OK, arrived for flight with plenty of time to spare, checked in and was then informed there was a 1 hour delay!
We boarded the flight to the new time, and almost when ready, the baggage handlers noticed some damage to the baggage door of the aircraft. This resulted in an on aircraft delay of another hour. Safety 1st though, no need to take chances.
Arrived in Barbados, the transfer of passengers is very efficient without immigrating. The check-in process was smoother than I've had before. Our allocated cabin was E506. On entering, the room was substandard for cleanliness, to say the least. I believe the cabin had been vacant for some time. There was dust everywhere, and the hem of the shower curtain was filthy. We rang for housekeeping, as the toilet also didn't flush. There was sediment in the bowl, but that seemed to appear in all the bowls around the ship!!!
The room steward arrived and gave the room a thorough clean, and maintenance arrived to attend to the toilet flush. This took about an hour, and totally ruined our arrival, and negated any chance of enjoying the early arrival opportunities. As we readied for dinner, it was darkening outside and we put the lights on. Well, the ones that worked anyway. Another visit to reception followed, and maintenance sorted the bulb issue whilst we were at dinner. Finally, a chance to unpack, and just on completion, the boom boom of music from below became overwhelming. Now, i'm in my 40's and like music, but the volume with bass tones from the Tamarind Club below was well excessive. This was now 9.30pm, again to reception i went. I was handled with my request to change cabin by Front of House manager Avi, and after a little while, was re-allocated to exact room standard E625, over the photo gallery. Nice and quiet, but is hampered by the staff service door directly across the corridor.
Basically, it appears there is no check list for management to oversee new arrivals, and room standard is left to the steward.
Now to the cruise itself, the ship was well undermanned with passengers. Strong rumours suggested 1000 under capacity (500 cabins), however, this meant that all the venues on board could be easily accessed without having to beat the herd that roams between shows. The shows are predominantly catered for passengers a generation older than me in my opinion. Music catered for is generally 1960s 70s.
The exchange was the best all round atmosphere but could do with an artist some times to break up the monotonous thing of quizzes and bingo!!
Generally, the staff try hard in what is a difficult marketplace, as the retired set can make these cruises more easily than the working man/woman.
P&O need to keep better abreast of their information sourcing. The internet gave this cruise as 4 formal nights, which was reduced to 3 for some reason.
There was many passengers that had booked this as a vantage fare, and were stunned at the number of passengers that had got the cruise for under £1000. Many said they would not book early again, but would wait until the last available minute they could. I will do the same. It's not pleasant to know that people booked less than a week before sailing and got balcony cabins for far less than people paid for insides.
One great aspect, Ventura has for this winter season been given 2 freedom dining restaurants. If it is successful, it could be extended fully.
To summarise, some shortcomings for me, late bookers getting balconies, persistent sell, sell, sell is annoying, 5pm departures when it fell around shore excursions lead to 6pm (booking info gave 6pm every day), Some positives, availabilty of drinks choice, 2 restaurants freedom dining & comfortable venues, sunbathing etc.
I feel that P&O should look at introducing a drinks package. I've sailed with Costa, and at 19.5 euros a day is excellent. Something like this would keep all the venues busy most of the day.