We embarked at Southampton and the chaos started. Our cabins weren't ready and everyone was directed to the orangery The self service orangery was chaos as everyone searched for the cutlery. We waited for the queue to die down a little at the indoor Bar-b-Que only to see them pack it away.
This was a bit of a surprise for me as virtually all the food disappeared with the exception of sandwiches (which I can't eat) The place was far too chaotic to ask someone so I went for my self sufficiency supplies. We sailed around 5pm and went down to discover our cabin.
Having booked the most basic inside cabin it was a good standard, well designed, sensible, everything worked, the shower was fairly good, the waterworks were quiet and we could not hear the cabin next door. there was enough room to unpack and loose our cases. there was only one uk mains socket and no US sockets. there was a fridge , hair drier and quiet kettle.
The main restaurant was OK and I was given the menu the night before by the head waiter. I selected foods that should be easier to make gluten free. The next night they would appear with 1/2 of the food removed. Each night I got a gluten free roll, they had Gluten free crackers for the cheese., however the cheese was bland and they were stingy. The general standard of the food was disappointing. We went on QM" last year and almost every plate deserved a photograph. This was not the case on P&O.
The Orangery was very hard work, noisy , it didn't flow. The food lacked taste, roast potatoes were cooked but weren't crisp. bacon was cooked but not in a pan. The curries were super mild, much of the fruit was tinned. The puddings were the same each day and the cutlery kept running out. Fruit juce was poorly diluted from concentrate and was taken away at 12 noon. Waiters would pounce on you as soon as your plate hit the table to sell you drinks.
as a gluten free person all I could eat out of the puddings was fruit and green jelly.... for 18 days! breakfast bacon eggs, mushrooms. Tinned fruit and nuts. cheese (no gluten free crackers up here, or bread no one had time to assist) QM2 has pre labeled diabetic and gluten free food , bread + fresh orange juice all day/night.
To compare this with QM2 the self service are was far more efficient, much better food. more choice
Fruit tea, caffeine free teas , specialty teas were removed outside meal times. There was no fresh milk.
I went to the formal breakfast in the Medina restaurant and it was quite good. the English breakfast and the omelets with salmon was nice. My other half had to ask three times for fruit juice rather than tea/coffee
The afternoon tea was the same. as everyone tucked into their second scone or tea cake I was sat there like a lemon waiting for a choice of 3 gluten free cakes and a biscuit to come my way.
The chocolate tea event was amazing and I did have a choice of gluten free or diabetic chocolate temptations. I could only try one gluten free sample or my sugar levels would have gone through the ceiling. some people had 4 choc cakes and a puddle of chocolate plus fruit kebabs dipped in chocolate. It was a great show.
The Sidewalk cafe served sandwiches, pizza, chips and baked potatoes. the baked spuds and chips were very nice.
The Bordeaux cafe was very nice but the menu is a little limited once you take the bread and pastries out of the menu. This was the only eatery open at night and the waiters took you to the seats. It was better on QM2, thee was an insomniacs club that gathered in the self service area at night and just chatted. There was more of a buzz.
The Ship its self was well designed with one exception. there was only one set of doors from the sun deck & pool to the orangery restaurant. on our north Atlantic cruise it caused huge problems with gales racing through the eatery. One hilarious moment was watching people reverse through the sliding doors with all clothing flapping like they were doing a parachute jump and their salad blowing down the walkway.
We his force 9 winds with 5m seas and the ship was very stable. possibly more stable than the larger QM2.
The cruise itself was good with an interesting itinerary. the entertainment was mixed. We had excellent classical musicians and some theater and very weak magician who has apparently been doing the same act for 10 years.
This cruise was going somewhere I wanted to go. We got a last minute deal. however if I had paid full price I would have been angry. It was not fine dining. QM2 was a whole lot better Tony