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19 Europe - British Isles & Western Cruises for the Disabled Cruise Reviews

We did both this cruise and the subsequent leg (Transatlantic in Cabin 4060. Positives --The ship is well laid out and easy to get around. --With the exception of the Officers' BBQ (come early!) and the White Night (come ... Read More
We did both this cruise and the subsequent leg (Transatlantic in Cabin 4060. Positives --The ship is well laid out and easy to get around. --With the exception of the Officers' BBQ (come early!) and the White Night (come early!) it was easy enough to get a seat at any dining venue whenever you liked. --The crew was well trained, helpful, and seemed to enjoy their work. --The local entertainment brought in from off the ship was good, especially the Portuguese Tuna Band. Embarkation/disembarkation dead easy. Neither Positive nor Negative (or some of each) --The food was middling. Or rather, sometimes it was pretty good and sometimes it was pretty poor. Overall we would say it met our minimum standard for cruising, but there were mistakes. When I say mistakes, I'm not talking about subjectivity of taste, I'm talking about basics like food temperature and doneness. Gazpacho is supposed to come cool, not warm. Rare steak is supposed to be red inside, not brown. --The Chef's tables were hit and miss as well. The Stateside one was, in out opinion, worth the money. The French one was not. The Italian one was a pinot-grigio drenched crime against food. --The regular entertainment staff ran from great (Amanda Poulson, CD) to competent (most of the musiciands) to High School Musical Reject (three of the four "Signature" singers, who screamed their way though numbers) --There seemed to often be no rhyme nor reason as to whether the gangway was set up on Deck 3 (piece of cake) or deck 4 (treacherous stairs). --The people who liked White Night seemed to like it a lot. We found it pathetic on the first leg, and gave it a miss on the second. Negatives --Air quality in our OV room was bad --A lot of people on the TA leg (pax, crew, officers, Captain, CD) got very sick. Re: above two points: I wish I'd thought to ask to have the air filters changed in our cabin, as I later found out other people did. It might have helped. --Included wines were generally vile (exceptions: rosé [same every day, drinkable]; Portuguese red blend [very good] and cabernet sauvignon from California and Chianti from Italy [drinkable]; viognier [drinkable]). --They kept cancelling ship-sponsored shore-ex for lack of interest. Thank heavens we mostly went private. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Stunning place to visit Weather was fantastic Ship, very tired needs to retire as well do some staff No regrets going. But definitely won’t cruise again on this ship Service in outside bars very slow ( we waited 3 hours ... Read More
Stunning place to visit Weather was fantastic Ship, very tired needs to retire as well do some staff No regrets going. But definitely won’t cruise again on this ship Service in outside bars very slow ( we waited 3 hours before being attended to ) we were told if not happy move to an area that has waiters, one night asked for surf and turf for dinner 24 hours in advance was told no as it was a formal night Choice of foods not great Invited to a cocktail party ! Without any cocktails. Beer ,wine ,orange juice ! We done our own thing at the ports out of the 4 Bergen I didn’t enjoy The other 3 had better scenery very quiet and piecefull Entertainment very limited but the night shows were very good the dancers and singers work very hard VIP drinks package was well worth the money We met some lovely people glad we have done the fjords Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I boarded Britannia for its France, Spain and Guernsey highlights. Embarkation was smooth for all guests, luggage attendants extremely helpful. And check in staff to security personal where to the highest standards. On boarding ... Read More
I boarded Britannia for its France, Spain and Guernsey highlights. Embarkation was smooth for all guests, luggage attendants extremely helpful. And check in staff to security personal where to the highest standards. On boarding Britannia I was greeted by friendly onboard social hostesses, who dealt with enquires in a very pleasant manner. The overall appearance is a finely and articulate ship with the grandiose it expels. The room steward kiran was trained to be more of a butler than a steward, one in which I would of expected to see on a Cunard liner. Absolutely excellent service from this young man. However it was not long Until you could hear the grumbles of passengers. From freezer packs not being delivered at appropriate times for medicine to be administered for a guest who had informed p and o re medical conditions. I can confirm the ship dealt with this on day of departure. Hopefully to the guest satisfaction. Then there was an issue with the drinks package!! 96 year old female told to pay the fee even though didn’t drink so her son could get his drinks package. I can confirm this was dealt with and he did receive his drinks package and the elderly lady was not charged and training was given. There was another incident on board on the first formal night when the photographer asked two gentleman, as they set to pose for photographs if they were father and son. One of the gentleman replied “no he is my partner” the photographer then replied who is the man and who is the woman” to many passengers in the queues horror and well as the two upset gentlemen. I can confirm there complaint was dealt with. The received compensation of 100 pounds on board credit alongside a meal in one of the fine dining rooms and the photographer was moved to a different area of the ship. However, they are still seeking more than this as they feel money or restaurants don’t compensate it is more to the fact of training and his attitude towards their sexuality. Now to bilboa this was pretty horrific as to disembarkation and boarding for disabled passengers coming off deck 6 rather than deck 5. It was far to long for passengers to try and walk and if a dla assessment officer was watching he/she would have been shocked as people who struggle to walk was actually beyond any Disablement entitlement. If a photographer took a photo. However because of this many were left physically exhausted and one passenger falling, injuring her ankle. Other passengers complained regarding the heating in rooms either being to cold then to hot in the evening. Then came the niggles and the freedom dining. Personally was pretty horrified at the times you had to wait your buzzer not going off, which I did complain about. Then the finest champagne not being open correctly and spilling out over the table. Which was reported. Now to your personal order of drinks bill being given and asked to sign before you had your dessert. I can confirm that this was reported and everything was taken extremely serious and action was taken.many passengers were disappointed not docking in Guernsey. This was down to storm Hannah and I back the decision as passengers and staff safety should always come first and the captain did although to the frustration of some. Disembarkation was delayed due to highs winds in the morning again adding to further frustration. This was out of both P and o Cruises control and ground staff. Unfortunately an act of god is beyond anyone’s control. Safety always has to be paramount. I understand people’s views and expectations are all different whether dining, dressing to entertainment. So yes this cruise didn’t meet a lot of expectations however, look carefully at itinerary of your cruise, and dress codes etc , every ship is different but at the same time it’s like a box of chocolates full of different varieties with a glossy coating. One thing I will say I think I am Amongst the majority that found the captains announcements came across a little condescending “ladies and gentleman boys and girls “ and tatty bye. Not how I expect a captain to address his public. I can confirm that every complaint is taking extremely seriously, and that Britannia staff will do their upmost to sort the situation out. Don’t wait to get home and complain it’s important to address it whilst on board. I would like like to add the bar team in the live lounge were of the highest standard and worked together extremely well. They served immaculately and presented themselves well a proud team supporting Avalon and his Assistant manager, and P and O Cruises. So yes the company needs to keep on top of training to impress the quality of service and fix things as soon as they arise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This ship has a strain of flu not yet in the U.S. and is knowingly operating without quarantine or warning at-risk passengers. I saw a cupful of bedbugs found by first time cruisers on their honeymoon, scrubbed black slimemold out of my ... Read More
This ship has a strain of flu not yet in the U.S. and is knowingly operating without quarantine or warning at-risk passengers. I saw a cupful of bedbugs found by first time cruisers on their honeymoon, scrubbed black slimemold out of my handicapped shower. I paid too much for my mediocre, passive/ aggressive pedicure. Dining and waitstaff were magnificent, thankfully. As half of a double income no kids, I am unimpressed, regardless of the Captain's good graces. Take Clorox wipes and avoid the population the UK is beautiful. The ship's age is showing, and I understand that it's a ship, things do go wrong, but having watched several friends and family members have to get upset/ and/or sick enough to have to raise their voices to get a response , I will be hard pressed to recommend this brand. For an organization that bills themselves as the consummate host, I find their actions, rather lack thereof, grossly negligent, greedy, and deplorable. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
After 10 years since our last cruise, I booked a 12 night adventure with my elderly father. I am 26 and he is 78 with a walker/cane. Overall, we had a great trip and enjoyed our time together - we are not picky people. However, he ... Read More
