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18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Our first cruise and certainly won't be our last. Cannot fault the ship, everything kept spotlessly clean. The service was friendly and efficient. The cabin was spacious and cleaned twice a day. Didn't make much use of the ... Read More
Our first cruise and certainly won't be our last. Cannot fault the ship, everything kept spotlessly clean. The service was friendly and efficient. The cabin was spacious and cleaned twice a day. Didn't make much use of the balcony due to the poor weather but that is hardly the fault of P&O. We were upgraded to freedom dining which meant we could choose when and where to eat. The food was unbelievably good, especially so in the Sindhu & Epicurean restaurants both of which incurred a cover charge The entertainment was first class and Tom O'Connor was brilliant. Played table tennis everyday with a really good bunch of people. The only mild negative was the destination itinerary, La Rochelle was quite nice but didn't bother with Bilbao and the people who did weren't impressed but for us this was all about the cruise. We are already looking to book our next cruise with P&O. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Background information This was me and my girlfriends first cruise together and we were majorly excited for this, mainly as this was my 30th Birthday as well so we hoped this would be a special holiday/vacation and for 95% of the time ... Read More
Background information This was me and my girlfriends first cruise together and we were majorly excited for this, mainly as this was my 30th Birthday as well so we hoped this would be a special holiday/vacation and for 95% of the time it was! More on that in a minute... Before we went on this cruise, my girlfriend was diagnosed with having Fibromyalgia so any variety of movement (walking, going up stairs, moving etc) was a challenge so she could do short bursts of movement before getting sore/tired/achey so I will also factor in accessibility into the equation FYI, this will be a detailed review as well (i.e. long one) so I will separate into sections like others have to make this easier to digest: - Embarkation day We were flying from Edinburgh to Southampton via Flybe on their Bombardier propeller planes - I am 6' 3" and a bit heavy built so I had my reservations about this plane however I will say that my fears were not founded at all, plenty of legroom even for my tree-trunk legs!! Slight turbulence on the way south but otherwise perfectly adequate flight, certainly more enjoyable than other "larger" planes I have been on. As a side note, the Special Assistance both through the Airports as well as Flybe were excellent and we now know anytime we go to an airport we will always request this - had we not done this, she would've been killed before even getting on the plane! If you have a Chronic Pain condition, I seriously recommend looking into Special Assistance if you can get it - if you put pride aside temporarily, it will help you out in leaps and bounds! Our flights and transfers were organised through Royal Caribbean (as per current promotion at the time) when we arrived at Southampton Airport, we were greeted by the Royal Caribbean rep who advised us what would happen, when and how. Very nice chap! Once everyone was accounted for, we boarded a bus and headed towards Southampton port - traffic that day was really busy compared to normal apparently but otherwise OK journey. Once we arrived at Southampton, we waited to be escorted through (my girlfriend is disabled so we were using Special Assistance to help us through, everyone was nice). We approached the desk, checked us in and after 15 minutes tops we were on board. One slight note was the woman at Southampton Port checking us in was very pushy with the whole credit card angle - me and my partner do not own (or want) a credit card and she was really pushing this agenda, which I found very odd!! It's like an Asda/Walmart clerk heavily pushing an Amex card on you for no good reason whatsoever - her face turned a funny shape when we advised we didn't own a credit card. Maybe I should've asked for a loan of hers!! The Ship Once we were onboard, we headed straight for Cafe Promenade for something to eat - was glad I did because seats were a bit of a challenge had I been 5-10 minutes later than I was (which is to be expected considering 3000+ guests trying to converge to the same location at the same time for the same reason!). The Royal Promenade was a nice touch, quite liked the layout of it, how everything is within spitting distance of each other (close but not too close). The shops, bars and Guest Services were all on Deck 5 however the speciality restaurants were spread out all over the place (Didn't even find Izumi until day 8 of the cruise as it was on the highest deck at the rear of the ship near the Cosmopolitan Bar - I'll have to remember for next time) We found the ship to generally be very good (we say this not as a negative reflection but purely because we have nothing to compare it to) in terms of navigating about, finding where places were and which end of the ship you had to be to get to the locations/cabins/restaurants etc. Once you orientate yourself (took me about 2 days) you get into a habit of knowing where to go and how to get there - if you forget then you can use the Digital Signs at both ends of the ship near the elevators to help you on your way. Despite my girlfriends mobility problems, getting about the ship was not too much of a problem and everything was within easy reach meaning she very rarely got tired or felt like she was pushing herself too much - plus we noticed others on scooters and other mobility devices so very accessible friendly in my opinion. In our experience, we did not find a problem using the elevators - some times like shows finishing or breakfast/dinner time (i.e. key busy periods) wait times were a tiny bit longer but you're on holiday so what's the rush? We weren't in a rush to get anywhere so we weren't overly bothered. My girlfriend found it particularly good using the elevators as well - plus the floor of each elevator had a plate with today's day on it that changed with each day that passed which was a cool wee touch! We thought the decor of the ship was really nice - I wouldn't use the word modern at all but at the same time it's not "Thy Quaintest Ye Olde Ship Hath Sailed These Waters" style either - just somewhere in the middle, wee nod here and a wee nod there in terms of styling so a good mix up of design over the ship I felt anyways. I like the design of the ship from the outside - weird thing to say however I did like the look and design of the ship from outside the ship (when she was docked in port) and she came out impressive when taking photos of her whilst in port! In regards to the restrooms onboard, they are at either side of each end of the ship, near the elevators (and Main Dining Room as well as Metropolis Theatre). This may be a new thing for me to adjust to however I found it slightly weird that in order to go the toilet/restroom when you are eating at a restaurant that none of the restaurants have a toilet/restroom within the actual restaurant itself - I think this may very well be a cruise ship thing but just a weird thing to adjust to personally so if it's your first time going on a cruise ship, be prepared to walk to a toilet if you need to! The ship itself is very clean - we always seen people cleaning the ship, keeping it in tip top condition regardless where we went. Top decks where the sun loungers were always had a space or three but for good reason - the weather didn't exactly permit for it!! However saying this we were thankful for the secluded Solarium on the day where the sun was out and was warm but the wind was so chilly it took away the warmth! The Solarium was one level below Top Deck and was secluded from any sidewinds so in a way was sheltered from the winds so it was warm within the Solarium - did not try the pool however heard it was cold so glad I didn't do that! We visited the NextCruise desk on Deck 6 aft and booked another cruise for December 2017 with the lovely Vitor Gomez (sales manager onboard and also the man who did the Lecture/Presentation about Alaska in the Metropolis lounge, where bingo was also held) but did not visit the Library or the Art gallery so nothing much else to report venue wise on the ship. Activities Every day there was activities on the ship - FlowRider, Rock Climbing Wall, Bingo, Films, Kids clubs, Crazy Golf, Sports Court as well as the Studio B Ice Rink and Metropolis Theatre. If anyone says there's nothing to do on the ship then the problem is with them and no-one else - I kept all the Cruise Compass papers and can easily show the breadth and scale of what you do on the ship. Yes there are activities that are chargeable however they only account a small selection of activities on offer (like less than 20% or so, no more than that) so it's really impossible to be bored on this ship. We did the Bingo (waste of money because I didn't win of course!), we also did the Royal Caribbean Next Cruise plug on Alaska (looked nice to go to!) and we also attended the theme nights at the Royal Promenade like 70's Party night so there was plenty to do on the ship and the Cruise Director Rob was a delight to watch - funny, witty and nice guy. Finally we even dabbled with Lady Luck at Casino Royale and, yet again, Lady Luck was nowhere to be found but I still had fun there regardless. Bit smoky but not too overpowering - however I did not miss having to smell cigarette smoke in any public place so a casino is somewhere I don't tend to visit often Service Having never been on a cruise before, I had nothing to compare this to (apart from on land Hotel and Restaurant service) and it is simply worlds apart - Everyone we spoke to was absolutely brilliant! Sylvain at Guest Services was an absolute joy to interact with and sorted out all our problems (we did have a few - I'll cover this at the end of this review). Dennis our Stateroom Attendant was excellent, helpful and always had a smile! Quite surprised his face didn't hurt after all that smiling but, all jokes aside, it just felt like they genuinely liked their job and wanted to help and make your holiday as enjoyable as they could make it. I will comment on the service in the restaurants within the Dining section but overall majority of people we spoke to were nice, happy to speak to us and very friendly! Port & shore excursions Le Havre - port was cancelled due to National French Strike (apparently Google advises this is a current past time of the working class French - go on strikes) so didn't go into France at all so this turned into a Spain and Portugal cruise itinerary!! Subsequently we did get a refund of port fees because of this so make sure if this happens to you that you get this as well, for any port cancellation Gijon - to quote Cruise Director Rob, the port looked like a deleted scene out of Prison Break. It was literally an industrial port near a petrochemical site and we were parked behind a cargo vessel loading copious amounts of sand into its cargo hold! At the customs/embarkation/disembarkation tent just at the port looked like a war zone checkpoint with armed guards getting confused and disorientated (and rightfully agitated) passengers into single file so that getting back on the ship was less stressful than it already was. Me and the missus were on Deck 5 Aft looking at the massive line of people under the watchful eye of the armed Policia Naçional (i think they were) and were quite grateful we weren't amongst them waiting to get on board! Lisbon - simply the best port in my personal opinion! Best day for weather (30° Celsius that day), best day for doing things. My only experience with the Shore Excursions desk was booking transfers to and from the drop off point in Lisbon. $7 pp return, which I found exceptionally reasonable as the buses were there every 30 minutes so definitely worth the $7 in my opinion. We then got on the Red Hop On/Hop Off tour bus for €20 per person for the Green Line that took us through the town, by the river. By the time it was finished 1hr 30mins had passed at which point we headed back to the ship. Out of the entire cruise, this was the best port visit in my opinion, the weather being the biggest factor to that decision - can't beat glorious sunshine! Plus we sailed out and was waived off by P&O Britannia and its crew/passengers which was a wee treat Vigo - this was a small port compared to Lisbon and it had a Shopping Mall within 50 metres or so from the port so not bad for doing a small spot of Retail Therapy! There is a Burger King there (seemed to be the only restaurant worth eating at - one of the local restaurants refused to serve anything outside the lunch menu for reasons he wasn't willing to disclose so we got up and got a Chicken Royale meal!!). It may have had good Shore Excursions but the weather was a bit cloudy so didn't want to risk getting caught in the rain so we went to the shopping mall, had a look around and then went back to the ship. La Coruna - weather was appalling, if anyone booked Shore Excursions on land that day they would have needed a canoe and a paddle it was that wet. This was a bonus port as when we originally booked this, it was meant to be an 8 night cruise however due to a berthing conflict at Southampton on Disembarkation day, Royal Caribbean added on an extra night at no extra cost so not getting off wasn't a deal breaker for us Cabin We were in an Interior Room with Virtual Balcony (Room Number 1587, Deck 10 midship) and this was an excellent choice. The room was adequately sized, the bathroom was plenty big enough and the Virtual Balcony itself was definitely the main reason I enjoyed the room. Also the Virtual Balcony room also played the sound of the ocean being captured by said camera so you got the full balcony experience even though you were in an interior room! There was 3 times the Virtual Balcony did not work, it simply froze up (unsure if it was due to loose wiring or faulty connections or software locking up) however it was fixed within 24 hours of reporting it so very happy with the room itself. Due to my unique size, I had to shower with the shower doors open to allow elbow room but apart from that it was a lovely room and would book