We decided to take this cruise as it was a great opportunity to experience the ship straight after refit. Plus I needed a new wardrobe. We arrived in Singapore early having travelled light (hand luggage only, basically, Tuxedo, White ... Read More
We decided to take this cruise as it was a great opportunity to experience the ship straight after refit. Plus I needed a new wardrobe. We arrived in Singapore early having travelled light (hand luggage only, basically, Tuxedo, White Dinner suit for Gatesby and Bianco outfit - for those that have not sailed P&O before these are some of the theme nights). We did not stay in expensive accommodation in Singapore, 2 star only in Kalang but 8.6 score on TripAdvisor. We explored and shopped and at the end of the seven days I had a full wardrobe.
The evening prior to departure we received a message that the cruise was delayed as they needed to do some more maintenance, however check in was still at the allocated time to get our cruise card etc and also the details at which Hotel they would accommodate us. With less than 24h to spare P%O found suitable accommodation in various Hotels across Singapore.
Us four had to move from our 2 star Hostel (with bunk accommodation to get used to living in an inside cabin) into two separate rooms at the 5 star Fairmont Hotel and all on the account of P&O. We did not mind we took it as our first Port Day of our cruise considering they had issued our cruise card. Initially it was hoped we would board in the early afternoon, but there were some further delays, including Legend of the Sea needing our berth for our medical emergency that passengers were not transported to the cruise terminal until 1900h. It then took a while to board everyone. We did not get onto the ship until 2300h. Instead of waiting in the waiting area and then board and heading to the Pantry we just had dinner at the cruise terminal, after all Singapore is cheap if you eat where the locals eat. There were some complaints from passengers waiting but patience is virtue.
Once on board, we explored the ship found the photographers for our mandatory "welcome aboard photo"(first time I actually had to look for the photographers :) ). And then explored the ship. The changes to all the lounges on Deck 7 - Panorama deck and deck 12 and 14 Lido deck were amazing. The new waterpark looked great, the waterslide awaited our attendance and the Pantry (formally buffet) looked spectacular. The Dome (front deck 14) was beautiful how they changed it with lounges etc. Café on Deck 12 looked very inviting. The ship had truly undergone a transformation, and is now in a class of its own, in a truly positive sense.
We decided to retire to our inside cabin 10225 quad. The ship left sometime in the morning and by the time I arose it was daylight and we were at sea. One of the first things we did was to book the chef's table, one of the best experiences on a cruise and such value for money. All your drinks included, nine course meal, they even gave us a special cook book, photo and a tour of the galley. All this for $100. By the way, we did no have any drinks packages, none of us are big drinkers and we would not get the value out of it.
We ate most of our main meals in the MDR late sitting. The meals were fine and varied. You can order as much or as little as you like. The first few evenings it took the service staff to adjust and sometimes meals were a bit longer than normal, but we did not mind, after all we were on holidays and had great table conversations. My comrades were late risers so I mostly had breakfast on my own at the waterfront and met many interesting people. My friends went to the Pantry. Lunch was a bit of a mix, I mostly went to the Pantry as I normally only have a light lunch. The meals in the Pantry are varied and there are lots of food stations. Or for a small fee you could order meals from the Grill.
I forgot to mention that P&O also gave us compensation of $150 for the day lost plus refunded us the cost of one day. Many passengers seemed to be anxious for their money and lines at the Pursers desk for the first four days were very long. Also OBC that came with the bookings did not initially show up. I knew that they would sort it out and by day 5 all monies had been credited.
One issue on board was with the Destinations manager ie shore tours. Somehow the individual in charge would not let anyone of the ship unless they were able to proof that they had paid for a tour with a company. His demands were excessive and his attitude was unhelpful bordering on arrogance. Passengers had all the documents that the P&O said the needed and he still would not permit them to get off the vessel once we arrived at Komodo. He was adamant that people would only be able to go to Komodo Island if they had booked a shore tour with him. I am not sure what he told the senior officers but it seemed he pushed his way through, until an email was received from a senior person in P&O corporate (someone on the cruise met this person at their Hotel in Singapore and had his detail). Next thing we knew he was called into the office by one of the senior Hotel staff and half an hour later everyone who had a confirmed booking with a tour operator on Komodo was permitted to go.
