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409 P&O Cruises Europe - British Isles & Western Cruise Reviews

This was our 6th cruise (3rd with our 2 boys) and we really enjoyed our holiday although the weather was not the best :-) Firstly, we are very impressed with the décor of the ship which is very sophisticated and contemporary and this ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise (3rd with our 2 boys) and we really enjoyed our holiday although the weather was not the best :-) Firstly, we are very impressed with the décor of the ship which is very sophisticated and contemporary and this further extended to our larger inside cabin which has been the best of any cruise ship we have been on. The shows were fabulous and with a one-night only policy for the entertainers resulted in a great variety every night. The activities and excursions were a little on the pricey side but this was made up for by the complimentary transport available into the major cities that again was better than the 4 other cruise lines we have cruised with in the past. The kids club was really enjoyed by our children and the staff did an efficient job although Princess Cruises tend to have slightly better activities as well as a more vibrant atmosphere. The only thing that was perhaps not as favourable as our other cruises was the food which admittedly was catering to a local taste which was different to ours and therefore not the fault of the ship. Having said that, the curries on board were incredible and actually rivalled some of our favourite restaurants at home!! The strangest things was that we did run into was a small number of people who complained about the ship being too big?!?! These people must be living under a rock as it was advertised as the biggest ship to service the UK... We would highly recommend this ship and we would love to travel on the Britannia again some day. Maybe the Caribbean next time :-) Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Having read the negative reviews before our holiday we were a bit apprehensive before travelling however our experience of this cruise and sailing on Britannia was very positive. We sailed as a party of four adults sharing two obstructed ... Read More
Having read the negative reviews before our holiday we were a bit apprehensive before travelling however our experience of this cruise and sailing on Britannia was very positive. We sailed as a party of four adults sharing two obstructed view cabins G521 & G519. If you happen to have these cabins or any situated in this area don't worry about the view as the obstruction of the lifeboats did not cause a problem and we could still enjoy sailing into the different ports and the fantastic firework display in Liverpool. Our cabin steward was lovely. His name was Anjelo and he was efficient and we did not feel rushed in the morning to leave our room unlike how we felt on a different cruise company we went with. Embarkation was smooth and I would definitely recommend sticking to the time given for arriving at Ocean Terminal as they do call you to board at your stated time. We didn't board until about 3.30 so didn't have much time to get accustomed to the ship. If you haven't sailed with P&O before a suggestion when you go to the safety drill on Britannia is to wear trousers or shorts (not a skirt or dress) as it is a bit awkward trying to put on a life jacket on and doing up the strap between your legs when wearing a skirt :) The ship can be a little bit confusing to navigate and yes the central staircase does only go up to deck 7. I would recommend that anyone needing to use lifts use the forward or aft lifts and not the mid-ship lifts as these seem to be much slower especially on deck 16 when you come out of the buffet. If we left the buffet and came upon the mid ship lifts we would just walk back through the buffet to get to the stairs or the other lifts that did seem to operate a bit faster. The lifts can get very busy when everyone is getting back on the ship after visiting ports or in the evening such as the Captain's Gala. Other than that during the day we found no problem with people accessing lifts. The food on board was excellent. The buffet was clean and the staff were always friendly and would say hello. We thought it was a good idea that you could physically wash your hands before entering which everybody seemed to do and we liked that they provided trays. A small negative would be that not all the items in the buffet were labelled but there was a menu on a screen telling you what items were being served in the buffet when you entered. As for drinks you could order cocktails or beer or wine (they also had self service wine and beer). The only free drinks in the buffet at lunch and dinner were water and tea and coffee and at breakfast you could also get juices from the dispenser. If you want a free hot chocolate visit the late night buffet after 10pm. We used the grab and go and the outside grill that served burgers, chicken, hotdogs and pizza. The grab and go had a choice of baguettes such as ham and mustard, beef and horseradish, cheese and pickle and also salads such as chicken tikka, tuna, feta cheese, to name but a few. The choice was the same for the whole 12 nights and lunch in the grab and go was available from 12 noon to 4pm which did mean that you couldn't grab anything that morning for an exclusion unless you had an afternoon excursion or were happy with a bacon sandwich which they did offer. There were bread rolls and ham slices in the buffet in the morning if you wanted to make up your own rolls. I would recommend Sindhu which is the Atul Kutcher Indian restaurant on board. There is a surcharge of £15 but the food is fabulous. You also get some additional plates and if you are lucky they may also give you a free bottle of wine which we got on our second visit (as did other tables). The market cafe is also worth a visit. You do of course have to pay for the cakes but they are a nice tasty treat and I would recommend the raspberry macaroon or sharing a piece of red velvet or carrot cake (the cakes are quite big so we found we could share them). You can however get a free cake with a drink you have to pay for in Java (Costa) however the cakes are only on offer until about 5pm. The theatre is small and if you want the aisle seat which most did then you will have to arrive about 30 mins before the show starts. The headliners shows are very good particularly Once upon a time and Sound of the Underground. There is more chance of getting a seat if you arrive later at the 7pm show or 10.30pm as the 8.30pm show is very popular. If you do arrive later you should still be able to get a seat but it is likely to be in the middle of the row or if you enter at deck 6 entrance the far left where there was still a few seats left even 5 minutes before it started. If you are going to see a guest artist then they normally only have two performances. On our cruise guest acts included Sam Bailey (X Factor), Steve Hewlitt ( ventriloquist from Britain's got Talent), Opera Boys to name a few. We also saw an interview during the day given by Mary Berry and James Martin. We did see some films in the studio cinema. Again if you want to be in the front row you will need to get there about 25-30 minutes before the film starts. If you get there later and sit further back be prepared for a bit of seat hopping to find a better view of the screen. Even when we sat further back we could still see the screen however the view does depend on whether you can get a seat with no one in front. My suggestion would be to go to either the 6pm showing or 10.30pm showing as again the 8.15pm showing is a bit busier. For anyone interested in choice of films available we saw Second Best Marigold Hotel, The Theory of Everything, Into the Woods, Cinderella (the most recent version) and Kingsmen: The Secret Service. If you are sailing with children I would just suggest that you check the rating of the film on the horizon paper as even a film with strong language would be shown at 6pm. Although the weather was not great (which we expected visiting the British Isles) the ports of call were lovely and the excursions were enjoyable. If you want to do a ship organised excursion I would recommend booking before you sail as a lot were already sold out. Also when on board if you do decide to cancel a trip make sure you do it at least 48 hours before the date of the excursion otherwise you will lose all your money. If you cancel 48 hours before you may just lose 10% unless the trip is oversubscribed and then you may get all your money back as they can resell the ticket. It could get a bit boring on sea days. There was a few dance classes ( no zumba) and some fun evening quizzes but I would recommend bringing a good book to read. There are also some good choices of films in the cabin, if you want to chill, which are mostly free. The TV in the cabin is good however you still are unable to access your bill. If you need to keep a track of how much you spend just pop to reception. Another thing that you may wish to do on board is visit the spa. I treated myself to a hot stone massage. Would I do it again - no as I found it very expensive and they do of course push extra products. My recommendation if you wanted to use the spa would be on sea days (as you would make more use of it) is to visit the spa early that day and see if they have a day pass to the Hydrotherapy suite. A day pass costs about £25 and a lady I spoke to said she was able to come and go all day, was able to access a very peaceful area with saunas and pool and heated loungers. Sorry for the long review but I would say that we enjoyed Britannia. The ship is not perfect but what is, and we felt that the staff, the entertainment (particularly sail aways and headliners company) led by a lively Neil Oliver, the food and the excursions exceeded our expectations. Would we sail with P&O again -Yes we definitely would and we would sail on Britannia again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
If you ever wandered what a holiday camp at sea would be like this is the ship for you. When I say holiday camp I am going back to what they were like in the sixties as holiday camps nowadays are much improved. Myself and my wife believed ... Read More