After 10 years since our last cruise, I booked a 12 night adventure with my elderly father. I am 26 and he is 78 with a walker/cane. Overall, we had a great trip and enjoyed our time together - we are not picky people. However, he mentioned several times while on the ship, and off, that he doesn't think he will sail with Princess again; and I agree. PROS: - Service: 95% of the service we received was exceptional! The genuine care and attention from many of the crew members salvaged the other aspects of the ship. I drink, so the bar staff got to know me over the course of several days and greeted me across the decks (by name) every time they saw me with a smile; even if I was just passing by. The restaurant staff was also wonderful and very caring. Maybe I just have a memorable face but they seemed genuine each time they greeted us night after night. The spa attendants had a bit more of a spicy demeanor but were still very nice and fun. I think they get tired of seeing the same old kinds of people and will treat you well if you take the time to talk with them. I only dealt with one excursion officer for our onshore endeavors who was extra helpful. After only meeting him once, he automatically sent my father priority passes to exit the ship with disability access and reserved us front seats on each bus - something we did not even request or know about. Each time we disembarked the ship, the crew was always very helpful and swift with my father - making a normally chaotic experience a stress-free one. The staff was 10/10, overall. - Cleanliness: The entire ship was very clean, our cabins were spotless, and the newly refurbished areas were very nice. - Excursions: The ports and excursions were all fun. We choose excursions that were designed for limited mobility and were simple to get off and on. Princess exceed our expectations with several of their offerings. CONS: - Food/Dining: After the first day cruising, my father and I recalled what we noted on our last cruise with Holland America: "My God, the food on this ship is so much better than Princess!" - a realization that we had forgotten when we booked this cruise. When you are on vacation, food is a big part of the fun. I'm going to break down the dining experiences we experienced: 1. Main Dining Room: Usually decent food. We stuck with shrimp cocktails each night and had about 1-2 good dinners that we would actually order again. Everything else was just meh. Only sent food back once, something I never do, because my steak was virtually raw, not medium. The staff was great, and the food was the best that was included on the cruise, so we frequented it more than the rest. 2. Buffet: The "International Marketplace" was very bad. The salads were like a cafeteria with prepaid dressings that tasted like they were from Sysco. The bread was always bland and dry. Their Asian-style food was like tough meat and veggies with generic soy sauce. Panda Express is more authentic. The only good food I remember getting from the buffet was veal and prime rib, which was only available one day each. I am not a breakfast person, so I cannot comment on the morning options. 3. Slice: The poolside pizza was disappointingly some of the best food on the ship. I did enjoy the pizza and the California toast was pretty decent if you like avocado and a ton of bacon. 4. Salty Dog: The hamburger place was disgusting. A frozen patty with very salty cheese and basic condiments. After one bite of the cheeseburger when we first boarded the ship, I looked at my dad and knew we were in for a rough time. All of the french fries on the ship are also frozen and flavorless with no seasoning. A hamburger is a hard thing to mess up, but the burgers on Princess make Burger King seem like a special treat. I didn't try their famous "Best Burger at Sea" because it was an extra $13, and I had no hope that it would suffice. 5. Crown Grill: At $40 per person extra, we decided not to try the ship's steakhouse. It probably would have been decent, but we decided we would just eat the free food on the ship and put our money toward better things - or even our favorite restaurants back home. 6. Italian Restaurant: I forget the name, but it was the best food on the ship - not to mention a ton of it! There are many courses so don't fill up on the delicious bread. Unfortunately, we waited until the last couple of days to try this spot because we would have dinned here more often if we knew it was good. Worth the extra charge! 7. Planks: Coming from barbecue country, we have high expectations. The food wasn't bad, but it wasn't amazing. It defiantly satisfied my cravings for meat and flavor. The menu was a bit confusing. We were a party of two and thought we each got a choice of 4 meats. However, they brought the "plank" for two of us, which was a ton of food. The order was therefore a little mixed up, but we didn't have a problem with it. The tri-tip was very tough but the flavor was good. The pickles came from a jar and were way too sour. If you are craving BBQ, it is worth the extra charge. Otherwise, skip it. 8. Steamers: You'd think a cruise ship would specialize in seafood... My dad was more disappointed than I was because he loves fish. The starters were good - we loved the chowder. The crab legs and lobster were also good (all I really wanted anyway), but not enough to fill you up. The flounder was inedible. It was smothered and injected with crab meat and overpowering cheese. It was like a VERY fishy omelette more than anything. Not worth the extra charge in my opinion, but it was the only place to get crab legs or lobster on the ship unless you deal with dressing up for formal night in the main dining room. 9. Room Service: Worse than main dining room, terrible hamburger same as the poolside place, very small portions. 10. International Cafe: The ship's only 24 hour place to get food. Cold pasta salads and sandwiches with about 90% bread and 10% filler. The bite-sized desserts were good. The rest was just food for the sake of being food. Nothing worth a second bite. Also had one of the worst mochas I've ever tasted. - Extra Charges: Don't expect to get anything for free on a Princess cruise. The internet is insanely slow and expensive. I spent a lot of my paid minutes waiting for pages to load. My father was horrified that they charge extra for black coffee everywhere but in the formal dining room. This means you have to pay Starbucks prices each morning if you want any caffeine. I purchased the unlimited beverage package which was worthwhile because they strictly measure a thimble's worth of liquor in each drink. They do have a good cocktail selection, but you cannot get doubles with this package. I was disappointed that all food except for the main dining room, buffet, and pool food areas was an extra charge. Even the real ice cream at the "Coffee and Cones" was an extra cost, only the soft serve yogurt is included. I also didn't like that you had to pay for many of the onboard activities and games including bingo. - Hidden Fees: Watch out for extra gratuity charges that will be added to your bill, even if you opted out of the prepaid gratuity. We were luckily advised by another guest to print out a copy of our invoice on the last night of the cruise - THANK GOD! We were surprised to learn that a daily $13.50 housekeeping gratuity had been added to each of our cabins, even though the unfriendly service did not deserve it. We cancelled that and tipped the cabin steward what we thought was fair in cash and left it in the room. We also caught a staggering $475.00 charge that was accidentally added by the spa staff without any explanation. After we questioned the charge, it was immediately removed as an honest mistake - but it would not have been if we did not see it first. - Service: There were only two issues we encountered with certain staff members... The crew at the ship's front desk were always elsewhere. With 7 stations, it was usually staffed with 0-3 people max. This made the front desk lines very long. The only other person who was unpleasant to deal with was our main cabin steward. He was nice enough on the first day but for the next 11, he would never smile, talk, or acknowledge you unless you made the first move. A real sour puss. My dad asked if I did something to offend him; that's how cold he was toward both of us. We both kept our cabins clean but I felt unwelcome and judged by him because he gave off such negative vibes. If I trashed my room each day then I would have understood, but this was weird. Sufficed to say, he did not earn his $13.50/day cleaning gratuity from me or my father because of his unfortunate demeanor which threw off our daily routine. - Commercialized Atmosphere: At times, it felt like being in a floating mall. Everyone was trying to sell you something - either a GoPro camera, a Discovery Brand accessory, or a really bad painting. The art gallery was right outside our room, so it was unavoidable. It felt a lot like Disneyland when you see signs like "Indiana Jones - Sponsered by AT&T" . Didn't feel upscale. SUMMARY: If you are reading reviews on a site like this, it means you care about what kind of vacation you are about to put good money into. If you don't care about food quality, upscale entertainment, or aren't looking for a young person's experience, you should seriously consider a Princess cruise. However, if you want a less commercialized experience, gourmet cuisine, and upscale amenities - seek another cruise line like Holland America or higher. I talked to some other passengers who had much worse horror stories on our same cruise... One man's room was directly across from the laundry room. During the first day of very rough seas (that day's port was cancelled), the laundry machine's overflowed and water spilled into his cabin - soaking the entire carpet and the luggage/shoes/belongings of his that were on the floor. When they discovered this, the crew made them virtually stay out of their room except to sleep while they cleaned and replaced the carpet. They claimed they had absolutely no other rooms to switch them to for the inconvenience. Despite several of their belongings being ruined in the food, Princess would only compensate them $50.00. No free things, no discounts, and no upgrades. I know it was hearsay, but I cannot imagine this lack of service in the hospitality industry. The only other note I have was more of a personal bummer, not the ship's fault. I know that a 12 day cruise in September around the British Isle's isn't as sexy as a Spring Break cruise to Cabo, but I was very surprised that I was one of the youngest people on the ship. There was virtually no nightlife after 9:00 PM and the few bars that stayed open until 1:00 PM were very dead. The last Holland America ships I was on allowed the crew to enjoy the bars and nightclubs which made it a lot more social and fun. This was not allowed by Princess, so there was zero party scene. The crew told me that there are lots of parties and social events each night on the lower floors, but passengers are not allowed. There was also a number of "un-hosted" meetups advertised at various bars and lounges for singles, LGBT, etc. I tried to go to three of these but it was impossible to tell who else was there for the same reason. I only ended up meeting one other person there for the meetup because the only way to tell was to awkwardly go up to others and ask if they were there for the same thing. Just a poor system. It was not a bad cruise, but if I could do it over - I would have found another cruise line for this vacation. Overall, disappointing. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
