This was my first ever cruise and I was looking forward to it so much. My son also married on board. There were some positive points I.e. Loved my cabin and balcony, the housekeeper kept this very well but having said that as a solo occupant I was also v tidy. My five year old grandson loved the kids club but we were a little concerned when told that they were registered for 100 in a relatively small area. Fortunately, on the times he attended this number did not materialise. Sindhu was a lovely restaurant as was the glasshouse - at a supplementary charge .... The main at the Epicurean was delicious but service very poor and seemingly lacking leadership.
The weather was poor and as a result the planned stop at Guernsey was cancelled and we set off for Lisbon. crossing the Bay of biscay was rocky but not unexpected as this is a renowned area of inclement weather. Neither can P & O be held accountable for poor weather. However, with three thousand plus passengers crammed on board the whole ship was overcrowded and it did feel like Butlins on a boat. With tots in our party the swimming pools were unsafe due to overcrowding (way over the recommended number and no checks made) and it was impossible to use jacuzzis as these were both monopolised , and overcrowded, with young teens. The retreat for adults is available - at an additional cost ...
We waited patiently to use the single netted area on deck 19 to vacate so we could play with a five year old. Unfortunately, within minutes of entering there, a group of young teens also decided they would go in - result was people and balls flying everywhere. No system or checking therefore older children again monopolising the area. With cricket bats and balls it is an accident waiting to happen. A safer, and fairer, syestem would be allocated time slots and supervised by staff to ensure safety. For three thousand plus passengers to have one netted area, one golf area, one set for quoits and one giant set of chess - it's a bit lacking !!
The captain was an affable gentleman and the wedding went well, canapés were laid on whilst we awaited the couple having photos taken. The GF canapes were delicious but no drinks had been provided - not even water - these were extra and had to be purchased. One small bowl of crisps for four young children seems a bit stingy and others, were requested and provided at additional cost - (spice flavoured). The wedding meal was held in the Epicurean. Staff here seemed ineffective, over loaded and confused. My son, daughter in law and her parents sat on one table and the rest of us round the corner, up against a wall, on another table. Staff had lists which had been meticulously sorted by my well organised daughter in law but seemed unable to refer to them and mixed up many of the meals - which arrived at various intervals. One child waited A long time for a dessert - by which time we had all finished ours although three of us left them as they were raw pastry. Some three hours later, with tired and bored children we left before coffee was served as everything seemed to take an age.
Food in the buffet was a case of attempting to find a table first - quite a feat as everywhere packed. It did not cater at all well for coeliac individuals and staff seemed poorly informed. No labels on any food stating GF or veggie so had to ask which was suitable - much to the annoyance of other passengers waiting behind. Given conflicting information resulting in one very upset stomach and a sleepless night. food was canteen style and quality. Spoke to other people with similar probs and they were terribly disappointed. Almost in tears one day when told the only sauce I could eat on my steak was tomato ketchup. I paid the same price as everyone else but had very, very limited options. I had one of the worst GF pizzas I had ever eaten whilst on board - burnt on the outside and cold in the middle. Apart from restaurants where we paid extra the food was a massive disappointment to me.
To summarise, there were some highlights and good points I.e. Embarking and disembarking was very slick, cabin and balcony, the glasshouse, Sindu and the main at the Epicurean but I think P &O should look to either selling purely family cruises or other as they seem to want to capture all groups of clientele and, in my opinion, this is not working. They also seem The experience for me was one of 'pack them in and get them to spend'. Staff work very hard and are mostly polite and helpful but way overloaded in restaurants especially. Maybe another carrier would offer a better experience.
Didn't take an excursion therefore can't review
Cancelled visit to Guernsey so can't review
Porto very nice but didn't take excursion