119 Barbados First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

We were unsure what to expect for our first cruise but the experience with Thomson was fantastic from start to finish (except the flight home)! We travelled as a couple (25 and 26 years old) and were unsure what to expect as we knew ... Read More
We were unsure what to expect for our first cruise but the experience with Thomson was fantastic from start to finish (except the flight home)! We travelled as a couple (25 and 26 years old) and were unsure what to expect as we knew cruises were typically for retirees. When we embarked the photographer commented 'you're the youngest couple on board' but actually we found the age range to be very mixed and all the passengers extremely friendly, so didn't feel out of place at all. The ship was the perfect size to get your bearings and never felt crowded even on our day at sea. We were impressed with the cabin size and were glad we'd upgraded to an outside cabin. The room service twice a day was fantastic and the little touches such as remembering our names, chocolates on pillows and towel animals made it special. The room felt clean at all times and never grubby/filled with sand considering we were on a beach almost everyday. The food on the ship was outstanding from the snack-shack to the buffet to the al a carte. The food was always hot, there was a great choice and the quality and taste was fantastic. The waiters were sometimes almost too attentive constantly topping up wine. The bar service needs a little work as the staff seemed more miserable and less personable than elsewhere. Getting a drink at the bar or from a 'floating waiter' was slow and they didn't serve people in order or ask who was next which caused frustration. There was also a lack of menus in drinks venues so it became confusing what was and wasn't included in the all inclusive package. Drinks that you would expect to be included such as carbonated soft drinks weren't unless ordered with a spirit? If we had the option we wouldn't include the drinks package next time. The entertainment was fabulous and we particularly enjoyed the Broadway show lounge (which was very comfortable) and The Venue for the Game Shows. The pool area and adults only sunbathing was great although a little more attention could be paid to details on the cleaning in these areas, such as around the windows and whirl pool showers. Overall, we would absolutely book a Thomson cruise again and would highly recommend to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
On board the Carnival FunShip Fascination is like living with “Aladdin's Lamp” First time on a cruise which has been postponed for many years, for many reasons. Then this "oh, never on Carnival" comments we ... Read More
On board the Carnival FunShip Fascination is like living with “Aladdin's Lamp” First time on a cruise which has been postponed for many years, for many reasons. Then this "oh, never on Carnival" comments we heard/read from many, put a stop to our wishes to experience a cruise to the destinations we would love to go to. If you're impatient, or bored of reading long reports you can move to the next one, because this is long!!! Although we are beach people, we do many of the "cultural" and exhausting sightseeing vacations too, or sometimes the two together. But, a cruise! 10 years ago was a straight “no”, then it was a “maybe”, for the last 3-4 years “yes, but can we really do it”?… Let me tell you: it's a fact that we're all getting old, and we all want our peace and quiet when vacationing, but, as much as I am not sociable, no more parties etc in my life, I thought I'd rather be on a party cruise than being on a cruise there is only elegant and quiet dining with high profile businessmen & women! And, this is what we heard about Carnival, only the partiers go on this one!! Finally with my vacation period from work (Henry works for himself, so no concerns with his schedule), we only had one option to the destinations we wanted to visit and that was on Carnival Fascination. Reading cruisecritic.com and many other websites, I was expecting a little boat, with lots of noise, a small room, terrible food, terrible staff, terrible service, and only drunk customers around... Well … It was about 3 weeks before the departure date I was able to get my schedule at work for June, and plan/book the trip. Arranging and organizing everything around it, we arrived at our lovely hotel in Barbados about 5 days in advance ... Yes you can call it a "Vacation before vacation". This was not our first time visit to our little heaven Coconut Court Beach Hotel, and returning somewhere we knew, felt awesome (check my report about this place from several years ago on tripadvisor.com, but now it is even better than the last time). But the real worry on our minds was if in 7 days, were we going to find ourselves getting bored on the cruise, or really enjoying it!... We were at the Barbados port right at 11am on the embarkation day, with some other passengers who were staying at Coconut Court as well. The first observation: the employees at the port, who were lovely, fun & helpful, directed us to a shuttle bus between the port and the ship. When we stepped on the ship we were in awe! My first reaction getting out of the elevator was "OMG... This is like visiting a classic Las Vegas hotel". ... So, it was a love at first sight for me! Yup, I love classic Vegas ...new too...but, you know what I mean. That feel of a well established business is always cool ☺ Then we waited for our official check in, when we got our keys in our hands with tons of info, we got kind of nervous... Are we now really trapped in here? By the way, there were many employees everywhere wearing a red t-shirt, with large text on them “JUST ASK”. This was a really nice arrangement and comforting welcome. While heading towards our room, we bumped into many other employees on duty, and all were smiling, working and welcoming us. And the second we opened our room door... Haaaaaa... Shock, a pleasant shock. The size of the room, the balcony, the view from our balcony, and the way our room was prepared. Let me provide this info before we go on: if one finds these rooms small, and complains about them, one should never travel to Japan (my favorite, my #1 destination). The room & bathroom size together is 3 times bigger than any room in Shinjuku (except Hilton & Westin etc with CAD350+ price tags per night). The cleanliness of the room was better than many hotels anywhere in the world including Canada. I travel for work, and stay at different hotels frequently, so I have a slight idea of hotel room cleanliness. Right after our arrival we met our room steward Tri ... He and his team took care of us for the whole 7 days. Because of him specifically, I used the headline I used. Aladdin's Lamp! Every time we walked into or out of our room, Tri showed up to make sure we were ok. If we needed anything, he was available all the time. Every night when we returned back to our room, he had already turned our bed with a magical towel ornament on it!!!! It was different every night, which put a big smile on our faces. After the first impression of all this, we attended an orientation & mandatory safety briefing. We even won a St. Kitts zip-lining voucher but at our age we are not into it, and also we had other plans there (the details are below). So, we showed up at the shore excursion desk to ask an employee if we could exchange the voucher for anything else that was available, at any of the other destinations. Well, the one and only disappointment was this lady, who just shrugged her shoulders, and took the voucher folded up, possibly for recycling. However, her shrugging shoulders behavior has been recovered by ALL THE OTHER Carnival employees that were on the ship. So I will not belabor this point. I, of course, left a little note with the customer service desk suggesting they look into these situations, as the girl at the excursion desk didn’t seem to care, and didn’t attempt to do anything (not even an apology!). We’re not sure if my note was the reason or not, but on day 2 there was a (1 week early) birthday card for Henry with some wonderful gift vouchers. A spa gift card for USD50, another gift card for a bottle of wine (value USD25), and a voucher to be used towards a photo! So, no matter how this happened, this was an elegant way to engage the customers by the Carnival management. Bravo! Because we are very early risers (6-7am even with the time difference – for us it’s 3-4am), we had our breakfast at the buffet except 3 mornings... Also many of the mornings we were either the first to leave the ship, or within the first 5-6 people as per security.... OK, back to the breakfast! The buffet breakfast is for everyone... If you can't find a breakfast item you like or you can’t eat at this buffet, you must carry your own food. Fruits, eggs, omelette made to order, cereals, yogurts, sausages, bacon, pastries, cheese, toast, French-toast, pancakes and many more ... They are all available. The dining room breakfast was with selected items, which were amazing. I also like my coffee in a porcelain mug, and this was available only at the dining room. They are not available at the buffet. Only plastic (reusable kind) cups... But the reasoning behind is understandable. Pretty much each day we left the ship at around 8 am and returned back at around 230-330 pm. Either we ate our lunch at the shore, or we had a snack on board. Then we hit the “million dollar” view gym! The gym/spa area was so attractive we basically wanted to go to the gym. I know, I know! Magical stuff happens on board Our dinner was "your time" dinner, which we loved. We didn’t have to sit with other people at all. It was at the dining room called Sensation. The staff at Sensation worked also at the buffet with different uniforms. So, I have to say the head-waiters/head-waitress, Elias, William, Ayu are rockstars ... We enjoyed their service immensely. Also, Hendra, Richy, Milagres, Ireneo, I Made and many others who work there every single night are fantastic people, fantastic characters, fantastic workers who knew us by name and gave the best service that can be given to the customers. Although, when we were seated in their section, each one of them introduced themselves and their team for the night, Ayu really stood out with her conversation opening introduction. “Hello, good evening! Welcome, my name is Ayu, I’m from Indonesia, and I’ll be serving you tonight with my colleagues … (and she says the names of her team mates)”. After this kind of a welcome, only one thing happens, your heart warms up … and after the first time she welcomes people (for example us) “Hello Idil, hello Henry, welcome back … how was your day today?”. I have never had such an experience in my whole life. I’m 50 and travelled almost around the world. And, the little music/dance break during the dinner is a fantastic idea. So, the music starts and the whole service team stops what they’re doing and starts singing and dancing (all synchronized!). Sometimes they dance with the customers too. What fun every night! Great choice of music too. Service is one thing that we see and judge … but I cannot NOT mention the kitchen folks... the food quality (taste & presentation), the menu choices... Oh my god … It’s 20 out of 10!!! There is an everyday menu filled with fantastic appetizers, main courses (and there is a choice for vegetarians too), then the second page menu changes every day. Again everyday there would be a choice of a vegetarian meal. I am not vegetarian but I read the menu everyday very, very carefully! For sure you will find something that will tickle your fancy, or something you were always curious about would be showing up, and you’d try! Your taste buds will have a major feast! In the end, whoever prepared that menu did one fine job. I'd say the person who suggested and made the final decision to keep the warm melting chocolate cake on the everyday dessert menu should be the President of the Food and Beverage department (perhaps s/he has already been promoted!). It's just out of this world! Almost every night after midnight, I heard my name being called at the buffet area while Henry was having his “before bed” ice-cream treat at the 24-hour self-serve machines... It was always Ayu finishing her shift at the buffet clean up. It is such a casual environment, but, there is always that knowledge & professionalism. I simply loved the style, mentality and the customer approach of this company, and Ayu for being so personable. It is a pure vacation & pure relaxation! Having said all this, hats off to the trainers who train these people all the same: respectful, knowledgeable, very professional, yet very friendly and genuine. Who are the direct & indirect supervisors and managers of these frontline workers? They have to be commended as well. Obviously, there are some people behind the scenes who are doing their jobs just perfectly! Congratulations! And now the Cruise Directors... Always available, always fun, always laughing, mingling with the passengers (customers). So, good looking Felipe is funny, confident (rightfully so!), knows what he is doing (aka Mr. Woohoo!!!), and very comfortable on the stage. I honestly don’t know what other responsibilities he would have, but I’m sure he is good at what he is doing. The assistant Cruise Director... “Kris with a K” is a very special, solid guy with a great smile. Oh my god, he is so charming, he has such a positive disposition (how? I need tips!). He is fun, he FOR SURE is one of the BEST dancers out there (along with the headwaiter William) and his name tag "Kris with a K" is more than brilliant. And, yes, his charm made me spend “a lot of” money at the bingo games he held. I never thought I'd like bingo this much, and we simply can’t wait to be on one of his future cruises. All these guys have their own personalities that reflect to their jobs & positions to make them