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81 Southampton to Cruise to Nowhere Cruise Reviews

I had been preparing myself for my 2 night inaugural cruise aboard the P&O Britannia, excitement was upon me and I was counting down the days until I board P&O's biggest accomplishment - The Britannia. Nothing could quite ... Read More
I had been preparing myself for my 2 night inaugural cruise aboard the P&O Britannia, excitement was upon me and I was counting down the days until I board P&O's biggest accomplishment - The Britannia. Nothing could quite prepare me entirely for all of the "WOW" moments and how many times I would alert my partner to "look at that" or how many times I would attempt to get the perfect picture at the right angle to try and justify Britannia's beauty and to fit it all in. After embarkation we went straight to our Balcony cabin D215 - not too far from the lifts and at the fore end of the ship, quite a good location up on deck eleven. I can honestly say, hand on heart I was blown away by the intricate attention to detail that had been shown within the whole design of the cabin, everything has its purpose, the lay out is great and it truly feels like a boutique hotel. The bed is really comfy, the Balcony more than adequate and the bathroom compact and comfortable. With "The White Company" toiletries and "Dowe Egberts" coffee - what more could a girl ask for? To say I was in my element is an under statement. The beautiful pink fresh flower and the tray of sweeties welcomed us to our home for the next 2 nights and how welcoming this was, we really did feel at home. We decided to find our bearings and went for a wander around this magnificent ship to explore the numerous decks and see what we could find, we were not disappointed. The design and decor of the whole ship is immaculate, it's pure perfection, simple, elegant, modern yet classical - no amount of words or photos can describe the beauty of the Britannia - you must experience it yourself to understand. After venturing out and about and exploring the numerous bars that Britannia had to offer us throughout our stay we decided to retire to our cabin to get ready for the evening ahead. As we got ready I was curious to see what the menu had to offer us as we were booked in at the fine dining restaurant "The Epicurean" I was under the impression that it's a modern twist on Mediterranean cuisine, but nothing could prepare me for the unexpected delight that we were about to experience. We were given the option of where we wanted to sit and were informed that we were the first to sit in this chosen location, a mixture of different sized tables and more private "couch areas" provides a great restaurant to provide an intimate atmosphere, we were introduced to our waitress for the evening and she catered to our every need, she advised us what the dishes were (as it's not your average restaurant experience this advise was definitely required) she helped us choose our wine for the evening and was professional yet friendly. We received an entree which can only be described as a cream of tomato soup in a frozen lollipop! This was a "Bloody Mary" and it was extraordinary! It was packed full of flavour and provided a great talking point for the evening, quirky design and perspective of food is (in my opinion) one of the main aspects of dining at the epicurean. The Bloody Mary lollipop was only the beginning, when I received my bowl of soup I was first of all surprised at the appearance of my starter as it appeared to be one of those pre-conception "A La Carte" meals where there's not a lot on your plate and you're sat there wondering where the rest is . . . . . . . The ingredients for the soup were in my bowl (immaculately presented I might add) then I was served a jug of warm cream which was poured into the bowl which resulted in my most divine mixtures of flavours and texture (my soup). The main course was delicious packed full of flavour and variety complimented by a perfect portion size it was absolutely faultless. Before we received our dessert we were served another entree - I was given (what can only be described as a frozen lipstick) I enjoyed a burst of strawberry & cranberry as I ate my "frozen lipstick" whilst my partner enjoyed what appeared to be a fried egg - which was actually a sweet delight, again another twist on modern cuisine. The dessert was well presented and along with a great mixture of texture and flavour - the presentation was immaculate, this restaurant is certainly worth the visit for the experience alone. After dessert we attempted to go into "Brodies" (the British pub) but it was very busy so we chose the quieter option of the "Blue Bar" a great place to people watch and enjoy a tipple or two. As we returned to our cabin for the evening we enjoyed the turndown service with a chocolate each on our pillow, we hit the hay and woke up the following morning feeling refreshed after a great nights sleep. Up to my 2 night cruise aboard the P&O Britannia I had never experienced a Balcony cabin whilst sailing (only in port overnight) so as you can imagine I was incredibly excited to make the most of this experience. As I pulled the curtain back I was greeted with nothing but ocean - from left to right I scanned back and forth and we was just surrounded by nothing but the ocean. I put the kettle on along with my cardigan (it was so sunny but not too warm) and I sat on the Balcony watching the world go by, it was surreal, so relaxing and therapeutic to hear nothing but the waves was magical, who'd have thought I was on board a cruise ship with over 3500 others, I certainly wouldn't, I was in my own world and could easily have stayed there, if you're a book lover you would have been in your element, imagine just sitting there and losing yourself in a novel written by your favourite author, pure bliss. After a couple cups of coffee it was breakfast time so off we went down to the Horizon - a typical buffet restaurant, loads of choice, freshly made to order omelettes, healthier options or a tailor made full English - the choice is yours. We went down around 09:00 and most of the window tables were already taken, so if you want to enjoy the view your probably best getting down there a little earlier. We then decided to explore and take more photos of this beautiful ship and stopped later on for a "Costa Coffee" at Java, a great spot for people watching, we even spotted the captain himself Captain Paul Brown. We browsed through the shops and I was delighted to see a great choice of British brands aboard the shopping choice including Pandora, Radley, Fiorelli and so much more. Yesterday, we wanted to visit the Crow's Nest which was my favourite place to be when I went on my first cruise, it was too busy so made a pact that when it opened at 12:00 we would head up towards there and we did, a great social place to be, lots of seating options and the best views on the ship! Plus, at 2pm the pianist started to play which created an evermore relaxing atmosphere, it is a great way to spend the afternoon toasting an end to a perfect day After enjoying the view it was then time to go back to the Epicurean as we had booked in for Eric Lanyards afternoon tea, we joined the queue which resulted in a 5 minute wait (even though everyone had pre booked) so pre-booking is a definite must, we were shown to our table where our pretty afternoon tea set was sat waiting, we were then asked if we wanted tea or coffee, which I found great as I'm a huge coffee lover and even though tea is all part of the experience, I was pleasantly surprised when I was given a choice. There was a menu advising of what each delicacy was and also a menu for a wide variety of teas available, the treats were beautifully presented, gorgeous in taste and again very quirky design - an eclair that was actually a sandwich, a chocolate treat in a plastic looking case which you could actually eat, small pink juice filled balls that pop in your mouth, a great modern twist on traditional afternoon tea! We saved ourselves after having breakfast and waited until 3.30pm for this, it was definitely worth the wait and unexpectedly filling, therefore, I'd recommend the wait from breakfast if you book in for the afternoon tea. After several cups of coffee, our tray was empty and we headed back to our cabin to relax for an hour before it was time to get ready yet again. We got ready and went down to the limelight club for the evening with Jaki Graham, a popstar from the 80's (which I didn't know until the night) we were shown to our table and ordered our drinks, we were then served an entree followed by our 3 course meal from the set menu offering 2 choice of starters, 3 choice of mains and one dessert. The food again was great, however, by the time we finished dessert we weren't really enjoying the limelight club experience and was allowed to leave taking the bottle of wine we had just ordered with us, really I should have researched the "act of the evening" prior to booking as we're not really love song lovers and were both born after Jaki's fame, we couldn't really relate to the songs although she had a great voice it wasn't really our scene, so we headed to the Live Lounge. The Live Lounge had 2 young chaps singing recent release songs and then a disco in between, this was more "us" and we felt right at home, it held a great atmosphere as people were getting up on the dance floor when their favourite song came on and it was great to see everyone in their formal attire and some in their casuals too all on the same dance floor. A few times couples had got up on the dance floor and performed a dance together (it felt like strictly come dancing at times) which was fab to get such a great variety of people and dress codes, the atmosphere was fantastic as everybody applauded the cruisers who can dance, the look of enjoyment on their faces was a lovely sight and everybody enjoyed watching them too, a great night was had by all. Then, that was it, time for bed and disembarkation the following morning. I can honestly say this has been my favourite most enjoyable yet relaxing cruise experience I have had so far, everything was great, I had never been on a P&O cruise before and I will definitely recommend them and of course the Britannia to anybody wanting a home from home 4 star cruise experience, although the Britannia appears as a 5 star boutique hotel in certain areas. I can see why P&O are so popular now, with Dowe Egberts coffee in your cabin, the White Company toiletries and British TV channels so you can keep up to date with the soaps it's a fantastic home from home experience that can offer you to see the world yet you only have to unpack once. My plan is to sail on the Britannia again at some point next year when they release the 2016 European/Med itineraries and I would also consider booking a 3/4 night break on her in between "just because", I would have to have a Balcony cabin as I love the Ocean, hearing the waves and find sitting in the Balcony so relaxing, I would recommend our cabin D215 as its not too far from the lifts and it offers a great view! We would definitely visit the Epicurean again and have to do the Eric Lanyards afternoon tea experience again, we would probably like to try the Indian restaurant "Sindhu" also "The Retreat" looked the best place to relax on board so we'd definitely have a few hours planned in there whilst the ship was at sea, I could plan my itinerary on my next cruise (I am a bit of a planner as I like to maximise my time on board and make the most of the whole experience) I'm just counting down the days until P&O release the Britannia's 2016 schedule to see where we may be sailing to . . . . . . . . Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Decided to make the short hop to Hamburg @ back to stock up on german goodies.. Encountered some interesting weather which was forecast well in advance. Had wonderful service, food and i am sure the entertainment would have been so too IF ... Read More
