We were lucky enough to get a last minute deal for a quad cabin which worked out roughly to be $63 pp per day making it a very cheap holiday for our family of 1 adult, and 3 children. We've never cruised P&O before and I'd always been hesitant to book given the rumors of it being a 'party ship' among other things. Sure, I was worried on the first couple of days seeing all of the young adults drink to excess (yes, you did!!) I quickly learnt to avoid the smoking area on Deck 12, and the Dome at night. The upside was the ship was VERY quiet until about lunchtime.
We had early boarding at 1030am and it was smooth and hassle free - we were onboard just after 11am giving us plenty of time to book an early slot for dinner in the Waterfront, dumping our hand luggage in our cabins, and in The Pantry eating lunch by 1130am. there were some passengers trying to jump the queue, but staff members were asking for paperwork and those without the early boarding were not let through (Ditto with the smooth and hassle free disembarkation).
Getting on early meant we could explore our cabin and the ship. We had a window view quad room on the 9th deck which was adequate for our needs. Plenty of storage space for clothing, toiletries, and cases although a few extra coat hangers would be nice. Beds were comfortable, bathroom was adequate, we have no complaints about the cabin or size of the cabin.
Every staff member we encountered were delightful, polite, and friendly. We have no complaints about staff members or the service, although there was a youth security officer who might need to adjust her attitude a little and understand that not all youth are unruly. Speaking of youth, I had no idea of the amount of kids onboard until the family Halloween party - I didn't find the kids to be a problem at all, quite the contrary in fact. I do wonder if the 'kids running all over the ship' mentioned in so many other reviews were doing scavenger hunts organised by the kids club. My kids did a few onboard and it does involve doing what is needed quickly. I couldn't get my boys out of the kids club, they loved it. My other child preferred to hang out with me.
We all really liked The Pantry, I'm always a little wary of buffets so was interested to see how a food court would work at sea and was pleasantly surprised. We ate breakfast quite early (by 7am at the latest), lunch at 1130am and there was always plenty of seating available mostly in The Pantry, or just outside (the exception was the last sea day and disembarkation morning). Food offerings for lunch changed daily, breakfast appeared the same, I did pop in occasionally to see what they offered for dinner and it also appeared to change daily). We had dinner at the Waterfront (also tried it for breakfast and lunch) and were happy with the choices offered, and the quality of the food however something needs to be done about the temperature - it was mostly lukewarm when arriving at the tables. This is probably my biggest whinge about the trip - I hate lukewarm and cold food that is suppose to be hot, it's just asking for a boatload of food poisoning...We didn't try the other restaurants, and only had hot chips at The Grill which were nice at the beginning of the cruise, but the Grill started to stink of old fat/oil by the end and I couldn't walk past without gagging. The ice cream was nice and we enjoyed a few of those, as well as enjoying a few cocktails - well I did, the kids had soft drink!
We didn't do a lot of the activities such as quizzes etc as were content to be in the pool, on the waterslides, or chilling out on deck with a book and/or talking to other passengers. The full shows we saw were Slumber and Seven and enjoyed them both, we also went to the 'introduction show' thing on the first night. Musicians onboard were fabulous and we spent a lot of time listening and singing along in the Atrium - I'm too clumsy to dance :D
We didn't do any ship shore excursions preferring to sort our own thing out which has worked well in the past, and did this trip as well. We didn't think much of Noumea, but loved Lifou and Port Vila and will happily go back to either/or both!
Would we cruise with P&O again? If the price was right, sure.