perfect at what they are doing. My compliments to the hiring department to hand pick these wonderful people. Way to go! So, overall, those who rated this cruise line poorly must have seen something we haven’t. But for us, if/when we are booking our next cruise, Carnival will get the first choice, and if “Kris with a K”, Ayu, William, Tri etc are there, I’ll be on board before anyone. Food - more than excellent +++++++ and at the Sensation dining room, our waiting time was usually 15 to 55 seconds to get in. Very fast, very efficient service! Drinks (to the Carnival food and beverage department - please do not read this part of the report!) - As we were waiting for our check-in on day 1, we were offered the alcohol drink package. For us, it was not a necessary purchase, as we wouldn’t drink more than 1 to 2 glasses of wine or beer at any time and to be honest, unless you’re a heavy drinker, the bar prices are very affordable and/or they were not any different than any bar/pub (if not cheaper) for a drink or two every night. Also, we were advised that we were allowed to bring a bottle of wine or champagne on board if we wanted. We took 2 bottles of wine, and we couldn’t even finish it all! Bogart’s coffee shop was one of the most affordable coffee shops I’ve seen lately (only comparing to Europe/Asia/N. America/Australia) … and the desserts they sell there ….drooooooollll …. Service - more than excellent +++++++ Staff - more than excellent +++++++ Outstanding … Note: Can you believe Tri thanked us coming to his home, and giving him the opportunity to serve us! Yes, I can imagine living on the ship for 6-7 months at a time makes it their home … but thanking us for the visit made me almost cry! Carnival Fascination - for us it was a perfect size floating hotel as this was our first cruise, we felt extremely comfortable navigating around. And, during this vacation, we simply couldn’t sleep as we were so excited all week, we simply didn’t want to waste our time sleeping! It’s one of those things in life. Also, we were not forced to purchase anything on board (as some people commented on that). We were given the information, opportunity, but never felt the high stress sales tactics etc (which would have irritated me)… that was a perfect customer service. The sea day - I thought we'd be bored out of our skulls, but the day went so fast (even though we woke up at 7!). They kept us busy all day long, they really should have had 2 sea days not just one! On board entertainment - I can’t comment much or compare to anything, as this was our first cruise, but we had a fantastic/fun time. There was almost no time to get bored while on board. Production shows, comedy clubs, music, BINGO and if you don’t like any of that stuff, there is the gym/casino/bar/romantic hang out deck “Serenity” etc. And, “Kris with a K” popped out from every corner & made everything even more fun! (I told you Fascination is the Aladdin’s Lamp!)… you see him running up the stairs, then you turn around and he is in the elevator waiving … you turn around again, he is at the Atrium Bar area chit chatting with people or dancing! The one of a kind majestic itinerary by Carnival – Boarding in Barbados > always amazing, always magical (Coconut Court is the place for us to stay, Barbados Blue is the company to go for a snorkeling/scuba diving tour to swim with the turtles!) St. Lucia > such a pretty place … such a lush, green island! We didn’t have any plans other than going to Vigie Beach right by the airport (we love airports). It was a quiet airport, but the setting while swimming and sunbathing was fantastic. When we first got off the ship we were stopped by many cab drivers quoting USD15-20 to go to the Vigie Beach. But one guy asked me “lady, how much do you want to pay?”, I asked back “how long does it take to get to there?” the answer was “5 minutes”, I added “then USD5 it is!” … He looked at me, he told me we were the first getting off the ship, so it would be ok for him to take us for USD5!... Then as we were approaching the beach he asked if we wanted to see the city and a beautiful view from the highest point and perhaps we would take some pictures. So, back and forth, we agreed for USD20, and that also had to include a pick up from the airport beach. Overall, he gave us about 1,5-2 hour touring, on the way he showed us the school he attended to obtain a certificate to be able to drive the tourists around. Then he stopped at different areas in St. Lucia to have us take pictures, look around, and look at the breathtaking views of the island! When we got back to the city centre we picked up his girlfriend in the market area (she was going to some kind of school enrolment process). Then we got dropped off at the Vigie beach. We were not sure if he was going to come back and pick us up, as we paid him the whole amount, but he did show up to pick us up to take us to the city centre where we had to have our Piton Beers and I had to do a little shopping! By the way, while we were at Vigie beach, we walked to the airport terminal building. Facilities are spotless And, the terminal is just so cute ☺ If you’re there, go see it! Driver Winston’s contact info: Winston’s Taxi Service / Cell: (1-758) 486-0397 or (1-758) 284-2187 (no email contact on his card) St. Kitts > The only place we thought we’d make an arrangement to get around. First of all, do not believe every negative comment you read. But, obviously we did believe what we read, that’s why we booked a cab to take us around. And, I believe everything is for a good reason as we met with this fantastic lady, Rose, who we found reading comments about her on tripadvisor.com You will see many people mentioning little monkeys thrown at you and get asked USD20 for it and you get in trouble if you don’t pay them etc etc … It’s not true! There are many people holding the monkeys (unfortunately some monkeys are even dressed up!), if you want, you can go get your photo taken with them, and pay the fee/tip. Personally, I would rather see the animals at their own habitat, and on the way to the beach we saw tons of them running in and around the bushes by the side of the road. They are everywhere, they are every size! Anyway … Our pick up was at 930 at the port, we the early risers, couldn’t sit on the ship, so we decided we’d go out early to look/walk around the port and see if Rose was there a little earlier than 930, so we could get going. As we were walking out, I saw and recognized Rose with her husband (it was a little after 8 am!). It was great … we were able to start our day early. Rose took us to the famous Cockleshell Beach via fantastic wilderness stopping every now and then to take pictures, and we got to listen to her telling us all the story about the area (although she is from the UK, she’s been living there very happily for the last 33 years!). We ended up staying at the Reggae Beach Bar area, which again was poorly rated by many online, but for us they were amazing, courteous, friendly and welcoming … we were one of the first ones at the beach … it was incredible! So peaceful, so lovely. Later they put the music on but nothing disturbing! And, at around 1130 we got a very quick rain (3-4 minutes) then the guys from the bar came out to flatten the sand! I also treated myself to a nice beach-view massage by Shona. She was good, really good ☺ Then we were picked up at 130 pm by Rose who took us back to the port area stopping again at the most magical spots to take some pictures. And, of course after the beach time, it was the shopping and looking around time … The local vendors at the shopping stalls were really nice, but I felt like they were not in a great financial situation. I purchased a handmade all natural soap made by the vendor herself (I should have bought all the supply she had, but I didn’t! Another reason to go back). After I paid her, she made a very sensitive & kind comment “this is me who is making these, one by one, not your usual made in China product, thank you for supporting us” … I’m glad I was able to help a little! Rose’s contact info: http://roseandjimstaxi.com/ You can send them an e-mail via their website and you will not regret you did! St. Maartin > This one destination has been on our list for a long time which we were not able to get to. Actually this was Henry’s one reason to choose this cruise (remember, I said we love airports!). We took the cab from the port as Henry had to visit Maho Beach asap and add more airplane photos onto his photo collection :D No cab bargaining was possible as all the prices were listed on a board at the taxi stand. But, the famous Maho beach got so crowded after 1130-1200 noon, it made us literally gag … the heat, the noise from the people, the crowd at the Sunset Beach Bar area where we rented chairs and an umbrella (the nice guy there provided 3 umbrellas which was great, but also he charged a whooping USD17 for 2 chairs and an umbrella … rip off? Yup … clearly… but we were at his mercy as there was no shade around). It was nice and quiet between 830 and 1130, it was disgusting after that and we left just after 1pm. Would I ever go back to Maho Beach? Absolutely NO… would I go back to St, Maartin? Absolutely YES … the beaches in the town are out of this world. The colour of the sea, the sand, and long and large beaches … Also, with our luck, I think it was the hottest day during that 7 day cruise. By the way, we took the water taxi from the city to the port, which was nice and pleasant. I wish it was a little longer journey though. San Juan > The one and only destination I’ve never thought I’d go! What a mistake! A wonderful place. I should say, a wonderful place, filled with wonderful people. It was one of those things, you disembark, and don’t know what to expect (especially going through the US customs there and it’s not a fast process). We planned to take a cab to the beach called Escambron. But then when we were quoted the fares we were quoted, we gave up on cabs, and looked for a public transport. We met a couple out of the blue on the street from Florida visiting San Juan (they had been there for the last 6-7 days) and told us that there are two routes for two different trams which are free and they run every 15 mins or so. We decided we would take the tram first to find out the lay of the land. Later we hopped on the other one with a different route, as this was really fun way to go around the old city and the historical points of interest. On one of those tram rides there was a couple from our cruise ship, who wanted to go to the beach as well… so sharing a cab with them to the beach which made it more affordable, less than USD4 per person. We took a cab from the Sheraton Hotel, and we asked the cab driver to come and pick us up at 130 pm as we wanted to walk around the old town. However, the couple from our ship no-showed for the return journey from the beach. Either they left earlier, or they decided to stay longer. Never saw them on the ship after that … Back to our journey…. As it was the Father’s day, the beach was packed with families … and apparently almost everything was closed (good that I didn’t have to do shopping for anything particular!). Although it was crowded, and the music was going on from each family’s shed, it was not disturbing at all. Huge beach … enough room for everyone. When Henry decided to go buy some food, a nearby family kindly offered us sandwiches and bbq chicken which of course we declined. But I thought that was the nicest offer ever at a beach! Really nice, really human, really kind … And the “helado” guy! Go find him, he rings a bell, so there is no way not to see where he is! He sells 3 kinds of gelatos. I asked him how much it was, and he told me “una copa” (one cup) 2 dollares … so my thinking, ok one cup per flavor. And, took 6 dollars to pay, as we thought we’d try all three … well … my mistake … He said as long as it’s in the same cup, it’s 2 bucks. Was it my Spanish that failed, or I’ve never purchased such a cheap gelato here in Vancouver, I don’t know ☺ And, I must add, it was delicious. (flavours: rainbow, coconut, and passion fruit) Our cab driver came to pick us up right on time … but we waited for the British couple for a while. Since the driver had to go for a dinner party, he wanted to leave. We had no choice but leave after waiting for about 15 mins … then we asked him to leave us at one of the highest points in old San Juan, so we could walk down to the bottom and see around before we go to the ship. Our walk was amazing! The architecture reminded us very much of old Havana (where we stayed for a week last year) but way cleaner and very well taken care of. The people are similar, happy looking, talkative but more in English than in Spanish (I was hoping to practice my Spanish, but it was almost impossible). We found a little hidden bar in the end of a dark alley and had some punchy mojitos and tasty empanadas. Café El Punto with live music either in an air-conditioned seating area or patio seating. And, we continued walking from one street to another seeing many historical buildings, churches etc … At the end of this little sampling of San Juan, I think I want to go back there to spend more time ☺ Cab driver Bryan’s contact info: Bryan Jimenez (787) 383-6777 vsjchauffeur@hotmail.com St. Thomas > And, this was the destination I wanted to see the most and my reason to go on this cruise! They saved the best for the last. It’s like a little town in the Mediterranean, be it Italy, or Turkey, or France.. it’s like out of the movies ... the cobblestone old streets with steep hills … and the most beautiful views from those street tops. It’s like the history is bursting out of each and every corner. But as every other destination we have been to, our plan was to go to a beach. We chose the beach that was by the airport (I know! Please don’t think we’re crazy!). As per our cab driver it was called the Emerald Beach!... It was so beautiful, so peaceful it should have been called the Zen Beach. We took the cab again from the port. Apparently, the cab prices are dictated by the government, so no negotiating was possible. And, it was a bit expensive for the drive (USD7 per person), perhaps for a no more than 10 minute ride. He also told us he’s been living there for the last 30+ years, and absolutely loving it. Also, he mentioned there are “only” 32 beaches in St. Thomas, and he doesn’t have one favorite one, as that changes as per his mood of the day. After our beach morning, we took a cab from the beach area to the downtown area where I wanted to stay for at least a month or even forever ☺ In one of the little streets we found a cool place to sit down and have some drinks (Greengos Cantina)… It was nice, good food, refreshing drinks (more expensive than the ship!), and awesome ambiance. This was our very last stop on the itinerary. But we were so pleased with everything on our cruise, I think it was in St. Maartin, we checked online if we could book for another week (also because I had my schedule published for July and I happened to get a great surprise having the first week of July off), but the websites I checked showed this cruise was sold out!... I guess, we’ll have to wait for another vacation period to do this all over again. In my opinion the crew on this cruise won our hearts, the itinerary took us to our dream destinations that we couldn’t have afforded otherwise. Until next time we’ll keep dreaming of what we had … Peace! Ps- I will post pictures/videos on imaginairie.wordpress.com and Henry will post his videos on youtube.com (search for airlinehobby.com DVDs) if you want to see these places and cruise from our point of view … Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Our first cruise on the Azura and last! We flew from Gatwick to Barbados and joined the ship there. We had to wait hours for our suitcases to be delivered to our cabin and then it was a rush to attend the muster drill and go for ... Read More
