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110 Southampton to Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Embarkation and disembarkation can only be described as shambolic. It seemed everyone was at the terminal at the same time and so no seats and long delays to embark. They give people a piece of paper with an allocated colour for ... Read More
Embarkation and disembarkation can only be described as shambolic. It seemed everyone was at the terminal at the same time and so no seats and long delays to embark. They give people a piece of paper with an allocated colour for disembarkation but once the first call was made there was a mass exodus because no checks were made about what colour people were allocated . How hard would it be to give everyone a coloured card like they do on the fly cruise so the staff can easily check your correct time. This caused long delays. There was an outbreak of norovirus for the last week luckily we escaped it. The staff worked hard in the second week sanitising everything and everyone. I know passengers should all be hygienic but unfortunately some aren't. However P&O need to take some responsibility as passengers and crew were not forced to sanitise on embarkation and when returning from ports nor when entering restaurants, the gel stands were there but a lot of passengers and crew just walked past. This was enforced only after the outbreak. Even after the outbreak security took hold of everyone's card to scan them when getting on and off and no gloves were used by some of the security. Surely this is a guaranteed way of spreading the virus!! There hadn't been such a big outbreak in this ship for some time so maybe P&O were becoming complacent. I have pointed out the same lack of sanitisation before to P&O and this has put me right off them. Ports of call were mostly good but Casablanca is not very nice a lot of people not bothering to get off, don't know why they persist on stopping here. Entertainment was a bit mixed Tom O'CONNOR was brilliant headliners WERE OK but seen better Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Just arrived back from 2 was on the P&O flagship liber the Britannia _ several issues 1. very poor slow service in main dining room 2 quality of food not what you expect t in main dining room - after 3 days we paid a premium to ... Read More
Just arrived back from 2 was on the P&O flagship liber the Britannia _ several issues 1. very poor slow service in main dining room 2 quality of food not what you expect t in main dining room - after 3 days we paid a premium to eat in other dining venues on board and the food there was great 3 . bar staff in all evening venues seem to be targeted on drinks sales and they all patrol the whole venue rather than have sections to look after. On some occasions such we were asked 6 times in 10 min if we wanted a drink - almost felt obliged to order like it wasn't ok to just sit and enjoy the entertainment 4. Lots of small detail made it inconvenient eg no staircase mid ship so lifts always full and slow. No bottle openers in cabin even though they sell you drinks with caps on. some staff were rude. No snacks with drinks. No takeaways cups on main buffet restaurant for tea and coffee. Coffee cards can only be used in one cafe you have to pay if you get a coffee from the other.....the list could go on. Finally to end on two positives - the food and service in the chargeable restaurants was excellent The entertainment and cookery club were outstanding Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We have travelled with P&O before and indeed in 2012 enjoyed a cruise on Arcadia. How things have changed on the Arcadia. The first negative was the dining arrangements, after one night of a table for 6 in the stern, we asked to be ... Read More
We have travelled with P&O before and indeed in 2012 enjoyed a cruise on Arcadia. How things have changed on the Arcadia. The first negative was the dining arrangements, after one night of a table for 6 in the stern, we asked to be moved because it was very difficult to hear anyone speak above the vibration noise. We were moved to another table and sat with four friendly people and in that respect dinner was a highlight. However, the food left a lot to be desired. The plated up meals were an insult and although I am not a big eater, one of the stewards' suggested I might like some chips to add to the parsimonious helpings. The staff worked very hard and unlike the suggestion that plating meals would free the staff up to talk to passengers, the opposite was true. In respect of entertainment it seemed geared to those passengers in their 80s, 1940s show tunes from singers of limited ability. The acts that came on for a few days were by contrast good. On one occasion we had recourse to use the medical service and we found the staff to be uncaring and the instructions given contradictory. It did feel on occasions to be like a care home and the ship broke its own stated policies in respect of allowing people with limited mobility to board the tenders to go ashore. Certainly,it would have been difficult to leave in an emergency as the hatches were blocked with mobility scooters. The future cruises staff told us that to avoid the preponderance of mobility scooters we should go on a fly cruise. Gratuities were an issue. It was not clear who got what when they were added to the bill. We had two explanations from staff and also heard a senior officer in the hotel department, saying it was to help the Asian crew demonstrate their income when applying for a mortgage in their own country! We like many others gave cabin and dining room staff a gratuity to reflect their efforts. Like ourselves, other passengers noticed the poor morale of the crew. We were not alone in experiencing rudeness. In response to comments on the end of cruise critique, we received a letter. What characterised it was to blame another department on the ship. Perhaps the lack of a purser overseeing the passenger experience by all departments could be blamed. In summary P&O have dumbed down, the cruise was not good value and only good dining companions and some of the ports saved the day. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We have been taking Cruise holidays over the last 10 years starting with Ocean Village and then Thomson's. This year we decided to take what we thought was a step up in class and chose The Anthem of the Seas with Royal Caribbean. To ... Read More
We have been taking Cruise holidays over the last 10 years starting with Ocean Village and then Thomson's. This year we decided to take what we thought was a step up in class and chose The Anthem of the Seas with Royal Caribbean. To be perfectly frank we were disappointed. We enjoyed the holiday overall but really didn't feel that this ship ticked all the boxes. We spoke to several seasoned Royal Caribbean travellers who all agreed but insisted that we should not be put off RC by this first impression. Every RC customer we spoke to all said this ship did not measure up to the Independence of the Seas. Our reasons are as follows: Staff to Passenger ratio is low creating service issues Dynamic Dining not to everyone's liking Staff friendliness was poor. Not enough senior staff visibility Luke warm food from one of the restaurants 3 Designer Watch Shops/Jewellers - Why????? Entertainment not consistently high. ( We will Rock you was great. The Gift was poor and Spectre's cabaret is very Marmite. I know this ship is moving away from Europe to the US next season and I get the impression this season is a trial to iron out any issues, but bearing in mind it launched in May and this is August. I will seriously consider returning to Thomson's. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
No nightclub on board like older ships, which makes things feel very fractured, no constant meeting place for young people. Unlike the venues for the under 18’s which are vast and spread over several floors. Bionic bar is a nice ... Read More
No nightclub on board like older ships, which makes things feel very fractured, no constant meeting place for young people. Unlike the venues for the under 18’s which are vast and spread over several floors. Bionic bar is a nice [expensive] addition but the robots kept constantly breaking down, there were only 2 days out of 14 where I saw both robots working at the same time and I had spotted numerous repair men numerous time when the ship was in port. The tablets used to control them are rubbish, the rfid needs swiping several times before it’ll even recognize you and even then the android app it runs is incredibly buggy. The internet is ok, faster compared to other ships. However it seems that, even though they are not inject adverts into webpages, they are inspecting content and even if you don’t pay for the internet access they still allow notifications through so you know what your friends are doing but you can’t reply. One of the DJs on-board is an absolute misery guts. He refused to play anything except his extensive collection of crap from the 1980s. I say crap because it was the same ten songs over and over again that no one liked in the first place. Any kind of suggestion of other music was rudely refused and people were de-persuaded from even approaching the platform he was DJing from with passive aggressive hand gestures. After realizing he wasn’t going to change his set the venue emptied within about 45 seconds. It’s almost as if he is just playing back a set that he’d recorded from earlier in the cruise. A brief look at his deck confirmed this. However, the other DJ on-board is amazing, and I would hire him out if I had a need. On this ship the Soda packages come with a mug coaster thing with an rfid chip inside. This means that you can help yourself to as much soda as you can drink from the self-service machines, only one cup full every 15 minutes. This unfortunately let to the sense that many of the waiters seemed to be annoyed that we were asking for drinks from them, and that we should use the self-service machines. Although this is obviously a cost cutting measure, which I respect because the whole running a cruise ship is expensive affair, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed with that lack of want of service. Did I mention the $15 gratuity automatically added every day? However I should say that other waiters and bartenders were brilliant to the extent that they would get me a diet coke on sight. I will be making an effort to tip these individuals as I see fit myself. There is a chronic overuse of flat screen televisions. You cannot go one minute without seeing one mounted on a wall or something. Yes they are useful outside the lifts and as menus in restaurants, but when they are just randomly hung in the corridors showing what can loosely be called art, I call chronic overuse. No one likes those crap screensavers that everyone had in the noughties. Same goes for the displays in the bionic bar area, behind the DJ post. Pointless. Maybe have a station to select what music plays in the bionic bar? Replace that crap DJ? Curfew is never enforced. I have seen numerous times children obviously below 17 moving about freely into the early hours of the morning. So much to the disregard of this curfew I have seen teenagers openly mocking