This was our first cruise and a 25th wedding anniversary treat. We visited Eire, Greenland, Iceland and Norway.
We flew down to Southampton the day before and stayed into a pre-booked hotel (Novotel) we booked independently. Avoid this hotel if you can. The room was dirty and at breakfast the kitchen were unable to provide the gluten-free meal I had asked for weeks in advance and confirmed by telephone earlier that week.
Check in was okay but the waiting facility in Southampton is rather dull.
The actual cruise was fantastic. We had a Stateroom with balcony and bath. Nora, our steward was incredible. Nothing was too much bother for her. As we are early risers our cabin was usually serviced prior to us returning after breakfast which we took in the Orangery most mornings. Having special diet requirements meant we could pick and choose what was suitable. We also took lunches in the Orangery as I really like to pick my own salad and my husband just likes eating. Dinner was in the Medina Restaurant, first sitting, at a table for eight. Everyone on our table was wonderful and we have kept in touch. We were the only cruise virgins at that table though..... My gluten-free diet was no problem at all - the head waiter (Chris) always took my order one evening for the next evening so everyone at our table got a preview.
The entertainment was okay. Jimmy Cricket was certainly the star for us - we went to both his shows. The company entertainers tried very hard and made up for their short comings with their enthusiasm. One gentleman player had real star quality and I do hope he "makes it".
The bridge lessons were a huge disappointment and we voted with our feet.
The library was fine and I read stuff I normally wouldn't - and enjoyed it. cyb@study was expensive and I didn't use it. Too much like the day job.
We spent a lot of the sea days in the Crows Nest and the service was attentive but I found once I had refused a drink I wasn't pestered. But when I did want something a smile at the waiter brought almost immediate service.
The art auctions were a huge hit with us and we were lucky enough to win two pieces in the prize draws. Unfortunately P&O messed up the paperwork on one of the items and it took a lot of time and effort to sort out the customs and VAT after we got home.
Excursions were not good value for money. We got most value by making our own arrangements. We did do the white-water rafting when we were in Norway which I would do again though. We are keen kayakers and I took my own dry suit for this although suits were provided (I'm tall and curvy so usually have problems getting centre provided suits to fit!)
Nuuk harbour (Greenland) is a tender port and not good for anyone who isn't great on their feet as the access from the tender to the harbour is by very slippy and uneven steps. There were a few tumbles there. Not P&O's fault but something that the Greenland authorities will have to look at if they want more cruise ships to call.
Disembarkation (again Southampton) was very polished. We had to berth in the QE2 berth but P&O had everything laid on with cars transferred for people who had left them and loads of taxis (fixed fares) ready to whisk us to the airport or rail stations.
That's it folks! Next trip is with NCL in December.....