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

Went on a 3 night taster cruise in May and loved it. Took my family this weekend to show them that P&O was worth a try and leaving their regular cruise line. BIG Mistake - First the food; we like informal dining and after the first ... Read More
Went on a 3 night taster cruise in May and loved it. Took my family this weekend to show them that P&O was worth a try and leaving their regular cruise line. BIG Mistake - First the food; we like informal dining and after the first night there were two themed nights in the buffet restaurant - fish, and oriental. there was no alternative if you didn't like fish (or in my case are allergic to seafood), and when I asked if there was an alternative I was told to go to formal night, by a very rude head steward! The late night buffet was a few (not very fresh) finger sandwiches, chips and dried up pizza - definitely not up to other cruise line standards.the service was slowed down by having our cutlery and trays handed to us, and not being allowed to pour our own tea and coffee. Perhaps if the four staff they had allocated to this totally unnecessary task had been used to clear the tables they might have been cleared in a more timely manner The 'Brought in entertainment' Lynne Fredericks what a charmless insipid performer she was! So much so that we took my elderly father to watch her, and left to get ready for the evening, and he didn't even know she was singing. Highlight of the entertainment was Flyright a soul/motown/swing trio who entertained in every way and were excellent. The entertainment on the 'sea day' would never have encouraged anyone to go on a long cruise with lots of sea days. There was a dance class and quiz (at the same time) in the morning and then talks on on acupuncture, hair and feet!! I'm so disappointed with everything about this cruise, but the catering offering and service in the buffet were particularly bad and the attitude of the management in the buffet was simply unacceptable.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
The good points were the allocation of Cabin location on a saver deal. Food and service in the main dining room was better than previous experiences, we had changed to an early sitting from our original allocation. Now for the problem ... Read More
The good points were the allocation of Cabin location on a saver deal. Food and service in the main dining room was better than previous experiences, we had changed to an early sitting from our original allocation. Now for the problem areas: Afternoon Tea. Arrived at 3.34pm for tea. Shown to a table for 2, as we went to sit, there was some hubbub between the staff and we were told to move and sit at a table for 8, six people were already seated. Fine you think, oh not so. The other six people had already eaten, the table was untidy, and we were ignored by the other guests. I was so upset by this I walked out in disgust. A waiter followed us to help, we explained, he wanted to put it right but I was too upset to consider returning to a table. You cannot put something like this right, our afternoon was totally ruined. This should not happen, do not sit a new guest with ones who have finished. Were we supposed to eat their leftovers? Also this had happened once before on a previous P&O cruise. The sea screen. Whilst probably quite a nice feature in warm weather, but at night on a winter cruise! And what is with the volume? It was far too loud particularly when the film had a lot of booming music, it was uncomfortable sitting out in the pool area, particularly as the sound was distorted and hissing. As there were four/five screenings a day it made it restrictive to enjoy some peace on your balcony. We were on A deck and could hear the booming in the cabin when our balcony door was open. The other music/bands outside were generally quite pleasant. The volume can be controlled, so perhaps the job should go to someone who is obviously not deaf, a reasonable adjustment would make it much more comfortable. Also some consideration should be shown when in port, especially the smaller towns. On the other hand the sailaways were so pathetically quiet that even overlooking the stage we struggled to hear, on previous sailings we have stood in the same location, and further up and back and had a great time (in particular Stavanger). One morning our pleasant outside breakfast was spoilt when someone played around with the volume levels ending up with the volume at a deafening level where we could not hear ourselves speak and had to leave food unfinished. I question the 10pm showings - I tried 2 (good films but The Lego Movie was way too loud), along with only about a dozen other people and a spot of rain! Wouldn’t be a money spinner if you charged for tickets! On a previous cruise there were less screenings, leaving some time to relax and enjoy the outside areas.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I will try to keep this review short and to the point. We booked this cruise on the Azura with P&O direct, no problems there but had to wait till 2 weeks before the cruise to be given our cabin number as we had booked a G class cabin. ... Read More
I will try to keep this review short and to the point. We booked this cruise on the Azura with P&O direct, no problems there but had to wait till 2 weeks before the cruise to be given our cabin number as we had booked a G class cabin. Compared with previous G class bookings with other cruise lines this was a bit frustrating but I suppose it added a bit of mystery. The embarkation process at Southampton went really smoothly and we were on board within 30 minutes of being dropped off at the front of the terminal. The cabin was ready as promised at 2pm. It was very clean and compact and the balcony was a very good size. We were wary about reviews that the clothes hanging space was right out side the bathroom and did not have a door but we found this to actually be more convenient. The lay out of the ship left a lot to be desired and like ourselves a lot of passengers were still having problems finding their way around even on the last day. Not being able to walk all around the ship on any one deck seemed very unusual and led to many conversations with other passengers as to the best route. The entertainment was first class but sadly the venues were not large enough and led to standing room only 10 minutes before the start of nearly every performance. Late sitting for dinner was a mistake as every meal had to be timed to get to the venue early. The buffet restaurants when they were open were like cattle markets with every one being herded through a narrow gateway to stand in line for what turned out to be a very limited choice although most of the food was not too bad. The staff there were the biggest let down as although they were not rude they did not speak unless they really had to and the officers made us feel like we were a much lower class and totally ignored everybody. Definitely the worst passenger/crew relationship we have ever come across in fact you just would not expect it anywhere. The main restaurant was a little better but not as good as expected, the food was average (better in the buffet) and the service was polite but no more. Please do not expect P&O to be better than their main competition as is in our opinion they fall way down the list. We may try P&O again but not on the Azura and not if another cruise line is going to the same destinations at the same times. However we did enjoy our holiday to Norway with its stunning views and we met a lot of really nice fellow passengers more so than on other cruise lines we have been on and and the evening dress code with P&O was respected more. We would rate this cruise about 5 out 10 but only kept that high by the Itinerary and the Entertainment. Kentwood Cruisers   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
My mother hadn't been on a cruise for around 25 years and my partner had never been on a cruise at all, therefore as a birthday present I took them and my step-father on the 2 night "minicruise" to Zeebrugge (Bruges) on the ... Read More
