This was our first cruise and sadly it didn’t start well with 6 hours delay on Embarking. This was described by P&O as a “slight” delay who offered a £20 onboard credit by way of a very limited compensation.
Our room was not entirely clean with items left behind from the previous occupants and dirty marks on the pillowcase. Our steward did swap out the pillowcase when I asked him to do so and advised that he had just come on duty that day.
The good points - the balcony was worth the additional cost. The tea and coffee was replaced twice a day so we never ran out. Restaurant staff are polite and work really hard. There is a great shower in the bathroom. La Coruna and Santander were stunning. The library was a good edition and the attendant was really helpful. There was a great view from the crows nest and it was a quiet space in the madness. The food in the table service restaurants was mostly very good. The bed was really comfortable. Drinks prices were reasonable and the Restaurant staff offered good wine recommendations. We had no problems sharing a table at meals and as a result we met some great people. The experienced cruise goers were quick to tell us we had been unlucky on our first cruise and “it’s not normally this bad”. The disembarkation process, for us, was pretty smooth with no real delays (there was that efficient library steward again) so that at least ended the holiday better than it began.
The middle ground - The entertainment was of variable quality. Films on show in the cinema were older but good. The ship is basically a massive floating hotel with the majority laid out as hotel rooms and the balance with public space feels a little off. The decor is ok but doesn’t set the world alight. There is reasonable fare available in the shops and prices are reasonable. The dress codes were not strictly enforced which is either good or bad depending upon you opinion. A shorts playsuit over a swimming costume did seem to be pushing it a little as acceptable wear for the evening restaurants though and we saw that a good few times. The gym equipment looked pretty good although it was hot and very busy.
The bad - The announcements from the captain were patronising and more akin to a bad holiday camp than a ship - who knew “P&O voice” was a thing! After the really long delays on getting underway we had a muster station drill at 10:30pm, There were exhausted children and parents and the captain droned on and on about the trip and the area not taking the hint that people had really had enough by that point. The cleaning was sketchy our room was seriously dusty by the end of the week and we considered tippexing PLEASE onto the make up our room sign. The room next door had breakfast in their room each day and the tray was often still outside the door at lunchtime and once in the late afternoon after we returned from visiting a port. It was half term which was a rookie error on our part consequently there was no chance of using any of the pools or pool area which were all “reserved” by some pretty territorial families all day. This included the adult pool where adults only was clearly not enforced. The Horizon canteen was an experiment in survival of the fittest with variable quality of food. The staff again worked really hard and in pretty difficult circumstances at times. The tenders to Guernsey were disorganised with delays of up to 3 hours. A staff member with a mic kept telling everyone that they were doing really well and it was the same on every cruise ship. Clearly proven not to be the case by the Princess Cruise ship also in port which was managing their tenders much more efficiently. There were long queues on the way back too and again Princess were handling it much more efficiently. The menus in the main restaurants were a little repetitive so if your cruise is more than a week choice could become limited. There were also some long delays in getting a table at times and the pagers were malfunctioning. The WiFi was another frustration we opted not to use the overpriced ship WiFi and stick with our mobile provider and in-port only. Listening to people who had paid for the service it sounds like this was a good call as they had little good to say about it.
As newbies I thought onboard signage and commas were very poor. There are plenty of newsletters which tell you lots about paid for options but offer little useful information on getting around the ship, where and when to eat etc. I genuinely recommend getting an offline App in play to enable people to navigate the ship and it can do so much more to improve people’s experience. The lack of stairs midships was frustrating with 3-4 lifts coming through at peak times before any come in with space which again caused some people aboard to get territorial. I wish I had researched this more thoroughly before boarding.
We received a missive in our room on the last day offering a £75 discount on a future cruise (in the next two years) per person because of the issues this time. There is no email or postal address on the letter as I guess they don’t want to encourage the complaints. I can not deny I was very disappointed in this holiday. My parents go on cruise holidays 2-3 times each year, they recommended P&O and said we would love going on cruises. I guess we may try another cruise holiday at a later date with a different provider but based on this experience P&O badly failed to live up to expectations time and time again.
Midships with a good view just above a lifeboat. No stairs nearby so be prepared to walk to the nearest or to wait a long time for a lift. Just above and downwind of a designated smoking area. I hope Mr and Mrs Bruce who were previously in the cabin were reunited with their belongings as I asked the steward to do this for them.
As it was Sunday much of the area was closed.
Beautiful port with shops and cafes nearby. A reasonable walk to a beautiful beach.
The port is attractive and if the tenders had been better managed we would liked to have explored further.