's their prerogative and right, so that was the unpleasant smell from beginning to end for us non-smokers. Sometimes I wondered whether it would have been better to have booked a cheaper window cabin - never mind, we could always go on top.
On top? Better get there quick, especially on sea days, or the sight of blue towels reserving sunbeds is hard to work through, especially if you want to find a reasonable spot. Then be careful just where you pick. We just wanted some good sea air and relaxation during the day; that means that the pool areas are out, as the music blasts out and keen bluecoats try to get you singing along to -yes we even heard - Agadoo!!! There's a non smoking side (well if the wind blows the right way) and quieter spots near the engines or at the ends (if you are quick).
Other than not being able to relax during the day, we were delighted with our cabin steward - the best in 7 cruises.
The food is good at evening meals and bar prices reasonable. During breakfast and lunch, there was the usual mad scramble around the buffet and nowhere to sit. We learnt to have breakfast in bed and to be waited on at a slower lunch, at the lower restaurants.
Entertainment was not bad - again, if you could find a seat. Even after arriving 15 minutes before shows started, we had to stand. The port stays were generally far too short, with no thought of local events or public transport timetables. We didn't feel we got to know anywhere very well.
We met some nice folk from all around uk, and had some good laughs around the table in the evening. Most people were friendly and eager to chat about their cruise experiences on P&O. Those who enjoyed P&O and the trip the most, told us that they loved bingo, drinking, smoking, dancing and in the evenings they looked forward to getting a seat in time for the comedians. We were obviously fish out of water. It was a good experience, but P&O is not for us.