Our first cruise on the Azura and last! We flew from Gatwick to Barbados and joined the ship there. We had to wait hours for our suitcases to be delivered to our cabin and then it was a rush to attend the muster drill and go for our evening meal. We visited three islands on the first three days, two excursions booked directed with P & O prior to the holiday. Although the beaches we went to were fantastic (especially Tortola), the half day was not long enough and I could not understand why this was not offered for a full day. We had 5 days at sea travelling to the Azores and found the ship could not cater for over 3000 people during the day. There were not enough sun loungers and those there were crammed in tighter than sardines. There were four areas where you could lay; noisy, smoking, children's/family and only two small areas which were peaceful (these were always full). The Retreat is adults only but you have to pay for the privilege! Our cabin C418 had a balcony, unfortunately it was in the shade until mid afternoon). The bathroom smelt of stale urine if you switched the light/extractor fan off so therefore we left it on 24/7. On the last day we docked at Southampton at 6.30am but unfortunately there was no water to the cabins and we could not wash our hands, shower, brush teeth or indeed flush the loo. Although I had read that the ship had been refurbed a year prior, our room was a little grubby. The most amazing thing was on the last day we had to leave the cabin by 8am so we duly went for breakfast at 6.30am leaving our belongings on the bed etc and when we got back our bed had been changed ready for the next guests and our belonging placed back on the bed! In all of the years and all of the holidays we have taken not one hotel has used this practice and I found it very poor. The food and service in the restaurants were fantastic until the last night when the staff actually "switched off", the service was extremely poor, the meals came out with items missing, unless you asked for the cheese board you were not offered, it was as though tips had been given so bye bye were ready for the next lot of passengers! If you wanted to eat breakfast outside (which could have been a great start to the day), the only areas with tables and chairs which were near the restaurants were all smoking areas, so if you like a fag with your early morning cuppa .... yippee! Our overall experience of days at sea (8 in total) were picturing one of the most deprived run down council estates with a bargain booze, McDonald's, pizza place, bookies and a Wetherspoons with a kids fun annex and voila it's the Azura! Although we paid full price and therefore our expectations were high thus so disappointed, I would recommend you seek out the special offers if you want to have a glorified booze cruise on the Azura transatlantic cruise as you may get more of a value for money experience than we had. Overall we would go to the Caribbean again and the Azores was lovely BUT never on a P&O ferry/booze cruise! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I decided to write this to hep advise all you new cruisers out there what to expect, now I have returned I am somewhat angry at the one sided and downright inaccurate reviews from some of the more seasoned cruisers who repeatedly compare ... Read More
I decided to write this to hep advise all you new cruisers out there what to expect, now I have returned I am somewhat angry at the one sided and downright inaccurate reviews from some of the more seasoned cruisers who repeatedly compare this ship to other ships and even companies. This trip was very special as it was mine and my husbands Honeymoon, I'm going to start straight off and say overall we absolutely LOVED this ship and we have officially caught the cruising bug and can't wait to book our next one with P and O whom we found are the best value for money. So firstly the overall look of this ship is fantastic the size is breathtaking, the decor we actually liked, many other people have said they found it too plain and/or dark, I can see P&O were aiming for a modern and contemporary look, the darker side of the decor gives the ship a real luxurious touch, we had a Balcony room which was clean, light and had a very comfortble bed, the bathroom was a little small but the shower screen and free toiletries were a nice touch, we personally found the balcony absolutely fine size wise and spent numerous occaions sitting on there enjoying the view. We decided to make the most of this trip and pretty much ate everywhere except for the Beach Hut. Our definite favourite restaurant was the Epicurean we tried their evening food and their afternoon tea and loved both, it is the definition of fine dining (in our opinion), their evening food is of michelin standard they had an amazing smoked pate which was bought under a glass dome filled with smoke and a creme brulee which they caramelize in front of you with a blow torch, the afternoon tea started by having a spray in front of your face which had a slightly sweet aroma and apparently activated your tastebuds followed by a sumptous selection including savoury salmon macaroons, eton mess in a small kilner jar were you add strawberry sauce from a provided pipette and stunning scones with an amazing selection of teas to try, I loved the nutty chocolate blend, my husband preferred the peppermint, it has candles, white linen table cloths classical music playing and dedicated silver service staff who really pull out all the stops to make this the place to try if you only do one extra restaurant. We had freedom dining and dined at the Penninsular, again this place had fantastic food, excellent hard working waiters and a wonderful upmarket atmosphere, we also tried Sindhu which had the best indian food we ever tasted again this is a select dining option so will cost extra but again is definitely worth the cost. Our 2 favourite bars were Brodies which is pretty much designed to be a local pub with a selection of bottled beers from various regions in the uk as well as cocktails and liquers it put on numerous quiz's, games, live music and karoake throughout the day and evening to make it the epicentre of bars ideally suited to a more british style of socialising. Our other favourite places were the Glass House which is predominately a wine bar with an amazing selection of wines, we were also fortunate enough to get the opportunity to do their wine tasting which was very informative and fun and also try their wine and meal tasting course which again was an absolute treat and we fully recommend you try it. Our other favourite place was the Crows Nest bar which is at the front of the ship and a fantastic place to sit when the ship is leaving a port and watching the ever changing views. My main disappointment was actually with the Oasis Spa which for me I'm very disappointed to admit was nothing short of a rip off, the services in themselves were fine but their attempts to extract more money out of me left a bitter taste, firstly I gave myself an extra treat by booking a pedicure whilst on board, I originally asked for a standard pedicure which stated on the price list was £30, the receptionist said I could upgrade to a fire and ice pedicure which included a hot stone leg massage and cooling leg gel treatment for another £5, I agreed to this, after I had the treatment I was then told it was now £47 plus a 10% service charge, I was not happy about this as I was clearly told it would be £35 and no mention was given of the service charge, they also tried to sell me a tube of this cooling gel for £35 (over priced deep freeze gel). They also mixed up the booking for a couple's massage that we had booked and pre paid for before our trip, again they charged us another service charge on top and tried to sell us a £35 bottle of massage oil, the hydrotherapy suite consisting of different types of sauna, steam, shows and heated beds was lovely and wonderfully relaxing but again awfully pricey at £25 to use for 1 day. I've been in 5 star hotels where this part is free to use or well over half the price of what they charged. Overall all the staff on board are hard working, friendly and dedicated to their work, the entertainment we found fairly mixed, some of it we tried and enjoyed other aspects we didn't even fancy doing at all and avoided completely however this is no doubt a subjective issue and I saw many people getting into the swing of anything they could so its a case of each to their own and if it isn't for you either you get yourself a sunbed, I would say on this subject don't bother trying to get near the pool it fills up very quickly unless you get their pretty early my advice is to look further away on upper decks where their is still adequate space available but still don't leave it too late, reserving has been an issue but the staff are becoming aware of this and have started removing belongings on sunbeds that have been reserved if they are left too long and tying a note to the sunbed so the person can come pick it up when they return. The other thing I would recommend is what we did which is to simply grab your favourite or current book and get yourself down to the atrium area where you will find lots of seats, sofa's and chairs, you can have a drink if you want, plenty of tea, coffee and alcoholic options they also have amazing sweet treats in the Market Cafe which I highly recomend you try or you can pass on this and simply enjoy the ambience, the views and simply relax. To finish overall this is a brilliant ship and I hopefully will return there at some point in the future. My last piece of advice is if you are new is that whilst this is a wonderful ship it isn't without its faults but overlook or avoid the bad and focus on what is so great about this place and you won't go wrong our biggest annoyance on this trip was the sheer volume of complainers notably from the seasoned cruisers who clearly think its their right to use the staff as verbal punch bags and in a number of cases get as much credit and/or free stuff that they can based on said complaints. I saw one woman loudly tell her rather bemused husband that she had complained about the Horizon Buffet restaurant (again used regularly, plenty of choice throughout the day, no complaints) not having instant hot chocolate available to have with her evening meal, he pointed out to her that this seemed a strange choice of drink to have a meal with and she informed him she had complained as a matter of principle rather than it being a specific issue, another woman I overheard bragging that she had complained about the temperature of the headliners theatre being too cold (and had clearly never thought of using a cardigan/jacket or jumper to solve this issue) in an attempt to get some spending credit. This is something that really annoys me as I go on Holiday to enjoy myself not complain and find things wrong. Enjoy all the wonderful things this ship has to offer and you will have an amazing time, we did and we can't wait to go on a cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This was our first cruise. - Harsh but true.... Once on board, we were not shown or directed to our cabin, but had to find out own way. Cabin was much smaller than expected and not enough room for our clothes but hanging space and ... Read More
