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959 P&O Cruises Cruise Reviews

For context, it's probably worth mentioning that we've previously cruised with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, NCL and P&O Oceana. I really hoped that previous poor reviews were just teething troubles or people with ... Read More
For context, it's probably worth mentioning that we've previously cruised with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, NCL and P&O Oceana. I really hoped that previous poor reviews were just teething troubles or people with exceptionally high standards. Sadly, much of what has been written is, in our experience justified and pretty accurate. Flight and Embarkation: Flew Dreamliner with Thomson from Manchester. All good - flight was on time, plane very good. It was a treat checking in luggage and not seeing it again until it arrived in our cabin. This is where P&O excel. Their organisation in embarkation is excellent. Ship: - It is problematic there being no staircase midship (at least not one that goes top to bottom) as it means lifts are always busy. We took to walking to either end and then taking the stairs there. On the one hand this helped to keep our waistlines down a bit but on the other, we did observe disabled and elderly complaining as clearly they couldn't do what we were. - Decor is pleasant and clean if a little 'safe'. - Good choice of bars and restaurants - Adequate deck space (although because of the issue of people reserving sun beds if you want a bed by the pool you need to be a very early riser) - As a non-swimmer, I found the pools to be a little deep (5ft5in at their shallowest) Cabin: We had a balcony cabin with an obstructed view. Don't be concerned about the lack of a view, it's not totally obstructed. The cabin is a bit smaller that we've experienced on other ships but is well designed and functional. There was nothing lacking (although you can't view your account on the tv). The balcony is indeed small with a little table and two upright chairs but nevertheless provided some welcome outdoor space and is perfectly adequate. Our cabin steward (Sachin) was amazing - thorough, friendly and couldn't do enough. Some of our friends however never saw their steward during the whole of the cruise. Dining: We dined (Freedom dining) in Meridian, Peninsular, Horizon (buffet), Limelight Club and Sindhu. Although we were a party of 10, we only had to wait for a table on two occasions and then not for very long. By cruise standards, in the main restaurants, we found the food to be poor. Portions were very small and although there was a good menu choice, the quality of the food was described by one of our party as "poor pub grub". We all felt this was a pretty accurate description. Food was very ordinary with no 'wow' moments - for example, the cheeseboard provided a choice of Cheddar, Lancashire and two other similar generic yellow/white blocks - no soft cheese, no blue cheese, no fruit cheese, no smoked cheese, no celery, no grapes, no chutney. Horizon, the buffet restaurant, was usually very busy although we always managed to get a table. Here the food was quite good (for buffet food) although some of the things you'd expect to see weren't there e.g. smoked salmon at breakfast, tuna or chicken mayo at lunch. Limelight Club food was good (it should all be of this standard). The food at Sindhu was very good although the service wasn't great. There are no drinks stations out on the decks so if you wanted water you had to go to the bar. No self-serve tea, coffee or soft drinks unless you went to the buffet restaurant. No free ice-cream. Service: With the exception of our cabin steward who was great, we were underwhelmed with the standard of service everywhere (restaurants, bars, spa, etc). People did their jobs but there was no interaction, no smiles, no friendliness. At times, in the restaurant, orders were mixed up and on a couple of occasions we were kept waiting so long we thought we'd been forgotten. The waiters at the pool were good at being available. Entertainment: Pulse, this ship's band, were very good (talented musicians and good vocalists). We saw a couple of good comedians but in the main avoided the shows after our first which we found to be very poor. Not that the singers aren't talented (they are) but the content they're given to work with is dull and lacks creativity. Although we did enjoy our holiday, it is very unlikely that we'd book another P&O cruise as it's just not special enough for our taste. If this were a hotel, we'd say it was 3 to 4 star when really we're looking for a strong 5. And, to be fair, we did speak to several people who though it was all fabulous. Suppose it depends what you're looking for. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
P&O UK is “British to the bootstraps” but I do believe they are trying to be something they are not, particularly in regard to dress code and maintenance. For example, the information pack provided to passengers before they ... Read More
P&O UK is “British to the bootstraps” but I do believe they are trying to be something they are not, particularly in regard to dress code and maintenance. For example, the information pack provided to passengers before they board states that the dress code for each evening applies from 6 pm throughout the ship, and “asks” passengers to comply. What it doesn’t tell you is that if you are sitting in the Crows Nest or some other public area at 6 pm, reading a book or drinking a cocktail and minding your own business, and you aren’t in a black tie or jacket on those evenings, you will be told to leave (even if there is no one else there). This was annoying – even more so when I went to dinner in my finery to find myself sitting opposite a fellow wearing a T-shirt. I suspect this was because the wait staff were too busy ogling his 20 something blonde girlfriend to notice whether he was wearing anything at all. On complaint, the maitre d’ personally assured me it would never happen again but it did - two nights later: same guy, same shirt, same girlfriend. On a 25 night cruise there were 7 ‘formal’ nights, 7 ‘jacket required’ nights (both of which we thought were excessive, especially in summer in the South Pacific) and 11 ’evening casual’ nights. Except for my T-shirt friend, if you didn’t wear the nominated attire, you were banished to eat at Horizon buffet/cafeteria. However, every night they closed half the serving area and half the outside dining area in Horizon as it was being used by the (extra fee applicable) Beach House restaurant, resulting in a much longer queue to collect your dinner. In effect, this was double punishment for dress code violators. If they put as much effort into maintaining their tenders/lifeboats (which broke down on quite a few occasions) as they did policing the dress code, it would have been a much happier ship. If there is ever a real emergency, I hope that the lifeboats are in better condition than they were on our cruise. Embarkation at San Francisco was straightforward. The porters at the dock touted for tips – I gave one guy $2 and he took our bags away. Another passenger gave a porter $1 and the porter scoffed and handed it back. There was no roll call or card swipe at the lifeboat safety drill, so they wouldn’t know who attended. My lifejacket didn’t have a whistle and our cabin attendant advised there were no spares. About halfway through the cruise we had to leave our lifejackets on our bed for inspection, so I left mine there with a note “no whistle” which was still there when we returned in the evening – with no whistle. We had booked a wine package on the internet as it was significantly cheaper than buying one on board. The ship’s shore excursions were also significantly cheaper if booked over the internet beforehand. The ship’s shore excursions were significantly more expensive than the local tours, however you run the risk of a local tour being fully booked out by the cruise line and therefore not being available when you get off the ship. There was initial confusion amongst the staff in regard to how the coffee cards and wine packages would work. There was no restriction on the amount of alcohol you could bring on board and the fridge in the cabin could easily accommodate 2 bottles of wine. I would describe the staff on the Aurora as “reserved” and generally (with a few exceptions) not as friendly as say Holland America or Princess. This could have been the result of a perception that they had to maintain a “stiff upper lip”. We had an inside cabin (C162) on Deck 9 (Canberra Deck) which was quite compact compared to inside cabins on other cruise lines, but entirely adequate. I had trouble with backache on waking up in the mornings but everyone is different. The bathroom was a good design and although it had a shower curtain and not doors, no water spilled onto the floor. The shower curtain was replaced at least once during our voyage. As suggested on CruiseCritic, I sprayed the air conditioning vents with Glen20 every second day and we had no trouble with cabin cough. Our cabin attendant Rex kept our accommodation spotless (well done Rex!). Laundry washers and dryers are free on the ship, which was great. The design of the ship around the Crystal Pool was the best we have seen on any ship. There were plenty of tables, chairs and deckchairs in both sun and shade. There are plenty of deck chairs all around the ship, to the extent that no-one, at any time, had to reserve a seat by throwing their towels on it. However towels were rationed to two per cabin and it took some time to learn that extra towels were hidden away in the dressing rooms situated in the Spa area of the ship. Topless sunbathing was restricted to 'Deck 14 forward' which, given the average age of the passengers, was a blessing. We never felt the need to eat at the “extras” restaurants as the quality of the food in the Medina was generally very good for both lunch and dinner. Movies in the theatre were recent releases, however the TV shows and movies in the room repeated ad nauseam. Considering the number of DVDs in the Library, this could have been fixed very easily. Shopping on the ship is expensive: the same Citizen Eco-drive watch we bought in November on Voyager of the Seas for A$125 was £165 (or A$321) on the Aurora (true!!). There was a “50% off the ticketed price” of pearl jewellery one day – the only problem was there was no price on any of the tickets and to obtain any price you had to ask the sales assistant. We suspected that some “disabled” passengers were not so: a woman with a white cane swung it like a baton when she thought no-one was looking and another with a zimmer frame only used it when there was an advantage to be had. One old bloke with an ”L” plate on his electric scooter nearly took out the rear wall of the elevator, and continued to be a menace all around the ship. Genuine disabled passengers, young and old, were in full control of their movement aids and were an absolute pleasure to assist when the need arose. Daily gratuities were even charged for the International Dateline day, which didn’t exist. However the daily newsletter for this missing day was a hoot to read – well done P&O. The “Sounds of the Supremes” show was akin to scraping your fingernails down a chalkboard. Other regular passengers told us the comedians