Decided to make the short hop to Hamburg @ back to stock up on german goodies.. Encountered some interesting weather which was forecast well in advance. Had wonderful service, food and i am sure the entertainment would have been so too IF i had chosen to make use of it. as an old QE2 superfan, any other ship struggles to compete, but having sailed the Mary and Victoria I was pleasantly surprised that the Elizabeth with her more subdued decor was the better of the 3. Only disappointment was the casino which looses all atmosphere with her reduced size , no bar and slots placed within feet of the cramped tables.felt more like an arcade than an adult gaming experience. plus side i saved lots of money by not being a regular. It might also have been helpful if All staff were aware of the "Vaping" policy on board and the fact that they don't produce smoke at all ... but these are observations and not complaints. My biggest bugbear are the moaners..Why do they bother to sail at all ? Cunard do everything to make even the shortest trip enjoyable,they can't control the weather and ships everywhere do bob up and down.and yes in winter we get wind near the uk...being late in was a bonus. nobody was billed for the extra meals provide. My favourite meeting point was the Churchill Lounge (for obvious reasons) The friendliest folk tend to pop in and out at all hours. with this trip due to the outdoor conditions being busier than most. So if you are a moaner stay away from Cunard... They continue to provide exactly what they claim too ..You get exactly what you are prepared to pay for..and on a 4 day hop leave all your pretensions and bad manners on shore. When the weather is inclement the crew have to work twice as hard and if only the brits would wash their hands before leaving the bathroom they couldn't even complain about having to sanitise so often. Yes I am a true brit but we as a nation have the worst statistics for bringing on the bugs. I enjoyed this trip as I always do.QE2 won't be coming back so don't waste time moaning and comparing. I certainly will be back but i do hope the moaners won't be. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
WE were ready and exited to go on a Christmas cruise to Amsterdam. I had even talked my brother into coming along, after myself and my wife having had a great time on the Queen Mary in October we booked this trip as our Christmas present ... Read More
WE were ready and exited to go on a Christmas cruise to Amsterdam. I had even talked my brother into coming along, after myself and my wife having had a great time on the Queen Mary in October we booked this trip as our Christmas present to each other. We boarded and everything looked as it should even though there was a strong smell of fuel around the bar and casino area, they must just be refuelling we thought! We went for our evening meal on the first night and the staff looked in a zombiefied state, maybe it was the smell of fuel that was getting to them, however we did notice a very restrained atmosphere and that worsened as the voyage progressed. The next day at sea there was growing concern that we were not going to dock in Amsterdam as apparently the weather was bad, not that you would have guessed that by looking out of the window. The morning we were hoping to dock we awoke and it was deadly still, we turned on the TV and the entertainments director was advising the passengers to take an umbrella and wishing us a good and enjoyable day in Amsterdam. Excellent we are here, so leaping over and opening the curtain it was beyond a disappointment that we were actually heading back down the channel in the other direction and so that's how it remained for the next two days going up and down the channel with no information coming from the captain, not only that, I don't think anyone saw the captain during this whole ordeal, he still didn't appear when hundreds of people were chanting we want the captain at the reception area. Had he lost his spine? It was then announced that the ship was going to have to dock early at Southampton as work had to be done on the fuel tanks , this was no doubt why we had to put up with the smell of fuel for the whole of this saga. By this time hundreds of passengers were itching to disembark as soon as possible and that is why hundreds of people did disembark a night earlier, The entertainments laid on were lacklustre the shows lasted a pitiful 45 minutes and were mediocre at best. This had been a terrible experience so when we got home we made a complaint and expected carnival/cunard to do the honourable thing of offering a reasonable compensation package to us hard working people that had been taken for a ride on this so called cruise to Amsterdam . It took three or more weeks for a reply offering $25 off another cruise with them. What an insult. If you are looking for an uncaring corporate company that are happy to hide behind a force majeure clause to avoid paying compensation even when, according to the Amsterdam cruise port website, the Britannia Beaver tanker and the Merlin Diver vessel docked at Amsterdam during this time . Then good luck. We however after being treated like this will never set foot on any carnival / cunard / p&o line, So it looks like they wont have to honour their enormously insulting $25 offer. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We were also on this I'll fated cruise. Embarkation was OK. Our balcony cabin looked lovely until we saw the toilet. Hence we had to clean it ourselves to remove the remnants under the seat from the last passengers, not a great start ... Read More
We were also on this I'll fated cruise. Embarkation was OK. Our balcony cabin looked lovely until we saw the toilet. Hence we had to clean it ourselves to remove the remnants under the seat from the last passengers, not a great start for a 5* ship. We found the maître'd rude as it didn't fit into his plans when we asked for a table for 2 for lunchtime in the Brittania restaurant after receiving bad news that we were in fact not docking anywhere. We would never had gone on this trip if we had been given the choice. Apparently we were never going anyway, some staff had said the ship had technical diificulties and they wanted to get to Southampton a day earlier to fix this in time for the next big Xmas cruise, The excuse from the Captain was bad weather!!!! Hmmm. We saw P&O/Brittany ferries passing us regularly!! The food in the evening was poor either cold or the meat was grizzly, most worryingly was young kids and babies were near us on the late 2nd sitting making loud noises or crying!! Weve been cruising for years and have never seen this before. The wine waiter was rude. I asked for the cheaper merlot, he explained I should stick to the expensive one or even get that bottle, when I asked why he said the cheaper wine was a pain for him to get as he would have to make a big effort and go to the bar!!!! Why do these people get 15% gratuity??? By the way I suggested I would get my own drink if it was too much for him after all it was on the wine list he had given me!!!! Sadly after being stuck bobbing about on the English channel was making all of us stir crazy sad and very unhappy. At least we saw Dover the Dover again and maybe the coast off Cornwall. The Captain hardly communicated with anyone, I think the offer of 75$ pp to make it up to us was awful. The ship docked a day earlier and it was so sad seeing hundreds of people desperate to get off all with their suitcases. Do not use Parking4cruises they never answered anyone's calls or emails as they had our car we were forced to stay onboard. I so wanted to get off I had to stay on this ghost ship. Our table had gone so I just sat in my cabin crying it was that miserable. To add insult to injury, when I got home a few days a later I saw a rogue translation taken for 20$ on my credit card? I telephoned Cunard who managed to contact the ship and guess what it was a mistake!!!! How many others have they done this to? A few pounds here and there is theft. I got a refund within a day when I mentioned it was really a form of theft as it was taken off me on 24 Dec I wasn't onboard! The ship docked on 22nd???? Sadly we will not come back, their Queen Mary was better. We are awaiting to hear from Cunard. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We were on the “notorious” Christmas Markets in Amsterdam Cruise on MS Queen Elizabeth. This was our first cruise, chosen so that we could sample the Cunard experience. The ship could not dock in Amsterdam as planned due to adverse ... Read More
We were on the “notorious” Christmas Markets in Amsterdam Cruise on MS Queen Elizabeth. This was our first cruise, chosen so that we could sample the Cunard experience. The ship could not dock in Amsterdam as planned due to adverse weather conditions. Complaints from just five passengers were the basis of a Daily Mail report which stated, “Around 2,100 passengers on board the Queen Elizabeth were furious at the decision to turn back”. This claim that all passengers were furious is an utter lie. The photograph of the so-called mutiny at Reception shows less than 30 people, around 1% of the 2,100 passengers. We were completely unaware of the demonstration at the time and certainly would have avoided it if we did. So, what was our view of the cruise? We liked the service and food. That in the Britannia Restaurant was very good; our special meal in the Verandah Restaurant was absolutely superb. Our basic inner State Room was well-appointed and spotless and our steward was very helpful and friendly. We enjoyed lectures by Martin Bell and Michael Whitehouse plus entertainment by The Beatles Experience. However the “Royal” Cunard Singers and Dancers were not our favourites. We disliked all extras being charged in US dollars. Charges were fairly expensive anyway and more so due to tourist exchange rates offered by banks and credit cards. I disliked the sale of low-cost ex-demonstration watches on board, which I thought cheapened Cunard’s brand image. We did notice the unpleasant smell of oil in the Golden Lion Pub. We do not know whether this was diesel or heavy fuel oil, but neither aroma goes well with your pie and a pint. Of course we were disappointed when Captain Alistair Clark announced that the ship could not dock at Amsterdam, but we accepted that this was due to bad weather. Perhaps the ship could have made it into the port but not sailed in time when the weather worsened, thus delaying the lucrative Christmas Cruise to the Canaries that followed ours. Who knows? In any event we were satisfied with the Captain’s announcements and pleasantly surprised when 75 dollars per person was deducted from everyone’s on-board bill. Our Clot of the Cruise award goes to the Entertainments Officer. On the morning that we did not dock in Amsterdam his TV programme welcomed us to Amsterdam and warned us to take umbrellas on shore due to the weather forecast. Maybe this stupid error contributed to the “mutiny”. We have learned two lessons on this cruise: 1. Do not believe anything you read in the Daily Mail. 2. Give P & O a chance next time.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I am sure by now you will have heard all about the 4 nights and 5 days of going around in circles,the strong smell of fuel, the very bad service in the Britannia restaurant the food cold having to wait up to three quarters of an hour in ... Read More
I am sure by now you will have heard all about the 4 nights and 5 days of going around in circles,the strong smell of fuel, the very bad service in the Britannia restaurant the food cold having to wait up to three quarters of an hour in between courses, because people were sending food back,even in the shops because they had to mention that on top of the high prices we also had to pay VAT because we did not get out of our waters,and so it was take it or leave it, so we left it.I have been on all the queens my first being the Victoria some years ago when the the service was the top of the industry as far as I was concerned,and I could not wait to return and go on her sister ship but what a shock.As I said in my title" So Sad So Bad " Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This is the third Independence cruise, and it was a shame that the quality of the food has gone down hill, bland meat in the dining room, too a sweet choice in the Promenade Cafe.. As it was half term it was children full of course, the ... Read More