This is our first cruise with P&O and first impressions were great. My partner is unable to walk more than a few yards and uses a mobility scooter. Embarkation was smooth and very easy, we were fast tracked through check in and ... Read More
This is our first cruise with P&O and first impressions were great. My partner is unable to walk more than a few yards and uses a mobility scooter. Embarkation was smooth and very easy, we were fast tracked through check in and security and our luggage was waiting outside our cabin for us. We had a accessible balcony cabin on deck 12 (C deck) and were delighted with it! It was spacious and extremely comfortable, the wetroom was ideal and the balcony, although small was perfectly adequate. We were booked onto Freedom Dining and allocated the Peninsula restaurant and here is where we encountered the first frustration. As we expected we were told we had a short wait for a table and were given a pager. Unfortunately the reception for the pager didn't stretch as far as the closest bar on that level (Brodie's) and so we had to loiter close to the shops. As my partner uses a mobility scooter, to go to the bar in the atrium area we needed to use the lifts ..... often there were queues, so with a short 15-20 min wait it hardly seemed worth it! Once we made it into the restaurant the food was good ... although service was rushed and we thought the menu could have been more imaginative. On night 2 we had booked into the Limelight club to see Eric n Ern .... fabulous! Great food, great service and outstanding entertainment. Eric n Ern were brilliant and there was opportunity to have a photo with them afterwards. Grace, the host for the evening did a fabulous job. Well worth the cover charge. We also ate in the Beach House one evening and, although the menu and food were very good, the evening was spoilt because the air conditioning was uncomfortably cold. We complained several times but as the controls were centralised nothing could be done. Some diners were putting serviettes over their shoulders to try to keep off the cold! We did complain to reception and the cover charge was refunded back to our onboard account. Our first port of call was La Rochelle and we had booked the Il de Re excursion which was excellent. We loved the island so much we would like to return for a longer holiday. Next day was Bilbao and again we booked an excursion, this time to the Old town and Guggenheim..... another memorable day. Excellent. Both excursions were worth the money and the both Tour Guides and drivers outstanding. The drivers uncomplainingly lifted my partners scooter in and out of the coach luggage compartment at every stop and we had front row seats reserved on both coaches. Our final port of call was St Peter Port, unfortunately due to high winds the captain was forced to abandon the port as it was unsafe for the tenders. I watched the pilot boat early that morning and it was certainly 'bobbing around'. Although disappointing I did feel a certain sense of relief at not having to experience a tender to shore! However, due to the unexpected sea day, the ship was chaotic to say the least- the weather deteriorated and rain and wind made it impossible to access outside decks. This resulted in bored, but energetic children (and adults) all trying to find something to do! There was an alternative entertainment programme in place .... but not to our cup,of tea. We retreated to our cabin, my partner watched the Open Golf Championships on the TV and I read my book and had a nap! The final frustration came on disembarkation. We were told to join the special assistance group and meet in the Limelight Club at 8.15am. Realising the lifts would be busy, we left our cabin at 7.45am ... it took us almost 30 minutes to get in a lift! The lifts were full with passengers who had chosen to disembark with luggage, sometimes the lifts were full with large suitcases and only one or two people! It was so frustrating as we did not have an option to use the stairs! I think that lifts ought to be managed by staff at this busy time .... with at least one lift reserved for passengers using wheelchairs and mobility aids. I also think allowing people to take their own luggage off at a time when disabled people have been asked to gather for disembarkation is very poor planning! People,disembarking with their own luggage should not be allowed to do this at 8am when everyone has to vacate their cabins! Total chaos. It is shame that the final memories of what was on the whole a great holiday were soured by disorganised disembarkation. To sum up - highs and lows. However we will try P&O again ... maybe an adults only slightly smaller ship next time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We chose this cruise because it was an area we wanted to travel to, and also to experience a new cruise for us, as we had heard some good reports. As my wife is disabled and in a wheelchair, my comments are based on the suitability of ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was an area we wanted to travel to, and also to experience a new cruise for us, as we had heard some good reports. As my wife is disabled and in a wheelchair, my comments are based on the suitability of the vessel for the two of us. First impression on arrival on board were quite good, although the crew member who showed us to our cabin did not know their way around. A lot of thought had gone into the design of the disabled cabin, and this was explained to us very well by the cabin steward. The ship then held its safety briefing for passengers. UNFORTUNATELY they did not check that all passengers could see the video being shown or that they could see the crew member putting on the lifevest Also there was nothing in the briefing to or about what disabled passengers should do in the event of an incident. This was reported to a crew member at the time, but no action taken. We later had a meeting with the safety manager who referred us to the safety video in the room, but there was nothing there either or on the back of the cabin door. He informed us that they had 2 regulations on board that covered our issue but either could not or would not tell what they were. He thanked us for our comments and said he would look into the issue and feedback to us. We had to ask on each of the last 3 days of the cruise before we had a response in writing, and this only said that management had discussed it and the issue has now gone to their head office, so far no further feedback We found that the corridoors between cabins were wide and the best we have experienced with a wheelchair, also the space between tables in the buffet and also between food counters in the buffet were excellent It was a shame that there were no labels for a wheelchair passenger to read so that they knew what hot food was on offer, and also no trays for use by wheelchair users or their carers. In the theatre there were ample allocated wheelchair spaces. The staff appeared exceptionally friendly, and we also received the impression that staff on the gangways had actually been trained on handling wheelchairs, which is very unusual. There did seem to be quite a few reminders of things happening on board, this for us was bordering on the holiday camp atmosphere. The standard of shows was average to good although some items were unique. And the organisation of shore trips was superb even for wheelchairs users. Overall this cruise for us was in many ways very enjoyable, but was spoilt by lack of communication of essential information like safety information and was the food choice. was. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Great ports of call. Bottom line is we enjoyed the ports of call, the amenities aboard not so much. Service at times a bit lax. Disembarkation very disorganized twice when tenders were used. Dining in Garden Café was hat good and not ... Read More
Great ports of call. Bottom line is we enjoyed the ports of call, the amenities aboard not so much. Service at times a bit lax. Disembarkation very disorganized twice when tenders were used. Dining in Garden Café was hat good and not much varied day-to-day. It was actually quite boring. Although the food was excellent in the specialty restaurants. We do not drink alcohol and asked the gift bottle of champagne be replaced with sparkling water. That request was denied. However, sparkling water was delivered to our cabin and we were charged for it. Accommodations for handicapped inadequate. This a difficult ship for people with mobility handicaps to get off or on in ports of call. The crew were, on several occasions, rude to people with handicaps. We chose to book private tours on 3 occasions for the simple reason that we could see and visit what we wanted to rather than accept the NCL offerings. As it turned out, the private tours were more inclusive and less costly than the NCL offerings. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We wanted to try a different cruise line and sail from Southampton. This cruise was supposed to be a stress free one week break for my upcoming birthday. The ship is far too big to be comfortable for our age group. We knew this when we ... Read More
We wanted to try a different cruise line and sail from Southampton. This cruise was supposed to be a stress free one week break for my upcoming birthday. The ship is far too big to be comfortable for our age group. We knew this when we booked, but thought as it was only a week, and no flying, we should be o.k. Thought we would treat ourselves to a suite with a Butler. Although this was a guarantee, we were not told that it was AFT and a very long way from anywhere. We were supposed to eat in the Epicurean Restaurant as a perk when you have a suite, we did this only 3 times as it was so far and difficult to get to. All entertainment venues were so far away. Yes we were outside the lift, but once you were on the deck you needed, then it was easily a 10 minute walk. We are both disabled, my husband has a mobility scooter, and I was walking with a stick. As for returning to Britannia, no thanks. No Way. Dining. We went to the Epicurean where we had a delightful meal. As for the other places to eat, The Beach House was very good. All else was average. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Ventura Cruise N703 to Amsterdam and Brugge. Wednesday 15th to Sunday 19th February 2017. Day 1 - Wednesday 15th February 2017 With a 'priority boarding' time slot of 1230, we aimed to arrive at the Mayflower Cruise ... Read More
