Embarkation was efficient and quick both at registration and transportation to the cabin with use of ‘mobility support’. Good start we thought.
The Captain we had for the first part of the cruise made excessive use of the word ‘um’ punctuating each and every sentence with it. This was as well as its use in mid sentence when he lost ‘the plot’. This did not inspire. The worse count made in one short announcement to the passengers was 35 times. The second Captain was much more fluid and delivered announcements well.
The entertainment ranged from dire to outstanding. Headliners were poor with the girls having weaker voices than the boys with some frantic out of control dancing. One young lad was just trying ‘too hard’ and I think he really wanted to be one of the singers. A lot more practice, polish and professionalism is something that is desperately needed by the whole team. At the other end we had ‘The Octaves’ who were polished, professional, and skilled in their craft with a stage presence which held the audience. The on board resident groups/bands did ranged in quality. One couple said to us that the ‘Duo’ was really good musicians, I thought this strange when they sang to a backing track, with a supporting guitar occasionally strumming along with the use of i-Pad’s with the lyrics displayed, surely this is so close to Karaoke? The Orchestra who supported the acts in Starlights and Footlights were excellent and all were good musicians who could adapt to all styles. The Heritage Trio were also good musicians and would have been put to great use during the Ballroom/Latin sessions as they played excellent listening music which was in strict tempo and great to dance too. They were only used on the odd occasion in the Atrium otherwise it was the continual tinkling of the supper club piano players rambling on and on.
Other entertainment? The Ballroom & Latin Dancing needs a total revamp. Playing the same music in same order every night????, Waltz, Quickstep, Foxtrot, Rumba, Cha Cha Cha, Jive followed by sequence ‘we are going to start with a rumba number……..’. We were supposed to respond with ‘ONE’. We were all so pleased on the nights Heidi took charge, different music and delivered in a different order. What a lovely personality. Paul and Carol Ann need to be a great deal more imaginative. It would not be hard. Plus the location of the Atrium is not an appropriate. It is too small; people are not considerate by putting their chairs on the dance area and then the bar staff seem reluctant to ask these people moved. I can not bring myself to call it a dance floor; it was on the verge of being very dangerous particularly when there was a swell. After a couple of nights the numbers dwindled considerably. We love dancing and this fell well below expectations. As for the classes, on the couple I observed 30 mins of chat with 15 mins of tutoring, not good enough, Paul you might like the sound of your own voice but!!!!!
If you could have a Bingo Caller who is able to use the correct pronunciation that would be start, there is a ‘T’ in eighty and eighteen etc. It may or may not be funny for a while but it did grate when it was every single time. We did not play but were sat near enough to hear. This also happened on the quizzes. There was the repeating of the same film program in Footlights, the TV was on a continual loop so if you were confined in your cabin you would have watched the same episode of Downton Abby many times on the same day and as well as on several subsequent days, imagination again lacking by P&O. Or could it be it costs money????
Costa Coffee, what are they doing on a cruise or is this the means of extracting yet more money from a captive audience. What next Pizza Express, McDonald’s, KFC!!! duming down or what.
On the Lido Deck, row after row of sun beds jam packed together, the worst ‘Holiday Camp on Sea’ ever. The Plaza eatery on this deck area was like a motorway café. We managed to keep, mostly, well away and only used The Plaza for some fresh fruit and hot drinks during the day, steer clear of Costa.
The photographers want to take your picked every which way and when they run out of occasions on and off the ship you can then have your picture with a Large Pirate Mouse or even a Large Mister Bounce. Then you can even add a very expensive DVD of ‘The Cruise’ to your already large on board spend.
Now for the real gripe, this was the medical support. One member of our party had a fall in the storms on day 3 and hurt her knees so was unable to walk. For use of a wheelchair we were charged £250. We were then informed, with a cash desk rolling in their eyes, ‘of course your insurance will pay for it’. There was subsequent follow up treatments and advice etc and ‘you need to have much more with additional testes’ this was also greeted with ‘insurance; of course on board it is private’. I fully understand this but as the accident was due to a gales and mega waves rocking and rolling the ship a ‘Medical’ wheelchair, which was available, would have been a good gesture and correct customer care? It was all money money money!!!!!!. Everything seemed down hill from this point on day 3.
Real highlights of the time on board, I can not bring myself to say holiday. Fine Dinning - top marks, the food was brilliant, waiters – outstanding, the service was excellent, the advice on menu choice spot on, personalities were great and real high to cheer us up for a couple of hours. Cabin Steward – one the best, nothing was too much trouble, always attentive to your needs, caring and considerate. These team members were a credit to themselves and P&O should be grateful they get this calibre of team member working for them. Not trained in, it is their nature and their personalities that shine through.
I could go on and on but a final comment is about disembarkation. Disembarkation was a shambles. We were instructed to report at 8:15 on deck 7-Le Club for people with mobility issues when we disembarked on deck 5 why? Le Club was far too small to handle the numbers. Wheel chairs and people were spilling over into the ‘Art Gallery’ blocking other passenger’s access to other parts of the ship. Lifts in Atrium have limited space and availability to transport people back down to 5. Even with notices on the lifts to say ‘only for people with mobility issues’ these were being ignored by other ‘able bodied’ passengers. Finally we got of the ship at 11:30!!! This was well after an announcement over the ships Tanoy to say ‘all passengers had disembarked and ship was clear and ready’? The team organising and transporting people was ‘very poor’, no communication and when they did speak you could not hear what they were saying. There were a large number of extremely unhappy dissatisfied people in Le Club Deck 7. This was a dreadful end to a disaster of a cruise.
How many stars would I give this cruise: ‘0’ for P&O with ‘5+’ for Waiters and our Cabin Steward.
Overall I have to say ‘never ever again’ will we grace a P&O ship or Cruise as it was one of the worst experiences we have had in our lives. This experience was not as per the images portrayed in the many adverts P&O have for this type of holiday.