This is the third Independence cruise, and it was a shame that the quality of the food has gone down hill, bland meat in the dining room, too a sweet choice in the Promenade Cafe.. As it was half term it was children full of course, the flow rider times could have been extended. Enjoyed the rock wall. The dining rom staff and room cleaning staff were great. So many times we were asked if everything was good, we have feedback about the food and were pleased to hear an explanation from the manager. Not nice that they expect not all of their guests to enjoy the food, it should be 100% surely. We went to the "Next Cruise" area, what a difference. They gave us the impression that they did not cafe if we wanted to book another cruise. No empathy or even knowledge if were got a discount as tiered members. We were asking about going on a cruise from Barcelona, the lady even wrote the wrong ship name down and didn't even know much about where the ships went to. So much for capturing future cruisers? Not. We are kind of hooked with Royal Caribbean and have been advised to book via US agents as you get better deals. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was our first ever cruise and a 2 nigh "taster cruise", this has put us off cruising for ever. first two and a half hour wait in southampton in a humid marquee, arrived on time at 11am, to be herded into a marquee with no ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise and a 2 nigh "taster cruise", this has put us off cruising for ever. first two and a half hour wait in southampton in a humid marquee, arrived on time at 11am, to be herded into a marquee with no explanation as to why, then endured 2.5 hours of waiting with insufficient seating. you could not get served in bars, half an hour wait minimum, with extremely rude staff, telling you to sit down for waiter service, but there were no waiters or waitress, if you went direct to bar to try and get a drink, you were spoken to very rudely and told to sit down. I dont think I talked to one other passenger who wasnt suffering the same, this continued through out the cruise., with arguments and complaints about lack of service and rude staff all over the place I will never, never use MSC again and if this was their idea of trying to get me to book a big cruise by "enjoying one of ther taster cruises, then they are living in cloud cuckoo land. a very disgusted and once only cruise passenger Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Like other passengers on this ship, we too have been on a number of cruises, so know how things work. We arrived early only to be herded In to a marquee where we waited for around 3 hours before boarding. The refreshments were chargeable, ... Read More
Like other passengers on this ship, we too have been on a number of cruises, so know how things work. We arrived early only to be herded In to a marquee where we waited for around 3 hours before boarding. The refreshments were chargeable, in view of the time waiting, these should have been complimentary. Finally we boarded and decided to purchase the two day drinks package. We were then told we had to queue at reception to get them activated. This took around 20 minutes. We then noticed that, although we and our friends had booked at the same time and asked to be seated together at first dining sitting, we were given second (not a problem) but were seated on totally different tables!! More queuing to get this rectified. Fine we thought, let,s get some lunch and chill with a drink from the bar. Firstly, before we could get any lunch, we had to clean our table, followed by some luke warm food from the buffet. Now to the bar to relax before the safety drill at 3.30. It took around 30 minutes to get a drink and several male passengers complained at reception without success. Evening meal was awful. This was to be at 8.30 the doors didn't,t open until 8.40 and we did not get a menu until almost 9 pm. There were no rolls or jug of water on the table. We were handed bread, eventually. Four times we asked for water and wine, but we're ignored. The five course meal was terrible. The mozzarella was tasteless, the soup watery, the salad was an iceberg lettuce floating in water and my turkey was rubbery. Our friend asked for the cheese and biscuits, but only received cheese. When he pointed this out, the waiter took the cheese away and then gave him a plate of crackers minus the cheese. What a shambles. It appeared to us that there were not enough staff, and those that were available were sullen and unhelpful. It seemed that the staff were left to muddle through without any leadership. The final straw was being told to vacate the cabin at 6.30 am.All the other cruises we have been on are around 8 am. Many of the passengers we spoke to said it was their first experience at cruising and would be their last. We told them that this was the worst cruise we had been on and would not cruise with MSC again., so not to be put off cruising by this weekend experience. There are much better cruise liners around. We feel that MSC missed a golden opportunity to showcase themselves, instead the blew it.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Although only a 3 day cruise, we lost most of our leisure time to queues. Good points: Ship and decor wasn't bad, shows were reasonable. Bad points: It took over 3 hours just to get to check-in - we were issued with a waiting ... Read More
Although only a 3 day cruise, we lost most of our leisure time to queues. Good points: Ship and decor wasn't bad, shows were reasonable. Bad points: It took over 3 hours just to get to check-in - we were issued with a waiting number (16) but their numbers only went up to 20, then they reissued 1 onwards. So after waiting 2 1/2 hours for 16 to come up, new passengers arriving were given low numbers and by-passed the queue! There was a SERIOUS lack of staff in the bars - the main bar held about 120 passengers, but there was only ONE waiter. Average wait for a drink: 45-60 minutes. When a friend complained to a passing officer, he raised his voice to her and told her to go to another bar if she wasn't happy! A glass of water with meals had to be paid for. No tea or coffee after the meal. Safety drill was a farce. Nobody could see the life jacket demo. MSC need to check out Royal Caribbean, Celebrity or Princess to see how it should be done. Staff never smiled, never spoke unless they had to and bar staff avoided eye contact while ignoring you. Never again!!!   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This was our first cruise with P & O and we had been looking forward to it very much. We travelled with 5 other member of our family celebrating our parents 60th Wedding Anniversary. Our parents had never set foot on a cruise ship ... Read More
This was our first cruise with P & O and we had been looking forward to it very much. We travelled with 5 other member of our family celebrating our parents 60th Wedding Anniversary. Our parents had never set foot on a cruise ship before so this was their big adventure. We have cruised with both Thomson and NCL before. We had high expectations and generally we were very happy with our weekend. Embarkation was little fraught as there was a problem with the walk over bridge and the tide. We were kept waiting for what seemed to be some time at the security end. My parents were standing for some time and we managed to get on the ship just before my Mother began to feel too shaky. Unfortunately the weather meant we were not able to dock at Zeebrugges so spent all our time at sea, but we did not mind too much as this meant it gave us the opportunity to explore more of the Azura. The ship itself is spotlessly clean, with a comfortable but classy feel. Some areas of the ship, including our bathroom in the cabin, smelt of a cleaning disinfectant which was a little unpleasant - smelling a little like the odours they were trying to cover. Perhaps they should change to something with citrus in! Food was good. The buffet Venezia had a varied spread and it was tasty and colourful. The Peninsula restaurant also supplied a lovely array of food, although vegetables were frozen not fresh and the chef did seem to have a penchant for chewy green beans! The entertainment was excellent. Musicians, comedians and singers were talented and professional. We thoroughly enjoyed them all. The biggest disappointment for us was demeanour of the staff and drinks service. We did not see one member of staff who seemed happy. We saw no smiles; they did not want to chat to passengers and were overall a miserable bunch. In the theatre we waited 50 minutes for a drink and were most concerned when they did not return with our card which is used for payments. The waiters seemed overworked, returning to the theatre with very large trays with drinks for scores of people. They seemed to be totally confused at one point who the drinks were for and what card went back to which passenger. Their pockets were full of them and they spent most of the time sorting through them. We have another cruise booked with P & O, this time with our son and partner to celebrate their engagement. We are on the Oceana going to the Fjords in July. Fingers crossed it will tick all boxes this time. Otherwise we will be back with Thomson.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Recently returned from a cruise to Norway (solo) I feel let down , the food on board has lost some of its quality since I last sailed on her ,the Shore excursions were a complete rip off , I could have paid 75% less by getting a ... Read More
Recently returned from a cruise to Norway (solo) I feel let down , the food on board has lost some of its quality since I last sailed on her ,the Shore excursions were a complete rip off , I could have paid 75% less by getting a coach/train at the port ,Norway must be one of the most expensive places I have visited (P&O not to blame)However I do blame them for selling Wi-Fi time when you can not use it for 2 days during the cruise ,when I spoke to the Internet Manager about it she just shrugged her shoulders and said it happens every trip , why sell it then, However I did have a good time ,I did do some of the shows and they were pretty good , met a lot of nice people , the crew were very helpful and polite except for one . My cabin attendant Stanley was very helpful and cheerful and deserves a special mention I am sailing on the Oceana again in November , I hope they have listened to my concerns about the food Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We have been on three other cruises with P&O, but this was the smallest ship so far, hence a lot of rolling in a 6 metre swell in the North sea! The cabin stewards were great, but the rooms are past their best - ie. water stains on ... Read More
We have been on three other cruises with P&O, but this was the smallest ship so far, hence a lot of rolling in a 6 metre swell in the North sea! The cabin stewards were great, but the rooms are past their best - ie. water stains on the shower curtain (cabin A245) . The whole ship needs an upgrade. There were buckets placed at various points catching water dripping from somewhere and heaters low down drying out carpets. The food was good most of the time (whitebait was disgusting and the Barnsley chop was over cooked) The entertainment was second to none (the Headliners and the ship's crew!), but it was still a little boring mid-afternoon when at sea for two days - a bigger ship would have had more to do. The captain was very entertaining and kept you up to speed with everything nautical. Bad news... £15 per hour to use the Wi-Fi was outrageous when it is free even on buses nowadays! Some of the trips were overpriced. do not do the reindeer ride - several primitive sledges tied together and a walk across an empty expanse for half an hour or so was no fun would have liked more time at the top of the mountain (cable car ride) at Tromso and the guides in Bergen and Stavanger were terrible - mumbling, erring and generally not knowledgeable . We managed to see the northern lights though and I Got some great shots with a shutter speed of 25 seconds. It was cold though - -26 degrees C - but worth it Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