were still telling the same jokes as they did on the Aurora world cruise three years ago. We found that the arrival and departure times at ports that were advertised pre-cruise were often not the actual times we experienced. This makes booking independent tours more challenging. In Maui we were on the first tender but when we tied up at the wharf the US Customs guy ordered the tender to leave as he had received insufficient paperwork! We had to reverse and bob around outside the shipping lane while another tender raced from the ship with the necessary papers. At Honolulu there was no free ship’s shuttle (as promised by the Cruise Director) – the only free shuttles were run by the Maui Diver Pearl Shop and Hilo Hatties, each of which required you to spend some time in their shops. There was much pushing and shoving (and no ship’s crew in sight) by passengers with a Maui Diver sticker when the Hilo Hatties bus arrived first. On our afternoon shuttle back to the ship, the Hilo Hatties bus was half occupied by crew, meaning that some passengers had to wait for the next bus in one hour’s time. In the Bay of Islands the shuttle buses from Waitangi to Paihia were free – a service supplied by the local community. When we got off the ship in Wellington a girl with a ‘Security” tag asked to see our cruise cards – it turned out this was so she could scan them to charge us £4 each one-way for the ship’s shuttle bus, parked about 5 metres further on. Another security guy suggested we walk instead, which we did. Cruise ships don’t dock at Dunedin but at Port Chalmers, 10km away on Otago Harbour: the ship’s shuttle to Dunedin is £5 one-way. At Dusky Sound the captain announced over the PA that a naturalist would be giving a commentary into the Crows Nest as we sailed through the Sounds, but except for a ”Testing 1-2-3” we heard nothing. We had a 2 for 1 package ($3200 for 25 nights for both of us) so the value for money was unsurpassed. Others had a fly/cruise package which was also good value. However, due to the strict dress code, I could not recommend P&O UK to anyone, although I do appreciate that others may enjoy being regimented on holidays. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Flew out of Birmingham on a Dreamliner (excellent start) with the knowledge that our luggage would not be seen again until delivered to our cabin upon our arrival. Travel from airport to ship was interesting in a people carrier as opposed ... Read More
Flew out of Birmingham on a Dreamliner (excellent start) with the knowledge that our luggage would not be seen again until delivered to our cabin upon our arrival. Travel from airport to ship was interesting in a people carrier as opposed to a coach through the back streets to the ship. Embarkation was fairly quick and painless. Went to cabin which was a good size and well equipped, bathroom a bit small but adequate (underneath of toilet seat badly stained). The linen etc, looked a bit tired and could do with replacing. All staff very helpful and seemed cheerful during all of our time on the cruise. There were four sea days which created a problem with people putting them out early and then disappearing for some time and no staff checking the ships own policies regarding this issue. The loungers were so close together you could not step in between them to get on or off, but you had to get of the end (deplorable). We used Freedom dining so we could choose what time we ate which was useful in respect that if you wanted to see one of the entertainments such as a show you could make your eating arrangements to coincide with the time of the show. Having said that each show in whichever theatre or bar during the earlier part of the day was filled and no seats available for any extra people (too many passengers on ship to accommodate). Food available in restaurants was of a good standard, but did not match quality or variety of other ships we have been on. Buffet menu was not very varied but OK but very samey. Shows were on the whole OK with the guest artistes being very good(that's if you could get in to see them). Overall a good cruise but would not go with P & O again if this is the quality which we thought they would provide, other cruise lines we have used give better quality and service. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
We enjoyed most of our time on Azura. This was our 2nd Caribbean cruise and we chose this itinery as we revisited many of our favourite islands as well as sampling a few new ones. We flew from Gatwick with Thomas Cook. Before we ... Read More
We enjoyed most of our time on Azura. This was our 2nd Caribbean cruise and we chose this itinery as we revisited many of our favourite islands as well as sampling a few new ones. We flew from Gatwick with Thomas Cook. Before we went I asked to be transferred to a Thomson flight as I had previously had a poor experience with TC. My fears were unfounded …… leg room was adequate, the crew cheerful and helpful, the seats comfortable enough and we both felt the food was very good for a charter flight. The entertainment system was just ok unless you upgraded for an addition £4pp. A headwind led to a flight of over 9 hours which was a struggle but the busses to the ship were ready on arrival and we were at the port quite quickly. Unlike our previous cruise, the arrival shed was not that busy when we arrived. Yes it’s hot and a little cramped but hey you are on holiday, the weather is beautiful, the staff are cheerful and are doing their best to get everyone through the process and the queue moves quickly. That doesn’t stop the occasional overheard grumble from the queue but that I’m afraid is typical. A wander around the ship and a relaxing drink, the sun is going down and the time difference is telling you it’s already late so most have a quick dinner. I guess we were unlucky in that our cases hadn’t arrived at 10pm (2am UK time). This was some 6 1/2 hours after we landed so I reckon I could have walked them to the ship quicker. An enquiry to reception, many apologies and they materialised just before 11 so not impressed. We stayed in Barbados the following day so a walk to the beach was great and relaxing. The boatyard is not really for us so we walked another 200 yards along the beach where 2 sunbeds cost $10 and we got a couple of beers as well. Good times. The itinery was very good for us. We love Bonaire and especially the local artwork. We went on the mini sub experience and island tour at Curacao (via P&O) which was a very good day out. A wander round the town with a few drinks in the local bars in the afternoon was good fun. Aruba was new to us so we shared a taxi to Palm beach ($5 pp). We were dropped near the first of the big largely American hotels. Loungers were $9 each! but you did have the shade of beautiful palm trees if you so required. It did get very busy and on reflection perhaps Eagle beach would have been a better choice for us. A very helpful local lad explained where the bus stop was for the trip back - $2 pp. Amber Cove is the new Carnival funded “resort” that I guess is now almost a compulsory stop for all P&O cruises. It’s basically a very clean, very smart, large pool complex. Loungers are free but umbrellas are $8. To us it’s basically an additional sea day. Tortola was next and is one of our favourites. Went to Brewers Bay last time so it was Cane Garden for us this time. Got up very early and caught the first minibus. Arriving early, the beach was empty and the sea glorious, the diving birds great entertainment. Yes, it did get busy but still a great day. A very funny moment when swimming I overheard a lady comment that in her view the diving birds were dangerous and the locals would need to get rid of them if they wanted Cane Garden to be popular. Another gentleman pointed out that the birds keep well out your way and their ancestors were probably there well before the big cruise liners and she was being silly (or something like that). Cruisers are sometimes priceless. St Maarten next and an excellent Island tour including the famous Maho beach booked before travelling. Would recommend Jo Junie tours to anyone visiting the island. We made a mistake in Antigua and stayed in St Johns. The weather was poor and the heat oppressive. 5 miles up the road on the fantastic beaches it was brilliant apparently. Grenada was our final call and we did what most do and headed for Grand Anse plage via the water taxi for $8 each return. A beautiful beach and water but it does get very busy and you do get pestered a lot by local vendors selling drinks and water various water sports. Finally back to Barbados and our cruise was over. We loved the islands and people who live there. Although not as big as Britannia, Azura is big. At full capacity it just about copes for most of the time. The crew and staff are brilliant. Our cabin was looking a little tired in places but the steward was superb and kept everything neat and tidy. Waiting staff in the bars were always around and generally drinks arrive quickly. We were allocated Freedom dining in the Meridian restaurant. We found the food to be generally very good and for me it is amazing how they produce food of such quality for so many people. Service was generally very good and we had no delays being seated whether we asked for a table for 2 or were happy to be on a larger table. We also enjoyed the food at the Beach House and Epicurian – the Dover sole was superb - although I do wish the waiting staff in Epicurian would smile a bit more. The food in Sindhu was as good as ever and we would highly recommend. We went to the Glass House 3 times. We had 2 good meals but on the 3rd occasion we were totally ignored so after 10 minutes we left, unloved, and ate elsewhere. We enjoyed the entertainment and the Headliners shows but this brings me back to my earlier comment about Azura coping most of the time when full. As has been mentioned elsewhere on these boards for some shows you need to arrive at least 30 mins before start time but to be fair for some others 5 mins is ok. I have to confess that before I retired my work involved me watching and being aware of people and how they behave. It’s something I haven’t quite managed to stop doing. The reserving of seats in the theatre or sun loungers for that matter is no longer allowed – the Captain said so …… hmmm. The first arrivals to the theatre obviously head for the best seats which is fair enough. Others strategically place themselves near the back of each section at the end of rows. We didn’t understand this but it became apparent that this choice was designed to put them in the pole position to leave the theatre a few minutes before the show ended (bloody rude I reckon) so they could either walk, walk slightly faster, power walk or even in a few cases when the unthinkable had happened and they were not near the front of the exodus, run, to the next venue. One evening my wife was literally pushed to one side as she obviously wasn’t keeping up with the desired pace. Loiter at your peril and if you are “late” there will be no seats that are either not occupied or have handbags or jumpers placed on them. If P&O are aware of this problem they really should consider spacing the shows a bit more. The buffet for breakfast or lunch is hilarious. If the room is any more than 1/3 full then many will reserve a table with a rucksack, book or glass of water before leaving their prized possession to choose their food. Even funnier if a member of the waiting staff removes said glasses of water thinking they have been left and another couple/ family move into the now unprotected area. If more than ½ full then the leaving of token possessions is quite often not deemed sufficient to secure ownership and so a member of the family / couple is designated “table keeper” and sits there defying anyone else to get anywhere near. Being simple, I don’t understand this and feel that here would be less unavailability if everyone just went and got their food and then found somewhere to sit. A few people have commented that the chosing of food in the buffet can be a scrum. I have to say we didn’t see this and everyone was very polite although the amount of waste and left food is awful. We didn’t have any problems with sun loungers. My wife doesn’t enjoy just sunbathing and I’ve had enough after an hour or so. As early risers we did see many beds being reserved …. no they couldn’t be … the Captain said you shouldn’t. Anyway we did see lots of beds with “stuff on them, no idea why but we always found somewhere after breakfast but then again we were not fussy and we didn’t stay there long. We did enjoy our cruise. We met a lot of lovely people, visited a lot of nice places and ate and drunk far too much. I don’t know whether we will do it again, some of it is so good but equally some aspects are not so great. 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Sail Date January 2016
