Im sorry for the delay in posting my review, Ive been busy and I wanted the time (do we have the time anymore to really sit down and choose our words carefully) to write a balance and well thought out critique of our experience on the last PO Cruise that we undertook, which was 20th February 2015 to the 6th March 2015. This is the 3rd time of cruising with PO and the 5th for my partner and I have to say each year the standard gets worse and worse. We tend to cruise around the Caribbean at the end of February / early March, and we normally cruise on the Azura. And after reading this years reviews (prior to our cruise) we were genuinely taken aback by some of the comments, about the staff, their attitude, the service etc. And now looking back after reflecting upon those comments, they were indeed extremely accurate. What has happened PO? Your staff are so miserable and surly. How are they being interviewed? “Right, who has the longest face? You’re in, you can start Monday.” Anyway, as for this year, we thought or I thought that we would try some of their gifts/vouchers that are advertised prior to the cruise.
First up, I ordered the “Embarkment Package” as a surprise, so upon arrival in our cabin there should have been waiting for us: a bottle of Champagne, flowers and Chocolate Package. Disaster. We entered the room to find the flowers and nothing else. We couldn’t find anything else. Checked everywhere. Nothing. So I then had to tell my partner why I was searching the fridge and why I was heading to reception. Surprise ruined. Thanks PO. So I went to reception and asked what had happened to the champagne and chocolates. They rang the appropriate area, and told me the champagne was in the fridge, which it wasn’t as we checked when entering the room, (plus we were expecting 2 champagne flutes and for our champagne to be in an ice bucket chilling). We then returned to the room to find a warm bottle champagne now in our fridge, “Abra ka draba”, Champagne for you! I then called reception again and asked for some glasses. So we then had to wait for them to arrive and once they did, I then asked the waiter if we could have an ice bucket for the champagne......(so much for my surprise to my partner, totally ruined by PO incompetency). After achieving 2 things out of 3, I became quite cockey and thought, hmmmm, lets try my hand at finding out where are the chocolates; so I called up reception and inquired as to the chocolates and where were they?. After several calls backwards and forwards (reception had to call catering, catering back to reception, reception back to me) I was told you get the chocolates on your first sea day! “Why?” I asked. You just do. So much for 3 gifts awaiting for you upon your arrival into your cabin. This surprise was now a complete joke. Its not advertised that you get the chocolates on the first sea day, which for us was two days away!!!
Second Package – the disastrous wine package. This gets worse.....this episode is something out of Fawlty towers. So you are given (we bought the 12 bottle wine package) 12 little cards, and you are told when you buy this package, The Captains collection package, that you save money, and you can have your wine delivered to your room, the restaurant, the glass house, where ever you are; sounds great doesn’t it? Sounds as though its hassle free (which is right up my boat), but during the booking of this package, you are made aware a bottle can take up to 10/15min before the wine is delivered to you; fair enough, I have no qualms with that. I thought, well they have at least made you aware.
So the first time we tried to get a bottle of wine it took over 55 minutes. You see, what you aren’t told, is the porter has to go to a certain restaurant, find the wine manager or bar manager, he then opens up the wine area, collects your wine and bring it back to you. 55 minutes! We did (past tense) have plans while we waited in our cabin, and yes we did call between room service and reception to find out what was going on? And neither of them had a clue. At one point they couldn’t even locate our porter. Not one to throw in the towel easily, I thought ok, we’ll have another go at this, it cant be that hard, we have the vouchers, you have the wine, lets do this!!!
So on the second day, we tried again, (mainly because after the first time of trying we were told that we were unfortunate due to the time of day we had placed the order, the wine manager was away and thats why it had been delayed so long. So this was our second attempt......order placed.....in room ready and waiting.......10 min passed, 20 minutes passed, 50 minutes passed,,,,,,our wine turned up this time, 1hr and 35 minutes later. We had waited, called, were given no explanation at all. So we left the bottle in the room and proceeded to go to reception, they apologised and now assured us that this wouldn’t happen again, and they had now ironed out a few difficulties, so all issues were resolved and we could use our vouchers anywhere including in the Glass House.
So off we went to the Glass House and tried to order a bottle of wine from our selection that we were entitled too. The waitress in the glass house now informed me, that we weren’t allowed a bottle of wine from our selection because the restaurant where our wine was stored was closed. I couldn’t take this anymore. How hard is this? It couldn’t be that difficult. I had vouchers they had the wine, why couldn’t I just get a bottle of wine from PO. What is wrong with you guys?!?!??! When I ordered this package Southmapton staff in the office seemed to think it was straight forward, let me assure you its far from that. This was becoming a sketch from laurel and hardy, everywhere I looked total incompetency. I now returned to reception explained the latest rules in trying to get a bottle of wine....”I cant” , and said you can have your two bottle of wines back, we’ll just take a refund. We had ordered two, received two, but hadn’t opened any. The receptionist was fine with this, he came to our cabin, took our two bottle of wines back, and the refund did eventually return to my account.
Third package: We paid for a framed formal night photo. Upon deciding what picture we wanted, we were told it would take 24 hours for it to be in a frame and ready for collection; so as good customers as we are, we turned up the next day on time to collect our picture, only to find someone else at the desk who informed us, “what picture?, no its not been ordered, it takes 24hrs. I interrupted, “yes we know it takes 24 hours thats why we are here, we've been told it will be ready now”. The gentleman made a few phone calls and found it hadn’t been ordered. He asked if we could give him an extra 30 min, which we obliged, returned to find our chosen picture framed.
I also bought two PO White Robes, and they are lovely and definitely worth the purchase, though they do take some room up in your case. So please be aware.
As a surprise I also ordered the breakfast and champagne in bed.....and this was excellent, I tried to order another ½ bottle of champagne and through the lack of their English, I ended up with another Breakfast Basket, we didn’t touch that bar the champagne ad placed the other basket into the corridor.
Dinner with PO is not now silver service, its comes prepared on your plate and they deliver it to you, there's no more: would you like some more veg? Potatoes? anymore bread rolls? I know PO are trying to save cost, but these little things matter, its about the service, you cut back on that and you are left with nothing.
Bar staff are so miserable, and the drinks they are producing are fair to poor in terms of the cocktails that are being met. If this one guy behind the bar smiled on the ship his face would crack. I’m meant to be on holiday and to look at him, was like an extra out of a horror movie!!!
And finally PO, PLEASE PLEASE get away from these sail away parties, horrendous, its embarrassing , it’s the blue winse brigade, Rule Britannia, et et; I’m probably doing an injustice to Butlins here, but its what you’d associate with them in the early 70’s, not now, not 2015. You even have the entertainment team jumping around the ship trying to get people on their feet, and probably half the passengers have had hip replacements and just want to have a drink in the sun and a chat, and be left alone.
It was by far the worse cruise I’ve ever been on with PO. Im loyal to PO, they are my ship, my company, but you need to up your game with service and smiling staff and your packages are just a joke. Do the PO team in Southampton know how bad they are in reality. On the phone they promise you this that and other, it will all be taken (cash from my credit card.....Im guessing) care off, we’ll have everything organised for you and your partner. What a lie.