I decided to write this to hep advise all you new cruisers out there what to expect, now I have returned I am somewhat angry at the one sided and downright inaccurate reviews from some of the more seasoned cruisers who repeatedly compare this ship to other ships and even companies. This trip was very special as it was mine and my husbands Honeymoon, I'm going to start straight off and say overall we absolutely LOVED this ship and we have officially caught the cruising bug and can't wait to book our next one with P and O whom we found are the best value for money.
So firstly the overall look of this ship is fantastic the size is breathtaking, the decor we actually liked, many other people have said they found it too plain and/or dark, I can see P&O were aiming for a modern and contemporary look, the darker side of the decor gives the ship a real luxurious touch, we had a Balcony room which was clean, light and had a very comfortble bed, the bathroom was a little small but the shower screen and free toiletries were a nice touch, we personally found the balcony absolutely fine size wise and spent numerous occaions sitting on there enjoying the view.
We decided to make the most of this trip and pretty much ate everywhere except for the Beach Hut. Our definite favourite restaurant was the Epicurean we tried their evening food and their afternoon tea and loved both, it is the definition of fine dining (in our opinion), their evening food is of michelin standard they had an amazing smoked pate which was bought under a glass dome filled with smoke and a creme brulee which they caramelize in front of you with a blow torch, the afternoon tea started by having a spray in front of your face which had a slightly sweet aroma and apparently activated your tastebuds followed by a sumptous selection including savoury salmon macaroons, eton mess in a small kilner jar were you add strawberry sauce from a provided pipette and stunning scones with an amazing selection of teas to try, I loved the nutty chocolate blend, my husband preferred the peppermint, it has candles, white linen table cloths classical music playing and dedicated silver service staff who really pull out all the stops to make this the place to try if you only do one extra restaurant.
We had freedom dining and dined at the Penninsular, again this place had fantastic food, excellent hard working waiters and a wonderful upmarket atmosphere, we also tried Sindhu which had the best indian food we ever tasted again this is a select dining option so will cost extra but again is definitely worth the cost. Our 2 favourite bars were Brodies which is pretty much designed to be a local pub with a selection of bottled beers from various regions in the uk as well as cocktails and liquers it put on numerous quiz's, games, live music and karoake throughout the day and evening to make it the epicentre of bars ideally suited to a more british style of socialising.
Our other favourite places were the Glass House which is predominately a wine bar with an amazing selection of wines, we were also fortunate enough to get the opportunity to do their wine tasting which was very informative and fun and also try their wine and meal tasting course which again was an absolute treat and we fully recommend you try it. Our other favourite place was the Crows Nest bar which is at the front of the ship and a fantastic place to sit when the ship is leaving a port and watching the ever changing views.
My main disappointment was actually with the Oasis Spa which for me I'm very disappointed to admit was nothing short of a rip off, the services in themselves were fine but their attempts to extract more money out of me left a bitter taste, firstly I gave myself an extra treat by booking a pedicure whilst on board, I originally asked for a standard pedicure which stated on the price list was £30, the receptionist said I could upgrade to a fire and ice pedicure which included a hot stone leg massage and cooling leg gel treatment for another £5, I agreed to this, after I had the treatment I was then told it was now £47 plus a 10% service charge, I was not happy about this as I was clearly told it would be £35 and no mention was given of the service charge, they also tried to sell me a tube of this cooling gel for £35 (over priced deep freeze gel). They also mixed up the booking for a couple's massage that we had booked and pre paid for before our trip, again they charged us another service charge on top and tried to sell us a £35 bottle of massage oil, the hydrotherapy suite consisting of different types of sauna, steam, shows and heated beds was lovely and wonderfully relaxing but again awfully pricey at £25 to use for 1 day. I've been in 5 star hotels where this part is free to use or well over half the price of what they charged.
Overall all the staff on board are hard working, friendly and dedicated to their work, the entertainment we found fairly mixed, some of it we tried and enjoyed other aspects we didn't even fancy doing at all and avoided completely however this is no doubt a subjective issue and I saw many people getting into the swing of anything they could so its a case of each to their own and if it isn't for you either you get yourself a sunbed, I would say on this subject don't bother trying to get near the pool it fills up very quickly unless you get their pretty early my advice is to look further away on upper decks where their is still adequate space available but still don't leave it too late, reserving has been an issue but the staff are becoming aware of this and have started removing belongings on sunbeds that have been reserved if they are left too long and tying a note to the sunbed so the person can come pick it up when they return.
The other thing I would recommend is what we did which is to simply grab your favourite or current book and get yourself down to the atrium area where you will find lots of seats, sofa's and chairs, you can have a drink if you want, plenty of tea, coffee and alcoholic options they also have amazing sweet treats in the Market Cafe which I highly recomend you try or you can pass on this and simply enjoy the ambience, the views and simply relax.
To finish overall this is a brilliant ship and I hopefully will return there at some point in the future. My last piece of advice is if you are new is that whilst this is a wonderful ship it isn't without its faults but overlook or avoid the bad and focus on what is so great about this place and you won't go wrong our biggest annoyance on this trip was the sheer volume of complainers notably from the seasoned cruisers who clearly think its their right to use the staff as verbal punch bags and in a number of cases get as much credit and/or free stuff that they can based on said complaints. I saw one woman loudly tell her rather bemused husband that she had complained about the Horizon Buffet restaurant (again used regularly, plenty of choice throughout the day, no complaints) not having instant hot chocolate available to have with her evening meal, he pointed out to her that this seemed a strange choice of drink to have a meal with and she informed him she had complained as a matter of principle rather than it being a specific issue, another woman I overheard bragging that she had complained about the temperature of the headliners theatre being too cold (and had clearly never thought of using a cardigan/jacket or jumper to solve this issue) in an attempt to get some spending credit. This is something that really annoys me as I go on Holiday to enjoy myself not complain and find things wrong. Enjoy all the wonderful things this ship has to offer and you will have an amazing time, we did and we can't wait to go on a cruise again.
was only passing through from the airport so cant comment much, seemed nice enough though
found the touts in the dock area a bit too forward and aggressive for our liking, just looked around the bay area and seemed nice enought
simply walked around a good proportion of the island itself, lots of very friendly locals and stunning views
lovely views, took the water taxi which was very reasonably priced at $7 for return, well worth doing
our personal favourite, had some stunning gardens and lots of lovely cafes plus plenty of shops selling some brilliant wines, would totally go here again.