This was our seventh cruise with P&O and was the first for two years. This was the first time on Azura but we have been on Ventura twice and the rest were on Oceana which was our favourite. My first observation was how much had ... Read More
This was our seventh cruise with P&O and was the first for two years. This was the first time on Azura but we have been on Ventura twice and the rest were on Oceana which was our favourite. My first observation was how much had changed in the two years. There were a lot of niggling things, to of the lifts were not working throughout the cruise, if there is one thing to get the backs up of passengers its waiting for lifts. The ship looked worn, our cabin E416 was allocated and was scruffy, cigarette burn on the basin. It just looked a lot older than 6 years. The policy on alcohol had changed , now being allowed to bring your own on board, the spirit measure in all bars is 25 ml and 35 ml for fortified wines. For a decent drink of spirits a double is the order of the day which becomes ultra expensive. The breakfasts were as before and no problems, the lunches in the self service were without choice over a 14 day period. A lot was said about the the loss of silver service in the main evening restaurants and I agree , if there was any detrimental change I would say it was in the quality of food , there was little choice and minute portions. We were chartered out to Barbados by Thomas Cook the plane was uncomfortable and the crew were sullen. Having booked direct with P and O I asked for Premium Economy and was told it was full but I would be put on a waiting list , to shorten the story there was no Premium Economy available to book. The seats were narrow and the window seats were happened by the curve in the body of the plane. One area that was enjoyable was the entertainment especially the guest acts. Unfortunately the Headliners were same old and not of a decent standard. I understand that the Cruise market is extremely competitive and with a large new ship in the fleet to fill, savings have to be made, but I believe that the too many areas have been diluted , cost savings first passengers second. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
I could not believe that they tell us to book early for the best deals and it dropped £500 pound per person as well as it being very cold most of the way over the Atlantic and having being told when I was sat in the pool area late at ... Read More
I could not believe that they tell us to book early for the best deals and it dropped £500 pound per person as well as it being very cold most of the way over the Atlantic and having being told when I was sat in the pool area late at night that I would have to travel 2 floors up to get a calIipso coffee I could have any other alcoholic drink but not a coffee with alcohol so much for service on a cruise ship Shall think twice to tervel with this company again that's 2 in the last 12 months that have disserpointed me with p/o cruises I will be looking at Fred Olsen I have heared good things with them they will not con me out of £500 pounds per person and I am sure they will fall over backwards for there clients Watch this space for me booking else where. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
We had an excellent cabin with plenty of room and a large balcony but we did go for the upgraded superior double delux, some of the other cabins were tiny and only enough for two chairs on the small balcony. Bit surprised though that our ... Read More
We had an excellent cabin with plenty of room and a large balcony but we did go for the upgraded superior double delux, some of the other cabins were tiny and only enough for two chairs on the small balcony. Bit surprised though that our room did not have a docking station for the ipod, and didn't include free wifi. My electric shaver wouldn't fit the socket in the bathroom so run out of charge. The pool area was crammed with sunbeds and hardly room to move. This area was know by guests as "Benidorm". The first week we had 3 formal nights which was a bit too much then we only had one on the second week. We had a number of days at sea, not going anywhere just sailing round when we could have been ashore visiting an island, all to keep us onboard spending money. The food in the restaurant on a night was ok but small portions but you had to like green beans as they were served with everything. There was no wow factor with the ship like others we have been on the atrim was very poor normally the hub on the ship and meeting area. The ship is meant to be like a 5 star hotel but did lack a little. I would not expect several toilets in the public area to be constantly blocked or out of order. During the day at the aft of the ship there was a wiff of effluent waffing about when we were sat in the bar. One tip do not book the trip to Cockleshell beach St Kitts this is an absolute dump not what is in the pictures, no white sand or blue sea and full of rotting seaweed, many people on the trip refused to stay. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
This was the second time we have cruised with P&O . We did a previous cruise on the Oriana six years ago . Embarkation was quick and trouble free and we were pleased with our cabin which was kept immaculately by our very efficient ... Read More
This was the second time we have cruised with P&O . We did a previous cruise on the Oriana six years ago . Embarkation was quick and trouble free and we were pleased with our cabin which was kept immaculately by our very efficient stewardess . We had freedom dining and enjoyed the flexibility of this and the excellent food . The restaurant staff were courteous and efficient . There was virtually no waiting time . There were some negative aspects however . We were never able to see any evening entertainment (for the 8.30 show) because it was impossible to obtain a seat . Passengers were waiting in the theater up to 45 minutes before the show started and we never managed to get there in time . The 10.30 show was too late for us . This was disappointing . Obviously there is not enough seating available . The library facilities were particularly poor . Not enough space , not enough books not enough seating , far inferior to the Oriana library . Day time entertainment while at sea was dire and could have been so much better . The lifeboat speaker was very good but had exhausted all his material by the second talk and from then on was scraping the barrel . The best entertainment was provided by other passengers eg. Speaker`s Corner . We were often disturbed by excessive noise- loud music etc . This was because of the location of our cabin on Lido deck . Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
This was our 5th cruise to the Caribbean with P&O having sailed previously on Ventura and Azura. Here's our top 3 positive and negative points Positives 1) The overall Azura cruise experience was quite good, on a ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise to the Caribbean with P&O having sailed previously on Ventura and Azura. Here's our top 3 positive and negative points Positives 1) The overall Azura cruise experience was quite good, on a generally clean, well run ship. 2) Our preferred Freedom dining restaurant was well managed with varied menus, good quality food and consistent service. 3) Cabin / Restaurant / Bar & Reception colleagues were all very good, cheerful and responsive to our needs. Negatives 1) The Thomas Cook charter flight out of Manchester was a very poor experience. The Airbus 330 aircraft used had fixed, non adjustable seating making an 8 ½ hour flight really uncomfortable. Obvious cost cutting by P&O over the last few years now means no complimentary drinks or snacks (other than tea & coffee with the 1 meal and 1 snack served) and having to pay for a half decent premium TV & Movie option. 2) Our balcony cabin interior was disappointing, particularly the worn carpet, 'well washed' bed linen and uncomfortable mattress. Our bathroom would have benefited from a deep clean. 3) We found the entertainment team were both self indulgent and monotonous. It seemed like every 5 mins we were asked to applaud a member of our “Award winning entertainment team”, who each then repeatedly asked us “Are you happy?” until they got the required response. In summary the cruise on Azura was basically a good holiday, however in comparison to our previous P&O cruise experiences, it did not quite deliver to the same standard. We were a little disappointed with the cabin carpet & bedding which were obviously not replaced on Azura's recent re-fit. The only real disappointment for us, which may become a 'show stopper' for us in the future was the P&O Thomas Cook charter flight out of Manchester. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
We booked this cruise as soon as it was offered, ie day one. This 'American Adventure' was P&O's first try at a 50 day UK to UK round trip, taking us to the Caribbean, Central America and the southern States, eg Florida, ... Read More
