I should start by saying something about P&Os pricing policy and the manner in which they attempt to (and often succeed) in encouraging passengers to book early with the lure of discounts. Do not be fooled in to booking early!! We have 2 youngish teenagers and therefore need to have adjacent rooms. As a consequence we booked on release of the cruise 18 months ago. We discovered a month before sailing that the getaway fare (as opposed to the advantage fare) we would have saved us as a family around £6,200. We were given a price promise at the time we booked that we would receive on board credit if the cruise was discounted. When I contacted p&o about this they informed me this did not apply to the getaway fare. So in effect no price promise at all!!!
On board the quality of the food is not what it once was. Whilst still very edible it doesn't excite - at dinner one night we order in the main restaurant turkey. It was from a factory produced condensed turkey roll. It was not recognisable as turkey. When we ordered lamb chops they were very good but with very little meat on them one would have expected 3 or 4 chops to a serving. There were 2 on my plate and one on my wives. Generally there are less waiting staff than in the past but they still work extremely hard, are very pleasant and nothing is too much trouble for them.
The evening entertainment on board is reminiscent of holidays 15 years ago, superfamily holiday style in Ibiza. The comedian from Wales was a particular low light. He told the one about Mr Fog and mist.....and the Geordie policeman. Need I say more?
Before I mention our biggest disappointment it's worth mentioning that the glass house and Sindhu are very good and reasonable value. I heard positive things about 17 too.
My wife and I booked the retreat (P&Os exclusive adult spa area) at a cost per couple of £450 for 17 nights. This entitled us to us an area where there were whicker sun beds with proper sun mattresses, waiter service with a light breakfast and lunch. The area also offered plenty of shade - ideal for us both. We wanted to avoid the usual agro that comes with sunbed wars on holiday. Sadly p&o had spotted a way of making even more money out of people. Firstly they told us it was open from 8 till 8. We rise very early so this wasn't great but we were told we could sit on the loungers before opening times. The broucher indicated that the pool around the spa was for the exclusive use of the spa residents. Whilst we didn't know this when we book the retreat on board it was a big disappointment for other guests
What p&o then did was to sell treatments to passengers allowing them to use the retreat on their day of the treatment which meant the retreat was very busy on sea days (not what we had been sold), those passengers who had booked the retreat who were not early risers were left without sunbeds in the sun and p&o then decided to rigidly enforce the opening times (which they changed to 9 to 6) by placing a security guard at the entrance to the retreat.
At the time of writing we are midway through our cruise. We are waiting to see if p&o will offer any refund.
The ports of call are excellent and cruising remains my favourite holiday. It is just a shame that p&o have lost their way so much. If you can book for the right price and have modest expectations in terms of food quality and service you won't be disappointed. If you last travelled on p&o more than 12 months ago and you are returning to them I fear you will be in for a disappointment in the way that my family and I have.