If you ever wandered what a holiday camp at sea would be like this is the ship for you. When I say holiday camp I am going back to what they were like in the sixties as holiday camps nowadays are much improved. Myself and my wife believed all the hype when this ship was being built and as a result booked a 12night cruise in September and this two night cruise in early July from Southampton to Guernsey. The reviews we read since the ship went into service made us regret booking the September cruise. So much so that we cancelled it before the cost balance was due. We obviously lost our deposit but better that we thought than paying out a lot more and regretting it. The obvious risk was that we would enjoy our two night cruise and have a massive regret losing our deposit for the longer cruise. We needn't have worried. All the negative reviews were correct and we enjoyed this two day cruise knowing that we had made the correct decision and saved ourselves a packet and never having to return. I can understand what a lot of people have said about the negative reviews. Go with an open mind. However in the back of your mind is always that thought. Can all those people who wrote those bad reviews be wrong and the answer is no. First of all let me list the positives about this ship. Right now that that's done lets list the negatives and these wont be new to anyone who has read previous reviews. Very poor lifts. Poor bland food and choice of food. Uncomfortable seats in the theatre and far too small for the size of ship. Poor viewing from cinema seats unless in the front row. Small dirty stateroom balconies. Areas around the pools dirty and this was the case even the next morning after the crowds had left from the previous day. Glum staff in the Horizon buffet who looked as if they didn't really want to be there. I could go on but its all been said before. The happy passengers waiting to disembark said it all really. P and O really are the poor relations when it comes to cruise holidays. Never mind it was a lesson learned and we now have another cruise to look forward to but on a proper cruise ship. Hi De Hi campers Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Embarkation and disembarkation flowed easily and we were pleased with the cleanliness of our cabin. Unfortunately we were not impressed with the size of the cabin which was so small. The balcony was adequate for both of us to sit outside. ... Read More
Embarkation and disembarkation flowed easily and we were pleased with the cleanliness of our cabin. Unfortunately we were not impressed with the size of the cabin which was so small. The balcony was adequate for both of us to sit outside. Most of the public areas looked grubby and the ladies toilets were dreadful. To get away from the crowds at sail away, which resembled 18 - 30/Butlins/Hi De Hi holidays, we went to the Crow's Nest Bar which was lovely, but in need of cleaning too (brass and glass all covered in fingerprints and just generally uncared for). We were pleased with the menu and food on the first night, but most of the menu was repeated on the second night (leftovers?).Our one and only port of call was Guernsey which was lovely but as it was a Sunday most of the shops were closed. Entertainment was good in the theatre and live lounge. In the middle of the second night I was very ill with a stomach upset which must have caused by the ship's food as I did not eat or drink elsewhere. We did not enjoy this short trip and would definitely not travel on this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
I had booked a suite for my mum and I to celebrate her birthday, we were really looking forward to seeing this new flag ship for P & O. I have taken a few other P & O cruises and have not been impressed with the service, food and ... Read More
I had booked a suite for my mum and I to celebrate her birthday, we were really looking forward to seeing this new flag ship for P & O. I have taken a few other P & O cruises and have not been impressed with the service, food and standard of suite. The suite on this, very large ship was very small, the bathroom is quite good but the lovely brown and cream marble surfaces have been ruined by not having soap dishes, both the bathroom and seperate toilet have the same issue. The balcony has no depth whatsoever and was very dirty, looks like it has not been cleaned since it was launched. Other than the bottle of champagne in the suiteand eating breakfast in the Epicurian restaurant ( Food was good, service average), there are other benefits, no soft drinks included. Other shipping lines are far more generous at this level and as thay only have 64 suites, I would think they could over soft drinks. The food in the Horizons self service was typically bad and sloppy and plastic glasses with your drinks! The pool area was deafening, It was like a disco, blaring music fro speakers every few feet. This area is forward and our suite was aft but we could hear this including the cruise directors words at the sail away party in our room - we were also 2 decks down. i dread to think how bad A deck forward must be. Food in Penninsular restaurant was just awful, Ceasar salad cold, watery and dry chicken. Chicken with madeira sauce, too dry to eat. arrived far too quickly before drinks and no sparking water available. Food in restaurants you have to pay for is good in general, service in those is hit and miss. Overall the ship looks quite nice, a little tacky in places, a little Ikea ish, it feels a lot smaller than it is on the inside, There are far too many cabins for the size of the ship, compared to Cunard for instance. The really big problem is the lack of lifts, queueing is the norm and the luck of the drawer if the lift opens next to you as someone else will jump in firts, if there is room, they say they hold 18 but no way is that adults. Never again for me, I am glad I only booed a taster as 2 nights was plenty on there. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
I and my mum have just come back from a weekend cruise on board the Britannia from Southampton to Guernsey. I am in my mid thirties and we are both first time cruisers. We travelled down to Southampton by train and got a taxi to the ... Read More
I and my mum have just come back from a weekend cruise on board the Britannia from Southampton to Guernsey. I am in my mid thirties and we are both first time cruisers. We travelled down to Southampton by train and got a taxi to the Ocean Terminal where the ship sailed from. On our e-ticket we had been given an arrival time of 1230 to turn up at the cruise terminal. This in fact was misleading as many passengers seemed to ignore this and just turn up when they felt like it. So the terminal was very crowded. There were not enough seats in the terminal to handle the full complement of passengers. For those first time cruisers like us it might help if I go through the embarkation process. You turn up at the Ocean Terminal and leave your luggage at the Baggage Drop Off Area by the taxi rank outside the terminal. The staff will then load the luggage on the ship for you and it will turn up in your cabin. You then go up to the passenger lounge and get given a blue or red EMBARKATION CARD with a letter on it. This is used to call you forward to the check in desks. This usually takes about 1 hour. At check in you then show your passport and e-ticket and you will be issued each with a cruise card. This is your boarding pass and is also used for any spending on board. You then proceed to the security area and then to the ship. Once boarding the ship we went straight up to our cabin which was A415 on A Deck (15 floor) and on the starboard (right) side. This was a Superior Deluxe Balcony cabin and was nicely appointed in a modern contemporary style. We later found out that the Lido Deck was just above our cabin and this can cause noise disturbance due to the Sailaway party and people moving the deck furniture about. So something to note, one deck down on B Deck (14 floor) may be better next time. The bathroom is compact but practical and the toilet is vacuum suction operated so makes a loud whoosh when flushed which is exciting and very effective. Note there is a step down from the bathroom into the cabin which you can easily forget about and fall over. Our cruise was in July so school holidays and therefore the passengers on the ship were very mixed in ages with lots of younger cruisers and families on board. Britannia is also a family ship. If you sailed on an Adults Only ship then you may be more likely to have the passengers dominated by P&O traditional type of over 60s. It being a weekend trip also helped for younger cruisers. I imagine that if you went in quieter times of the year then the passengers would revert to the P&O traditional type of over 60s. So if you are one of the younger crowd then I would recommend sailing on a family ship in July or August or school holidays when you are more likely to get younger generations on board. After boarding and going to the cabin. We like most on board went straight up to the Horizon Restaurant on the Lido Deck (16 floor) for lunch. Note that only the aft and forward staircases on the Britannia cover all floors with the Midships ones only going to some floors. So there is a reliance on lifts in the midships area unless you walk to the aft or forward stairwells. Therefore at busy times the lifts can be packed and busy. This is a noticeable design flaw in the Britannia we found and many past reviews have noted this also. Particularly at meal times or lifeboat drill or in the evening. So you may find it better to use the other two stairwells. The Horizon Restaurant is a no dress code self service restaurant and is always very popular. Most people also go here for breakfast. You are also allocated a main dining room for the evening depending on your cabin and dining style. We had chosen Freedom Dining and so were allocated the Peninsular Restaurant. We found that the food in the Horizon Restaurant and the main restaurants was adequate and fairly ordinary. So I suspect that P&O Cruises are doing this to encourage people to try the alternative dining venues which have an extra charge attached! The first night was formal night and the dress code was strictly enforced and applies to all the bars, lounges and restaurants. Therefore if you are not keen on formality then you are relegated to the Horizon Restaurant. We found that most of the younger cruisers were put off by the formality and so preferred the Horizon Restaurant for meals. Also all the restaurants had hand washing facilities outside them to prevent norovirus and this was strictly enforced by a crew member standing next to them to make sure you washed your hands. At busy times there can be queues for many of the restaurants. There are three main restaurants on the ship and several extra charge alternative dining venues. The hospitality staff (hotel and restaurant side of things) on board the ship are mainly Indian or Asian we noticed because of P&O's historic traditions from colonial times sailing from the UK to India, Australia and the Far East. They were always very helpful and polite. But sometimes their English could be a little rusty and they didn't necessarily understand first time. My favourite room on board the ship was the Crow's Nest. This is accessed from the forward stairwell via a port side corridor. Along this corridor is the Epicurian Restaurant, the Ivory Suite (function room), and the Marlow Suite (card room). The Marlow Suite rarely seemed to be used. On the starboard side accessed from the Crow's Nest is the Library. The ship is huge so it takes time to find your way around her and you can easily get lost. But you get a lot of exercise walking from one end to the other and up and down all the stairs and finding the various dead ends there are on certain decks. Most of the public rooms are on decks 5-7. On lido deck the only way through from bow to stern is via the Horizon Restaurant. There is a lot of walking through rooms to get to other rooms as some of the rooms cover the width of the ship and