We booked this cruise as soon as it was offered, ie day one. This 'American Adventure' was P&O's first try at a 50 day UK to UK round trip, taking us to the Caribbean, Central America and the southern States, eg Florida, New Orleans and South Carolina, calling at Bermuda on the way home. A fab itinerary you will agree and we enjoyed the ports very much, calling at a few we had never visited before like Cartagena in Colombia and Miami to name but two. We also had great company on the cruise as so many old cruising pals had booked this trip too. It had been hyped up as a 'wonderful adventure' so we naturally thought that P&O would pull out all the stops to make it extra special. Well it would have been had it not been for the issues with the ship. Cabins were shabby with the furnishings in some, ie sofas, having ground in dirt on the arms and tired, wobbly fittings in bathrooms. 99% of the recliner chairs on the aft decks were broken with the seat part breaking away from the frame and sagging so that you were sitting on the spars underneath. Very uncomfortable! You could not sit on them without at least a folded towel, or, as some passengers did, using the cushions and even the pillows from the cabin! We were on 2nd sitting dining with our friends and some nights service was so slow that we did not get our main course until around 9.50. The food, when it did come was at best fairly edible but at worst (too often) completely inedible. It was often lukewarm or congealed on the plate as if it had been sitting around for ages. One friend's chicken curry consisted of 3 lumps of chicken with a streak of dried up sauce on the plate under them! Another was served coq a' vin in which the chicken turned out to be still bleeding! There was hardly any variety of vegetables served with meals and the standing joke among pax was that they'd gotten a job lot of green beans because they were served up on just about every main course! The entertainment was mixed. Some very good, some mediocre, some very very bad! I won't go into specifics but let's just say that I don't find a trumpet player who can't even play it very well, or a mouth organ player, very exciting entertainment for a 45 minute slot in the main theatre! We did have some very good speakers onboard and enjoyed them. One of the biggest bugbears was that there were contractors onboard for the whole seven weeks, working around the lifeboats housings. They hammered, banged and welded away merrily from morning till night, closing off areas of the promenade deck so that we could not use it. Friends were woken at 5.00 am one morning when the hammering started! Not on! This could and should have been a great cruise in every way. The ports were great but we felt that P&O let us down by their sadly falling standards and after nearly 18 years of loyalty to them we are probably going to look elsewhere in future. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
The sea crossing across the Atlantic was far too long going via Tenerife as was the crossing coming home. A possible 6 day crossing was 11days both ways with roughish seas and cold weather. A roof over the pool would have made it nicer. ... Read More
The sea crossing across the Atlantic was far too long going via Tenerife as was the crossing coming home. A possible 6 day crossing was 11days both ways with roughish seas and cold weather. A roof over the pool would have made it nicer. The ports were all great except Guatemala and even P&O wrote nothing here to attract tourists! $50 for a taxi anywhere! Most not on an excursion did not venture from the port! The ship is very nice apart from the Peninsular Restaurant where a noisy prop shaft made dinner a challenge, the knives and forks rattled around and even off the table if you were not quick enough. As usual the staff are the biggest asset for P&O. We had an excellent Cabin stewardess and also two excellent waiters. Our table of 8 was not ideal as two couples were over eighty and hard work. I think Freedom dining sounds the best option as die hard P&O cruisers stick to the MDR. The food was the worst I've known we did Balmoral works cruise and the food was far superior. Saying that we dined 3 times at the Sindhu which cost £15 a head and it was superb. The Indian and Asian nights in the Conservatory were also very good. Overall we enjoyed the ports and most of the ship but would not choose the Oriana again unless the Prop shaft was fixed or we ate in the Oriental restaurant which was quieter. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
The main purpose of taking this cruise was to escape January in the UK and this it did although we were repeatedly told that it was the worst crossing weatherwise for many a year. On the outward journey we experienced very rough seas with ... Read More
The main purpose of taking this cruise was to escape January in the UK and this it did although we were repeatedly told that it was the worst crossing weatherwise for many a year. On the outward journey we experienced very rough seas with a severe swell although Captain Bourne did his best to make a detour around the low pressure. The weather in the Caribbean in January is by no means continuous sunshine although the sea and land averaged 26 degrees. The captain left us in Barbados, presumably to take his leave but with the changeover of cruise director as well later it did mean there was a little lack of continuity. As many have reported, the ship is showing considerable wear and tear particularly on deck despite the brave efforts of the maintenance crew who were out in all weathers trying to deal with rust and worn hand rails.Unless the ship is taken out of service(apparently not due until Autumn 2017)problems will nodoubt continue to occur such as leaking pipes ,malfunctioning toilets,failing tv mast. This was probably more evident on a long cruise with many sea days. We had an inside cabin which was very tight especially when set up with a double bed. It was almost impossible to access chest of drawers alongside and tv the only chair had to be used as a bedside table on the other side. The tv was woeful,the screen very small,making it almost impossible to read script ,but even that failed for the last week when the transmitter broke. Allocated 2nd sitting we are in the main dining room for dinner where the food was acceptable and we quickly learnt to pick the dishes where the quality could be relied on. Some of the dishes were strange to say the least and the standing joke was the predominance of green beans. The entertainment was repetitive and of variable quality.High lights for us was the ventriloquist and the lady who played the flute. The classical music performers were frequently better than the others but were not so well attended,probably because of the timing of their appearances, eg 4pm 7pm. Numerous quizzes were almost always won by the same people which became a bit tedious. Spa talks were inevitably centred round extracting money at exhorbitant prices. The Atrium serves as a wonderful hub but I was reliably told is woefully inadequate as a dance floor. It is also used for spa talks(have your issues discussed in full view of all passengers ?) and shopping mall/coffee shops/shore excursions/cruise bookings which leads to a busy atmosphere. Ports of call Madeira walked around (free wi fi in shopping arcade and Mc D) Antigua taxi prices are fixed by state and we'll organised Barbados lovely beach within walking distance of ship St Lucia taxis Beach trip through ship was OK but did not like being lined up on sunbeds like sardines. Prefer to be independent but we learned for next time Grenada water taxi 4 dollars to beach byeater taxi Aruba Submarine trip enjoyed Panama great experience and beautiful clear hot day Roatan nice private beach short walk from ship. Shame there was a very cold wind Cozumel flat island did a tour OK Jamaica A number of passengers had bad experience here. Hassle by taxi drivers felt threatened. Tortola beautiful setting but town undergoing building works Would recommend the local bus tour 15 dollars St Maarten Very busy with several cruise ships in but good local beach and good for last minute shopping. Azores Trip across island to volcanic springs . A quiet pleasant island very green . Weather here was 15 degrees and damp but it was January. Then followed another stormy crossing of Bay of Biscay with captain trying to get ahead of Storm Imogen. In conclusion we enjoyed our trip mainly because of the price we paid made it excellent value for money and the staff and passengers with few exceptions were friendly, willing to have a go at most things and despite all the niggles were determined to enjoy themselves and be thankful they were out of the UK in January/early Feb Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Returned on the 8th Feb from a 35 night cruise on P and O "Oceana" from the Caribbean , I wrote to the CEO of P and O some two and a half weeks ago by recorded delivery. Had absolutely no response. I e-mailed a contact there ... Read More
Returned on the 8th Feb from a 35 night cruise on P and O "Oceana" from the Caribbean , I wrote to the CEO of P and O some two and a half weeks ago by recorded delivery. Had absolutely no response. I e-mailed a contact there attaching a copy of the letter. I did get a reply saying that the e-mail and attached letter had been received. Another working week has passed and absolutely nothing has been heard since. Ship is a disgrace, Rusty and generally in poor condition. The evening food in Adriatic restaurant has deteriorated dreadfully. We complained, sent food back, asked to speak to the Chef, he didn't bother to respond. Green Beans were a standing joke. WAITERS were JUST GREAT even though they got the brunt of our complaints. Food in other areas was OK. Our cabin was comfortable but we had lots of trouble with the air conditioning and shower temperatures. 5 visits from Ventilation engineer to sort aircon and 3 to sort the shower, I have the work cards. They told me the ship was old and things were worn out! The balcony had a mysterious powder escaping from the damaged aluminium panels either side of the doors. ASBESTOS? P and O have seen the pictures I took. Water cascaded at times making it hit and miss whether we could actually use the balcony at all. Not raining at the time so it wasn't just that. Lots of other things NEEDED FIXING. Same trouble with the aircon in the evening venues. The Entertainment was hit and miss. One entertainer's luggage and Guitar was lost on the way to the ship. The NEW captain was informed about the problems but he didn't bother to even acknowledge my on board letter. All very disappointing. We've been cruising many times before and not had so many Issues. Nothing is ever perfect but surely it should be better than this. Come on P and O shake yourself up Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
How lucky are these cruise companies to keep such loyal, hardworking crew ?! On this ship (as on Fred Olsen Boudicca my other review) almost to a "man" they worked hard for long hours regardless of start/finish time whilst ,no ... Read More