My mother hadn't been on a cruise for around 25 years and my partner had never been on a cruise at all, therefore as a birthday present I took them and my step-father on the 2 night "minicruise" to Zeebrugge (Bruges) on the 11th April on the Oceana. With it being somewhat of a special occasion, I opted for the highest grade of suite available - and was allocated suite D750 on 8 deck. Given the type of cruise it was marketed as I know I shouldn't have expected much but some of the clientele were shocking. There were 6 hen parties on board that I counted and some of their antics including wandering around the atrium carrying a huge plastic penis. The amount of tattooed ladies I saw was also surprising - each to their own but some of them were downright ugly (the tattoos - not the people!) I overheard one group talking in the morning stating that they had got into one of the hot tubs naked and radomn strange men had joined them - I'll leave the rest to your imagination.. I'm suprised that Suite passengers aren't given priority access to their cabins? Firstly, the cabin (suite). I gather the ship has had a refit recently but the carpets looked pretty worn and on the balcony there were lots of paint stains and bits of paint that had flaked off - not just on the floor but also on the furniture as well. Having travelled with Cunard before, I was surprised and somewhat dissapointed that it was not possible to have a hot breakfast delivered to the cabin - only continental. I would have thought suite passengers would have been offered both. The butler introduced himself shortly after we first entered the cabin - but on the second afternoon when my Mother fancied a sherry he didn't show or return calls despite repeatedly trying to ring his pager number. 4 of use were sharing the suite so my partner and I used the double sofa bed - however the quilt wasn't big enough for the bed which was far from ideal. In terms of the "sailaway" there was no band seeing the ship off which I've seen on other P&O / Cunard cruises which was a shame. Also there were staff walking round with trays of champagne shouting quite loudly "Champagne, only 5.99 a glass" which felt very tacky and downmarket. On to the food / restaurants. Well, lunch was taken on the first day in the Plaza buffet which I was a bit disappointed with when compared to Cunard or indeed the Aurora with the number of choices being limited and the food not very warm. In the main restaurant (Adriatic) we had one of the hen party groups sat behind us and there was lots of loud noise / swearing etc. I'm not a prude nor am I elderly being only in my mid 30's and am used to people swearing but it wasn't nice at dinner. The service felt rushed to me with the waiter clearing plates even when some of our table hadn't finished their meals, almost felt like they wanted us out of there as quickly as possible. The menu on the formal night stated that it was a Gala meal but with the exceptioni of a few balloons above some tables it was no different to the previous night so couldn't understand what made it a "gala" The lack of any selection of premium / vintage wines was dissapointing as I do like to splash out when celebrating a special occasion. Also, I asked our "wine waiter" for a Ricard on the second night as an aperitif and he looked at me blankly and stated he didn't know what it was - nor did he know what Pernod or Pastis was either. He stated he would go and find out but then promptly forgot to bring it. The wine was served pretty late into the meal too. What kind of wine waiter doesn't know anything about Pastis? At breakfast no sauces were offered and on the day of disembarkation it was very rushed. We looked at the "Cafe Jardin" for one of the meals but given it overlooks the atrium, it would have been noisy and hardly the place for a "premium" meal - surely these restaurants should be in a more intimate location on the ship? My partner and I did partake in a massage at the Spa which I have to say was very very good. Just a shame there's no indoor pool on the ship for her voyages to northern climes. The above taken into account - we did still enjoy ourselves and came away feeling relaxed - it just seemed quite downmarket. Are my expectations too high or is this reflective of P&O in general? Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We went with 3 generations as I suspect did many families on this cruise - ages from 65 to 8. We left our car at the port as usual and although we arrived 5 minutes before our boarding time were faced with huge queues to board, in the end ... Read More
We went with 3 generations as I suspect did many families on this cruise - ages from 65 to 8. We left our car at the port as usual and although we arrived 5 minutes before our boarding time were faced with huge queues to board, in the end we got our paper work done and just sat and waited for the lines of standing passengers to clear and then when there were only 8 or 10 left joined in - we were last on the boat but at least we didn't stand for 50 minutes in line The cabins (Deluxe Balcony) were the best part of the entire cruise, I highly recommend them, large with big sitting area and nice balcony, steward wonderful. We set sail and were standing by the swimming pool near the pizza parlour as we progressed up the Solent when the ship lurched to the left and a huge amount of water slopped out of the side of the pool and ran down the deck, we later discovered in ran into the buffet area and as the carpet was so wet that part of the buffet had to be closed off - which resulted in more queues as people had nowhere to sit - we were told later it was a problem with the ballast tanks. The weather was appalling - force 10 winds, very high seas - we were OK but the younger generations were not, so their first day at sea was spent lying down. We wandered about the ship, we last sailed on the Ventura in 2010 and I really think standards have slipped in that time - cost cutting I presume, if you wanted a coffee or whatever you sat down and eventually a steward would take your order and card and then disappear or just prop themselves up against the nearest bar and chat, one coffee order took nearly 45 minutes to arrive, completely unacceptable. They had your card so you were stuck. The first port was Vigo, we had a good walk round and found the people to be really charming and friendly. Lisbon is very rundown we hopped on the tourist bus and had a good city tour, there are some beautiful places there but it does need a coat of paint, the recession has hit Iberia very hard We never made Oporto as the weather was too poor to get into the harbour, so a rather boring sea day, looking round there were a lot of long faces. My daughter in Law checked out the craft session where the "very reasonably priced" supplies to make the bracelet cost an astonishing 25, for a thin strip of leather and a couple of beads, she teaches craft in the UK and was appalled saying it was such a rip off. La Corunna was very nice, probably the best port of all. We took Freedom Dining which was not a success, we queued for every meal we had from breakfast to Dinner, although for dinner you are given a bleeper which tells you when your table is ready - normally 30 to 40 minutes. The food was good but not exceptionable - we ate one evening in the restaurant that was formerly called East in 2010 the meal we had there was superb none of the best fusion meals I have ever eaten how it is called Atol Kochar I think and was disappointing alas, The afternoon tea queues were huge enough to put you off waiting. The Buffet areas were clean and the food looked fairly appetizing but as half of the place was out of action it was very slow there and often not possible to find a seat, if only people who have finished moved on it would help but many don't and seem to sit there for hours so they can get a free cup of tea when they want. Anyways we go on cruises to be pampered not to do self service and get shoved about in a queue As to entertainment they had a very good Johnny Cash Tribute who was excellent at one end and that ran through to the other to a supposed comedian - who was truly awful and embarrassing to watch struggle. The grandchildren didn't use the clubs much, they preferred to swim and play games with their parents. They did enjoy themselves though and can't wait to go on another cruise - they are besotted by Room Service!! Service in the public rooms was slow and at times reluctant, the meal service was at times so fast that the waiter would try to whip your plate away before you had finished. Room service was a bit hit and miss, timings are not now what they were. Only the cabin steward was marvellous nothing was too much trouble, he soothed sea sick children with a practiced hand, well done him All in all if you don't mind the rather holiday camp atmosphere, the queuing and waiting for things then go P&O but I will not cruise with them again, I found it to have been a very disappointing week of my life, we usually cruise with Cunard and the gap between them & P&O is widening. We have had a week on a Cunard ship since April and it was just superb, very, very few queues everything just as it ought to be - if only P&O could do the same Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