it again no problem. I would rate it a solid 9.5 out of 10 Dining Windjammer Buffet - we ate here only a few times for lunch and primarily for breakfast however we were reminded daily why we didn't like the Windjammer, it was just too crowded, too chaotic and seating was rare! The quality of the food in the Windjammer was a bit "meh" to be honest - not to say it was rubbish, everything was totally edible borderline nice to have however it is a buffet and suffers the same problem all buffets have (stuff drying out, stuff running out, fresh stuff is pounced on immediately etc). We barely saw any wait staff whenever we were there - either they blended in with the crowds or were possibly helping out folk at the other end of the place from where we were sitting. I wasn't overly bothered because the place is a buffet and it performed like a buffet does - every man for themself and if you snooze you lose! Rating 7 out of 10 Cafe Promenade - we ate here a couple of times for snacks to go or to sit in (again if you were lucky to find a seat) and this was the place where you got your pizza fix as there is no Sorrento's on board Navigator, which I was slightly bummed out about but hardly a deal breaker. Pizza was always fresh, the sandwiches and wraps were lovely and the Ranger Coconut cookies were amazing!! I'd buy a crate's worth to go if I could they were that nice to me anyways! Also at Cafe Promenade is where you get your Starbucks fix as well as some Ben & Jerry's ice cream (no Caramel Chew Chew option, MAJORLY bummed out by that but quickly got over that as well). Rating 7.5 out of 10 Main Dining Room - we had pre-paid gratuities before going on the cruise and therefore opted for the My Time Dining option. Initially we didn't eat there primarily because we were too busy trying either the Speciality restaurants or the Windjammer buffet. However our service at the Sapphire Main Dining Room was exceptional! If I could rewind the cruise and eat here every day and not do one Speciality restaurant then I would've been happy with the Main Dining Room - they offered Steak and/or Lobster (which came from Chops Grille so you knew the quality of the product) and why bother paying $35-$40 per person for a steak dinner when you could spend half that and get the money maker (Filet Mignon) cooked to your liking and then to be served by (what would end up becoming) your favourite waiters! Massive shout out to Eri and Bobie, they are the reason I LOVED dinner time and I have to admit, from sit down to finishing up the whole dinner can be had within 30 minutes if you wanted however there was no rush! Plus everything was tickety boo and ran like a well oiled machine. The most impressive part of the whole cruise was that Main Dining Room and the lovely men and women who serve and work there. Rating 10 out of 10 Chops Grille - Excellent dinner (wished I ordered extra portions of the starter!) and lovely service from our waiter Rohan. Decor was dark and warm with ideal seating by the window offering a great view! I had the Black Pepper Bacon starter followed by the Porterhouse entree with creamed corn, cheesy tater tots and mashed potato, followed by birthday cake and Red Velvet cake - was utterly wonderful! Word of caution regarding their drinks offering, the cocktail Citroniti was like moonshine in a Martini glass so hope you don't smoke if you intend on drinking this otherwise lighting up a cigarette could possibly put your face on fire!! They took the drink back and did not charge me, which I found was really nice - no chance of that happening at a land based restaurant that's for sure! Rating 9 out of 10 Sabor - The freshly made guacamole blew my mind both being made in front of me as well as the taste of it, it has totally ruined guacamole I get back home now! The waiter we had (can't remember his name) was very funny and full of charm as well as being very attentive. I had a very tasty starter of Chicken Stuffed Jalapeños, followed by the Pollo Picante Chicken Tacos however I was underwhelmed by the dessert. It was rather bland and tasteless - not what I envisioned to have after having the flavour sensation of the starter and entrée. I also had a cocktail called The Smoky and it honestly tasted like Laphroaig Whisky - essentially liquid tobacco with a horrible smoky/peaty after taste, ended up handing it back and getting a Sol beer which was MUCH nicer! They took it back without charging me so that was nice. Rating 8 out of 10 Giovanni's Table - Lovely lunch, not a fault with it. Lovely decor with lovely seating by the window offering a great view (similar to Chops Grille in it's layout - primarily because it's directly opposite Chops Grille just by the entrance to Windjammer and therefore having a similar floor plan/layout). I had the Veal Meatballs and Foccacia Margherita for the starter, the utterly divine Lasagne for the entrée and then the options of Cannoli and Tiramisu for dessert. All were lovely although slight observation about the desserts was that the Tiramisu wasn't as chilled as I would have liked it and the cannoli shells were a bit chewier than I would have liked. Even still this was the nicest lunch I had during the entire cruise. I wasn't adventurous with the drinks this time, instead opting for some soda as per my soda beverage package. Rating was 9 out of 10 Johnny Rockets - We went here once for lunch on my birthday and for me it was nice but something I would only visit once during my time on the ship, any more than once would encourage a heart attack to come on prematurely!! I opted for the Smoke House Burger that had onion rings and BBQ sauce along with french fries followed by their legendary Malt Shakes, which was the nicest shake I've ever tasted. Burger was a bit greasy however I do like a greasy burger (hence can only do that one time!). Pro-tip in case you don't know, at Johnny Rockets it is a speciality restaurant (i.e. chargeable) however included within your charge is your soft drinks which are refillable so if you didn't purchase a drinks package you need not fret about the cost of soda at this restaurant. Rating 8.5 out of 10 Izumi - N/A due to the fact that I did not find this until Day 8 of our cruise when were wanting to look at the onboard chapel and right there slightly beyond the Cosmopolitan Bar was Izumi. Next time I go on Navigator, I'll make a point of trying her out! Bars Schooners Bar - We went there once and was watching some comic on the piano and he was pretty funny. He then called someone up to play the piano and the fella called his bluff and ended up playing a really good tune that night. Was OK but we didn't fancy sitting around it, looked a bit old fashioned for our liking but others seemed to love the nautical theme about it R Bar - we sat here for cocktails on a couple of nights and found the cocktails to be nice. They primarily did $10 and $12 cocktails and the waiters did come round asking for orders at your seats which I found to be nice. Seats were nice, if you could get one at night, and spacing was OK as well Boleros - this bar we only tried once as it was always mobbed, the seats always taken, there was a line there all the time. Either it was a hot spot that I wasn't aware of or they did a special drink I wasn't aware of - plus this is where you unleashed your samba style and moves on the dance floor in front of the house band as well. Nice place to be at if the seats were free Cosmopolitan Club - if my memory serves me right, this used to be the Viking Crown bar lounge area, Deck 14 aft. Lovely club with lovely views (I believe there is an entrance to the Diamond/Concierge lounge here as well) and the cocktails here were excellent and bar men were great! Our favourite bar on the whole ship! Children's clubs - Me and the missus don't have any kids that we know of (and if we did they weren't on the cruise with us!) so marking this as N/A due to not having any Entertainment - We watched the 70's Disco Show (can't remember the title of it) performed by singers Giovanni & Whitney from Florida and they put on a sensational show in my opinion, very talented singers. They certainly had a hard time convincing moody english travellers to join in with the singing along however despite this they were professional and excellent to watch. Whitney in particular dedicated her final performance of that show to her late mother by singing I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston - excellent performance! We then watched Gary Lovini play the violin to some popular music songs and incorporated the mix of American and British by playing American and British classical numbers. He came up and down the aisles playing close to the audience to allow for photos close up which I thought was very nice! The last night involved some dude on a BMX bike (can't remember his name) however his control of it was phenomenal so hats off to him! And to round it off, and in my opinion the best entertainment showing, was the Ice Show at Studio B so pay attention to the Cruise Compass to see when you go as they know it's a highly demanded show to go to so they organise it by Muster Station location (this can be found on the right hand side of your SeaPass Card - for example, mine's was D6) so keep your eyes peeled for this Disembarkation - Was relatively painless, I asked a Royal Caribbean rep on the ship to help me locate those who are helping those that require Special Assistance. They helped my partner through the port and to the bus. We then rode the bus to Southampton airport in plenty of time - we even got into the Priority Lounge for free due to a system issue meaning the person couldn't take cash for payment so result!! But even still, the Airport Lounge is definitely worth it - peace and quiet for the trip is priceless. Boarded the plane and flew home without any problems at all so really smooth process getting home at a reasonable time. Observations/Niggles - Before I give my summary on the whole cruise I do wish to pass on some observations and niggles I encountered on my trips (and I score that as a percentage of 5% so despite these niggles I fully enjoyed my cruise!) - As it was my 30th, my girlfriend went to the bother of pre-purchasing a 4 pack of Red Velvet cupcakes on Royal Caribbean's website so that they would be dropped off at my stateroom in the morning as a surprise for my big 3-0. 8am been and went with no arrival - she then called Guest Services who then transferred her to the team that deal with these requests who told her she needs to give 2 weeks notice for these requests (which she hadn't done however both the Royal Caribbean website and a subsequent phone call to a Royal Caribbean agent after purchasing this did not make her aware of this). She then went to speak to Sylvain at Guest Services who was very apologetic and able to sort something out and, within 15 minutes of this conversation, Red Velvet cupcakes that were pre-packed (read probably on a shelf somewhere as stock for selling to passengers) magically appeared out of nowhere. We were more interested in the resolution however we felt this shouldn't have happened as it was a basic request that required minimal logistical effort to implement but otherwise in the grand scheme of things not a catastrophe by any means - The only times where I personally would consider the service received by me to be classed as a mulligan was at the Boleros Bar and one of the Guest Services staff members - he had a pretentious and slightly condescending attitude (probably mystified as to why I had the audacity to come onto a cruise ship without a credit card) and the woman at Boleros Bar looked about as a fed up as the passengers at Gijon! So apart from those 2 one time interactions, Service generally speaking was excellent. - Another niggle I found was the lack of Freestyle Coca Cola Machines on the ship - having to queue at bars for a soft drink was a bit of an annoyance and availability of certain drinks varied from one bar to another and from deck to deck. For instance, Fanta wasn't available at Cafe Promenade but was available at Two Poets Pub. Canada Dry Ginger Ale was only available at Two Poets pub and Coca Cola Zero was varied day to day and bar to bar so it was your donald duck (down to luck) which brand of soda you were drinking each day so I felt that inconsistency was a bit of an annoyance - The biggest full on complaint I had was with the Spa onboard. I opted for a Bamboo Body Massage (which ain't cheap to me) seen as how it was a special occasion the massage part was nice and enjoyed that. The masseuse went to get a cup of water and then after 5 minutes she came in with literally the back catalogue of Elemis SpaHome products and cue the hard sell!! I was sitting there utterly flabbergasted at what was happening in front of me and, being the wimp I am, I caved in and bought the dry brush just to keep her relatively content. Lesson learned for me is to NEVER step foot into the Spa ever again, almost going to contest the gratuity for the treatment but I wasn't going to allow that to ruin my birthday so it was an expensive mistake I learned that day! - Finally, the VOOM internet is apparently fleet wide (i.e. on ALL Royal Caribbean ships) however the VOOM internet was utterly pathetic on Navigator - so much so I ended up cancelling the package on Day 2 of the cruise as regardless where I was the download speed did not go above 0.5mbps. In the stateroom, Royal Promenade, Johnny Rockets and on Top Lounging deck was the same result. After speaking with Guest Services about the matter, they simply offered to cancel the package and refund the cost of it to my stateroom account which I accepted. Pro Tip, majorly test that internet package in the first 24-36 hours of boarding the ship because if it's unacceptable to you, the longer you leave it you won't then be able to cancel it and get a refund like I did so be on the ball about that one! One thing I would like to see, perhaps for those of us using Apple or Android devices, would be to update the Royal IQ app (currently only available to Quantum class ships and Harmony of the Seas) so that you can select your destination on the ship and then the app will direct you like Google Maps Walking directions does and you can follow your app's instructions (Turn Left, get on this next elevator, go up the stairs by the bar etc) along with a diagram showing you how to get there. I've sent this onto Royal Caribbean, whether this will happen or not is another matter but we shall see! Summary - Overall I loved this cruise and wouldn't mind going back on the ship again. I would just hope that the VOOM internet and Freestyle Coke machines to be installed and I would be a happy camper but I'm knitpicking now. If you book a cruise on this ship, you won't be disappointed - just avoid the spa unless you're getting a complimentary treatment!! Read Less
