Stayed at Novotel prior to the cruise - highly recommended. Car parking was efficient and effortless, very well organised. Baggage sorted quickly. Check-in less than perfect, we went to the priority desk only to be told to join the main line - they obviously thought that we were not suite customers. Some embarrassment later, we were checked in quickly and taken to the front of the next queue. Chastised for not having signed my cruise card, and the people we queue jumped in front of were apologised to for us 'having to be let in'. Clearly paying through the nose for a suite means nothing with P+O.
Suite was excellent. Butler (Andrew) very good; one minor problem resolved. Suite was worth every penny.
Drinks etc quite inexpensive. Food was good (variety etc), but the noise in the formal restaurants unacceptable, there are service points all over and they have cupboards that slam loudly - I kid you not, it will drive you bonkers. The White Room was good but nothing special (note that suite guests can have breakfast there)
Children clubs were excellent - no fault at all. Kids absolutely loved them.
Entertainment was good. Trips good, not cheap, but they never are.
BUT, and this is the surprising thing, with the exception of 1 or 2 members of staff, they were utterly miserable. No smiles, no hello, no conversation. I concluded that it was the lack of tipping culture responsible. This level of poor service must be sanctioned by P+O as it is widespread. It really did let down the entire experience, and if P+O execs read reviews like this it should be addressed urgently.
Having said that we had a good holiday. But I would not really recommend it having had such positive experiences with Royal Caribbean, and would not do it again - the only reason being poor service.