there is no side corridor to go round so forcing you to go through rooms instead. In terms of outside areas the decks 16-18 are the main areas and there is no promenade deck below the lifeboats like on some ships. There are small areas of open deck on Deck 7 near Sindhu but these often seemed closed and there is no equivalent on this level to a promenade deck. At about 4pm on the sailing day, there is the mandatory lifeboat drill. On your cruise card you will see your muster station. We were F. On the back of your cabin door this location is defined in more detail as the Peninsular Restaurant. About 20 minutes before the lifeboat drill the First Officer makes an announcement throughout the ship. All passengers are then required to go back to their cabin to pick up their lifejackets and then proceed down to the muster station (in our case the Peninsular Restaurant). This can cause difficulties with the lifts in the midships area which massive queues. So walking may be better or using the aft and forward stairwells instead. If you arrive at the muster location without your lifejackets you will be sent back to your cabin to get them. This lifeboat drill according to maritime law must take place before the ship sails from Southampton. The ship sailed from Southampton at 1730 and the Azura had already sailed past us from Western Docks. We then sailed next followed by the Anthem of the Seas and the Azamara Quest. So it was quite a parade of cruise ships heading down the Southampton Water! The following day we arrived in Guernsey at St Peter Port and anchored. We went to breakfast once again at the Horizon Restaurant. Landing was to be via the ship's tenders. The daily Horizon newsletter is very useful in terms of giving information and advice about activities on the ship and the destination. The location for assembling to board the tenders was notified to be the Headliners Theatre if you were not on a shore excursion and travelling ashore independently. When you wanted to go ashore you had to go to the Theatre to collect the tender tickets and then wait in the Theatre to be called. This was like a raffle again waiting for your number to be called. Due to the numbers there was a long wait for some causing them to give up and go back to their cabins. So they gave their spare tickets to the nearest person and there was a bit of an illicit trade in tender tickets enabling people to jump the queue from the original ticket they were issued with. so there was a lot of passing tickets around to help everyone. Once called we proceeded down to Deck 4 (one below the Reception / Atrium area) and boarded the tenders. The Destination. Guernsey is a lovely place. On the day we went it was very warm but being a Sunday most of the shops were closed. This is worth noting. But there was an open air market on by the harbour and lots of activity. So not boring by any means. The tenders drop you off at Albert Pier in the centre of St Peter Port. Peak summer season is best time to go as more of the attractions are open such as Castle Cornet. I would highly recommend a walk around the harbour to the lighthouse and Castle Cornet. You get fantastic views across the harbour from here and of the ship anchored offshore. The last tender back was at 1730 but it is always best to go back a lot earlier than this as the tender cannot take all the ship in one go! The tender operation was very quick and easy. That evening we sailed at 1800 and later we went up to the Horizon Restaurant for dinner. This is more flexible than the main restaurants and you can have as much as you like. Disembarkation. The information provided by P&O Cruises about this process was quite misleading stating that disembarkation was from 1030 in the Meridian Restaurant (in our case, may vary depending where your cabin is). But what this actually meant was that you had to disembark the ship by 1030. So for first time cruisers it can be confusing if you are only used to the hotel check out system. It also said that you had to pack and leave your luggage outside the cabin by 20:30 or prior to going to bed. Most people ignored the 2030 stipulation and just did it prior to going to bed. This enables the cabin steward to take your baggage down to the unloading area overnight. Once the ship arrives back at Southampton at 0645 the luggage is then unloaded. This usually takes 2 hours and is complete by 0845. So in practice you can actually start checking out from 0845. If you don't leave your luggage out the previous night or want to depart early then you will be required to check out and take your luggage with you between 0700 and 0800. They start breakfast early on disembarkation day from around 0600 in the Horizon Restaurant. Likewise most people tend to have breakfast there rather than the main restaurants. Disembarkation in the end, once you understand the process, is relatively speedy. You go down to the designated check out room after 0845 and there you will either wait or be allowed straight off the ship. You will go into the cruise terminal and down to the baggage collection area (under the passenger lounge where you embarked) and there the passenger baggage is laid out according to Deck. After that you proceed through security and customs and straight out to the front of the terminal. From there we got a taxi back to the rail station and got the train home. So we had a lovely cruise to Guernsey. Britannia is a fine ship but very large so you may need a week to find your way around her. There is a practical issue with the lack of a staircase (public one) in the midships area and this causes the lifts to be busy at certain times. P&O Cruises information can be a little misleading and confusing about embarkation and disembarkation especially if you are a first time cruiser. They generally assume that their passengers know their procedures and processes already! But first time cruisers will not and may be more used to airline or hotel procedures rather than cruises. EMBARKATION basically involves: 1. Drop off luggage at the "Baggage Drop Off Area" outside the terminal by the taxi rank. 2. Go upstairs to the passenger lounge and get issued with an Embarkation Card. 3. You will then be called forward to the check in desks according to your Embarkation Card letter and colour. 4. At check in they will look at your passport and e-ticket and then issue you with a cruise card for each passenger. This is your boarding card to enter the ship and cabin. It also is your security id for getting on and off the ship and is also used for any onboard spending. 5. You will then proceed through the security area and then via the gangways to the ship. 6. You can then go to your cabin. Your luggage will arrive there later via the cabin steward. Most passengers then go up to the Horizon Restaurant for lunch. LIFEBOAT DRILL on embarkation day on the ship: 1. On embarkation day there is a mandatory lifeboat drill for all passengers joining the ship. This is to comply with maritime law and takes place prior to the ship sailing. 2. 20 minutes before the drill the First Officer will announce and then you have to go straight back to your cabin to collect your lifejackets and proceed to your muster station. Your cabin steward may give you advance warning of this so you can beat the crowds. 3. Your muster station is denoted on your cruise card. e.g. Muster Station F. This location then is defined on the poster on the back of your cabin door. i.e. Peninsular Restaurant. 4. At the muster station the crew will brief you on safety and show you how to put the lifejackets on. You will then have to put the lifejacket on as a demonstration. If you haven't got your lifejacket you will be sent back to your cabin to get it. DISEMBARKATION from ship on departure day: 1. On the previous day to departure you will be asked to leave your luggage outside your cabin prior to going to bed for the night. You will be also told a disembarkation room to go to when you are ready to leave the ship. e.g. Meridian Restaurant. 2. The cabin steward will then collect your luggage overnight and enable it to be unloaded from the ship for you on arrival at Southampton in the morning. 3. Ship usually arrives at 0645 and luggage unloading takes about 2 hours and is usually complete by 0845. 4. Once you are ready to leave the ship, you go to your disembarkation room. There you will be told to wait or whether it is ready to allow you to leave rightaway. Normally you should be able to leave the ship from around 0845 and at the latest by 1030. 5. You will then proceed to the cruise terminal and pick up your baggage. The passengers for the following cruise may already be waiting to board in the cruise terminal as the ship nowadays turns around in one day. Arrival in the morning, disembark the passengers by 1030. Then the crew have a couple of hours to tidy the ship before the new lot of passengers embarks in the afternoon and the ship sails at 1730. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
A short two night cruise with three couples. 2 couples had never cruised before. The Ship Loved the new ship. Decor wasn’t “over the top” but very impressive. Other reviews have criticised the fact that there is no central ... Read More
A short two night cruise with three couples. 2 couples had never cruised before. The Ship Loved the new ship. Decor wasn’t “over the top” but very impressive. Other reviews have criticised the fact that there is no central staircase but we didn’t find that a problem, especially as other large ships we have been on also didn’t have a central staircase - we simply walked to the aft or forward stairs / lifts. However, we do agree the lifts were too small and that it seems silly that the central bank of six lifts aren’t controlled by one call button. Four middle lifts are all on a single button, but then each side lift has its own button. So naturally everyone presses all three call buttons when they want a lift. We also agree that the Headliners Theatre simply isn’t large enough to accommodate 4300 people in two shows, although obviously it depends on what’s on. The first night we got in to the second show easily and the theatre wasn’t full. On the second night the second show was standing room only. Our Cabin - D501 Very well laid out and very comfortable. Yes, the balcony is a little small but as we spent very little time in our cabin or on the balcony it wasn’t a problem. The food Excellent! We were on Freedom dining in the Peninsular restaurant, there was a good choice of food and the portions were a good size. The waiters were all very friendly and efficient, especially with my wife’s gluten free diet which has caused problems on other cruise lines. Whatever she wanted from the menu they simply made a gluten free version. We wouldn’t actually use freedom dining again. It sounds like a good idea but in reality there never seemed to be a table available for anyone on Freedom dining. We did get in straight away on the first night but most couples and groups of four were being given pagers - as were we on the second night. Drinks in the main restaurant were reasonably priced with wine at around £15.00 a bottle. The Horizon restaurant was also excellent although there wasn’t such a huge choice of different dishes as on other cruise lines. It was well laid out and there was always somewhere it sit. They also had a whole selection of gluten free puddings. We didn’t use any of the restaurants where you have to pay a cover charge so can’t comment on them. The “grab & go”, pizza and burger grills by the pools seemed to be a huge success. The Bars There are a number of bars around the ship. We used Brodies and the Blue Bar. Both were comfortable and well decorated. The prices were very reasonable. The entertainment The evening shows in the Headliner theatre were very good as were the acts in the various bars. However, we weren’t particularly impressed with the entertainment during the day as nothing seemed to be organised. For example, the Horizon newsletter said that there was shuffleboard or deck quoits at a certain time. We expected this to be an organised competition with someone to explain the rules - as did other people who turned up at the appointed time - but no one arrived so we simply had a quick go ourselves. Overall we were very impressed and would certainly sail on Britannia again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
