We landed back in Edinburgh on 21 December to a gloomy misty Edinburgh morning and frankly wanted to turn around and go back to Athens and the lovely Adonia ...
Like many others we paid very little for this cruise, though we had to book it late and so missed on the balcony cabins. I should note that while we have cruised on many a ferry and other cruise lines, this was our first with P&O cruises.
Flights : we had a 22kg checked baggage allowance and a 10kg hand baggage allowance on our jet2 flight. The flight to Venice was was unremarkable, food service was slow, but we had a reasonable lunch, including free wine. Apparently some people at the back of the plane didn't actually receive their lunch. The return flight from Athens was delayed by two hours, and so some folk apparently missed onward connections. It was not a particularly comfortable flight, and there was a problem with the coffee and tea (there was none). The stewardesses were also not at all helpful with some of the elderly passengers who had mobility issues. Arriving at Gatwick, again there was a considerable delay with getting our luggage, as the conveyor had broken down.
Baggage handling : there was none, I had asked P&O staff at checkin at Gatwick about this, they said we would have to get luggage from the airport to the coach but after that the luggage would be taken care of. This was not the case, we had to take the luggage from the coach to the ship, and the same on return (not actually onto the ship , to the quayside next to the ship). This was a bit of a struggle for many.
Our cabin : D7, forward starboard. Very comfortable, in good decorative order, small sofa, fridge, tv, window. Very small bathroom. Adequate storage for a fortnight. Not a lot of room for our cases. Very well kept.
Restaurants : we ate mainly in the main restaurant for dinner, my husband likes a bit of napery. Service was good, food was often very good. Very 'British' food, unadventurous but in keeping with the mainly British clientele. Indian food 'toned down' and served in the British manner, with mango chutney at all times !!!! We also had a meal in 'Sorrento' and really enjoyed it, again unpretentious Italian food suited to the British palate. Good service. Good value for an additional Â£5.
We had breakfast both in the buffet and the main restaurant, ditto lunch and afternoon tea. By the end of the cruise, we thought that the same food offered in the main restaurant was usually better (this may be an illusion).
Entertainment : this was certainly varied, and on the whole better than we had expected, certainly better than the last couple of cruises we had done with other cruises lines with mainly British clientele (all of them). The pop duo Soft Ice were quite good, though we were forced to leave every time they accepted a request by another couple to play Lady in Red, one has to draw the line somewhere. We also enjoyed the rather elderly soul singer Clem Curtis, the violin duo playing light classical, and the pianist Marco Fatichenti. The Adonia, like other ships of a similar size, does not have a theatre but a cabaret lounge, and is suited to more intimate performances, rather than large Broadway style shows. I guess my main complaint would be that the style was largely aimed at people 80 + : there was much less suitable for people in younger age brackets. I had the feeling that the performers being quite young, thought everyone over 50 was ancient and would like the Andrews sisters ! There was quite a lot of ballroom dance music of the 1940's and very few dancers.
There were several speakers, I enjoyed David Steele's talk, mainly consisting of dropping some very famous names ! There were several interesting talks for ship enthusiasts by Ken Vard. Port presentations were only prerecorded, not live, and available on tv in your cabin. There were interminable quizzes, of the pre-made commercial variety.
Facilities : really very good for a ship of her size. Lovely library, well stocked, internet terminals. Steam room and gym also very good, decent size in both. Very small pool. Adequate laundry.
itinerary : this is what attracted us to the cruise in the first place. There were several changes before we set sail to the itinerary, we were original flying to and boarding in Trieste but this was changed for maintenance operations (more on this later). We flew to Venice and had two nights there. There was also a change from Hvar to Split. Venice was excellent, we were docked at the cruise port and took the people mover (1 euro) to piazzale roma, where we got a day ticket for the vaporetti (16 euro) and spent the day getting around by vaporetti. There was a much more expensive launch available next to the ship for a transfer to and from san marco for 26 euro. Next Koper, again we enjoyed this port, historic town of interest mainly for Venetian architecture. Then Split, an anchor port. Very pretty seafront, interesting architecture and friendly locals. Slightly choppy on the return, I gather many P&O passengers not used to a bouncy boat, we regard it as a bonus !
Then Katakalon for Olympia, here we took the excursion and it proved excellent, good guide, interesting site and museum, and plenty of time at both, and no carpet/batik/intaglio/jewellery shops ! Then lovely Nauplion, again an anchor port, friendly locals, good archeological museum. Bari was also very interesting and worth the visit. Next time we would do the excursion to the Trulli houses I think. Istanbul was fascinating as usual. We made our own way to St Saviour in Chora, a lovely Byzantine church with better kept murals than Agia Sofia, and also some ferries, unfortunately not much time for shopping (a plot by my husband I think).
We missed Lesbos due to the weather, but by this stage I was needing a small rest so was not too bothered. Kusadasi : we had booked the excursion to Ephesus as this was our main reason for booking the cruise. Ephesus did not disappoint, it is amazing, however the excursion certainly did. we had only an hour at Ephesus, and our tour guide's main interest was in getting us to the carpet shop at the end of the tour, which took up the half hour (at least) that we could have had at Ephesus. Needless to say, we decamped and went back to the ship for lunch. I thought this excursion represented poor value, and I would recommend against booking it. There were taxis available at the quay.
Rhodes : lovely Rhodes, was sunny, we took the hop on hop off bus (9 euros) and walked up the old town from the ship (about 10 minutes). Wonderful.
Santorini was missed due to the wind, many passengers were very sad about this. Apparently this is quite common with Santorini.
We returned to Athens and were disembarked for our coach to the airport at 11.45. We sat outside at a cafe in the sun for a good long while.
Other stuff : the ship had a problem with hydraulics/bow thrusters/hull : we were never told by P&O precisely what was wrong and various passengers assured us of these different (or part of the same ?) problem/s that required examination by divers in Venice and possibly also prevented us getting into some ports. It would have been better for the Captain to clarify the issue rather than have rumours about there being a problem with the hull flying around the ship.
Coffee : generally poor, even the paid for stuff. Like going back to the 70s, surely P&O could get someone in from Costa (the coffee company not the cruise line) to sort this out ?