Our Christmas and New Year cruise was brilliant and we have recommended the cruise to friends and family. I have no links or allegiance to P&O although it is the only cruise line that we have experienced. We are a family of 'foodies' who like the occasional glass of wine and I think we are representative of most working families in the UK.
With regards to the food, which appears to be a common thread for some complaints, I think that there are a multitude of options available to suit everybody at lunchtime. Yes, there is always a curry, or two, but these are extremely popular with most passengers and are on the menu because of customer demand. Alternatives are the extremely popular and good quality salad bar, a range of cheeses and biscuits as well as fresh bread buns, a BBQ grill, pizzeria and silver service dining.
The silver service restaurants on an evening offer two menus; a 'classic menu' which contains old favourites such as prawn cocktail, tomato soup and other options to start with, followed by a salmon dish, steak or chicken. In addition there was a menu of the day which changed daily. We ate venison, guinea fowl, goose and a good range of fish dishes. Not once did we have a poor meal. The meals on Christmas night and New Years Eve were excellent. I genuinely fail to see how people are disappointed with the food. Our only misgiving is the fact that P&O have introduced the concept of pre-plated meals in the dining rooms so your meal comes with the vegetables already on the plate, as does the cheeseboard. This does make the dining experience slightly less special as it isn't conducive to 'fine dining'.
We always sat on deck 7 beside the Beachcomber pool and there were always plenty of staff from whom to order drinks. There were always a high number of drinks staff on duty on the poolside and in the bars and restaurants.
There was a high number of children and teenagers on the cruise. Some parents clearly had no idea where their offspring were or what they were doing. We did see a rowdy group in the swimming pool but they were stopped by an officer within a few minutes. We did see groups of teenagers sprawled on the floor in the buffet restaurant on one occasion late at night and commented that they should have been told to sit at a table. On previous cruises we have been aware of youth security officers patrolling the ship whose job it is to monitor groups of youths but we didn't see any on this cruise. That said, I regularly saw youth staff clearing groups of kids away from the stairs and lifts. Overall it is a family cruise during a school holiday and there are always going to be a number of passengers under the age of 18 and the majority were well behaved and polite.
There were 12 lifts on board and one was out of service but that left 11 remaining.
Having had many conversations with other passengers all but two said that they had had a fabulous time and loved every facet of their cruise (apart from Dominica). The two dissenters gave me the impression that they would have found always something to complain about.
The staff were excellent and attentive but not to the point of being obsequious.