First time with P&O, recommended by Travel Agent for this short break. We imagined Azura was a flagship, although we did foresee her not being on par with,say, Celebrity.Still, surprised at how bad things were with this ship. The ... Read More
First time with P&O, recommended by Travel Agent for this short break. We imagined Azura was a flagship, although we did foresee her not being on par with,say, Celebrity.Still, surprised at how bad things were with this ship. The cabin was small, okay but no style and noisy from the deck above(Lido). The cabin steward was lovely and helpful. The lay-out of the ship is confusing, particularly if going from bow to stern or even mid to stern, where quite a few amenities are placed. The decks are too crowded with sunbeds and the promenade deck is short sides, not around. No running track. The self-service food halls were pretty abysmal, smelly, crowded and also confusing with two separate restaurants(why?)with weird opening times.The service and the food there was on par with the general impression.The restaurant dining was better but not great, only the "gala night" rose to something approaching acceptable. We dined at Sindhu once,full marks. A bright part of our experience on Azura were the surprisingly affordable prices of drinks and wine.--Also a point: why sail to St Peter Port on a Sunday - 95% of the shops were closed. Now the awful fact is we have booked to sail with Azura next year, too expensive to cancel.Perhaps some clink of light will appear. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
The Aurora is medium size so lacks the comprehensive facilities of ships such as the Independence of However its size allows access to ports with shallower waters hence the visit to Olden (Norway). The food was top restaurant grade in ... Read More
The Aurora is medium size so lacks the comprehensive facilities of ships such as the Independence of However its size allows access to ports with shallower waters hence the visit to Olden (Norway). The food was top restaurant grade in the Medina restaurant formal dining yet mediocre in the Orangery which is buffet-style eating. Yet drinks seem very expensive especially given the tax-free nature of being at sea - a double whisky for £5 etc. Excursions too were expensive - White Water Rafting £80 per person for a few hours trip... definitely more expensive than Royal Caribbean. Example. April 2011 - 3 adults 1 child 11 night cruise - spending £420 August 2012 - 1 adult 1 child 7 nights - spending £377 (yet no excursions or ship photo purchase) The waiters and cabin crew were very attentive and work flat out yet some seemed too familiar and chatty even resorting to using your first name rather than Title and Surname. Perhaps a hint of disobedience given the recent strike by P and O staff on another ship...? Myself and son enjoyed dancing til early hours - plenty of space to as most customers were over 50/60 + so werent even seen after 10.30 pm but the shows were quite tame and mostly dance related - nothing "big time" even digging out some BeeGee lookalike called Maurice Grumbleweed... Though worth a try - Royal Caribbean defintely has the edge with ships like the Independence of the Seas and better value for money both the cruise and the spending onboard. This ship more suits the older cruisers , people with children should look elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We've had 3 cruises with Princess and thought it was time to try a change so opted for a week on Azura. Embarkation was excellent. We were checked in very efficiently and were on board very quickly. The cabins weren't ready for a ... Read More
We've had 3 cruises with Princess and thought it was time to try a change so opted for a week on Azura. Embarkation was excellent. We were checked in very efficiently and were on board very quickly. The cabins weren't ready for a couple of hours but that wasn't a problem we went and had lunch in the buffet and explored the ship. When we did get into the cabin we were pleasantly surprised. The cabin was bigger than the one we had had on Princess and more comfortable. The cabin steward introduced himself and we were soon unpacked and looking forward to the week ahead. Unfortunately the weather wasn't with us for most of the week but we were determined to make the best of things. We were a little disappointed with the daytime activities, the entertainment crew were conspicuous by their absence most of the time. Crew members would pass you and blank you which is not something we have been used to when travelling with Princess. The crew were generally at best unhelpful and sometimes downright rude. We opted for anytime dining and only had to wait for a table on one evening and that was only for 15 minutes which we thought was very good. The food was ok but it didn't have the wow factor and the menus a little repetative. There was a free shuttle service in ports where necessary. The ports we visited were La Coruna, Bilbao, La Rochelle and Cherbourg. We enjoyed the evening entertainment and the sailaways. Disembarkation was well organised apart from the baggage hall where it was a bit of a bun fight to find your cases. All in all we did enjoy the holiday and the ports visited and the actual ship is lovely it's just such a pity little things that could so easily be put right let P&O down. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
How excited were we on our last cruise on Arcadia on 9th December 2011.....well that's what I was hoping. I expected a letter or a call from the Portunus rep congratulating us on being so loyal with P&O over the years and ... Read More
How excited were we on our last cruise on Arcadia on 9th December 2011.....well that's what I was hoping. I expected a letter or a call from the Portunus rep congratulating us on being so loyal with P&O over the years and reaching the dizzy heights of Gold Members.....well after no phone calls or letters in our post rack on the cabin door I decided to pick up the courage and speak to the Portunus Rep. On arriving at the Portunus desk we were greeted by a not so pleasant smiling face but hey she might have had a bad day.... hello I said... yes she replied....I said...could you tell me when we get a letter and our Gold gift please , her reply was not on this cruise but when you book another cruise you will have to ask for your gift on board that ship.... ask for a gift I thought !!! ........I left the Portunus lair and then it hit me P&O don't give a......... Changing subject the ship was great the staff were very friendly and the food in the Belvedere was really good and had a great selection. We also liked the Ocean grill but thought the covered pool area would look nice with some more plants and greenery. The restaurant menu was not that impressive and I had to send a meal back as it was cold and on the following night I asked for tomatoes with my dinner and my waiter said he would speak to the chef.... unfortunately they did not arrive despite them being on the menu for other meals it appeared that the waiters had too many tables to attend. The wine waiter was very attentive. There was an issue with how often the cabins are cleaned properly like a spring clean as I found other passengers medicine in the cabin and other items which I will speak to P&O direct or they can write to me as I am sure they have my details. ( P&O REMOVED THE DATES OF THE ITEMS WHICH WERE 2006 ) After about 17 cruises I feel that P&O need to pull their socks up and take a closer look at the customer service they offer and also they need to look at how they can make all their passengers feel special. Sorry for any spelling mistakes and unacceptable grammar.... UPDATE: The above was posted on the P&O website and had been edited by P&O but they have contacted me regarding going from Saphire to Gold. Unfortunately they have not contacted me with regards to the medicine found in the cabin and the other items with previous passengers details on ..names dates etc..... Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Car park/Meet and Greet Arrived early at around 10.50am and the CPS car park person gave us a card in exchange for the key. The baggage handlers were also very efficient and took our luggage from the car. Embarkation: Arrived in ... Read More