the security staff when they are in the glass lifts changing floors looking down at security on floor 5. Unfortunately this is an only a game that can be won if you are under 17 but on this ship it seems to be a real problem. I can only hope these children were removed from the ship at the earliest opportunity, during a sea day. I would consider the art displayed on the staircases and lifts to be more or less crap. This is at its worse in the lifts. I’m sure Americans may find animals with human clothes and sunglasses poorly photos hoped onto them funny, but the rest of the world does not and considers it tacky. I’d rather have a mirror or just an empty wall instead. The art in the staircases is better but still pointless. Near floor 13 there are 4 canvas paintings of the soles of trainers. Why? What’s the point, there’s not even any creativity in it, as they are almost identical to someone who could have taken photos of them. There is nowhere open 24 hours for food or drink. I’ve yet to find somewhere that stays open all night. This may be a weird request but on other cruise ships this has been the pillar of a night out with friends on-board, post clubbing, etc. Yes, you could use the soda mug to use the self-service machines but I would not be seen dead with it in the evening/early hours because of its clumsy and childish appearance. The use of the words “Club 18-21+” as a marker for any 18+ activities is not cool. This is only made worse by the fact there is no club or venue on-board. It would also act to drive away any individuals who were looking to be social but wanted to avoid whatever “Club 18-21+” meant. So all in all, a mixed bag. But, with hindsight, I’d have rather taken the £2k and stayed at home for 14 days. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This was mine and my wife's 4th Royal Caribbean cruise having previously done 3 on the Independence of the Seas. We loved the Independence and chose the Anthem of the Seas as it was meant to be the long term replacement for ... Read More
This was mine and my wife's 4th Royal Caribbean cruise having previously done 3 on the Independence of the Seas. We loved the Independence and chose the Anthem of the Seas as it was meant to be the long term replacement for Independence. First impressions didn't go very well at check in, we had done the online check in and even took photos as instructed to save time, everyone was meant to have a 30 minute appointment slot but nobody adhered to this so when we arrived we were meant to be greeted by a representative with an Ipad to authorize our setsail pass and stamp it so we could embark immediately. Unfortunately there were not enough representatives and we were asked to sit in an area to wait for one to come to us, unfortunately there was no order to the queue and people who were arriving well after us were being seen before us. Eventually we got on board. First impressions inside the ship were very good, it was immaculately clean and had very spacious bars and public areas which is the one major fault that Independence of the Seas has, the bars are just too small. Unfortunately the only other positive things I can say about the rest of the cruise were 1. The excellent service we received from our room steward Edwin Bennett 2. The excellent service from the wonderful Jelena in Boleros bar 3. An extremely funny show by Bobby Davro who was onboard for one night. 4. Some lovely people that we met onboard Apart from that everything was negative in my opinion and if this had been my first cruise I would seriously be debating if I ever went on another one. The reviews on here that say that their was no rowdiness or no families removed from the ship are completely misinformed, the removal of families was confirmed by Captain Gus himself and a warning issued although it didn't really improve the situation. List of faults 1. We booked an large inside cabin with a virtual balcony, the cabin was hardly bigger than the small indoor cabin and the virtual balcony wasn't at the end of the room like a normal balcony would be, it was at the side , this was because the "large" room was very narrow so the bed had to fitted where you would normally find the balcony. All other rooms on our corridor that we saw with virtual balcony had them at the end of the room where they should be and also had extra wardrobe space and a sofa which our cabin didn't have. The layout of the room should be made perfectly clear upfront especially when you have paid more for it. 2. The food in the restaurants was good (not spectacular) but they were all very disorganized and we sometimes needed to wait for 30 minutes between courses. 3. The big problem on this ship is trying to get a sunbed in the sun, there were families / parties guarding upto 12 sunbeds from the crack of dawn until their family / friends decided to get out of bed around lunchtime, the so called "crowd control" police did nothing about this. There would have been enough beds to go around if people weren't so selfish and I for one do not want to get up at daybreak everyday to ensure a place in the sun. I wanted to relax and wasn't able to on this cruise. I did contact guest relations who told me to challenge the people myself and move the towels. Imagine what a scene that would have caused!!! 4. The facilities on the ship were great but the entertainment in the theatre and 270 venue were average at best for over 80% of the time. We will rock you was average. Spectras Cabaret was OK and The Gift was terrible, I managed to fall asleep halfway through something I have never done before. 5. Their was no control over the youths who left a mess everywhere , food in the lifts on the corridors, made fun of people especially disabled, ran riot at night to the point where several families were actually removed from the ship and a warning issued by the captain but nothing seemed to improve. 6. Poor staff to passenger ratios resulting in long waits for drinks and food, then unpleasant service at times when the waiters finally did arrive. I would have thought that this ship was a step up from the Independence of the Seas as it was double the price but if I had to compare the two the Independence would get an 8/10 and this a 2/10. It will probably get a good review from 1st time cruisers because your first cruise is usually always amazing irrespective of ship. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Hi there! I have left it for a few days before I write a review of said cruise as I wanted to get things in perspective and be as balanced as possible in order to be fair to RCI and Anthem as well as myself. I and my husband are Diamond ... Read More
Hi there! I have left it for a few days before I write a review of said cruise as I wanted to get things in perspective and be as balanced as possible in order to be fair to RCI and Anthem as well as myself. I and my husband are Diamond Plus members. We have sailed as a family,with clients and friends for several years and the majority of that time been extremely loyal to the brand. We first sailed with them on the Jewel of the seas about 10 years ago, a baltic cruise and it hooked us in! It was the most wonderful, relaxing, sumptuous treat of a holiday we had ever come enjoyed. The staff were exceptional. The food was world class and one was made to feel so valued. Subsequent cruises were of the same calibre. No here is the weird thing…..when I cast my mind back to all my sailings with RCI, I have better memories overall when I have met ship from other ports, having flown out to meet the ship. Yet, when I have sailed from Southampton, the dynamics, the RCI attention to detail, the staff (not all), the amenities and facilities all appear to be toned down or the atmosphere is akin to a boozing fest free for all!! I would go as far as saying that RCI almost encourage this with us Brits, in my opinion. Which, now leads me to address my opinion, for what it is worth on the rather majestic, elegant and innovative ship The Anthem of The Seas. Embarkation fantastic. Smooth entry on to ship. Eyes feasted and awe struck on the immaculate interior of the ship which is meticulously clean and spacial. Rooms are roomy and attention has been generous to all comforts one would need. I will add at this point, if you are a C and A member, check that you receive your extras and perks. As diamond plus, we seem to have been overlooked i.e., we were not given the use of bath robes and an invite to a reception was not forthcoming. I did not complain as I did not wish to cause any problems for a our welcoming Stateroom attendant. First night we ate in The grand restaurant. Dynamic dining was my chosen preference as it meant we could be flexible with our eating habits. The food was bland and lukewarm. The service was tense and almost robotic….just going through the hamster wheel motion…which to a degree I guess the poor staff are tuned into. As we left, we were asked to rate the dining experience. Hello? what the first night? It was awful, but I did not want to hurt their feelings, so we just made our thanks and decided we would not dine in there again. I fear, I am going to come across as fastidious but in a nutshel apart from one night in Silks, one night in Amercian icon….the food was simply quite awful. We ate in Windjammer which was passable but not enough selection or quality as can be seen and enjoyed on Independence and other ships. On a positive note, Wonderland and Chops Grill which you pay extra for and need to book in advance was outstanding and worth indulging in. We also ate in Devinely Dacadence as it was expertly cooked, low calorie food and the service was impeccable in a very tranquil and uncrushed setting. Peace and quiet to read a book? No! Given that we had no choice but to go in School summer holidays…it is a no brainer that crowds, all age groups, all tastes are your company for that time. The pool areas are possibly the worse designed on any ship I have ever seen. So if you are looking for a sun bed…Good luck! The chances are they will have been booked from as early as 5 in the morning….and when I say booked…I mean that folk are sneaking into the pool areas, staking their plot of paradise by placing towels and books random flip flops and leaving a rottweiller ready to attack any person who should so much as even covet their sardine packed sun bed selection. I kid you not, I never swam, as the pools were jam packed with all sorts of mayhem, standing room only. I kept cool by jumping under the shower which are close to the baby areas and hot tubs. This is the second cruise from Soton where I have had to sit on the floor of the pool deck and it is difficult to read as there is just so much noise with films showing,football and loud music. Service in the far reaches of the pool areas i.e. both ends of the ship is practically nil. So from that point of view alone….relaxing it is NOT!!! The shows including We will Rock you, Spectra, The gift and other acts throughout the 2 weeks were spot on and the theatre as well as the 270 lounge is a real delight and world class. The sea plex area is amazing and the facilities beautifully maintained and well executed, so fun for all the family there. I think that in order to benefit future cruisers buying into the Anthem, I would suggest holidaying off peak times and I suggest RCI stop cramming the ships to bursting point. They need to look again into the whole drinks package options as for some it is license to kill the liver and kidneys on the inside and transform their outer egos into abusive, bawdy loud subjects of Britain. Rather embarrassing for those of us who , whenever we travel, we wish to respectfully act as ambassadors for our land and country and exercise decent behaviour. The attitude of many of the staff I observed was unmotivated, not bothered and certainly very lapsed. I also got the impression that we were all in fact classed as the same as all other individuals no matter how one behaved. I certain know of some fellow guests who were indulged and cosseted…rewards in effect for loud complaining, persistent griping. Thos of us and I include myself who could have complained about the lack of appreciation for my loyalty to the brand (diamond plus) and having been on the receiving end of 2 verbal threats just seemed to be overlooked and brushed under one of the "lift" date panels!!! I have spoken to RCI and C and A . since our return and have duly cancelled another sailing with RCI for next year. I really don't feel they will have listened as they know that where they lose me and my family, they will gain more of the people they are indeed attracting and so it is Adieu from me to them for I am jumping ship and parting company. And for those who are not…Good luck! