First ever cruise. Chose the Norwegian Fjords.
Smooth arrival, well directed by the port security and marshals to the car queue, which we only waited in for 10 minutes or so. Parking staff very efficient and knew our names as soon as car was directed to the drop off. Bags taken and gone, car driven away, then into the terminal and aboard within 15 minutes. No hassle. No stress. Very little queuing. Our boarding time was 1300 so on nice and early.
Once aboard you have your photo taken in the Atrium. At this stage being newbies you are still Rabbits in the headlights so it is all a bit over your head and you're looking round so much! They then direct you up to the Buffet. We found our Cabin 35 minutes later and suitcases were outside. Very good.
I will now try to debunk some of the moaners. I've been reading lots of reviews here, and, while some passengers may well have had unfortunate mishaps, bad luck with staff, and so on much of it seems to be moans for the sake of it! They obviously have Silver Service and being treated like Gods in mind.....
Ship: Smart. Clean. Muted Browns and Greys. I've read comments by people complaining about the lack of fresh colours! Deary me. If those are the colours then those are the colours. Did not bother us!
It takes time of course to find your way around but they give you a little pocket guide which is easy to use and understand, so we had no problem familiarising ourselves.
Lots of artwork everywhere. Not our taste at all. We are both artists and I like more traditional scenes but again, like the colour schemes who cares? It's a ship not a gallery, we are not there to be bothered by the art.
I agree with other comments that there is too little lift capacity for the number of guests.
The answer, if you're able, just use the stairs! Simple. We planned to as much as possible as we were wondering what we would weigh at the end of the voyage, so planned to walk off excesses! So no real issues with the lifts from us.
I also agree with other reviews that there are no stairs mid ships up to the higher decks, and this indeed impacts those with cabins mid ships. An odd omission to be sure. Again this did not affect us as we had a cabin on Deck G well forward where there are stairs.
Cabin commented on in other section.
Dining: We used Freedom dining in the Meridian first two nights. Posh food, certainly in our book. Service as quick as to be expected considering the numbers of people. I don't know what the moans of others are about maybe they expect to be hand fed the finest Caviar? Portions fine, and I'm a gannet too so no worries there.
At that point my wife sadly had tummy upset, though I stress she was feeling not right before we boarded. So for the rest of the trip we used the buffet, sometimes just myself when my wife was not up to eating.
We both liked the Buffet. Eat as much as you like, with a wide selection. Again I have read the moans and just don't recognise the comments from people who were on the same trip!? Breakfast fantastic, dinners not as good but still perfectly happy with what was on offer and the sheer range of choice. I've read one review that moaned there was no egg station frying eggs order? Silver Service Brigade again? Oh well. We took ours from the tray and they were fine.
Staff very on the ball, making sure hands washed on entry or using the hand sanitizer machines. The staff are so aware hygiene wise they make sure you used a fresh plate and tray every new trip from your table. They remove your plates promptly and helped my wife a few times to find certain items politely and professionally.
It can get busy in there so either go up one at a time, or, do as we did most mornings and go outside to the Lido area and sit at the empty tables there! No different that the ones in the buffet proper, so moaners complaining there are too many people and no where to sit should get off bums and walk a bit further to where there are plenty!
We didn't use the premium restaurants this cruise so cannot comment on those but we will next time.
Entertainment: They publish a little magazine called Horizon with the activities each day, times and venues. Something for everyone.
We saw two shows in the Headliners Theatre. Astonishing, and an acrobatic/ dance act from two amazing performers, forget their names, but awesome. Astonishing is good but all a bit too hyped in my opinion.
Neil Oliver who leads the entertainment team. What a character. Very good indeed.
We loved the Great British Sail away as we departed Bergan. All mass round the top decks around the pool, get the flags out, sing, dance, and be patriotic! I personally love that sort of stuff, there is far too little of it in our PC obsessed country. I make no apology for admitting I was almost in tears on more than one occasion with Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory, and Jerusalem being sung by the masses. Unpatriotic moaners can go back to their cabins if they don't like it. This is a British ship with British styles and tastes.
Service: Very attentive, especially in the bars we tried. Crows Nest the best as you can see out the front of the ship. I have again read complaints about the drinks packages available, we didn't go for any of that, just order what you want when you want. They give you spending money anyway, which accounted for most of our spend.
Excursions: Enjoyed them all, but very expensive for what you get though. We did two, Norway in a Nutshell at Flam and Briksdal Glacier at Olden.
The Flam railway is really not all that, considering the cost. The coach trip before hand was better getting into the countryside and seeing the views from some hair raising little lanes high up the mountains. The views of the Fjords from the ship are better. The best bit of the Flam Railway is the stop to see a waterfall where two lunatics in Red dresses frolic and dance up on the rocks by the waterfall like Odin's Valkries! They must be cold! Do they wait up there for every train??!
The glacier is amazing, and Lake Olden which you pass on the coach something else. Beautiful.
We did not do excursions in Stavanger or Bergan as you're in the town, we just walked everywhere seeing what we could.
Now for my only moans. Why, why P&O, with the billions you must be making, is there no free Wi Fi? The packages were very expensive so we did not bother. It seems every café, pub and public shopping mall in the land has free Wi fi but not a huge cruise liner? Come on....
The first sea day evening is Captain's Gala night. You all stand round the Atrium in your finest then the Captain makes a speech, introduces his senior officers, then vanishes!!
He does not go round mingling and meeting the passengers, at least not where we were. So this is all a bit over hyped in my view. One for the in crowd wanting to be seen.
We loved it. You are paying for the novelty of a mobile hotel taking you to your destination, while you relax! Takes the stress out of travel for us. We are now hooked and have already booked our next cruise, on Britannia, deliberately, next year. It will be interesting to arrive next time already knowing where you are going on board and feeling right at home.
Clean. Lots of storage. Small bathroom but we're not fat so who cares?
Nice Balcony. Warning for others booking G112 and its equivalent at Starboard side of ship, as it is next to a wider balcony forward so your view forward is blocked by the partition. This annoyed us on arrival but we soon accepted it. If you want the views you don't have to be stuck in your cabin do you? However, in our opinion it should be classed as an obstructed or limited view in the brochure.
Big TV. Wide choice of films. Fun to see the ship webcam and follow the progress of the ship on the navigation map.
Cabin made up twice daily. Cabin girl shy and polite. No problems at all.
Room service also available, with wide choice.
Fast and efficient.