This was our third cruise with P&O and our our 13th in total. There were four of us on the trip (a 4 day comedy themed cruise from Auckland to Sydney), my wife and I and my sister and brother-in-law who were taking their first cruise.
Our overall impressions were not great. Whilst the entertainment provided by the five “resident” comedians was good and a couple of the chances to discuss comedy were excellent, the rest of the cruise was disappointing, the service was patchy and the crew weren’t particularly engaging or seeming to enjoy themselves.
The food was a particular issue, the pantry is very poor quality, my brother in law described it by saying you’d be very disappointed if you received similar at the food court in your local shopping mall. Some of it was almost inedible (I had an oatmeal for breakfast one morning that had clearly been made by someone who had never seen oatmeal before, it was cold and had a soup like consistency).
The dining room was of better quality but only slightly and the amount of selection available had diminished significantly from our two previous P&O voyages. We dined there for dinner twice and lunch once and the organisation of the groups turning up was pretty shambolic especially on the first night when although we had booked a dining time it was just chaos trying to get in.
We dined once at Salt and that was of a really good standard although at an additional $49 pp you would hope so!
We had both booked ocean view cabins on level 9 which were fine and the Jewel (along with the Dawn) have some of the best designed showers at sea with plenty of room in them.
I was interested to note that P&O had changed the title of the cruise director (which sort of makes sense actually) to entertainment director. It’s a bit of a damning indictment that just a few days after the cruise I can’t recall her name and she was practically invisible the entire trip apart from introducing the evening show. One of her offsides (Steven) was far more visible and if I hadn’t known better would have assumed he was the cruise director.
The constant charging for every minor addition was pretty annoying and although I get that it is at the budget end of the scale, it felt like you were being nickel and dimed at every point, even the wellness lectures were a thinly disguised chance to sell over priced orthotics.
I was disappointed for my sister and brother in law who had really been looking forward to the trip especially as we had been bugging them to come on a cruise with us for years but left feeling like they had a really low budget experience.
On the up side the boarding and departures were very well organised and for once boarding times were actually enforced by the shore staff in Auckland resulting in manageable queues and an easy boarding experience.
Even as an entry level cruise I struggle to give this more than two stars and that will unfortunately be our last P&O (Australia) cruise.