Ventura Cruise N703 to Amsterdam and Brugge. Wednesday 15th to Sunday 19th February 2017. Day 1 - Wednesday 15th February 2017 With a 'priority boarding' time slot of 1230, we aimed to arrive at the Mayflower Cruise Terminal at 1115, this being the earliest advertised time for car drop off with CPS. Having had a hassle free drive down to Southampton, in spite of the rainy weather, we arrived at 1110. Much to our surprise, we were struck by the fact that a lot of passengers were still disembarking. The traffic Marshall told us that there was a delay with disembarkation due to the "luggage having been loaded on the wrong side of the ship". On the basis that luggage probably spans the entire width of the ship, we doubted the validity of that explanation, but we agreed to drive off and return 30 minutes later. As we turned the corner, another marshal beckoned us into a holding lane on the dockside railway tracks, so we duly obliged! After around 10 minutes we were called forward to the unloading lanes where we vacated the car with our luggage. Due to the delayed disembarkation, we then had to stand and wait around 15 minutes for the CPS staff to 'check in' the car and then a further 15 minutes until the porters arrived as they were having their coffee break. No complaints though as we were conscious that we were very early and we were still inside the terminal by 1145. We were ushered straight to the front of the priority boarding line but then had a 5 minute or so wait there until called. Again, no problem - we were now in holiday mode! Check in complete, we proceeded to the priority boarders 'lounge' (a roped off corner of the general waiting area) where we enjoyed a very welcome cup of tea and a delicious millionaires shortbread. As disembarkation had been delayed, we relaxed thinking that the usual 1230 embarkation would be later than usual. Much to our surprise, at 1210 we were told that we could now board! Whizzing around the perimeter of the main lounge, we were through security in around 2 minutes and on board by 1215. Most impressive. Although we had an invite to the priority boarders reception in one of the main dining rooms, as creatures of habit we headed straight to the Waterside buffet for one of the delicious P&O curries. Embarkation is the one and only time we use the buffet as we are there ready for when it opens. I have followed too many of my fellow male species out of the loos over the years who have failed to wash their hands and then head directly into the buffet, in addition to countless folk of all ages and sexes who have a habit of licking food spills off their fingers and then continuing to handle the serving tongs. Over 8 previous cruises we have managed to avoid Norovirus (even when there have been outbreaks on board) and I am convinced that this is due to our avoiding the buffet other than on day one when we are first in! Come to think of it, they didn't have the usual staff manning the entrances forcibly squirting hand gel. Sadly, there was no normal curry on offer, just a biryani which was very dry and almost all rice. We had enough food to quell the 'post travelling hunger pangs', by which time our friends had texted to say that they were in the priority boarders restaurant. As we were carrying a small amount of hand luggage and were wearing coats, we diverted via our cabin (A752 Peninsular Suite, classed as a Penthouse). First impressions of the suite were good. The furnishings are quite dated and (in the case of TV's) sub-standard compared to Britannia, but we knew that would be the case. There was plenty of space, with a dining area, large lounge, adequate bedroom area, good bathroom facilities and a large balcony. The only negative was the tiny wardrobe area which would be adequate for up to 7 nights, a crush for 14 nights and impossible for anything longer. The design (difficult to describe) was poor and access very difficult as 50% of the (limited) hanging space is hidden behind shelving. The biggest positive, as we would discover, was that we didn't hear a sound from any other passengers throughout the 4 days, other than the dragging around of deckchairs above on a couple of occasions (the first time at 0630 on the first morning which, given the time and weather, we figured was the staff moving them in order to clean the decks). Noise and vibration from the stern thrusters was enough to wake the dead, but this is short lived and serves as an alarm clock to alert you to port arrivals, so no complaints about that. Strangely, vibration in the public areas at the rear of the ship (Epicurean, Beach House etc) was quite noticeable when the ship was moving, but was not evident in our suite. Very odd. An added benefit was that, although the suite had a standard width door, the wheelchair (a narrow version) just about squeezed through without having to be dismantled. Next stop Saffron restaurant for the priority boarders reception. This was better than the one we had on Britannia last summer. Although still very limited, there was a wider selection of food (still snacks rather than meals) and the freebie sparkling wine, whilst definitely not Champagne, was at least palatable, unlike the stuff served on Britannia which we couldn't drink as it was so vile. Drinks service was very good, but wouldn't be representative of what we would experience throughout the rest of the cruise. Back to the suite to unpack before the safety drill. Our butler (Dinesh) introduced himself. Nice chap but we don't really use them other than for the delivery of the very poor canapés (other than the lovely chocolate covered strawberries on formal night) and next day menus (which didn't materialise on this cruise). The cabin stewards do all the real work. As we reached the lifts, life jackets in hand, there was an announcement that the drill was going to be delayed by 30 minutes as some coach passengers hadn't arrived. We decided to go to our assembly lounge (The Tamarind Club) anyway to ensure that we had a seat. A very officious crew member (who looked like a gym instructor) was wandering around checking the assembly letter on people's life jackets and being very insistent that they moved to the correct assembly point if they were in the wrong place. Quite right. Although the drill is essential, I love it when they end, as it's the one and only thing that you have no option but to attend and our time is our own thereafter. Back to the suite just in time to watch our departure (over an hour late) from the balcony and to relax prior to the evening activities. Around 7pm, whilst travelling around the Isle of Wight, we had a very unexpected surprise which would be one of the two highlights of the cruise. We suddenly became aware of a very loud noise from outside and ventured out on to the balcony. Had it not been for a lunch we had with P&O's overall Head of Security a year or so ago (following a ship visit), we would have been convinced that the ship was being subject to a terrorist attack. Thankfully, as he had told us that this happened from time to time, we instantly realised that we were witnessing a SBS (Special Boat Service, the Naval equivalent of the SAS) exercise. There were 5 or 6 ribs (rigid hull, inflatable sides), each containing around ten SBS operatives, all dressed in dark clothing, taking it in turns, two boats at a time, to roar right up to the stern of the ship (through the wake). They must have been touching the ship as they disappeared under the balcony and couldn't be seen at all. After a short time, they would roar off to the side (they sounded as though they had very powerful engines) and immediately two more would roar in from behind across the wake to take their place. All very dramatic and quite a sight and sound and, of the several thousand people on board, there were probably less than a dozen of us who witnessed it or were even aware of it having happened. We were going to dine in the Beach House, but a last minute change of plans resulted in us dining in Sindhu. Although curry is my favourite food, I can take or leave Sindhu, but this was a lovely meal to start the holiday and service was very good (unlike the other Select dining restaurants, as we would discover later in the cruise). We finished in time for the 1030pm show which, unusually for a first night, was a full scale Headliners production. I am told it was quite good but I only saw the first 5 minutes and was woken intermittently by the clapping. Time for bed. Day 2 - Thursday 16th February After a good nights sleep (other than being woken at 0630, which was really 0530 as the clocks had changed) by deck chairs being dragged around overhead, we headed to The Epicurean for the Suite passengers breakfast. On Britannia, this is an absolutely superb experience with very good (albeit limited) food and exemplary service. Frankly, it's a major reason we book a Suite as it's a lovely way to start the day. Sadly, on Ventura, this is a poor replica. Having placed our order as tea and toast arrived, we proceeded to wait 50 minutes with no sign of our order materialising. When I eventually called a waiter over to ask what was happening, panic seemed to set in and our hot food arrived quite quickly, the previous parts of the order (cereal etc) having been missed altogether. Food quality and presentation wasn't quite as good the standard on Britannia. The usual delicious fruit smoothies were all completely flavourless, until the last morning. Very strange. All in all, very disappointing for the supposed top tier restaurant. Sea day activities are usually very limited for the under 70's, unless you are in to health and beauty, low level exercise or sport. As none of these appeal, the best we could find was a talk on LS Lowry which, to be fair, was quite interesting. I managed four laps of the promenade deck before lunch, something that you cannot do on Britannia. We ventured into the main dining room for lunch but, with breakfast having arrived so late and our one and only afternoon tea looming, we just had a light meal. We rarely elect to share a table but did so on this occasion with another couple, a mother and daughter and a retired gentleman who was either travelling or dining alone. I broke the awkward silence a minute or so after we had all ordered and it turned out that the couple and the mother and daughter all came from Southampton, so we