Car park/Meet and Greet Arrived early at around 10.50am and the CPS car park person gave us a card in exchange for the key. The baggage handlers were also very efficient and took our luggage from the car. Embarkation: Arrived in the waiting hall and was given a card with the letter C on which was to be used when we started to board to ensure everyone boarded in the right order. They started to call people from 11.20am. What annoyed me was why they felt it necessary to have half a dozen people keep checking our cruise cards. Once or twice, Ok, but it was a bit over the top. Also the people on the x-ray machines for the hand luggage were painfully slow. As the queue got bigger and bigger and people got impatient, they opened up some more! Went straight up to the Belvedere self service restaurant for lunch which was packed full by 12.30. Top tip -- go next door to the Neptune grill for a burger, fish & chips or a jacket potato instead. Cabins The cabin stewardess was the friendliest person we saw on the boat the whole trip although I nearly got very cross when she tried to tell me the damp smell in the bathroom was the rubber mat in the bath or indeed damp towels! Cabins were opened around 2pm. Luggage was abandoned by the lifts and it seems the people delivering them to cabins cannot read left or right. Most people went looking for their own luggage. We found one case which was then moved to another cabin as I turned my back! I found the other case on the end of the corridor where anyone could have taken it. Not impressed! Flat screen TV's in the cabins -- although tiny. On the positive, I did notice the carpets and sofa were the cleanest that I have seen on a cruise ship. Nice toiletries which were actually usable! The air con in the cabin was however very loud which could annoy some people. The electric socket in the cabin was not high enough up off the table to allow my mobile phone charger to be plugged in so we ended up going to the computer room (Horizon) on deck 3 next to Caffe Vivo (a very nice little coffee shop tucked away with nice cakes) to charge the phones. Beware the Ship switches to its own mobile network when at sea which is between 99p and £1.99 per minute on our trip so avoid using. Also avoid balcony cabin A38 on Australia deck. The funny thing is we booked 2 Ocean View cabins but were upgraded to balconies after the Oriana cruise was delayed and then cancelled. It smelt of damp and mould in the bathroom and after a good sniff, I decided it was coming from the bath. I then spent the next 3 days trying to get it sorted and asking to move cabin. I was told it was the drains, then the pipe under the bath, then the drains again. Saturday evening they finally conceded it was a leak under the bath which they cleared out and mopped up. Now I had to smell the chlorine and bleach they used. Sunday morning I asked to be moved yet again and only after I said I would also put in a complaint when I go back, at 2pm I was told by the deck supervisor that I could move but I had to pack up everything and unpack just to re pack later that evening as it was the last night. They would not allow me to just take a few items I needed and just pack the once. I was told the cabin may be needed for an emergency. This did prompt me to ask what they deem an emergency as clearly a leak is not! I refused the move as I had no intention of packing twice the last evening. When I complained at reception again, he said they always tell people they are full or they would have everyone wanting to move for little reasons! He then went on to say they always have some cabins free for emergencies even when they are 'full'. So, basically if this happens to you, shout and scream at reception and the deck supervisor (make them come to reception) and refuse to move from reception until they move you to another cabin! Dining: Sadly, not very good. We had a table for 2 in the main Meridian restaurant but not by the window but this didn't matter as we had plenty of space around us but the window tables were crammed together. The best of British theme night in the Belvedere on the 1st night was not up to much. The stuffing and gravy never did appear as advertised on the menu. The Belvedere was empty with only a handful of people which is ideal if you want quiet. It opened for dinner at 6.30pm but they never got any food out until 6.45pm yet we noticed they soon closed on time when sessions were finished! Every time we sat down for dinner, or at any of the bars or tables on the boat, we were asked if we wanted drinks. I saw another review which said the same -- they were a little pushy. I said just water please one night when asked as they had jugs of water in the Belvedere at night. She looked horrified and got the man who clears the plates away to pour it. She would not lower herself to such a request it seemed -- clearly not her job! It is also true that it is quite a trek up and down the very long room to look at the different counters of food, all served in tiny dishes barely a few inches wide. The food was not great by any means. In fact we nearly resorted to room service baguettes like on Ventura in May (they were very nice by the way). The plates were always cold and I had to continually ask for a hot plate and carefully selected some clean cutlery after rejecting several each time we dined. The Neptune grill was great. Nice jacket potatoes and a few other snacks. Saturday's daily guide said Indian theme night in the Belvedere but nothing materialised. Sunday said the same and it was and it was the busiest night in there. Afternoon snacks were not up to much either. Can they not make a proper sandwich! Cream cheese and cucumber really! We tried the posh waiter restaurant 1 day and it was the same as the self service restaurant but we were forced to sit on a table with 6 other people and nobody was very friendly. Breakfast was by far the best meal. Staff: Although not the happiest of people, the cabin stewardess was very smiley but the rest of the staff never really spoke but they did clear plates away which was a great improvement than when we went on Ventura in May. Shops Shops were closed during the day apart from the sweet counter which really is not necessary with all the food available. Then again, we nearly resorted to sweets as the food in the restaurants was not great. No alcohol or cigarettes onboard due to HMRC rules and not visiting an international port. I thought that was a joke at first but then when I realised it wasn't we suddenly panicked as to what we would spend all the onboard credit we had on. The last night was advertised as plenty of Christmas gift ideas and complimentary gift wrapping. Well, there was no sign of anything Christmassy except 1 children's toy nor any gift wrapping! Most things were overpriced even the fudge on offer at 3 for 2 was expensive at £3.49 per tiny box! I collect magnets and postcards but they only had the ship and none of where we had been. Ports Zeebrugge for Bruges Clocks went forward overnight and we docked at 9am. Weather was sunny