We enjoyed a small taster on an inaugural 1 night cruise to nowhere. Our cabin was a family inside which was adequate for 2, but I struggle to see how 4 can fit in. The storage was somewhat lacking, hanging space was fine, but not many ... Read More
We enjoyed a small taster on an inaugural 1 night cruise to nowhere. Our cabin was a family inside which was adequate for 2, but I struggle to see how 4 can fit in. The storage was somewhat lacking, hanging space was fine, but not many shelves for clothes and other belongings. The cabin felt cosy and the beds were very comfy. The bathroom is surprisingly spacious with plentiful storage. The decor is tasteful dark wood veneer throughout. The shower was powerful and a ladies leg shaving bar was a nice touch. The Getaway is beautiful ship inside and out, and is decorated in a contemporary modern style, with lots of white, taupe and brown. Extensive use of led lights is made throughout and the neutral decor is accented with bright colours (azul blue, cerise pink). This is the Miami theme shining through. E.g. stairwells were accented with bright pink and there were images of south beach and other Miami inspired imagery. A cute touch is the fish on the carpet which swim 'forward'. The outside deck areas are superb, with lots of interesting features including the waterfront which provides outdoor seating for chargeable eating and drinking venues. There are no non-smoking sections on the waterfront. I imagine this area will be over-running on a Caribbean sailing. The ropes course is vast and instead of bright colours like on breakaway, it is themed in a pirate ship style with mock wood which is much classier. It's a stunning feature which is interesting to watch from below. There's a small crazy golf course below. Our favourite bars were Mixx martini cocktail bar and the mojito bar. You can get a martini flight with six half measure martinis for $15 from the Mojito bar (Cosmo, le fizz, aviation, appletini, blue lagoon and coconut cocktails included on a glass tray). They also had a mojito flight available. One thing I did notice was the lack of drinks menus on board. The main list was a 'navigate to your drink menu' with a very limited selection of cocktail options. For example cosmos were not listed. I don't drink cocktails often so it would have been helpful to have the classics listed somewhere. Come knowing what you want. The bars themselves were well stocked with lots of brands and flavours of vodka etc. The food was good overall. Of course this is subjective, but the negatives were that some food was served cold/ lukewarm or not very nice. The breakfast eggs, bacon, sausages were awful, but eggs Benedict and omelettes were delicious. Salmon on bagel was excellent but French toast was far from good. Pancakes were much better with delicious maple bananas. Everyone agreed the coffee was really awful and tea was Liptons which doesn't taste liked proper tea to a Brit. The buffet is well laid out and the decor is reminiscent of the Ikea cafe. There is some outdoor seating. We ate lunch and dinner in taste and savour. The decor and ambience was very sophisticated and elegant. We enjoyed both experiences greatly. Dishes were hit and miss. The salmon tartare was too salty to finish. Crab salad and calamari delicious. Rack of lamb not of the highest quality, but was tasty nevertheless but the mint jelly was so bright in colour it could be luminous after dark! Sirloin steak was very tasty as was the excellent salmon dish for dinner. Caesar salad with chicken was also a hit with us. Pasta was often served to those in our party cold, but quickly replaced. Deserts were disappointing, crumble was too sweet and grand marnier cream pudding was not so good. Cheese biscuits and fruit was lovely and portions were large. Deserts were far too sweet for our tastes. Bread was so notice we asked for seconds. Entertainment options were numerous on board. Howl at the moon was very popular and fun. Legally Blonde was unexpectedantly excellent, not usually the sort of production we are drawn to, but the execution was excellent and it was 1.5 hour of pure entertainment. Sets, costumes, singing, choreography were all 5 star. The theatre is comfortable but there are no little tables for drinks, don't order martinis. They won't fit in glass holders in the seats. The ice bar is an experience, but a novelty and basically a rip off. It is like being in the fruit fridge room at Costco, but with the addition of 2 bright coloured vodka drinks. There is one 'throne' made of ice and a bar made of ice and plastic....and that's about it. We did get some good photos which make it look better than it was in reality! The tropicana room is beautiful, it has an old skool Miami posh hotel vibe, with wooden dance floor and live band. We didn't eat there because we could not get a table. O'Sheehans is huge and wings were as tasty as we were led to believe. The place is open 24/7. Flamingo grill is on deck 16, is open to the elements. Fitness facilities are excellent especially the weight room which had a single dumbbell weighing in at 75lbs. The spa is is spartan and very white; large floor to ceiling windows with fabulous views. The swimming areas were generous and inviting, although 4000 passengers will surely fight over them. Could have added another pool really. The 6 waterslides looked amazingly fun, the water was warm but we didn't have time to try them. Duty free was not available on our cruise to nowhere. The casino is mid ship and open plan, there are lots of machines and a lack of roulette tables. It is a shame non-gamblers have to walk through the casino to get to other parts of deck 7. Smoking here is controversial. You can smell in on deck 6 below, but not too bad. The staff were excellent, they provided very enthusiastic and proactive service, although the bar service was painfully slow. Overall we loved the ship. The only criticisms was the lack of artwork and the decor is in places a little plasticky and does not scream luxury. Perhaps this is due to the Miami theme? We were expecting a little more of a nod to the Art Deco era of Miami on this cruise liner, rather than a modern contemporary vibe. The layout is easy to navigate and interactive screens throughout the ship help you on your way. This ship will be in its element when based in Miami. The picturesque outdoor decks and outside drinking and dining options will make this ship stand out in the Miami market.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This was a last minute booking two weeks ago but we are so glad we did. We got to Southampton at 10.45 am but security didn't happen until after 11.30am. Boarding was onto deck 5 which isn't spectacular but once you go up a deck ... Read More
This was a last minute booking two weeks ago but we are so glad we did. We got to Southampton at 10.45 am but security didn't happen until after 11.30am. Boarding was onto deck 5 which isn't spectacular but once you go up a deck the ambiance changes. We chose to go up to the Garden buffet for lunch and had a very nice soup, salad (and pudding). The staff were very helpful and in plentiful supply. We then set off to find our cabin which was by far the best we have had as I will explain below. We had a drink in O'Sheenan's bar but my wife was not impressed with her Irish Coffee as it was made with squirty cream and not proper cream which was available elsewhere. We toured the ship from top to bottom and we both had a taster message to music which was very nice. The gym equipment is brilliant with all the latest machines. We eventually chose Savor for dinner at approx 7.30pm but this turned out to be a drawn out affair lasting over 2 hours apparently as the same kitchen supplies both Savor and Tropicana (main dining room) so we had quite a wait for starters of Chicken Mulligatawny Soup and Shrimp with ginger but well worth the wait. Our main course we both had the Striploin steak which was succulent and plentiful. I had Mint and Strawberry profiteroles and my wife had the cheese selection, again very delicious. We then moved onto the casino before the late showing of Legally Blond. Very good cast but not quite London or Broadway standard. I guess trying to fit a show onto a small stage has its drawbacks. My wife felt the Theatre was 'tacky' with noen striplights but 10/10 for effort. Back to the casino and the smokey atmosphere. Why they can't ban smoking full stop to he outside I do not know. We sat near to Bliss which was going full blast and quite full. A few idiots had a few too many but security were present and not over fussy. Breakfast was back in the Garden buffet and minor point, no English bacon but there again its going Stateside. As we only took a carry on we disembarked very quickly at 9.00am but on the way off, a few people were annoyed at being disembarked for 24 hours to let the TA's on, surely NCL could have let them stay pre TA crossing. All told a very nice ship and if it sailed from the UK we go on her again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
The Norwegian Getaway is going to be based year-round in Miami sailing around the Caribbean. This is my Norwegian Getaway review with observations, advice and tips based on sailing on the inaugural sailings out of Southampton before the ... Read More
The Norwegian Getaway is going to be based year-round in Miami sailing around the Caribbean. This is my Norwegian Getaway review with observations, advice and tips based on sailing on the inaugural sailings out of Southampton before the ship moved to her new home. Style and Decor I really like the look and feel of the ship interior. One of the things that always surprises me about Norwegian Cruise Line is its style. In my mind I think of Norwegian as being a little bit brash but whenever I come on board the newer ships like Norwegian Epic and now the Norwegian Getaway I enjoy the decor and style throughout the ship. It is not overly loud and has a feel of sophistication. It is not a very traditional liner style design but does feel like you’re in a contemporary hotel and resort. The Getaway has Miami themes weaved throughout the ship linked to its home base. This includes some of the names of the restaurants and murals of the iconic art deco buildings on Miami beach. Deck Six, Seven and Eight hold most of the main public areas. On Deck Six is a large atrium area with the usual excursions desk, guests services and a huge video wall. Radiating from here are the many bars and restaurants. There is a central core with a resplendent chandelier. All the large Norwegian ships like the Epic, the Getaway and the Breakaway have a magnificent chandelier. It’s at the heart of the ship and it sets the tone. Radiating from here are more restaurants and bars. Freestyle Cruising Dining Choice Norwegian is known for its “freestyle cruising” which means lots of choice. On board the Norwegian Getaway you have a choice of 28 dining options, including room service. There are a couple of free dining options including the Garden Cafe buffet restaurant, Tropicana, Taste and Savor restaurants. Then you have a multitude of dining options where you pay surcharge including O’Sheehans Irish Pub, Teppanyaki, Cagney’s Steakhouse, the Italian restaurant La Cucina, the Argentinian restaurant Moderno Churrascaria, Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian, sushi, or noodles. Entertainment The other thing Norwegian really focus on is entertainment, including bringing brand name entertainment on board. For example, on the Getaway they have ‘Legally Blonde’. They also have a magic show with dinner in the Illusionarium. They have a new innovation on board in the “Grammy Experience”, where they have Grammy nominees and winners performing on various cruises. They also have the ‘Burn the Floor’ dance show with a latin twist. When you look at the daily program you have long lists of bars, restaurants and entertainment! One of the things that did catch my eye as a huge fan of water parks are the amazing water slides. They’re very advanced, including one where you stand on a pad, the floor gets pulled away from you and you zoom down doing almost and entire loop the loop. There is also a large ropes and zip line course. There is a large