We were on the first leg (Southampton to Rio) of a round the world cruise, then had an extension (not booked through P&O) to see the Iguassu falls and finally a stay in Rio.
Embarkation was quick and easy. We arrived about an hour and a half before the appointed time (which is almost inevitable as no sensible person would not allow some margin for road conditions). Nevertheless we were through and on the ship in about half an hour.
There was a military band on deck playing before departure and shortly after departure a spectacular firework display set off from a barge. Generally we felt welcomed. A long line formed for glasses of champagne sold at an extortionate price, but apparently some members of the loyalty club received them free which explained this.
We were on Freedom dining and generally arrived for dinner about 7.00 to 7.30 requesting to share. We were never sent away and the longest we had to wait was a couple of minutes. Usually we were immediately taken to a table. Other people told us that if a table for 2 was requested they had to wait for up to 20 minutes. Service in the MDR was invariably cheerful and helpful. P&O maintain service of Stilton and biscuits on request, but this is never referred to on the menu and if cheese is requested a daily selection (without Stilton) is provided. This is a rather hilarious open secret. Food generally was of a satisfactory standard, both as to quality and quantity.
We used the self service restaurant for some breakfasts and lunches and again it was of a satisfactory standard, if somewhat repetitive.
Our impression was of a crew who were pretty cheerful, and of good service throughout apart from some difficulties with reception staff especially relating to disembarkation arrangements.
There was a range of entertainment. We did not see much of the headliners but the bought in performers were pretty good and varied. Apart from the formal shows, we particularly enjoyed the classical pianist who was very talented.
The ship was kept spotlessly clean and is in a generally good state of maintenance. The central atrium is less spectacular than on many ships but this is not of great importance. There is a fairly powerful forced draught ventilation system with a vent above the bed in our cabin and it might be more pleasant if the fans could be turned down a bit. But the ship was a pleasant temperature, not as hot as some others we have been on.
The gym was large and well equipped but too hot, apparently there was a fault with the ventilation there. And the gym staff were usually absent, it being necessary on a number of occasions to seek towels through the good offices of the adjacent spa.
The hairdresser and manicurists were o.k. but a bit pricey and we were taken aback that they strongly hinted that it would be appreciated if a tip was added to the (already substantial) charge.
This was an aft facing balcony cabin. Rather larger than many balcony cabins we have had from other lines, it had a small bath and shower over. Good quality bits and pieces in the bathroom. We appreciated the provision of a world atlas and binoculars. Slightly disappointed that account information cannot be retrieved over the television. Coffee and tea facilities and a fridge, which was useful. The steward was outstanding and the cabin kept immaculately clean
Flew to Iguassu, stayed in 3* Best Western hotel, perfectly satisfactory and very clean. Very good guide to Brazilian side of the falls, a wonderful experience to visit would recommend to anyone capable of managing the steps and the walk. Had we known it would have been possible also to visit the Argentinian side, we would have been glad to have the opportunity to do so and would willingly have paid extra for this.
We did not visit Southampton, just drove to the port.