but very windy and bitter cold with the windchill. We opted to stay on board as didn't have any tours booked and it really was very cold. There was nothing in the port area but there was a courtesy bus which was a 15 minute ride to the drop off point, close to the train station in Blakenburg. Local immigration insists you take your passport off the Ship. This always worries me in case any muggers get wind of this as in Russia but that's another story (see July's cruise review for that story)! Must be a muggers paradise knowing 2000 people carrying passports around. The Ship was empty all day which made it very relaxing but was warm enough to sit by the pool at Neptune's grill due to the roof being closed. Le Havre, France Early breakfast at 8am, nobody around. We took the complimentary 'bendy' bus to the town which took around 30 minutes. It also stops at a very large shopping centre called Les Docks before it gets to the main town. There was also a Christmas market. On the way back a roundabout was closed off by police and we saw a parade of floats go past. I got lots of pictures from the bus. We were told to take photo ID -- either driving licence or passport. We took out driving licence but nobody asked for it. Just for info, there were no hop on or hop off buses at either port. We did see some taxis on the pier at Le Havre. Disembarkation: As it was just a 3 night stay we had the option to have the luggage collected the night before and taken off the Ship or take it ourselves. We opted for the latter as we had no confidence that it would appear the other side after the fiasco of getting the luggage on. They asked everyone to be out of the cabins by 8.30am and said disembarkation would be between then and 10am. We walked to the exit just before 8.30am and they had just started to let people with their own luggage off. They had not announced this over the speakers yet. Only a short walk to the car park and handed the card in to get our keys back. There was a good 5 minute queue and considering not many people were off yet, it could have been much busier soon after. I have to say a few more signs to get out of the docks would have been useful as we got a little lost and then nearly had an 'argument' with a train or something crossing. In the end we waited for someone else then followed them, they looked equally as lost as us. Overall Nice little weekend away to relax before Christmas ruined due to cabin issues but would not go in December again due to the weather and then Christmas becomes a rush! If it wasn't for the cabin problem and constant battle with them over this, I would have had a much better time. Sorry to say I still think Royal C are far better. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Five support workers and two clients went on the week long cruise to Spain and France. We occupied four cabins , two with Bal and two outside windows. We had booked fixed Dinning but we on arrival found we had freedom dinning. This was ... Read More
Five support workers and two clients went on the week long cruise to Spain and France. We occupied four cabins , two with Bal and two outside windows. We had booked fixed Dinning but we on arrival found we had freedom dinning. This was better for us in the end. As we had a party of Seven we received advice to get an early meal at 6.30 as then we would be likely to get a table to take all of us . This we did and always managed to get seated quickly. Overall we enjoyed the cruise, however having traveled on Cunard ships before this is n ot of the same high standard. Little things let it down such as the Plaza restaurant always running out of plates and top of food was slow. The ship is OK but the layout and lack of lifts was frustrating always having to go from one end of the ship to the other as one lift only covered some floors. As we had a wheelchair user we had to consider trips and the advise we received was not always correct. The staff were always polite and helpful but I don't think they always understood English. The standard on formal evenings in the main restaurants was allowed to slip we made the effort to wear black tie but others were allowed in in T shirts and jeans. When we commented on this we were told this would never happen but it did !!. I have seen it referred to as Butlins at sea well I would not say that but it is 3 Three star 4 four star. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Great Cruise and Weather - BUT Arcadia is poorest P&O ship We booked this cruise because it was the only one we could do with P&O in the time slot we had available. The more we thought about it, the more we thought it would ... Read More
Great Cruise and Weather - BUT Arcadia is poorest P&O ship We booked this cruise because it was the only one we could do with P&O in the time slot we had available. The more we thought about it, the more we thought it would be interesting to do, but we didn't expect great weather, and given the type of cruise, we expected an aged clientele and a sedate atmosphere. We weren't disappointed with regards to the latter, of which more later !! I must add at this juncture that we are loyal P&O clients and have only ever cruised P&O, on all the ships (apart from Adonia). THE WEATHER - We didnt expect great weather and the cruise got off to a poor start with torrential rain for embarkation and sailaway. It was the worst rain in the south for some time. Sailaway was a washout with most passengers staying indoors and only a handful braving the elements, although they might still have been settling in and unpacking due to the delays in embarkation (of which more later). However from the next day onwards we were SO lucky. The weather was with us all the way. I was able to wear shorts all the time, we had plenty of sun and good weather, with only a bit of rain on 2 days. Some days were incredible (especially Shetland which was glorious), and a great deal of sunbathing and swimming was done at the Stern Aquarius Pool. The good weather was the talk of the ship and mentioned by the captain at every sailaway. (5/5 rating) EMBARKATION - Utterly shambolic and the worst I have ever experienced in 12 cruises. We were at the Mayflower Terminal. The problems might have been better coped with at the Ocean terminal as everyone would have been sat down. We arrived at 1.20 and there was a long queue out of the door, but moving quickly. Then it came to a grinding halt. A computer failure on the ship had thrown down all the land based computers (so we were eventually told by one of the stewards). The queue didn't move for 50 minutes. It snaked out of the door and down the car drop off area. Many people were having trouble standing for so long. There was 2 short announcements apologising, but these were largely inaudible. The result - a lot of very angry and distressed people. Given the very aged clientele, the queue was slow moving anyway, but after enduring this queue, we then had to queue for the security scanners, then queue all the way along the ramps and corridors onto the ship. We arrived at 1.20 and boarded at 3.20 (2 hours in total). Ok, it wasn't totally their fault (they cant help computer problems) BUT they could have given us more information. For the first time ever our cases beat us to the cabin !!! (1/5 rating) THE PORTS AND ITINERARY - Well, what can I say. FABULOUS PORTS. This was a 13 night cruise (so 12 full days) with just 2 sea days and 10 ports. We were all on our knees by the end. It was tiring. I need a holiday to get over this one. Firstly it was weird doing a cruise to British and Irish ports. Everything ashore is familiar, no need for currency transactions (apart from Dublin and Cobh which use the Euro). (5/5 rating) Very briefly : SEA DAY 1 (Fri) - To fill the time we sailed a third of the way to Norway then turned and came back in. Glorious weather. I got sunburnt due to not using a high enough factor. NEWCASTLE (Sat) - A fabulous city with a great riverside. Good shopping centre and plenty to see. We didn't do a tour. Pity the ship didn't advise of the metro closure between Wallsend and Tyneside. Inadvertently we did the right thing by going to Percy Main and getting the metro bus replacement