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This was our 3rd cruise with Royal Caribbean, but will be our last due to the drop in standards that we experienced. Many of the finer touches are no longer being provided. Even simple things like nibbles at the bar to accompany your ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise with Royal Caribbean, but will be our last due to the drop in standards that we experienced. Many of the finer touches are no longer being provided. Even simple things like nibbles at the bar to accompany your drinks was non-existent. Service in the Palace theatre was sparse with only 2 waiters serving the whole theatre unlike previous cruises when there were at least a dozen staff. Fine dining was not always up to standard. One evening a choice in the A La Carte menu was no better than a Kentucky Fried Chicken with Corn on the Cob. On another it was a piece of Quiche and a couple of lettuce leaves that looked as though it had previously been served at the Windjammer at lunchtime. No wine list was on display, provided with the menu or offer made for wine with our dinner. Drinks could be ordered but since when has fine dining included Bottles of beer provided to guests at the dining table. Even if the beer had been served in a glass it would have been more acceptable, but glasses were not even offered. Young children were allowed to run around the ship unattended and sit at bars late into the evening ordering soft drinks whilst we had to stand due to a lack of seating. An 02:00 curfew for children is too late and there should be times and areas set aside purely for adults who are travelling without children. It felt like no consideration was given to adults and children were given a free reign and went unchecked by both their parents and ships staff. The Ship constantly felt overcrowded in all areas and there were packs of teenagers roaming around or hanging out on staircases or open areas making it difficult for passengers to move around the ship. Even Adult only areas such as the Solarium pool was constantly being used by unsupervised children and young teenagers, and this went unchecked by ship's staff. On no occasions during the 14 days were we able to use the main pool area as it was overrun by children. We had prepared for 3 formal and 3 Semi Formal evenings, but there was not one single Semi Formal evening throughout the cruise. Despite notices each day, a large number of passengers wore shorts to the evening dinner and this went unchecked by the staff, who turned a blind eye. We had upgraded our drinks package to the Premium option, only to find cocktails we were drinking ran out on the 5th day of the cruise and it took until day 14 of the cruise to get an explanation. With very few exceptions we found that the crew had lost the personal touch we had experienced on our earlier cruises. Our room attendant in cabin 8681 was one of the few who really made us feel welcome and special. Lee, the Bar Manager of the R Bar went out of his way to talk to passengers and made everyone feel welcome by providing the personal service we had come to expect from our previous cruises. The bar staff in the Casino Bar were also very good and looked after their customers well, but the majority of the other staff made it apparent that their job was more of a chore to them and many could not even bring themselves to smile or make conversation in any way when serving. Throughout the whole cruise we were bombarded by photographers wanting to take pictures to sell to us. The whole experience was a constant marketing opportunity with the message based squarely on revenue generation. Even the Captain was announcing that he would be eating in the fine dining restaurants where passengers could pay extra for the experience. Excursion prices were extortionate and did not provide value for money. My wife works in a school, so we are unable to cruise during school terms, but we chose to cruise again as we like to have holidays of a high standard and etiquette. At times on this cruise it felt like it was more like Butlins afloat than a luxury cruise line holiday and many of the activities, such as a Belly Flop Competition, supported this view. We would not entertain going on another Royal Caribbean cruise again and would not recommend Royal Caribbean to our friends and family if this is the standard that is becoming the norm in order to fill large ships with holiday camp style holiday makers. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We came back today Took over two hours to get onto the ship due to tidal changes and we were given no water and majority of the people were having to stand even with some mobility issues To be fair , I can't fault the staff ... Read More
We came back today Took over two hours to get onto the ship due to tidal changes and we were given no water and majority of the people were having to stand even with some mobility issues To be fair , I can't fault the staff who tried their best and also enjoyed the shows BUT it was like cruising on the tube with crowds of people walking towards you and the swimming pools were so overcrowded it was untrue Only one swimming pool was outside so obviously with hot weather it was jam packed and the other pool areas had conservatory style roofs The adult pool didn't have a proper swimming pool which was a bizarre design in my eyes and so hard to get a sun-bed in the sun if not impossible Great facilities if you like to queue to use them and cant believe what we spend and how upsetting and disappointing it was and I have been on numerous cruises but not experienced what we did on any other ship and have been with all the major companies and to be fair found RC very good before this Have written to RC and hope they will have some empathy for this cruise experience that for me was far less than I expected and never paid so much for a cruise before Must say ship was beautiful but far, far too many people for me to enjoy it as I should of and would never book Anthem again Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We booked early and saved hard to pay for this cruise. Two previous cruises with RCI Liberty of the Seas were wonderful. This cruise was a disappointment and I would not cruise on the Anthem again or her sister ships. Too many passengers ... Read More
We booked early and saved hard to pay for this cruise. Two previous cruises with RCI Liberty of the Seas were wonderful. This cruise was a disappointment and I would not cruise on the Anthem again or her sister ships. Too many passengers and not enough pools or room on the sundeck. Standing room only in the one outdoor pool by mid day on cruising days. Not a 5 star experience. The quality of the food, entertainment and staterooms was generally as good as before but it was like being packed in like sardines on the sun deck. You can't put your drink down between the sun chairs which are mass produced and not all that comfortable. Just not 5 star! The pools are painted somehow like the old wall paper called Woodchip instead of tiled and the Jacuzzis seemed to be cooler and break down a lot. There are some good bits too....the food, the band Rock the boat is brilliant, the ifly experience which I recommend. Beware the drinks...you can get Fanta orange for the first few days as part of your soft drinks package but then it runs out and is not available ever again unless you are in a restaurant! The excursions are expensive so consider going independently but we think the fast train shuttle to Rome is probably worth it as the Anthem now docks further away from the railway station in Civitavecchia. It's about a mile away instead of just 500 meters. Beware at Vigo if you are planning visits as for no explained reason we left port at 2.30 instead of 4.30 meaning there was not much time to do anything. I went to Isla De Cies but only got half an hour before having to return. Beautiful island and we'll worth a visit. In future I will be choosing a new cruise line to see if they are better and will look more closely at the sun deck to passenger ratio...it really does matter. Good luck everyone in your cruising. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
I particularly chose this cruise for the destinations, and the fact that it would provide activities for my 15 year old Grand daughter on her first cruise. She was very excited as had her all about the many previous cruises her Granddad ... Read More
I particularly chose this cruise for the destinations, and the fact that it would provide activities for my 15 year old Grand daughter on her first cruise. She was very excited as had her all about the many previous cruises her Granddad and I had made with various cruise liners. She was greatly looking forward to her first Formal night, what a disappointment, not everyone in the dining room dressed formally and the expected "gala type dinner" was the same bland menu that appeared at every meal. Chicken or beef and sole or cod in various uninspired guises, accompanied by carrots and broccoli, most with an aged yellow fringe on each piece. We booked a large table in the hopes of meeting interesting dinner companions, but except for 4 nights sat in solitary splendor on our own at a table for 8.It would have been pleasant o be moved to join in at other tables that did not have a full compliment of diners. The expected spectacular evening shows were more of a " Explorers' got talent" level of entertainment, although we did enjoy the ice show. This is not to say the performers did not have talent, but a Saturday matinee does not hold the same entertainment level as an evening "show". The cinema showings were in the afternoon, when it was impossible to find any where to sit and watch and the other show was at 10 pm, a bit late for people with youngsters. The staff were attentive and friendly, but some areas seemed to have less than required for the amount of passengers requiring service. Our cabin was spotless and our steward excellent. We went down to the photography department but found that, other than the South African lady who was very friendly and helpful, the staff were very off hand, boarding on being rude. The guest information desk was always very busy, but only one or two staff to help. They must have been worked to a standstill but were always cheerful and helpful. Would I cruise with Royal Caribbean again? No. The ship was too crowded, no where to sit, no room to lean on the rail and watch the sea go by. The food was uninteresting and the fresh fruit and veg were of poor quality and variety, especially the poor withered constantly appearing broccoli. I do not like " Happy Holiday type camps" and am afraid that Explorer of the seas falls in this category Hi dee Ho sailors. Good points, the ship was very clean and people reminded constantly to wash hands and were channeled into disinfecting hands at all dining areas. Time keeping was excellent and disembarking was expertly accomplished. The fact that It was not the cruise line for me does not distract that if you are looking for a Holiday Camp at sea, then this is a cruise for you. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
