Boarding at Valparaiso went well.
Our cabin was great, and we were on G deck, the lowest passenger deck. The cabin was very clean, and certainly larger than what we have had with other cruise lines at a similar level. What was good that our suitcases slipped under the bed, which we have not been able to do with some cruise lines.
Our cabin steward Johnny was first class. Cabin was left immaculate each day.
The ship was very clean throughout. Newsletters for the UK and Australia were available daily, which meant we did not feel disconnected from the World.
The theatre shows were very much hit and miss for me. I have a low tolerance regarding entertainment, and if I am not enjoying a show within the first 10 minutes, I have no hesitation in leaving. I only stayed through 4 shows in the 20 days sailing. Some acts were dreadful unfortunately.
We were on Freedom Dining, and unfortunately in the main, it was not a pleasant experience, to the point that we used the buffet more than the restaurant. We felt rushed most times, with being seated, handed a menu, and before we had even had time to introduce ourselves to the other table members, let alone time to study the menu, we were being asked what we wanted to order. The food was so so. My wife had to send her meals back twice due to asking for no meat to be served with blood in it, and having it delivered oozing blood. On one occasion, she ordered roast pork, and it was mainly fat and gristle, so she left most of the meal. If that had happened on our preferred cruise line, the waiter would have asked what was wrong, and would have offered a replacement, but the plate was just whisked away. Ordering the ice cream or sorbet was a joke, because each time itcould be drank from the bowl because it was melted. No good putting ice cream in hot dishes guys.
One other thing on it. We are used to the table waiter going though the menu, explaining what each item was, and making his recommendations, then waiting a short while before taking orders. I am not French, and could not understand what some of the meals were with the menus referring to the meals using French words. A dumbo maybe, but surely, plain simple menus in English would not be too hard to do.
The buffet was great. No problems there at all. The tables were cleared quickly, the choice of food was good, and we could take as long or as little time as we wanted to, to eat. Also, a nice touch seeing the tables in the buffet laid up for the evening dining.
The pub, the Crows nest, and The Globe were evening hangouts for us, and we enjoyed each venue. The musical entertainment was good, the quizzes were good, the staff were great. The Battle Of The Sexes was great fun, but I would have liked to have seen some debates on World issues take place.
The itinerary was not great, but we knew that, so no issues on it at all. Unfortunate that we could not get into Bora Bora, and disappointed to hear some passengers complaining about it. We have been there before, so no issue on not making it in.
The dress code was relaxed in the main, though I think it could have been slightly more relaxed for the buffet in the evening, with the wearing of dress shorts and a shirt, or collared top allowed, especially so on boarding day and port days. It was good seeing the staff asking people to leave because they were wearing shorts, but disappointed that on one occasion they asked a man to leave, and 2 minutes later ignored a young woman that came In with thigh high cut off jeans with ragged ends. The dress code is a close thing, because on several occasions we seen women wearing what would be termed shorts being allowed into the dining areas, whereas a man wearing pants the same length would have been refused.
Disembarking in Sydney was great. We self disembarked at 7:15am, though I staff member tried to prevent us leaving, because he said that he had not been informed that clearance had been given. We soon convinced him that it had, and that we were going off like it or not. From ship to the airport in 30 minutes using the train from Circular Quay. Cost $14 each, which included the airport access fee. (Seniors fare for Australians holding a Seniors Card. I think a couple of $$ more for those that do not hold one).
This was a first cruise with P&O for us, after spending some years using another cruise line, so I guess the question is, would we book with them again. A close thing, but the answer would be yes. There was nothing drastic enough that would prevent us booking again with them. We managed the dining problems we encountered by simply using the backup option, and that was fine. When leaving the shows early, we simply went and listened to entertainment in another venue. Overall satisfaction was not excellent, but certainly good. Some tweaking of the entertainment and training of dining staff would have brought an excellent rating from us.