28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
cruise holidays I was very very disappointed...everything went wrong.... - staff on reception very unprofessional, miserable, unfriendly and unhelpful staff ( dont know why they are there?!) - cruise with no tv licence????? ... Read More
cruise holidays I was very very disappointed...everything went wrong.... - staff on reception very unprofessional, miserable, unfriendly and unhelpful staff ( dont know why they are there?!) - cruise with no tv licence????? -every tv series had only 2 episodes???? - Pay for internet??? every holidays we went to.. the internet is free of charge...but not on britannia....?! -pay for coffees, teas and ice cream??? free of charge on royal Caribbean cruise - day time entertainment very poor...5 quizzes join the day whats that all about ??? pool entertainment "pool quiz" wohooo very exciting...dont forget to mention pianist who sent people to bed !!!! -buffet food horrible....on Italian day we had lasagna, pasta and garlic bread nothing else...and they called it " Italian day" -our sitting time was 8.30pm we missed nearly every show as the show time join the night was at 7.30pm or 9.30pm and you have to be in theater least 40 mins before the show will start otherwise you wont have a seat !!!!! -we went to see kiki dee cost us £22 waist of money as everyone in a room was asleep..... she was very boring and the night didn't have soul.... - had to pay for a shuffle bus....free of charge on royal Caribbean -every port we went was terrible...apart from Lisbon -morocco was one of our ports never ever again!!!! we were followed by 3 people every where we went and felt so uncomfortable.... the night before we came to marocco we received a letter saying that it was dangerous and we need to stay in a groups?! why would you got there when you know its dangerous?! - another port was grand cannaria but they had a bank holiday and every shop was closed....waste of another day that was.... - shops on a board are bad... not enough choices....and quiet expensive!!! -cant see your bill on a tv you have to go to reception and ask for it every other day just encase they will charged you extra for something you never had or never used!!! -spa so expensive - our cabin was very small and didn't have enough space for 2 people....especially bathroom area where me and my partner proper struggled as only one person could fit in a bathroom and me being pregnant lady i found it very hard and didnt have enough space to move -lifts were a problem for some people never knew where they or the lifts were going -the only one good thing was night show but than every show was only for 45 mins Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
For our Wedding Anniversary we decided to do something special and choose the Fred Olsen cruise "Easter Ireland" and booked a Premier Suite. We could not fault anything (perhaps apart from some of the weather - not in Fred ... Read More
For our Wedding Anniversary we decided to do something special and choose the Fred Olsen cruise "Easter Ireland" and booked a Premier Suite. We could not fault anything (perhaps apart from some of the weather - not in Fred Olsen's control!). As it was our 40th Anniversary we were given the complimentary anniversary package of sparkling wine, flowers, cake, card, portrait photo and gift. During the cruise it was also my birthday so we were slightly embarrassed when a cake was brought to our table on the Friday for my birthday together with the table staff serenading me and the next day another cake and serenade for our anniversary. The staff were superb and could not do enough for us. We asked if the anniversary cake could be packaged to take home to share with family and they made a special box for it and wrapped it with ribbon. The staff soon learned our names and we were often called "Sir, John and Madam, Jennifer". The food was superb both in choice, presentation and cooking. Most evenings we only managed three of the five courses due to the quantity. The ports of call were Belfast, Dublin (two days) and Cobn. All of which were interesting and we went independently rather than take the organised tours. We are not night owls and in Dublin managed to find a pub (Oliver St. John Gogerty) which had live Irish music during the afternoon. The evening shows were very good but I much preferred the live music from the string trio and pianist/singer in the small lounges. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
Our first cruise and we were very disappointed with the service , really terrible, the ship and the food brillant but the service was terrible and it really let P&O 's reputation down. This morning the service at the Penisular the ... Read More
Our first cruise and we were very disappointed with the service , really terrible, the ship and the food brillant but the service was terrible and it really let P&O 's reputation down. This morning the service at the Penisular the waiters were so unhelpful and they were so ignorant , really really bad! I have got nine years travel experience and I have thought highly of P&O thinking it usually it's a five star but it was more like a three star . My mum and dad have been on cruises before and they said this was the worst! My Mother in law also came with us and she travelled with Thomson's and she said Thomson's was much better. Waiting this morning to come home we were treated like cattle , queueing . Why do we aka us British people put up with it and why should we ? Also there was hen and stag do's on there which kind of lowered the tone of the cruise also . I would never go on a P&O cruise again and I would never travel with a British cruise company again . American's deliver the best customer service and they won't put up with bad service like queueing and having to ask for a refill of tea and coffee etc , that should be part of the amazing service of a 5 star company !!! The waiter actually tutted when we asked for a refill and he leant across my Mum to give us a glass of orange juice , we also asked for a jug of water this morning and was told this was not possible only glasses. I have never complained about bad service but i really do feel P&O do need to listen to their customers and work on this feedback . We did wonder if P&O have just shipped in temp staff so that the normal Staff would have time off as the 14 night Ant and Dec Saturday night takeaway trip Today . It was just awful!!! A lot of people like us tried this cruise as a taster cruise to see if they liked it , I can't see the conversion rate being high after today's / this weekends terrible service . Read Less
23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
This was a taster weekend to Bruges Brussels however the port was changed to Le Harve in France due to the terrorist attacks. We understood this but there is nothing to do in Le Harve and it was a terrible choice of port. Embarkation ... Read More
This was a taster weekend to Bruges Brussels however the port was changed to Le Harve in France due to the terrorist attacks. We understood this but there is nothing to do in Le Harve and it was a terrible choice of port. Embarkation - nightmare absolute nightmare we travelled as a family and were told we could board together, not so the check in staff were utterly rude to us really upsetting my elderly mum. Insisting she either board or wait another 3 hours until we were allowed to board. I found it all to be madness we booked this trip in August 2015 and to be told we could board at3.30 was disgraceful especially as we paid to upgrade our room to a cabin suite. Once boarding our luggage didn't arrive until 6:30pm so we couldn't make use of the swimming pool we were sent the wrong luggage labels and the cases went to another room! No apology here either, as first time cruisers we didn't check the luggage tags they sent us to our boarding card why would we! Once aboard service was slow waiting 45mins for drinks, half of the facilities were closed and only one jacuzzi open to the whole ship!! Unless of course you paid £25 each extra for the retreat! Erm who is prepared to pay this when we have paid £650 already for a weekend taster !! Disembarkation was like a cattle market no staff visibility people pushing in all over the place! It was awful and never been treated so bad from a tourist company. Expected more from P&O ship is beautiful but that is nothing with shoddy rude service and lack of ownership !! I would warn all people who are considering parting with their cash to think booking with another company Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
This was a taster cruise and as such was fairly inexpensive. You would expect however that this would be a chance to impress potential new customers. Couldn't have been further from the truth for us. We experienced 2 days of ... Read More
This was a taster cruise and as such was fairly inexpensive. You would expect however that this would be a chance to impress potential new customers. Couldn't have been further from the truth for us. We experienced 2 days of queuing, lacklustre service, poor communications, poor to non-existent entertainment and borderline incompetence. At our emergency muster, when we eventually got on board having been treated like cattle during embarkation, they didn't even explain how to put the children's life jackets on which were very different from the adults. Its our first cruise experience and we where flabbergasted at how low rent was. If your on a hen or stag do or just want to sit doing nothing but stuff your face in a canteen all day then it ideal. The ship is a huge, bland, poorly designed block of flats with no heart or soul. We where very glad to get home. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
This was our first cruise so we have nothing to compare it with but were a bit wary given some of the bad reviews this ship and company get. Tilbury is an odd port and probably needed refurbishment 40 years ago, it still does and after ... Read More
This was our first cruise so we have nothing to compare it with but were a bit wary given some of the bad reviews this ship and company get. Tilbury is an odd port and probably needed refurbishment 40 years ago, it still does and after a bit of chaos at the long term car park the embarkation process was very efficient. From starting the process to boarding the ship and being shown straight to our cabin was no more than 15 minutes. The meet and greet on board was good and within minutes we had dropped out hand luggage off and were free to explore. The ship is not huge, which appealed to us. Everything was immaculate and there was constant cleaning and polishing going on throughout the entire voyage, along with window cleaning and painting whenever the ship was in port. There are staff dispensing anti-bac at all times in every place food is served. There were various activities for most sea days, quizzes, art, a choir and entertainment. We didn't go to much of the 'on stage' entertainment as it wasn't our style (singing and dancing) but there is also an excellent resident pianist who plays regularly in one of the smaller bars and a fantastic piano and violin duet who played 3 or 4 times a day in one of the other bars, they were stunning. Other people enjoyed the main entertainment so there was a variety of styles to suit taste. The guest cabaret (comedy and music) was very old hat, Frank Spencer impressions and lots of jokes around impotence, some people found him funny, he was a better singer than comedian. Some of the guest lectures were interesting, a bit more variety would have been good. The food was very good, always a choice of self serve or restaurant. While occasionally the soup wasn't hot there was always a good choice, it was always well presented and served with a smile. I am veggie and was always well catered for with a choice of menu. While the breakfast staff were not always overly cheerful or interactive the evening dinner service was good humoured, professional and always served with beaming smiles. Our waiter, Thant, remembered our particular likes and dislikes and was always ready to change anything that wasn't to someone's liking (eg blue cheese on the cheese and biscuits) and remembered this for next time. Portion sizes were very good, not excessive but more than adequate. Lunch was 3 courses, though staff were also happy to just do the soup if requested, 3 courses were not compulsory (!) dinner was a minimum of 5 courses with fresh pizza available 12-6 and afternoon tea 3.30-4.30 plus late night snacks handed around in all bars around 11/11.30. I'm sure no-one could possibly go hungry. Drinks are very reasonable, there is a drinks package at £17pp per night but bar prices are normal, fairly cheap, pub prices. Wine packages are offered a few days into the trip for those who don't want the full drinks package. We just bought drinks as we went along and had a very reasonable bill at the end of the trip. Shore excursions are expensive, in most places we just did our own thing. Amsterdam was an easy walk from port to city centre and there were buses for the less mobile. In the Faroe Islands we did a trip which was good but at £37 expensive for 2.5 hours. In Iceland we did our own thing, there was a port shuttle available at £12 but a local bus is £6 return and went every 20 minutes. In Orkney there was a free shuttle provided locally and we were greeted by Tourist Info staff, the whole town was geared up for our visit (even the local vicar was sat in the Cathedral on his laptop in case anyone wanted a chat, there were welcome signs in shops) and we were "piped off' by a bagpipe and drum band. Disembarkment was a little chaotic but not unreasonable for getting 1,200 people and their luggage off a ship. The staff were very friendly, the Captain informative and also funny. We had one pretty rough sea day as we left Iceland when most activities were cancelled and we were catching wine glasses and fellow passengers as they slid around the ship. Listening to some fellow passengers whinging and wining as we left the ship it was hard to believe we had been on the same cruise, while I'm sure there will have been some genuine mishaps or problems some people just seemed to be looking for problems "there wasn't even a mint on our pillow at night" was one person's moan about why he would never use CMV again... Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