July 4-18, 2015: It pains me to write this review. We love cruising (this is our 6th and we draw comparisons with Norwegian, Celebrity and Holland America) and I was counting down each of the 180 days from time of booking. I was so so ... Read More
July 4-18, 2015: It pains me to write this review. We love cruising (this is our 6th and we draw comparisons with Norwegian, Celebrity and Holland America) and I was counting down each of the 180 days from time of booking. I was so so looking forward to experiencing RCL and what might have been this most wonderful new ship. The good: only one thing was excellent and that was the fortune of having a junior spa suite - this was due to mistakes made by RCL prior to booking that resulted in an upgrade. Had we not had the larger space in a great location, I would say that the cruise would have been a total disaster. The complaints: 1). The ship is not designed to handle the 4600 passengers! I have never seen such chaos and SO little room for passengers in the pool and other public areas. The pool deck chairs are so tightly packed that you can not move your deck chair a single centimeter. You are literally on top of your neighbors while trying to enjoy the outdoors. Even getting a chair is an enormous challenge. I mused to my wife that getting chairs "reserved" on the morning of a sea day was worse than getting up early to go to work. It ultimately required getting up at 6:00 a.m. to beeline to the pool to place towels or other personal effects so that we could be guaranteed some outdoor time near the pool. This was also at your own peril as fellow passengers would invariably argue about "reserving" and the understaffed pool people would have no solutions. There is not much in the way of poolside entertainment - though I do not see how they could manage poolside entertainment given the limited pool space and the number of passengers. 2). Pool deck service: virtually non-existent save for the occasional person coming around offering drinks. Pool staff (as with most other staff) are simply NOT happy. So very few had cheerful attitudes and so very few made us feel like we were on holiday. 3). The Ship's Connection to the Sea: this is the only ship of the 5 prior ships that I was on, that had virtually NO connection to the sea. Let me explain: other ships have outdoor places to eat or to breathe in your surroundings, either at the bow or stern. The Anthem of the Seas seals you in, as if you are on the inside of an aquarium. There is no spot on the vessel which allows you to enjoy the vistas and intoxication of coming into or leaving a port. If you are not fortunate enough to have a balcony, you will almost never experience the sea experience for which you have paid thousands of dollars. 4). The inside of the ship: while the Anthem is certainly new and lovely, it has a claustrophobic feel. There is no grand foyer or majesty about the ship. Instead there are several compartments with small stairways that simply do not provide the grandeur that at least we've been accustomed to on other ships. 5). Dining - suffice to say that the dining was really ok - not amazing but not horrible enough to comment on (many other reviewers have devoted lots of space to critiquing the formula for dining). Our experience was more than acceptable NOTING that we reserved almost all of our nights well in advance and we chose additional pay restaurants on 5 occasions. We heard many many others complaining miserably about the food and dining experience. 6). The small things that make you feel important: on retuning from shore excursions it would have been a very simple thing to have a small tent set up providing weary returning passengers with cold towels and cold water to drink. This is done on all of the other cruise lines that we have used. RCL had nothing: this was particularly annoying given the 33-35 Celsius temperatures. It is a small thing, and would have meant much. 7). Technology: I am a bit of tech geek so I was ready to be amazed. I was not. The special wrist bands are a complete waste of time. They are only useful at the Bionic Bar, which worked at half capacity for the most of the trip. The gimmick lost its attraction very quickly for most. The North Star Observation is (generously stated) nice but I really think is a colossal bore. The Ifly (ripcord) was fun - once but not more. Bumping cars are for children as they really do not bump. 8). The best for last but this does not color the objectivity of the review. Upon disembarkation, RCL lost both of our 2 pieces of luggage. Literally 2 minutes before our RCL sponsored bus had to leave for Heathrow, one of the missing pieces was found - the other is still at the pier waiting to be found. Truthfully, the only staff worth their weight in gold was the staff trying valiantly (without success) to find our missing luggage. Final comment: we are not people who write reviews - this is our first. We had amazing experiences on our previous cruises, but if we can spare anyone the unsatisfactory experience that we endured by writing this review, it will give us some consolation. If you can "unbook" the Anthem of the Seas with impunity, it is strongly suggested that you do it. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Don't get me wrong, anthem of the seas is a great ship, it's large, and very technologically advanced, and in that state. Good. A lot of the things where good, maybe even great, but. The service is appalling and the dining as ... Read More
Don't get me wrong, anthem of the seas is a great ship, it's large, and very technologically advanced, and in that state. Good. A lot of the things where good, maybe even great, but. The service is appalling and the dining as well, compared to the NCL Epic, the garden cafe for example, amazing, always a variety of food and the service is good, however with the windjammer not one waiter could crack a smile in fact there was more cracks in the cups they served than the was in there faces. The food for breakfast was the same every day, lunch same every day, dinner, also the exact same thing every day (defiantly not recommended to the people that are fussy eaters.) but as the title explains. There was some excellent dining, take sorentos for example, amazing complimentary pizza, simply go up and ask what you'd like and they give you them, sometimes they even smile. As for shopping, there's not a huge variety of shops and 75% of all onboard shops are jewellers, the RCL gift shop has got some wonderful souvenirs but at extortionate prices. They also have "one time only sales" on the promenade that happen 2 times a weak, the duty free is extremely misleading, as such. Buying ciggarettes for example, if u ask the shop owners your duty allowances they all say the same thing, "there is no limit to what you buy as long as it was purchased In an EU country. But you can't, the UK border force States only 200 cigarettes per person as long as there 18+, so please be careful. I won't go into much more detail, what I will say is about on and off the ship, it's highly recommended that you DONT book excursions unless necessary , we all got off and took the shuttle to town for shops etc. in my mind it's the easiest way to do things. Also, embarking at Southampton was great 20 min max from the car park , however disembarkation is horrendous! Everyone is slotted a time slot, for example mine was 7:45 am, and apparently nobody is called until that time slot has collected all baggage. But that's also lies. The baggage reclaim system is horrible. There's no orginised system for this, everybody walks in. Tramples on your feet Rams you with trolleys, it was very bad. Shocking system. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Just returned from a much awaited cruise on the new ship Britannia. The ship is too large. The food was great and plenty of choice to suit everyone. That's the only good thing I can say about the cruise. If your looking for ... Read More
Just returned from a much awaited cruise on the new ship Britannia. The ship is too large. The food was great and plenty of choice to suit everyone. That's the only good thing I can say about the cruise. If your looking for entertainment....don't book to go on this ship. If your old and just want to sit around doing nothing and go to bed at 9pm every night then this is the ship for you. The theatre is tiny and 2 sittings in the evening is nowhere near enough to cater for 3,600 passengers. If you are prepared to go and sit in the theatre 2 hours prior to the start of the show then maybe you were one of the lucky ones to see a performance. The staff in the costa coffee shop were rude and ill mannered and did not want to serve people. Trying to get in a lift is virtually impossible so be prepared to walk up and down the stairs which are miles apart. The cabins are tiny and the balcony so which you pay a small fortune for the privalidge for are absolutely tiny, God only knows how families carry on in these rooms. There were many disabled passengers on the ship, day after day we would see these people in their wheelchairs waiting around for lifts while able bodied pensioners were floating up and down in them. This ship is so desperately poor in design for able bodied people let alone wheel chair users. The disembark net when we docked at Southampton was nothing short of downright dangerous. Hundreds of passengers crowded on the stairs and corridors, if there had been an emergency, people would have been in danger of being crushed, it was a force. Very little entertainment and very little to do. Anyone thinking of booking to go on a cruise should consider the azure which catered for all our needs and was passenger focussed. All in all I wish I'd never booked this ship and was happy when we finally reached Southampton. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Embarkation was very good , ship looks very dated , cabin small and poor wardrobe and cupboard space . Various toilets closed for several days and in general toilets not cleaned , only cheap paper towels to dry you hands . Bar service was ... Read More