Kid’s and Teen Club. The Kid’s Club has a partnership with characters like Sponge Bob Squarepants and other characters from Nickelodeon. Stateroom Design I stayed in a Veranda Stateroom on Deck 11e. I really liked the cabin and feel they are much better than on the Norwegian Epic. Self Managing of Bookings All around the ship are giant over sized wall panels like large iPads. These can be used to make all your reservations for dining, shows and excursions using your cruise card. It means that it takes a lot of pressure away from the Guest Services Desk so they can spend much more time helping with more important problems than booking shows and meals. Smoking The policy follows the US approach and rules on smoking. It’s not as strict as some cruise lines as smoking is allowed in balconies. You cannot smoke in your Staterooms. There is some smoking possible out on the decks and in the casino. Busy and Large The Norwegian Getaway is a big ship and it holds over 4,000 passengers. Officially it holds 3,969 guests based on double occupancy, however on most cruises there will be many more as families and groups of people traveling will often have a third or fourth person also in the cabin. There are 1,640 crew to look after those passengers and so a pretty good crew to passengers. As it is a large and busy ship embarkation and disembarkation can be slow and you do have to line up. Budgeting and Add-on Costs Norwegian is a value line and the fares to get you on board are attractive usually. Because of the freestyle approach to cruising there is the potential to spend a lot more money on board and you do need to bear in mind to budget properly. If you want to take full advantage of everything that it has to offer you need to make sure that you are budgeting for dining surcharges, gratuities which are added on around $12 per person per day, excursions, drinks and gambling and gaming. Dress Code Norwegian does embrace a more relaxed approach to the dress code. It is very different to more traditional cruise lines like Cunard, Holland America, and P & O which have formal nights, semi-formal nights and smart casual nights. The Norwegian Getaway dress code dress code is “resort casual”, and shorts are allowed in most dining venues, except for the Tropicana Room which is the main dining room, Ocean Blue and Le Bistro after five o’clock. In the evenings you will find a mixture of dress codes around the ship. Even if you do wear a suit you don’t feel out of place, but overall it is a much more relax and informal. Best Suited For: - Lovers of Resorts: If you are the sort of person who wants a huge amount of choice and like going to resorts, then the Norwegian Breakaway is for you. - Families: The ship, facilities and choice means the ship is great for families as there will always be things that everyone finds they like.The pricing and accommodation works well for families too. - Solo Travelers: Norwegian does embrace solo travelers with dedicated cabin area for solo travelers. It has its own lounge, meeting areas, and lots of events for solo travelers. - Premium Travelers: The other thing they have is the Haven, which is the premium ship within the ship. This has larger suites with butler service and dedicated dining, pool and spa. - Youthful Mindset:It’s a young vibrant, young minded cruise line and ship.There is a lots of things going on. The daily program is packed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a daily program on any cruise line that’s quite chock-a-block as that on Norwegian Epic or Norwegian Getaway. They’re both absolutely jam-packed. Overview The Norwegian Getaway is a modern ship. It’s large. It’s busy. There’s lots of choice. It’s for the people who want to be on the go and have lots of things to do. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
I visited Getaway, at Southampton, in January 2014 and stayed on-board for two nights. This brand new ship had come straight from the shipyard, via Rotterdam. She was berthed at Southampton’s ‘City Cruise Terminal’ before she crossed ... Read More
I visited Getaway, at Southampton, in January 2014 and stayed on-board for two nights. This brand new ship had come straight from the shipyard, via Rotterdam. She was berthed at Southampton’s ‘City Cruise Terminal’ before she crossed the pond to her home port of Miami. Getaway is the sister ship of Breakaway (both the ‘Breakaway’ class) which entered service in April 2013. It is impossible to fully experience all of the 20+ dining options, bars and entertainment options of this big ship within a few days. This review will just feature some high-lights and my conclusions Getaway The first thing that you notice when arriving at the cruise terminal apart from Getaway’s size (big) is her colourful Hull Art. It was created by popular Miami modern artist and muralist David “LEBO” Le Batard. As the ship will home-port in Miami, much of the ships décor has a ‘Miami’ theme. Getaway is an almost identical design to Breakaway, although some of the public spaces have been re-named/re-themed. ’Freestyle’ has determined her design and she is packed with dining areas and bars. These often have an open-plan design, with some of the bars, and dining areas seamlessly blending into each other, sometimes without walls. It is quite an assault on the senses. What you do not get on NCL ships is any big ‘wow’ spaces such as tall Atriums, ‘Royal Promenades’, Parks or many double height rooms. Getaway has 14 passenger decks numbered from 5-18. Deck’s 6, 7 and the rear half of deck 8 accommodate most of the public spaces. The ship only has two stair towers/elevator banks, which is not ideal for such a big, long ship. However there are some stairs between decks 6, 7, and 8 amidships, at ‘678 Ocean Place’. This is a sort of mini-atrium with giant LED Chandelier. The elevators are large and efficient. Décor: NCL have now dropped the prime colours and embraced a more classy ‘Cappuccino lounge’ style. Internally Breakaway has lots of tasteful brown wood (effect) and beige décor, often creating an understated look. In fact, some public spaces on-board Breakaway could easily be on-board a Celebrity or Cunard ship. There have been comments that Getaway is a little more subtle in terms of internal colours than Breakaway. Entertainment I saw ‘Legally Blonde’ in the main theatre, which is Getaway’s signature show. It was a full production (1.5 hours) and features some excellent singers and dancers. It is definitely quite a few notches above some cruise ships almost amateur ‘Red Coat’ style entertainment. Getaway’s illusionariun (forward deck 6) is a re-branded space replacing Breakaway’s Spiegel Tent, which resembled a big-top style circus tent. The illusionarium is a relatively intimate venue, with a circular stage and domed ceiling, hosting a magic show. The nice thing is that it is close-up magic in the round, with no dark back-stage area for the magicians to hide things. For a surcharge you get a set meal (surf & turn) and the show. The show was very good and featured a compare, a narrative and maybe five (?) magic acts. Very clever moving graphics were projected onto the domed ceiling, although this was done a few times too often. To be honest I could have done without the narrative and extensive dialogue, but this will probably be edited in the future to make the show tighter. Some passengers felt the meal was mediocre, but I spent most of my time concentrating on the magic and not really noticing what I was eating too much. Conclusion Getaway is going to be a massive ‘hit’. She makes ‘regular’ ships look boring. NCL are now providing direct competition for Royal Caribbean’s newer ships. It’s not just media hype, Getaway’s design really does take NCL’s ‘freestyle’ concept to the next level. Getaway is built for ‘fun’. She will suit those wanting a casual, but ‘busy’ cruise experience, packed with multiple dining and multiple entertainment options. Families are well catered for. She will not suit those looking for tradition, relaxation and tranquillity. NCL’s dining flexibility is second to none, compared to the other mass-market cruise ships, although their food and service can be inconsistent at times. It is worth remembering when you are comparing fares of the rival cruise lines, that NCL are market-leaders in the additional on-board surcharge. Although the many surcharges are optional, they are very tempting. However you are paying for ‘choice’. It is important to note that these big ships are designed on the premise that not everybody on-board will want to do the same thing, in the same place, at the same time. This premise largely works, but when it doesn’t, expect queues and congestion. Breakaway is definitely a ‘busy’ ship. I do wonder how the ‘Aqua-Park’ might cope on a hot sunny day at sea, and ‘The Waterfront’ and ‘H2O’ on a warm evening. Although a very simple idea, Getaway’s ‘Waterfront’ makes her much less ‘inward’ focused that some other mega-ships. After all cruising should be about connecting with the sea, at least occasionally. Malcolm Oliver  Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Shall we, shan't we? We had heard mixed reports of cruising but, at the last minute and on a wet, miserable December day, decided to book on a twelve day cruise on Oriana from Southampton to Morocco calling at Portugal, Spain and ... Read More
Shall we, shan't we? We had heard mixed reports of cruising but, at the last minute and on a wet, miserable December day, decided to book on a twelve day cruise on Oriana from Southampton to Morocco calling at Portugal, Spain and Gibralter. We arrived at Ocean Quay in mid- January where check in is faultless: a fifteen minute queue through security then, an hour after being dropped, we are in our cabin with luggage delivered an hour later. It is clear from the outset that cleanliness is a priority with hand wash available everywhere and squirted on to your hands before boarding and before entering food areas. Having heard tales that fellow dinner guests can be pot luck, we had requested a table for two in the dining room. That would have been a mistake and we need not have worried! We found ourselves on a table for six meeting an experienced cruising couple about our age with whom we could chat easily and in a relaxed fashion. The other couple never materialised so we remained a foursome for the remainder of the cruise. On our cruise, we were told that, of 1600 passengers, only about 600 were first time cruisers! During the entire cruise, we never met anyone who was on their first cruise, only well travelled and sociable folk who had found cruising an acceptable lifestyle: the record was one lady who was on her fiftieth (or was it seventieth) cruise! By 1000 on the first morning, we have entered the Bay of Biscay in a moderate sea and F7 winds. Not ideal conditions for a first timer and I had not taken anything. First thing, I was not feeling too good but, after an hour of sleep and the purchase of wrist bands, I had recovered to explore the ship and the numerous food outlets. Chaplins Cinema is a great place to pass away an hour or two in the bleak crossing of the Bay and the choice of films is good: not all latest releases but most within the last twelve months and varied and acceptable. Tea in the Peninsular Dining Room is not to be missed! A choice of teas along with sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and assorted cakes not doing anything for the waistline. A very well equipped gymnasium has more than sufficient equipment and was never anywhere fully utilised in the time that we were on the ship. I enjoyed the cycling and rowing machines but others were using the jogging, walking and weightlifting equipment. Staff were in abundance on day one but left you to your own devices thereafter, which suited me. We enjoyed our cabin, an outside with a window in which thick curtains divided the bedroom and living areas. The bathroom is well lit with ample mirrors and generous bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, soap and shower gel. There are more than sufficient dining choices, most appealing to Brutish tastes. The Conservatory has food available all day from continental breakfast at 6 am through lunch and era to a themed evening meals. The