We tried cruising for the first time 2 years ago, aboard Britannia, and it was absolutely brilliant. Modern ship, lots of entertainment, great technology in the cabins and despite the volume of people queuing was not an issue. We fancied ... Read More
We tried cruising for the first time 2 years ago, aboard Britannia, and it was absolutely brilliant. Modern ship, lots of entertainment, great technology in the cabins and despite the volume of people queuing was not an issue. We fancied going to Russia so thought we'd again use P & O this time aboard the adult only ship and the only one with an indoor pool, what a terrible mistake that was.
Embarkation aboard the ship was great, very easy and smooth. Cabins were ready at 2pm which we were very impressed with. Straight to the cabin and unfortunately we were really disappointed. The cabins was very clean and the balcony was bigger than on Britannia, sadly that is where the positives end. The bathroom suite is canary yellow, not a big problem but outdated to say the least and the bathroom had a bath as opposed to a stand alone shower. If you are taller than 5' then the bath is of no use what so ever as you must choose between bathing your legs or torso as opposed to both. The cabin itself had only 1 electricity socket ( amazing that that is possible in this day and age), the tv was terrible (yes you don't go on holiday to watch tv) and the information channel regularly down. You also couldn't watch things when you wanted, ie presentations aboard the ship or films etc. The cabin was decorated in a 1980's style, complete with faded marks where pictures had once been hung on the walls. I was astounded to hear that the ship was only commissioned in 2005 !.
Onto the dining and this was the worst of all. We as a family are definitely not food connoisseurs and are more than happy to eat simple food rather than something fancy. We on several occasions ate dinner in the horizon buffet and to compare it to school dinners would be insulting to schools nationwide. The food was bland, tasteless and at best lukewarm. A sampled a sticky toffee pudding one night and there was no sugar in it, just bland over cooked sponge. The meat was suspiciously past its best and one occasion the staff got a thermometer out and swiftly all the meet was removed from the counters. It was genuinely terrible, lunchtime food was not much better and breakfast was a daily competition to try and find a table amongst the hoards of people sat occupying tables and not partaking of the delicious food on offer. The alternative was the main restaurant, which I have to say was excellent, but because it was so good (and the buffet so poor) it was always busy. We were freedom diners so this inevitably meant each night we had to join a queue to get a buzzer and wait for a table. Whatever time you went this happened (so there was no way of avoiding it), on average we waited around 20 mins for a buzzer and then up to 40 mins for a table.
Entertainment on board was really varied. I understand they were catering for a certain demographic but the incessant cross selling be it foot insoles, cd's, tat from the gift shops, excursions, photo experiences and even a tour of the ship was exhausting and over the top. P & O seem to have completely lost there way in this regard. The horizon theatre company on board I have to say were excellent, the Queen show is the best I have ever seen aboard a ship. The other entertainers were poor, at every opportunity a duo were rolled out to sing throughout the ship and their singing was dreadful. Some of the quizzes were good fund, especially the Mr & Mrs and the harpist was outstanding. But tribute acts, comedians or entertainment were otherwise severely lacking, especially during sea days where the best options were to either complete a jigsaw in the library or attend an Italian for beginners session (we were in the Baltic nowhere near Italy and the beginners session ran every seaday!). I also very much got the feeling that a new ploy by P & O is to offer discounted holidays to those on board if they run seminars/ "entertainment" on sea days. One such example is a lady on board who ran a session on the first day around the psychology of serial killers, which drew a great crowd. This first session was great but as the sea days continued so did her sessions and they became gradually less interesting, no further mention of serial killers just how to stop procrastinating and sleep better. Oh and low and behold at the final session she had a CD to promote, who would have thought we'd paid our hard earned cash to yet again be entertained and then milked for every penny.
Service onboard was really mixed, our cabin steward was absolutely excellent nothing was too much trouble. The staff in the main restaurant (not the dreaded buffet) were also excellent, very attentive & kind.The staff around the ship and at bars were similarly excellent. Unfortunately the staff on reception however are not so wonderful, at reception you must again queue (very much a theme on this ship) and when you reach reception will be met with a reply to whatever your question which aims to both patronise and fob you off in equal measure. Reception appeared genuinely clueless when it came to all queries, be it disembarkation, shore excursion meeting times, problems with your cabin or advice. We spoke to many on board who experienced the same level of disservice.
Finally the shore excursions, for us the Splendour of St Petersburg trip made the entire holiday, absolutely fantastic and worth every penny. Other trips we arranged ourselves or wandered from the port.
I would never again travel with P & O, the ship is falling apart: toilets are constantly blocked and the ship creaks throughout the night. Read Less