How lucky are these cruise companies to keep such loyal, hardworking crew ?! On this ship (as on Fred Olsen Boudicca my other review) almost to a "man" they worked hard for long hours regardless of start/finish time whilst ,no doubt as instructed, remaining energetic, cheerful and courteous. Without this elite standard of relentless service the cruise we've come home from would have sunk without trace. Political-correctness-gone-mad prevents me from penning comments about ethnic origins and contracts up for review versus permanent posts awarded to whatever ethnic group. I loath the gratuity loading system and, this time, opted out.I feel that, somehow, this is an underhand method of massaging the company's wage bill. Instead I generously tipped the many who afforded us special service, spending far more than would have been added to my on board spend. On the reverse side, these diligent crew who were drinks waiters seemed driven beyond the desire to provide a service. Could they be target/commission/threshold motivated ? They frequently chimed into conversations and company with an absence of the commonplace courtesy of their colleagues. However, no great problem. The standard of food was excellent. The menu was varied and imaginative. These people can cook and present fish dishes, by the way ! The restaurants, along with all the other venues, excepting the arena theater to a degree, just aren't commodious enough to COMFORTABLY accommodate all who wish to avail themselves of them. A great percentage of two seater accommodation in the restaurants were no more than multi seater tables split by inches. A squashy backrest served as one seat into the bargain. The seating arrangement in the Tamarind, Havana and red room was so ill designed it made attending the venues not uncomfortable exactly, but not as carefree as one would hope on holiday, let alone a cruise. It wouldn't take an interior designer of note to fathom out furnishing plans in what, otherwise, would do in the perfectly spacious rooms- simply someone with a bit of common sense. Mr. P&O has never tried to get a seat and remain comfortable in these venues, I'll bet. "Top line entertainment" heralds the blurb. It wasn't rubbish. Much of it one could easily turn up at the local or social club and get something akin. Some of it was astounding. There were musicians among the resident group and band who were punching well below their weight. It was a privilege to hear them. They were pushed into the distance by mediocre front artists. No one was urged to dance thanks to the flat atmosphere created by the rooms, stage presence and the entertainment management altogether. One group specialised in music that I love but were unbearable thanks to a terrible imbalance of the individual component musicians. However, entertainment was ever present throughout the day. I, personally, enjoy a lounge type of environment with, perhaps, a pianist or lounge entertainer. The metropolis seemed to be just the thing I was looking forward to. We tried it a couple of times and, whilst the furnishings weren't too badly arranged, the duo were so irritating, twice was sufficient. There's absolutely nothing to say about our balcony cabin nor the steward. If I spent all day in the cabin and on the balcony with the odd cabin serviced breakfast, down for mealtimes in my monkey suite and catch a couple of worthwhile shows-well-I've got my money's worth. I want my wife to be comfortable and treated like a lady. Thanks to my tipping regime, that's precisely what I got. My wife enjoys a swim on a cruise but, the pool areas were so uninviting she gave it a miss. One pool area caters for the smokers (if you enjoy passive smoking take a trip along deck 15) who were ever present and the other for the packed cafe's overflow. Going onto the deck above was somewhat more enjoyable and that is what we did. Take a tip from me. Go on the coach. We went by Cruise Connect. This is like a "get out of jail free card" when embarking and disembarking. I still can't believe the ease of arriving and leaving. Again, political-correctness-gone-mad prevents me from airing my true views. Suffice is to say, a percentage of our fellow passengers didn't seem to fully appreciate nor avail themselves of the high, professional class of service which could be achieved. Value for money ? Undeniably so. Compare this cruise to what would be available on land, considering the sum of all components, there's nothing to touch it. We've returned, however, not having not enjoyed our holiday. To say that would be silly. "Cruising", however, conjures up an impression of sophistication, panache,style, class and the zenith of luxury. I guess the cruise companies are actively working to dispel this profile in order to encourage all comers. I doubt we'll cruise again. Certainly not with P&O. Shame. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Just back from a cruise around the Caribbean on Britannia. I thought the crew on board were all great with maybe one exception - that is Reception. I've seen this before on cruise ships that the worst people working in personal ... Read More
Just back from a cruise around the Caribbean on Britannia. I thought the crew on board were all great with maybe one exception - that is Reception. I've seen this before on cruise ships that the worst people working in personal contact and the most unhelpful are given jobs on reception. Must be a peculiar quirk of the cruise industry in general. Food. The food in the Horizon Buffet Restaurant was great both morning and lunchtime. The breakfast could be better if warmer. It seemed on occasions that the only really warm plates were only to be found next to the salad bar! I was not overly impressed with the dishes served in the Oriental Restaurant in the evening. The chefs seem to invent lots of fancy names for what amounts to vegetable slop for the main course. Having tried the "fancy food" I settled mostly for the steak option as this came with unspoilt vegetables and the chips were superb. One night I tried the chef's special lobster but I think this was overcooked and then spiced up to give it back some semblance of flavour. Quite the best main course was the "Fish and Chips" with mushy peas. Much better than the local chippy. I could not fault the service. All the waiters were great and nothing was too much trouble, even remembering my favourite wine and then the decaffeinated coffee. The Ship. There are a number of points where I would criticise the design and layout of the ship. The access to the Oriental Restaurant. This is ONLY from the lift lobby on deck 6. If on leaving you try to walk down the stairs to deck 5 (for reception) your way is blocked at the bottom of the stair by "Crew Only" doors. So back up to deck 7, walk along and go back down to 5. No stairs above level 7 in the centre lift lobby. Already mentioned by other passengers. The hand rails on the accommodation decks are a pain (literally) there is no return at the end of the rails and these jut out into the hallway ready to bruise one's forearm as you pass the cabin steward trolleys. One of the hand rails (Deck 11 Port) has the protective end-stop missing giving the potential for a nasty cut should you bang your arm on that one! I reported it as an H&S risk but nothing was done over the 2 weeks. They wash the decks every night in the open air section of Horizons - but leave puddles all over for the morning. They never seem to wipe over the tables in the Horizons outdoor area. A great breeding ground for all the bugs they are hoping to eradicate! On the subject of hygiene and hand washing - very few of the soap dispensers around the ship actually work ! Joining the ship. This was a disaster! I guess somebody forgot to arrange for our collection from the airport. After landing we were kept waiting on the 'plane for over half an hour waiting for buses to take us to the ship. The only person to apologise for this was the Thomson captain of the 'plane. Nothing from P&O. We were eventually shipped to the port in a number of clapped out buses that were lucky to complete the journey. Then into that cattle-shed that passes for an arrivals hall at Bridgetown. After a long wait in the zig-zag we eventually made it to the ship where we expected to be greeted. No such luck. Eventually we found a crew member who thought she knew were the lifts were and told us which floor to select. She sent us in the wrong direction! The departure was no better at the airport. The usual lines but then they bussed us out to the 'plane before they were ready. Re-fuelling was still in process so we waited on the buses for about 10 minutes then they bundled us all off to stand on the tarmac next to the fuel truck whilst those at the front filed up the single stairway. Surely (apart from the H&S risk) it would have been better to have held the passengers in the departure lounge, bussed them to the 'plane WHEN READY and done this by seat row groups. Fortunately the very recent rain storm had passed over! In conclusion I feel that P&O now have a very large ship that carries a larger number of passengers - it will be a few years before they become accustomed to handling that number. Entertainment We enjoyed the lectures, and the classical shows in both the Horizons and the Studio. The Horizons theatre is great - it is good to have a purpose built theatre on a ship. The productions by the entertainment team were good but Oh Dear - they were all spoilt by the sound being much too loud. Loud to the point of distortion. We had to leave early on all occasions of show nights as we value our hearing too much. Why does everything have to be so loud! Are all entertainment managers deaf? Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
We stayed at the Premier Inn Gatwick the night before our flight (TOM024). Turned out to be a great idea and at just £39 for the night, excellent value to boot. We ate in the restaurant which had a nice atmosphere and some of the ... Read More
We stayed at the Premier Inn Gatwick the night before our flight (TOM024). Turned out to be a great idea and at just £39 for the night, excellent value to boot. We ate in the restaurant which had a nice atmosphere and some of the friendliest staff I've come across in similar hotels. Overall score for hotel: 11/10 We nipped across the road to the terminal just two hours before the flight and there were just three families ahead of us in the queue. I was sad to hear an old couple's tale who - not being internet savvy - hadn't realised that they had to book (and pay) for seats (together) despite 'upgrading' to Premium via their travel agent. This saw them sitting apart for the 8 hour journey. Cheap tactics by P&O (with whom we are contracted with, not Thomson). Overall airport experience (ours, not the old dears) score: 10/10 Onboard on time and a nice new aircraft. The 3-4-3 config is a pain if you need to go to the loo often (oh, the struggles of being a 50-year-old man :-)). We had 13A/B both ways which, in hindsight were a poor choice for above mentioned reason. Should have gone for 13B/C for easy access. Shortage of loos and iffy configuration make for a clunky aircraft layout. No crossing over at any point except at rear of aircraft. The staff were quite pointed about this and it was very much a charter level of service. Cheapo headphones handed out (you need to keep them for the return trip!) and drinks service begins. The inflight mag starts off by saying that "the first drink is on us". But it isn't. Cabin crew response; "Oh, you're P&O charter so you have to pay for everything". Nice. Feels like I'm flying Ryanair. And please remember; P&O make these rules, not Thomsons. Cheap, very cheap, unlike the cruise. Food, both ways, actually pretty good. No choice; get what you're given. Overall flight/service score: 6/10 Uneventful flight (one film watched) and - after a short delay while the aircraft arrival team were found - we were led off to awaiting buses. Ours, a 1960s number, was a bit scruffy and didn't have A/C but I assumed that was because P&O got it for 30p cheaper than a newer version. Windows all wedged open, off we set. Arrived safely at the terminal which was a bit less modern than I imagined, but it did the job and we were soon through security (look out for the washing up bowls to stick your stuff through the X-ray machine on) on the ship. Overall transfer/check in score: 7/10 Our balcony cabin, F402, came with a sofa and we were glad we'd paid the little extra for this. - Excellent TV with some hi-def channels. - Small but perfectly formed shower room/loo. Good lighting, decent towels. Smart toiletries (The White Co.) which were replenished on request. - Good comfy bed and linen, changed once a week. - Balcony, fine for us but heard others complain it was smaller than normal. - General hotel-style feel to the room. Overall score for room/service: 10/10 Because we arrived on the 'second' day, it was less hectic with few people hanging around for flights. We had a mooch around to suss stuff out. Cases turned up at 7.45pm, three hours after we did, after we gave our very helpful/friendly cabin boy a friendly nudge. Breakfast: Great. Something for everyone. 