Peninsular Restaurant offers full breakfast, waiter served lunch and, with the Oriental, full five course evening meal. The small Al Fresco is open all day offering whatever is relevant to the hour. Then Tiffany's, the Costa Coffee outlet, is a popular and elegant meeting place, one that we enjoyed later in the evening when the concert pianist was playing. There was too much entertainment for us. It starts at 0800 and continues until midnight. The ship never appeared to be crowded: there was always somewhere to sit and enjoy the cruise be it on deck in the sun or below in the elegant public areas. I enjoyed the library but it would be better if there were a range of magazines to browse: I suggest that you take your own. The Theatre Royal shows were excellent. Clearly, ports of call will vary from cruise to cruise. Suffice to say, that we always arrived on time and had no problem coming and going to and from the ship with the minimum of necessary security. We did not take any excursions taking advantage of the regular shuttle buses. We would not bother to go ashore at either Agadir or Gibralter if they were offered again, the former being intimidation, the later being tatty. Cadiz was best. However, to just remain on board and enjoy the scenery and sun would be sufficient for us. Communication with passengers was good. At the last port, La Coruna, situated at the southern end if the Bay of Biscay, the Captain warned of rough seas with a 10 metre swell - he was right. Just as my soup arrived, we entered the swells and being situated at the stern, the Oriental was the place to experience the excitement! The rough seas continued through the night and all of the final day at sea making walking around interesting. Meeting others and having a chat normally resulted in having a dance: I stopped to talk with one acquaintance and, a few seconds later, he was on the opposite side of the ship. We followed the Captain's advice and purchased some Avamin from Reception enjoying an excellent night sleep in the rough seas. Would we go again? Yes, without doubt. Remarkable value for money, a pleasant way to escape winter with easy travel from Southampton "avoiding flying" being a frequently quoted plus point for fellow passengers. P&O have it right from the friendly and attentive staff through the varied menus to the general pampered ambience: they clearly know their target market and long may they continue as we will happily sail with them again. Roll on next winter! Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We travelled up to Southampton the 14th & went to the docks for a quick look at this enormous & brightly decorated ship. She stood resplendent in the sunshine & we then stood on Town Quay to watch her sail away nicely ... Read More
We travelled up to Southampton the 14th & went to the docks for a quick look at this enormous & brightly decorated ship. She stood resplendent in the sunshine & we then stood on Town Quay to watch her sail away nicely illuminated down the Solent blasting her horn as she passed the dwarfed Red Funnel ferry!! Wednesday dawned dull & showery but, it didn’t dampen our excitement as we drove through Gate 8 at 10.30am & into the car park We walked the short distance into the terminal & went straight to a check in desk, quickly receiving our cruise cards & lanyards, through security & into the lounge. After a 20 minute wait our “colour” was called & we boarded. We headed straight to our port side mid-ship balcony cabin on deck 14 & dropped our luggage. After a quick greeting from the room steward we headed off to start exploring the ship. CABIN. The cabin was not as big as some we’d stayed in but, was adequate for 2 people. However, if the third bed & the ceiling bunk were utilised it would be somewhat cramped. The balcony was also bijou but had 2 chairs & a table. The cabin had a generous amount of storage, a large wardrobe with half shelves & half hanging. It also contained the safe with the usual code system (it was illuminated inside which is handy in the dark.). The vanity unit had the mini bar/fridge underneath plus the hairdryer (powerful!!) & 2 cupboards with shelves. There was also a cube storage stool with removable table tray top. On top the unit was a coffee/tea machine with filter coffee; tea bags etc. plus glasses, an ice bucket & the telephone. There were 4 sockets 2US & 2 Eurpoean. The television was mounted alongside the unit & was on a swivel to view from the sofa or bed. The bed was large & very comfortable with small bedside units either side. The side nearest to the balcony doors was very narrow making access to the bed difficult if you are not very mobile. The life jackets were found in a basket under the bed as mentioned on the Emergency Instructions notice on the door of the cabin. To the side of the entry door was the card slot to turn on the lights. Also two switches for “Make up the Room” or “Do not Disturb”, each lighting up a tiny light outside the cabin to give instructions to the room steward. The bathroom was spacious with the ever popular shower with doors!! Shampoo & shower gel was supplied & the water flow was excellent. The wash basin unit had plenty of storage & shelves to put all your “essentials” on & hand wash was supplied. The loo roll was also easily reached!! On returning to the cabin in the late evening we found a cute mouse peeping out from under the pillows made by the steward from a face cloth! A lovely touch & would prove popular with children. GARDEN CAFÉ. (BUFFET) This is situated at the Aft & there are serving stations in the middle with plentiful tables all around, including tables for two. There are 12 stations on each section: at lunch time these are Pizza, Asian, Soups, Grill, Carving, Sandwiches, Asst Breads, Salads, Specialities, Beverages, Sweets & Fruits & Ice Cream. Something for everyone in our opinion. The food we chose was delicious & we thoroughly recommend the gateaux! It does get busy at peak times but in good weather with the additional outside seating it shouldn’t be a problem finding a table. BISTRO . We chose to eat our evening meal in one of the Speciality dining venues & booked a table at the Bistro shortly after boarding. We had a table for two & the waiters were efficient & polite. The Maître D was subjected to a barrage of abuse by a very rude gentleman & dealt with him calmly & politely which is more than he deserved!! The meal was absolutely delicious, my husband’s steak was tender & cooked to perfection. It was hot & service throughout first class. The desserts were “to die for” & I’d recommend the Bistro to anyone fortunate enough to cruise on Getaway. MDR’s We didn’t dine in any of the 3 MDR’s but, they were nicely laid out with plenty of “proper” tables for two, (2 chairs, not a long bench seat!). They seemed to have a lovely ambience & the sample menu had a good choice of dishes. SVDKA/Inniskillin Ice Bar. We booked a visit to the Ice Bar on boarding the ship. It’s open from 5.30pm in one hour slots. We were provided with a hooded poncho, gloves & tickets for 2 drinks either alcoholic or non-alcoholic. It was -6C & the bar had ice sculptures & ice walls. If you have visited a Scandinavian Ice Bar you may be disappointed, if not it’s worth a visit for the “experience”. GETAWAY THEATRE: We booked for the 10pm performance of “Legally Blonde” online. The doors opened 30 minutes before curtain up & your cruise card gets “swiped” on the way in (be sure to have one card per person!). Seats are on a first come basis & are rather hard, hopefully they will soften up with wear! It’s a small theatre for the size of the ship. The show however, was excellent. The cast were energetic & mention has to be made to “Elle” who was on stage for most of the 90mins. The show is of the “High School Musical” style which seemed to be a shock to some passengers but, a quick check online would have provided an insight into the type of show. SHIP & OBSERVATIONS; Obviously the Getaway was clean & sparkling as any new ship would be. The external artwork is either loved or hated but, doesn’t add or distract from the enjoyment of the cruise. It’s a huge ship & the carpets in the cabin corridors have fish “swimming” towards the front to help in navigating your way around. There are lifts at the front & aft, 8 in each location, they were fast & we didn’t have to wait when using them. The Atrium is on decks 6, 7 & 8 with a beautiful centre piece of a crystal chandelier which along with the glass staircases, changes colour. Guest Services is situated on Deck 6 & they were very helpful & polite. There are 22 bars & lounges catering for all tastes from pub style to piano bars. There were many quiet seating areas dotted around the ship. A two lane bowling alley, arcade games, climbing wall, rope walkways, mini golf are among activities for teens & active adults! There are flumes, fun pools & much more to keep everyone occupied. The casino is large but, we didn’t spend time (or money) there. For the Fitness conscious there is an extensive gym area & a fabulous spa thermal suite with pool. The Photo Gallery was organised differently: on the cruise card is a location where you will find a file with corresponding number & your photos inside or you can use the cruise card to swipe to view. On a longer cruise 10 photos can be put on a USB stick for $19.95, but have to be completed in ONE transaction. DISEMBARKATION On this cruise as we were all carrying our own luggage it was not representative of a longer cruise. It did seem to go smoothly though. All in all we thoroughly enjoyed this taster cruise, NCL may not be to everyone’s taste but, for us we loved every minute, we just wished we could have stayed on longer.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
In July of 2013 as a family we boarded the NCL Jade, having read the reviews and having sailed previously with Carnival on the newly refurbished Sunshine we were a little apprehensive. the Jade was a fantastic ship and the Staff were eager ... Read More
In July of 2013 as a family we boarded the NCL Jade, having read the reviews and having sailed previously with Carnival on the newly refurbished Sunshine we were a little apprehensive. the Jade was a fantastic ship and the Staff were eager to make our stay enjoyable. in November i booked the one night stay on board the NCL Getaway, the newest addition to the NCL Fleet and sister ship to the NCL Breakaway. Not the biggest in the fleet (the biggest being the NCL Epic) however, a quality ship by far. Our experience. we arrived at the Port of Southampton at 12.00pm, unlike our previous experience with boarding, this one seemed to be a lengthy procedure. we eventually boarded the ship at 1.50pm and was greeted by many helpful staff assisting in anyway they could. we proceeded to our cabin which we found to be modern, and extremely large (we booked Allocation on arrival). our first dining experience. we then proceeded to explore the ship (it is huge) rather than dine buffet we decided on a sit down meal. we ended up at the "Savor" restaurant. this served fast food with a fine dining twist, the quality of the food was good and service superb. The Ship. it would take a lot longer than one day to explore this ship in its entirety however, we spent a good couple of hours looking around. the sunshine deck had many amenities, Rock Climbing, Mini Golf and not to mention the Water Slides amongst many other things. what amazed me was that in the middle of January the clientele seamed to be of retirement age however this did not seem to hold them back when it came to the Zip Wire and what is the largest ropes course at sea (no holding back). Evening Dining Spoiled for choice, throughout the exploration of the ship and trying to make the best of our "1 night" we made and cancelled many reservations at the restaurants on board, yes i would say i was spoiled. we eventually ended up at Moderno Churrascaria, a truly unique experience "Start with an impressive salad bar of imported cheeses, olives, cured meats, ceviche and specialty salads. Be sure to save room for the delicious skewers of slow-roasted meats including beef, pork, lamb and chicken – all carved tableside by our Pasadores" Service yet again Superb, food very good. Evening Entertainment. after dining we caught the late show "Legally Blonde" this is a must, the quality of such a show at sea was second to none. the only downfall being that the seats in the theater, they are extremely uncomfortable, after the first half an hour i was in pain with my back. (we were not the only ones.) this is an issue that really needs to be addressed. overall. we are told that the CEO of NCL was on board, this ship is a real credit to NCL. all in all i give the NCL Getaway the thumbs up, its just a shame that it will not spend any more time in European waters. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
