We have spent several Christmas holidays on cruises and have loved them! However, this was our first time with P and O and we were sadly disappointed with the whole ship. The Baltic itinerary was enjoyable and we were well prepared for bad weather which was surprisingly pleasant except for a serious storm which meant we could not get to Amsterdam. We didn't mind the enforced change of plan ( visited Le Havre instead - not too exciting!!) as this can happen on sea cruises. BUT - the ship was a total disappointment in so many ways.
We paid extra to ensure our choice of dinner sitting but found ourselves on "Freedom" which we did not want and joined a queue of many others wishing to change their dining arrangement. We accepted a table on 1st sitting which proved FREEZING COLD - unbearably so as it was right by the back wall of the dining room. After several nights we were placed on a table with a delightful welcoming couple and at last we could dine without wearing our outdoor fleece jackets!
The food offering was of very poor quality with few vegetables and strange menu options often not properly described ( 3 chocolate desserts on one night / a salad starter with no mention on the menu of the cold poached egg on the top).The Christmas dinner was a disgrace - 2 overcooked sprouts and a shrivelled sausage and stuffing garnish accompanied the turkey. The buffet restaurant was also poor and breakfast was equally disappointing. I had to ask for a banana and hunt for a natural yogurt . The only bread was off a cheap and nasty sliced loaf.
I felt the ship had little festive atmosphere with little in the way of Christmas decorations in many public areas including bars. I was concerned about the staff, many of whom had a poor command of spoken English and seemed to have had little training for their roles. Our cabin steward did a very good job but some of the bar and buffet staff seemed demoralised and lacked any enthusiasm for their jobs which impacted on customer service and the general atmosphere.
The evening entertainment options were OK,but the most fun we had on the entire cruise was the crew pantomime. There was no real party atmosphere and the late night dancing spot fell very flat.
We have cruised with other companies but sadly. will probably not be going with P and O again unless there is a real change in attitude and evidence of an improvement in standards to match their competitors in a similar price range.