This was our first cruise. - Harsh but true.... Once on board, we were not shown or directed to our cabin, but had to find out own way. Cabin was much smaller than expected and not enough room for our clothes but hanging space and shower was adequate. Balcony small. Suitcases had not yet arrived so we went for a drink at the Glasshouse where we were overcharged by £9, this was addressed. Went to Reception to find out about dining options etc, the receptionist was quite rude and said that it was all clearly marked in the leaflet, she then underscored where we could eat that was included in the price. Back to Cabin deck 10 -didn't have to wait long for lifts throughout holiday. Entertainment was poor, just unknown vocalists, poor ventriliquist and one good show - Gravity with good special effects. Comedian was also good but standing room only unless you bolted your food or skipped a course to get there 40 minutes before the start. The Overtones were the best! Ship smelt of varnish as crew were masked up touching up, why when ship was not even a year old? Passengers were forever getting lost, poor directions. I would not even be able to find my way to the muster point if necessary. Food was mostly good, waiting and cabin staff...very good. Captain only made a brief appearance to upsell the café and spa (still I suppose someone had to sail the ship) Ports were excellent, we were first off at every port and last to get back on. It was like being locked up in a hotel from 6pm onwards. Gala nights (of which there were 4) "All dressed up and nowhere to go" Everyone looked bored. Everyday we were bombarded with more and more paperwork about quoits or silent quizzes or bingo or spa offers - none of which appealed. The passengers were friendly and some had been on several cruises and thought the Ventura was much better. Many people said they would not go on Britannia again, there was no promenade deck, the pools were too small, there were not enough sun beds and those available were extremely close to your neighbour, also there was no shade for the sunbeds. Shops, expensive and not much of interest. Overall very disappointing - this was our first and LAST cruise. Advise you to read cruise critic before parting with your hard earned cash! (wish we had) Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
We brought the cruise forward, for family reasons, as it was planned for my retirement (end March) wife's 60th (early May) to be taken around end April. Very apprehensive, having read many reviews. Firstly the ship was beautiful, big ... Read More
We brought the cruise forward, for family reasons, as it was planned for my retirement (end March) wife's 60th (early May) to be taken around end April. Very apprehensive, having read many reviews. Firstly the ship was beautiful, big and well finished throughout all decks and bars/restaurants etc.Service was very good, never once did we experience any delays to attentiveness. Many aspects truly wonderful, Food, Entertainment facilities, its sheer size . Our inside cabin adequate, all the staff were helpful, you could talk with them share their lifestyle from home to here. We spent every port day out and about seeing what we could in the time we had. So many mentioned the stairs in mid ships, yes bad mistake for those who need midships stairs. Atrium, well more like a shopping centre, no central sparkle, except for the Chandelier!. Needs to have more of a focal point to entertain people, rather that it being a sit off area. Slightly holiday campish theme, sing alongs etc not our taste, towels/deck chairs, same old same old. We enjoyed eating well, Sindhu, superb. Nice wines, a good local beer, with real ale options in Brodies. Meridian suited us fine, food was excellent. All in all a relaxed, enjoyable experience. However, would not go again. Lacked a party atmosphere in the evenings, an explosion for all to let their hair down. Perhaps it wasn't meant to be on this ship, too relaxed a voyage, and too many 'long time cruisers' moaning that things weren't up to their standard or went to bed at 11. Really enjoyed the ports of calls, made the most of every day. Fabulous beaches, interesting people along the way. Sharing taxis, talking about each others lives and homes. Beautiful islands, worth a holiday there on there own. Day trips/excursions onshore, did all bar one without P&O, found their pricing very expensive compared to what we paid onshore with the Taxi/Mini bus lads. Don't be afraid to do your own thing, its exciting. We are a young/old couple who ain't giving up our youthfulness just yet. Next time RCI or Carnival. thanks for the experience P&O, you tried very hard but it was dull in so many areas. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Having never done a cruise before, I was unsure quite what to expect. However, I have been generally very pleasantly surprised. However, I do have some constructive comments and observations. We were flown out to Bridgetown on ... Read More
Having never done a cruise before, I was unsure quite what to expect. However, I have been generally very pleasantly surprised. However, I do have some constructive comments and observations. We were flown out to Bridgetown on Thomas Cook from Manchester. Despite booking well in advance, we could not get seats on the Gatwick flight, so rather than having a one hour trip to catch our flights, I had a four hour drive, and the additional cost of a hotel at Manchester. In the general scheme of things, a minor problem, but one which could have been addressed more effectively by P and O. We contacted them to request the Gatwick flight, and we were told that we would be put on the wait list. No one from P and O contacted us proactively, we had to chase on a number of occasions. This tarnishes otherwise good customer service. The flight was well managed by Thomas Cook and P and O, with swift check in and boarding, and a punctual departure and arrival. Having arrived at Bridgetown, we were taken by coach directly to the docks, on a "Bonded" coach, so the immigration and clearance process was conducted in a giant shed at the dock. During the process, we were issued with a plastic cruise card, which was linked to a credit card. In this way, we were saved from the "inconvenience" of having to carry wallets and or money around on board. The card could be used for all and any spending on board. It could also be used as a substitute for a passport at the destinations. Boarding the ship was simple, and once through the security process (X Ray belongings and pass through detector arch) we were directed to our cabins - or staterooms. This is a Grandiose title that did not adequately summarise the size and decor of our accommodation. We were on deck 8, and our cabin was compact, but with a small balcony overlooking the sea. We were about amidships, so we were well appointed. Toilets are not normal flushing, but vacuum assisted like aeroplane lavatories. In the interests of health and safety, we were instructed to assemble at our muster point for. Safety briefing in the early evening before we slipped our moorings. This was a 20 minute slot where we were briefed on the emergency alarm signal, the use of the life jackets, and the location of gangplanks etc. There are a number of restaurants on board, consisting of The Conservatory on Deck 9, the Sedona, the Pavilion and the Grill, which allows for different tastes to be accommodated. We ate mainly in the conservatory, as this was buffet style, and normally had an excellent selection of menus from breakfast onwards. We chose to eat in the Pavilion Restaurant on a number of nights, including the formal nights, as this enabled us to mix with our fellow passengers. Table sizes range from 2 to 10 guests. So whilst we were a Couple, we chose to dine at a table for ten. There were three formal nights, so for gentlemen, evening dress should be a tuxedo, bow tie and formal shirt. Ladies should bring party frocks! The ship benefits from a sun deck, a walking track, and a reasonably well equipped gym, where I went each morning for a half hour on the exercise bikes, and lifting a few weights. The spa was frequented by my wife, and our friends with whom we accompanied. There is a general shop on deck 5, which sold not just duty free items, but those other essentials such as sun cream. However, the frustration here, is that when one needs sun cream, one is normally in dock, and about to disembark, and due to the duty free nature of the shop, it shuts when in port. Frustrating if you don't know this in advance. However, these are all very minor issues and should be seen In Perspective, given the wider context of the cruise. We went to the Curzon Lounge most nights and the entertainment was superb. The Adonia Theatre Company were excellent, and performed two proper plays, and numerous cabarets. The plays were Private Lives, a Noel Coward farce, and the Opposite Sex, another comedy, which was a risqué comedy. The entertainment team were excellent, and Tracy, Beverly and Laura should be congratulated for keeping the shows rolling. Other features were guest artists, including Roy Walker, who gave excellent performances. The excursions were of good value, if expensive. We chose to organise our own tours on some islands, but the excursions that we did book were great. My wife enjoyed a Caribbean cookery course, and we both enjoyed snorkelling with turtles and a submarine trip. I particularly enjoyed the train trip on the St. Kitts Railway. Disembarkation was smooth and glitch free, and we were bussed to the airport, where our baggage had already been delivered. Security was quick, and out flight back to the UK was fairly uneventful. The only comment was that due to poor weather, aircraft substitution had happened, and our aeroplane was not as comfortable as the outbound flight, and the seats were, to put it bluntly, uncomfortable. The only feedback that I would offer to P and O is that a Caribbean cruise should feature Caribbean food on the menus. Most meals were either Indian, Asian, or bland British. I know that this could be due to the perceived passenger demographic. Secondly, be aware that the Costa Coffee is likely to be shut whenever you need it most - which doesn't help breakfast! That being said, I shall look back on my cruise on the Adonia with great fondness, I had a fabulous trip, and the experience delivered by the staff and crew was exemplary. Overall I rate this cruise as one of my best and most memorable holidays. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
My wife and I are 54 years old, this, was our first cruise. Never cruising before we have nothing to compare it against. However, we did read the mixed reviews beforehand. We made a pledge not to pay any attention to the moaners. ... Read More
My wife and I are 54 years old, this, was our first cruise. Never cruising before we have nothing to compare it against. However, we did read the mixed reviews beforehand. We made a pledge not to pay any attention to the moaners. Additionally, we were not going to play the I paid this and that, for my cruise game. Our first impressions of the Brittania. Well, we both looked open mouthed at this humungous, beautiful ship, docked in wonderful Barbados. For some odd reason we both burst out laughing. Both of us were so excited we just couldn't wait to get on board. Embarking was such a pleasure, your cases are taken straight onto the ship from the plane. Once we landed we were in our cabin in no time at all, what a joy. It took us a few days to find our way around the ship, but, enjoyed exploring and finding interesting parts as we went. The staff are from Asia - they are all supremely well trained, attentive and friendly. The best we have encountered anywhere. The food is fantastic - fine dining at it's best. We paid and additional fee's for the Sindhu, the Limelight Club and the Beach house. These restaurants were great but, how do you improve on food in the normal restaurants, when there food is pretty much near perfection. Just one simple example of this, is the eggs - just how did they cook them to perfection everyday for so many people? beats me. The Atrium was our favourite part of the ship we also enjoyed the Sunset bar. The ship offers something for everyone, fun filled packed days or just lazy days. Be it by a busy or quite pool. We chose the quiet Serenity pool. My wife never had a problem obtaining a lounger - P&0 have noted this as a problem in the past and appealed to it's customers not hog loungers. This seemed to work. We didn't do many of the shows at night - we enjoyed our balcony, t.v. and early nights I'm afraid the day time activities left us shattered at night. However, we did attend all four of the formal evenings, the Caribbean night and the Casino. The Casino staff are brilliant teaching my wife how to lose my money - no really, they were great. The Caribbean and formal nights were fab. The cabin was quite luxurious I think, we loved the balcony and tea making facility. I have never ever slept so well. The bed is super comfortable. We only have some minor critiques - I would estimate about 98% of people dressed appropriately during the formal evenings. It irritated me and many others, that, a few of the non conforming merchants did not dress accordingly. A number of scruff bags were turned away at the Crows nest and Glass house bars. However, a few did elude the P&O officers staged around the ship. Our other critique is nothing to with the ship but, with a few of middle England's rudest people. One elderly gentleman threw his serviette down on the dining table in disgust. All because his favourite wine was not in stock- shocking and slightly amusing. Another example of bad behaviour we didn't like was a huge heffa-lump of a woman from Manchester, blocking the lounger isles with her lounger preventing the disabled and infirm getting past. Her excuse was "I just have to be in the sun - horrendous behaviour, she had no shame. The day's onshore were fun filled sunny beach days. We particularly enjoyed St Maartin, St Kitts and Grenada. We will definitely cruise on the Brittania again. My wife I actually felt quiet proud to be travelling on such a fantastic ship. It is for all these for reasons above that my wife and I say our time cruising on the Brittania around the Caribbean s contributed to our holiday of a lifetime Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
we went on this cruise thinking it was wheelchair friendly the staff were very rude the only person that helped us was the cleaner I had to get my partner off the ship by myself twice as there was no one to help nearly lost him ... Read More
