During the cold days of winter there is no better place to recharge your batteries than the Caribbean. Over the past few years my wife and I have cruised in the Caribbean at this time of the year eight times so we are fairly familiar with the islands most ships visit. Also one of the easiest and economical ways to visit the area is to use P&O' s cruises from Barbados. Other cruises entail going through a USA gateway which are generally more expensive, and involve the dreaded passport control/immigration . You also have the need to have a hotel stay with the hassle of transfers etc. Much better to fly from a local airport direct to Barbados, miss going through passport control on arrival and with no need to touch your luggage until it arrives in your cabin some 4/5 hours after you land. Step off the charter plane [from Manchester this was an Airbus 330 -- very comfortable with plenty of leg room in the standard seats -- no need to lash out on Premium seating as you don't get much extra for your money]. Step off the plane at Barbados, walk 20 paces and board an air conditioned bus for the 45min drive to the ship. Depending on other planes arriving the task of getting on board ship can be somewhat time consuming as the arrivals area is a converted shed with only two luggage scanners. Once aboard you are directed to your cabin, glass of bubbly in hand. Time then to have some food either on deck with a barbeque or in the Venezia cafeteria.
The Ship's design.
We find that in general terms the design of the ship is very good. Obviously other people will place a greater or lesser view on the following comments. The location of the various rooms/areas on-board the ship is very good. One area flows seamlessly into the next without the horrible bottlenecks one can experience on other ships. However there are two or three areas that do not work so well. Deck space is a problem in that sunbeds are not only packed tight in together, but on the Lido Deck 16 three lines of beds leave only room for one person to use the walkway -- there is no such thing as a running track! Also the food servery area in the cafeteria is lacking in circulation space. This would not suit anybody who has claustrophobia. On a more positive note other areas of the ship work well including the aft deck where we had breakfast every morning, the Planet Bar on Deck 18 where you could view some terrific video scenes from around the world on linked screens whilst having a pre-dinner drink, the central three story atrium where bands played and people could either dance or just people watch, the Playhouse theatre giving virtually everyone a decent view of the stage. The other two main entertainment lounges were in the main OK but were always compromised between daytime seating requirements and evening stage type activities.