Embarkation was very good , ship looks very dated , cabin small and poor wardrobe and cupboard space . Various toilets closed for several days and in general toilets not cleaned , only cheap paper towels to dry you hands . Bar service was very poor , having to stand waiting to get drinks and then being served with staff with attitude . when you could find a waiter you had to wait sometime for your drink , after making several complaints they did try and put more waiters at bars . Went into the star lounge which ended up like a working mans club , with families sitting in the same seats all the time and letting children run riot . When approached, the Service desk told me " children are allowed till 1.ooam ". Grannies playing games with children while band were playing and allowing children to run all over the dance area . People fighting to get drinks at bars . Problems with sun beds and people nearly coming to blows . This was a Butlins on the sea holiday , of which I do not want . I will be going back to Celebrity Cruises next time . On the plus side the stateroom attendant was excellent and so were the welcoming staff at the Windjammer. Food at lunch time was repetitive in windjammer , but breakfast was good .Main dining room was only half full , food was Ok . I feel sorry for most of the staff because obviously Royal Caribbean have cut down on staff . If you want a Granny booze cruise this is for you . Its certainly not for me . Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Embarked on above date, greeted with an disgusting smell. Which lingered along the whole of deck 15. From beginning to end of cruise the toilet facilities were apalling. At least one toilet (out of 3) were "out of service" for ... Read More
Embarked on above date, greeted with an disgusting smell. Which lingered along the whole of deck 15. From beginning to end of cruise the toilet facilities were apalling. At least one toilet (out of 3) were "out of service" for the majority of the cruise. Sometimes two out of three. Deck 16 had no working toilets on the deck. The food in cafe caribe/horizon court was poor. Often cold or unedible. Bagels (which were a rarity) were only useful to prop open your door. Getting a table was a daily ordeal. The cruise clientele on this ship were mostly OAPs. Lots of mobility scooters/walking sticks etc/poor mobility. Believe me, dont be fooled. Come dinner time, or in anticipation of a table, by god they can shift! I found some (not all, some were very nice) rude and even though you had paraded around both resturants for 3 laps, did not leave their table. Even though they had finished their breakfast etc and were JUST drinking coffee etc, would not offer their seat to accomodate my family. (I have 3 children). The entertainment was shocking. The caribbean dancers performances were quite good. However, the rest of the shows were lacklustre. I lost count how many times the same band/singer etc played multiple performances over the duration of the cruise. Before booking this holiday, I was assured by a princess representative that this ship is suitable for families. Well, I have to say I completely disagree. I explained I had previously been on Independance and she assured me "there was plenty for children to do". Please, dont waste your money. After 9pm there is nothing to do. If you think Blankety blank, wooden horse race, chat-up lines trivia, liars club is your idea of entertainment, then this is perfect for you. There is better entertainment in your local workingmans club. Absolutely embarrassing. No variety, for any age group just focused on the older generation. There were no chocolate nights as advertised. Oh, I forgot to mention the 50th anniversary celebrations which I was told they "would be pulling all the stops out for" consisted of balloons being released all the children didnt get a chance to get one, as all the adults (mostly old pushing down the stairs) to burst the balloons first! Yes, really putting all the stops out! Im sure you are really excited now!! What a treat!! Whilst embarking to Marseille (we did not know until evening before) we had to pay a shuttle price from port which was 8 dollars each way. The princess patter stated journey was 45 minutes. This was really only 20 minutes tops. Very misleading on princesses part and a complete rip off. Sixteen dollars per person was definitely not justified. Shame on you princess! The staff were very good, especially in the palm dining room. However, the meals were definitely not 5 star quality. The menu was mostly samey, with lack of variety and imagination. I feel misled in booking this cruise. It is nothing like the promo video, nor like the way the representative had described. Not suitable for families at all. Even my parents would not book again they are 58 and 62. They found it very boring. Princess has no hope in competing with the likes of royal caribbean. If you enjoy lazing by the pool on a dirty broken sunbed this is the perfect cruise for you. If you have children please do not book! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We have enjoyed other cruises with Princess (South Pacific,Rome to Sydney and Valparaiso to Rio via Cape Horn and the Falklands. On this trip it seemed like another shipping line. The Food was excellent as was the service (Palm Restaurant) ... Read More
We have enjoyed other cruises with Princess (South Pacific,Rome to Sydney and Valparaiso to Rio via Cape Horn and the Falklands. On this trip it seemed like another shipping line. The Food was excellent as was the service (Palm Restaurant) but we had to complain to the Head Waiter that although smart casual was the required dress code there were three separate occasions when men arrived in sandles shorts and tee shirts and were not sent back to change. Heigh folks! Why should anyone bother on the Princess Carribean or any other of the cruise ships which are so big they resemble housing estates on the water and attract people who have such different values?. Cabin B628 was clean and well maintained and up to standard but there it ended. The public areas and particularly the pool resembled a Holiday Camp. We reckoned that these areas were only as big as those on smaller ships like the Island Princess (of happy memory) but had to accommodate almost double the population. Consequently there was unlikely to be a place to sit for a pre-dinner drink - we took ours onto the promenade deck on four occasions. We spent most of the time on board in our cabin or on our balcony to get away from the mobs of people who,for example, after a show or dinner surged through the atrium areas like crowds at Christmas in Oxford St London. It was quite intimidating and one had to dive for cover or fight for space. It was interesting to observe that the design of the atrium no longer impressed with its height as extra space had been used above for cabins (one presumes) which of course allowed for increased population! Obviously many had been able to make the trip because it was cheap. ...and what happened to the shops and shopping? That was always a feature but again sacrificed for extra cabin space no doubt. Where was the Captain The drinks gathering for the Platinum and Elites was planned in advance for exactly the time when he had the excuse that he had to be on the Bridge to steer us through the Straits of Gib. I don't blame him wanting to avoid the event so really it was clever or pragmatic scheduling and incidentally, while on the subject, if one is going to go to the trouble of getting into a dress suit, would it not have been appropriate to have the dress night and the gathering on the same evening? . Next -The entertainment was really almost non-existent - a look through the Daily Patter left one completely underwhelmed and the offerings would appear to be targeting a children's holiday camp rather than a cruise patron. Undoubtedly the worst schedule we have ever encountered - infantile and at times patronisingly insulting to anyone with with one GCSE or more. There was no separate cinema and the only cinema was on deck "Under the Stars" which in the tropics can be OK but not on those cold evenings? Anyway, the sound up there was so distorted that you could understand only bits of the dialogue. Where were the new releases? One afternoon we wandered into the theatre and they were actually showing a film of old advertisements from the black and white days!! On deck even in the area of the Sanctuary, one could not escape the deafening and unending loud musical "wallpaper". Peace and quiet was at a premium. Various slots were advertised in the patter for groups but the facilities to meet were totally inappropriate. Dining in the self service was a battle and a case of adopting the strategy of find a seat if you can - book it with a coat or endlessly wander about and wait because of overcrowding at the normal peak times. We nicknamed this one the Magaluf cruise!! As far as we are concerned this was a sad and dramatic downgrading of the Princess standards we had come to anticipate. If this is the future of cruising on the Princess Line then as far as we are concerned we shall never reach Elite and our last Platinum cards will remain as a sad reminder of what good times we once had. A final thought? Although the majority of the passengers seemed happy with this type of holiday camp environment perhaps they have not had our good fortune in experiencing better. There maybe a niche market (perhaps) for a restoration of better standards even if we have to pay more. Personally, I am angry after this experience we would not be found dead on another ship of this size and much as we enjoy cruising, in the absence of what we once enjoyed,we will look for alternative holidays. Incidentally, I think I recall that we would be sent some sort of opportunity to offer feedback which would be sent to ones email. It never arrived so this will have to do instead. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We went with our good friends who we have done several cruises with before with Royal Caribbean & Celebrity, and decided to try P&O as we all liked the itinerary for this cruise on Ventura. Enjoyed all ports of call, although both ... Read More