having read some reviews was a little concerned as we have a 2 week cruise booked for September but need not have worried. Firstly checking in was quick and efficient on board half hour after arrival! Went straight to our cabin, ... Read More
having read some reviews was a little concerned as we have a 2 week cruise booked for September but need not have worried. Firstly checking in was quick and efficient on board half hour after arrival! Went straight to our cabin, reviews has said tiny and poky but we were delighted. Ok so not as big as some we've had but big enough despite fact I'm a large lady ! Clean fresh and lovely decor. Went to Horizon restaurant for lunch no queues plenty of free tables and food was fantastic. The only negative was the first dinner was black tie and didn't know but ate happily in Horizon again. Next day had a lovely full english in the Meridian restaurant and again no queuing fast service and staff pleasant and polite. We tried to go ashore but choppy sea causing problems and long waits so decided to stay on board and explore and some sunbathing. A small point i had read theatre seats were very small and not suitable for large people well I'm a very large lady and i fitted in ok! Dinner was lovely again and all the restaurants are airy and spacious . Therefore we r really looking forward to September. Make your own opinion but we were not disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Our first cruise, to Ireland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Orkneys, Dublin and back to Southampton. Our room A196 mid ship was a good position top price for a Non balcony room. The room itself was in need of refurbishment lots of rust round ... Read More
Our first cruise, to Ireland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Orkneys, Dublin and back to Southampton. Our room A196 mid ship was a good position top price for a Non balcony room. The room itself was in need of refurbishment lots of rust round windows and in bathroom. The room was cleaned regularly but not very well the kettle was dirty and not cleaned during our stay. Our last day at sea, new bed linen was put in our room for the next cruise, just made us feel it's time to go and make room for the next passengers. Food ... Overall average, the breakfast was ok nothing special and it was difficult to get a table for four at some times. Lunch was also nothing special. Dinner was better, good choice, well presented and served by friendly waiters. But not always perfect some basic mistakes in the cooking , not fine dinning at its best. Entertainment... Didn't impress us second rate singers, comedians, musicians and only one film worth watching. Making days at sea boring. Ports of call... KILLYBEGS fantastic day out hired a taxi who took us along the old road ,where coaches can't go, lots of photo stops, a stop at a spinners and hand weavers work shop, on to Glencolmcille Folk Village. Lunch at a small restaurant, all the time being entertained by our driver who was bought up in the area. The cost was half what P&O would charge for a similar trip but we saw so much more. Now, having been allocated £540.00 on board spending money and not being drinkers the only thing to spend it on was trips out. ICELAND we did The Golden Circle, The Jewels of the North on both these trips we saw the main attractions albeit in a rush with hundreds of other tourists, over priced not that impressed. Our other trip was to The Abondoned Village of Hesteyri this was a complete disaster, we were taken by boat across the Glacier fjord about 18 miles, an hours journey on a rough sea day was far from comfortable some passengers sitting outside getting cold and wet. On arrival we had to transfer to a small rubber dingy six at a time to go the last 100 metres or so the the floating jetty, sitting on the rubber side with nothing to hold onto was extremely dangerous if any one was to fall into the water it was very very cold and for anyone with a heart condition could have been fatal. We were not informed about this before we left. On the positive side we were away from the crowds, just 36 of us a few walkers in a cold wilderness and the food supplied was quite good. However the tour description left a lot to be desired, the Abondoned houses turned out to be local weekend holiday homes and the old whaling factory was a mile away. Think carefully before booking this excursion. FAROES ISLANDS we choose the Sagas and Legends a very good trip with good guide enjoyed these islands and would very much like a holiday there. ORKNEYS the weather was against us here it rained all day and was windy so our trip was not great couldn't see the views , but we did see enough to know that we should come again, just what we did four weeks later on a coach tour of Scotland, by ferry from Jon o Grotes and a fantastic coach trip seeing all the attractions not available with P&O trips. DUBLIN our last port was a trip out on their local open top bus getting on or off where ever you wanted to, too much to see on one visit. To sum up cruising is not for us, we like value for money and the freedom to do what we want to when we want to. So our next holiday is two weeks all inclusive in a five star hotel for half what the cruise cost. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We thought of checking out the Arcadia, as she sails around the world at seemingly reasonable fares, in order to have a base to judge her appeal for some months. Good that we did, as we did not like the overall impression. It started with ... Read More
We thought of checking out the Arcadia, as she sails around the world at seemingly reasonable fares, in order to have a base to judge her appeal for some months. Good that we did, as we did not like the overall impression. It started with the check-in, which was slow and ‘massive’. When on board, we were recommended to go to the Lido deck, the ‘Belvedere’ to have lunch or a snack. Not only did we struggle to find some seats, as all the deck in- and outside was packed. Then we found a seat and after some 10 minutes a waiter came to ask: “any drinks?” … not welcome on board, may I help you, or some other niceties, yes you were calibrated to the tone and style of the Belvedere. The ‘waiters’ with the white uniforms and one to 3 stripes did nothing but to check out their staff and were talking with each other – all the cruise long. No welcome words to the passengers with notable exceptions. … The waiter then took our order, after delivering the drinks menu and served, after some ten minutes again, the bottle of chardonnay, with plastic glasses. We refused to drink out of these and the waiter then took another 5 minutes to bring some real glasses. The wine was good but for some 18 pound St.+ you would expect a decent drop. The food, all self service of course, note: the waiters were only there to clear the tables and ask for drinks, possibly. The waiters clearing tables, had to wear blue most unappealing rubber gloves. Large buffet style servings reminding us more of mass university style food halls, all ok but not presented with any finesse nor ‘love’. Roasts, English style, potatoes, chips, some rice dishes and stews and a few other servings, every day, lunch and evening the same loveless concoctions. The desert glass cabinet had some small fruit tartlets, vanilla- and chocolate puddings and boring cream tarts, far away from any great Austrian cakes or deserts. We only checked it out once more and passed by a few other times to confirm the lack of variety. All very, very ordinary. The coffee out of theses huge machines, one type of mug only, tasted as expected, watery, flavourless and sad. Real milk was unavailable, only the skim type. Juices and tap-water again out of plastic coming from big dispensing machines. Not correct to say that all food was substandard, the dining room offerings were very good whilst no high quality gourmet style, but enjoyable. The waiters, mostly all Indian, did quite a good job and after our complaint of being seated where we did not like, we ignored the seating saga and were looked after by Pio the head waiter, experienced and gentle. Once we got to know the waiters, we enjoyed the service. When arriving at our cabin, we noticed that the deck was not cleaned, the next day it was better, however, it was not that nice to sit there at discoloured and unclean planks. Otherwise the room was in good order and at A1xx ‘deluxe balcony’, we would have liked some bathrobes and slippers, no luck in this grade it seamed. Bathroom amenities were also ordinary being in sink with the overall impression of the P&O motto of British mass appeal. Leaking ceilings for a few days in the hall close to the piano bar, permanent dryers in the charming Crows Nest were not that confidence building but things can happen. Service at the Crows Nest was also poor and long waits were normal. We did not like the drinks being measured too small and after bringing this to the notice of the waiter we received half a nimble more. The bar tender, we saw from the side, was unhappy and re-measured again, but the second time it was better and more adequate, considering the high prices on board, not commensurate with the service. The gym was reasonably big, but 3 out of the four exercise bikes were not functioning. The ladies in the spa, as there was nobody in the gym, did not know and promised to pass the message on to the gym boys, it was not fixed. Gym-cleanliness borderline. Service in general in the bars after the show was always slow, what reason is there complaining on holidays, we just mention it as this was unexpected. The shows in the Palladium Theatre were good, taste-wise not necessarily for the majority of the cruise participants. The stand up comedian was for the UK clientele only, other English speaking persons would likely not understand. The other music offerings, with the exception of the superb pianist who was also the mini orchestra chief, were nice, but just about that. All in all, P&O UK’s Arcadia was for us a big ship with a very ordinary appeal, we would give it 3 stars in most categories, the Belvedere would not deserve more than one. Perhaps our mistake was to cruise with Oceania and Crystal beforehand. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We went on our first one week cruise having previously been on ones of two weeks or more.The embarkation process at Southampton was very efficient we quickly had our car parked and went aboard the ship. We were mid ships in cabin F328. ... Read More
