Where to start? First time on a cruise and so bitterly disappointed. Following a three hour embarkation delay to disinfect the ship, my husband and I walked up the gangplank into utter chaos;. No one to greet or welcome you, harried staff running about the ship, passengers luggage carelessly piled up in the lift foyers and dumped outside peoples cabin doors and a sizable queue of complainants at reception. As we were unsure of protocol, and there was no one to guide us, we headed up to our room. The room was not prepared - no soap, dirty shelving from the last occupants, very little toilet paper, balcony door jammed shut and windows indescribably dirty and our luggage no where to be seen. I flagged down a steward to address the issues and he suggested we look for our bags amongst the mountains of luggage piling up in the lift foyers on various levels(!!!). Our bags didn't show up for three hours and the balcony door took another request to be unjammed to gain access. Our room was not cleaned until the following day. As we settled in we noticed the ship had begun to move (no announcement was made that we heard) so we scurried up to one of the decks to enjoy the view as we left Sydney Harbour.
The food was ATROCIOUS!!! Our first meal was at Angelo's. My husband ordered spaghetti and meatballs and received something that resembled a cow pat sitting on a bed of poorly drained pasta swimming in water. It was stone cold and my meal was not much better. Pre frozen fish served cold. Yuck! We didn't receive one meal on board served at a food safe temperature. Everything was tepid at best, and frankly, no amount of heat would save the slop they were dishing up. I ordered a pannacotta that could have doubled as a superball and the creme brulee was so curdled it had the texture of scrambled eggs. When we got to Cairnes we bought a mountain of food and brought it back on board and filled our fridge.
The service was ATROCIOUS! - except for our room steward, Nellie, who was helpful and delightful. A request for a pot of tea or second cup of coffee was met with an exasperated sigh and some requests were never met at all. In the end we just stopped asking as it was all too much trouble. At The Waterfront Restaurant i ordered a pork chop that arrived with three shards of bone instead of a chop - cold and overcooked. At The Dragon Lady tables were left uncleared - we spent a lengthy 1.5 hours waiting for our food and surrounded by five uncleared tables.
Rumour has it the head chef was 'let go' in Cairnes and the Head Chef for all of P&O was flown in to execute damage control. The result was slightly warmer food.
The king size bed in our room was very comfortable and the room/balcony proportion very good. The toilet did back up twice, however, and overflowed once, so maintenance was kept busy. This seemed to be a common problem amongst the passengers. We had a spa bath but the jets looked too rusty and dirty to risk a bath.
We did not receive a Daily Schedule until day three and only received the dvd list of movies you could order two days before the end of the cruise. Only the key public areas of the ship were renovated and there were many areas on board emanating fairly unsavoury smells.
Most surfaces were left wet and smeary with disinfectant and we could witness staff with masks and spray equipment making their way around the ship.
The general purpose pool was out of action upon arrival (and then again later with rumours of faecal matter or vomit contamination) and the Oasis pool was so scungy looking by week two i no longer wanted to swim in it.
The last day of our cruise we were informed via a slip of paper under our door that we were to vacate our rooms by SIX AM!!! Our original itinerary had us arriving in Sydney at seven with disembarkation to follow. They were in a hurry to have us vacate to disinfect the ship for the next cruise that evening.
The excursions were bliss but a stark reminder of the kind of service and care we should have been receiving from P&O and were not. We feel so ripped off.