We arrived in Barbados to a quick and speedy departure from the airport and straight to the ship. Didn't have to go through customs or anything, straight onto the bus and straight to the ship, this was a bonus and not what we had been used to. Quite a queue when we got to the ship but to be expected as we had all just got off the plane.
For first time cruisers it was spectacular going through the atrium to get to their cabins.
Unfortunately on arrival at our cabin we were terribly disappointed, the bathroom and the cabin were dirty and also the fridge. We had to ring housekeeping for our cabin steward to come and clean our cabin - we could not have stayed in this cabin if it had not been thoroughly cleaned. Even when it had been re-cleaned we cleaned door handles etc., ourselves as we couldn't be sure.
Our first experience of the Plaza buffet was also disappointing as there were only minimal dishes and food available and thought if this was the state of things to come it was going to be very disappointing after our last 4 cruises (all on Princess) and not what we were used to. We went along to our safety drill and then retired to bed as the whole family were really tired (2 children also).
The next day things looked rather better apart from the weather (raining) in Mayreau. We went to the restaurant for the first time and had a wonderful first class meal.
We had actually been on this ship before when it was Ocean Princess a couple of years ago, so knew our way fairly well around the ship.
The children joined the Children's Centre which was excellent and all the staff. This year they were in two separate groups (aged 11 and 8) so their clubs finished at different times. Our whole experience of the children's centre was fantastic. They were entertained, dined, taken to the theatre etc,. etc., all in all they had a magnificent time on the ship the whole 2 weeks.
Our restaurant was the Adriatic dining room and every meal we took there was fantastic as well as our two waiters Joe and Chan - they could not have made our experience any better than they did.
The Plaza did improve after the first nights experience and we put that down to the fact that it was the first night. The themed buffets that we attended (ie. seafood, chocolate and Mexican and Indian) were all magnificent and we truly enjoyed them.
All in all we had a fantastic holiday. We have been used to cruising with Princess and this was the first time with P&O. The themed buffets were excellent, meals excellent, children's facilities excellent. The poolside and ship hygiene was not in the same league as the Princess ships and this was very noticeable to us.
It was wonderful not having to pay 15% tax on all drinks etc. but we did miss the children's drink voucher enabling children to unlimited soft drinks - perhaps this is something P&O should think about.
Might I just mention that Thomas Cook airlines who transported us on our flights were excellent. There were a few experiences with illness on our flight home and they looked after passengers in a fantastic and professional way.
Cafe Jardin (snack bar) we used a lot especially with the children and found it a great experience.
If anyone has any questions please feel free to email me about the ship. All in all a wonderful holiday.