9/10 (good toast would have meant a perfect 10) Buffet: Plentiful, generally aways piping hot (if it should be) and perfectly OK. Not great on seasoning but understandably they are catering to the lowest common denominator and many don't like salt/pepper etc. Felt like they had gone a bit mad on turkey/Christmas food as hard to escape it. 8/10 Buffet 'late night snacks' Pretty uninspiring and basically the days' leftovers (confirmed by staff) with pizza/chips added. 5/10 Epicurean Absolutely great. Food, service and ambience. A 'must do'. 10/10 Beach house Not sure why it's called the 'Beach house' as it's effectively the back bit of the buffet where P&O have established they can rake a few extra quid in. Better than the buffet but not great for what you pay. 7/10 Sindhu Nice ambience, good food but lacking a spice 'kick'. Great tho to escape the usual. 9/10 Peninsular Freedom dining venue, perfectly OK. Decent offering. Always happy to help. 8/10 Limelight (Jackie G) Seated at back of room so a little 'out of it'. No bread served despite a European menu. Quite wedding banquet-ish in terms of service. Jackie G gets a 7/10. Mad as a box of monkeys (in a nice way). 8/10 Bars/wine waiters Spot on. Pub prices and decent house wine (always available yet cunningly not on all menus!). 10/10 Stuff to do We love a swimming pool but the ones on 16 were a bit Benidorm-ish due to the fact that the loungers were mostly 'reserved' with a towel (pegged on), book and personal items from 6.45/7 then unused for hours until the bleary-eyed mob came along to claim them. Personally witnessed beds reserved and unused for 6 hours+. P&O give the blurb that this isn't allowed them say 'get on with it' doing nothing to police. Lazy and left a sour flavour, every day. 4/10 Entertainment Top-class. Shows amazing. Went to many of the 'early' shows to guarantee a seat. Brilliantly done. I thought I would hate the 'big' sail away party but decided to give it a go. Toe-curling and cheesy but excellent fun at the same time. Loved 'waving' goodbye to leaving ships alongside who seemed to love the cheers too. It's a 'must see'. 11/10 Last day The last day was a but undignified. Tossed out of your cabin at 8am (cases the night before) saw cabin baggage suitcases a over the place. People showering by pool/getting dressed etc. Even saw a lady with full set of curlers in. Buffet packed and generally all a bit messy. Wish i could have fast-forwarded past this bit. Disembarkation very smooth (newish bus too). Airport a bit crappy (not enough seats) and no usable wifi. Flight home uneventful. Bags on carousel quickly. In conclusion, great ship, amazing entertainment, decent food and a good opportunity to see lots of different places. Would we cruise again? Probably not. At least not this side of 60 and not on a P&O vessel as we'd have liked a more cosmopolitan bunch from different parts of the world. The crowd just weren't who we wanted to be around. Horses for courses and all that. It would be a dull world if we all liked the same stuff. Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Where do I start? A good holiday, the Britannia has many good points, but has several points needing attention urgently. One of the things we like to do is, get up early as we are coming into port, take those lovely sunrise pictures, ... Read More
Where do I start? A good holiday, the Britannia has many good points, but has several points needing attention urgently. One of the things we like to do is, get up early as we are coming into port, take those lovely sunrise pictures, this is impossible on the Britannia, you simply cant get to the front of the ship, no proper promenade or access to the front. This ship is all about getting as much money per square foot as possible. Market Café –what a waste of space on the ground floor of the atrium, also expensive. Decoration throughout the ship minimalistic no art gallery, very few paintings. Atrium very pretty, but what a waste of space, needs using, dance floor / piano music. I liked the reception being just off the atrium no queuing in thoroughfare. Cabin – inside on deck 12 C midship Really liked new shower with glass doors and proper shelves, very smart vanity area, but no indentation for the soap, we ended up putting the soap on the face cloth. The cabin was very similar to Ventura in layout, the plug socket still useless for charging phones etc. much too close to the vanity top again. The lighting needs looking into, no separate bedside lights, and confusing switches. Beds were very comfortable, plenty of storage space. Access to on-board account through the TV as the Ventura I thought would be standard on all new ships, when I questioned this I was told the accounts software doesn’t work with the other services on the TV [surely a custom built interface would overcome this]. Midships stairway – it needs one urgently! Even if you are going 1 floor you need to use the lift, madness! After waiting over 5 minutes to go up to the lido deck [3 floors] we decided to use the emergency stairway through the midships next to the lifts, there were several people were doing this. The MDR- Peninsular similar to Ventura, but the food not so well presented, a bit slapdash. Only 1 or 2 wine waiters seem to be working the whole room, you can wait a long time for a bottle of wine. Horizon – the buffet – Excellent layout you can always find a seat, food very good quality and variety. Glasshouse – top of the atrium, not a great place within the ship layout as on the Ventura, but the food still excellent. Brodies – excellent pub atmosphere where quizzes are played, some of the music very loud. Crows nest – lovely quiet cocktail bar, we had a pre-dinner cocktail most evenings, very good g&t menu. Staff – our cabin steward was very good, I found the bar staff very attentive and helpful, the only people we found not helpful was the waiters in the Peninsular, quite rude. Itinerary It was quite good before someone ‘forgot’ to book a berth at one of the islands, and the order was changed, which caused problems for some people and Sunday opening hours, market days on island etc. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
We arrived at the Mayflower terminal at the allocated time, but there was a very long queue to leave car.Eventually after 1 hour of waiting we left our car to be parked by CPS. Checked in and boarded immediately and went straight to our ... Read More
We arrived at the Mayflower terminal at the allocated time, but there was a very long queue to leave car.Eventually after 1 hour of waiting we left our car to be parked by CPS. Checked in and boarded immediately and went straight to our cabin B756 Aft with very large balcony. Overall my impressions are that Ventura is looking a bit tired even though she had a refit in April 2013. Bed was comfortable but pillows too thin, bathroom ok again a bit tired looking and stained including the shower curtain. Towels must have been there sinc she was first in service because they were always thin and rough and need replacing. Balcony glass on the inside was very dirty ? sand/rain from the Canaries but hadnt been cleaned. All these things I kept my eye out for the steward but only saw him once ! We were allocated Freedom dining for the first time in 6 cruises but it was ok met lots of people to talk over dinner with,service and food was ok but not amazing and had to wait for wine/water/rolls /order to be taken at times. Beach house was very good for a supplement but failed to get into Glass House or Sindhu as hadnt booked and it was full with 1.5 hr waits at lunchtime on the enforced sea days. Trip to Brugges was "Brugges at your own pace" a P&O excursion, but having dropped us off the coach we had to walk into the town through a park, well I cant walk very fast and use a stick as I have a bad back and 2 bad knees, and the guide just frogmarched us off and I couldnt keep up , particularly on the way back at the end, i was the last person to get to the coach and they were all waiting for me! Very embarrassing!! Also there was another lady with a walking stick like me, and she just disappeared so dont know where she went! Probably gave up and got taxi back!! Unfortunately due to the wind we were unable to dock in Amsterdam for New Years, very disappointing especially as the Q Victoria was already docked there. Couldnt be helped I know but we were not offerred anything as a recompence,eg, free wifi or a glass of champagne to celebrate! We spent the next two days at sea coasting down the English Channel at 5 knots, where P&O will have made a lot more money out of us due to 2 sea days and we docked at midnight in Southampton. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We were excited to experience a P and O ship after several Celebrity cruises. Upon embarkation, the first thing we noticed was the absence of a welcome drink or any staff to welcome us aboard and offer directions to the restaurants or ... Read More
We were excited to experience a P and O ship after several Celebrity cruises. Upon embarkation, the first thing we noticed was the absence of a welcome drink or any staff to welcome us aboard and offer directions to the restaurants or cabins. Once in our cabin on deck A, our cabin steward came to introduce himself. He was curt and appeared miserable: the poor chap was possibly tired from the Christmas cruise. The cabin was well appointed and we were happy with the large towels and White Company toiletries. Food in Horizon buffet restaurant was poor - especially the late selection on New Year's Eve when many revellers ended up queuing for a very small selection of low grade options including a few rolls, Christmas cake and mince pies or the hot options of chips, watery lasagne and pizza slices that had dried up and were almost impossible to bite. Again, Celebrity's Ocean View Café offered very good quality food including the late night selection. Entertainment was poor. The dance troop tried hard but the performances were not to a good standard and the Abba dance show was really not suitable for a family show. Some sections would not have been out of place in a Gentlemen's club. Food in the Medina restaurant was of a good standard and we found something we liked every evening. Afternoon tea in the Medina was also good. There were lots of nice places to sit and have a drink. We enjoyed the costa coffee on board and did try to eat in Sindhu but left it too late to book. The launderettes on board looked very well equipped and tidy: this is not a facility we have found on Celebrity. This was supposed to be a celebration cruise as it included New Year's Eve. However, there was very little atmosphere. Overall, Celebrity ticks all of our boxes. We missed their excellent customer focus and attention to detail. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was our 4th Oceana cruise. Others were all on smaller ships which we prefer although this one was not overcrowded with the exception of the excursions.. Our biggest complaint is the extras. For the most part , they were all grossly ... Read More
