This was a last minute booking as it fitted with time off work and was inexpensive.
We are Elite on Princess but have cruised with P&O several years ago and were not expecting it to be of the same standard, however we were pleasantly surprised. The ship is small so easy to find your way around and very nice inside, quite different to other ships we have been on, more like a modern Hotel. Our room was a ocean view on deck 4, all we could get at that late stage, but it was quite large compared to some of the rooms we have been in on other ships. The only issue was machinery noises from below at night and the air conditioning that had a mind of its own and no matter where the controls were set varied between freezing cold and hot.
We normally take the traditional dining option on Princess but did enjoy the options of the different dining rooms - Angelo's, Dragon Lady and the Waterfront. The food was what you can expect on a cruise ship and remember it is not expensive. Some meals were very good and some not so good. It was necessary to book well in advance if you wanted a specific time, in order to see the shows and while this was ok on a short cruise we would still prefer the Traditional dining option - same time, same table, same people, same waiters on a longer cruise. There was no shortage of variety as although the menus were quite small they changed every 4 days. We only ate in the Pantry at lunchtime and breakfast on shore days when we had early starts. There was a huge variety to choose from and generally the food was good. It was a little disjointed though having to go to different stations to put a meal together. Best to find a table then check out what you want, and then get to the stations with the longest queues first otherwise the hot food will be cold.
The entertainment was excellent, the production shows, guest artists and live music was as good as any we have seen on a cruise ship. Sideshow alley, the magician/singer duo, and the Hawaiian Comedian were stand outs.
Embarkation and disembarkation was very well organised, as good as we have come across.
The Tendering process was poor, we gave up in Lifou after waiting over 1 1/2 hrs in the morning. And when I finally went ashore in the afternoon it took over 2 hrs from the time I joined the queue for the return journey, all the time standing in pouring rain - not pleasant.
It is a small ship and therefore there are not the facilities we are used to. There is no hot tub in the adults area and as the main pools were freezing cold the two hot tubs in the main pool area were always full of children. It was the school holidays and we understood that the capacity of children allowed on board was maxed out.
There are no wine lists in the bars - only in the restaurants and although there was a good range of wine in the restaurants it was very limited in the bars and there was different availability in the different bars. Bottled wine was in the $30 to $60 range with reds in Angelo's generally more reasonable than a good Chardonnay anywhere on the ship.
It was good to see the ships security policing the R18 shows and adults only areas and crew removing towels from loungers that had been left by lazy and thoughtless passengers.
The Unesco Heritage site snorkelling trip in Noumea was a highlight despite poor weather conditions. Expensive but well worth it, one of the best snorkelling sites we have been to in many years. Sharks, turtles, lots of tropical fish both small and large, moray eels and great coral. Having a guide with us made it feel much safer and they knew the best spots to go to. On a sunny day this would be stunning!!
The shore excursion to Mare was also good, nice beach with easy swim to some coral reefs with some brightly coloured tropical fish.
Due to poor weather we did not get to visit Mystery Island.
Overall a good cruise and certainly value for money.
Ocean view cabin on deck 4. Nice size room and bathroom. Bed comfortable. Good amount of storage for clothes in wardrobes and drawers. Suitcases fitted under the bed when not being used.
Shower over bath, good pressure and temperature but the bath was quite high so it would be difficult for older and less mobile people to get in and out.
There was some machinery noise at night from decks below and just along the hall the Air Conditioning room sounded like a jet engine. Not sure of rooms in this area - 4100 to 4200 had better sound proofing otherwise it would be very noisy.
Air conditioning in the room was difficult to adjust to a constant temperature, with the same setting the temperature varied from freezing cold to hot.
There was no fridge but the room stewards kept an ice bucket filled for us.