we went on this cruise thinking it was wheelchair friendly the staff were very rude the only person that helped us was the cleaner I had to get my partner off the ship by myself twice as there was no one to help nearly lost him overboard.the lifejacket drill was a joke,when you hear a certain noise you must go to your cabin an retrieve your life jacket do not use the lift then she spotted my partner an said I surpose you will have to .we couldn't get in the pools as they are 5 foot7 one end and 6 foot the following end an the steps are in the deep end.the disabled cabin was worse the only way you could tell it was disabled there was a seat in the shower it wasn't a none slip floor had we of known this we would of got a balcony cabin.we only paid to go on one excursion due to the fact when we went on the trip we had to get off at deck 4 others got off at deck 5 by time we got off the ship our group had disappeared I had to find someone who then accused us of being late which we wasn't we a just slower cause of the wheelchair no one waited they are more friendly off the ship than on it .if your a wheelchair user I wouldn't recommend this cruise it was an experience like no other.the dinning started off bad as soon as staff noticed the wheelchair they were mortified and our starter was missed the only good thing about the holiday was the places we went to an some of the other English on board . Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
This was our first cruise and I was apprehensive but I have to say it exceeded expectations. We ate on the freedom dining in the meridian dining room. I wasn't expecting the food to be great and I am a bit of a foodie but overall I ... Read More
This was our first cruise and I was apprehensive but I have to say it exceeded expectations. We ate on the freedom dining in the meridian dining room. I wasn't expecting the food to be great and I am a bit of a foodie but overall I was delighted. The epicurean was exceptional the pudding especially . Breakfasted in the horizon and yes it was busy but the food was more than good don't know how they managed with the numbers, ant their afternoon tea was very good. I thought the cabin was better than expected have certainly staye in much smaller hotel rooms. Thought the excursions were a bit prices compared to the ones you could book onshore. All the staff I dealt with were fine . I found the entertainment to be very good some of it wasn't especially to my taste but you cannot expect everyone to like the same things. Embarkation took a while but we were in an air conditioned coach while we waited so just had to be patient. Disembarkation was much smoother. Overall a wonderful experience Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
This was our first cruise and first time to the Careibran. As other reviews state the Celebration is a little faded, but saying that it was lovely to be on a 'proper ship' and the fact that it was small meant that it was very ... Read More
This was our first cruise and first time to the Careibran. As other reviews state the Celebration is a little faded, but saying that it was lovely to be on a 'proper ship' and the fact that it was small meant that it was very friendly. All the staff were extremely efficient and friendly. The journey from Birmingham to Barbados was completely stress-free and seamless. No queues at the airport as your baggage is taken off you at a separate desk and you dont see it again until its in cabin cabin. The cabin itself on 3/4 deck had two single beds and although it was well-equipped and had tea/coffee making facilities the beds were not very comfortable. If I was going again I would pay the extra to have a deluxe cabin. Food on the whole very good. Always plenty of choice in the Lido which was self-service for breakfast and lunch. We had evening meals in thr Meridian as it was nice to dress up and have waiter service but, be warned, food in here was sometImes a bit hit and miss. Still for 4 courses there wasn't really anything to complain about. Entertainment in the Broadway very good and there was always something going on during the day if you stayed on board but also there were plenty of sundecks around if you wanted to get away from it all. There was also always alternative entermainment in The Horizon, Liberties where you could dance and Hemmingways. Loved the coffee shop too. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
We have just returned from our first ever cruise. We went to the Caribbean on the Braemar and I had no idea what to expect but I am very impressed with Fred.Olsen cruises and we had a great time. The cabin was small but well designed and ... Read More
We have just returned from our first ever cruise. We went to the Caribbean on the Braemar and I had no idea what to expect but I am very impressed with Fred.Olsen cruises and we had a great time. The cabin was small but well designed and the space was maximised. A lifeboat blocked the view from the picture window but I was advised about this prior to booking. The mattress was comfortable and the room was serviced twice a day and towels were changed twice daily. The room was surprisingly quiet at night and I was never disturbed by noise from the ship or neighbouring passengers. The service was outstanding, the staff without exception are helpful, polite and friendly and there was not a single instance in the two weeks on board when a member of staff was anything less than helpful. The food is also outstanding, along with the service in the restaurant with two dedicated waiters who knew our names serving us every night, I would describe the service as exceptional. We were served lobster, venison and Beef Wellington. The breakfasts were buffet style but also with a menu choice and champagne was served on formal days. Lunch was a choice of buffet or a four course meal from the menu. Against my expectations I loved the formal nights but if you do not wish to participate there is the option to dine in The Palms buffet. I enjoyed the entertainment too, the Braemar Show Company gave very good performances as did the singer, comedian and magician and the In Tune Band was good with a particularly good lead guitarist. The cruise line appears to attract a loyal clientele mainly aged 50 + who regularly cruise with Fred Olsen, though there are a few younger passengers. This might be why I did not find many of the day time activities on board of interest, but that did not matter as I like to leave the ship when in port and the itinerary was excellent. I have to say that fellow passengers were very pleasant and friendly, the whole cruise had a bit of a 'family feel' to it. There was a wide choice of day trips which in my opinion were reasonably priced and were in the main very good. Braemar is a medium sized flat bottomed cruise ship. This brings many benefits such as being able to access more ports (ie Havana), less people on board means easier embarkation/ disembarkation. It also makes the cruise a more friendly and personal experience. The one downside is that if like me you are prone to seasickness you feel the movement of the ship more when the sea is rough. However, I still think it I probably better than travelling on a huge cruise ship, that does not appeal to me at all. Overall we had a great time, the itinerary was fantastic and the staff, food and the service was exceptional and I would recommend Fred. Olsen cruises to any apprehensive first time cruiser. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
We stayed at the Premier Inn Gatwick the night before our flight (TOM024). Turned out to be a great idea and at just £39 for the night, excellent value to boot. We ate in the restaurant which had a nice atmosphere and some of the ... Read More
We stayed at the Premier Inn Gatwick the night before our flight (TOM024). Turned out to be a great idea and at just £39 for the night, excellent value to boot. We ate in the restaurant which had a nice atmosphere and some of the friendliest staff I've come across in similar hotels. Overall score for hotel: 11/10 We nipped across the road to the terminal just two hours before the flight and there were just three families ahead of us in the queue. I was sad to hear an old couple's tale who - not being internet savvy - hadn't realised that they had to book (and pay) for seats (together) despite 'upgrading' to Premium via their travel agent. This saw them sitting apart for the 8 hour journey. Cheap tactics by P&O (with whom we are contracted with, not Thomson). Overall airport experience (ours, not the old dears) score: 10/10 Onboard on time and a nice new aircraft. The 3-4-3 config is a pain if you need to go to the loo often (oh, the struggles of being a 50-year-old man :-)). We had 13A/B both ways which, in hindsight were a poor choice for above mentioned reason. Should have gone for 13B/C for easy access. Shortage of loos and iffy configuration make for a clunky aircraft layout. No crossing over at any point except at rear of aircraft. The staff were quite pointed about this and it was very much a charter level of service. Cheapo headphones handed out (you need to keep them for the return trip!) and drinks service begins. The inflight mag starts off by saying that "the first drink is on us". But it isn't. Cabin crew response; "Oh, you're P&O charter so you have to pay for everything". Nice. Feels like I'm flying Ryanair. And please remember; P&O make these rules, not Thomsons. Cheap, very cheap, unlike the cruise. Food, both ways, actually pretty good. No choice; get what you're given. Overall flight/service score: 6/10 Uneventful flight (one film watched) and - after a short delay while the aircraft arrival team were found - we were led off to awaiting buses. Ours, a 1960s number, was a bit scruffy and didn't have A/C but I assumed that was because P&O got it for 30p cheaper than a newer version. Windows all wedged open, off we set. Arrived safely at the terminal which was a bit less modern than I imagined, but it did the job and we were soon through security (look out for the washing up bowls to stick your stuff through the X-ray machine on) on the ship. Overall transfer/check in score: 7/10 Our balcony cabin, F402, came with a sofa and we were glad we'd paid the little extra for this. - Excellent TV with some hi-def channels. - Small but perfectly formed shower room/loo. Good lighting, decent towels. Smart toiletries (The White Co.) which were replenished on request. - Good comfy bed and linen, changed once a week. - Balcony, fine for us but heard others complain it was smaller than normal. - General hotel-style feel to the room. Overall score for room/service: 10/10 Because we arrived on the 'second' day, it was less hectic with few people hanging around for flights. We had a mooch around to suss stuff out. Cases turned up at 7.45pm, three hours after we did, after we gave our very helpful/friendly cabin boy a friendly nudge. Breakfast: Great. Something for everyone. 9/10 (good toast would have meant a perfect 10) Buffet: Plentiful, generally aways piping hot (if it should be) and perfectly OK. Not great on seasoning but understandably they are catering to the lowest common denominator and many don't like salt/pepper etc. Felt like they had gone a bit mad on turkey/Christmas food as hard to escape it. 8/10 Buffet 'late night snacks' Pretty uninspiring and basically the days' leftovers (confirmed by staff) with pizza/chips added. 5/10 Epicurean Absolutely great. Food, service and ambience. A 'must do'. 10/10 Beach house Not sure why it's called the 'Beach house' as it's effectively the back bit of the buffet where P&O have established they can rake a few extra quid in. Better than the buffet but not great for what you pay. 7/10 Sindhu Nice ambience, good food but lacking a spice 'kick'. Great tho to escape the usual. 9/10 Peninsular Freedom dining venue, perfectly OK. Decent offering. Always happy to help. 8/10 Limelight (Jackie G) Seated at back of room so a little 'out of it'. No bread served despite a European menu. Quite wedding banquet-ish in terms of service. Jackie G gets a 7/10. Mad as a box of monkeys (in a nice way). 8/10 Bars/wine waiters Spot on. Pub prices and decent house wine (always available yet cunningly not on all menus!). 10/10 Stuff to do We love a swimming pool but the ones on 16 were a bit Benidorm-ish due to the fact that the loungers were mostly 'reserved' with a towel (pegged on), book and personal items from 6.45/7 then unused for hours until the bleary-eyed mob came along to claim them. Personally witnessed beds reserved and unused for 6 hours+. P&O give the blurb that this isn't allowed them say 'get on with it' doing nothing to police. Lazy and left a sour flavour, every day. 4/10 Entertainment Top-class. Shows amazing. Went to many of the 'early' shows to guarantee a seat. Brilliantly done. I thought I would hate the 'big' sail away party but decided to give it a go. Toe-curling and cheesy but excellent fun at the same time. Loved 'waving' goodbye to leaving ships alongside who seemed to love the cheers too. It's a 'must see'. 11/10 Last day The last day was a but undignified. Tossed out of your cabin at 8am (cases the night before) saw cabin baggage suitcases a over the place. People showering by pool/getting dressed etc. Even saw a lady with full set of curlers in. Buffet packed and generally all a bit messy. Wish i could have fast-forwarded past this bit. Disembarkation very smooth (newish bus too). Airport a bit crappy (not enough seats) and no usable wifi. Flight home uneventful. Bags on carousel quickly. In conclusion, great ship, amazing entertainment, decent food and a good opportunity to see lots of different places. Would we cruise again? Probably not. At least not this side of 60 and not on a P&O vessel as we'd have liked a more cosmopolitan bunch from different parts of the world. The crowd just weren't who we wanted to be around. Horses for courses and all that. It would be a dull world if we all liked the same stuff. Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Saying goodbye to your luggage at Birmingham is the start to our holiday as you wont see them again until you enter your cabin on the "Celebration" in beautiful Barbados. As first time cruisers we chose this particular trip as ... Read More
