I have previously sailed twice on Princess ships and thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the holidays. We chose this P&O cruise as the dates were ideal and it was a short break away from work to visit some new places.
As cruise holiday expectations are a completely personal thing, I will instead run down some of the good bits we loved about the cruise and some bits we thought could be improved on.
Embarkation was smooth and pretty quick! Didn't have to wait in a long queue with the number system they used.
The cabin (D514) a deluxe balcony room, was fantastic. Well cared for, tidy and spacious. The balcony was large and the bed very comfy. The bathroom seemed much larger than on Princess, with a bath. The cabin steward Edwin was good, and seemed to work incredibly hard each day.
Dinner was fantastic every day in the Bay Tree restaurant (more on this topic to come). The waiters were pretty good and friendly. A wide range of options each day and everything cooked perfectly.
Excursions: we did a couple of P&O shore excursions which were well organised, and enjoyable. Catered for young and old with a good range of options for different interests. We particularly enjoyed the Tapas Trail in La Coruna which was brilliant.
Speciality restaurants: Sindhu was a lovely choice for a meal at dinner time, with a friendly waitress and plenty of food for your money. Tasty and interesting without being too "out there". Epicurean was good for people with an adventurous streak...
Drinks were reasonably priced and there was a good range of choices for both alcoholic drinks and soft drinks. Tasty cocktails and we liked the "wine flights" in the Glass House as a way to try different wines relatively cheaply.
Not so good, but could be improved:
Food at breakfast and lunch in the main dining rooms (Bay Tree or Saffron) was poor - it was certainly not at the same standard as the dinner meals. Breakfast seemed to be identical to that served in the buffet, and lunch was a little bit like school dinners. The afternoon tea could have been nicer if we weren't all squashed into a tiny section of the dining room.
The amount of things which were not included in the fare was very different to the other cruises I have been on - ice cream at the poolside is not included in the fare, nor are cakes/biscuits at the costa cafe. Room service is also chargeable on P&O.
This ship felt very crowded from the outset. On the website it says the capacity is 3078 guests, however we found out at the end of the cruise that we had sailed with nearly 3400 guests on board - a lot more people squeezed in!
Entertainment was a bit hit and miss on this cruise - we weren't that excited by the theatre shows but the comedy act Mark Walker was really good. There were not many onboard activities which were not aimed at families and children, with only a few quiz type things on offer for adults. The music around the pool, although varied, was incredibly loud - could hear the ship for miles when at port!
The coffee shop was a bit of a nightmare as they were not really set up to handle both sit down customers and those looking to grab a takeaway coffee - the waiters and staff got confused easily about who was waiting to order etc so queues of people formed pretty quickly. They need to decide whether they only want sit down customers, or only want takeaway ones in that small space.
Decor on the ship was nice, however it didn't seem to have a common theme running through. Some areas looked really plain and others were lovely. The Glass House was the nicest spot we thought, with the Metropolis bar also a nice place to relax.
On the whole this was an enjoyable cruise, with a heavy emphasis on families and children (even though it was outside of school holiday time). Would sail with P&O again on either an adults only ship, or for a longer cruise to get more of a quieter time.
Large room with ample wardrobe space, a generous bathroom and sofa seating area in addition to the balcony. Nice to have the champagne and chocolates upon embarkation in the room for us to enjoy as we sailed away from Southampton. Room steward was quick and attentive.
Tapas Trail - fantastic tour of local tapas spots. Not too touristy and definitely authentic with plenty of locals in each of the bars we stopped at.
Started with a river cruise along the Douro, which was okay but a bit boring. It was just a recorded guide and only really told us about a few of the bridges along the river. The Port wine tasting was good, at the Burmeister cellar. The guide was interesting and we learnt a lot of the process of making port. Tasting included two different ports.View All 34 Port Wine Tasting Reviews
Enjoyable drive around Guernsey with a local guide - saw lots of little places we probably wouldn't have found on our own such as the little Chapel. The cider tasting and tour was excellent. The guide allowed us to try a lot of cider and provided cheese and biscuits too!View All undefined undefined Reviews