to Wallsend. The P&O shuttle was taking passengers to Tyneside where they were totally confused by having to get the train going north round the loop on a longer journey. The shuttle should have gone to Percy Main. Shorter journey, nearer the dock and less confusing. However maybe they didnt know in advance. We docked at Tyne Docks and the sail out was great past North and South Shields and Tynemouth with loads of people out to watch us go. EDINBURGH (Sun) - We moored off South Queensferry right by the Firth of Forth Rail Bridge. Tendering seemed efficient. We did the Edinburgh on Your Own Trip, as did a lot of passengers. A long day and worth it, but a lot were right royally p*ssed off to find local buses waiting on shore offering to take you to Town and back for just £10. Less than half what P&O were charging. Edinburgh was brilliant. Very busy due to the Fringe still being on. It was a manic day and great fun. It was gloriously sunny all day (apart from one short rain shower) . INVERGORDON (Mon) - This is a small town on the Cromarty Firth. Lovely and quiet. We did the Inverness and Loch Ness trip. We had 90 minutes in Inverness which was really quiet for a Monday. Lovely town. Loch Ness was spectacular but to be honest the trip would have been better if we had got more time at the Loch and less time in the Visitor Centre which wasn't very good. We had 90 mins at the latter. The nearest we got to the Loch was overlooking Urquart castle. When we returned we managed an hour wandering round Invergordon which has loads of murals painted on walls to brighten the place up. At sailaway we had a Scottish Bagpipe band playing on the Quayside. Weather was dull and windy but not at all unpleasant. LERWICK (Tues) - The Shetland Isles were stunning. The weather was warm sunny and glorious all day. We moored and tendered in. Lerwick is a lovely little town with good facilities (it has a late opening Tescos for instance), and some nice walks round the town and surrounds. We spent 2 hours there then did an afternoon tour right down to the southern tip (Sumburgh Head) to see the Iron age settlements. Great to see some of the island. What a stunning place. It seemed this was everyones highlight although what it would have been like on a wet and wild day I don't know. SEA DAY 2 (Wed) - sailing down through the Western Isles. Started and ended sunny. Heavy rain for 2 hours in middle of day. GREENOCK (Thurs) - We didn't go into Glasgow but did the tour to Loch Lomond and other lochs and glens, which returned across the car ferry from Dunnoon to Gourock. This was a very interesting and scenic tour. We were back on the ship by 1.30 but decided not to pop into Greenock as others had said it was a rather dull little town. Weather was sunny at sailaway and we sat in the Crows Nest as we sailed down the Firth of Clyde for a scenic sail out after being entertained by a pipe band playing on the quayside with a man dressed in a large blow up version of a Scotsman complete with kilt, parading around to the music. LIVERPOOL (Fri) - This was the only port on this cruise I have been to previously. Its changed a lot. What a fabulous city. We docked right by the Liver Birds. The new Liverpool Museum has opened nearby and this was very interesting (and free !) The Beatles Story is also nearby (rather expensive !!) as are the Albert Docks and it is only a short walk into the city. After doing the museum and docks, we got the Hop on Hop Off bus all round the city, then went into the centre and up to the top of the radio Tower for stunning views all around the region. The sailaway was fantastic with Beatles Music and Ferry Cross The Mersey blaring out. Weather dull but warm. A word of warning. If you want to do the Ferry trip, you cant when a large cruise ship is in as it docks at the Ferry Pontoon. So we could see the ferry chugging up and down between the two terminals on the other side but the cross river trip is closed on Cruise Ship days. BELFAST (Sat) - How interesting to see places whose names we are familiar with from The Troubles (Craigavon Estate, Crumlin RD etc). We did a tour to Giants Causeway which is a trek across Antrim but worth it as this Heritage Sight is simply stunning. We had about 2 hours there before returning via Ballycastle. We then got a 30 min tour round the city thrown in for good measure. Back on board by 2pm. It was sunny and warm all day. DUBLIN (Sun) - Pleasant weather with a torrential rain storm mid afternoon. We did the Hop on Hop off bus after wandering round the city. It was very busy indeed. What a great place. Loads of bridges on the river. No queues for the shuttle to and from the ship to the city centre. Lots of passengers made a bee line for the Guinness Distillery. I don't drink so couldn't think of anything worse !!! Our table companions found it a trifle disappointing though with poor tasting Guinness !! A good day all round. Sailaway wasn't until 8 so we were out and about on the ship by the time we left. Eurodam and Ocean Princess were also docked with us. COBH (Mon) - Weather hot and sunny all day. What a wonderful little place Cobh is and with the ship docked right next to the railway station and harbour front, just a short walk. I could have spent all day here but my partner wanted to go to Cork in the afternoon. So we spent 2 hours in Cobh where there are colourful buildings, lovely walks, a cathedral, a visitor centre and a lovely genteel atmosphere. It seems most of the ship decided to do the same as the taxis had poor business (so we were told by one) and the trains to Cork were almost empty. The hourly service is augmented to half hourly when a ship is in. It takes 23 minutes and costs 6 Euros 55c return. The trains are 2 coach sprinter style trains. Cork is a lovely river side city that is easily walk able. We spent 2 hours there than returned on the train. Another great day with a lovely sailaway. GUERNSEY (Tues) - Another hot and glorious day, like mid summer. As most folk wanted to get off, the wait for a tender to shore was about 60 minutes. For the return mid after noon, the queue was enormous. They were running 5 tenders but it was a busy day for them. We took the number 7 bus round the Island. It costs just £1, takes 70 minutes and you see all the island. But be warned it is the service bus and gets quite full, especially after calling at the airport !! We also wandered round St. Peter Port. Prinsendaam was moored by us so it was a busy day. Sailaway (The traditional Great British sailaway) was well supported and fun. So, a hectic schedule, great weather and a wonderful cruise as regards the ports and points of interest. THE SHIP : I know Arcadia has a lot of supporters, but when I sailed on her in 2008 I said (on this site) that she was in my opinion, the poorest of the P&O Ships and my opinion has not changed at all. Some food is still lukewarm and not quite up to the standard of the other ships, the crew are not as friendly or efficient as the other ships, and a general air of tiredness pervades everything on board. The ship itself is looking incredibly shabby on the outside and much of the furniture inside is showing signs of wear and tear on the arms. She isnt the flashiest of ships anyway, but she now looks dated and worn. Sorry, that's my opinion and I am entitled to it. It will upset a number of readers of this blog, but hey ho. In all public rooms there were lights not working (no attempt to repair them at all) even the colour changing lights in the restaurant stopped working after day 3 with all but one of them staying white and one staying green, the cabin balconies are shabby and dirty (we had to clean ours before we could sit in it) the deck furniture dirty, the stern decks were filthy at times, the swimming pools are shabby (although they repainted the Aquarius pool on the penultimate day of our cruise), the magradome (which was closed throughout our cruise) has rubber bits hanging down from it and the paintwork is shabby, the surrounds of the swimming pools are shabby and rusty. The crows nest windows have repair tape across them in 2 places and the leather seats are shabby and worn. I could go on and on. I accept these are sea going ships with huge wear and tear from the elements and the passengers but why is it that the other ships in the fleet don't appear so shabby. Arcadia isnt the oldest by any means. Good points about the ship - The scenic lifts midships (although they were not clean inside) the views from Crows Nest, lots of deck space, large swimming pools, the new bijou screening room, The Neptune Grill, the Globe Show lounge, the increased space round the Aquarius Pool. Annoying aspects of the ship - a coffee shop that has no atmosphere, shops that are really just part of the walk through corridor, odd layout of decks 3 and 2 (the main public room decks) and a theatre that falls uneasily between being a theatre and an overblown show lounge. (Overall rating 2/5). THE FOOD : Ho Hum. Now there's a story !!! In 2008, I cruised on Arcadia with 27 other friends. 