We left Southampton a little later than planned and as it was our first cruise we were unsure as to what to expect but we were impressed with the ship.
We fell behind schedule which the passengers were told was due to a 'technical issue' we lost the Oporto stop. We would have preferred P&O to be honest and not gloss over the issue and then forget it happened. We found out that one of the engines had broken down putting us three hours behind.
As a result we had to stay in Lisbon longer for it to be fixed. I was horrified to read the reviews that said the same thing happened again a week later! It seems to be a common theme.
The safety drill on the first day was a farce, 4 different crew members giving out different instructions and no-one knew what to do. We didn't know what to do but stand in a corner and watch but all we could think was, f this was a real emergency....
The service is mostly fantastic but a few people really let it down. We thought well everyone has a bad day but by the end we were raging at the way we were treated as it continued throughout the week. This included an attitude of 'well that's your problem' to simple queries. 'That's what it says on the sheet' in regards to asking about changes to the entertainment.
If you like Bingo - be there in plenty of time. They refused to allow us to join in the bingo as they had too many people in the queue to buy tickets. We ran downstairs to the casino where they would sell us tickets and race back again before it starts - I really couldn't see the difference - it just caused bad feelings.
We had a few photos from the team, you take them off the shelf and they scan your card and everyone is happy....until the last black tie event. The queues go back down the corridor waiting for your orders and you don't just queue the once.
You have to log into the machine, find your photo, add it to the basket and order it then come back a couple of hours later. We needed help at the machine but the photographer walked off halfway through and helped someone else so we went ahead and ordered the photo.
I came back around an hour and a half later as I was worried we hadn't added the payment to the bill. I waited over half an hour in the queue to be told everything is fine and to come back in an hour and a half and the order will be ready and they will scan the card then.
So I did this, the third time in the queue for 45 mins this time to be told there was no order and we'd missed a step at the machines. I was furious, that was our last evening this completely ruined it.
If this is your first time, prepare to get lost on board a lot!!! Everyone crowds around an A4 plan of the ship and not every lift goes to every deck.
Avoid Costa at all costs - it's so bad, my grandmother got burnt on the hand by their stupidity and the next time we tried to use them, they scolded us, for causing them to bring the wrong order over to us- we were stunned!
The restaurant food is fantastic, be warned if you share your table with others you will have to wait until everyone is seated and then ordered so your meal time could be a lot longer but then again we enjoyed doing this once or twice.
The buffet food was a little limited on one night and I was hungry when I left but this was the exception. Avoid going at the same time as other people if you can as it's like a mad scrum for seats and food. It's a much more relaxed atmosphere but there is no in between of very formal or very casual.
Leaving the ship was very smooth, controlled and we felt safe, we had a senior member of the team driving and a member of the entertainment team keeping us informed. I actually quite enjoyed it.
Coming back however.......the complete opposite as above, it was frightening and dangerous - we decided we'll never take a tender on a cruise again and I'm not nervous with water. The adrenaline and shaking afterwards took a while to subside.