This was our 4th Oceana cruise. Others were all on smaller ships which we prefer although this one was not overcrowded with the exception of the excursions.. Our biggest complaint is the extras. For the most part , they were all grossly overpriced and poor quality. The excursions were extremely expensive, large groups and very poor quality. The wine is over the top expensive and if you purchase a wine plan be careful as you will get lousy wine and pay a big price for it. One particular example to point out is the SPA. My wife had a manicure knowing that it would be 3 to 4 times more than she pays at home, however when she was charged an extra $35.00 to remove her old polish, she was in shock and this was NOT disclosed up front. I like to use the steam room when sailing and the SPA did not have a decent supply of toiletries available which I had to bring along from our stateroom. Overall, we had a good time but would think twice before doing Oceana again. The staff was great! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Oriana is our favourite cruise ship and have sailed on her 4 times but she is in desperate need of a major overhaul the noise in the dining room from the engine room made it impossible to hold a conversation with fellow table guests. We ... Read More
Oriana is our favourite cruise ship and have sailed on her 4 times but she is in desperate need of a major overhaul the noise in the dining room from the engine room made it impossible to hold a conversation with fellow table guests. We believe that she will be getting a make over in December 2016 but what I have read it is only smoothing over the cracks she needs a major overhaul and we will not sail on her again until the problems with the engine have been resolved. The entertainment was poor considering it was a Christmas and New Year cruise with very few special arrangements for in comparison to the one we had about 10 years before in the Caribbean with PO. The food and service in the restaurant in the evening was good and an effort was made to maintain dress code which appears to be a thing of the past and what I mean by that is if it is a formal evening keep it a formal evening unlike the cruise we have just had with Princess where there appeared to be a competition with some guest as to who could get away with the minimum dress effort being made. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Booked this cruise because it fitted in with our holiday dates and included New Year's Eve in Madeira. A good holiday overall, but the ship and cruise experience left a few things to be desired. I hope that someone from P&O takes ... Read More
Booked this cruise because it fitted in with our holiday dates and included New Year's Eve in Madeira. A good holiday overall, but the ship and cruise experience left a few things to be desired. I hope that someone from P&O takes notice of the different reviews on this site as the overall feeling of disappointment expressed by nearly all those who have written in does need addressing. Arrived at Southampton at our timed 'slot', only to be told that (due to bad weather and a problem with the gangplank) everyone was running at least an hour late. Plenty of space and free magazines in the waiting room but no drinks/ food unless you queued up and paid, which was a bit annoying given the lengthy delay. Check in was somewhat inefficient. We were among the last ten passengers to board and, as soon as I got on the boat, I was told that my cruise card needed re-magnetising. (This became a common refrain throughout the trip.) Then the customary queues for the lifts- made worse in this case because only one set of lifts seemed to go all they way up to our deck. By the end of the cruise, we had worked out how to navigate the journey (one set of lifts in the middle of the ship, walk a bit and then another set up to deck 9) but it wasn't clear on arriving what we needed to do. I had booked a non-balcony cabin (C219 on Deck 9) which turned out to be a good idea and better than my parents' balcony cabin (also on Deck 9). Where they had a balcony, which they hardly used due to the weather, I had extra seating space. The balcony cabin was the tiniest we have ever seen: there was nowhere to sit and, when my parents asked for a chair, they got the sort of banqueting chair you would stack in a dining room. In both our cabins, the bathroom space was also tiny. The safety drill was almost as soon as we had got on- the crew in the theatre, where I had to go, were a bit officious over 'moving to the end of the row' and 'coming to the front of the theatre' but I suppose they know that this is the only way to get people in and out quickly. About the ship: the reviews which say that it is past its prime are not wrong! Tales of broken loos and non-functioning air conditioning were endemic. Throughout, there were buckets in the corridors dealing with leaks. The decor is woe begone and the carpets have been re-patched many times. The atrium was nicely decorated for Christmas and the Dining Room was smart enough but this ship is definitely due for a re-vamp. In terms of facilities, there were enough laundromats for washing to be done without undue waiting. The general shop and the duty free shops were well stocked and the staff friendly. The spa was often quite busy and the rough weather made things hard for the beauticians but the service was fine. A lot has been written about the poor quality of the entertainment on these pages and I would endorse all that has been said. There was very little variety- only one lecturer throughout, for example- and some of the home-made entertainment was of dubious quality. The pantomime was risible, for example. We enjoyed the choir, preparing to sing on Christmas day, but this was the only participatory experience we had. The line dancing was far too cramped to want to join in. There were some good films on, for example late at night or at midday and these were packed. On one day nobody came to put the film on until several passengers rang through to reception to complain- this doesn't speak well of the organisation of the entertainment. The man in charge was likeable enough but came across as 'wet behind the ears' and wasn't really suited to the age group (elderly) of the bulk of the passengers. The food in the Dining Room was satisfactory. We were on second sitting. It would only occasionally qualify as fine dining but the overall experience was pleasant, not least due to the professionalism and friendliness of the waiting staff. We went to the Marco Pierre speciality restaurant one evening and were not impressed- the food wasn't that special; the portions were overfacing; and the staff were not very friendly. (At lunch and breakfast times, however, the experience here was good.) Our table companions went to the other speciality restaurant on one night and they really enjoyed this. Otherwise, the food at lunchtime in the cafeteria-style restaurant was very disappointing- limited and unappetising choice. We discovered afternoon tea in the Dining Room towards the end of the cruise and this was enjoyable with toasted teacakes and crumpets as well as the usual array of sandwiches/ scones/ fancy cakes. The ship was quite 'busy' throughout the day. When the weather was good enough to be outside, it was very hard to find a steamer chair on the Promenade deck and the alternative was to be blasted by loud pop music by the pools. Inside, the fight for seats on poor-weather days was incredible, especially in the areas which served Costa Coffee. As soon as somebody made to get up, a crowd of people would pounce to get the place. On port days, it was disappointing that the Promenade deck kept being closed for repairs, even though often there seemed to be nothing going on. The journey out of Southampton down to Spain was rough. Our first port was La Coruna, which is a perennial for anyone heading to the Canaries at this time of the year. We then headed for Agadir, where we did a tour. There was a lot of criticism of this destination as there was not a huge amount to see apart from the hill fort (and some rather sad-looking camels) but the beach area was lively enough. After that, we did a number of islands in the Canaries. The weather was too rough to go ashore in Lanzarote and it was explained to us that we couldn't speed ahead to the next port as priority was being given to a Cunard ship which hadn't managed to get to a port at all yet. We had a fair amount of on-board credit so we went on a number of excursions. These included a trip to Loro Parque in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, which was surprisingly enjoyable- with well-presented exhibitions and professional shows throughout the day. We went on a day trip to playa de las maspalomas and then Mogan when we visited Gran Canaria. Again, this was a very successful trip with plenty of time to walk around at the former and an opportunity to have lunch in a cafe at the latter. The highlight of the cruise (and the reason for booking) was the time in Funchal, Madeira. The town was lively and well decorated for the season. We went to Reid's Palace for afternoon tea and were glad we did this independently as the cruise tour party didn't get to sit on the terrace. The ship remained in port for the fireworks and these were splendid. It is no surprise that so many cruise lines head here for New Year's Eve. Unfortunately, the timing of New Year's Day meant that we then had three sea days to get us back to England. Given the rough weather, these did drag on somewhat. I wouldn't choose to end a cruise in this way again. Disembarkation was very quick in comparison to embarkation. The cases in the holding area were in deck order, which meant that there were quite a few to sort through if your case was black! Overall, we felt that this was the most disappointing Christmas/ New Year cruise which we've taken in the past 6 years. That isn't to say that it didn't have its enjoyable moments, but the quality was more 3* than 4*. There were a lot of P&O regulars who said that they felt that the line is going down hill. People discussed whether Carnival is deliberately positioning the line below Cunard and even Holland America/ Princess. Given how expensive Christmas cruises are, there was a general opinion that this one didn't represent value for money. I'm sure that the fact that we really only had two days of good weather played a part in this but, equally, there does need to be an upgrading in terms of quality for people to feel well cared for. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
At the beginning -My wife and I booked back to back cruises on Britannia at the end of March 2014 covering Christmas, New Year and the first 2 weeks of Jan 2016. The package included premium economy travel, on board spend benefit and A ... Read More