We went on our first one week cruise having previously been on ones of two weeks or more.The embarkation process at Southampton was very efficient we quickly had our car parked and went aboard the ship. We were mid ships in cabin F328. Which had a large comfortable bed and a two seater settee and table which was ideal for us. We were on freedom dinning which was okay. The first night the service was very slow and we missed the show, due to issues but after that it was very good. The gala dinner was particularly good. We both enjoyed our holiday on this ship. The only thing that we found annoying was the lack of stairs mid ships. We were on deck 9 and normally would have walked down to the atrium area on deck seven but unless you walk a huge distance a lift is required which were small and often crowded. We noticed also that many wheelchair/notability scooter users were waiting ages to get into these lifts. We went aboard at every port and had no problems getting on and off although other passengers took ages at La Rochelle on the bendy buses. Overall a lovely break. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Just returned from 4 night mini-cruise, (N514) stopping over at Zeebrugge, Belgium and St. Peter Port, Guernsey. This is the first time we have embarked from the re-vamped Ocean Terminal, all-in-all a vast improvement as the old security ... Read More
Just returned from 4 night mini-cruise, (N514) stopping over at Zeebrugge, Belgium and St. Peter Port, Guernsey. This is the first time we have embarked from the re-vamped Ocean Terminal, all-in-all a vast improvement as the old security system was a real bottle neck. We have sailed on the Ventura several times before, and it hasn’t changed a great deal. The much discussed overhaul has now disappeared into the dim and distant past, the décor is looking a bit tired and only real new change is that the ‘White’ room is now called the ‘Epicurean’ which still has an overpriced cover charge. The stop-overs were ok, Zeebrugge now appears to have its own port transport shuttling between ship and port gate, which I don’t remember from previous visits, and they appear to be revamping Blankenberge railway station – we seemed to get a discount on the train tickets by showing our cruise card! Because one of the days during the cruise was significant to us, I had pre-ordered via the P&O web site/booking office some extras for that day, the flowers and champagne arrived on time, on date. However, it wasn’t made clear to me that the chocolate dipped strawberries were only served on the formal night – that was a bit of a downer. Also, the roses in the bouquet were obviously wilting after 2 days which I did not expect, but the florist did replace these flowers without a quibble. To my wife and I, dinner is the highlight of the day when cruising and I became worried when I heard that P&O in their cost cutting phase had begun to serve guests with pre-loaded plates at dinner, i.e. no longer serving vegetables separately. Having certain dietary requirements, I had thought that the new serving process may present a problem, but it was ok. To my mind serving pre-loaded plate at dinner is hardly silver service, and has definitely dented the overall luxury feel of the cruise. While the food served was good, the service from the waiters was very nearly perfunctory, the normal banter had to be really worked at, the smiles were fewer, I have this feeling that the waiters do not like the auto-tipping policy now employed. Next cruise we will definitely stop the auto-tipping and go back to old way of tipping, let the waiters/room steward know what we are doing and then maybe we will get a more personal and pleasant service. We normally order a light breakfast from room service – i.e. coffee and toast. This time the service was very patchy and not once did we receive what we ordered, no toast or butter and only Jam one day, only hot water but no coffee another, another just one plate and knife for the two of us. A small note of complaint is that I noticed that not all items glassware and crockery seemed as scrupulously clean as I expected, but obviously these items were immediately replaced when the defects were pointed out. Also, in future we will avoid cruising during school holidays; the ship was crawling with children and the absentee parents seemed to relinquish all responsibility for them. As a consequence, all swimming pools and hot tubs were completely monopolised by these children, to the point where it was very uncomfortable to use or approach either type of facility. It did not help that on the last full day one of the swimming pools had to be shut because someone had fouled the water. Overall we feel that P&O are continuing to cost cut by further reduce their service levels, and as a result are at risk of losing their (so far) loyal customers to rival cruise companies. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Very second rate Compared to Carnival and Royal Caribbean, the staff could barely speak English and were nowhere near as friendly or professional, the food, entertainment, organisation, embarking and disembarking for trips etc was nowhere ... Read More
Very second rate Compared to Carnival and Royal Caribbean, the staff could barely speak English and were nowhere near as friendly or professional, the food, entertainment, organisation, embarking and disembarking for trips etc was nowhere near as good. Next time I am looking to book a cruise it will not be with P&O. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We are platinum on Carnival. This is our 16th cruise. We took this cruise because we wanted to try a British Line. We had just come off a Transatlantic on the Brilliance of the Seas. We stayed at wonderful small hotel in Southampton. ... Read More
We are platinum on Carnival. This is our 16th cruise. We took this cruise because we wanted to try a British Line. We had just come off a Transatlantic on the Brilliance of the Seas. We stayed at wonderful small hotel in Southampton. The Blue Keys was really great. Our experience on embarkation was swift and courteous. Waited about 40 minutes to board. Took a cab from hotel to Ship probably no mote than 10 minutes. Cabin was ready by 2 pm. The cabin was really large its the biggest balcony we ever had. Took 3 shore excursions, two in Amsterdam one on the channel islands. Since my wife has trouble walking we did bus tours. All were good. Just wish we could have gotten on the tour of Ann Franks House. It was sold out way in advance. The entertainment was really good the 4 seasons Jersey Boys group was really good. Having seen the show in New York twice we can say that those men did a really fine job. We ate most of our meals in the main dining room food was OK not great but OK. Not much selection in the buffet. That's why we like the MDR. Disembarkation was quick and went well off the ship self assist by 7:30 am. We really enjoyed meeting many people all really nice. I believe that we were the only Americans on board. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Boarding at Southampton was chaotic. Advanced requests for assistance due to being sight impaired had gone ignored by P&O. A very helpful ABP employee did offer and provide assistance, however, despite his best efforts this was ... Read More
Boarding at Southampton was chaotic. Advanced requests for assistance due to being sight impaired had gone ignored by P&O. A very helpful ABP employee did offer and provide assistance, however, despite his best efforts this was turned into an embarrassing and troublesome experience by other staff in the check-in process. The ship itself and is looking tired, varnish is peeling off the woodwork in all areas, with no apparent ongoing maintenance, which I have always found evident on other cruise lines. This generally faded glory is reflected throughout the Ventura experience. Little touches such as the breakfast menus being filthy dirty and dog-eared, My cabin was HE grade on deck 11, this was a pleasantly sized cabin with balcony. In cabin Tea and coffee making facilities are provided. An in room safe is available to use free of charge. There is an interactive TV which provides updates on your onboard account, two news channels, updates on the ships progress and weather. Films are available on demand, these are charged at £1.99 each. As with most cruise lines, cabins are serviced twice daily by a cabin Steward. I have seen other reviewers write of small showers on other ships, a sentiment my experience has not reflected. I am a slim 68kg (10stone in old money) and I have to admit that the shower aboard Ventura was a very cramped enclosure. The cabin Steward and evening restaurant staff were friendly and offered a polite personal service, even taking the trouble to address passengers by their name. Apart from this service was impersonal and far from effortless, emphasis was very much about maximizing onboard spend. The availability of food throughout the day is excellent The Waterside buffet was very good and well managed, this was one of the few areas where the service excelled Although the food was generally good at the evening formal dining, it is no longer a silver service experience, and in my opinion falls way short of the standard and quality provided by MSC. It also has the has the dubious honor of being the first time I have ever sent food back in a restaurant as being unacceptable. The breakfast service in the formal dining room is abysmal and the in cabin breakfast is not a good option, one day getting the order wrong, and the next not turning up all. I was not the only passenger to remark that it appears that P&O believe toast to be a cold snack, as it is impossible to get a warm piece of toast anywhere on Ventura. The evening entertainment was beyond bad. The main entertainment being a Beattles tribute act and an awful comedian, both pretty second rate on a 4 night cruise this program was repeated twice. All in all a pleasant holiday which would have been most acceptable for a more reasonable price. At a little under £600 for 4 nights, it did not reflect value for money. The P&O experience does not live up to what I know it once was (or that which it currently advertises itself to be) Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
My friend had never cruised before I had been on Oceania, MSC and Fred Olsen cruises, so we decided to try P & O. We embarked from Southampton having driven down we were satisfied with the arrangements and did not have that long to ... Read More