This was our first cruise and we were both nervous and excited about our trip from Southampton to Bruges on P&O Ventura. Below is our review and some of the things that we would do differently should we decide to do another cruise that ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we were both nervous and excited about our trip from Southampton to Bruges on P&O Ventura. Below is our review and some of the things that we would do differently should we decide to do another cruise that may be useful to other fist time cruisers. Parking and transfers - we used ACP (Alternative Cruise Parking) and the service was excellent from start to finish. All questions that we asked prior to arrival were responded to promptly. Upon arrival we parked our car and was on our way to the Cruise terminal within 10 minutes. The driver offered lots of useful information as well as trying to put nervous 1st time cruisers minds at rest. We were told when we got back and dis-embarked to call the office number and a vehicle would be there to collect us within 15 minutes and that was exactly what happened. Upon arrival back at the car park the lady that we dealt with (Sue) seemed genuinely interested as to how we got on. What a pleasure to deal with a company that actually delivers on it's promises. We would have no hesitation in recommending ACP to friends and family. Arrival and embarkation at the Mayflower Terminal Southampton - Our arrival time was 3pm and we arrived at 12:30pm. This was our first mistake as we sat for 2 hours having to listen constantly to a women making announcements every couple of minutes which although might be necessary did get on our nerves! Lesson learnt next time we will aim to arrive close to our embarkation time. Drinks and toilets were available in the "holding area". Cabin - once on board we arrived at our room to find our cases were already at the door. We had a balcony cabin on deck 12 situated in the mid aft section of the ship which was quiet with no noise from the above deck. The living / sleeping area was nice with plenty of storage space for clothes a decent sized safe and a very comfortable queen size bed. The balcony was nice with good quality recliner chairs and a table. The bathroom was disappointing. The shower was very small although the water pressure was good and always hot. The worst part was every time we lifted the seat on the toilet we were greeted with an unpleasant smell of stale urine. A special mention to our Cabin steward who kept our cabin spotlessly clean and tidy, thank you. Emergency Drill - Due at 16:15 but delayed until 16:45 due to inconsiderate individuals that feel that they are exempt! Although irritating this is a requirement by law. In our opinion anyone late should be given a heavy fine (suggest the cost of their cruise) or better still ejected from the ship unless a very good reason is given for being late! Bars - We tried the following bars:- Breakers bar, good fun nice pint but drinks served in plastic beakers. Exchange bar, good service, entertainment and nice drinks. Tamarind, rude miserable staff. Metropolis, flat beer and weak coffee! Restaurants - We tried the following restaurants:- Bay Tree - The first night we were greeted with an enormous queue going up the stairs at 20:25 for our 20:30 sitting. The 2nd night we arrived at 20:45 and walked straight in, another lesson learned! The food was hit and miss as the first night was awful i.e. prawn cocktail served with wilting salad and beef that was tough and tasteless! The 2nd night however was excellent. The service was excellent on both nights. Waterside, excellent buffet breakfasts, lunch & desserts. Frankie's Pizzeria, awful pizza's friendly staff. Frankie's Grill, nice food miserable lady chef! Disembarkation - we chose to self disembark which requires you to carry your own baggage off the ship. The ship docked at about 07:10 and we were off the ship by approximately 07:35 which worked well for us. Final thoughts - We were told by numerous people before going that we would not even know that the ship was moving. We found this to be untrue as the ship could be heard / felt shaking and rolling during our crossing. We experienced queuing on board but this can be avoided with a little planning. However in our experience there was always a considerable wait to get drinks from the bars but we found the prices were very reasonable and in line with what you would expect to pay in an average pub / restaurant. We found that this mini cruise gave us a very good insight as to what a cruise would be like. We enjoyed our first cruise but are still undecided as to whether to go on another. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
I booked this as a treat after a busy X mas for myself and my husband , I was sceptical about the whole thing , a lot of reading about cruising there seems a element of snobbery, well I loved it yes a mini cruise was for us anyway a bit ... Read More
I booked this as a treat after a busy X mas for myself and my husband , I was sceptical about the whole thing , a lot of reading about cruising there seems a element of snobbery, well I loved it yes a mini cruise was for us anyway a bit booze cruise not what I'd do on a week (my days of partying every night unfortunatly have gone,but after a hectic X mas at work just what the doctor ordered ) good food and decent priced drinks, all kinds of people from fun groups of stag parties to hen dos , and everything else in between , everyone I spoke to were lovely , something for everyone I think. Formal nights were fab we dressed up both nights , my husband is def more jeans and t shirt but even he loved it, so yay more dress shopping for me, entertainment was fab though I didn't see everything , food was good from buffet to more formal resturant, my husband loved the food to and from a ex army chef that's good. We ate one night in the glass house was very nice, next night we missed the saffron rest so ate in the buffet , no complaints at all , It was so smooth on our trip to Brugge I didn't realise we were moving though perhaps that was a mix of fizz and cocktails, return trip slightly noticed it, I shall defiantly cruise again , I did see some negative comments I in all honesty think you basically just can't keep the amount of passengers on board happy. Staff were really good attentive , our room attendant was great , I'd recommend this type of holiday to all, from ease of parking , having our bags taken in to getting on board all easy and organised well. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
Our first cruise was on the P&O Aurora on 28 Dec for 5 days round Bruges and Hamburg. Both are nice cities well worth a visit and pleasurable day was had at both. Embarkation parking with CPL was great, very efficient. Once ... Read More
Our first cruise was on the P&O Aurora on 28 Dec for 5 days round Bruges and Hamburg. Both are nice cities well worth a visit and pleasurable day was had at both. Embarkation parking with CPL was great, very efficient. Once inside, we had to wait in the lounge until a set time and then queue at a desk to check in, then queue at security, then get on, but it wasn’t too bad. The Aurora was well maintained and about the same standard as a 4 star mainstream hotel. The cabins were clean, and the maid was excellent, servicing the cabin very attentively. There was more room in the cabin than we expected. On board there was entertainment, bars, a casino, lots of shops, restaurants and a very good gym and spa. The gym was too hot to use as the ship is 26 degrees Celsius everywhere, but you could run on the promenade deck if you wanted and get some air. The average age of clients was very old and I would not recommend it for anyone under 65. The set evenings were formal dress which was fine, but what makes people think it is OK to turn up to breakfast not showering still in pyjamas? It was more like an old person’s home than a hotel. That’s not P&Os fault of course but perhaps they should refuse breakfast guests in underwear just as you would refuse someone in trainers and jeans at a black tie diner. Overall the staff were helpful apart from a few – one very rude waiter and one extremely rude car park attendant at the terminal, who was not interested in telling anyone where they could unload or load, just where they couldn’t, which is everywhere. The main problem that would put us off cruising with P&O ever again was the food. Not the quantity or quality (which was OK, like a decent motorway services really, which as they were feeding 2000 people isn’t bad). The problem is the utterly stupid dining rules. You either have to pre-book and eat in the same place at the same time every single night. Or choose freedom dining and go anywhere to be told they are full and no you cannot book anywhere, at anytime. So the restaurant tables are half empty with people who booked but fancied a change and did not show for their booked table. You can’t sit there because it is booked even though it’s empty. The people who did book are somewhere else being told they can’t eat there because it is full and they did not book. Even the staff do not understand the daft rules and contradicted each other at the same food station! P&O read chaos theory – you are causing the problem. Let people just turn up and eat when and where they want and there will be no problem. Old people and kids eat at 18:30, everyone else 20:00 and it balances out. We were set to eat between 18:30 and 20:30 but the waiters wanted us out at 19:45 to reset the table. 5 courses in just over an hour after ordering is too fast. We asked for a 5 min break before dessert but they asked again after 35 seconds and would not take no for an answer. We complained we were forced to leave at 19:45 and asked why? The staff just repeated the message we need the table for 20:30. This happened every night even though we turned up bang on time to start every night. The waiters refused to slow down, it was worse than eating at a fast food restaurant, with a waiter often putting your soup down in front of you while you were still eating the starter. We went to reception to try to sort it out but the staff while polite just repeat the message, ‘it is the rules you have to be out by 20:30’. When we asked to see the rules explaining things they just repeated the message. It seems P&O expect passengers to just know the rules even if the staff don’t. Why were not allowed to finish the meal by 20:00 say, we will never know. So for P&O if you eat between 18:30 and 20:30, it means you start at 18:30 and finish at 19:45 and leave. We even asked what time zone the kitchen was on but it wasn’t that. The other big problem was the shambolic safety drill. We were called to the muster station for the understandably mandatory drill. The two staff at muster station E did not know where muster station E was even though they were at it. The recorded message stuck and was restarted 3 times. The Captain tried to deliver a personal message (probably to apologise) but the speakers cut out twice. They gave up. They do this every week and messed it up. What would happen in a real emergency they have not seen before? No thanks I am not trusting my family’s safety to these guys again. Your life is in the hands of a soup waiter and a croupier who do not know where your muster station is, even when they are already stood at it – no thanks. If you like very regimented holidays, and are over 75 this would be ideal, if not I would not recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2015
This was my first cruise and I was travelling alone, I wanted to try cruising without committing to a) too much time on board or b) a really expensive, lengthy cruise just in case cruising wasn't for me. Admittedly my expectations ... Read More
This was my first cruise and I was travelling alone, I wanted to try cruising without committing to a) too much time on board or b) a really expensive, lengthy cruise just in case cruising wasn't for me. Admittedly my expectations were mixed having heard good and bad reports about both P&O and Arcadia herself. I now think that some reviews were maybe a little harsh, or some people got very unlucky! I took the Intercruises/Cruise Connect coach service advised by P&O from Nottingham to Southampton on embarkation day. The bonus of using this service meant that embarkation cards were given to us on the coach. By the time I had perched on a seat and filled in my health declaration our embarkation card colour and letter was being called. I felt a bit bad for the people who had clearly watched me walk in, sit down and almost immediately get called up for check-in! Check-in was fast and efficient. The lady at the desk was friendly but got the job done quickly and I progressed through security with no issues and straight on the ship. Having managed to avoid the photographer I found my way to my cabin. It would be helpful to have a sign as you embark telling you which deck you are embarking onto but this was a minor niggle, and would really only be necessary at the start of the cruise as the ship is easy to navigate once you have got your orientation. The cabin was larger than I expected, and within minutes of my arrival my cabin steward came to introduce himself with a card confirming my dining arrangements. I will agree with previous reviews at this point that my cabin was very tired. There were some historic marks on the sheets (looked like ink), the sofa/sofa bed sank a little when I sat on it, and the bathroom was very tired with cracks in the floor and towels that had lost their fluffiness. I looked past this as much as possible, after all I was really only sleeping in there. It was an inside cabin, so there was no need to spend time in there to look at the view! There was a sailaway party on the first evening, but with it being a Winter cruise it lacked some of the care free sunshine qualities that I imagine would be a real excitement on summer cruises. The roof was over the