We went with our good friends who we have done several cruises with before with Royal Caribbean & Celebrity, and decided to try P&O as we all liked the itinerary for this cruise on Ventura. Enjoyed all ports of call, although both ships tours we did were poor value for money. Lucca - lovely place and the 2 hrs we were given to explore was far too short and they could have easily given us at least another hour. The ship's 'Roma train to Rome' was expensive - £46 each, compared to the cost of taking one of the local trains ourselves (approx 12 euros). We did have a guide with us on this 'vintage' train- probably to make it seem good value!. But our massive disappointment was with the food - bland, repetitive and no where near the choice and quality we have enjoyed with other cruise lines. We tried the Beach House self service restaurant once and never again, worse than canteen food! The Waterside buffet service was only slightly better -when you managed to find a table. The custard can only be described as sweet water it was horrible. Dinner was taken in the Bay Tree and the food here was a slightly better quality but limited menu choice. Fish or steak usually overcooked so very dry as were the frozen chips served with the steak. After 2 weeks we never wanted to see a green bean or carrot for a long time as they were served up with many dishes!! Our waiters were polite but seemed miserable, as did lots of staff throughout ship (apart from our wine waiter who was always cheerful and Elizabeth our cabin steward was lovely and did a great job of looking after our cabin). The best aspect of the cruise was the entertainment- better than RC or Celebrity. Strictly dancers brilliant and Craig Revill-Horwood is not the mr. nasty he portrays - he's very friendly! All in all good and bad, but the bad outweighed the good and we will not be taking another P&O cruise again unless they drastically improve. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our first p&o cruise and will be the last.having sailed with Norwegian,princess,celebrity and royal Caribbean we thought we would give them a try.Good points first,embarkation was very good no hassle at all.Also overall ... Read More
This was our first p&o cruise and will be the last.having sailed with Norwegian,princess,celebrity and royal Caribbean we thought we would give them a try.Good points first,embarkation was very good no hassle at all.Also overall entertainment very good.Cabin steward first class.Thats all the good points,now for the bad...STAFF genrally not interested,not much in the way of interaction,pool service very poor and in most of the bars if you want a drink when a show is on forget it,they all too busy watching show.FOOD in Buffett area tasteless boring and because of poor design of food serving area it was like a cattle market,although in a cattle market the animals would probably eat less and be less rude.Main dining room service nothing more than ok,and tiny portions example beef with veg consisted of 1 slice of beef,2small new potatoes and 2 florets of broccoli.Also tinned peas,tinned baby carrots,packet mix sauces and general lack of quality,of course if you eat in pay extra venues the food is 10times better,could be a ploy to get you too spend more money.HYGEINE only once on whole trip was there hot water in toilets,and hand cleansers either empty or non existent,no enforcement at meal times as on other cruise lines.ATMOSPHERE around ship generally boring,and us Brits can be proper rude too.CABIN was ok nothing out of the ordinary,however if you are in anyway short,rotund,or in fact over 6 foot tall then the shower is very small.PRICES onboard are expensive and at every turn they try and get you to spend more. Overall very disappointed there is a lot customer services CANT help you with,and that says it all really.unfortunatly we are already booked on Brittania for July,but that's it for us. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This first cruise on the Explorer of the Seas after being revitalised was far from satisfactory. There were very many teething troubles and as passengers ( there were 8 in our party) we felt like guinea pigs. The food was very basic so ... Read More
This first cruise on the Explorer of the Seas after being revitalised was far from satisfactory. There were very many teething troubles and as passengers ( there were 8 in our party) we felt like guinea pigs. The food was very basic so say the least and the service was lacking. The worst thing was the general feeling of overcrowding especially in the bar areas which meant that it was impossible to get seated for pre and post dinner drinks. We had a drinks package that included beers, wines and sodas but not water even though it cost less than the wine. The new carpets looked very good but the ship still needs renovating especially in the staterooms, ours had rust at the bottom of the bathroom door and the furniture was in poor condition, the drawers were extremely noisy. The shows were very good especially the ice show, the crew were very friendly and our stateroom attendant was excellent. Our waiter was very attentive but was let down by the kitchen staff. This was our third cruise with RCI and could well be our last. Of our 6 companions 4 were first time cruisers and 2 were sailing with RCI for the first time. Imagine how embarrassed we were having recommended the cruise line, I have to add that the 4 first time cruisers will probably not cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
There are many detailed reviews on the site and therefore, I will keep mine brief and simple. This was our 12th cruise over all and we believe the ship was over hyped and heavily marketed, but sadly it under-delivered big time. ... Read More
There are many detailed reviews on the site and therefore, I will keep mine brief and simple. This was our 12th cruise over all and we believe the ship was over hyped and heavily marketed, but sadly it under-delivered big time. Pros: Nice decor Very good food Comfy beds Respectable selection of shops on board Good selection of books in the library Good selection of on-demand movies and shows (but not many live tv channels) Limelight lounge - Kiki Dee performance was a highlight Cons: (first of all, let me say that there were endless broken down/out of order facilities/amenities on the ship to list them all- from broken down lifts to out of order boiling water/tea machines to broken toilettes .....and the list goes on - hard to believe it's a brand new ship) Small balcony, very dirty with seas salt residue all over the balcony furniture and windows, the balcony was never cleaned Compact on-suite Tiny casino "Some" rude staff Very few onboard activities Expect to pay for port shuttles Very weak hygiene enforcement No mid-ship staircase Very squeeky areas oo the ship and in our cabin The theatre entertainment was ok but the music was very loud and the seats were narrow and uncomfortable. Get there atlast half an hour before the start of each performance - Big ship and not many seats to accommodate everyone. Would we sail on Britannia again - not in the near future. We paid a lot of money for this cruise and expected a lot from Britannia but sadly we left feeling over charged. Sorry! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
There are many detailed reviews on the site therefore, I will keep mine brief and simple. This was our 12th cruise over all and we believe the ship is over hyped and heavily marketed, but sadly it under-delivered big time. Pros: ... Read More
There are many detailed reviews on the site therefore, I will keep mine brief and simple. This was our 12th cruise over all and we believe the ship is over hyped and heavily marketed, but sadly it under-delivered big time. Pros: Nice decor Very good food Comfy beds Respectable selection of shops on board Good selection of books in the library Good selection of on-demand movies and shows (but not many live tv channels) Cons: (first of all, let me say that there were endless broken down/out of order facilities/amenities on the ship to list them all- from broken down lifts to out of order boiling water/tea machines to broken toilettes.....and the list goes on - hard to believe it's a brand new ship) Small balcony, very dirty with sea salt residue all over the balcony furniture and windows, it was never cleaned on our cruise and if I recall correct it was already dirty when we got on. Compact en-suite Tiny casino "Some" rude staff Very few on board activities Expect to pay for port shuttles Very weak hygiene enforcement No mid-ship staircase Very squeaky areas around the ship and in our cabin Hygiene is very lax The theatre entertainment was ok but the music was very loud, and the seats are tight. Make sure you are there no less than half an hour before every performance. Theatre cannot accommodate everyone in one go. Would we sail on Britannia again - not in the near future. P&O need to sort Britannia and re-consider their pricing plan - competition is fierce and for the price, I can’t say it’s value for money. Look elsewhere. Sorry! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Dirty balconies, rude staff and many technical issues...Where do I begin? We have just returned from cruise B504 departed 11APR 14 nights around the Mediterranean. This was Britannia’s third official sailing, but it felt more like ... Read More
Dirty balconies, rude staff and many technical issues...Where do I begin? We have just returned from cruise B504 departed 11APR 14 nights around the Mediterranean. This was Britannia’s third official sailing, but it felt more like a shake down cruise. We had a Balcony room on E deck (10th floor)  Bullet points are here with the Pros and Cons. Below this I have gone into more detail of each area to explain my findings, in my own opinion. Pro’s Lovely decor. Excellent food. Excellent buffet design with plenty of seating. Limelight lounge with entertainment. Good specialty dining in general. (additional cost) The cookery school (additional cost) Con’s Overpriced and under-delivered. Some rude staff. Dirty (balcony was never cleaned inside or out in two whole weeks) Covered in salt constantly. So many technical issues for a new ship, too many "out of order" signs. Hygiene extremely poor on board especially at buffet restaurant. Extremely small balcony’s with too much furniture for it’s size. Small theatre for size of ship with extremely poor sound quality. Late night shows can be heard in your room (we were on deck 10 and theatre is Deck 6&7!) They were more concerned about show volume than guest sleeping - see comments below. No staircase mid-ship - causes long delays in elevators (those that are working and not out of order!) Not enough entertainment for sea days inside (especially considering its routes can encompass a considerable amount of poor weather) On searching for a cruise for our holiday and after seeing all the publicity on this ship, I thought this would be the cruise for us. I work within the Travel industry and have experienced many different ships with various cruise lines. Overall, I feel this cruise was overpriced and that P&O where trying to cash in on its sudden popularity due to the publicity. I feel we were charged a premium price but not delivered a premium service. When speaking with other passengers, we found they had paid even less and were still unhappy. Due to service levels (or lack of) this is the first ever cruise I have removed gratuities from the room bill and chosen to give them directly to those who deserved them. Unfortunately some staff let the rest of their colleagues down with their attitude and rudeness . I am a polite person and respect those in the service industry and thus expect a standard level of service back, especially when you are paying for it. AGE GROUP On this cruise the general age group was of the mature ‘retired’ age range. We heard many of them saying how the ship was aimed at a younger age group and for families. I am surprised at this, as we felt the ship was certainly not family orientated. Firstly the ships’ decor is not that of a child friendly environment but,  more of a yacht club or boutique hotel with all the cream coloured and light shades of furniture which would easily pick up marks as you would except from younger children. The ship decor suits all ages groups from young adults to older mature ones - but certainly not children. Having said that,  the theatre entertainment was aimed more towards a younger age group (20-50). The songs and volume and graphics may appeal to a younger audience, its very loud and modern. We heard several passengers on our cruise discuss the entertainment and they did not know any of the songs or understand what was going on. Even the pre show background music was very modern (rap/pop). "OUT OF ORDER!" I have never been on a ship with so many "out of order" signs throughout the duration, and red and white tape blocking off areas due to some incident or maintenance. Lifts broken, hot water taps for tea broken, sinks for washing hands prior to Horizons broken (major hygiene issue), electric sliding doors broken (where you enter Horizons). All of this had an impacted on the enjoyment of this cruise. Especially where lifts were concerned for many of the passengers. I have never been on any ship where I have overheard so many complaints and much disappointment.  