Pre-Cruise Flew from Durham Tees Valley to Southampton on Sunday. Less than 3 hours from home to hotel. Pre-booked taxi at Southampton, waiting when we arrived - very slick. Stayed for 2 nights at Novotel, clean, convenient and good value. Dinner in the hotel on Sunday but too long a wait on Monday so walked across to the 'golden arches'. Monday visited friends in Cowes via Red Jet - expensive for an adult, cheap for a senior!
Embarkation (Tuesday) Taxi from hotel at 12:15, bit slow through the traffic, allocated green X and waited about 25 minutes to be called to check in then about another 25 minutes to clear check-in, photographer and security to board ship. Lunch in buffet - not as busy I expected and easy to join others at a large table.
Cabin Inside cabin forward on Barbados Deck; functional and clean just like Ventura and Princess Grand Class Ships. Set up as twin, much more usable space than as a double.
Dining We had selected freedom dining for this cruise to guarantee the Meridian restaurant in the centre of the ship. Dined in Meridian on four nights. No wait on any evening, always happy to share, arrived at various times from 7pm to 8.15pm. Three good tables, one dreadful when we shared with three others from one family, Very opinionated male who could only compare food service to fine dining restaurants which was a little unfair, had loads of other complaints which he should have known about if he'd read the brochure. He ruined our dinner that night and it was the black and white formal night - he had on a grey suit, straw trilby and sunglasses!!!! Have to say that food in main dining room was a little disappointing and in one area we weren't happy with the waiters - kept touching you or thrusting menu right in your face. Other areas were better. Two evenings we ate in the Trattoria - what a great experience; excellent service, interesting menu and excellent food. We also ate in XVII one evening - supplement for this cruise was £25pp. What can I say; a wonderful evening with superb food and superlative service, more than worth the supplement. Glasshouse: we had tapas in the glasshouse on the first sea day, this was very good. Buffet: generally ate breakfast and lunch here.Choice is a little limited compared to the American ships but generally OK. We usually had to join a table but never wandered around hunting.
Entertainment Attending two Headliners shows; both were enjoyable. Listened to various music ensembles, all good. Phil Collins impersonator was good first time and not so good second time around. Went to cooking demonstration by Atul Kulchar and wine talk by Olly Smith - both were personable and easy to listen to. Theatre was too full to get into Martin Lewis talk.
On board Only real disappointment of cruise was the complete lack of organisation when arriving at Port. We were late into Dublin and then Captain announced gangways were open when they weren't and there was a real scrum. I though the crew would have learnt from this but at Brest when again we were late it was even worse. No separation of those on excursions from others and the queue was huge to get off so some on excursions got very upset when they couldn't get off to get to their meet point at the right time. Why did P&O not meet the excursions in the theatre and use one gangway for excursions and one for everyone else???