Saying goodbye to your luggage at Birmingham is the start to our holiday as you wont see them again until you enter your cabin on the "Celebration" in beautiful Barbados. As first time cruisers we chose this particular trip as being a smaller boat it can get into ports and islands restricted to the larger boats, it worked perfectly for us. The ship is older than others but very stable and looks like a boat unlike the larger liners that resemble large blocks of flats, we loved the quirkiness of it and the size (still large enough to get lost".) Our cabin was ideal for us as we were rarely there, choosing to be on the islands or in the bars/on deck outside etc. The cabins are cleaned morning and afternoon and the beds turned down in the evening, the attention to detail is excellent and "Munir" worked very hard to ensure everything was spotless at all times. The entertainment took me a few days to get into it, but then I really enjoyed it and we went to all but two of the nights in the Broadway showroom, the "Cameron Classics" being an absolute highlight from the team. The shows run at 8.30pm and 10.30 pm for the later performance, after that it's on to "Liberties" for even more fun late into the night with "Protege" (What a fantastic band) great musicians,very tight and such a professional sound. Although I wish they wouldn't pretend to do requests, we saw the many times and they just play what's on their list all the time and the request songs never change from week one to two or night to night. The Cruise Director is "Paul Evans" and he is excellent, always informative and enthusiastic without being over the top, he makes you feel part of the ship and you always know what's going on at all times. You have two choices for food, the "Meridian" and the "Lido" the latter being the casual restaurant. Both provide really good food with the "Meridian" being the service restaurant, we never waited long and the wine flows well thanks to "Semina" the head Sommelier, if you are on the all inclusive package the house red is very,very good! The bars are really "Hemingways" on level 5 and "Horizons" at the pointy end on level 9, both are comfortable but difficult getting a seat. Get "Hector" to serve you in "Hemingways" he is excellent and attentive and get's to you as soon as he can after he had acknowledged you are there. There are other outside bars but we rarely used these but service is ok outside and you have to catch the waiters eye, the inside and outside "Lido" serves food all day and evening and has a nice choice and after few too many drinks late at night you will always get a meal. We spent New years eve at sea and the atmosphere and party was fantastic, champagne was served all round and the dancing went on into the early hours. There were a few sore heads in the morning. Our recommendation would be to get off the ship at every opportunity, see the islands, do the excursions and mix with the locals they are amazingly friendly. If you do the island tours you will pay a lot less by going private, walk onto the dock and negotiate with the local taxis. We did two excursions with Thomsons, "The Jet skiing on Currascoa"" and "The Rum Runner" on Grenada both great value and an amazing experience but the tours are expensive compared to local rates. For us it was all about the islands and we were not disappointed, beautiful does not come close to describing the atmosphere,the people,the lifestyle and the scenery. You will miss them when you get back to the UK. Cruising is a fantastic and comfortable way to see the world, we would recommend going all inclusive as you just relax and have what you want when you want. Would we go again? A resounding yes! We're already planning the next one for this Xmas coming 2016. Were things perfect? Of course not, but then what is, they were ideal for us as we saw it as a floating hotel with the goal being to see islands that many people never get the chance to see. Thankyou Thomson for helping us do so in a lovely old boat with a lovely crew and a warm and helpful atmosphere, we will miss you guys and will see you again as soon as we can. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Our first cruise and first time away at Xmas. We had two adjoining balcony cabins (wife and me in one and sons 21 and 18 in the other). Cabins were mid ships (F420 deck 9). Balcony divider opened between the rooms. We had a great ... Read More
Our first cruise and first time away at Xmas. We had two adjoining balcony cabins (wife and me in one and sons 21 and 18 in the other). Cabins were mid ships (F420 deck 9). Balcony divider opened between the rooms. We had a great view, unobstructed by life boats, and mid ship so close to lifts and main facilities below and above. We set high standards as this cruise was a lot of money but we were not disappointed. The accommodation, staff, food and entertainment were excellent. We were not overly impressed with some of the islands especially Jamaica (Ochio Rios) and the areas around the port in Grenada. Some of the other though were beautiful. We had the freedom pass so we could have flexible eating times. Well worth it. We heard several more experienced cruisers complain about the busy lifts and design of the ship but as first timers we have nothing to compare against. It was a very expensive holiday and I'm not sure overall the experience was any better than a much cheaper family holiday in Mexico (Xcaret is my favourite) for example, but we are pleased we tried it and had a terrific time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Just back from an unbelievable cruise sailing around the warm Caribbean on the Britannia. The Caribbean was the perfect place to leave behind the wet and windy UK. The Britannia, with our balcony cabin, was the perfect ship to enjoy the ... Read More
Just back from an unbelievable cruise sailing around the warm Caribbean on the Britannia. The Caribbean was the perfect place to leave behind the wet and windy UK. The Britannia, with our balcony cabin, was the perfect ship to enjoy the experience. We were so pleased that we had booked a standard balcony cabin on G Deck with its excellent facilities instead of an inside cabin. The balcony with its 2 comfortable chairs and table was the perfect place to enjoy our morning cuppa as we sailed into a different Caribbean island on 9 mornings. What can be better than waking up on a December morning, pulling back the curtains, opening the balcony doors and stepping into the early morning warm Caribbean sunshine. I read from one of the professional moaners that the balcony was too small - too small for what? Too small for a party yes, but ample for 2 people to enjoy a drink, read a book, have a chat or just marvel at the scenery. Everything else in the cabin was perfect, large bed, powerful shower, large screen TV, fridge, towels and all well looked after be the cabin boy. Once out of the cabin there are an excellent choice of restaurants, bars and activities to choose from. In an evening we were on Freedom Dining as we don't like being tied to a meal time. We ate in the Meridian restaurant on 12 of our evenings and on each occasion the choice and quality of food and drinks was exceptional. We shared a table with other guests initially which was fine but later on in the holiday opted for a table for 2 after being worried that we may end up with a couple of the professional moaners who were on board. The moaners were very much in the minority but we didn't want to risk a perfect dining experience ruined by pathetic complaining. We ate once in Sindhu, the Indian restaurant on board, which was excellent and on the first evening in the Horizon buffet, which again had an excellent choice of food and drinks. Breakfasts were always in the Horizon for us as we liked to relax and enjoy the fresh fruit followed by a selection of the warm food on offer. After our evening meal we usually had a few drinks in one of the many varied bars and also watched a great Robbie Williams tribute act in Headliners. On the days in port we would make use of the local taxis to take us to a beach, rain forest, waterfall etc. We would usually share with other passengers from the ship and this worked out very reasonable. Many of the organised shore excursions left at 08.30am which is too early for us on holiday. All of the islands were amazing, possibly Tortola was our favourite but we also enjoyed our last day at the Boatyard beach and bar in Barbados (walking distance from the port). On the 4 days sailing we relaxed on deck making the most of the lovely warm weather that we had. As it was usually around 11.00am when we arrived on deck most sun loungers were usually taken but we found that if we just sat in a chair then sooner or later beds would be free. On these 4 sailing days the formal evenings took place and 99% of the passengers got involved and dressed up which was good. The Disembarkation process was well managed and meant that the journey from ship to plane run smoothly. Anything that I would change? 1. I would take a change of clothes in my hand luggage for the first evening on the ship as our suitcases did not arrive in the cabin until after we had eaten. 2. I would request that the moaners stay in the UK next winter and moan about something there instead - they'll find plenty :-). Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was our first long cruise having taken mini cruises before. The ship is impressive but staff appeared miserable and demotivated. We loved dressing up, the for in The Peninsular freedom dining was fantastic. We did pay to eat at ... Read More
This was our first long cruise having taken mini cruises before. The ship is impressive but staff appeared miserable and demotivated. We loved dressing up, the for in The Peninsular freedom dining was fantastic. We did pay to eat at both Sindhu and Limelight, "Morcambe & Wise" were superb both but food was disappointing. We had booked before arriving on board but no tables were reserved, we did complain and Kenneth offered us a return visit to Sindhu and at that time food was excellent. Our cabin was huge and located mid ship on C deck accessible only by lift. Standards slipped with guests not adhering to the dress code. Guests also reserved sun beds for hours at a time leaving many guests disappointed. We would have use The Retreat had we known about it at the start of the cruise only 5 spaces allocated on the day. Overall a fantastic cruise,madam in the Crows Nest kept us entertained as did Lauren the female part of the singin duo. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was our first P&O cruise and we are totally hooked, everything from the staff to the trips were excellent. I understand from other passengers that they had bad experiences on their excursions but we must have chosen well as we ... Read More
This was our first P&O cruise and we are totally hooked, everything from the staff to the trips were excellent. I understand from other passengers that they had bad experiences on their excursions but we must have chosen well as we had absolutely no complaints. The best the final one which was the Champagne Sunset Cruise which ended the holiday perfectly. The food in the Oriental Restaurant was excellent and so was the service. We also tried a few of the other restaurants which were also good the only negative place in my eyes was the Beach Club mainly as the food wasn't cooked as well as i liked but that was more personal choice. There was plenty of sun beds for everyone, even though people tried to reserve them. We opted to stay near the outdoor big screen as this seemed to be a quieter area. The entertainment was plentiful we went to the Play house a few times to see acts like the Cuban comedian and Zoe Tyler who were both excellent. Most of the times we tended to do the quiz and activities in Brodies bar as we met up with other couples. The outdoor Cinema was also fab even though the rocking of the ship sent you to sleep as soon as the film started. We would definately cruise on the Azura again totally enjoyed the whole Cruise Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
All details are factual and the subject of a formal written complaint to P&O My wife booked the cruise in Oct 2014 to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary which was to occur in early 2015 We arrived 27/11 /15 and Azura A529 ... Read More