A 1 night cruise aboard pre-inaugural Norwegian Getaway was too good an opportunity to pass up, so we joined her yesterday on a sunny January day in Southampton, the port unusually quiet after the departure of all the world cruises. We ... Read More
A 1 night cruise aboard pre-inaugural Norwegian Getaway was too good an opportunity to pass up, so we joined her yesterday on a sunny January day in Southampton, the port unusually quiet after the departure of all the world cruises. We were delayed a little before embarkation began, due to the ship's late arrival, but once the process started, we were speedily trying to get a proper look at the huge hull painting Miami artist David Lebo Batard, with its surf and mermaids. We found our way to our outside, forward facing cabin, functional, pleasantly spacious,with neutral and turquoise decor a well thought out bathroom, with nicely curved, decent storage shelves and proper shower cubicle. As it was lunchtime, we decided against totally casual dining, but settled for the O'Sheehans pub, choosing salads and traditional fish and chips. There is a limited, available 24 hours , pub menu, served by cheerful staff. We went out into the January sunshine to explore this large resort ship, finding her a twin of sister Breakaway apart from a few minor decor changes. The enormous top deck has wonderful activity facilities, for adults, teens and smaller children. There's a huge aqua park , climbing wall, rope walks suspended high over the deck, huge water slides and several pools, some especially for toddlers and young children. A few brave souls were enjoying the outdoor pool, pleasantly warm, but cold to get out of!, A fun pirate mini golf is on one side, and enormous sports courts to keep the more active happy. A jogging track winds it's way past the rows of sun chairs, and one deck down, at the stern is a huge, adult only SpiceH2O, with outdoor cinema screen, hot tubs and rows of loungers, with cocktail bar tucked in one corner. We explored the amazing Mandara spa, with its state of the art beauty rooms, gorgeous relaxation areas, range of pools and hot tubs and an enthusiastic team of trained therapists and beauticians. We took the opportunity to take a look at some of the other cabin choices on offer, from the gorgeous Haven suites, each with lovely decor, gorgeous bathroom with ocean facing tub and access to the Haven sunbathing and relaxing areas, the lovely corner suites, with living and dining area, second bedroom for other family members and a beautiful bathroom, with both ocean view tub and amazing multi jet shower in separate cubicle. Naturally the toilet is in its own screened cubicle. We managed to take a look at the tiny , nicely planned Studio cabins, designed for single travellers, and with a central Studio lounge for guests to socialize. The main entertainment decks and dining are on lower decks, centred round the huge atrium with its cascading chandelier. There's a huge theatre, showing the Broadway show Legally Blonde , the magical Illusionarium, which will offer dine and show evenings, delightful bars, several club venues and a large , rather confusing casino. Sandwiched between is the inevitable art gallery. To one side of the atrium is a terrific IceBar, offering a chilly experience, whilst wearing insulated capes and frozen glasses of vodka, and vodka based cocktails, served in ice glasses. Getaway has a total of 26 choices for dining, 3 main dining rooms, one that will host dance shows, several variations on steak restaurants, several with an oriental menu , and Ocean Blu, speciality seafood restaurant with its ancillary Raw Bar. There is a roomy Italian restaurant La Cucina, and a French cafe Le Bistro. We later chose the former, preferring Italian menus, but were disappointed by the food, over salted and heavy. Many of the restaurants have a charming outdoor eating area along the delightful Waterfront, sure to be the place of choice once Getaway arrives into its home port of Miami. Dinner over , found the Grammy club, with displays of pop memorabilia, the venue for Grammy winning performers, but settled on the popular Headliners. This club is home to the Howl at the Moon duelling piano act, with talented pianists playing audience requests with verve and enthusiasm. Other nightspots are dotted round the ship, and became busy as the night wore on, as did the casino. The theatre show was excellent, with talented young singers and dancers interpreting the delightful film and subsequent Broadway show, getting huge applause and many laughs at the comedy moments from the enthusiastic audience. The only thing missing was Buster the dog! We thought the theatre lacked side aisles, and anyone with mobility problems would find it quite a challenge as there are no hand rails on the sides After our one night in our quiet comfortable cabin, we enjoyed breakfast in the busy ocean cafe, but thought tables very close together. There were plenty of breakfast choices, including eggs cooked to order,   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Our first cruises 10 years ago were with NCL,..since then we have cruised exclusively with the RCI family taking around 3 cruises a year. So when we learnt that NCL’s newest ship was doing a 1 night sailing from Southampton we leapt at ... Read More
Our first cruises 10 years ago were with NCL,..since then we have cruised exclusively with the RCI family taking around 3 cruises a year. So when we learnt that NCL’s newest ship was doing a 1 night sailing from Southampton we leapt at the chance to see how the ship compared with those of RCI. We booked via the head office – which is in the UK – unlike RCI who appear to have abandoned the UK market by outsourcing their call centre to Guatemala….. . We found them to be very efficient. Online checkin was easy, as was the facility to prebook shows. Something we have not needed to do before. The ability to prebook restaurants was not offered beforehand. First impressions – the ship is large 145,000 tonnes carrying 3969 passengers so she compares to Independence (154,000 tonnes and 3634 pax). As we have cruised several times on Indie it is natural that we made comparisons. And with this thought, the decorated hull and the obtrusive ‘stuff’ on the top of Getaway looked garish and ‘cheap’ compared to the sleek curves and subtle colours of Indie. Onboard though it was a different story – the colours and furnishings and fabrics made us feel as if we were on board a Solstice class ship. Very very classy indeed. The ship was 1 day old so she had a lovely new ship smell. Our cabin was a balcony, very well appointed with nice reflective wood, some very clever use of storage, and again the bathroom was straight out of Solstice, with a wonderful large glass shower and even the little rail so ladies can shave their legs. There were dispensers with shower gel and shampoo – far better than the all in one gunk you get on RCI. 2 European and 2 USA plugs. Hairdryer located under the dresser. But a very small balcony and a tiny table. Other clever design touches included lights in the safe, and lighted ‘make up my room’ or ‘do not disturb’ signs which is far better than tacky laminated signs. Ice was provided and we even got a towel animal! Overall Getaway wins on the cabins. We set about exploring the ship which claims to have 27 dining options and 22 bars and lounges. Most were located on 678 Ocean. A very clever concept. And we just loved the idea of “on the waterfront” where most of the specialty restaurants offered an outside eating option – this would be fabulous in the Caribbean, not so good in the English Channel in January. One of the things we dislike about Indie is the lack of connection with the sea. On the RP you could be in the middle of a shopping mall.. The range of dining was very impressive – there are even 3 different MDRs. Loved the look of Tropicana with the bandstand and dance floor – very elegant. We dined in Cagneys ($30pp cover – very good food and very similar to Chops). I had mentioned it was DH’s birthday and he was given a full sized cake, I think on RCI you get a candle stuck in your desert…! We had lunch in O’Sheehans which offered a good selection at no extra charge. However with so many restaurants on board we thought it would be easy to run up a large account whilst you sampled them all! However the prize for innovation must go to the Ice Bar! $20pp included 2 drinks. Thick lined ponchos and gloves were essential (provided). Drinks prices onboard were $5.25 for a Corona; $9 for a glass of Proscecco; $29 for a bottle of Rose or Ravenswood Zinfandel (which I think is cheaper than RCI). Entertainment – we remember the shows on NCL being very good indeed, and they still are. We went to the 7:30p performance of Legally Blonde – excellent with a very good vocal cast. Unlike Saturday Night Fever on Liberty which was so poor we walked out after 10 minutes. The theatre was very small – just on one level which surprised us. There was a variety of live music around the ship, but not so loud that it was intrusive. We enjoyed the duelling pianos in Headliners. So Getaway wins on entertainment too. There is not a main atrium as such, rather 2 smaller ones that link 678 Ocean. By the coffee shop there was a large screen but this showed the view from the bridge as you sailed away. A nice idea. Interactive boards guide you round the ship and show restaurant availability in 30 minute windows. Spice H2O at the aft of the ship was a great space although we were slightly confused as to who could go there or to Vibe Beach club and we were conscious of the many ‘pay to enter’ areas. There also was just one very small swimming pool for 3939 guests and I could find no complimentary sauna or steam rooms. The ‘stuff’ on top consisted of a large climbing frame and brightly coloured waterslides. There was also a rock climbing wall, and bowling in O’Sheehans. For the children there was SpongeBob SquarePants….he just waved and was not nearly as friendly as Shrek or Puss in Boots! NCL claim that there are fireworks on every sailing……we had no fireworks. Indie wins on outside space and pool areas So you can probably gather we were very impressed indeed. Unfortunately the Getaway is now bound for a life in Florida, and the ships in Europe are either the horrid looking Epic or one of the older ships, so I’m not sure if we will sail with NCL in the near future. But if we were in Florida and Getaway and Indie offered the same itinerary I do honestly think we would chose Getaway. Sorry RCI. In summary; It would have to be a port intensive cruise as NCL wins hands down for evening dining choices and entertainment; but looses out on balcony size and swimming pool size! However, our next RCI cruise is on Oasis. It will be interesting to see how she compares.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This was my forth cruise with Princess, the first on this particular ship. We sailed from Southampton which is usually a joy but on this occasion it was a nightmare , Ocean Terminal and three hours to get on the ship, all those green and ... Read More
