My husband and I booked this cruise as a last minute trip as it was the only one that fit our time frame. We have previously cruised with Princess and had a little bit of trepidation about going P&O.
Embarkment - Getting to White Bay was easy, we were met at the airport by the P&O shuttle staff. We arrived at White Bay at about 11.30am and were on board by noon which was fantastic. First impressions of the ship were okay, it's much smaller than the Sea Princess and not as visually attractive on first entering the atrium.
Cabin - We had cabin 10244 and decided to go and check out our room straight away. It was better than we were expecting and found it more spacious than the Sea Princess and with a better layout. I was disappointed with the balcony - it was a whole cut into the ship so if you were sitting out there was not a chance of seeing any water. Bed was reasonably comfortable, found the pillows much to soft for our liking. The bathroom was fine also, shower was spacious and good water pressure.
Ship - As mentioned we found it smaller than we were expecting and a bit of a poor layout. One of the biggest annoyances I had was the top deck and the lack of seating. There was an over proportinate amount of chairs allocated to smokers which was frustrating. There was also a lack of pools and spas. The pools were absolutely freezing, and one of the spas was cold as well. The ship felt a little tired and outdated, particularly the Marquee - I found the layout ridiculous in this venue, and the seats hugely uncomfortable. We did enjoy the dome area and found it quite a comfortable spot to relax in with the a drink.
Food - Overall, I was disappointed with the food. The Plantation (buffet) was awful, it was all cold and stodgy and not at all appealing. The Grill was another disappointment, and paying for pizza an odd notion. We had lunch at the Salt Grill and was thrilled with our meals - well worth the money. The Waterfront was hit and miss, I had two meals I couldn't eat, and the rest was average (but far better alternative than the buffet). Loved the New Zealand ice cream, just a shame it was $5 a scoop.
Entertainment - The shows and performances was something that I thought P&O really excelled at over Princess. I loved the acrobatic shows, we also had a few guest comedians which were quite funny. Enjoyed Bingo, sadly I didn't win, but I can't hold that against them. There wasn't much to do during the day unless you enjoyed drinking games. Another thing I missed on the Jewel was MUTS - on the Jewel it felt like the top deck was allocated for the parties etc etc.
Moreton Island - Long tender ride, which was rough. I would hate to do it during winter. Overall the island was nice, but nothing we haven't seen before. It was good to have a port though so it wasn't just a cruise to nowhere. I went on the eco marine tour, which was okay and we saw a few sea creatures and the price was reasonable. Hubby did the ATV tour and said it was very basic and he was rather bored.
Overall impressions - we enjoyed our cruise and made the most of what was on offer. Don't go on expecting the world and just enjoy yourself. We probably won't cruise P&O again as it wasn't really what we were after.