I have previously sailed with Royal Carribean (RCI) & so have reasonable expectations of service & style. Unfortunately my cruise last year on Pacific Dawn was a bit of a let down by comparrison.I sailed with my elderly mother & teenage daughter during the school holidays. & overall I just could not help but compare the two lines. P&O was left wanting in almost every capacity.
I felt the food on the Dawn in the cafe was on par with a very average club bistro, was consistently at a 'just' warm enough temperature, lacked continuity (ie bolognaise sauce, but then no spaghetti etc)& limited choice that would appeal to kids considering it was a school holiday cruise. The pool side set up for lunch was reasonable but limited again in choice for kids(IE not to many kids enjoyed the choice between prawn croissants or turkey & blue cheese wraps) nice by my standards but not theirs... so chips 'again' it was for many of them!
The dinning room, if you could manage to get in every night, had some good points but always either felt rushed or drawn out never a happy medium. Choices for a teenager were scarce. Meal sizes were inconsistent, at times poorly cooked & only just warm. In comparison to RCI, where every meal was an adventure served up by the most attentive of waiters, there is just no comparison. For the most part, with difficulty at times getting into the dinning room , & lack of variety in the bistro for dinner,I just always felt that I was being forced into paying the additional money at one of the 'exclusive' restaurants.
To go back to the topic of attentive service, this was another point of no comparison. The P&O staff for the most part just didn't seem to care if passengers were having a good time. Were at times quite rude & left you thinking even the most basic of requests was a huge inconvenience. Nothing like the diligence & attention to detail of all staff I came into contact with on RCI.
The entertainment was hit & miss. The circus was excellent, very talented & skilled individuals. The stage shows however left a lot to be desired. The singing & dancing was again fairly club like & seemed to lack imagination. The guest artists were OK I guess... if you were 70! I just wish cruise lines in general would keep up with their demographics. The passengers are not all 70 & would like some of the evening stage shows to be a little more updated with perhaps a more modern line up of music, not just the number 1 hits of the 50's!
Overall I was left with a bit of a sense of disappointment with it all. With so many cruise lines now choosing to service Australia & at generally comparative or lesser costs, P&O should really take a lesson in service, & attention to detail from the other lines lest they loose many to these other international lines.