Upon arrival at Southampton our car was expertly and efficiently booked in and whisked away, but not before we had taken our luggage out, which too was quickly wheeled away. A very short walk took us into the new Ocean Terminal, pleased to see plenty of seats, toilets and refreshments to buy. We were allocated a letter but judging by the numbers of people at the terminal expected a long wait - however within 40 minutes we were in our cabin!
We were pleasantly surprised to find very spacious accommodation, considering the bed was king sized. We had a lovely large window, an area with fridge and a box with a selection of coffees, teas, milks, biscuits, very acceptable! Regarding the flat screen tv, the interactive selection could be improved. Shower, toilet and basin with toiletries all supplied . The wardrobe was open style with no door, you just had to be careful if your OH was coming out of the toilet that you weren't standing in the wrong place at the wardrobe, could be a painful collision...
We had booked a table for eight at fixed dining of 6.30pm. Our table companions were lovely and entertaining, we had fun time at meals! The food was very acceptable, hardly any nigglements from eight people over fourteen days. We ate in the buffet in the day, we didn't feel the need to pay a supplement to eat in an exclusive restaurant.
There was plenty of entertainment, the Headliners were excellent, professional, energetic and sleek, they did ten different shows in fourteen nights. Most of the other entertainment was good. Our cruise was a Tate Themed one and most days we went to lectures about various artists, extremely enjoyable.
We called at seven ports, staying overnight in St Petersburg. We found all of the ports different, some more enjoyable than others but none were disappointing. The Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo was amazing, so was the Hermitage Museum, the cossack dancers and St Peter & Paul Fortress in St Petersburg. Many memories will stay with me.
Life onboard ran very smoothly, we enjoyed exploring, we think P & O have got it down to a fine art now. One complaint is that they need more ladies toilets outside the theatre, the queues were unacceptable at times. There was plenty of space within the toilet area to install two more toilets.
P & O did their best with additional signage to help guide you around but I think with time you work it all out in the end! I liked the Seascreen - outside television screen over one of the pools, although it was a bit wasted at times. I think maybe the timing of programmes clashed with dining.
On the whole we never found it too crowded on board - we tended to avoid 'peak' times and it was very easy to have a room service breakfast if you didn't 'want to face people' first thing! At other times you wondered where everyone was!
We didn't have children with us but we had a look around their facilities and thought they were excellent. We wished that when our children were young we could have taken them somewhere with such a marvellous play area with so much to do.
The cruise was as we expected, the cabin and restaurant staff were very nice and looked after us well, they work very hard.