Like most of the passenger's aboard, we were doing this cruise to get away form the winter weather. This turned out to be a very lucky choice! From beginning to end we had wall to wall sunshine and calm seas with only a couple of bumpy days leaving and returning to UK home waters. We did have a bit of rain in Tobago and Antigua but it was brief and of the 'liquid sunshine' variety. We've never been so lucky on cruise of any length, let alone 55 nights.
We appreciated the new 'Grand Tour' features - a glass of fizz for everyone on boarding (which was quick in our case), a 'Half Way Round' and a 'Farewell Party' were both included and the Ligurian's had a tea at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami. Not the best of events sadly, tho' it was a good thought. It meant missing most of the attractions during our one day in this lovely city for a start and the organisation was poor. The hotel was fine (Entertainment Manager Hughie quickly found the best bar!) but they failed to get welcome drinks out onto very hot balcony quickly enough and queues formed which the ship's people did little to alleviate. Very big tables meant the food and drink was difficult to manage and a lady singer made conversation very difficult. Apart from Captain Pembridge's, the speeches were rather tedious and our Carnival host's excitement at the impending introduction of Iona was not the best choice of topic for the dyed in the wool 'small ship' audience! But it was good of P&O to lay the event on - they didn't have to. Leaving Ponta Delgada the old 'Great British Sailaway' was superseded by the new-style 'Celebration Sailaway'. Lots of live music from a house band some ice carving and enthusiastic dancing form the Hosts. Personally, we did't miss the jingoistic flag waving and community singing of the old Sailaways ; at least it was a pleasant change.
The destinations were all predictable in the Caribbean. Lots of tours from the excellent Excursions team - often ignored by the passengers who usually rushed ashore on the hunt for WiFi in order to tell their friends what a great time they were having in the Cruise Terminal - what,me cynical?! We had three days in Barbados owing to a medical emergency requiring a fast crossing. The third day we moved to the remote Flour Mill Berth across the main harbour. This would have been a bit of a disaster for a one-day call but it worked for us and lots of others. There was a good beach a couple of hundred yards away and the Mount Gay distillery visitors centre was even closer.
We've had this category of (smaller) balcony before and they are good value. Our stewardess, Araceli, was outstanding. She always had our cabin refreshed by the time we returned from breakfast and we don't think we were singled out for special treatment.
Far too many ships. We couldn't get off the pier - but found a good bar to share with friends form Azura
We were the only ship in and had the lovely beaches and bars to oursleves
A very prosperous island. Pity about the need to tender (miles out of town!)
Too many Americans, and the town at the end of the 4 mile pier wasn't worth visiting
The Ligurian event meant we missed doing anything else
A stylish city
A good destination - for one, not two, days. Far too expensive to utilise the overnight properly. But the public transport makes touring easy
Pretty, inexpensive and friendly