This was my forth cruise with Princess, the first on this particular ship. We sailed from Southampton which is usually a joy but on this occasion it was a nightmare , Ocean Terminal and three hours to get on the ship, all those green and red colour coded cards, there must be a better way. Once on board at least the state rooms were ready, but the buffet at the Horizon restaurant was not up to the usual standard and we were a little disappointed, not the best start. Our stateroom (B249) was lovely as usual, spacious despite being the cheapest grade, with fridge, hair dryer, twin beds ( friends sharing), lots of hanging space and a very nice shower room, room safe, TV with a lot of choice and all the latest movies free ( unlike P&O). Always kept clean and well stocked by the steward , fresh fruit free but pay for drinking water ( I bring my own). Room service free, breakfast in bed available ( didn't have). The ship is I think quite old but clean and with a style that will be familiar to anyone who has been on The Grand Princess or the Caribbean Princess. On this cruise they were having problems with the public toilets , they smelt odd at first and then packed up altogether, not a disaster as the Stateroom facilities were fine, may have been inconvenient for older or disabled cruisers. The food was not as rich in variety as on other cruise ships we have travelled on, although still well prepared and presented we found there was less choice and slightly less quality, this may be Princesses new standard or peculiar to this ship, we can't know. I do know that as a person who does not ( medically CAN NOT) drink alcohol I was given a vodka based cocktail having ordered a non alcoholic one which made very unwell for 24 hours ( not good). However the service in the restaurant was excellent, making us feel like valued customers, a treat for us. Unfortunately we found the Spa ludicrously overpriced and the spa staff very pushy and felt we were being pressured into booking treatments we didn't want, we didn't buy any even though we usually do. The shore excursions were also totally over priced but fortunately we just got off the ship and made our own way. Rotterdam was a particular gem, a free tour bus takes you from the dock into the shopping area, with an informative guide giving interesting information along the route, it also brings you back and all free. They do not tell you about this on the ship. At Guernsey we simply tendered off (a minor miracle in September, when it is usually too rough) and had a nice few hours shopping ( even on a Sunday some shops are open, particularly good deals on duty free perfume, watches and jewellery), so our two ports were very enjoyable without the extortionate excursions. We enjoyed immensely the musical show in the Princess theatre, with an around the world theme, westend quality, superb. A band played for ballroom dancing, a comedian who was funny (not blue) went down well, and movies under the stars with popcorn, milk and biscuits, as many cosy blankets as you needed was a treat. Disembarkation was well handled and everyone waited in comfort, unlike recent experience with P&O. We enjoyed our cruise but felt perhaps a little of the shine has gone, replaced by a hard edged materialism, the sell sell sell mentality is unwelcome, bring back the relaxed service where the customer feels special not like a consumer. I will be cruising again with Princess but will be careful to watch them mix my cocktails and I shall gird myself ready for the on slaughter of hard sell. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Picked a mini cruise as a cheaper alternative than flying to Bruges (with airport travel, hotels etc it's very affordable method to just take the mini-cruise!). We've been on Azura for a week to Norway so knew what to expect. ... Read More
Picked a mini cruise as a cheaper alternative than flying to Bruges (with airport travel, hotels etc it's very affordable method to just take the mini-cruise!). We've been on Azura for a week to Norway so knew what to expect. Plus we had a £100 voucher to use up. So-- it's good, considering what you pay. Having an inside cabin (what's the point of a balcony on such a short trip?), we were please with the accommodation. Actually felt larger than I had prepared for. Good dressing area and the shower isn't terribly tight (and I'm a big lad!. Fellow guests were fine in the main although it's going to be the case that on these trips you get people who would never normally cruise and that includes a large number of parties (stag/hen/birthday). The atmosphere on deck is extremely different and largely about drinking. Neither of us drink and to be honest we found that a little off-putting. Having sailed on the sister ship we knew the tricks (such as head away from main areas, eat in the alternative restaurant near the buffet for free and go straight to the bar on the top deck for drinks)- all the things others may not work out until later in their trip. Makes for a comfortable spacious experience. Embarkation was fine as was finding Bruges at the other end. I'd worried about the complication but need not have. You take the free shuttle to Blankenburg and from there buy a very affordable return train ticket to Bruges (at the weekend that was 4euro each!). Fab dual deck trains- quite fun. And to be honest everyone else is doing the same so follow the crowd! From Bruges station its a 20 minute walk to the tourist area which is fine on foot. Not sure this is one for the wheelchair user (that might be a silly assumption, so do your own homework on that). Bruges itself is a beauty. Despite the rain, river trip (about 8euro I think) and listening to the bells in the square was a perfect little day out. Ventura itself is fine. Very clean. Lovely areas. Hated the Glasshouse (because it's so beautiful on Azura and here it's just a half converted area that lacks style entirely). Food a problem in Glasshouse, not up to par with previous experience. Standard Freedom restaurant was fine. I'm sure everyone's said it before but with party-people onboard (some of whom are bored onboard!) this isn't a quiet and relaxing trip. IF you have an edge of snobbery about you (be fair, some of us do!), you're going to freak out a little. I saw one couple making use of the Retreat area-- could have done that in better weather to escape entirely. However, nobody was drunk to the point of illness (that I saw) and it was all in the aim of good fun. I might never forget being approached by a young lady and being asked for a smoke while she interrogated me about the destination however--- "Bruges, so is that in Europe-- Is South America in Europe--- so are we passing Ireland???" I am guessing she might not have been travelling for the sake of getting anywhere. My advice in summary: Don't take a mini-cruise to experience cruising. Do take a mini-cruise to get to a fine city for the weekend and leave your normal world behind for a bit. Top marks to P&O for the important things (feeding us all, cleaning the ship, having some fun). Do take the kids- what an amazing weekend for them, it's still very exciting to take a little trip like this. Only true complaint and it's a tiny one: We are AA so we really like the mocktails in the Metropolis bar. Why take their menu away on the mini-cruise and replace it with only alcohol? Well, we know why-- to keep them all drinking. To be fair it was brought on request but taken away again every time we'd ordered. Odd. Would we sail P&O again-- maybe. We're a bit bored of it after two experiences (Venture and Azura) and we might be the kind of people seeking something more refined. Cunard is next on the list (following an amazing Crystal, one terrible MSC, three 'ok' NCL and two average P&O). PS- I'm gluten intollerant and found everythind I needed (this time!) Oh... and if you are having a hen do-- go for it, looks like a giggle x   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We booked this 2 nighter as we had never sailed from Southampton and only ever done Caribbean Fly Cruises in December/January/February. The journey to Southampton was a good one and parking was relatively simple but we had asked for a ... Read More
We booked this 2 nighter as we had never sailed from Southampton and only ever done Caribbean Fly Cruises in December/January/February. The journey to Southampton was a good one and parking was relatively simple but we had asked for a disabled space (due to doors having to be opened really wide to enable my husband to get out of the car) but this was totally ignored and we had to park where the able bodied had parked. Not too much of a problem as we did arrive early and it was not too far to walk to the terminal building. Check in was fairly slow but this was to be expected as there would be 3600 people waiting to get on. We were on board by 12.45pm (we got there are 12pm) and went directly to our cabin which was very easy to find. On first impressions it looked good but fairly small considering it was a balcony cabin, we have had far bigger inside cabins on other ships. Everything was pristine and looked good. We did not encounter any problems with anything in the room everything worked as it should have done but the loo took a long time to flush, you had to press the button 3 or 4 times but not a major issue.We took the time to look around the ship before our luggage arrived in the room and were impressed with the majority of the areas around the ship. The sanctuary is absolutely beautiful but very pricey. To use the sauna and steam room it is $49 dollars but we were told it was for the length of the cruise - 2 days, way too expensive.Beer prices are very expensive $6 for a 440ml can of Boddingtons, $5.50 for a spirit and $1.95 for a mixer plus 15% gratuity on every drink. I personally object to the $11.50pppn gratuity charge added to your onboard account for tipping. Our stateroom steward was really nice and attentive so I would rather have given him the money personally and it not go into a pot and shared out. If Princess paid the staff a reasonable rate they would not have to rely on tips. You pay enough money for your cruise without being penalised by extra charges. The 15% gratuity on drinks is charged whether you have a waiter bring it or you fetch it yourself!!! We loved the ship but would not go with Princess on principle - its P&O all the way for us as you know what you are paying and its in sterling. Also when Princess take your credit card details at the start of your cruise, when it is converted to sterling from dollars you are ripped off again - P&O charge in £s the whole time so you know exactly what you are paying. When we booked this cruise we were told there was one formal night and one smart casual. When we got on board we received the Princess Patter in our room and it said both nights were smart casual. As we had taken formal dress we thought we would have stood out like a sore thumb so we checked with the Atrium staff and they said that the Captain was going to announce at Muster which night would be the formal one. At Muster no mention of the formal night so we asked an Officer and were told - We do not have formal nights on a 2 night cruise! We checked again with the Atrium and they said the same. The next night we received our Princess Patter and guess what, the dress for that evening was Formal???? If the Atrium and Officers can't get it right, I now know why on Princess Cruises people do not dress to impress!!On the evening before disembarkation (the formal night) we rang the Atrium and asked about putting suitcases out at night as on previous cruises this has been the norm. We were told they need to be out by 9 pm! Great, you are still having your meal and you need to run back upstairs and get changed out of your formal gear to put it in your suitcase and then go back in your scruffs to finish your meal - I don't think so. We knew this could not be right so we asked our Cabin Steward and he said put it out when you are ready, be it 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock whatever it will get taken downstairs. Now you know why I would rather have given the tipping money to the Cabin Steward, he knew more about procedure than the more highly paid staff and Officers!All in all I can only say the ship is beautiful but the way it is being run will not encourage me to go back on a Princess Cruise again. I have had one truly awful experience on Princess in 2005 and a good one in 2011 but this has just confirmed that I will be reverting back to P&O again and I will not deviate again.Sorry about the length of this review but I thought I would say it is as I see it!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013

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