My friend had never cruised before I had been on Oceania, MSC and Fred Olsen cruises, so we decided to try P & O. We embarked from Southampton having driven down we were satisfied with the arrangements and did not have that long to wait to board, considering the numbers they are dealing with. However first impressions of the ship itself were not particularly impressive, staff were not particularly welcoming and the décor lacks the WOW factor. We went for an inside cabin both for economy and also because I had always had an outside or balcony previously and wanted to see if my paying the extra was really worth it. The cabin was very comfortable and bigger than expected but we did miss not having daylight, so yes the extra to get this either by means of window or balcony is worth it. Dining on board was the biggest disappointment, the food was canteen standard and the service was poor, no smiling welcoming waiters here. The entertainment by way of the shows was also poor to pathetic. The ship had a few families on board with children who seemed to be completely on their own (I guess parents were there but we didn't see them with the kids) they jumped into the pools and played in and out in the Jacuzzi, which meant that we didn't bother to try to use either. The staff completely ignored this behaviour and made no attempt to point out the notices that said no jumping or diving in the pool - how an accident didn't occur is miraculous. The general cleanliness of the ship was just about acceptable but never did you see any staff member wiping down handrails or insisting that passengers use the anti-bacterial spray at entrances to dining areas. Neither of us will be going with P & O again, which is such a disappointment as I really thought they would be so much better than this being such an iconic name within the industry. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Never used P&O Cruises before apart from their ferries. We like Thomson Cruises and were looking for something that would be along those lines or better than. P & O Ventura did not dissapoint on our first cruise with her . ... Read More
Never used P&O Cruises before apart from their ferries. We like Thomson Cruises and were looking for something that would be along those lines or better than. P & O Ventura did not dissapoint on our first cruise with her . We had booked an inside cabin deck A and was upgraded to a obstructed viewbon E Deck and was impressed by the space,clean,modern room with a vey comfy double bed and very quiet with no motion when at sea . The room fridge came with two bottles of water free and our cabin steward Prakash was great in re-supplying our teas,coffee and biscuits everyday and he always had time to make sure we were ok and ask how our day had been . The bathroom was very modern and everything worked , nothing faulty and came with toiletries that seemed decent. Although the ship was full we never felt over crowded and seemed plenty of staff to go around . We never had to wait long apart from our one night in the Bay tree Restaraunt, which to us was painfully slow service . We were first in the queue and and shown to our table ,despite this we and the table next to us had to wait 25 minutes for a menu our own waiter even managed to serve starters to some of his other tables before he even came back to us and it got no better. We used the Beach House & Waterside self service for the rest of our cruise and the food was hot ,tasty and well presented a lot of dishes served in individual pots and dishes , to be honest we looked forward to eating in these places ,so did not use any of the pay to eat restaraunts. We never had problems finding a table to eat our meals at and the views from up there through the large windows were great. Going for a drink the Ventura gave us eleven bars and a show bar to choose from and the service was fast and friendly and the staff were not stuffy as we had read on other forums. Just our opinion but unlike Thomson who seem to encourage staff to stop and chat , P& O want customers to be served asap ,so they move to the next waiting customer rather than stop and chat. All the bar staff we spoke to were friendly and would spend the odd moment chatting but then would be off serving or off doing other bar duties. We found them to be ok. The Headliners show team put on two very good shows and had the advantage of a high tech theatre and lighting plus sound system compared to Thomson ships we had used . This is one of the places where Thomson win hands down as their show teams put on two shows as well but at least six nights per week , the crew even do a show in the theatre. Having said that we were happy with the shows we saw with P&O . The first day on Ventura , we were no sooner on board and were pounced on with the big sell .. Photo's ,Spa's and drinks packages but to be fair we said no thanks and never was bothered again . Keeping tabs on your spending was easy with the interactive TV giving you an up to date balance and the TV gave a lot more ,ships web cam , captains log and map plus loads of TV programs some pay per view but loads are free. The ship on our week had a good mixture of passenger ages and the ones we met were friendly and considerate to their fellow passengers and used the hand gels at meal times. The ship was very stable even in bad weather ,you had to look out of a window at times to remind you that the ship was moving ,the chances of being sea sick should you suffer from it must be very remote . The ship has a promenade deck with plenty of chairs should you wish a stroll or sit and watch the world go by or go up to the sun deck should you wish to lay on a lounger . Given the chance we will be back on the Ventura it's a good family /couples and singles ship and everyone seems to have a good time with plenty to do on board . I hope we sail on her again and soon . Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our first cruise ever - a 'gift' for our wedding anniversary. We were put in cabin B344, an inner one. Although we personally found the temperature to be a bit warm (as we like to sleep in cool temperatures), most ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever - a 'gift' for our wedding anniversary. We were put in cabin B344, an inner one. Although we personally found the temperature to be a bit warm (as we like to sleep in cool temperatures), most would find the 23C all-round room temp to be very cozy. The cabin was certainly big enough for two of us and the queen bed quite ample. We had 2 nights of gale force 8 winds and slept like babies; the most we knew of it was a gentle rocking of the bed and an announcement by the ship the next morning. My wife walks with a stick and we found crew to be very attentive. She was whisked into the ship almost immediately for embarkation, avoiding any crowds or lines of passengers, and we were set into the buffet room to enjoy lunch while the rest of the ship embarked. The same was true of disembarkation - off the ship before the rest of the passengers and out into a flagged-down taxi before the rest arrived. The buffet rooms were lovely - clean and spacious with tons of tables and waiters everywhere waiting to get you another drink or take away your tray the moment you were finished. No table was too far away from a window to not enjoy the view. The food itself was great - we're not into fine dining, we just eat food - and there was plenty of variety for all tastes and lots of it. Everything from cold cuts and rolls, little nibbles, to several main dishes and sides. The desserts were to die for! And it really was 24-hours a day, though you may find yourself switching from one side of the dining room to the other, depending on the time of day. (Little ones had their own tea time at 4-6pm, so they could go to daycare when adults wanted to enjoy themselves.) There were tons of little areas around the ship where you could sit and have a drink (or 10) and we never had to wait more than a couple of minutes for a waiter to take our order and deliver a delicious cocktail. There were a large number of heated pools and wonderful whirlpools -easy to get in and out of - and these all had bar areas and seating around them as well as counters serving fast foods, ice creams, etc. We had signed for low-impact activities, a couple of tour buses, and they had quite a few to chose from and quite a few grey heads and people with mobility problems on them. Again, first on/first off, lots of attendants helping on and off the bus as well as into/out of attractions. We certainly couldn't fault the customer service if we tried. And the excursions were great as well with knowledgeable tour guides. We were so happy with our experience we signed up for another cruise - a 10-night one, on the same ship - on our second day. We did, however, book a balcony cabin. We would personally recommend an inner cabin if you don't plan on doing much besides sleeping it it, but if you like to get away from the crowd, you may wish at least a cabin with a window. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We stayed on the Ventura so just thought I would write a review since we were massively impressed with our first time cruising, so here are some tips: When it comes to Gratuities(Tips) you automatically pay a fee a day, we took this ... Read More
We stayed on the Ventura so just thought I would write a review since we were massively impressed with our first time cruising, so here are some tips: When it comes to Gratuities(Tips) you automatically pay a fee a day, we took this off, you just go to the reception and ask to have them removed, that way you can tip who you want to tip throughout your cruise, we did this and ended up tipping more but that way we knew the staff got them. When you arrive go straight to the Waterside Café or Beachside all on deck 15 as you can have food straight away, especially if you had been waiting a long time to Embark. The restaurants that are inclusive are Cinnamon and Safron, they serve the exact same menu and is inclusive of your all inclusive cruise. Could not fault the food at all! They serve Breakfast at Saffron and Cinnamon, then a buffet breakfast in waterside so you can help yourself. Then at dinner it is a 3 course meal and tea it is a 5 course meal. Forgot to mention the hot pizzas and afternoon tea in the waterside. Shows were fab and you don't need to book, they run twice in one evening. The maids are spot on, ours did our room 3 times a day, they constantly check for dirty towels. Overall it was amazing, going on my honeymoon in 5 months, were trying the Oasis of the Seas, Royal Carribean! AMAZING! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Well, having just read some of these reviews, I wonder if we were on the same ship. We enjoyed our time on BRITANNIA. It is a modern ship, muted colours etc. and we had read that this would be the case, so expected it to be no ... Read More