had something in common as we lived there for a while over 20 years ago. Next the husband of the Southampton couple raised the subject of how much they had paid (£399, which I presume was each). I never understand why people do this. Either you hack other people off or ruin your own holiday by finding out that you paid more than they did. Sure enough, the mother and daughter had paid £349. All failed to mention which category of cabin they had, but from the prices they were clearly both inside cabins. We opted out of this part of the conversation, not just because we had paid a lot more, but because we would have had to explain that there are around 25 categories of cabin and the reason we had paid a lot more was because we were in a top tier suite. Sometimes, diplomacy is the best approach! The solo traveller didn't say a word (he didn't want to talk at all, even when I tried to engage him in conversation - all I managed to establish was where he was from) and I was unclear why he wished to dine on a shared table. After lunch we headed to the Arena Theatre where we watched the film 'Sully' about the emergency landing of a passenger jet on the Hudson River in New York. As it is a true story (which we could recall) we enjoyed the film, in spite of the poor picture quality (slightly out of focus or insufficient picture quality to be blown up to that size). What is it with some people who feel that's it's acceptable to enter 10 minutes after the film has started and expect half a row to stand up (blocking the screen for all those behind) as they progress to the centre, illuminating their route (and dazzling everyone in the process) with the intense light on their mobile phones? Perhaps they are in the same category as those who insist on bringing the noisiest possible food (crisps or wrapped sweets) into theatres. Sadly, there were no windows nearby for me to throw them overboard. I shall watch the film again at home when it comes on TV, in glorious high definition and without the presence of these thoughtless idiots! As the film ended, we had to hot-foot it to The Epicurean again, this time for the Eric Lanlard afternoon tea. On this occasion, food quality and service was on a par with Britannia and it was a most enjoyable experience. Although this evening was a Gala Black Tie Dinner, there was no Captains Welcome Aboard Reception. Clearly 4 day cruises don't warrant giving passengers a free drink. As with other shortcomings that we noticed on this cruise (our 9th with P&O but our first short cruise), we felt that this was a mistake. Most passengers were first time cruisers and things like that help to get them 'hooked' on the whole cruise experience. The lack of this reception resulted in the evening not feeling quite as 'special' as it usually does. We dined in the main dining room (after a wait of one hour for a table for four) and the food quality (Marco Pierre White menu) and service were good, other than cheese which seems to be served reluctantly these days (when we first cruised with P&O all passengers were offered cheese after desert. Now they seem to think it is instead of a desert and if you want both it's a bit of an effort for them). In another break with what we are used to on formal nights, there was no Headliners production show, just a 'famous' soul singer who was so famous we had never heard of him, a comedian (there's only so many cruising gags you can laugh at in one lifetime) and Gareth Oliver, a ventriloquist from Britains Got Talent. As this seemed like an entertainment line up from the 1970's, none appealed so we headed to Metropolis for an after dinner drink, listening to Shades Duo. We would have preferred a Crows Nest bar but Ventura and Azura lack one in favour of the gym, which is daft. Drinks service was poor. The waiter was disinterested and unhelpful. The female singer of Shades Duo has a very nice voice but her repertoire was sadly cut short as an obnoxious and very drunk man who, although probably in his 30's was on holiday with his grandparents, started verbally having a go at her. Clearly distressed she left the venue and shortly afterwards a P&O security officer arrived. We didn't stay to see how it all ended, but he surprisingly wasn't offloaded the next day. Sadly, this wouldn't be the last example of appalling passenger behaviour we would witness. Day 3 - Friday 17th February After another good nights sleep, we woke to the bow thrusters as we manoeuvred on to the berth in Amsterdam. Although we have bad memories of Amsterdam, having been pick-pocketed there over 20 years ago, we were pleased to find that our berth was an easy 20 minute walk to Dam Square, even with the wheelchair. We ventured off the ship after a leisurely breakfast (service was better but the smoothies remained flavourless) but, being the morning, the more unsavoury elements were not yet on the streets so we had a good wander around, including the canals and notorious Red Light district, in complete safety. The weather was looking quite threatening so we headed back to the ship for a late lunch in The Glass House. Sadly, yet again, service was poor. Waiters weren't at all attentive and had to be called over after an unacceptably long wait to order. Our main courses were very good but the desert, a sundae that was meant to have blondies and cake pieces in it was served as 100% ice cream and had little resemblance to the desert advertised. We then visited the On-board Costa (Tazzine) for a hot chocolate. This was nothing like the version you get on land and looked and tasted like drinking chocolate powder in hot water with a splash of milk. Vile. We found a Rolling Stones double CD in the library which we thoroughly enjoyed listening to on the Bose sound system provided in our suite as we relaxed during the late afternoon. The sail away from Amsterdam, although in darkness, was fascinating as there were lots of multi-story office and residential blocks all illuminated, where you could see hundreds of people in meetings, cooking in their kitchens, eating their meals etc. It reminded me of the Alfred Hitchcock film 'Rear Window'. Dinner that evening was in The Epicurean which, although a bit short of the overall experience on Britannia, was still very good. Unfortunately, as with the main dining room, cheese was an inconvenience to the waiting staff. The show was 'Don't Blame it on the Boogie', which we have seen countless times so didn't bother with. Day 4 - Saturday 18th February We awoke to a real pea-super in Zeebrugge (which we now know is pronounced sea-brooge and not Zee-brugga as us brits call it), so much so that you could barely see the end of the mooring ropes! We had pre-arranged a cab transfer to and from Brugge (€50 each way) with Martin's Taxis, so, after breakfast, we disembarked and waited 10 minutes for the free port provided shuttle to the dock gates (one had pulled away as we were walking down the ramp) where 'Lou with the white hair in the air' (as she had called herself) was waiting for us. After the SBS excitement the first evening, this journey was to be the 2nd surprise highlight. Lou was wall-to-wall entertainment and really made the trip one to remember. Her political incorrectness made Joan Rivers look like Mother Theresa. We didn't stop laughing all the way to Brugge and the return journey was equally entertaining. Any of her one liners repeated on here would be sure to offend somebody or other, so I shall refrain! Brugge was fantastic. We couldn't do the boat trip as wheelchair access wasn't possible, but we had a good walk around the historic city. By luck, there was a Salvador Dali exhibition in Market Square, which we enjoyed prior to wandering around the shopping areas. Realising that the horse and cart trips would be on 'step free' terrain, we walked around some of that route prior to returning to a street full of chocolatiers where we had earlier spotted a shop / cafe advertising hot chocolate. Comprising hot frothy milk with a large chunk of Belgian chocolate moulded on to the tea spoon which slowly melted to make the drink, these were the best hot chocolate drinks we had ever tasted and were a thousand times better than the foul version we had been sold in Tazzine the day before. After a thoroughly enjoyable few hours 'Lou with the white hair in the air' transferred us back to the ship, delivering yet more memorable lines that have amused us ever since. As a word of warning, there is a flat fare of €50 per vehicle each way from Zeebrugge to Brugge, regardless of the number of passengers, and you pay on the day, even if you have pre-booked (as we had). There was a group of passengers at the dock gates who had pre-paid €240 and the cab hadn't showed. They were understandably getting very anxious as a condition of booking was that if they didn't show up they would be charged anyway. The fact that the cab hadn't showed would make it difficult for them to prove that they had indeed turned up. Even more worrying, our cab driver hadn't heard of the firm, but she did later say (on the return run) that she had found their website which looked legitimate. Lunch again in The Glass House. Service was slightly better (although still not attentive) and the quality of food was good. Another restful few hours in our suite prior to the uneventful sail away which, from this port is sobering as it's where the Herald of Free Enterprise capsized in 1987 with the tragic loss of 193 lives in the most terrifying circumstances. The only thing of interest was the 30 or 40 gulls which swooped around the aft of the ship for over 30 minutes, presumably in anticipation of food scraps being tossed to them. Our last dinner on board was in The Beach House. Once again, the comparison against the version on Britannia wasn't a favourable one. Although on both ships this is a cordoned off area of the buffet, on Britannia it is a smaller, more intimate affair that has the feel of a proper restaurant. On Ventura it still feels like a section of the buffet. The lean ribs which I had thoroughly enjoyed on Britannia were very fatty here. Service was again patchy with the wine waiter making a real fuss about having to go to a bar to get the bottle of wine that we ordered - which was on the wine list for the Beach House! Sadly, the evening was somewhat spoiled by a party of 6 (3 couples, all middle aged to retired) where one of the ladies was being ridiculously loud and obnoxious. Whether it was drink, ignorance, lack of etiquette or, as I suspect, a combination of all three, this revolting creature could not be ignored, even from a distance, so we all retired early leaving the poor staff to contend with her. Day 5 - Sunday 19th February Unusually, we berthed in Southampton Mayflower Terminal the 'wrong' way around, with the stern facing the outward route and the starboard side against the berth. No idea why this was. After our final breakfast in The Epicurean, we proceeded to The Exchange for the assisted disembarkation, where an assistance helper disembarked us immediately although, to be fair, there was virtually no queue for regular passengers by this time so we gained no real time advantage this time. Suitcases were found in a minute or so and we were in the car 5 minutes later. As is always the case when cars are parked at this terminal, the vehicle was absolutely covered in a heavy dust from the adjacent grain loading facility. In conclusion, although service levels were below those we have come to expect from P&O, this was still an enjoyable cruise and very relaxing. Out of several thousand passengers, less than a handful were worthy of being thrown overboard for poor behaviour and these were all adults. All the children were very well behaved and never a nuisance. Hopefully, these negatives were mostly attributable to it being a short cruise where the lower price encourages a more, shall we say, 'diverse' profile of passenger and the staff aren't out to impress, as passengers are on board for such a short period. Time will tell. Ventura is showing her age, but is still a nice ship, it's major failing being the absence of a Crows Nest. However, Britannia is a better product (even without a promenade deck), as far as the large ships go. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Not for us, the ship is large and holds over 4000 people and at times you know this, it has many different nationals, Germans being the dominant guests. The ship is very clean and well presented and the cabins are spacious , we had a ... Read More
Not for us, the ship is large and holds over 4000 people and at times you know this, it has many different nationals, Germans being the dominant guests. The ship is very clean and well presented and the cabins are spacious , we had a balcony which was nice. Food is plentiful in the self service section, but not always very hot, but it can be difficult to find a seat. We only went to the main restaurant once which was ok but being the only two people on an eight person table a bit strange. Service was slow and the food choice limited compared to other cruise lines. Entertainment was geared towards the Italian market so not really our thing , but that is personal taste. Everything is payment in addition, drinks, cinema, and any other activity. The excursions are ok and as normal expensive. However the shuttle service when provided was expensive and NO DISABLED GUEST transport available. This is not a cruise for the Disabled , although the cabins that are adapted are good, the other facility's are poor , limited assistance and no trips or transport for the disabled provided. Most British guests we spoke with would not use MSC again and in particular the disabled guests. However it is a much more relaxed dress code which some people prefer. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Went on the trip as a birthday gift from my parents, they love cruises but it didn't really suit me. I enjoyed the evenings in the casino, meals in the waiter staffed restaurants and the shows. Maxine Mazunda was brilliant as Dusty ... Read More
Went on the trip as a birthday gift from my parents, they love cruises but it didn't really suit me. I enjoyed the evenings in the casino, meals in the waiter staffed restaurants and the shows. Maxine Mazunda was brilliant as Dusty Springfield and she does Adele. I struggled with the day times as the weather wasn't great so I got bored. The day time entertainment was more for older people, dance lessons, crafts, bingo. I ended up eating too much to pass the time. The food was good, plenty of shops to look around. Service was a bit up and down depending on the waiter. The casino guys were brilliant, really good fun. The rooms were well kept, mine was quite small but big enough for me. I had a large port hole and good view. I didn't try the spa as seemed v expensive but there were offers throughout the week if you hold off long enough. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We have always been interested in the discovery element of cruising offered by Swan Hellenic; we liked the idea of a ''country house' atmosphere and we were keen on the itinerary. The thought of being in a small ship with ... Read More
We have always been interested in the discovery element of cruising offered by Swan Hellenic; we liked the idea of a ''country house' atmosphere and we were keen on the itinerary. The thought of being in a small ship with fewer passengers that was able to visit small ports and bays was attractive. The ship was fine if a bit dated. The food was adequate without being star quality. The staff were by and large friendly and helpful to the very elderly passengers who made up 90% of those sailing. We knew that the average age but we had no idea that because the shop sailed to and from Portsmouth, it attracted an even more elderly lot. Don't get me wrong, most passengers were charming and 'up for it' but if one were a disco hound, this is not the ship for you. There was one huge gaffe where the company had failed to gauge the tides properly so that when we arrived the ship's master decided that he could not operate the tenders within the time available and so tours were cancelled. That was pretty shoddy planning, in my view. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Review Our cabin was On the Lido deck no L 248,an inside cabin, it was the last assessible cabin available when we booked. The cabin I must say was very comfortable, a good size, where the wheelchair could be used. Our cabin steward, ... Read More
Review Our cabin was On the Lido deck no L 248,an inside cabin, it was the last assessible cabin available when we booked. The cabin I must say was very comfortable, a good size, where the wheelchair could be used. Our cabin steward, Agnelo, from India was a gem. Being on Deck 15 was very convenient, as the Buffet Restaurants, pools, sail-away parties were all on deck 15 The theatre, The Playhouse was huge and had a designated area for wheelchair users on level 7 but the great disappointment was that the view of the stage was very restricted because of a long bar which really spoilt the view ( wonder if it serves any purpose ) the place for wheelchairs in the Theatre "Playhouse" on deck six were really good. We had to get there about half an hour before the shows started because the theatre gets packed and there are a number of people who stand throughout the shows!! The shows were very enjoyable and we made it a point to go every evening. We enjoyed the 'Headliners" and Ben Makisi's voice was super. We had opted for Anytime Dining so had dinner at the Meridian. Good food excellent service. The Buffet Breakfasts were overcrowded on port days. The served breakfast at the Penninsular Restaurant were always good. First port was Belfast and we opted for the P & O tour to the Giant Causeway. Left by coach just after 9am and returned by 3:30. The coach stored the wheelchair in the hold. My husband was able to climb up into the coach with a little assistance. At the Causeway Visitors Centre we took the wheelchair to the shuttle bus that goes down to the Causeway stones, this bus was wheelchair friendly and had a ramp so my husband stayed in the wheelchair. At the Causeway where the bus dropped us he could get a good view of the stones too. Had coffee and sandwiches at the Visitors centre cafe which was overcrowded. It was an enjoyable day with beautiful views. The ship crew were very helpful with the disembarkation and embarkation each day. Our next port of call was Stornaway. It was a tender port. We were told by the crew that the tender ride was long and the waves made the crossing difficult. As we did not get bookings for the P&O excursion that we wanted to go for he opted to rest that day. All the executions to the ports get taken up quickly so it is essential to book the trips at least three months before departure. We booked The Golden Circle tour with P&O in Reykjavik. This was the top excursion on my list and I am so happy to have done it. The weather was quite nice and we walked from the coach to the amazing continental divide. The view point was easy for the wheelchair to get to but it was not suitable to go down to the actual ridge. Next onto the Golden Falls. This was great to do even in the wheelchair and we had super views of the grand falls. We then went to see the geyser that erupted twice while we were watching. The steaming earth was a good site. We then went to see into the mouth of a volcano, Pesi too came and we had a good view. Returned to the ship for a good dinner and skipped the night entertainment and headed to bed. We got up early to go for breakfast and enjoy the gorgeous views as we entered the tiny town of Isafjorour. It was very beautiful. We had booked a tour, which drove us through some beautiful country side, enclosed by snow capped mountains. We had coffee and pastries at a small pretty cafe, visited a church, heard Icelandic Music and went to lovely little garden. After a lovely trip we were caught in a light shower while waiting to return to the ship. On Monday 27th June we were in Akureyi, a beautiful little town of North Iceland. Our tour with P&O started as a gorgeous bright sunny day. We visited the wonderful Gooafoss waterfall, a good view from the Coach so did not have to take the wheelchair out. Next we visited Lake Myvatn and a crater. We had a coffee and cake stop at a little cafe. We have been amazed that even the tiny places had wheelchair Assessable toilets!!! These places have a population of only 30,000 people, spread over vast areas. Next we visited the Lava fields with the lava castles at Dimmubergir, this was not assessable by wheelchair but had a good enough view from the coach and our last stop were the thermal fields with boiling hot gurgling purple and yellow cauldrons. Then the rains started as we headed back..... Luckily it stopped when we were to embark the ship. Great dinner and entertainment before we headed to bed. Two restful days at sea but not much to do. Roamed around the ship. Eat drink and be merry! Tomorrow another port. Lerwick..... Lerwick was a tender port. A bright sunny day and that too in Northern Scotland!! Got ashore and took a taxi ( cost us £45/- per hour for a van for 6 persons) for a three hour ride on the most beautiful costal route to Sumburgh Head. Every view took our breath away. Then at the end we saw such lovely puffins, most were nesting in burrows near the coast and we had super sightings. Next we went to a beach to watch seals. They were all sunbathing. It was a wonderful excursion. Next port was Kirkwall. Booked an excursion to Orkney Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
