We followed on from the previous party cruise where the entertainment had been good as was the food. We sat on our balcony in Southampton watching the party cruise gang get off whilst sipping champagne and looking forward to the cruise down to the Canaries. That evening we went down to the restaurant to meet our new table. Food order placed, we sat back and got ready for another good meal. Oh what a disappointment.'New Menu' we were advised as the latest culinary fashion from P&O arrived. Plonk it on a plate and serve it with a brown gravy. Three thin slices of meat, six green beans and a slab of 'sliced potato baked with cream'. This was repeated every time we went to the main restaurant with the exception of the 'Marco' menu on gala night when we were treated to 2 vegetables. Fine dining, no, back to the sad days of school dinners, yes. The only way to get good quality food and presentation is to pay to eat in the select restaurants where the service is the way it used to be on P&O.
Then came the entertainment (with a small e). Nothing but stars in their eyes also rans and fresh from drama school headliners. The one saving grace was a 'Columbian' magician/comedian who was well worth seeing. To be fair to the entertainers, the quality of the sound engineering and acoustics probably had more to do with the lackluster shows than the entertainers efforts. We couldn't even enjoy the casino as the tables were always full and the machines have been fitted with a new electronic device that reads your cruise card before you can play or draw winnings. Being in the IT profession I am more than aware of the possibilities of having people effectively log in to gambling machines. Try card counting in a casino and you will soon be asked to leave but facilitate monitoring how often a punter wins or how much they bet and that is fine, after all, it's the casino rules.
The final joy of P&O cruises was removed after a visit to the spa for a relaxing massage. The hard sell on products would be the pride of any time share shark. Having had to refuse the already prepared bag of goodies and the £90 bill I then had to contact the spa a few days later to get them to refund the charge I had not signed for. The planned additional visits to the spa were shelved. I get enough stress from salesmen at work, I don't need it when I am trying to relax.
This cruise left me with such a bad taste in my mouth that I did not take out the usual FCD (future cruise deposit) and I doubt I will sail with P&O again. After over 10 years of loyal cruising the cost cutting, service cutting, staff cutting and quality cutting have reduced this to a very expensive Butlins at sea experience. As a shareholder I should be pleased they are trying to up my dividend but I would far rather P&O watched their old 'heritage' videos and presentations and remembered their roots. Until they do it will be alternative cruise lines and holidays for me.