pool which would be open in better conditions and the warmth of the people had condensated the windows so it wasn't really possible to see that we were moving! The entertainment team did their best to extract some enthusiasm, as did the photographers, but I think these parties work better on longer, sunnier cruises! After a wander around the ship, a quick shower and a change of clothes I headed to dinner at the Meridian Restaurant. I was on freedom dining and had heard horror stories of people waiting for hours to be seated, so I went a little earlier than I would normally eat. I was seated immediately, completing a table of 8 that was a mix of couples and other solo travellers who were all very friendly. As I was the last to be seated the food order was promptly taken and although I wasn't blown away by the choice of food, it was very tasty and very nicely presented. The wait staff were attentive but not instrusive and it never took long to get 8 plates for each course to the table. Day 1 was a sea day so I took the opportunity of walking the three laps of the prom deck to get a mile under my belt, and got to witness some lovely rainbows disappearing into the sea. After this it was time to warm up with a coffee in the crows nest while perusing the daily Horizon and planning the rest of the day. After heading up to the Belvedere for a small salad for lunch I attended a session in the Casino where one of the casino staff talked us through all of the tables as an introduction to the games on board. I particularly enjoyed a taster of the 3 card poker. Then I sat in the Piano Bar with a drink and a book for a couple of hours. As I had planned excursions for all three port days I decided that today would be my best opportunity for afternoon tea. While I was impressed with the quality of what I was served, the staff seemed underprepared for the numbers of people that turned up. Some tables were already set with cakes while others weren't, some tables got sandwiches and tea first while we started with crumpets and teacakes, which seemed a little out of sequence, but I was sharing a table with people who were light hearted and we laughed about it all eventually. A little disappointing though. Another lovely dinner for black tie night, and I made it to the show tonight too. Enjoyable, but nothing to write home about. Day 2 and I was up early for a buffet breakfast after watching the ship dock in Amsterdam. In the morning I walked into Amsterdam centre which was a mere ten minutes from the ship, after blasting around the main sites of interest I headed back to the ship for a quick bite to eat before my afternoon excursion to see some windmills and cheesemaking in the Dutch countryside. It was nice to be away from the hustle and bustle for a few hours, and the tour guide was really knowledgeable and informative. Tonight I decided to dine alone for a bit of peace and quiet after a busy day and was touched that the drinks waitress took a few minutes to chat to me during a busy shift. The show tonight was a comedian, and after hearing a fellow passenger complaining most of the afternoon about cruise comedians, I was impressed by him (all of the 'usual' cruise jokes that the grumpy lady predicted were none existent!). Day 3 and I woke to watch us docking in Zeebrugge. I made the most of a dry morning by looking at the view from the sun deck and had a leisurely breakfast in the Meridian before taking another trip to Damme, a small but pretty village, a bus trip around the edge of Bruges taking in the windmills and a chocolate shop, and Loppem castle, a small but beautiful castle on the outskirts of Bruges. Back to the ship for a chill, shower and change before dinner and by far the best show of the cruise, a four piece male harmony group called Troubadour. They were so good in fact that I went to both shows, and was duly impressed both times. At the second show I met a group of fun-loving girls who found out that I was cruising alone and kindly asked if I wanted to join them for the rest of the evening, however I politely declined as I needed a good nights sleep before... Day 4 and again another early dock into Le Havre. Today I had to be off the ship as soon as possible to take a full day trip to Paris. It was a long coach trip but this allowed most of us to sleep! The tour guide was friendly again and pointed out some local sights as we left Le Havre and then left us to sleep! On arriving in Paris, our amazing coach driver negotiated his way around the sights for us, including driving through the very narrow arches at the Louvre. Around 1.30 we stopped at Notre Dame and we had a couple of hours of time to wander round and get something to eat. I don't think I made the most of the time in Paris, but that is entirely my fault! After boarding the coach again we made a quick stop at the Eiffel Tower for some last minute pictures as the light began to fade. On the way out of Paris we again passed some more impressive sights, and a smooth, speedy coach trip back to the ship. Due to the nature of the excursion I knew we would be some of the last on board but in fact our coach was THE last one to return, so almost as soon as we got back on board it was time to set sail again. As I had had a long day and it was getting late, I decided to eat in the Belvedere for the first time in the evening. It was an Asian themed night which I was looking forward to but the queue seemed to move slowly so even though the food looked good and tasted good, by the time I got to it, most of the food was cold. I decided to skip the show tonight and pack so that I was ready for disembarkation in the morning. Overnight there was a smooth crossing back to Southampton, and disembarkation went without a hitch. I would recommend to anyone to get to your disembarkation lounge early. My lounge time was 9am but I was there from around 8.15 as I had an early breakfast and couldn't return to my cabin after 8am. By 8.30 the officer in charge of our lounge was disembarking me and the other early birds. By 9am I had found my luggage and was on my coach. The coach trip back was smooth and fast as I was the second stop. I would highly recommend the coach connections if you don't fancy driving to Southampton. It was convenient, the drivers were friendly, and everything ran to time. All of the staff that I came across in passing were very friendly, the bar staff in particular. I would cruise with P&O again, but maybe on a bigger, newer ship. My parents have always spoken highly of their Caribbean cruise on Azura a couple of years ago. If P&O want to keep Arcadia in commission, I would highly recommend spending money renovating the cabins, and it would be nice to have a more impressive atrium area - this was a little underwhelming. I'm already booked to cruise again next Summer on the Celebrity Reflection, so it will be interesting to compare the two - even though I know Reflection is a much newer ship. On the whole this was a good introduction to cruising, but I don't think I could have survived more than 7 nights on this ship, there just wasn't enough to do. Maybe in Summer when the weather is good and the outdoor pool and sun decks are more useable it would be more bearable, but in Winter there just isn't enough to do on this 'mid-sized' ship. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
i was so looking forward to my first cruise everybody had told me how wonderful they are.we got the coach and all was very good with this.embarkaion was also swift enough and not difficult. Suitcases came as soon as we got into our room, ... Read More
i was so looking forward to my first cruise everybody had told me how wonderful they are.we got the coach and all was very good with this.embarkaion was also swift enough and not difficult. Suitcases came as soon as we got into our room, Jose our cabin attendant was about and very pleasant. On entering the bathroom there was a terrible smell of stale urine, just like a men's public toilets my god I could of vomited, my husband went to find Jose who straight away came and cleaned it all. We had a superior balcony room so box of chocolates were in room and champagne on ice. We got canapés twice whilst on board but never saw any flowers, unless they meant the plastic orchid in room? We were assigned on freedom dining in the meridian. Always found us a table for two straight away, most waiters were pleasant and happy all except wine waiter. Miserable and no interactive pleasantness at all. Food was not too bad I would say on par with a nice pub menu, not enough vegetables for my liking and you could not order extra. We gave up with the buffets they were terrible not an awful lot of choice and absolutely crowded never find a table and when. You did it was usually taken but no way of knowing. They were one of the worst buffet experiences I've ever had. Sindhu was absolutely fantastic, the food was to die for and the service second to non.we went twice on a a and b night. If they had of had more menus we would of gone every night. I never thought I would go on. Cruise and be confronted with so many chavs, it was like being in Blackpool. Around the pool was just so crowded with tattooed load scruffy embarrassing people. I hated the crowded spaces on sea days couldn't find seats anywhere and no quiet places. Even our balcony did not fit this remit as the two people next door used the balcony for smoking on. Diabolical women hardly left their room. The shows were ok if you like that sort of thing, the Tom Jones tribute was very good but catch 22 were awful, lots of different songs all made to sound exactly the same, dead pan, I had to leave after the first set couldn't stand any more.the magician was ok. Every venue you had to be there really early if you wanted a seat. Drinks were not too expensive on par with the UK. Enrichment activities were just adverts for spending more money. We went to the cooking demonstration not very good just pushing the restaurants you had to pay for same as the talk on tired feet. Disembarkation was organised well as long as you stuck to the instructions you were given. I don't think I'll be in a hurry to go back on a cruise may as well save a lot of money and go to Blackpool if that's what I wanted. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2015
We went with 2 other couples on this 2 days to Guernsey. This was our first cruise and it will not be our last. We were so impressed with how efficient the whole process was. Everything about the experience was first class, the food was ... Read More
We went with 2 other couples on this 2 days to Guernsey. This was our first cruise and it will not be our last. We were so impressed with how efficient the whole process was. Everything about the experience was first class, the food was fantastic the service was superb and friendly in the restaurant, we went for freedom dining which suited us better. The bars were busy and not too long await for drinks. Also very reasonably priced. The trip to Guernsey was superb also. Cruising is defiantly an option for the future. The cabin was clean and well stocked. Thank you Ventura for our first experience but defiantly not our last. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Started off finding that our fridge was plugged into the ONLY 110 outlet in our room. Our room steward tried to get something done, when he was not able he loaned us his own personal power strip from his room. From there it went totally ... Read More
Started off finding that our fridge was plugged into the ONLY 110 outlet in our room. Our room steward tried to get something done, when he was not able he loaned us his own personal power strip from his room. From there it went totally down hill. The 2 sit down dining rooms have the worst service. Seems as they when you know you are going to get your gratuity money you could care less about service. I am not one of those people that needs to be waited on hand and foot or catered to BUT... after being seated we waited about 15 minutes before anyone came to our table to give us a menu, they poured water only after we asked for it. They then took our order, when they brought that food that was the last time we saw them until someone came to clear that table. No refills on water, no asking how our meal was. We tried both dining rooms, with the same result. We went more than once so it was not just a one night thing. One night I had ordered pork belly and it was so over cooked that I could not even cut it. It was so hard that it was like a piece of PVC pipe. It was totally uneatable and of because they did not come back until they wanted to clear our table they did not know. She did offer to get my something else, but why everyone else had finished eating. We did try to get someone's attention but since they won't make eye contact that was pointless. Passport turn in day was a nightmare, 1.5 hours in line. They also had all the EU passengers in line when they did not have to have their passports checked nor were they collected. Tender day was another nightmare. They started running the tenders 15-20 minutes early, that would have been fine but people were not ready. They then started loading all the tenders with the excursion passengers. Instead of doing 4 of the 6 tenders for excursions and the other 2 for passengers that just wanted off the ship to do their own thing. They even said that they had an extra tender from town. However, we saw that pull up and it left without filling and we never saw it again. So many of us sat on the boat and did not get into town until 2.5-3 hours after they started running the tenders. Not good when the last tender was running at 4:30. They have entertainment playing in the main area on deck 7 but the only place you can sit is in the coffee bar or the restaurant. One night my Mother was in the restaurant, we had ordered some tea and dessert. My husband and I left about 7:45 she stayed to listen to their last set when they returned at 8:15, the restaurant staff continued badger her "nicely" until she left. Once even the manager came and asked her why she was sitting in that area. It was very interesting as we moved the next night to the internet café and we say many people sitting in that area "just listening" not ordering. The other thing that I found interesting was that their Daily program that tells you what is going on for the day really is worthless. When there was a port day it didn't tell you anything about the port, there was no map, they didn't tell you the currency of the country. I know these things but what about the people that did not? There were many more things, but I am sure that I have taken up enough of everyone time. For those that have cruised NCL and have never had these problems, that is wonderful, I am grateful that you have had a good time. This was our first NCL cruise, I know that sometimes a cruise line has a bad cruise and it is not represent the whole line. Many people had our same experience, and many were first time NCL cruisers, who like us will not be back. We will stick with Celebrity and RCL Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