My husband & I have taken around a dozen cruises with various lines inc. P&O Royal Carribean, CUnard, Celebrity, MSC & Fred. We took this short cruise to determine how we felt about the ship and cruise line before thinking of ... Read More
My husband & I have taken around a dozen cruises with various lines inc. P&O Royal Carribean, CUnard, Celebrity, MSC & Fred. We took this short cruise to determine how we felt about the ship and cruise line before thinking of any longer duration. We fortunately caught the cruise coach from London Victoria to Tilbury - we had no delays and went straight to check-in on arrival at the port, unlike many other passengers, many of whom waited over an hour & a half simply to get into the car park, after having done battle with the M25 traffic. So far, so good. We arrived at our cabin, deck 6, at the rear of the ship - quite large in size - slightly surprised with the twin bed formation - but we got used to it - apparently we were told there are only 10 'Queen' beds on board. However, the beds were comfortable and the pillows, small but reasonable too. However there were no tea-making facilities in cabin which is surprising for a cruise line that prides itself on a traditional British cruise - we need our tea!! Also you need adaptions to use the plugs, again unexpected. The shower curtain however was a real pain! It's about 2 inches too short to reach the floor, so the bathroom floor gets wet and the curtains will insist on sticking to you when trying to shower. Don't get me started on the noise!! I've never heard such a din - not just the usual drone but banging, clanking and high whining vibration especially when starting the approach to a port - so 5am wake-up call was to be expected. Food was good, tasty although portions were not large, but with a potential 5-course menu - it wasn't necessary to go hungry and if you fancied trying an extra of anything our waiter was very happy to oblige. Our Wine steward was also very helpful and pleasant and it was a very nice touch that a complimentary drink was offered on the last night on the Company" -cheers!! There was one formal night, and most dressed appropriately however there were an odd few who only managed to sport a tea-shirt and jeans. One big complaint - I only drink Soya milk, which was available on the Buffet at breakfast but unavailable anywhere else on the ship for a coffee - it was quite a task to actually take a cup of milk from breakfast and ask one of the Baristas to make me a Latte using it. Afternoon tea was fairly standard - buffet style but one day had lovely raisin scones with jam and cream - this was followed the next day by Cheese scones still offered with jam and cream - different.!! Late night snacks were brought round the lounges on the 1st & 3rd night, unfortunately there were not enough to go round on the first evening - or some folks got more than their fair share! Middle night of cruise saw a "Magnifique Buffet" with ice sculptures and carved fruit/vegs - lots of sea-food available, much to my husbands delight. The entertainment team were good, shows were of reasonable standard, especially the ABBA inspired show. But the best was the Cabaret provided each night by members of the Entertainment team. We enjoy dancing - this was not as good on the ship as others we have experienced. The dance floor was on the small side but the main problem was the musical duo couldn't seem to maintain any sort of tempo throughout a song, so what initally appeared to be a rumba or cha-cha would slow down or speed up and then the inevitable key-change so just went on, & on ..... We both experienced some treatments in the Spa and really impressed by both our therapists - very good treatments, really relaxing and reasonably priced. What a shame that the tannoys are not turned off (or at least down) to prevent the sudden announcements fro breaking into the relaxation time. However one of the biggest gripes of the whole expereince was the first Port - Ghent - 8 shuttle buses for everyone who wanted to take themselves independently into Ghent - a 26 min drive away (hour- round-trip). We had been waiting for a shuttle for around 40 minutes when the crowd were told there was an hour delay - so taking the hour round trip into account, we (together with a considerable number of others) gave up and spent the rest of the day on-board. Many people were very unhappy with this situation and the cruise director got quite a bit of stick for this. Next stop at Amsterdam was better - just a 10 minute walk into the centre. We never saw, or even heard the Captain, or indeed any of the Senior Staff, which was unusual. All announcements were made by a the Passenger Director (or something).A large number of the crew were from Ukraine, according to the information in the ships bulletin, who tended to be rather off-hand, with smaller numbers of Indonesian and Filipino waiters who were as attentive as ever. We docked 2 hours late on our return to Tilbury as a result of the adverse weather conditions experienced overnight. We were in quite a storm. However, after nearly a dozen cruises, including across the North Sea, the Baltic, Fjords, Bay of Biscay and a Transaltantic - this was the worst experience I have had, pitching and rolling and in fact, the first time, ever - I succumbed to the sick-bag (sorry) . We were amused to watch the usual window washing whilst in port - this consisted of a hose-pipe fitted with some shower-like attachments being dangled over the side and swung from side to side - ingenious! We met some very nice people and have answered our question - would we go with them again - Sorry - not for us. We like smaller ships but this was not really up to speed in our opinion. Fred do small much better, as do some of the other smaller ships available with other lines. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We thought we would give FO a second chance having cruised with them before. We tried an inside cabin for the first time as it was only two nights. We have cruised many times before and know what is normal this time we were ... Read More
We thought we would give FO a second chance having cruised with them before. We tried an inside cabin for the first time as it was only two nights. We have cruised many times before and know what is normal this time we were disappointed mainly with embarkation/disembarkation, the food & food service. We use a disability scooter and normally have no problems getting on and off but the "ramps" were step/ramps and very steep, like they set up on the wrong deck. See photo. Staff helped with the scooter but my mobility impaired wife made herself totally breathless and exhausted and her inhaler was not effective by the time she got to the top, boarding staff were not interested so we went to customer services to advise of the problem for disabled persons, but again staff not interested and just said would put note on our file. The menus were uninspiring and the general restaurant service was organised chaos and totally disjointed. For example one person was serving tea & coffee and then you had wait while you hoped to flag down a separate milk person and then try and find the very rare toast person who appeared to have cold toast only. The breakfasts were very slow and food was cold. Many of the staff (There were exceptions) appeared totally disinterested and had the attitude I have only seen of people working their notice out or with very low morale. One in particular, we will call him Mark was ineffectual in seating people, making them wait unnecessarily while he showed others further down the line tables, the restaurant was virtually empty at the time, a jack of all trades wiping tables, serving drinks & toast and never a hand clean seen. The entertainment was OK and there were also late shows, when you had to be up very early the next day. There seemed very little to do during the day unless you wanted to play cards. Some loved the personal service that the smaller ships appear to provide but you can foster that on the big ships also and there is far more to do, its personal preference but the experience will not be repeated. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
The ship is beautiful but I found it to be very unorganized. . Cabin . Service . Lifts . My total bill . Disembarkation My sister and myself took my elderly mum away for a taster Cruise. We paid extra money to travel on ... Read More
The ship is beautiful but I found it to be very unorganized. . Cabin . Service . Lifts . My total bill . Disembarkation My sister and myself took my elderly mum away for a taster Cruise. We paid extra money to travel on the Brittania . When booking this Mini cruise, we explained there were 3 adults. We were told there were bed settees available . When we arrived in the cabin, there were 2 single beds, the other bed was a bunk placed in the roof of the cabin. It was opened up each night by a Steward. The bed obscured the balcony, we had to bend down not to bang our heads to sit on the sofa, make a cuppa and to sit on balcony . My sister banged the back of her neck on this bed. When we booked no one stated to us regarding the beds. My mum is 81, my sister has back trouble and I have had foot surgery. Reception did not help. I struggled up the ladder, we are not youngsters. We had to ring housekeeping 6:45 am to raise the bed out of the way. Service was good in certain areas, our designated restaurant was closed due to disembarkation, we found certain members of the staff rude in the other restaurant. We waited 10 minutes for a table, with an 81 year old lady who couldn't stand for long,baring in mind one half of the restaurant had empty tables but they were trying to keep to one area, this is not exceptable when you have ques people waiting, we sat down and was given cups and our hot drinks order had been given. we were then asked to move tables due to wheel chair person, baring in mind my mum can only walk with help of a trolley. we were happy to do this. we were moved to another table, we waited for service and i had to ask 15 min later if could we have some warm drinks, He informed me that they were busy and other people to serve, the table we were originally on were served and eating their breakfast. Lifts were dreadful, to many people to accommodate, many time we were squashed into the wall of the lift. This is unacceptable for elderly people who are unsteady on their feet. Disable lifts should be available. I had a telephone call from reception at 6:15 in the morning telling me my card had been declined , I told them it must be a mistake. I was told to phone my bank. I had to phone home to my husband to check internet banking to make sure my money was still in the bank, he gave me the number to phone the bank fraud squad who informed me they stopped my card because of my identification card. We went into the casino to put £5 chips into the bandit, all has changed you now have to place your key card in machine. A member of staff told me to put in my DOB make up a pin, I won £5.00, i decided to use it the next day but when i returned my cabin card would not work. my card was stopped because of the activity in the casino. Be aware if you are going to enjoy the facility's, i recommend you notify the bank before you leave. Disembarkation took a while, to get a lift was a nightmare, once down on the correct departure area the Que was a mile long, all in a line doubling back where you started. I think this ship isn't without their teething problems, I had a relaxing time on the Oceania , Britannia is far to big, It may look amazing but I feel i wasn't relaxed as I should have been. I would never take my mum on there again, maybe god willing a smaller ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
