Let me start by saying that overall the cruise was very enjoyable. We were due to fly from Gatwick at 8.00am on December 20th but the flight was pushed back until 4.30, so having arrived at Gatwick the night before we didn't bother going to the airport until midday. Once checked in we popped up to the Executive lounge to relax until the flight was called. When 4.30 came around, the information board informed us that there would be more information by 5.30pm. When 5.30 came with no new information, we decided to go the information desk where we were informed that nearly all of the P&O passengers had been taken to a hotel for an overnight stay as the plane had been cancelled and would now be departing the next day. Being in the lounge there had been no announcement of this.
I must clarify that the plane was cancelled not because of the snow but because of a 'technical issue' with the plane that was due to fly down from Manchester to collect us.
After waiting two hours in the main departure lounge for a Thomas Cook representative to lead us out, we were helped by an airport operative who took us to the luggage claim to collect our cases and take us to the Thomas Cook desk in the arrivals hall. Once there, we were met by a very unhelpful chap called 'Mike' and when we informed him of what had happened he simply dismissed us by saying 'the other 300 passengers managed to hear the announcement so I don't get why you didn't'. Very helpful after waiting eight hours in an airport!!
It would have been helpful if there had been a P&O representative at the airport to coordinate and ensure that all passengers had left the airport to go to the hotel.
We arrived at the hotel around 9pm, but had an alarm call for 4am the next morning with the flight due to leave at 9.15am.
Well, we did board the plane at around 9.15...but had to wait another two hours before taking off, so we were on the plane for a total of 17 hours!! Bit of a killer!
We missed the day in Acapulco, which was a shame.
The cabin (outside with a balcony) was fine, and kept nice and tidy and clean by the attendant. The public area's on the ship were good, clean and well maintained.
The food was good throughout the two weeks, and at one point I felt a little sorry for one of the waiters in the plaza grill as one of the other English passengers was having a go at him for taking away the cooked tomatoes five minutes before breakfast was due to finish.
The Marco Pierre White restaurant was a good experience with fantastic food, simple but very good. The only gripe about Cafe De Jardin is that it is a little dated. It could do with being a bit more contemporary as the dEcor does not meet the expectation of a MPW restaurant.
We also booked the Horizon Grill, which is alfresco dining, for an evening meal. We were all looking forward to this but our table of nine ended in walking out of the restaurant due to the noise of the band directly below the dining area. It was impossible to hold any kind of conversation. With the deck being empty, it mystified us as to why the band were playing in the first place!! Three of us rebooked the Horizon Grill for another night and again it was a bit of disaster, this time is was due to service, with simple orders being mixed up and sent back. Shame really, as the setting is very nice.
The Panama canal was excellent, Nicaragua was also good and the Caribbean islands are always good. St Maarten in particular is the place to invest in Cigarettes and alcohol!
Overall, the cruise was very good and after a day or two on board we had forgotten about the debacle of getting there.