We have just stepped off Britannia this morning following a short trip to Guernsey . WOW WOW WOW !!! This ship does not dissapoint Most beautiful ship with opulent deco I booked this last year (on the same day we ... Read More
We have just stepped off Britannia this morning following a short trip to Guernsey . WOW WOW WOW !!! This ship does not dissapoint Most beautiful ship with opulent deco I booked this last year (on the same day we disembarked from Azura) since then we have been aboard Aurora and Explorer of the sea. We arrived early as we are very close to Southampton. Sometimes it pays off and we can get onboard early but this wasn't the case so we had a nice coffee in the terminal and relaxed. Staff were good - kept everyone informed . We boarded at our alloted time to find we could go straight to our cabin. Cabin was plush ,big and comfy. Balcony - small as always !!! I booked a superior deluxe balcony cabin - well worth paying more for. Nice touches included champagne, umbrella , bathrobes and slippers. Bathroom was slightly bigger than we have had before. really nice cabin. B326 We choose a cabin on deck 14 - I found this possibly a little too high up but my husband liked it. Just before the sail away party we were treated to The Red Arrows air display above us !! (Southampton Boatshow was on hence the Red Arrows ) this was amazing !! LIFTS - a bit of waiting but if that was the case we would walk to quieter lifts or use the stairs (why spoil your holiday by moaning?! Ship was at full capacity so not surprised we had a wait for lifts!!) We ate in the Oriental. Food fantastic. Staff were good and efficient.we opted for first sitting and we were never rushed. We ate (lightly !!) In the Horizon - buffet . food was varied, well cooked and nice. on the last day I had an omelette for breakfast - it was cooked to perfection in front of me. Seating - only once did we have to really search for a seat. We drank in the Crows Nest. Great drinks great staff beautiful settings. pianist was very good. We met him at breakfast one morning and he said he had previously played in Claridgies, Savoy Hotel and on Cunard.very talented young man! We drank in the Glass House. Polite staff , good drinks. Really nice bar. We used the casino - smaller than other ships but enough for us. The Crystal Room - beautiful . Only reason we didn't drink there was we ran out of time!!! Costa Coffee area was relaxing and coffee good. Staff polite. Theatre - watched one show ( sounds of the underground ) very good visually and vocally. Live lounge - watched Badness ( Madness tribute band) whole place joined in singing . Brilliant ! Main pool -beautiful area, lots of polite staff. Serenity pool ( closed for maintenance ) very relaxing area . lots of seats/sunbeds and wicked cocktails!!! We tried glimpsing in The Retreat but couldn't see in (we didn't go on the ships tour on embarkation when we could have seen it ) if we go onboard again we will definitely be booking into here for a day. We were shown round the spa and treatment rooms on deck 5 - beautiful . We will be booking in there as well next time ! Looked into the Limelight club - worth booking if you are considering. we didn't have enough time on such a short cruise and would have loved to have dinner in there. A must next time ! Epicurean restaurant - we don't normally book into other dinning areas but this looked so beautiful this again is a must next time. Seriously beautiful ship that we will be booking up to travel on next year. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
From the moment we embarked the Marco Polo we were very satisfied. We were shown to a really nice, very clean and pleasant cabin no 408. We had chosen an outside cabin. The staff were very pleasant and helpful and were cleaning ... Read More
From the moment we embarked the Marco Polo we were very satisfied. We were shown to a really nice, very clean and pleasant cabin no 408. We had chosen an outside cabin. The staff were very pleasant and helpful and were cleaning continuously. We found the food very good with lots of choices in the Bistro. At busy periods it was a bit crowded but we didn't at any time have to wait for a table. The staff were constantly replenishing the dishes. The Waldorf restaurant was very good with quick service, ok the portions were small but there were 5 courses and we found it absolutely fine. After all in the Bistro it was mostly the same menu so we did have a choice. The cruise itself was a very enjoyable experience and very well organised. We met some really nice people, saw most of the shows and enjoyed the music in both bars. There were plenty of shore excursions if wanted. I did think these were rather expensive though. There were plenty of talks etc going on and things to do if anyone did not want to go ashore. The disembarkation was very organised ( we carried our own bags so it was much quicker) All in all a very pleasat cruise. I would certainly sail on the Marco Polo again Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
We went on the British Isles Discovery cruise late August, early September. The Marco Polo is not a modern ship, but all the same very comfortable in our Superior Twin Inside cabin. Shower and toilet facilities very small, but always ... Read More
We went on the British Isles Discovery cruise late August, early September. The Marco Polo is not a modern ship, but all the same very comfortable in our Superior Twin Inside cabin. Shower and toilet facilities very small, but always hot water. Our cabin maid did an excellent job. A good choice of food in the restaurant and bistro. All ports of call ok with my favourites being Hon Fleur and The Scilly Isles. Embarkation and disembarkation ran smoothly. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
Having worked for four years in P&Os iconic ss Canberra, including her farewell cruise in 1998 prior to her being decommissioned, I have always avoided the temptation of a cruise holiday; party because I had 'been there and done ... Read More
Having worked for four years in P&Os iconic ss Canberra, including her farewell cruise in 1998 prior to her being decommissioned, I have always avoided the temptation of a cruise holiday; party because I had 'been there and done that' albeit from a different perspective, and also because I feared I would spend too much time complaining that 'it isn't like it used to be...' However a partner keen to cruise, a twenty year time gap and a curiosity to see how things had changed, combined to weaken my resolve. What I thought they did well: Firstly, the crew. I know it's a cliché, but the mainly Indian, Filipino and Thai crew could not have worked harder or done more to make our cruise enjoyable. They were friendly, engaging, always appeared happy and managed to remember our names and our favourite drinks. I really could not fault them. Our cabin: we booked a modest deck 2 outside cabin, which was surprisingly spacious and well appointed, though slightly dated decor-wise. The cabin was clean and our cabin steward(ess) (Kitty) was a delight. Even a severe flood requiring a cabin change on the last night was well-handled, with housekeeping staff appointed to help us pack and move. A letter of apology and a £50 credit to our on-board account to apologise for the inconvenience was a nice way to defuse any irritation we may have felt. Food: I thought the food was absolutely first rate. Every day I ordered breakfast from the menu rather than the buffet, and I could not fault it if I tried. The galley even made a slight adjustment to their kedgeree recipe to suit my spicier palate. Lunch as usually taken in the buffet or shore-side when alongside. The buffet was good with plenty of choice. Afternoon Tea (only taken twice) was perhaps the weakest offer - sandwiches were tasty but a but clunky and unrefined, the cake selection was limited, the scones were not the best (a bit dry) and served with UHT whipped cream, which as a shame given we were in port six of ten days so obtaining fresh stores should not have been a problem. Dinner, however, was the highlight of the day; we were lucky to have 4 great table companions whose company we enjoyed and who each added a different perspective to the conversation. Our Head Waiter (Xavier) and the Commis Waiter (Ryan) were efficient, charming and friendly. Each night we had a five course menu, with three to six choices of each. In total we had ten meals on board and I don't think I once left the restaurant unhappy. Full marks and thank you to all concerned. Guest entertainers: we had some super guest entertainers, including Leo Shavers (musician) whose impromptu jazz session was superb. The classical pianist was good, though I would like to have heard more of him, as was the Welsh baritone singer - both of whose names have slipped my mind (sorry). I also greatly appreciated the bridge lessons, which has whetted my appetite for the game. The Braemar Orchestra and the cocktail pianist were also super. Disembarkation: this morning we woke at 7am, were showered and packed by 7.45am and we're in our car on the way home by 8.45am. It could not have gone better. What I didn't like: Having been effusive in my praise for what I felt was done well, I will be equally honest in highlighting what I didn't like. Braemar Show Company: in fairness, a few of them put their heart and soul into the shows, but generally I thought their productions were uninspiring and badly choreographed and the team were very young and lacked believe-ability. Sadly I felt most of them didn't really want to be there and made little effort to hide the fact. Reception (Purser's Desk): I had little dealing with the front desk, apart from towards the end of the cruise when I noticed a billing error. We had upgraded to the 'all inclusive' drinks package for an additional £10 per person per night, this allowed complimentary 'house' drinks and 50% discount on branded drinks, cocktails and wine. When I checked my account on day 8 I noticed they had charged for all drinks. I raised this with the front desk, and rather than apologising and promising to investigate the error, I was asked if I could 'prove' we had paid for the all-inclusive package. I informed the receptionist that I was able to do so as I had just checked my online bank statement and I could see the £200 additional payment leaving my account. Having insulted me once by asking me to prove my case, she then insulted me again by asking how I was able to access my account as the ship's satellite wasn't working (for the record I had international data roaming and was able to access via my Blackberry). Having convinced her I was telling the truth I was then told that they would have to re-enter all our purchases with the relevant discount and we shouldn't order any drinks until this was done. Given this was an error wholly of the company's making, to have a member of staff twice infer I was lying and then to cause me further inconvenience whilst they sorted out an error of their own making, was a poor show. I honestly do not think they could have handled the situation more badly than they did. Show timings: it was also a slightly irritating that passengers on second sitting (8.30pm) had to watch the cabaret at 7.30pm (before dinner) with first sitting passengers watching the cabaret at 8.30pm. Personally, I like to relax with a glass of champagne or a cocktail and chat with my partner/friends pre-dinner - which I couldn't do unless I missed the cabaret. Nor did I particularly want to watch a jazz show or a comedian at 7.30pm before eating. I understand second sitting passengers usually watch a later show and it had been changed for this cruise. If so, I don't think it worked very well. Visibility of Senior Officers; my final gripe was the total lack of visibility of the 4 stripe officers on board. This might be a throw-back to my P&O days, but I would have expected to see the ship's senior management out and about in public areas most evenings, even if only for an hour pre-dinner. Apart from the welcome aboard Cocktail Party I didn't see the Captain, First Officer or Purser once during the whole cruise, which I thought was surprising and disappointing. Overall, despite the above complaints we had a super time. Would I cruise again? Much to my surprise, the answer is yes. And I would also happily cruise with Fred. Olsen in Braemar again. However the bar tenders, the stewards and the waiters were far better ambassadors for the company than the ships' officers and deserve to be acknowledged as such. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2015
We started our holiday on Sunday 23/08/2015. The embarkation was a dream, none of your long queues as in the airports. From arriving at the port at 11.am to sitting in a bar on board ship at 11.45am.Luggage taken away by porters straight ... Read More