The British Isles are beautiful! They are the reason for the cruise undoubtedly. Being out and about is the point--not staying on board. The embarkation was the worst. We arrived at Heathrow about 7 a.m. and made it through customs ... Read More
The British Isles are beautiful! They are the reason for the cruise undoubtedly. Being out and about is the point--not staying on board. The embarkation was the worst. We arrived at Heathrow about 7 a.m. and made it through customs and to Southampton with no problem. When we arrived, we were told that due to a norovirus outbreak on the previous cruise boarding would be delayed. We were shipped to a nearby mall with not much information but with a number for return. We stayed there for a while then went outside to see what the lines looked like. Buses were taking the crew back, but we had to wait 5 hours or so. We finally were able to get in line about 2:00 and waited for a bus till 3:00. There were buses of fellow travelers arriving at the mall as we left. Long, long lines of people waiting for their number to come up to get a bus to the terminal. We were in line outside of the port until 3:00. It was warm but not too bad for those of us without disabilities or breathing issues. I felt sorry for those whose health posed as issue. Some were let inside. Also let inside were travelers just arriving by cab. That didn't sit well with those of us standing outside and who had been waiting for several hours to get in. Finally, about 4:00 we made it to the line for check-in. Tempers were short for passengers and workers. There were some visa issues with some passengers and some computer issues. Rather than turning over those passengers with visa problems to someone to handle the issues, we all had to stand in line and just hope it was resolved quickly. Most weren't. I have never seen the pushing to check in that I saw there. Some workers were down right rude. Finally, by 5:30 we were on board. The ship did not leave until 8:30 or so. We all thought that Princess would provide a free drink or a slight credit for all the problems, but that didn't happen. The captain never once seemed happy about the trip any time he talked to us. I know it is his responsibility to keep us all safe, but you could tell he was feeling the responsibility heavily. For 12 days, he just gave us the bad news that there was still some problem on the ship with the virus. There was another sanitization after 5 days. We were kindly asked to wash and sanitize before entering the buffet, but some rude passengers refused leaving the rest of us who complied to wonder if they were spreading germs. The rooms are fairly large which we liked, and there is lots of hanging space in the closets, but there is no drawer space. We just had shelves in the closet. The piazza space in the middle of the ship makes it difficult to get places in a timely manner. You have to go from 5 up to 7 and across or vice versa. TV shows consisted of unlimited old Love Boat reruns an a few movies and Animal Planet and several news channels. The house band, while good, played so loudly over the singers in the shows and in the piazza that it was almost impossible to hear the singer. Music still seemed to be geared for the most part to those over 70. It would be nice to hear some newer pop music in the shows and elsewhere. The stage shows were definitely not so great. There didn't seem to be much to do on board if you didn't go on an excursion. Luckily the cruise was port intensive. The art auctions were fun and well managed. Bingo was just one day. The food was ok in the dining room and buffet. I do like their burgers and pizza. One night there was a pig head on the buffet. That ruined my dinner. Be advised that to do the ports and to get back on ship some days you need to be able to walk a good deal. For many of the ports if you are just going into town, a fair distance of walking is required. And the gang planks had more angle on them than I've seen before. Thank goodness for the Princess staff--they handled those wheel chairs and those with limited mobility beautifully up the gang plank that once or twice had a 45 degree angle. Disembarkation was quick and easy. We shared a shuttle (really a smallish car) back to London. It was inexpensive and fun to hear from two other couples about their view of the trip. The weather was gorgeous; the ports were interesting and beautiful; the fellow passengers were interesting and fun. I just wish the captain had had a better time. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We embarked at Southampton and the chaos started. Our cabins weren't ready and everyone was directed to the orangery The self service orangery was chaos as everyone searched for the cutlery. We waited for the queue to die down a ... Read More
We embarked at Southampton and the chaos started. Our cabins weren't ready and everyone was directed to the orangery The self service orangery was chaos as everyone searched for the cutlery. We waited for the queue to die down a little at the indoor Bar-b-Que only to see them pack it away. This was a bit of a surprise for me as virtually all the food disappeared with the exception of sandwiches (which I can't eat) The place was far too chaotic to ask someone so I went for my self sufficiency supplies. We sailed around 5pm and went down to discover our cabin. Having booked the most basic inside cabin it was a good standard, well designed, sensible, everything worked, the shower was fairly good, the waterworks were quiet and we could not hear the cabin next door. there was enough room to unpack and loose our cases. there was only one uk mains socket and no US sockets. there was a fridge , hair drier and quiet kettle. The main restaurant was OK and I was given the menu the night before by the head waiter. I selected foods that should be easier to make gluten free. The next night they would appear with 1/2 of the food removed. Each night I got a gluten free roll, they had Gluten free crackers for the cheese., however the cheese was bland and they were stingy. The general standard of the food was disappointing. We went on QM" last year and almost every plate deserved a photograph. This was not the case on P&O. The Orangery was very hard work, noisy , it didn't flow. The food lacked taste, roast potatoes were cooked but weren't crisp. bacon was cooked but not in a pan. The curries were super mild, much of the fruit was tinned. The puddings were the same each day and the cutlery kept running out. Fruit juce was poorly diluted from concentrate and was taken away at 12 noon. Waiters would pounce on you as soon as your plate hit the table to sell you drinks. as a gluten free person all I could eat out of the puddings was fruit and green jelly.... for 18 days! breakfast bacon eggs, mushrooms. Tinned fruit and nuts. cheese (no gluten free crackers up here, or bread no one had time to assist) QM2 has pre labeled diabetic and gluten free food , bread + fresh orange juice all day/night. To compare this with QM2 the self service are was far more efficient, much better food. more choice Fruit tea, caffeine free teas , specialty teas were removed outside meal times. There was no fresh milk. I went to the formal breakfast in the Medina restaurant and it was quite good. the English breakfast and the omelets with salmon was nice. My other half had to ask three times for fruit juice rather than tea/coffee The afternoon tea was the same. as everyone tucked into their second scone or tea cake I was sat there like a lemon waiting for a choice of 3 gluten free cakes and a biscuit to come my way. The chocolate tea event was amazing and I did have a choice of gluten free or diabetic chocolate temptations. I could only try one gluten free sample or my sugar levels would have gone through the ceiling. some people had 4 choc cakes and a puddle of chocolate plus fruit kebabs dipped in chocolate. It was a great show. The Sidewalk cafe served sandwiches, pizza, chips and baked potatoes. the baked spuds and chips were very nice. The Bordeaux cafe was very nice but the menu is a little limited once you take the bread and pastries out of the menu. This was the only eatery open at night and the waiters took you to the seats. It was better on QM2, thee was an insomniacs club that gathered in the self service area at night and just chatted. There was more of a buzz. The Ship its self was well designed with one exception. there was only one set of doors from the sun deck & pool to the orangery restaurant. on our north Atlantic cruise it caused huge problems with gales racing through the eatery. One hilarious moment was watching people reverse through the sliding doors with all clothing flapping like they were doing a parachute jump and their salad blowing down the walkway. We his force 9 winds with 5m seas and the ship was very stable. possibly more stable than the larger QM2. The cruise itself was good with an interesting itinerary. the entertainment was mixed. We had excellent classical musicians and some theater and very weak magician who has apparently been doing the same act for 10 years. This cruise was going somewhere I wanted to go. We got a last minute deal. however if I had paid full price I would have been angry. It was not fine dining. QM2 was a whole lot better Tony Read Less
Sail Date June 2010

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