Pre cruise accommodation:
We stayed at Southampton city Travelodge. It was cheap (Â£19), clean, and did the job but not really the nicest of hotels and pretty noisy with road traffic.
I used www.parkatmyhouse.com and that worked out perfectly. I left my car in someone's parking space just a few mins drive from the port. It cost Â£41 for 11 days parking and Â£5 each way in a taxi so good value overall.
Amazingly smooth and swift. We arrived at 10:45am, straight through to check in and through security (no queues), and were boarding at 11am. Couldn't fault it.
Once of my cases was broken when it arrived, they tried to repair it but couldn't so they reimbursed me $75 to purchase another.
On a happier note, my cans of coke and boxes of Capri Suns made it on with no problem!
We booked cabin 2598 which was a cheaper grade of outside cabin, on deck 2 mid ship. Despite my reservations it was perfectly located, close to aft lifts, only one flights of stairs to disembark at port stops meaning no queuing for lifts, only 2 flights to MDR (Macbeth). No noise at all from anywhere.
The cabin itself was great - clean, well equipped, and the bed with memory foam mattress topper was very comfy.
Within the first day or so I noticed a couple of little flies in the cabin and thought nothing of it after swatting them, over the next few days I noticed a couple more so mentioned it to GR (guest relations) who had someone come to look. They said they wanted me to move cabins, they assured me the flies were harmless (they looked like tiny fruit flies) but said it was best for us to move. We moved to the same grade of cabin in the same corridor (cabin 2676) and once again this was fine, well equipped, clean etc. A tiny bit more noise as it was aft and low down so a few clunky sounds at night sometimes but nothing major.
Staff helped to move all of my stuff, and GR paid for $100 worth of photos for me after asking if there was anything they could do to thank me for my understanding and patience. I was really pleased as I hadn't complained or asked for anything.
Overall really impressed. The first cabin steward was a little reserved and not so chatty but the second one (Adolf Howard) was lovely, very smiley and did a great job.
Our MDR waiter was a lady called Hazel, she was lovely throughout the cruise and worked very hard.
GR were fab, very efficient and amazing consistency, remembering names and what the issue was without checking notes -which considering how many people they must deal with is pretty amazing.
All other staff we encountered were helpful, friendly and very hard working. They all did an amazing job putting in a lot of extra time to help with the extra cleaning after the Noro outbreak.
Really enjoyed all of it and consumed LOTS!
For breakfast we went to Windjammer some mornings, room service a few times and a couple of times just grabbed a pastry or two from the promenade cafe if we'd woke late.
Lunch was sometimes at WJ, sometimes we ate in port, and also had a couple of trips to Jonny Rockets which was great. The atmosphere is really fun and my son loved it!
Dinner in MDR was excellent each night. The only point I'd raise is that sometimes it was hard to know from the description exactly what the meal would be like. On our last cruise with P&O they had a display cabinet on the way in with the desserts on show, which would be fab on IOS too as you would know which was which on the menu.
We were lucky in that we had really lovely dinner companions and each evening was just lovely, lots of laughing and chatting -it made the time fly by and I felt genuinely sad saying goodbye to them all.
I have to say we never had any trouble getting a seat in WJ as some people mention they did in their reviews. Whether this is because there was just the two of us, or because sometimes we ate later than usual I don't know but we always found somewhere to sit.
Overall thought it was excellent. We only caught 3 of the theatre shows which was the motown one, hypnotist and Big Top show. All were very good, but hypnotist was a firm favourite with me and my son!
We saw resident band 'Rock the Boat' play a couple of times in the Pyramid lounge, they were pretty good as background but I wouldn't have gone out of my way to just go and listen to them.
The ice show is not to be missed -absolutely brilliant.
The Quest is another DO NOT MISS show, very very funny and such a great atmosphere, just make sure you get there in good time as there wasn't even any standing room!
We joined in with some of the family activities which ran at about 8:15pm and had things such as family bingo, family wii contests etc, they also had a couple during the day on sea days. The photo scavenger hunt was really good fun. I would have liked more of these but they didn't get promoted as much as other activities so there was often a low turnout even on a full ship.
There was an impromptu deck party in Gran Canaria as we were docked next to the Thomson Destiny so the cruise director decided to show them how to party! It was good fun and everyone got into the swing of it, some very funny comments from Joff over the tannoy asking where their ice rink was and pointing out their dirty chimney stacks etc!
My son went some of the time but not every single day and generally only for an hour or so. They seemed very well run, staff were friendly and security was very tight.
The clubs were pretty busy with there being 400 kids on board and I think my son actually preferred the exclusivity he had previously on Oriana as there were only 17 kids on board so they all gelled really well and got to know the staff much better, but I guess that's just his personal preference.
Ship facilities: We really enjoyed being able to try the rock wall, mini golf, ice skating etc. The pools were great, we were in them 9 days out of the 11! The public areas were really well thought out with lots of places to explore and all of them were well designed and finished beautifully.
I didn't use the ships wifi as it was just so expensive, instead I made the most of the free wifi at most of the ports.
Port reviews below, apart from La Coruna: We were pretty tired and work had caught up with me so we only hopped off so I could do a quick hour of work in the shopping centre next to the port (free wifi). We then spent the afternoon enjoying the quietness on the ship and getting around to doing mini golf and climbing wall etc.
Not too bad, we chose the latest slot of 9:15am so we left the cabin just before 8:30 for breakfast and then waited in our allocated area (MDR) until called to leave. It was a bit hectic getting cases but nothing too bad and we were out and waiting for a taxi by 9:30am.
Really impressed. Had a great holiday, met fantastic people and can't wait to do it again sometime soon I hope.