I’m a well seasoned cruise traveller with over 25 completed to date ranging from Princess, RCI, Celebrity and P&O. I’ve never felt compelled to write a review until now.
Having cruised similar with P&O, my partner and I, along with two other friends booked a weekend cruise on Ventura to Guernsey over August Bank Holiday. We sailed on Ventura previously to Brugges, and as Platinum club members with Princess we know the layout of Ventura and Azura mirror their ships, so we were well aware of the ship and what lay ahead – or so we had thought.
Firstly upon arrival at Southampton I have to say this was the worst I have experienced to date. Complete chaos. Guests were called in sequence order A-Z depending on what you are given when you arrive at the top of the stairs of the terminal. Waited for approximately 1.5hours to check in (1pm arrival). Terrible.
Once onboard we were impressed with the ship layout and how bright and clean it appeared. We had an inside cabin, which was very clean, and enough room for two adults sharing. The bed was probably one of the most comfortable of all liners we have sailed on. The cleanliness is evident throughout from the bars to the pool area, and restaurants. However, in the evenings the majority of toilets throughout the ship smelt really badly – urine quite evident on the floors of several, and also quite a few blockages with no toilet attendant/cleaners in sight (few and far between).
On the first evening in the MDR, we had a lovely table for 4. With no introductions or personal welcomes from the waiting staff, we were presented with the main menu - the waiter returned very promptly (in space of 5 minutes) to take the orders. I ordered a lamb shank for my main course and asked the waiter if it was possible to have some mash potato – to which he said he would ask the chef.
No drinks, or wine on offer and within 5 minutes our starters arrived. My partner at this point asked was it possible to see a wine list as we felt it was more appropriate to take a drinks order before going full steam ahead and presenting us with our starters! It did feel like a conveyor belt, they wanted us “fed watered and out” with minimal interaction. The bread rolls were dire. Soft rolls, think tesco value on a small scale with zero choice, and put on the side plate with no second offerings.
My lamb shank arrived and the waiter took off. I waited whilst my 3 companions tucked into their mains; I assumed the waiter was going to get my potato for the lamb. Again within 5 minutes he returned to clear the plates at which point I asked him did he get the mash as I hadn’t even started to my main yet. He was quick to inform me “no sir there is no mash”. I wasn't happy and I asked why hadn’t he told me this when he presented the plate to begin with. He said he was sorry he had just checked – this itself was a lie as I could see him directly in front of me fiddling with cutlery and the likes. If mash is offered in the buffet, and various other potatoes offered to top that, I didn't quite understand. I again repeated the question you’re telling me there is no mash available, to which he said “sorry no”. I then asked him to fetch me the Maitre’D. when he arrived I asked him if it was possible to have mash – his reply “anything is possible sir”. I told him I was informed mash wasn't available – he seemed surprised. I went on to explain I wasn't very happy at all nor were the others in my party. The lack of wanting to serve us, no drinks menu, orders etc”. I actually handed my main course, untouched, back as I was disappointed by the whole episode.
I would like to add to this “Yes this might be a weekend cruise, but you should not treat all guests as first timers on a weekend break whom you assume will probably never return”. We were appalled by the lack of interaction and the lack of personal touch from the MDR waiting staff, their behaviour was definitely the lowest I’ve witnessed. It was quite the contrary in the buffet. Food in the buffet area was lovely, plenty of choice this is one area where the company excel.
There were a few hen parties on board who were enjoying themselves
Port of Call Guernsey: Tender required. What can I say…….. we docked at 8am – all guests required back on ship for 5pm. We had breakfast and went downstairs to the tender around 11am thinking it will be straight forward as we have tendering numerous times before at other locations worldwide. No - how wrong where we. We were told to join a queue for a ticket to join the tenders. The queue for this alone wrapped around the foyer area back to the art gallery – we waited in line for 1 hour and given tickets to tender. We were then moved into the restaurant, where we waited a further 1.5 hours. With 6 tenders operating, we felt this would have been quicker and should have been better managed. We spoke briefly to the lady (I use loosely as she was abrupt) this was taking forever, she replied by saying “no this is normal”. If this is normal for P&O I would be sacking the management in charge of this process. It was awful. We have experienced several tenders over the years with OTHER liners and never waited longer than 15 mins to disembark the ship, and that also involved a ticket and call by number!
Perhaps the ship is too big for tendering to the port, but you've definitely got this so wrong P&O.
Guernsey is beautiful, a lovely little place full of charm and very walkable. We had an afternoon tea and stroll, however we felt we should return to the ship around 3 (after just 1 hour on land) to avoid a possible mayhem like the disembarkation to tender earlier . Walking downhill towards the port and tendering area at 3pm, we could see a queue as long as anything with people waiting around. It took us 1 hour 10 mins to board and get back on ship. The whole experience is quite exhausting and not one I will repeat with P&O again.
In conclusion, I feel P&O should use smaller ships for the weekend breaks and clearly advertise it involve tendering. Also, other cruise critic members do mention tendering by P&O at Guernsey being the worst experiences witnessed – trust me these people are not telling lies. I for one will NEVER return to P&O on a mini cruise again that involves tendering unless they drastically change their ways - not to mention their manner.
perfect location - close to the rear elevators. bed was probably the most comfortable bed i've slept in at sea = one of the very few things P&O have got correct.