Well, having just read some of these reviews, I wonder if we were on the same ship. We enjoyed our time on BRITANNIA. It is a modern ship, muted colours etc. and we had read that this would be the case, so expected it to be no different. The Art on the ship was different but again modern. Our cabin was spacious, there was only two of us and we had plenty of room, our shower room was far larger than others we have had with other lines. Our cabin was spotless as was our balcony. Thank you Sanford. Having been on several other lines and experienced the chaos in the equivalent to the Horizon Restaurant, we were very pleasantly surprised on Day 1, this area was calm and there were plenty of tables to be had. The layout of it gave you the feeling of calmness and efficiency. The tables were cleared as soon as our cutlery was placed on the plates. Plenty of food and very good service. We found the service we received everywhere on the ship to be excellent. I wonder if the professional moaners have ever heard of " behaviour begets behaviour" which speaks for itself and oh boy! were there moaners on this ship? I suppose that's their life and that's all that makes them happy. We had Freedom Dining in the evening and this worked for us brilliantly. We also booked to see Jackie Graham in the Limelight Club, it was a superb evening, both food and show was excellent and well worth the extra money. The entertainment in the Headliners Theatre was very good, Richard and Adam, Craig Owen and Worbey and Farrell were all excellent. We did however find the food to be good but ( sorry ) not excellent in the Meridian Restaurant. It was plain and not exciting. The ports were very good and the excursions we participated in we thoroughly enjoyed. We took the scenic train in Flam and couldn't believe the amount of snow in the mountains, it being end of April. The Glacier trip in Olden was also very good, with spectacular views. Disembarkation looked horrendous when we joined the queue for taking our bags ourselves, but we were due to leave the ship at 7am, which we did and we were in the coach park waiting to be collected at 7.15am. All in All we would like to Congratulate P & O on the new ship BRITANNIA. Thank you for our wonderful holiday. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Having just completed a mini trip to brussels & le havre on Arcadia . We were looking forward to a relaxed trip having paid the extra to upgrade to a suite. We duly arrived at 12.45 after problems with entry to the port gate ( Not P ... Read More
Having just completed a mini trip to brussels & le havre on Arcadia . We were looking forward to a relaxed trip having paid the extra to upgrade to a suite. We duly arrived at 12.45 after problems with entry to the port gate ( Not P & O but an accident on route to Aurora cruise terminal). Having arrived and suitcases off loaded,the first batch of people at the entry were a group of hen party with offensive sweatshirts joining the cruise , check in was good but again we had to ask for were we go for priority check in ,the room was as promised and all suite facilities in place . Having our walk around, we lunched on a cold burger up on the upper deck and upon walking around ship as you do, we noticed the Meridian open,upon enquiry this was open for Suite guests ( Not the best of P & O communication as never advised at check in) Having been on many cruises with P & O and having myself been refused entry to a bar without a jacket expected standards to be maintained . Having complied with dress code only to find the hen party tables dressed in sailor outfits with large blow up members doing games with whistles etc is not what you expect and feel sorry for passengers sampling a first cruise. Overall P & O need raise the standards on these mini cruises ,think about what they want to gain ,as for us this will be a last short cruise due to the drop in standards expected and received on all other P & O cruises lets hope they get better as we are booked on Brittania in December Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We really enjoy these short breaks and we look forward to spending a few days on board, as we live not far from Southampton it makes it easy for us to get to and from the port. The embarkation time we were given was 12.30 and we got to the ... Read More
We really enjoy these short breaks and we look forward to spending a few days on board, as we live not far from Southampton it makes it easy for us to get to and from the port. The embarkation time we were given was 12.30 and we got to the port by 11 - we waited for our letter to be called and it was all very easy, we were on board and eating in the self service retaurant by 12.45, the food was very good and we were pleased that there were plenty of wine waiters so we didn't have to wait long to have a glass of wine. As usual it was very busy but we managed to get a table by the window and queued up for our lunch, the food was very good with lots of choice and the view from the top of the ship over Southampton water was great. We we booked this as a guarantee cabin and only found out a few days beforehand that we were going to be on Riveria Deck which was deck 14. We had booked a balcony cabin and were slightly disappointed that we weren't lower down the ship where the balconies are bigger. However the cabin was very comfortable although we did have 6 bottles of water left for us with a note to say we could buy the pack if we wanted to. We put this under the small table but it was in the way. Our cabin steward didn't come and introduce himself and we only saw him once when he let himself into our cabin and then told us we should have put the "do not disturb sign" out. We were supposed to find out our dining arrangements once on board and when this has happened before there is usually a card left on the desk for us. This time there was nothing and we were worried as if we were eating at 6.30 we would need to get ready in a hurry. We phoned down to reception who said we would need to contact the dining manager, we tried ringing but the phone was constantly engaged or just kept ringing. We ended up going down and were told that we were able to eat at any time so we took it we had been allocated Freedom Dining. It took quite a bit of time to get this sorted which is annoying when you are only on a short trip as every hour is precious. Freedom dining suits us best so we were pleased with this, but saying that we did find we had to wait over an hour to get a table as P&O seem to have increased the amount of freedom diners. We had a drink in the Metropolis Bar, the Raspberry Brulee which is my favourite cocktail. We did notice that on this cruise there were a lot of hen parties which were very loud and some of them were very drunk. This was particularly disappointing in the restaurant, the noise levels and general rowdiness spoilt a lovely meal and as it was Gala Night it would have been nice to keep the feeling of elegance going but unfortunately women were being vulgar and some were rude to the staff. The entertainment for the first night was the ships company, Headliners, doing a review of songs from a variety of stage shows. We really enjoyed it and were very impressed with the quality of the singing. The second night was a comedian that we didn't find very funny and particularly didn't like the way he included the audience as it makes us feel uncomfortable, especially when questions that need to be answered in front of the whole audience. When we returned to our cabin on the first night we went to fill out our breakfast card so we could have some tea and some fruit juices in the morning with a fruit and cold meat platter. The cabin steward had removed our folder so we couldn't do this. I did phone room service and they brought some cards up for us but by this time it was 1.00 am and we had to wait for the cards to be delivered. I don't know why our steward removed the folder, it also meant that the postcard of the ship had gone and we like to collect these on the ships we have been on. We were woken the following morning to our tea and fruit and we enjoyed this in bed before getting up and going for a walk around the ship, our balcony had a view over the port of Zebrugge which was very industrial but interesting to watch all the work going on. We then went up to the self service breakfast where we had some coffee and a small bite to eat. P&O provide a free shuttle service to the local town where you can get the train into Bruges but as we had done this before so we opted to have a walk round the town. We went to the Storm Centre on the pier which on the website sounded interesting but in reality was not that good although we did spend a couple of hours walking around, it was a shame that there wasn't much in English so it was difficult to understand all the things they had on display. The weather wasn't that good so we only walked round for a couple of hours before heading back to the ship. The shuttle bus was waiting for us and we were back on board in time for lunch. The two days went very quickly and we did enjoy ourselves, the food is very good and we had a lovely evening in the Glass House where we tried a few of the wines. We also enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails both evenings as well as the chance to look round at the beautiful works of art they had in the gallery. Our cabin was clean and very comfortable, the towels were changed each time we seemed to leave the cabin. We also appreciated having a fridge and a kettle with tea and coffee available in the cabin. The choice of entertainment and different bars in the ship are able to accommodate everyone without making you feel you are in a large ship. We tried all the bars apart from the pub, although we did go to the casino which was busy and seemed a bit too complicated for us, we are not really big gamblers and might have bet a few pounds but the tables had minimum stakes, as did the slot machines. You had to use your cruise card and it was a minimum of £10 which put us off. Disembarkation was the usual hectic struggle to find somewhere to have breakfast, you have to be out of your cabin by 8.00 am and then wait to be called for disembarkation. If you want your luggage taken off by the porters you need to put your cases outside your cabin the night before but we only had small cases so decided to take them off ourselves. We left our cabin and ended up sitting outside by the pool as the restaurants were too busy. We had a relaxing time drinking coffee and doing a bit of people watching - something cruises are really good for. We weren't in a rush as we were getting picked up about 10.30 so didn't mind waiting around and once the restaurant started to thin out we got something to eat. Despite all the hiccups we still enjoyed this cruise, so much so that we are now booked for another short cruise in June on P@O's Aurora which is a new ship for us. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We have just returned from a P&O short cruise to Guernsey and Zeebrugge on the Oriana. A holiday didn't get off to a good start as the ship could not dock due to high winds and our trip was cut short by 24 hours. Our four ... Read More