At the beginning -My wife and I booked back to back cruises on Britannia at the end of March 2014 covering Christmas, New Year and the first 2 weeks of Jan 2016. The package included premium economy travel, on board spend benefit and A Deck balcony accommodation. While away on holiday in Oct 2014 P&O advised our booking agent that out flight from Gatwick would no longer have premium seating. By the time we arrived back from holiday all spare premium seating on other flights had been re-allocated. We were offered a credit for the outbound flight but no alternative option for premium seating. It took from Nov 15 until mid Jan 16 to resolve this issue under the threat of 'can I have my money back please' before a senior executive of Carnival (at no cost to us) intervened. P&O management were unwilling to resolve the matter unless we paid more money. The outward bound flight with Thomas Cook was just about satisfactory given that most things seemed to cost money beyond a typical hot/cold meal. The flight back to Gatwick was so much better with Thomson Airways and free drinks could have been served but someone said no? Transfers from Barbados to the ship ran smoothly as did the embarkation and we were met by our smiling steward (the star of the cruise). By 7.00pm we adjourned to the dining room -(our cases yet to appear having landed at 2.40pm) to meet other passengers in a similar situation. Finally they did arrive at 10.15. We were not the only people affected by delays - my sisters arrived at 2.30am the following morning. The ship - our initial reaction. Apart from its size, (the largest cruise ship we've been on) its general layout was not unfamiliar. The interior design/décor had a modern feel but the circulation pattern gave a degree of concern with a full compliment of passengers. Likewise we questioned the ratio of ship facilities to number of guests on board given our experience from 5 previous cruises. The cabin - A508 A touch smaller than expected although the fit out, bed and shower room were quite good. The balcony was adequate however we had problems with air conditioning system ( appeared to be a design issue)and tv failure. Without the help of the steward and then the floor manager nothing would have been fixed. Room service was good but our steward was excellent and following his efforts with the ac/tv challenges we recommended him for an award. Dining - Freedom Generally the food was good rather than outstanding, however the Christmas/New Year fell below expectations. Apart from the odd exception waiters were very good. Wine waiters were ok but there performance was often affected by the recovery of wine left over from a previous meal. On several occasions the wine arrived after we finished the starter. In the second cruise we refused to order the food until the wine had arrived. Wine offer and price very good. One of the benefits of freedom dining quickly manifested itself . If something good was on in entertainment you were able to time your meal to beat the overcrowding. We dined alone and with 4/6/8 people which gave us not just an opportunity to meet some very nice fellow cruisers but get their views of the ship/its operation. ( their views very often agreed with the views expressed herein.) Speciality Dining We visited four locations - Epicurean - at £28 overpriced for the offer we were served although the service/food was good rather than memorable. Sindhu - two visits: the first was exceptional and excellent value at £15. It was half full on the first Saturday of the cruise. Second visit disappointing food wise /service. It was towards the end of the first cruise and the place was packed ? It was obvious the offer was creaking under the customer onslaught and struggling to cope. Limelight Club Two visits : first very disappointing 1. the queuing arrangement to get in ( everyone arrives at 7.00pm or more likely 6.30pm) and no table choice) 2. Food offer very limited .3 Guest entertainer poor. Second visit 1&2 still applied but the artist was very good. At £22 per head just ok if the artist is good but the booking/queuing arrangement needs attention. After the artist finishes the offer dies ? Everyone leaves yet you have a good venue for live entertainment -( not someone playing discs) supported with a bar? Glass House: A very good well run food/wine option for a change to your regular diet. Price reasonable. Entertainment. Quality of the venues varied according to the performers - Theatre : ship company good, guest performers varied/poor/good. Live Lounge: Resident group very good, guest acts varied from ok to very good. Crystal Ballroom: An under used space supported by a 7 piece band and at most 25 couples dancing; use/location of ballroom needs reviewing if the 29 day cruise we were on is cruise typical? Brodies pub: Met the need of its customers with a range of entertainment and reasonably priced drink. Bars The crows nest provided the best bar/lounge environment although the sunset/blue bar met the needs of the customer with a different leisure offer. Other facilities. Pools/Sun deck - areas of discord given the lack of space available for the numbers of guests on board. After viewing the main decks on level 16/17 on the first day at sea we never returned to a sun deck unless it was a island visit day. For those people who escaped to the Retreat for a price, something appeared not quite right unless a cunning strategy existed to raise additional revenue? Spa Unfortunately my wife did not use the spa having viewed the range of prices on offer. Internet/Library The internet costs were very high on board and explained why on every port of call all the bars were full of guests and ships' crew. The library service was excellent and well managed. Cookery Classes Appeared popular - £45 per person per session ? Staff on Board and service provided. Generally a great asset to P&O with the exception of those in reception who fell well below the mark and the general maintenance staff who from our personal experience are either grossly over worked or incompetent. Shore Excursions Because we have been to some of the islands before and that the prices being charged were high we arranged our own visits. Conclusion Although we both enjoyed being away from the UK on a cruise it lacked the special feel good factor that we have enjoyed on other cruises. From a customer perspective it was ok but, certain issues were of concern namely: the balance between the number of people on board and the scale of facilities on offer, and at times, the way they are managed. For example people struggling to access shows/live lounge yet the ballroom/crystal room was half empty/not used. The design/furnishing of the live lounge is poor to accommodate the average number of people who may wish to visit. If three shows are required to fit people in the theatre why have two ? The way people circulate vertically around the ship is poor and could be greatly improved. Having spent 29 days on board it becomes obvious what needs doing but do P&0? Management and design of the sun decks may need urgent attention if harmony is to reign in these areas throughout the summer seasons ahead. Rightly or wrongly we got the impression that P&O were attempting at any opportunity to gather income off their guests in areas we have not seen with other cruise lines. Perhaps this is a new era for cruising following the Ryanair model of aviation. I hope we are wrong. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
The Internet package is very expensive. Individual wine and beer are fair prices An electric power cut on Xmas day!!! Meridian Restaurant - Poor replenishing of water for evening dinner. Incorrect dishes served on Day 1, not a ... Read More
The Internet package is very expensive. Individual wine and beer are fair prices An electric power cut on Xmas day!!! Meridian Restaurant - Poor replenishing of water for evening dinner. Incorrect dishes served on Day 1, not a good start, 1st impression. Wine not served until Starter had been eaten on day 2!! Again no regular service from waiting staff. Entertainment - Phil Browne and Robbie tribute acts very good It is absurd you cannot have a cookie, snack or pastry at the Java Coffee Lounge unless you purchase a coffee. This was not the position on the Azure last year. Yet I can eat all I like in the Horizon Buffet, - totally illogical policy The Glass house. Brilliant concept and product However there is poor layout, staff knowledge is not strong with regard to wine and overall and nowhere near as good as Azure last year. The Java lounge should be on Deck 5 where the Market Cafe is which is a white elephant, it was hardly used by anyone over the 2 weeks. Then that space should be used for guests who just want to drink and the existing eating and drinking area for the Glass House can be used for food and wine. Alex the Manager is doing a good job but does not have enough staff and some he does have are not good enough For a Christmas and new year cruise we were very disappointed with the lack of christmas feeling over the christmas. There was little or no effort to make it special with very few decorations throughout the ship. There was a little more effort for New Year. I feel the ship is going to look very tired very quickly. The colour scheme is very 70's with beige, tan etc. To have docked in a dockyard in Dominica was a disgrace and even more so with no free transport to the main town area and no information of how to get to town or provision of shuttle service. Appalling treatment of customers. Atrocious. When we do cruise again in the future it will not be with P&O and we will strongly advise our family and friends not to cruise with P & O. In our opinion Princess and Royal Caribbean are both better quality and offer better service. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Did Christmas Cruise, very fast at checkin, in fact the fastest one we've ever had. We spent the first two & half days sailing through a force eight gale, to which the captain informed us, because of the weather it could be ... Read More
Did Christmas Cruise, very fast at checkin, in fact the fastest one we've ever had. We spent the first two & half days sailing through a force eight gale, to which the captain informed us, because of the weather it could be classed at a force 10. Not too bad for us, but we knew the restaurants would be slightly empty as most people stayed in there cabins. We found that P.O had still made more cut backs on menu's etc, but they'd also kept the price down. Our cabin L244 inside, we'd never had an inside cabin before, just wanted to try one, it was quite a good size, our housekeeper was very helpful, when required. My only complaint was on the last day of sailing, the shower curtain was changed, & I explained to the housekeeper it wasn't a problem for me, but if someone not as fit as me, used the shower & didn't put the bath towels around the floor area, someone might fall. If this had been changed before we disembarked I wouldn't be mentioning it, but it wasn't, so if you get on board check your shower curtain reaches the floor area, don't give P.O the opertunety to charge you for medical assistance, when you could avoid this. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
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