We started our holiday on Sunday 23/08/2015. The embarkation was a dream, none of your long queues as in the airports. From arriving at the port at 11.am to sitting in a bar on board ship at 11.45am.Luggage taken away by porters straight to our cabin, car valet parked securely. Check in a doddle. That was on the Sunday. Woke up Monday morning everything went pear shaped. We had sailed to Guernsey as planned, the weather had turned nasty and the captain decided in our health and safety that because the only way we go ashore was by tender, it was unsafe for anyone to do so. Sensible. So the Guernsey trip was cancelled. We sailed to our next destination, Lisbon, 7 hours sooner than planned. We still got there at the same time as previously planned Wednesday morning, just went slower. I know the ship is not the easiest thing to park up, but as this happens quite a lot at Guernsey, they should have some back up port. We sailed past France and Spain to get to Portugal. I`m sure there must be a port somewhere along the way that would be only to glad to receive a cruise liner full of passengers. On top of that the duty free shopping which was open on Sunday night was now closed for the duration of the cruise because we had not officially left the E. U. If only we had been warned on the Sunday this might happen. The P & O crew and staff are brilliant they had entertainment back up plans in force in abundance. They now had a captive audience for two days. The weather out in the Atlantic was so blustery for the two days nobody was allowed to go on deck apart from deck 15 which has shelter. When one is a smoker, which I am one, your options are limited. As nobody had gone ashore the breakfast restaurant was so full that even after queuing for an age, when you did get your breakfast you had to walk around for 15 minutes to get a table, by which time your food is cold. We learned that the best time to go for breakfast was after 11am just before dinner time, quieter then. The rush starts all over again at 12. Seasoned cruisers know the score and time everything perfect. This was our first cruise and will probably be our last. They suit a lot of people, if they like to lie on a lounger at 7am before the sun gets up just to commandeer it and run around in herds to get to the dinner table early and make sure they don't miss a show. If you are quick you can watch a show at 8.30pm and rush around to the next bar at 9.30pm to catch another one just before you run to the arena to get a seat for the 10.30pm. Not for me. Nothing wrong with the P+O service, there are more than enough waiters and staff to make sure your glass is full and ready to take your money. We managed to escape and go ashore in Portugal, we even went on P+O trips, after driving us in a coach for an hour to a beach they were good enough to give us a full hour to have a look around before bringing us back to the ship. We booked this holiday as a treat for my 60th birthday, we even treated ourselves to a room service breakfast that day and was charged extra for the privilege. There has been no mention of compensation for missing one of the destinations,must be just one of those things I suppose. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
My first ever cruise was on Queen Elizabeth from Kiel, via Bruges to Southampton. Having flown from Heathrow to Hamburg on a Cunard arranged flight, Cunard staff met us by the baggage carrousel and we were coached to Kiel. Boarding was a ... Read More
My first ever cruise was on Queen Elizabeth from Kiel, via Bruges to Southampton. Having flown from Heathrow to Hamburg on a Cunard arranged flight, Cunard staff met us by the baggage carrousel and we were coached to Kiel. Boarding was a breeze and it as nice the suitcases were taken off the coach and magically appeared in our staterooms without any involvement from us. I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise experience and was treated like a VIP. It was a fantastic opportunity to wear my Dinner Jacket and dine in the plush Britannia Restaurant for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. I enjoyed seeing everyone else in their refinery on the formal night too, including children who also had suits or dinner jackets. Not everyone realised there was a formal night and guests from out table were leant (free of charge) dinner jackets by the ship. The ship itself was a joy to cruise on and I enjoyed swimming in the pool, relaxing in the Jacuzzi and a back, neck and shoulder massage with a hot paraffin wax to penetrate deeper muscles. Cocktails in the Commodore Club were delicious (especially the Transatlantic Love affair) and we started working our way through the menu although there is so much choice so it would take a World Cruise to have work your way through all the selections. We ended up having molecular martini’s which are finished at the table as we kept seeing others enjoy the experience. Complimentary canopies are served after 18:00 with drinks which makes it an even more enjoyable experience. My travelling companions preferred dining in the Lido at Breakfast and Lunch rather than the Britannia restaurant. They aren’t keen on the traditional dining experience and prefer to help themselves to whatever they fancy and not be limited by the choices in the main dining room. Having said that, we were fortunate to try the upgrade Veranda restaurant one evening and it was such an amazing experience. Both the service and food were exemplary. The bon voyage wine was a lovely touch and the inside stateroom adequate for my needs. I found I spent little time in the stateroom as there was always so much to do and the TV shows the front of the ship by camera so you can clearly see what the weather is like and whether it is light or dark outside. Amazing sunsets and scenery when departing Kiel. Roy Walker was the comedian on one night and he was funny. Afternoon tea was a nice experience. One disappointment were the ships photographers. You had to be in the know about where they would be and the back drops they had available. When I asked for my photo to be taken by myself against the ship at night back drop – they were far from happy that my companions would not join in and became very rude and just snapped a single photo of me without any thought or care which never appeared on the photo PCs. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2015
For a first time cruiser I chose the Minicruise from Rosyth to Tillbury. My first impressions of the Marco Polo, upon embarkation, was its similarity to the Dover Calais cross channel ferries. The food was tremendous and the staff ... Read More
For a first time cruiser I chose the Minicruise from Rosyth to Tillbury. My first impressions of the Marco Polo, upon embarkation, was its similarity to the Dover Calais cross channel ferries. The food was tremendous and the staff were outstanding: polite, courteous and well mannered at all times. My only criticism would be that of the Cruise Director who would be more suited in a Holiday Camp .... His behaviour and attitude insulted myself and some of my fellow passengers. The weakest aspect was the entertainment: poorly rehearsed and staged with some rather out of tune lead singers, it was certainly not the quality of high class entertainment that was advertised ...... Even the piano and violin duo left a lot to be desired as the churned out the old favourites which would have been worthy of any senior school student .... As professional musicians they should have been able to do so much better..... Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
I and my mum have just come back from a weekend cruise on board the Britannia from Southampton to Guernsey. I am in my mid thirties and we are both first time cruisers. We travelled down to Southampton by train and got a taxi to the ... Read More
I and my mum have just come back from a weekend cruise on board the Britannia from Southampton to Guernsey. I am in my mid thirties and we are both first time cruisers. We travelled down to Southampton by train and got a taxi to the Ocean Terminal where the ship sailed from. On our e-ticket we had been given an arrival time of 1230 to turn up at the cruise terminal. This in fact was misleading as many passengers seemed to ignore this and just turn up when they felt like it. So the terminal was very crowded. There were not enough seats in the terminal to handle the full complement of passengers. For those first time cruisers like us it might help if I go through the embarkation process. You turn up at the Ocean Terminal and leave your luggage at the Baggage Drop Off Area by the taxi rank outside the terminal. The staff will then load the luggage on the ship for you and it will turn up in your cabin. You then go up to the passenger lounge and get given a blue or red EMBARKATION CARD with a letter on it. This is used to call you forward to the check in desks. This usually takes about 1 hour. At check in you then show your passport and e-ticket and you will be issued each with a cruise card. This is your boarding pass and is also used for any spending on board. You then proceed to the security area and then to the ship. Once boarding the ship we went straight up to our cabin which was A415 on A Deck (15 floor) and on the starboard (right) side. This was a Superior Deluxe Balcony cabin and was nicely appointed in a modern contemporary style. We later found out that the Lido Deck was just above our cabin and this can cause noise disturbance due to the Sailaway party and people moving the deck furniture about. So something to note, one deck down on B Deck (14 floor) may be better next time. The bathroom is compact but practical and the toilet is vacuum suction operated so makes a loud whoosh when flushed which is exciting and very effective. Note there is a step down from the bathroom into the cabin which you can easily forget about and fall over. Our cruise was in July so school holidays and therefore the passengers on the ship were very mixed in ages with lots of younger cruisers and families on board. Britannia is also a family ship. If you sailed on an Adults Only ship then you may be more likely to have the passengers dominated by P&O traditional type of over 60s. It being a weekend trip also helped for younger cruisers. I imagine that if you went in quieter times of the year then the passengers would revert to the P&O traditional type of over 60s. So if you are one of the younger crowd then I would recommend sailing on a family ship in July or August or school holidays when you are more likely to get younger generations on board. After boarding and going to the cabin. We like most on board went straight up to the Horizon Restaurant on the Lido Deck (16 floor) for lunch. Note that only the aft and forward staircases on the Britannia cover all floors with the Midships ones only going to some floors. So there is a reliance on lifts in the midships area unless you walk to the aft or forward stairwells. Therefore at busy times the lifts can be packed and busy. This is a noticeable design flaw in the Britannia we found and many past reviews have noted this also. Particularly at meal times or lifeboat drill or in the evening. So you may find it better to use the other two stairwells. The Horizon Restaurant is a no dress code self service restaurant and is always very popular. Most people also go here for breakfast. You are also allocated a main dining room for the evening depending on your cabin and dining style. We had chosen Freedom Dining and so were allocated the Peninsular Restaurant. We found that the food in the Horizon Restaurant and the main restaurants was adequate and fairly ordinary. So I suspect that P&O Cruises are doing this to encourage people to try the alternative dining venues which have an extra charge attached! The first night was formal night and the dress code was strictly enforced and applies to all the bars, lounges and restaurants. Therefore if you are not keen on formality then you are relegated to the Horizon Restaurant. We found that most of the younger cruisers were put off by the formality and so preferred the Horizon Restaurant for meals. Also all the restaurants had hand washing facilities outside them to prevent norovirus and this was strictly enforced by a crew member standing next to them to make sure you washed your hands. At busy times there can be queues for many of the restaurants. There are three main restaurants on the ship and several extra charge alternative dining venues. The hospitality staff (hotel and restaurant side of things) on board the ship are mainly Indian or Asian we noticed because of P&O's historic traditions from colonial times sailing from the UK to India, Australia and the Far East. They were always very helpful and polite. But sometimes their English could be a little rusty and they didn't necessarily understand first time. My favourite room on board the ship was the Crow's Nest. This is accessed from the forward stairwell via a port side corridor. Along this corridor is the Epicurian Restaurant, the Ivory Suite (function room), and the Marlow Suite (card room). The Marlow Suite rarely seemed to be used. On the starboard side accessed from the Crow's Nest is the Library. The ship is huge so it takes time to find your way around her and you can easily get lost. But you get a lot of exercise walking from one end to the other and up and down all the stairs and finding the various dead ends there are on certain decks. Most of the public rooms are on decks 5-7. On lido deck the only way through from bow to stern is via the Horizon Restaurant. There is a lot of walking through rooms to get to other rooms as some of the rooms cover the width of the ship and there is no side corridor to go round so forcing you to go through rooms instead. In terms of outside areas the decks 16-18 are the main areas and there is no promenade deck below the lifeboats like on some ships. There are small areas of open deck on Deck 7 near Sindhu but these often seemed closed and there is no equivalent on this level to a promenade deck. At about 4pm on the sailing day, there is the mandatory lifeboat drill. On your cruise card you will see your muster station. We were F. On the back of your cabin door this location is defined in more detail as the Peninsular Restaurant. About 20 minutes before the lifeboat drill the First Officer makes an announcement throughout the ship. All passengers are then required to go back to their cabin to pick up their lifejackets and then proceed down to the muster station (in our case the Peninsular Restaurant). This can cause difficulties with the lifts in the midships area which massive queues. So walking may be better or using the aft and forward stairwells instead. If you arrive at the muster location without your lifejackets you will be sent back to your cabin to get them. This lifeboat drill according to maritime law must take place before the ship sails from Southampton. The ship sailed from Southampton at 1730 and the Azura had already sailed past us from Western Docks. We then sailed next followed by the Anthem of the Seas and the Azamara Quest. So it was quite a parade of cruise ships heading down the Southampton Water! The following day we arrived in Guernsey at St Peter Port and anchored. We went to breakfast once