By 12.15am every night the only place with any music playing was from a disc in the disco!All the bars closed down by before midnight or 12.30 in the Casino and the only place to get a drink was in the disco where there were never more than a couple of dozen people. And this was a Christmas Cruise!!!
After the last performances in the Footlights theatre and Starlights Lounge
ended at latest 11.30 the ship died. By midnight every night there were about 20 or so in the Yacht and Compass bar, most of 10 in the casino,and a handful of people dotted around the beautiful Atrium. With no drinks being served, no late night piano being played passengers went off to bed! Mind you the average age was well into the late 60s but even us older ones want a bit of sparkle and a late night chat/entertainment.
The Entertainment Team were brilliant and did their best to get some atmosphere going but they were thwarted mainly by the layout of the ship itself. With no large floor area, like a level show lounge or dance floor, it was not physically possible to engage a large enough gathering on one level floor, hence things like carol singing etc took place in the foot of the Atrium with passengers having to stand on different deck levels and on the stairs!
The speed of embarkation and disembarkation was very good. Our balcony cabin was by far the smallest we have ever had and the bathroom was crazily small. It was nigh impossible to turn round from the sink to the toilet to the shower or vice-versa. And if you wanted to partly dress in the bathroom, like put on your underwear, then you had to be a contortionist. The decor was fine and the service of the cabin steward was excellent.
The food generally was very good. As we have always tended to gear our eating round the shows, we take advantage of the buffet and this was on deck 14 with panoramic views. Whilst the food was very good, the ambiance also good, the two important things to me which let it down was 1.About 50/60% of the various foods/dishes on offer were not labelled and you had to guess what they were . 2...Very many times especially at dinner, the napkins were 1/2 ply cheap and nasty paper ones! Not good.The food in the main dining room was excellent as was the service. However, one evening we ate in the so called Marc Pierre White restaurant which was located on deck 8 in the Cafe Jardin. Lovely ambiance, wonderful quality service. There was a Â£6.50 supplement to dine there and then another supplement if one wanted the 21 day reared rib eye steak. Well I have had better down my local pub for Â£6.99, better taste, better cooked and better presented. Such a let down.
The entertainment generally was very good. Broken down into: duos, pianists, trios; guest artists and the Headliners Theatre Company. One particular duo was Serendipity who were very talented indeed. With Lyn playing the tenor and alto sax, the flute, the clarinet and can also play piano, guitar and bassoon. She also has a great voice too. Stewart on the keyboard and guitar was brilliant. The pianist were ok but nothing special and were not seen playing very much. Would have been lovely to have some late late night music or even a sing song, especially as this was billed as a Christmas Cruise.
The comedians on the first part of the cruise were pretty awful but another Steve Tandy was very good as was Maxime Mazunder who did a Lulu tribute one night and a Dusty Springfield another. A lovely voice . However the group of young guys and girls who were just fantastic were the Headliners Theatre Company. They performed six DIFFERENT shows over the 12 nights, playing three times on those nights. The energy was outstanding and the quality of the two main dancers Darren and ? was superb as were the vocalists. Each show as a knock-out and saved the day as far as the overall cruise was concerned.
The Cruise Director Leanne was lovely, so natural, so easy, so friendly and caring too. He Assistant Paul had a beautiful velvet voice when they did their spot one night, with him singing a Michael Buble number...great voice Paul.
The overall cleanliness of the ship was very good, but then the cleaners had a clear run from just after midnight!!!!
One slightly irritating thing was the slowness of the lifts. Somehow for most of the times we used them they were all either up or all down and a bit like the No.10 bus you wait for, for ages then two or three come along.
Now to the weather! Within about 12 hours of leaving Southampton we started to encounter very rough seas which gathered pace for almost 36 hours culminating in a Force 9/10. The ship became deserted with many passengers being frightened to venture out of their cabins for fear of falling. There were casualties and a cabin window blown in. A lot of sickness of course, but fortunately I was not affected and in fact I quite enjoyed the experience as this was the first time in some 20+ cruises when it has not been calm seas.
We only took one shore excursion and that was down to Playa de Americas in Tenerife. The other ports of call we did our own thing. P & O are very good with their shuttle buses as they do not charge for this useful service. The prices of drinks was very good compared to those on Royal Caribbean for example. P & O also play down the "gratuities" and have a very relaxed attitude towards tipping again compared to Royal Caribbean which thrust it at you several times in a cruise (One cruise of 10 nights on RCL the reminder about gratuities was mentioned 9 nights in the daily news letters, once by the cruise director and once by the two dining room waiters)...so well down P & O.
Overall we enjoyed the cruise, me more than my wife, as I wanted to escape Christmas as much as possible.