We had been wanting to try another cruise line and this P&O visit to the Mediterranean fitted in with with this.
Arriving at the Cruise terminal at the appointed time meant a swift processing and rapid boarding even if the cabins were not ready. When we were able to access ours we found clean, the bed looked good and the bathroom was fine. The cases arrived shortly after so we were into unpacking when the call for life boat drill came. Our muster station was the Palladium theatre along with countless other. Unfortunately the place we chose had steep steps, The drill was straightforward and included putting on a life jacket.
As we had opted for Freedom Dining and we had been advised to get to the upper deck of the Meridian early so we had a chance of a table for 2, we queued up half an hour early. Using this tactic we always had the same table for two and were we well looked after by James & Michael. We tried lunch once in the Meridian but this did not offer the soup and salad we like. The Belvedere was huge, daunting and difficult to find what we wanted. Thereafter we had a snack in the cabin and a coffee in the Vivo cafe.
The menus are lengthy in the Meridian. It rapidly became clear that all meat varied from tough to very tough so we almost always had fish.On one occasion the fish was impenetrable and was replaced with properly cooked one which was as palatable as my wife’s. For some nights there were fancy menus designed by Marco Pierre White or a Chef’s special. We had a glass of wine one night and my red was not fit to be drunk.
We used the Cafe Vivo which was good value and served Costa coffee at the right temperature.
On this cruise most of the time people were out side enjoying the sun. We did notice that the two seats in the Art Gallery were invariable taken, the being the only sitting places that were free of waiters bring to sell drinks.
Due to a “technical problem” so the email from P&O we would be spending an extra day in Malaga. The technical problem turned out to be fishing gear fouling a propeller and also turned out to require much more time and we actually sailed at 1205 am on the fifth day.
Malaga was the one port on the itinerary that we did not want to go to. P&O (Carnival) stated that there would be no compensation for this or missing the call at Messina beyond a token gesture about Spanish taxes on drinks. A letter to this effect was delivered to our cabin with the implication that we should claim on our insurance for missing Messina. Claiming on the insurance means that the premium will rise to cover this and I do not pay for expensive policies so that Carnival can avoid facing the cost of compensating us for our loss of enjoyment. A knock on of the prolonged stay was that we had to fit in 3 formal nights in 5 days so these nights were nothing special.
There was an out break of norovirus which was a brought under control speedily. However the hand sanitisation was not enforced at every restaurant and not easily seen in the bars and cafe. Indeed at one the officer (maitre d’) made no effort whatsoever to help those of us who wanted to us the sanitiser before entering a restaurant he was in charge of.
The rest of the cruise was blessed with calm seas so maximum speed could be maintained and the time in the remaining ports was as planned. However it was hot with Cagliari being over 35 degrees.
Disembarkation was relatively painless.
We are giving P&O another chance as we were able to relax and do as we pleased.
Ports: Malaga. Shuttle bus to centre or a longish walk. Interesting for a day
Venice. Ordered ticket never arrived.
Split: Used the free shuttle bus which was a good move as the walk looked as though it dodged ferry terminals and a bus station. Diocletian's Palace was well worth seeing and is free.
Dubrovnik. Anchor port but the tenders were both frequent and easy to use and much better than a shuttle bus as we were landed on the edge of the old town. Well worth exploring but pick up a map.
Cagliari. Far too hot so we did not explore it. We did find an air conditioned cafe at the top of a department store.
Gibraltar. Afternoon call. Walked into town as the queues for the shuttle seemed lengthy and it only gets you so far.
Comfortable bed. Tea and coffee making facilities. Balcony but only chairs and tables and no lounger.
Shuttle bus to town centre. Interesting parts but been there before.
Tender port and we landed in the old town. Very well worth exploring with a map.