CABIN We had a balcony room (with seat) Forward on  DECK 10 - E deck. The decor was very pleasant and the bed was extremely comfortable. Good size flat screen tv. Good choice of films and tv shows to watch on demand, but the live channels are lacking. Only BBC news and SKY news of current interest to watch.  A little more choice here would be good to have. Room equipped with kettle, tea/coffee and biscuits. All nice to have. Hairdryer in vanity draw.  Shame there are no individual reading lights at the head of the bed - you can only have the overhead lights on to read which can interfere if one of you wants to sleep and the other doesn’t. Clothes 'walk-in' storage was a an excellent idea been closed off from main room - plenty of hanging space and a small cupboard with shelves and a safe for this items that don't need hanging. Bathrooms - very compact and tight but well equipped!  Lovely White Company products for hair and shower - very nice indeed. But trying to open and close the glass shower door while standing in bathroom - takes some various forms of contortionist moves to accomplish! The shower is of a good size, it's just the floor space of the bathroom itself that it not. Balcony - extremely small. One pays a premium price for a balcony room so this was very disappointing. 2 reclining chairs (with no room at all to recline) That was a clever design fault! a foot stool and table. The foot stool is a waste of space as there is no room to use this or the table! On previous cruises we have had room service and eaten breakfast on the balcony, but unfortunately due to its size we were unable to enjoy this on Britannia. As previously mentioned above, the state of the balcony was disgusting. For the duration of the cruise the balcony was never cleaned or washed. We had rust appearing already and the glass and furniture was constantly covered in salt. The only way to sit out there was to place towels on the furniture, but even then your clothes would end up covered in salt, even if you lent on the balcony railing for a moment. We paid for a balcony and could hardly use it due to its size and filthy condition. I would suggest a cabin higher up (if you don’t mind waiting for the lifts or walking!) As when retiring to bed early for an early morning port call the next day, the late show in the main theatre could be heard in our room! When reporting this to front desk, they informed us that the entertainment team where aware - but that it would alter the enjoyment of the show if they reduce the sound volume! They really didn’t care about my welfare for wanting to sleep on my holiday! The first couple of nights we had poor sleep due to the amount of creaking noises in the cabin as the ship swayed crossing the Bay of Biscayne, we managed to silence some of it by inserting tissue into the gaps between walls and ceilings! Fortunately with calmer seas we didn’t experience that again until entering the english channel on the way home. I was therefore unable to call a technician to come and listen to it as suggested by the front desk , I just wish I had reported it soon after the first 2 nights. HORIZONS BUFFET On a positive note - Britannia has the best layout for a buffet restaurant I have seen. For a large ship it flows very well and we always found a table easily, even at busier breakfast periods. Hygiene, like much of the ship - is not enforced here. On embarkation staff were asking us to wash/sanitize hands - but this was the one and only time in 2 weeks! This is a hazard waiting to happen. Someone was even ill near us at one breakfast time and the area are was soon taped off with the familiar red and white tape. But still no hand washing was enforced. Utensils at the buffet were sticky and felt grimy - and I don’t think this was from food residue. I found myself frequently using the anti bacterial even after touching something!  Come on Britannia, other ships can do it, why can’t you? POOL DECK BAR AND GRILL P&O should be commended for their new GRAB and Go options. A Fridge much like those found in a Pret or other coffee shop, stacked full with sandwiches, warps and salads - lots of healthy options and desserts - you can literally grab and go to eat on deck or back in your room. They also had little wrap ‘paste’ options opposite to grab - all very nice. Lunch was open from 12-4 each day. Prior to this a hot breakfast roll meat and veg option were available to grab at your convenience.  The Pizza Grill had two types of pizza on offer each day. These varied in quality the whole time and where sometimes rather pale and seemed under-baked - anaemic. The Burger Grill had ready made burgers, hot dogs and fried chicken to pick up with bowls of fries or salad and condiments. Again a great idea to grab for speed without having to wait, but sadly on a few occasions we found the burger meat to be very ‘gristly' SPECIALTY DINING The specialty restaurants we tried were very good indeed. Reasonable priced on a two week cruise, but I understand more expensive on a shorter cruise (which would make me think twice before using)  We never tried EPICUREAN as this was of much higher cost and always appeared near empty.  We visited SINDHU twice (once each week) this was excellent. The service was extremely slow on our second visit but was always polite and the food was of excellent quality and presentation. We eat in the BEACH HOUSE one night (they convert an area of Horizons for this) this was ok but lacking in atmosphere as you still felt part of the buffet restaurant. You already pay a £5 cover charge for this one and yet certain dishes also have a further supplement. We chose to visit the LIMELIGHT LOUNGE one night for the evening of food and entertainment. The special guest singer we saw was Kiki Dee, and she and her partner Carmelo Luggeri were excellent. It was our favourite night of the cruise. A fantastic show, enjoyed alongside an excellent meal with very friendly service. The MARKET STREET CAFE offers delicious pastries by the amazing Eric Lanlard but sadly it always seemed very empty of customers. Lovely desserts, but a hard product to sell on a ship that has costa coffee two floors above offering free cakes/pastries. The GLASS HOUSE - A restaurant with a supplement. However, We tried to order lunch here one day and I asked the waiter if it would be possible to have the trio of mini burgers (1 beef, 1 Lamb and 1 Pork) and if they could substitute the ‘pork’ one for another beef one instead due to dietary requirement. His response was ‘The chef will not accommodate and can only offer what is on the menu’. We cancelled our order and left immediately and went to eat in the free buffet upstairs. Surely in a chargeable restaurant, where the food is prepared to order, they could accommodate a simple request like that instead of forcing you to eat a meat you cannot. And pay extra for it! JAVA - Serving Costa coffee. Nice atrium seating inside with and outside deck area too - excellent on those pleasant sea days and a brilliant spot for dolphin spotting. Mixed service here. MAIN DINING - MERIDIAN  Our main dining we were assigned, was in the Meridian Restaurant on Freedom dining. When turning for a table, the maitre d’ Mohammed would give us a bleeper and we would be ‘buzzed’ within 10 -20 minutes for a table for 2. It was never much of a wait and he was always very friendly and professional. The service was always polite here and the wait staff were very good, it was just slow and that’s why we only ate here 3 times. The food choice was good and very enjoyable. ENTERTAINMENT Where was it? The atrium was lacking an atmosphere and could have really benefited from a classical quartet like many ships or even a nightly pianist  (a pianist only appeared here on one or two formal occasions). I was surprised that Britannia did not have classical quartet as I think they'd suit the ship well. The various singers around the ship were of mere ‘karaoke’ bar quality.  Main Theatre. Even the main shows in the theatre had sound quality issues with the singing. Some of the general cast sang better than the 4 billed main singers. If you wanted to see a 45 minute show you had to allow more almost 2 hours of your evening as you had to be at the theatre 40-45 minutes before a show if you wanted a half decent seat and not one in the front rows or to the far side or to be split up from your travelling partner. The sound was very poor and often too loud. On many occasions you could not hear the singers, be it a guest singer or Britannia employee, the instrumental parts were too over-powering. We noticed many people leaving shortly after a performance had begun, on one night we did the same as could not we could not tolerate the volume. The seats were far too narrow and quite uncomfortable. During sea days there was very little entertainment choice for people. If the weather was poor outside and due to the vast number of cabins squeezed onboard, the public areas became very congested. We were happy to sit in our cabin reading, but would of loved the option to attend classes or an art studio. Other ships I have been on have offered painting classes and things such as flower arrangements and other crafting classes of interest. Britannia seemed to concentrate on spa seminars and jewellery talks. I know all cruise lines do this - but normally there is more on offer. The Library on board had a good choice of new books but you had to get in early as it’s very small considering the size of the ship. And unlike other ships, hardly had any seating. In fact it can only accommodate about 6 people at a squeeze. The Crow’s nest was an excellent venue, beautiful decor and with wonderful surround sea views. A good bar drinks menu and a perfect place to enjoy a Gin and Tonic with over 20 types available! The Silent Pool Gin was our favourite. However in the evenings we could not get a seat after a show due to its popularity The Studio offered recent movies each evening in cinema style. This perhaps could have been utilised more on sea days. The Crystal room offers a dance floor for classic dancing and is a beautiful area with lovely seating on deck 7 - we felt it was more of a walk through for people form mid ship to the staircase upwards from deck 7…we used it ourselves only for this purpose. Like The Market Cafe, it seemed like a waste of space as day or night it was never busy at any point on our cruise. Even with a more mature passenger group, there wasn’t much of an uptake for the classical form of dancing. The Casino was tiny, but this is usual of a ship geared to the UK market, so was not surprised. This said, I would have expected a few more slot machines for the size of the ship. COOKERY CLUB Run by Rob Cottam, this was an excellent experience to partake in. We paid £100 per person for the chance to have a cookery course with Michelin star chef Atul Kochhar. We thoroughly enjoyed it and certainly learnt a few new things. We cooked  soft shell crab for starter and crispy duck breast over Punjab stew for main, a pleasure to eat it afterwards - delicious!  