All details are factual and the subject of a formal written complaint to P&O My wife booked the cruise in Oct 2014 to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary which was to occur in early 2015 We arrived 27/11 /15 and Azura A529 departed Bridgetown on the 28th November 2015. The run up to the cruise was plagued with issues as a result of poor recommendation by our agents but after a last minute cabin change we headed off in the hope all would go well. Our balcony cabin had twin beds. On the first evening after a short time in bed I was unable to sleep as I felt as though I was being bitten... Not sure what was going on I swapped beds with my partner...and pretty soon she was bitten too. Bed bugs ! ?? We stripped the bedding and found it filthy the duvet was covered in what looked like body fluid stains , pillows were stained too. We were so shocked we took photo's as evidence. We complained to our cabin steward and reception.In due course the housekeeping manager agreed to change the bedding. No change of room was offered despite the fact the room probably needed a deep clean/fumigating. Not wishing to be labelled complainers , we felt that at least if the bedding was clean , then we should be OK.....but if we had been staying in a hotel , we would have walked and refused to pay the bill. Things could only get better ? Our cabin , B101 stank of stale cigarette smoke each time we put the aircon on. B101 is next to the crew section and on investigation post cruise I have seen comments going back to shortly after Azura first sailed about the smell of smoke in that cabin. The smell entered via the bathroom door lock cavity To cheer ourselves up we booked a P&O official trip to Stingray City , Grand Cayman. The info in the P&O excursion manual said that the sandbank was about 4feet deep and life jackets would be provided. My wife is/was a good swimmer...I am not so good , but with a snorkel I'm fine. On the day of the trip we attended the Playhouse theatre muster and were given labels for the trip. Unfortunately the excursion rep was totally disinterested in what he was doing and gave us the wrong labels. On realising this later we asked for them to be changed .... which was done without apology. This might seem trivial but has a bearing later on We used tenders to get ashore. A storm broke as we arrived at the terminal with some of the heaviest rain seen for some time. Tender ops were suspended , but we went ahead with the excursion....we were soaked to the skin but as we were eventually going into the water it didn't matter too much ! Bussed to our speed boat , we were shown aboard by two crew , for twenty eight people....no P&O rep....no life jackets...not even sure if there were any on board. The trip out to the reef/sandbank was through a heavy swell created by the storm. On arrival at the location we were greeted by the sight of dozens of boats and scores of people milling around in the water. Craft were fighting for position and anchors were being thrown into the water within feet of swimmers. It was mayhem. Visitors were gathered into large groups in the water by their two crew ,some 20-30metres from the boat. Becoming tired by the swell my wife decided to go back to the boat... two others had already boarded. As she did so she was swept under water a number of times and became frightened. I was on the other side of the group and unable to get to her. Eventually she managed to get to the metal steps on the stern of the boat. These were slippery , she lost her footing and fell damaging her knee. There was no-one aboard to help her other than those passengers who had already boarded. When I eventually got back to the boat I found her knee was grazed , bruised and bleeding. I asked a crew member if they had a first aid box...he looked in a small box and commented...tell her to get back in the water , the salt will do it good! Such was the trauma of the incident , my wife never went into the sea again for the rest of the cruise despite the fact that swimming in the Caribbean was to have been the highlight of the holiday. If we had booked this as a private trip we might have expected this cavalier approach , but for an organised P&O excursion , this was abysmal and put lives at risk. The next day , checking our on board account we found that the charge for the excursion had been debited to my account rather than my wife's. We told the excursion rep who said she would put it right. After 24 hours my account was credited....however the charge to my wife's account was for a trip we had not been on.. 006A Stingray Sailaway , which was £98 rather than £76 for the Express tour 017B! Another trip to see the excursion rep....he said he would correct it. 24 hours later , no correction. We complained to reception who phoned the excursion manager for us.The latter insisted we had been on the dearer trip. We did not want reception to be caught in the middle of an argument, we thanked them and went off to the excursion desk. The young lady eventually agreed that we had been on 017B and agreed to correct the charge. The young man we asked to sort it out 24 hours before was sitting next to her and said , he had forgotten... no hint of an apology. This was the same rather rude young man who had originally given us the wrong excursion tag. The third black tie evening approached and I used the laundrette to wash my white dress shirt. On pressing the steam button on the iron I was appalled to find that someone had put coffee in the iron...my white shirt was now splattered with brown stains. I warned other users and tried to disconnect the iron from the wall , but it was locked in , so housekeeping were told , and I was left to rewash the shirt and try to remove the stains. On a second occasion my wife washed a number of items , which came out of the washing machine badly marked and stained. On taking them to reception she was told they would be laundered FOC. It took three days and two reminders to get them back....on the night before we left the Azura! On the last morning we were told to leave our cabin at 0800...some travellers had to wait until late afternoon before disembarking. Public toilets were available but those departing seemed to wander around aimlessly trying to kill the time. Surely a few cabins could have been made available for shower/changing facilities. We sat on the promenade deck at one point and a steward walked past shouting "rubbish !" at me...he was in fact referring to the magazine I had beside me. His attitude was intimidating and clearly shocked others near by. Of course we were leaving...so I suppose we were not of any further interest to him. This was our first ever cruise....and our last. Were we expecting too much ? We would certainly not travel with P&O again or indeed recommend them. Whilst the staff in the Oriental were brilliant and so too our cabin steward , the rest of the experience was akin to a cheap B&B or a stay at a tacky floating holiday camp. We tried to make the best of the trip , but , no thanks to P&O. A truly bad and very expensive experience , not to be repeated. The only high points were the daily "thought of the day" from Captain Camby..... perhaps Captain you should consider this one..."Just because nobody complains it doesn't mean all parachutes are perfect." Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Having never cruised before and after reading some of the reviews on here i must admit I was very apprehensive about this holiday and was wishing I had booked my usual style winter holiday (Thailand/Australua). As a fit 46 year old woman ... Read More
Having never cruised before and after reading some of the reviews on here i must admit I was very apprehensive about this holiday and was wishing I had booked my usual style winter holiday (Thailand/Australua). As a fit 46 year old woman travelling with my Auntie and reading that the cruise was geared for the over 60s on some reviews I feel I should point out that that is simply not true. Yes there was over 60's but there was lots of age ranges too. The whole trip was fantastic from start to finish and it was one of the best holidays I've ever had. The ship was lovely (perfectly preportioned and sleek). The decor was tasteful and it was spotlessly clean at all times. The staff were all friendly, courtious courtious and seemed happy in theur work. Paul Evans the cruise director is brilliant at his job. He's lively, funny and caring. Other passengers I spoke with also thought so. I saw him onshore when he was off duty on a number of occasions and he was just the same. A great asset to Thompson. I would also like to mention our cleaner Sukran who ws brilliant. I'm sure he has eyes in the back if his head as he never once disturbed us but our room was always prepared even when we had onky been away from it for half an hour! Giovanni also stood out as being really lovely in the Meridian. Which leads me nicely into talking about the food, which must have been ok for me to put on half a stone even as a fussy eater. All of the restaurants catered for food alergies and woukd also make up meals to suit if required which is amazing considering how many people they were catering for. The lido buffet always had plenty of choice and seemed to be always open. The meridian menus were well thought out and it was lovely sitting with strangers (by choice) to eat and thus meeting some wonderful people. The two A la carte restaurants cost £20 each and had to be booked. I must say they were both scrumptious and the 5 courses worth every penny. The service was also impeccable. The things tbat people moan about on these websites seemed crazy in my opinion but then some people criticise everything and make their own lives miserable in the process. For example, when walking past reception I heard one gentleman complaining about a loud noise as 7.20 in the morning. That was the ship docking!!! The entertainment was varied and was well organised. Some of the shows were not to my taste but others were right up my street. We all like different things .... The dancers were absolutely brilliant and never seemed to put a foot wrong. I only have 2 teensy criticisms. Firstly the bottled water shouldn't be classed as Premium on a drinks package as it's more of a necessity in my opinion, especially in the heat. The tap water was safe to drink but awful tasting. Secondly, tne staff in Horizons bar on the top deck were not as friendly as on the rest of the ship on the 4 occasions I went there for afternoon tea . I would definitely recommend this cruise and would quite happily of stayed on tbe shio forever! Thank you Thompson for a great and unforgettable holiday! Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
This was our first cruise and I was a little apprehensive but there was absolutely no need. Thomson could not have looked after you better. Yes the décor is a little dated and could do with a refurb but it still has a certain charm. ... Read More
This was our first cruise and I was a little apprehensive but there was absolutely no need. Thomson could not have looked after you better. Yes the décor is a little dated and could do with a refurb but it still has a certain charm. The food was exceptional and you will grow outwards! The choice and variety each day was amazing. Look out for the fruit and veg sculptures! The puddings were beautiful and you couldn't ask for anything more. You have the choice of 3 restaurants - we tried Meridian and the Lido. The staff work incredibly hard and are a real credit. Now the entertainment team - Jake, Jack, Keiron and Laura are a certain phenomenon!! They bounce of each other very well and are cringingly funny. Again very hard working, friendly and engaging. We loved the different bars and areas you could sit. If you wanted to sit quietly, you could. The shows in the Broadway bar were good although a couple could have been better. The comedian was very good. The band Protege who played mainly in Liberties bar are wonderful and how they haven't yet made there own CD I don't know. If you worry about feeling sea sick - don't be. The only night it was a little choppy was the last night but nothing major and apart from a gentle rocking, you don't really know you are on a boat. The Caribbean is absolutely stunning. We booked 3 excursions. The first was the glass bottom boat at Pigeon Bay. The bay itself is stunning BUT the boat leaves a lot to be desired. A small fishing boat with a bit of glass in the hull. It was quite choppy in this and a few of us felt quite unwell. We were allowed to snorkel further out but when you try it was really too choppy and dangerous. A lot of money for what it was. We hardly saw any fish and would have preferred to stay on the beach. Our next trip was the Rum Runner. If you do one trip - you must do this one!! It was fantastic! Plenty of rum, an amazing funny crew and a beautiful beach to stop and snorkel from. Sean even bought us rum whilst we were swimming. There was a great calypso band and an attempt at limbo dancing. A really great fun trip. Our third trip was to Trafalgar falls - which is a bit of a walk but worth it. We visited Tobago. St Vincents, Grenada, Dominica and St Lucia. Just be aware if you choose to walk around the towns, not to go too far off the main roads.A little disappointed that we didn't see any of the beaches in St Lucia but this was due to the port stop and taxis charging $25 each way but the shops are quaint and lovely. Thank you Thomson for such a great holiday where we truly felt rested and looked after. The organisation is second to none. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
This was the first cruise for my partner and I, (if you discount Brittany Ferries to Northern Spain!) The Thomson flight from Gatwick was excellent and we were amazed that the transfer coach met us at the aircraft steps for the journey ... Read More
This was the first cruise for my partner and I, (if you discount Brittany Ferries to Northern Spain!) The Thomson flight from Gatwick was excellent and we were amazed that the transfer coach met us at the aircraft steps for the journey to the ship. The embarkation procedure took about 25 mins then up to our cabin B 404. This was a superior balcony cabin, not a bad size but a bit smaller in reality than the brochure indicated. Our cabin steward Rasheed did a good job keeping things clean and tidy. We had opted for club dining in the Oriental Restaurant and were very pleased with the quality and choice of food. Our two waiters, Alex and Daryl were fantastic guys and nothing was too much trouble. We only used the Horizon Buffet for a light lunch as it reminded us of Butlins !!. We tried the Sindhu and Epicurean so called select dining experience, wish we had not bothered, although both were beautiful and the service attentive we were both very disappointed. Maybe it was the menu available those evenings, but I found the Sindhu food bland, uninspiring and overcooked. In the Epicurean I chose Wild Boar as a main course , a dish I have enjoyed many times in Spain and Portugal. The Epicurean example was quite frankly Rubbish :- Tough and Totally Overcooked. I wondered if the poor beast had walked all the way from Hampshire!. I was also not the only punter who complained about the dish that night. We enjoyed the entertainment in the Headliners Theatre most nights, The 4 Tunes act being the most memorable. Some previous reviews complained the theatre was too small for the ship's headcount, but we arrived 20 minutes early most nights and always got a good seat. Obviously the Pool areas are never going to be big enough to accommodate 3000 plus passengers on "at sea " days but were OK when we skipped a couple of shore excursion mornings. The main complaint was people reserving sunbeds at 7.00 with towels etc and not turning up till much later, but that happens with selfish Brits on beach holidays too !!! The organised trips we took, Aruba, St Kitts and Grenada were fine if a little pricey, the other times we went ashore we did our own thing. The disembarkation went quite smoothly at the allotted time, pleasantly surprised when all the cases left outside the cabin Friday night arrived at Gatwick ! In summary, would do another Cruise, YES most definitely and have already put a deposit down for the next one. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
