started with a drive to Southampton chronic traffic between the car park and ship the so called 10 min journey took over an hour. the check in was very efficient and fairly quick.Nothing on board to eat except tea/cakes until dinner. our cabin was an inside on deck 12 well appointed but a little smaller than princess/celebrity. On the 1st night out a great deal of banging/clanging from midnight complained to the desk engineer sent up to listen they said they would come back to us. We had to go back to them to find out that there was indeed a problem that they were trying to resolve apparently one of the securing brackets had broken we were given a key to another inside cabin on deck 5 to enable us to sleep (apparently the only empty cabin on the ship). we were told that if it could not be fixed that they would move us to this cabin. this is what happened. We agreed with the chief of customer services suitable compensation.
The ports of call were Madeira/la palma/grand canaria/tenerife/lisbon/vigo free shuttle buses were provided where necessary at all the ports which was a welcome change from some of the other cruise lines. we chose to do our own thing at all the destinations.there are tourist offices at all the stops and getting around and getting information is easy.
The ship is brand new this was her second voyage after all the hype we found it disappointing in many ways. The central atrium is the smallest we have encountered on any ship (this was our 12th ship.)they use deck 5 as a dancing area for reasons only known to p&o. the library is small and doubles as an internet room the shops are ok but the whole area is congested with people who hang around watching the dancers below. The casino is very small and poorly equipped compared to other ships. there are 3 show areas the main theatre is excellent with no drinks tables or service. the other 2 however are badly thought out they are in reality bars with small stages and dancing areas the seating is organised in such a way that half the seats face away from the stage anything going on that attracts a crowd it is very difficult to find space to sit. there are 3 pools none are covered (BAD MISTAKE) an outside big screen showing films an adults only retreat(you pay extra 10 pounds on sea days) there are no decks at all that you can walk all the away around the ship. the pool areas are well equipped with sun loungers.
Food: We opted for freedom dining there is one main restaurant allocated to you where the food is of excellent quality although the portions are very small you can of course ask for more. The buffets on deck 15 are great for breakfast although there is far fewer options compared to princess or celebrity but the lunchtime is abysmal not even up to the standard of a works canteen there is the option of pizza and hamburgers which are fine but it does involve a 50 yard trek if you wish to join your partner inside or to get tea /coffee /dessert. afternoon tea is served in one of the restaurants and is excellent. the speciality restaurants are sindu and seventeen we opted for seventeen which was exceptional and worth the 20 pound supplement. also at night one of the buffets is transformed into an Italian dining option which is very good quality.overall with the notable exception of lunch as good as any others and better than some. Entertainment: The main shows (5) performed by what they call the headliners theatre company were simply spectacular the best we have seen afloat they are as good as you will get in the west end of London.
there were comedians all were very good as were the various singers pianists etc. We attended lectures that were interesting and well presented the only problem was the venue malibar with its lack of suitable seating. there were various other things throughout the day no lack of something to do.
Notes: The usual problems of being pestered to buy drinks and pose for photographs got on our nerves the photos are expensive too. The crowd was very elderly indeed we are approaching 60 but were young compared to most on this cruise.The entertainment staff lead by director Neil Oliver were good.the weather was very mixed not much sunshine unfortunately the sea was however mainly calm.disembarkation was quick and efficient.
Overall opinion: We feel that the ship has sacrificed a great deal of public space for cabins. as stated for such a big ship the central atrium is inadequate other cruise ships offer more and better facilities.