We always said that we would not travel on the larger ships, but as the itinerary and ports of call fitted in with our needs we decided to take the plunge. The ship is in quite good condition and kept quite clean. However the food and entertainment were not as we had hoped.
From the start, whilst having lunch we were approached asking if we wanted to dine in any of the select dining restaurants, and this happened on several occasions throughout the cruise, with some staff, being quite persistent.
We ate in Sindhu on one occasion and were disappointed as the food quality wasn't the same as the other Sindhu restaurants on P&O ships. The food was quite bland and a bit tough. Some of us had the lobster for the main course which was a bit ropey. In fact we had the lobster the following night in the freedom dining restaurant which was much nicer. It made us wonder why we paid the extra money for Sindhu. We were also asked on leaving if we wanted to book for week B, but declined.
For the first four nights or so of the cruise, the food in the freedom dining restaurant was very good. From then on there was a noticeable decline in quality, quantity and presentation. One evening I had the "taste of Portugal" option which was Piri Piri Chicken. When it arrived the presentation resembled that of a school dinner and it didn't taste much better. Some of the fish portion sizes were very small and the sauces quite watery. On the desert side the chocolate brownie sundae arrived minus the chocolate brownie. When we pointed this out to the waiter, he just smiled and walked away. Another sundae had very little ice cream, so much so that my daughter asked if she could have another, much to the amusement of waiters. At lunchtime we mainly ate in the Peninsular restaurant which was a bit hit and miss. Some days the food was really good, but there were days when the food was quite inedible. My daughter and I decided to have the Ploughmans platter, which is shared by two people. There was some "pork pie" which was awful and spicy and didn't resemble a pork pie that I know of. One piece of bread so small, we had to ask for another bread roll, and a very poor selection of cheese and tiny bits of pickled vegetables with two pots of relish. Some of the other deserts were also questionable and inedible, but we did have a few good lunches there. It was very hit and miss.
We tried to avoid the buffet at all costs, but sometimes we had no choice. Needless to say, the food quality there wasn't very good, being kept under the heat lamps, with a lot of pushing and shoving from other passengers, as is the norm in these places. The grab & go section was quite good, but a bit repetitive and bread quite stale on the sandwiches.
We also ate at the Epicurian restaurant and this was brilliant and highly recommended. Although most of the waiters in the freedom dining restaurants were very good, there is a big step up in the Epicurian. The quality and quantity of the food, was extremely good and would not have any hesitation in recommending this.
Entertainment was a bit hit and miss. As with the food, the first four days were good and varied, but then fell into decline. The films were repeated in the second week and if you were not into quizzes or archery, there was not much else to do, unless you wanted to spend extra money. The "free" galley tour seems to have disappeared, as has the chocaholics event. If you want to have a tour of the ship it will set you back £75 per person and the cookery school £45 per per person.
The cabin we had was on G deck and was kept clean and tidy by the cabin steward. The only two drawbacks were its position and the soot problem. It was an aft cabin and we had been notified by our booking agents that it was directly above the Live Lounge and they had to notify us of this. We were informed that the music usually ended around midnight, which was fine by us. Unfortunately, they started rehearsals at 5pm and it was so loud in the bathroom that some of the fittings were vibrating. This did not bother us too much at the beginning but by the end of the holiday, it got a bit much. All we could hear was the base drum. If we could hear a tune, it wouldn't have been so bad! The other issue with this cabin was the soot problem on the balcony. Some days it was really bad. On one sailaway whilst sitting on the balcony soot was falling onto my clothes and into my daughter's drink. We had to put pool towels on the chairs before sitting on them. Some days the soot was all over the floor, table, chairs and handrails. Some particles were quite large and you could smell whatever fuel was being used whilst sitting outside. Sometimes you didn't really want to use the balcony because of this.
The ports of call were good, some we have visited before and so did most of these on our own.
Overall it wasn't a bad cruise, apart from the items listed above and we would travel with P&O again, just not in an aft balcony cabin on Britannia.
As above. We mentioned the soot problem in the onboard "how are we doing questionnaire" a few days into the holiday. We had a call from the head of housekeeping who apologised about the soot and had the balcony cleaned and we were compensated for, which we were not expecting.