Rob and the other staff in there we all extremely helpful and knowledgeable and made the whole afternoon something we shall not forget. Thank you. OUTSIDE DECKS Plenty of outside space and seating areas. The ‘Silent Zone’’ for adults only was lovely - Peaceful with it’s own pool. There are many loungers around the outside decks 16-18 and choices of areas to sit. The promenade for walking around on deck 18 is an odd position, and when trying to walk to be healthy - we frequently found ourselves breathing in vast quantities of exhaust fumes from the Funnels . Soot could even be seen covering the fabric of the outdoor sofas, which were dotted in black and brown, as was the deck floor itself. They looked in an awful state for a ship on its third sailing. The walk around the deck was open to the elements so best used in dry weather.  SERVICE Very mixed service. Some were outstanding and others seemed lacking or even quite offensive at times. We decided to pay for a P&O shuttle bus in Valencia which ended up dropping us in the wrong area of town with no information about where we were or where to go, and when we asked the driver if this is the place to catch the return shuttle bus, the driver spoke no English but signalled by pointing to the exact spot her dropped us and repeatedly saying “here, every 20 minutes". My initial reaction was to take a photo of the bus, the square we were dropped us on my mobile. When we were ready to return back to the ship in the afternoon, we managed to return to the same spot the bus had dropped us at and waited for 45 min with no sign of a single shuttle bus - this caused us to panic and after about an hour, we contemplated hiring a taxi back.Eventually, we decided to walk up the road and were able to find the right pick up/drop off area (half a kilometre up the road). Immediately, we informed the P&O rep who was aware of this error as it occurred on the first two busses that morning, yet they never bothered to send any busses or staff at that  drop off point to inform passengers! When we reported this stressful experience to the front desk employee, her immediate response was  ‘what appears to be the problem then?’ followed by, “The pick up point was printed in your Horizons Magazine". Horizon’s did indeed state the street name, and we were on the correct street, but the street is no less than 5 km long! We had returned to our drop off point.  Horizons did not give an exact location of the drop off/pick up point. 48 hours from reporting this to the front desk, we were finally refunded - but this was not offered, it was demanded by us. It’s the least they could do for the stress they put us through that afternoon, this was supposed to be a relaxing holiday. It was very irresponsible of P&O to allow such an error to happen.  The best service came from the cabin steward Hogan and from the wait staff in the Horizons buffet. Always greeted with a smile and helpful attitude. CONCLUSION It appears Britannia cannot make up its mind which market this ship is geared towards. I understand the marketing team had joined us onboard at the last port of call in Valencia, I’d say they have a tough job ahead. If you are going to automatically add gratuities then staff should be polite at all times, gratuity is a reward for a job well done,  it's earned and should not be expected. All the technical issues need fixing. Staff need lessons on politeness and attitude to customers, especially at the front desk. The hygiene/cleanliness issue (or lack of) needs to be dealt with immediately as currently the condition of the ship will only deteriorate sooner, if action is not taken immediately.  Perhaps the balcony cabins should be priced more competitively for their size. (As unfortunately it’s too late to do anything about enlarging them!) It’s such a shame as this ship has the potential to be something big. P&O needs to get working on it now and remedy these issues immediately. There appears to be a pattern with all the reviews on this ship and its rating is dropping by the day. If I were to read the reviews here now, as I always do before booking a cruise, there is no way I would want to spend my heard earned money on such a vessel. At its current standard and pricing, I would advise against booking this ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
The good things: Food and staff attitude. The bad: Woefully insufficient lifts and stair cases. Those in wheel-chairs had a torrid time; the able-bodied also when giving up their ride to allow the disabled to travel. In the mid lift ... Read More
The good things: Food and staff attitude. The bad: Woefully insufficient lifts and stair cases. Those in wheel-chairs had a torrid time; the able-bodied also when giving up their ride to allow the disabled to travel. In the mid lift section there were no stairs to use as an alternative. How can they get something so fundamental wrong! Cabins small and no provision for individual lighting in bed. Not possible to view a film in "The Studio" without heads or equipment hanging from ceiling in the way. How can anyone design a cinema where there is no unobstructed view of the screen! Bridge players turned up at the Marlow Suite expecting provision for un-hosted bridge ( the daily paper promised provision for Whist and other card games). Bridge players were informed that there was no provision for bridge; not even playing cards. Worse than that, we were not allowed to take any of the decks of cards provided for Whist and we were not allowed to play in the same room as the Whist. It later became apparent that it is P&O company policy to deter any one from playing bridge; a letter from the captain in reply to one from a passenger said so much; but the captain did say that he would make shore management aware. In the main theatre, The On-board Britannia dance troupe were very good but only performed a few times on the whole 15 day cruise. Apart from a very good ventriloquist the rest of the performances were either individual singers or small groups of singers. Every performance was ruined by rediculously high volume to a level where it hurt one's ears and distorted the sound. The shops stocked a very limited range of products at very high prices so anyone looking to effectively use their "on board" spend would be vary disappointed. I could go on and on, but it is sufficient to say that I WILL NEVER CRUISE WITH BRITANNIA AGAIN AND I WOULD DETER ANYONE ELSE FROM DOING SO. If this is the new direction of P&O policy then I will never cruise with them again; having cruised with them10 times previously. P&O have bought a lemon here and I cannot see how the structural problems can be remedied without some for of refit. It is a crying shame the company has come to this! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was my first cruise and I was very disappointed. The Independence of the Seas is a huge ship but it was so overcrowded and expensive. The good points for me were: 1. The Food We were on My Time Dining but did not use the formal ... Read More
This was my first cruise and I was very disappointed. The Independence of the Seas is a huge ship but it was so overcrowded and expensive. The good points for me were: 1. The Food We were on My Time Dining but did not use the formal dining room, instead we used the Windjammer Café. We did not once have trouble finding a table although it was always very crowded. I would not call it "Fine Dining", more "Home cooked food" but there was plenty of it and plenty of choice, all you can eat. Very impressed, but very disappointed that the Windjammer was not open 24 hours. 2. I felt the service throughout the ship was excellent. 3. The entertainment was excellent. Joff Eaton was very good and there were some excellent acts, we particularly enjoyed Claire Vinkesteijn and the very funny ventriloquist. 4. Enjoyed the ports of call very much, especially Barcelona and Palma. However, there were a few down points: 1. We booked an interior stateroom. We looked at photos in the brochure and on the website and thought they looked okay. What a shock when we got to our stateroom. Stateroom? - more like a cell. I suffer quite badly from claustrophobia and this cabin was hell for me and brought on panic attacks. Unfortunately, the ship was full so I was unable to upgrade. As for the shower cubicle, I have seen bigger ones on planes and trains. How some of the "larger" guests cope with this tiny space I dread to think. However, the stateroom was very quiet and we heard very little noise from other guests or elsewhere. 2. Most of the guests seemed to be in wheelchairs or mobility scooters, elderly or of limited mobility. Most of them tended to stop suddenly in front of you or moved like snails. I dread to think what would happen in an emergency! There were also quite a few babies and toddlers on board (is a cruise a suitable holiday for a young child?) and they seemed to delight in screaming, yelling and bawling in the Windjammer Café and again in the theatre. 3. The ship was very crowded. It was easy enough finding a sunbed on deck during the day. We used the Solarium most of the time, it was a bit more peaceful in there. However, at night, you just could not move along the Royal Promenade. It was far too crowded and as usual, people standing in the way or stopping in front of you. 4. Everything was SO expensive. This is not a cruise for people on a budget. It seemed to me that RCI have explored every avenue in order to get the maximum amount of money out of you. Overpriced drinks, shore excursions and shopping. Cover charges in most of the restaurants. Also everything is in US Dollars so if you don't know the exchange rate, you are a bit stuck and I am sure some people will get a nasty shock when their credit card bill arrives! 5. Smoking. I wanted to go to the Casino at night. However, on the first day we went to the Casino to be met by a horrible smoky fug. That was it, no more Casino. There was a no smoking area but the smoke had wafted across there too making it impossible to stay there for more than a few seconds. There was also a lot of smoke wafting across from the smoking area on Deck 11. All in all, although we did enjoy some of the cruise, it was a huge disappointment. Would I go again - definitely NOT. The was my first cruise and it most certainly is my last. This is a cruise for wealthy, elderly people for whom money is no object, or those who have more money than sense. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014

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