10 of whom moaned about the food saying it was often lukewarm, It was, but I found it warm enough. However 3 of them started returning lukewarm food and then complained to the restaurant manager. I was mortified by this and banned them from doing it again on that cruise. I came on this cruise with my partner who is a chef. I said nothing about past experience hoping it was a one off. Within 2 days he was moaning about the luke warm food as were many other people. I banned him from sending food back , although at our first afternoon tea I returned the crumpet handed to me as it was stone cold. I don't know what it is with this ship but there must be a big issue with the kitchens and the size of dining room., The quality is there, the meals were often tasty and always well presented, but some were just NOT WARM ENOUGH. Unusually we got comments forms just three days into the cruise, concentrating on specific areas (as well as full ones at the end) and we entered our concerns about the food. Someone did ring our cabin and spoke with my partner about it. That said, The soups were all good and hot, and Arcadian Rhodes is superb and well worth the cover charge and the take aways from the Neptune Grill are very good AND HOT. The Belvedere Buffet restaurant is OK. Its layout is still confusing but the food wasn't at all bad. We did not use the Orchid at all but heard varied reports, most moaning that the small portions meant it was not worth the cover charge. My partner will talk to anyone at the drop of a hat so we always talk to loads of people on any cruise we do. Across the ship we heard people moaning about the food in the Meridian Restaurant, some very loudly so. This cruise doesn't appear to have scored well in that department. (rating 2.5/5) SERVICE : Good, but it doesn't have quite the finesse of the other ships. For instance in the dining room our table waiters constantly forgot who had ordered what. We were forever swapping the plates around. It became quite a joke. They were nice guys and we never ever complained as they are clearly over worked, but why is it this never happens to us on the other ships. The dinner plates were almost thrown on to the table in front of us. It was fast service but with no style or care. The reception staff are just downright surly and rude. Once again we were never there to complain, just to get currency or ask for other things. We were served quickly and efficiently but without a smile as if we were an intrusion on their day. Maybe we just got them at bad moments. Between Day 1 and the last evening we never saw our cabin Steward once. There was no attempt to interact with us and we were often around the cabin when he was nearby, so he had opportunity. He serviced the room efficiently so no complaints but when the steward doesn't make any attempt to interact, even when we try to start a conversation, then it just isnt so good. Once again this happened on my last cruise on this ship, but never on the other ships. Maybe he didn't know how to deal with a same sex couple - who knows !! Throughout the ship staff looked bored and listless. (rating 3/5) CLEANLINESS : The interior of the windows of the belvedere restaurant were grubby and this did not give a good impression. They were never cleaned, or so it seemed. I could run a finger through the dust in some areas of public rooms, on shelves and side areas. The aft decks were dreadfully dirty. Our cabin balcony was a disgrace. Once again we didn't complain, but merely cleaned it ourselves in order to sit out on it. The nets in our cabin were filthy dirty at the bottom which gave a poor impression. I am not convinced the cleaning regime on this ship is up to scratch. (rating 3/5) THE CABIN : Not bad. We had a balcony cabin on B deck aft. The last one before you turn the corner for the cabins overlooking the stern. Decent sized balcony (although we had to clean it first ) . Dirty net curtains and a stained bed cover. Tiny TV. Not much wardrobe space, but sufficient although a longer cruise would present a problem. Nice sized bathroom which was clean. Not bad size cabin either. Our cabin was one of the ones bolted on the stern area in the re-modelling. We found lots of bits of paper and card folded and inserted into nooks and crannies, perhaps by previous occupants, to stop vibration. It was a quiet cabin and we had no grumbles. At the stern you expect more vibration but as the ship never went faster than about 12 knots most of the time, that wasn't an issue. When we did go faster we expected the vibration and throb of the engine. Its par for the course and reminds one that you are on a ship. There was only ONE three pin plug, which was an inconvenience. Lots of mirrors, but lack of drawer space. (Rating 4/5) THE PASSENGERS / ENTERTAINMENT : being an adults only ship, the clientele tends to be older, and given the nature of the cruise we expected an aged clientele, and so it was. We got friendly with some of the entertainers and bands, and were told the average age was 71 on this cruise. The entertainments team were fighting an uphill battle all the way. By 11.30 each evening the ship was like a ghost town. The band in the show lounge (inspiration) usually were left with about 6 people to play to after that time (including us). The theatre shows were greatly enjoyed but audience response was muted because the elderly patrons just don't respond in the same way that younger folk do. (I know this as I do a lot of stage work myself and an elderly audience is a nightmare as they might be enjoying it, but they don't show that enjoyment and any entertainer needs feedback.) The majority of passengers appeared to be Portunus gold (the gold luncheon was full to bursting), Portunus members, or past cruisers. We came across no new cruisers. As a result, there were a lot of moans as people were disappointed with aspects of the cruise. We heard a lot of moans about the food. We try not to moan on the cruise as we are there to enjoy ourselves. This kind of blog is the place to voice criticisms after the event, but my goodness there were some prize moaners on this cruise. Luckily our table (we were the kids on the block, 4 couples in our 50's) got on well and we had a good time. There were a handful of passengers in their 20's and 30's. We spoke to some and they were hating the ship (loving the cruise though). I would have loved to have read the comments forms at the end. The entertainment standard was good (apart from a dreadful comedian with teeth that were unnaturally white), with great headliners shows, good bands and musicians, and a fantastic Beatles Tribute band. I did feel for them though, as it must have been very hard work trying to get anything out of the passengers. There was also a good classical piano duet, and the Arcadia Orchestra did two concerts in the Crows Nest all of which were good. At the final sailaway from Guernsey the cruise director (Tracey Clegg) gave three cheers for the cruise and weather and got a great response, and then gave three cheers for P&O and got a very muted response and some laughing. Oh dear. It was a butt clenching moment but said it all about the attitude of a lot of the passengers. On the subject of the cruise director Tracey Clegg - she needs to give a more confident face to the public. She often wasn't confident in what she said to us from stage, often