We chose this cruise as my husband had never been on a cruise before and we wanted to see if he liked it. We expected a 2 night cruise to be a 'party cruise' with hen dos and stag parties, and this was fine. The ship is enormous ... Read More
We chose this cruise as my husband had never been on a cruise before and we wanted to see if he liked it. We expected a 2 night cruise to be a 'party cruise' with hen dos and stag parties, and this was fine. The ship is enormous and so we hardly noticed them.
Embarkation: We arrived at the specified time to mayhem. It was not clear for a while that we needed an embarkation card, which would put us in a 'first come first served' order. I discovered a desk hidden behind a screen who handed these to me. I explained that we had been told to be there by 3, with a check-in close time of 4. I was told 'we can't get you lot onto the ship all at once, so be patient'. At the desk, the lady who checked us in looked miserable. I tried to be cheery and said, 'it shouldn't be too long now'. Her response? We should be able to get rid of this lot within an hour hopefully'. She was referring to passengers still to board!
Service: The ship inside is certainly impressive and enormous. It is absolutely spotless in all areas. This said, the whole cruise lacked 'wow'. Having been on a cruise before, I was at least expecting a 'Welcome to Britannia' comment, but no. The public areas are well-designed and there are plenty of places to sit. You can always find a place to sit overlooking the atrium, which is lovely.
We ate in The Peninsular restaurant both nights and here the service was great. The waiters had personality and were friendly and smiley. Elsewhere on the ship, the service was attentive and responsive, but without smiles or personality. They did their job, but with no real enthusiasm or passion. When I found out from one of them that they work between 12-14 hours a day with a day off only every two weeks, I can see why perhaps their enthusiasm isn't great.
Dining experience: On the first morning we didn't get to breakfast until 9. In The Horizon bar, it was a self-service buffet system. The queues were very long and didn't move quickly. When we eventually reached the hot food this was because there was never everything available and so people were always waiting for something. e.g. there were sausages, but no eggs. When the eggs arrived there were then no beans etc. Surely, knowing that 9am is going to be a busy time, they would ensure that there is a constant supply of hot food? This made finding a seat difficult as many people were just saving seats for when their food eventually arrived. The quality was good, and hot. In the Peninsula restaurant, the food was good although not particularly exciting. There were more elegant restaurants in which we could have dined, although these incurred additional charges, some up to £30 per head. Lunch in The Horizon was varied, hot and the same problems for food were not present.
Excursion to Guernsey: We were asked by the Captain on the first evening to 'take our time' in going to Guernsey. He said that there would be a big rush for the tender boats, so having a leisurely start would help us and prevent long queues. The ship was not able to dock in port and so tender boats were used to get there. We decided to try to get onto Guernsey for about noon so headed to the theatre as instructed at 1115am. We were issued a ticket and asked to take a seat in the theatre. Along with 900 others. The Captain announced that as 'you have all decided to have a lie in, it has caused a problem and a backlog'. The cheek! To blame passengers for going later (as requested the night before) and to make assumptions about why that was, seems rude at the very least. We sat in the theatre for over an hour, during which time no entertainment was provided (unless you count a compere trying to get us to claps in beats of 2 and then 5). After this time we decided that we were wasting our paid for cruising time, so decided to leave the theatre and stay on the ship. It was 140pm when the Captain finally announced that the queue had gone. As the final tender to come back to the ship was to be 530pm, it wasn't great.
Entertainment: The entertainment comprised a 45 minute show entitled 'Sound of The Underground' which although short was great. We saw a live band 'Pulse' who were also good. A Beatles tribute band and a vocal harmonies group 'The Overtones' were performing on the second night but we didn't see them. I heard that they were both really good.
Party Cruise: As a 2 night cruise, there were many groups of hens, stags, and general drinking groups. There was definitely a party atmosphere on the cruise, and 'sail-away' on the top deck was a party. There were plenty of other places to go if you didn't want to join in.
The cabin was very modern and spotless. It had a king sized bed with plenty of pillows. The balcony was small but adequate with two lounger chairs and a small table. Those groups had adjoining cabins were able to remove the partition between cabin balconies, making one bigger one. This is a great idea. The towels were not massive but big enough. The wall-mounted TV was huge although only Sky news and BBC World News channels on offer. There was a desk and office chair also. Some cabins had a sofa, although ours didn't. The shower was great, and there was a glass shower door, so no shower curtains sticking to you!
Our cabin steward Martin came and introduced himself and looked after us well during our stay. He cleaned the cabin both days and replenished tea and coffee. We had proper sized mugs for tea etc which was nice. There was air conditioning, which worked well and was easy to control. The bed was comfortable and the quality of the duvet and pillows was high. A great cabin with plenty of wardrobe space, plenty of hanging space and two big mirrors.
Overall, a pleasant enough cruise, but not one that 'wowed' me. Queues for the lifts were ever-present, but not too bad. That said, having pressed for example the 'down' button, the call light would go out for no particular reason, even if no lift had arrived. This was annoying.
In conclusion, no 'wow', no feeling special, poor organisation for some things. Great tax-free shopping, and a good variety. My previous taster cruise was with Royal Caribbean, and although the ship was older, I felt that my custom was appreciated. On that cruise, the waiter remembered you from the night before, he knew what you hand drank, and had a conversation and laugh with you. This sounds nothing, but does make the difference. For this reason, I would choose RC over P & O. Read Less