again at the Horizon Restaurant. Landing was to be via the ship's tenders. The daily Horizon newsletter is very useful in terms of giving information and advice about activities on the ship and the destination. The location for assembling to board the tenders was notified to be the Headliners Theatre if you were not on a shore excursion and travelling ashore independently. When you wanted to go ashore you had to go to the Theatre to collect the tender tickets and then wait in the Theatre to be called. This was like a raffle again waiting for your number to be called. Due to the numbers there was a long wait for some causing them to give up and go back to their cabins. So they gave their spare tickets to the nearest person and there was a bit of an illicit trade in tender tickets enabling people to jump the queue from the original ticket they were issued with. so there was a lot of passing tickets around to help everyone. Once called we proceeded down to Deck 4 (one below the Reception / Atrium area) and boarded the tenders. The Destination. Guernsey is a lovely place. On the day we went it was very warm but being a Sunday most of the shops were closed. This is worth noting. But there was an open air market on by the harbour and lots of activity. So not boring by any means. The tenders drop you off at Albert Pier in the centre of St Peter Port. Peak summer season is best time to go as more of the attractions are open such as Castle Cornet. I would highly recommend a walk around the harbour to the lighthouse and Castle Cornet. You get fantastic views across the harbour from here and of the ship anchored offshore. The last tender back was at 1730 but it is always best to go back a lot earlier than this as the tender cannot take all the ship in one go! The tender operation was very quick and easy. That evening we sailed at 1800 and later we went up to the Horizon Restaurant for dinner. This is more flexible than the main restaurants and you can have as much as you like. Disembarkation. The information provided by P&O Cruises about this process was quite misleading stating that disembarkation was from 1030 in the Meridian Restaurant (in our case, may vary depending where your cabin is). But what this actually meant was that you had to disembark the ship by 1030. So for first time cruisers it can be confusing if you are only used to the hotel check out system. It also said that you had to pack and leave your luggage outside the cabin by 20:30 or prior to going to bed. Most people ignored the 2030 stipulation and just did it prior to going to bed. This enables the cabin steward to take your baggage down to the unloading area overnight. Once the ship arrives back at Southampton at 0645 the luggage is then unloaded. This usually takes 2 hours and is complete by 0845. So in practice you can actually start checking out from 0845. If you don't leave your luggage out the previous night or want to depart early then you will be required to check out and take your luggage with you between 0700 and 0800. They start breakfast early on disembarkation day from around 0600 in the Horizon Restaurant. Likewise most people tend to have breakfast there rather than the main restaurants. Disembarkation in the end, once you understand the process, is relatively speedy. You go down to the designated check out room after 0845 and there you will either wait or be allowed straight off the ship. You will go into the cruise terminal and down to the baggage collection area (under the passenger lounge where you embarked) and there the passenger baggage is laid out according to Deck. After that you proceed through security and customs and straight out to the front of the terminal. From there we got a taxi back to the rail station and got the train home. So we had a lovely cruise to Guernsey. Britannia is a fine ship but very large so you may need a week to find your way around her. There is a practical issue with the lack of a staircase (public one) in the midships area and this causes the lifts to be busy at certain times. P&O Cruises information can be a little misleading and confusing about embarkation and disembarkation especially if you are a first time cruiser. They generally assume that their passengers know their procedures and processes already! But first time cruisers will not and may be more used to airline or hotel procedures rather than cruises. EMBARKATION basically involves: 1. Drop off luggage at the "Baggage Drop Off Area" outside the terminal by the taxi rank. 2. Go upstairs to the passenger lounge and get issued with an Embarkation Card. 3. You will then be called forward to the check in desks according to your Embarkation Card letter and colour. 4. At check in they will look at your passport and e-ticket and then issue you with a cruise card for each passenger. This is your boarding card to enter the ship and cabin. It also is your security id for getting on and off the ship and is also used for any onboard spending. 5. You will then proceed through the security area and then via the gangways to the ship. 6. You can then go to your cabin. Your luggage will arrive there later via the cabin steward. Most passengers then go up to the Horizon Restaurant for lunch. LIFEBOAT DRILL on embarkation day on the ship: 1. On embarkation day there is a mandatory lifeboat drill for all passengers joining the ship. This is to comply with maritime law and takes place prior to the ship sailing. 2. 20 minutes before the drill the First Officer will announce and then you have to go straight back to your cabin to collect your lifejackets and proceed to your muster station. Your cabin steward may give you advance warning of this so you can beat the crowds. 3. Your muster station is denoted on your cruise card. e.g. Muster Station F. This location then is defined on the poster on the back of your cabin door. i.e. Peninsular Restaurant. 4. At the muster station the crew will brief you on safety and show you how to put the lifejackets on. You will then have to put the lifejacket on as a demonstration. If you haven't got your lifejacket you will be sent back to your cabin to get it. DISEMBARKATION from ship on departure day: 1. On the previous day to departure you will be asked to leave your luggage outside your cabin prior to going to bed for the night. You will be also told a disembarkation room to go to when you are ready to leave the ship. e.g. Meridian Restaurant. 2. The cabin steward will then collect your luggage overnight and enable it to be unloaded from the ship for you on arrival at Southampton in the morning. 3. Ship usually arrives at 0645 and luggage unloading takes about 2 hours and is usually complete by 0845. 4. Once you are ready to leave the ship, you go to your disembarkation room. There you will be told to wait or whether it is ready to allow you to leave rightaway. Normally you should be able to leave the ship from around 0845 and at the latest by 1030. 5. You will then proceed to the cruise terminal and pick up your baggage. The passengers for the following cruise may already be waiting to board in the cruise terminal as the ship nowadays turns around in one day. Arrival in the morning, disembark the passengers by 1030. Then the crew have a couple of hours to tidy the ship before the new lot of passengers embarks in the afternoon and the ship sails at 1730. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2015
Our first cruise, to Ireland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Orkneys, Dublin and back to Southampton. Our room A196 mid ship was a good position top price for a Non balcony room. The room itself was in need of refurbishment lots of rust round ... Read More
Our first cruise, to Ireland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Orkneys, Dublin and back to Southampton. Our room A196 mid ship was a good position top price for a Non balcony room. The room itself was in need of refurbishment lots of rust round windows and in bathroom. The room was cleaned regularly but not very well the kettle was dirty and not cleaned during our stay. Our last day at sea, new bed linen was put in our room for the next cruise, just made us feel it's time to go and make room for the next passengers. Food ... Overall average, the breakfast was ok nothing special and it was difficult to get a table for four at some times. Lunch was also nothing special. Dinner was better, good choice, well presented and served by friendly waiters. But not always perfect some basic mistakes in the cooking , not fine dinning at its best. Entertainment... Didn't impress us second rate singers, comedians, musicians and only one film worth watching. Making days at sea boring. Ports of call... KILLYBEGS fantastic day out hired a taxi who took us along the old road ,where coaches can't go, lots of photo stops, a stop at a spinners and hand weavers work shop, on to Glencolmcille Folk Village. Lunch at a small restaurant, all the time being entertained by our driver who was bought up in the area. The cost was half what P&O would charge for a similar trip but we saw so much more. Now, having been allocated £540.00 on board spending money and not being drinkers the only thing to spend it on was trips out. ICELAND we did The Golden Circle, The Jewels of the North on both these trips we saw the main attractions albeit in a rush with hundreds of other tourists, over priced not that impressed. Our other trip was to The Abondoned Village of Hesteyri this was a complete disaster, we were taken by boat across the Glacier fjord about 18 miles, an hours journey on a rough sea day was far from comfortable some passengers sitting outside getting cold and wet. On arrival we had to transfer to a small rubber dingy six at a time to go the last 100 metres or so the the floating jetty, sitting on the rubber side with nothing to hold onto was extremely dangerous if any one was to fall into the water it was very very cold and for anyone with a heart condition could have been fatal. We were not informed about this before we left. On the positive side we were away from the crowds, just 36 of us a few walkers in a cold wilderness and the food supplied was quite good. However the tour description left a lot to be desired, the Abondoned houses turned out to be local weekend holiday homes and the old whaling factory was a mile away. Think carefully before booking this excursion. FAROES ISLANDS we choose the Sagas and Legends a very good trip with good guide enjoyed these islands and would very much like a holiday there. ORKNEYS the weather was against us here it rained all day and was windy so our trip was not great couldn't see the views , but we did see enough to know that we should come again, just what we did four weeks later on a coach tour of Scotland, by ferry from Jon o Grotes and a fantastic coach trip seeing all the attractions not available with P&O trips. DUBLIN our last port was a trip out on their local open top bus getting on or off where ever you wanted to, too much to see on one visit. To sum up cruising is not for us, we like value for money and the freedom to do what we want to when we want to. So our next holiday is two weeks all inclusive in a five star hotel for half what the cruise cost. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
This was our first cruise ever - a 'gift' for our wedding anniversary. We were put in cabin B344, an inner one. Although we personally found the temperature to be a bit warm (as we like to sleep in cool temperatures), most ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever - a 'gift' for our wedding anniversary. We were put in cabin B344, an inner one. Although we personally found the temperature to be a bit warm (as we like to sleep in cool temperatures), most would find the 23C all-round room temp to be very cozy. The cabin was certainly big enough for two of us and the queen bed quite ample. We had 2 nights of gale force 8 winds and slept like babies; the most we knew of it was a gentle rocking of the bed and an announcement by the ship the next morning. My wife walks with a stick and we found crew to be very attentive. She was whisked into the ship almost immediately for embarkation, avoiding any crowds or lines of passengers, and we were set into the buffet room to enjoy lunch while the rest of the ship embarked. The same was true of disembarkation - off the ship before the rest of the passengers and out into a flagged-down taxi before the rest arrived. The buffet rooms were lovely - clean and spacious with tons of tables and waiters everywhere waiting to get you another drink or take away your tray the moment you were finished. No table was too far away from a window to not enjoy the view. The food itself was great - we're not into fine dining, we just eat food - and there was plenty of variety for all tastes and lots of it. Everything from cold cuts and rolls, little nibbles, to several main dishes and sides. The desserts were to die for! And it really was 24-hours a day, though you may find yourself switching from one side of the dining room to the other, depending on the time of day. (Little ones had their own tea time at 4-6pm, so they could go to daycare when adults wanted to enjoy themselves.) There were tons of little areas around the ship where you could sit and have a drink (or 10) and we never had to wait more than a couple of minutes for a waiter to take our order and deliver a delicious cocktail. There were a large number of heated pools and wonderful whirlpools -easy to get in and out of - and these all had bar areas and seating around them as well as counters serving fast foods, ice creams, etc. We had signed for low-impact activities, a couple of tour buses, and they had quite a few to chose from and quite a few grey heads and people with mobility problems on them. Again, first on/first off, lots of attendants helping on and off the bus as well as into/out of attractions. We certainly couldn't fault the customer service if we tried. And the excursions were great as well with knowledgeable tour guides. We were so happy with our experience we signed up for another cruise - a 10-night one, on the same ship - on our second day. We did, however, book a balcony cabin. We would personally recommend an inner cabin if you don't plan on doing much besides sleeping it it, but if you like to get away from the crowd, you may wish at least a cabin with a window. Read Less

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