Our first stop was Benoa, we were slightly late and this delayed the tender process. Tendering was slow and shore tours had priority. By the time we got off we just hung around Benoa and did not venture into Bali. I have to say though that the drivers there are rude, they would not leave us alone. I speak Indonesian very well and told them in a friendly way that we were not interested, one guy however kept on harassing us for the next 10 minutes. Benoa is a long way from Denpasar, Kuta, Sanur, Nusa Dua. What the locals should do is introduce water taxis like they have in Villa, because it is only a short distance by boat to some of the nice beaches.
Next stop Komodo which was amazing certainly go and visit the big lizards and then snorkel at Pink Beach.
After that Darwin, Cairns and Airlie Beach. Tendering remained an issue due to the distance and I assume the unfamiliarity of the terrain (water)
Ships life though was excellent, we met many nice people and the staff were great. I enjoy how the senior officers always have time for a chat and even get to know you. Same with some of the entertainers. Entertainment on board was varied and P&O regularly change their production show. On this cruise they had the Premiere of a new show - Seven (about the seven deadly shows). The show was excellent one of the best I have seen on ships, and I can not for the life of me fathom why (and here we come to issue number 2) the cruise director did not promote this great show from the beginning. His promotion was almost non existent. Worse his senior cruise Director Alun was on board too. I can not understand how they could let this get away. Then again we hardly ever saw the cruise director, in the end I just said Pablo (who). His excuse that he had lots of meetings to attend was unacceptable and if I were in the shoes of P&O corporate I would take a serious look at those two. Getting back to this new show. So little to no promotion, then on the night dress for the day was smart casual, honestly, when you have a new show you make it a black tie event, you get people to dress to the hilt, you make it a major event not to be forgotten, the houses should be "sold out" standing room only. In this case it was not and I lay the blame square at the feet of the cruise Director. He has now received the razzie award from me. The show itself was just amazing.
Talking more about cruise Director Pablo (who). He has a 14 day cruise (ok one day lost in Singapore). He has three events to plan - back to school, Bianco and Gatesby) and four major production shows. Now why on earth does he try and squeeze everything in at the back end. Bianco and Gatesby back to back and then he failed to schedule a production show because he left it too late. One a seven day cruise, cruise directors squeeze it all in, but on a 14 day cruise he and his boss Alun (since he is on board he can take some responsibility too) fail even in such a simple task.
Now the band Alter Ego, great, then the group with the two violinist, just amazing (their name currently eludes me) and some of the guest entertainers were great too. One added group of entertainers where the complaining passengers and the ones spreading rumors. The rumors got better and better the longer the cruise went. For the record I will now correct these rumors. No passenger punched a receptionist. No Russians had a fight on the Lido deck and went to the brigg. No 67 passengers left the cruise unhappy in Darwin and no 250 left unhappy in Airlie Beach. It does not cost $1,000 to visit someone in sick bay. There were others but these were the funniest ones.
The waterpark opened up in Darwin, unfortunately after 60 minutes a passenger had an incident, they were at the bottom of the slide and another passenger slid down and could not avoid them and she hit her head. For safety the slides were closed as the light mechanism at the top of the slide had turned green even though the previous slider had not yet excited. The slides stayed closed for the next two days after which they reopened. The slides were great fun and is good exercise too.
Another thing I forgot, for the first week we received a Blue Edge card so I finally managed to climb the funnel (two thirds at least) walk the plank and go to the crows nest.
Myself and my friends had a great time, we really went with the themes, dressed up during cocktail nights, had the right close for the various theme nights, as did many other passengers. It is so nice to see so many passengers engaged. That is what I like about cruising with P&O they do themes so well, better than any other line and I have been on many (RCL, Princess, HAL, Carnival).
There were some teething issues - you will always have them after a major refit, but overall it was an excellent cruise, I will certainly do it again when the opportunity presents itself.
Now I have rated some areas below excellent such as the gym, unfortunately Deck2 is just not a nice location. Embarkation was slow and we know why so that was ok, and shore tours, I explained why, he lost a lot of goodwill.
Otherwise though it was great and I look forward meeting some of the wonderful staff again on my next cruise. Read Less