We have just returned from a P&O short cruise to Guernsey and Zeebrugge on the Oriana. A holiday didn't get off to a good start as the ship could not dock due to high winds and our trip was cut short by 24 hours. Our four night cruise became a 3 night cruise. We live in Lancashire and had already arrived in Southampton before we learned this and it was difficult to gain infromation as the P&O staff were not in uniform so it was hard to establish who they were amongst the passengers. However I take my hat off to P&O for springing into action and finding accomodation for over 1500 passengers in and around Southampton which included dinner and wine. As if this wasn't enough they then added £30 per passenger to our cabin card for spending on board the ship and have written to us confirming we will receive a 50% percent refund of the cost of our holiday to compensate us for the lost night at sea. We were collected from our hotel on embarkation day by coach and taken to the teminal to be checked in and boarded. The entire process took less than an hour and 30 minutes. Very impressive!. You would never get that from an airline. We had an inside cabin which was sufficient for the time we planned to spend in it. The bed was very comfortable and our cabin steward kept it spotlessly clean for us. The nightly turn down service with little chocoloates left on our pillows was a nice touch. The ship itself is a little dated and could do with a refit. The pools looked overdue a clean and many of the pictures in the coridors leading to the cabins had been wiped with a damp cloth and allowed to dry with smears which gave the ship a slightly unkempt look which was a shame as there were other areas that were immaculate. The gym was suprisingly large and well equipped for the size of the ship and the spa looked ok through the window although we never actually went in. The dining rooms were elegant and we particularly liked the ambience of Crows Nest bar with the talented jazz musicians who provided very pleasant entertainment. There was plenty of other entertainment on the ship. We weren't on long enough to sample most of it but there is something for everyone. We were very well fed with excellent five course meals in the evening although we did not always get what we had ordered. We were on freedom dining which meant that we could attend the Peninsular Restaurant at a time to suit us. We had to queue but it wasn't for long and were seated with lovely people every night. The Gala Dinner was lovely with just about everybody wearing black tie and evening gowns. The buffet breakfast was a bit of a free for all, not enough places to sit inside and was not worth the queue. We ordered room service on our final evening and this was very good. The cost of drinks both soft and alcoholic is very reasonable with a bottle of Prosecco costing less that £20 and table wine is also at very good value. The shore excursions are also very well priced, We did the Bruges on your Own and this cost less for the two of us than a return taxi would have cost. We had prebooked a couples massage for our sea day and although the sea day was cancelled we still went ahead with the treatment and shortened our time ashore. I have to be honest and say it was a total rip off. It didn't compare to any professional massage I have received in a salon but cost twice as much at £146 for both of us with an additional 10% added to our cabin card on board for gratuities. The treatment room was a bit clinical but at the same time a little grubby. I appreicate that scented candles would probably create a fire hazard but a bit of ambient lighting and another form of scent would have given it more atmosphere. It was carried out by two girls of oriental descent one of whom sniffed constantly and to be honest it all felt a bit sleazy. Our eyes were kept covered for most of it and towards the end we both became aware of something with a strong smell of vicks or eucalyptus being wafted under our noses. When the treatment was complete we were asked to dress and remain in the room. The therapists returned with water from a cooler for us to drink but then came the hard sell of Elemis products that they tried to convince us they had used by asking us to smell them. The smell was similar but I'm certain it was not the aroma we experienced when our eyes were covered. Nice try but you didn't fool us! In conclussion I would definitely cruise with P&O again and would even sail on the Oriana again too. She's an old girl but has a lovely faded charm. I will opt for a fixed time to dine but would still be happly with an inside cabin as I did hear that the outsides with a balcony got a little cold at night. Well done to P&O for dealing so efficiently with the crisis on what should have been our first day/night and thank you for the lovely accomodation and dinner you provided. We look forward to sailing with you again soon. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We cruised on Ventura in 20014 and had a excellent holiday,We had no reservations in booking the P&O Azura transatlantic cruise from Barbados calling at St Lucia, Antigua, St Maarten and the Azores, finishing at Southampton with a ... Read More
We cruised on Ventura in 20014 and had a excellent holiday,We had no reservations in booking the P&O Azura transatlantic cruise from Barbados calling at St Lucia, Antigua, St Maarten and the Azores, finishing at Southampton with a total of eight days at sea. We were aware the ship was scheduled a refit immediately after disembarkation. We chose an outside cabin on E deck with an obstructed view, that description is correct, all we could see was the large tender outside. What we did not expect was the lack of privacy with crew working on the tender on a number of occasions with a full view of our cabin. All though we did enjoy the destinations we were disappointed the dining experience . We were allocated second sitting in the peninsular restaurant. The lack of staff was very apparent, the decision by P&O to remove the wine waiter from the restaurant is a big mistake. Our waiter was rushed off his feet, serving three tables and taking wine orders, he struggled to cope. On a number of occasions we received our wine order half way through the meal, i feel this will be detrimental for P & O as we will not order a wine package if we cruise with them again. The menu was good and varied, however the quality and presentation left much to be desired, (spongy yorkshire puddings and baked Alaska that looked like it had been bought in Iceland) this was very disappointing after the excellent food and service we received on the Ventura (Marco Pierre White would not be impressed). We used the dining room for breakfast and lunch as the buffet restaurants were extremely busy. The afternoon tea was a joke in the main dining room, with dried up sandwiches and a few cakes, not a pleasant experience. We were disappointed with the daily activities on the long days at sea but the nighttime entertainers were very good. My last gripe is disembarkation in Southampton. We had to vacate our cabin at 08.00 and given a time of 10.45 to disembark and told to wait in the Sindu restaurant. We arrived to find staff cleaning the restaurant and half of the area cordoned off and toilets closed. The organization was dier, you would expect all passengers to have vacated the ship before the staff start cleaning. In summary, We sailed the North Atlantic, enjoyed the destinations, however, The Azura is not a patch on the Ventura and overall very disappointing. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Have previously been on the Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth (twice) and Aurora. One of my Queen Elizabeth cruises was in June 2014 with my husband. We went for 3 nights to Zeebrugge and had a fantastic time. Service and food ... Read More
Have previously been on the Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth (twice) and Aurora. One of my Queen Elizabeth cruises was in June 2014 with my husband. We went for 3 nights to Zeebrugge and had a fantastic time. Service and food no different to the longer cruises and a good mix of people. Having enjoyed this short cruise I also went on Aurora in November 2014 with 2 friends for 2 nights to Zeebrugge. Although we thought the ship was dated and tired (it had a refit shortly afterwards), the service was very good as was the food. I was worried about what our fellow passengers would be like having spoken to a fellow passenger on the QE who had been on a P&O 2 night cruise and said it was like a booze cruise with lots of drunk and badly behaved people. We did not encounter this on our cruise. I have just returned from another 2 night cruise, this time on Oceana, again to Zeebrugge. This time there were 6 of us in 3 ocean view cabins (all mid-late 40's women). 3 of the group had never cruised before. Embarkation not as good as previous occasions as from the QEII terminal rather than the plusher Ocean Terminal. Long queue and pretty grotty location. Brittania was in Ocean Terminal as wouldn't want the Queen seeing this other terminal building! Oceana was again pretty dated and tired in the public areas and cabins. The sun loungers were pretty grotty (not that we were able to use them in March!) and the ship wasn't very clean. My pillowcase had pen marks on it and the duvet felt very thin and cheap. Unlike Aurora and all the Cunard ships, there was no crows-nest bar which was a shame as we usually enjoy evening cocktails in these types of bars with their chillled-out music and ambience. The selection in the buffet restaurant was nowhere near as good as Aurora. The desserts with our evening meal were not very nice at all and the breakfast service on the day of disembarkation was very rushed. Generally the service was ok. but nothing special. Our steward was friendly but not very attentive. The entertainment was disappointing compared to Aurora, given that they were both very reasonably priced 2 night cruises to Zeebrugge. The Queen tribute band in the theatre were pretty bad so we decided to try the Take That tribute band in one of the bars. They were excellent. The second night there was just a film showing in the theatre and the Take That band again in the bar. We did have good fun listening to them as they were very professional. Guess that if P&O are offering cruises at such a cheap price then costs have to be cut somewhere. The average age on this cruise was much lower than previous cruises that I've been on. There were lots and lots of young hen groups. They kept us awake on the first night when talking and laughing very loudly up to 3am in the morning whilst going past our cabin. The second night I wore ear plugs and slept very well. In conclusion, the 6 of us had a good fun cruise. It was very cheap at about £250 each. If P&O have decided to target young hen groups and those wanting a party type cruise then they appear to have been very successful. However, if they are hoping to appeal to first-time cruisers as a taster then these people may be put off going on a cruise, thinking that this cruise is representative of other cruises. One of our group now says that she'll not go on a cruise again and definitely not with her family, even though the 2 others of us who've done other cruises have tried to persuade her otherwise! I am intending to try another short cruise later in the year with my husband and friends. Next time we're going to Guernsey on Ventura so hope that this will have more of a mix of people and better entertainment/food.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
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