Chose this cruise because the dates and destinations fitted, and we quite like the sea days.
Took advantage of the coach from Birmingham Airport direct to Southampton, bit chaotic with people pushing in the queue but got us there efficiently and embarkation was excellent.
The ship was larger than we normally go for and a bit confusing to get around sometimes. I think that even after 2 weeks people were getting lost.
Our cabin, an inside one on deck 10 was fine, seperate area for hanging clothes, enough hangers etc and a comfy bed.
We chose set dining in the Oriental Restaurant, we had a good table and enjoyed it. The food was a bit 'samey' though.
We were quite interested in the ballroom dance lessons, but so was everyone else. Although the dance teacher was excellent the lessons took place in the atrium-far far too small, so we dropped out.
We joined the guest choir, an excellent experience and met some lovely people.
Having been on this ship for a long weekend previously I was keen to see how the Manhatten lounge would cope on a longer voyage as it had been inundated by the groups of hen parties on board. As previously, if you didn't get there over an hour before any entertainment you hadn't a prayer of getting a seat.
The main theatre was fine, that too got full, especially when the resident 'headliners' were performing. I must say that they were very talented, just not enough of them-they didn't join in any other activities, were seldom seen around the ship and did 4 shows in 2 weeks! the other entertainment ranged from Beatles tribute, excellent Song and dance man, a couple of typical cruise ship singers and a mind reading act from BGT, and a Freddie tribute act that only performed in the Manhattan-so we never got to see him.
Generally the drinks service was poor-cutbacks were obvious throughout the ship.
Why did I entitle this review 'clash of cultures' ? I shall explain.
There was one group who took no notice of the rule not to reserve sun loungers, took no notice of smoking restrictions, and let their kids run riot. I know that is a sweeping generalisation but the same people were in the pool area day after day, the kids were either dive bombing in the pool or frequenting the spa pools, they were in big groups, very loud and, as I say, smoking (or vaping) all around. Unfortunately, and this is my big criticism THERE WAS NO POLICING OF THE SUN LOUNGERS, THE SMOKING/VAPING, OR THE KIDS. Putting signs up just doesn't cut it.
I know that they are on holiday too, but the rules are there so that everyone can enjoy themselves.
Although the excursions were generally fine I would like to draw your attention to one of the Antigua trips.
Party bus to private Red Bus Rum punch beach, private facilities, price included transport with guide, party bus, free drink (plus opportunities to buy food and drink if you wanted) and 3-4 hours on the beach. £45-£50 each.
In reality, 14 of us were crammed into an old transit van with no suspension and inefficient AC, a Bob Marley tape and just dumped off at the afore mentioned beach.
You then could hire a gazebo & Sun bed (if you were quick enough-short supply). We were told that as they only given a few quid per head from P & O that it no longer included a drink-which were expensive). We had paid £100 per couple for an old van taxi to a beach.
I was also appalled that you had free drinks in the casino whilst you gambled.
Did we enjoy the cruise?-yes, would we go again? yes.
Was it value for money,?yes
What could be done to make it a better experience?
Police the Sun beds, the smoking, the kids and start looking at a bigger venue for the ballroom lessons-a massively increasing sector.