On reflection I wish we had upgraded our seats on the flight. Eight hours is a long time to sit in cramped economy conditions. Admittedly there were tv's but we had seen all the films on offer. We were given two meals, one a cooked chicken meal and the second a picnic style box. Neither meal was particularly alluring. There were free alcoholic and soft drinks available and I noted how many people took full advantage of this.
The plane was met on the tarmac by coaches that took us straight to the port which was great as it meant no queueing or waiting for luggage. Our luggage followed on 2-3 hours later.
On the drive to the port we were eagerly looking out at our first sight of Barbados, which I will admit was dissapointing. I was expecting something akin to a tropical island and here I was looking at a lot of shanty's. There seemed to be a lot of rubbish lying around and old cars left that had rusted and had weeds growing through them.
The ship which could be seen from quite a distance looked and was beautiful. It was huge and embarkation was so easy, no waiting around, we had to fill in a form before we boarded then straight on to air conditioned luxury.
Our cabin was very clean with lots of storage space, window, compact but pristine bathroom. Also there was a kettle, tea, coffee, sugar and milk and biscuits, very welcome if we woke early or wanted a late drink.
We washed quickly and set off to explore our floating hotel. It was actually quite easy to find our way around. The ship was really well equipped, bright and airy and sparkling.
We had dinner, a lovely meal (I opted for the fish) and sat at a table for two for the first evening. One more walk round and exhausted we unpacked and went to bed.
The breakfast menu was a delight, so much choice and if you wanted something other than on the menu it didnt seem to be a problem. The only problem I encountered was that it was difficult to specify which flavour yoghurt I wanted. I hate strawberry and that seemed to be the most popular flavour so after two mornings I gave up trying to get a pineapple or blueberry flavour and opted instead for hash browns, fied egg and baked beans........less healthy but equally delicious. There was the option of tea/coffee, juice and iced water.
There were 2 swimming pools one had a wave machine.....excellent. There were lots of sun loungers but of course there were the typical 'hoarding' so this made the days at sea difficult to get a sunbed. However there were tables and chairs to choose from. No difficulty getting a drink which were inexpensive in all the bars apart from 21. We didnt use this bar but were told the drinks were pricier.
At dinner we shared a table for 6. Fortunately our dinner companions were very very amiable and for the two weeks we all got on extremely well. We have cruised before and had nightmare dinner companions.
Dinner each night (we chose second sitting) was well cooked, well presented and absolutely delicious with a varied choice of 3 appetisers, 2 soups, 4 main meals and several desserts. We were also offered cheese and biscuits and coffee or tea.
The entertainment was really good, most bars offering music and the Playhouse theatre offering very good variety entertainment. On deck 16 there was an outside cinema screen.
There was a varied entertainment all day programme which you either joined in with or lazed around like we did. A well equipped gym and spa and beauty treatment area also.
There was a choice venues for lunch, most days we opted for the buffet lunch restaurant. There was a huge choice of salads, fish, cold meats, hot food and desserts. This was a very informal lunch and if this wasnt sufficient there was a further choice of burgers and chips or pizza on the open deck.
We found the excursions arranged by P & O very expensive and were happier getting off the ship at each port and taking local transport or a taxi to do some sightseeing. The beaches were sublime, white sand, blue seas and vendors selling beer and soft drinks. Prices varied depednding how far you were prepared to walk. The nearest vendor to the sunbeds and parasol hire were more expensive than the ones a few hundred yards along the beach. It was definately worth comparing.
We took three trips on local buses costing $20 each for around a 2 hour trip. We went to the rainforest and a beautiful Botanical garden. There were free rum punches or soft drinks on offer and the guides had excellent local knowledge.
I will admit that each port and local town we visited were shabby, dirty and rundown and so dissapointing. The pavements and roads were a minefield of deep potholes and uneven surfaces and quite dangerous in places as the kerbs were so high a jump was necessary to get down to the road. However the people were friendly and helpful. The shops were blissfully air conditioned.