My partner and I (both in our late 60s) flew from Manchester to Barbados with Thomas Cook on 21st November, 2015, to board P&O Britannia for a fortnight cruising around the Caribbean islands. The flight was delayed by about an hour, ... Read More
My partner and I (both in our late 60s) flew from Manchester to Barbados with Thomas Cook on 21st November, 2015, to board P&O Britannia for a fortnight cruising around the Caribbean islands. The flight was delayed by about an hour, but when we got to Barbados we were quickly transferred on to a local bus for the 45-minute journey to the port. The local buses are not up to European standards, and are cramped with no luggage space so we had to sit with our flight bags on our laps, but it was a fairly short journey, so not too much of a problem. We then queued for a short time in a large hangar-type structure to go through security checks before being allowed on to the ship. It was relatively painless, and once on board we quickly found our cabin (E623) on Deck 10, where the cabin steward Sada introduced himself, and made us feel welcome. Ours was a balcony cabin, and although it was not large, what space there was had been used carefully to provide adequate storage. However, we are both slim, and I do not know how some of the larger passengers we saw would cope with the shower room, which had just enough room between the washbasin and toilet to open the shower door. Unfortunately our luggage did not arrive before we wanted to eat, and we had to go to dinner in the clothes we had travelled in. We had our first meal in the Horizon buffet restaurant, which was pleasant and a considerable improvement on the buffet restaurants on Celebrity Eclipse and Celebrity Constellation, which are the only other ships we have cruised on. Subsequently, we only had breakfast and light snacks during the day in the Horizon. Waiters were sometimes a little slow to clear tables, but generally were very good. The food assistants were very helpful, and quick to replenish dishes so there was never an occasion when we had to wait for food. A special mention must be made to Mickey who went out of his way to find us some salad when it was not on the menu (we realised afterwards that salad is not served with the afternoon snacks but is always available for lunch or evening meals). The food choice in the Horizon is extensive, and my only complaints were that the scrambled eggs at breakfast contained too much salt, and the salad pots served at afternoon snacks all had either onions or spicy seasoning in them, neither of which I eat. We did find the location of food a bit puzzling at times, and labelling of dishes should be improved, including a translation/explanation of unfamiliar foreign dishes. Hygiene is a constant headache for cruise ships and there are hand washing facilities at the entrance to the Horizon, as well as hand sanitiser stations, and on our last day there was a member of the catering team stationed at the wash basin to remind customers to wash their hands, which led us to think there might have been a problem, as this was the only time we saw that. However, some of the assistants would not hand over trays until they had witnessed you sanitise your hands, which I thought an excellent idea. We had opted for freedom dining, and had evening meals in either the Meridian or Peninsular restaurants. Both serve the same extensive menu, and they are both excellent with nothing to choose between them, although we tended to favour the Meridian. Service is first class, and the reception teams are super efficient at getting you to a table with minimal delays, even on formal nights when they can be very busy. The food is superb, and the hot dishes are served hot, not lukewarm as we have sometimes experienced even in good quality hotels in European countries. We were looking forward to seeing the ship because it had been launched with considerable fanfare earlier this year, and were mostly favourably impressed. The décor is a bit drab in places, and art works are unremarkable (bordering on cheap and cheerful), but the lounge areas are very pleasant, and comfortable places to relax. Several passengers commented on the atrium being underwhelming, and it is true that the staircase (which is obviously a focal point) could have been made much more attractive by a different use of colour (it is brown), but the furniture is very attractive and is also very comfortable. I particularly liked the fact that there is no music or other entertainment here, but other passengers felt this was a detriment. One of our complaints about the Celebrity Eclipse was that there always seemed to be a band of some sort playing in the atrium, and because it is an open space which goes upwards through the ship, the sound carries and it is almost impossible to escape the noise. I would settle on a compromise of soft piano music to satisfy those who need some form of music, but hope P&O stick with the present arrangement. We did notice that some of the wall coverings are already scuffed and marked, and several of the lift buttons on the landings have come off and have not been replaced, making the ship look older than it is. In the Horizon restaurant, some of the seating is cloth and some is vinyl, and the cloth seating is quite badly marked in places. It will not be long before the ship needs a refit. Probably the most important fact is that the beds are very comfortable, but this has to be tempered by saying that we rarely got a full night’s sleep. On port days the docking process causes the ship to vibrate and this shook us awake at about 6.30am, and at about 8.00am the tannoy announcements about disembarkation make sure there is no chance of a lie-in. There are four formal nights on this two-week cruise, and these were very well observed. The first formal night also combines the Captain’s welcoming address in the atrium. Captain Pembridge is a great communicator, unlike some ship’s captains who can appear stand offish, and his enthusiasm for his ship comes across. His welcome set the tone for the cruise It was wonderful to see everyone gathered together in their formal clothes, and the dress standard on formal nights was generally maintained, although the casual dress code is largely flouted, with shorts often being worn by men instead of the slacks/jeans specified. I felt that the wearing of swimsuits by both sexes in the buffet restaurant, and in lounge areas or within the corridors and lifts was inappropriate, and an effort should be made to enforce a reasonable dress code inside the ship, including the wearing of some form of footwear - we saw people in all areas of the ship in bare feet. Our evenings were generally spent in the Crystal Room, where we enjoyed listening to James Murrum’s excellent band playing dance music, before going to the quiz in the Marlowe suite, so cannot comment on the entertainment in the theatre. The Britannia dance teachers – Michael Johnson and Sallyrose Beardall – perform a showdance which is spectacular, but Michael needs to take lessons in compering, as there are only so many times he can tell his audience that they came third in the Showdance championships in Blackpool this year, and how gorgeous his partner is! I attended a couple of their dance classes, and they were very good fun, but he needs to be aware that some of his banter might offend minority groups. On one occasion we went to the Limelight Club to see the comedian, Jeff Stevenson, who we had enjoyed on a previous cruise, but this venue is totally inappropriate, as it is not suited to large numbers, and a rail which runs round the inner section obstructs the view, and seems to serve no purpose. There is a similar rail in the Crystal Room which is also obstructive and detracts from enjoyment of the band and the dancing. We also tried Brodie’s bar once for a quiz, but found it dark and gloomy so did not go again. The cruise itinerary sounded interesting and I was looking forward to idyllic palm fringed beaches of white sand, lapped by a turquoise sea. Sadly, the reality is nothing like a Bounty advertisement. We did pass some beaches which lived up to the dream, but the ones we were taken to were tacky, overcrowded, and fringed by bars and fast food outlets. Perhaps our mistake was in relying on local taxi drivers for island tours, rather than using the Britannia tours, though I think the experience would probably have been similar, but very much more expensive. We were never on a beach for more than an hour or so because the beach was usually just one part of a tour itinerary, so did not bother with sunbeds. However, on St Maarten we used local buses instead of taxis because we wanted to go to Marigot and Maho Beach (to see the planes landing and taking off almost on the beach) and it is easy to go by bus. Marigot is a quiet and elegant place with a very French feel, very different from Philippsburg, but at Maho beach, the one and only time we hired a sunbed, we were charged $10 each for the use of a sunbed, although we were only there for an hour. Unless you want to buy jewellery, perfume or alcohol, the ports we visited had very little to recommend them. Without exception they are congested with traffic, because the roads are simply not designed to cope with the volume of traffic created by tourism, and the air pollution is very bad. The interior roads vary in quality, the worst being on Grenada, which were badly potholed, and very narrow and hilly, leading to a very uncomfortable, and fairly scary experience, in parts like being on a rollercoaster ride with switchback hills and hairpin bends. Isla Magarita should simply be removed from the itinerary. It is the only port where we were tendered off the ship which I assumed was because the port is not deep enough to cope with a ship of Britannia’s size. Since returning and reading about Isla Margarita on Wikipedia, I now think it may have something to do with fear of piracy, which apparently is common there. P&O issued serious warnings about safety on the island, and their tour buses apparently had armed guards on board, not without reason because there have been several tourists held hostage and/or killed there in recent years. Passengers who went on tours said they enjoyed the nature reserve, but the docking area is nothing more than a strip of stalls selling souvenirs, and a beach lined by dead trees. Disembarkation was very well organised, and the flight home actually landed early because of strong tail winds. The only minor grumble I have about the flight is that all the Gordon’s gin had been sold before the sales trolley reached me! In conclusion I would go on Britannia again, but not on this cruise Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
This was our first cruise ever, and I'm glad to say the ship is wonderful. Very elegant art deco style, lovely ballroom and dining areas. The staff are very polite and professional, and very smartly dressed. The only complaint is, on ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever, and I'm glad to say the ship is wonderful. Very elegant art deco style, lovely ballroom and dining areas. The staff are very polite and professional, and very smartly dressed. The only complaint is, on sea days you can't get a sun bed, and there is no shade from the hot sun. Apart from that we thought everything was almost perfect. A lot of people complained, about the ship being too big, or the food was not good. In our opinion the food was good and service very efficient. Lots of well travelled cruises, felt the other ships were better. We found there were a lot of moaners over nothing, or people were cruise snobs. Its a lovely big ship and everything was pristine, its almost perfect. The entertainment could be average on some nights though. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
After reading all of the bad reviews about the Azura, we left for the holiday feeling very nervous. However, being first-time cruisers we had nothing to compare it with and found everything to be just great. The food was lovely, waiters ... Read More
After reading all of the bad reviews about the Azura, we left for the holiday feeling very nervous. However, being first-time cruisers we had nothing to compare it with and found everything to be just great. The food was lovely, waiters in the restaurants were very friendly and professional as were the stewards and rest of the staff. We found that if you speak to them, they will speak to you. Entertainment was good, although some of it was not our cup of tea, we always found things to do and enjoyed all of the sea days .The islands were fantastic. Only booked one excursion through P&O. It was much cheaper to use the local transport and it suited us better because we could get off the ship at a time to suit us and pick up an independent tour or a taxi to the beach. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015

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