stumbling over her words. She did not inspire confidence. However she was better than one of her assistants, who went by the name of Magic Martin. He was an irritant who I, along with some of the folk we chatted to, wanted to smash in the face. I think the word PRAT comes to mind. He would stalk the decks and public rooms with a look of self importance. (rating Passengers 1/5, entertainment 4/5, Tracey Clegg 2/5, Inspiration Show Band 10/5 !!!) Clearly lots of people will have loved this cruise and loved the ship. If it was my first cruise I would have been dismayed at the very elderly passengers and very sedate atmosphere, but I know the family ships have more to offer. However the more cruises you do, the more expectant you become. There are signs of cost cutting and I am not surprised. It's a business and it has to pay. Everyone we spoke to, and all our table as well, had booked the cruise just weeks before hand, as we had, in order to get good deals. We spoke to 2 ladies who had managed to get an inside cabin for just £600 each. We paid £1100 each for a balcony cabin. And that seemed more then some had paid. The company has to cut costs therefore and they will cut the items that perhaps will be missed least. Hors d'oeuvre's have disappeared off the menu, stilton only on formal nights (On Azura in April it was available every night), many ladies moaned that there was NO BINGO - shock horror (although that might have been because of few sea days) and lots of other little things. Nothing that really spoils the cruise, but you start to notice the tightening of the purse strings, and compare the experience with 5 years ago and you certainly notice that it isn't quite as good. Would I go on P&O again - YES. I Love P&O. but the other ships in the fleet are far better and I hope my two cruises in 2012 are on Azura and Aurora (definitely the best chips in the fleet IMHO, although Oriana and Oceana aren't far behind) They cant get it right all of the time and the quality of this cruise was still higher than a land based holiday, despite the problems. We never let niggles spoil our holiday (as some people do) and keep the moans for after the event. I try not to upset the crew and personnel, they are all trying their best (even if its not as good as other ships) but I do hope the food issue isnt apparent on any more cruises otherwise my chef partner might not want to come anymore and I couldn't do without my cruises !!!!!! Of course the alternative would be to try another cruise line. We almost booked a Cunard cruise this year but I just cannot bring myself to accept the class system that Cunard still operate (the more you pay for your cabin the better the restaurant in which you eat) . In addition , I don't know if I could cope with the more multi national clientele on Cunard, RCI, Princess or Celebrity and the high onboard prices and constant assaults on you to pay out for this or that. P&O is certainly more reserved, to suit the British cruiser and I like that , but are their standards slipping just too much ? Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
The cruise was last week and took us from Southampton to Brest, Bilbao, Cork and Dublin. The weather was very poor and through the Biscay we had a force 7/8 wind. It was choppy but we thought the ship rode well.Check-in was fairly quick, ... Read More
The cruise was last week and took us from Southampton to Brest, Bilbao, Cork and Dublin. The weather was very poor and through the Biscay we had a force 7/8 wind. It was choppy but we thought the ship rode well.Check-in was fairly quick, about 40 minutes from arrival to boarding the ship but nowhere near as quick as Cunard in New York and Princess in Florida. Security is rather over the top particularly the x-ray checks every time you get on board.Our cabin was excellent, a very good size with a good balcony. The cabin steward was very pleasant.We dined in the Peninsular Restaurant and had a table for two. Had good service from the waiters. Food is not as good as it used to be and the portions seem to be very small. Breakfast in the Peninsular every morning was good and we had afternoon tea once which we thought was very good.Had lunch in the self-service once but did not bother after that because of the scrum and lack of tables. Generally thought the bread served on board was of very poor quality even the baguettes for lunch from the deck burger stall.Dined in the specialist Indian retaurant Sindi at an extra £15 per head which was excellent and had an absolutely superb meal at 17 for an extra £20 per head. Once upon a time the ordinary dining on P&O was much nearer to what you have to pay extra for now. Anyone remember the superb seafood buffets they used to serve at lunch time once or twice a cruise? The little things such as the quality of the menus and the paper on which the cruise log is printed are nowhere near the quality of the past.Bars generally seemed crowded, entertainment was not as good as on previous P&O cruise, quite a few loud and ill mannered people on board and many not bothered about dress codes.Port visits apart from Brest which is a waste of time where good with efficient shuttle bus transfers laid on. Did not have to wait more than 15 minutes despite the ship being full.Would think long and hard before going P&O again. Last time we went Berlitz rated the ship Premium and 4 star+. They seem to rate P&O standard and just 4 star. I think they are rapidly becoming 3 star and that it is only the quality of the relatively new fleet which keeps them four star.P&O have a lot of large ships which they need to fill and as a result are cutting the quality of the experience to make the prices competitive. Getting on for 50% of those on the ship were first timers. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
had high expectations of this ship, but sadly we were dissapointed in the main. for us one of the cruise experience highlights is the food/wine in the evening & we were badly let down by so-called award-winnig chefs who ... Read More
had high expectations of this ship, but sadly we were dissapointed in the main. for us one of the cruise experience highlights is the food/wine in the evening & we were badly let down by so-called award-winnig chefs who couldn't win much for the 3 star food with proper wine list only provided on last night! Token Veg with main course & potatoes in addition to potatoes done differently to add. 5 a day not easy on the azura! In the main dry British food with no sauces hardly (i can get this at home) expected special food but just run of the mill staples with some meat & a few fish options - bread potatoes & ice cream - (that'll fill em up!) so off we went i night to try the " Italian" restaurant alternative.Like the rest of ship staff were Indian so had heard good report of this secret option Ital;ian food by Indian staff? Well Brushetta was basically Cheese on toast I asked for Spaghetti Pescatore but waiter did not understand this so when I said with seaffod it worked - the ish was creamy & very little seafood & not nice so asked for alternative - Napolita just Tomato sauce mmm a child may be happy with this?? but we expected more! Entertainment mainly 2 comedians taking rise out of front row audience was quite funny as long as it wasn't you in the hot seat! Young dancers theme nights very good The free shuttle buses to the destination ports were good Cabin Steward exceptional from Goa thing is he left when we did for a better offer? from Royal Carribean, a wise man! Cabin Toilet faulty flushing experience awaiting P & O response on this & hope they cure the fault for future passengers soon. Overall a 3 star experience the food being particularly poor spoilt it for us compared with Princess food this was not great/ Sam old films showing & timing of films inside not right for inclement weather hardly anything to do quizzes were low on the ground. more Entertainment direction & forethought needed. Get tips from the Cruse director/staff on Independence they were funny themselves AND kept you occupied! Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Note:- Embarkation was at Southampton, which is not London!!! The cruise was to northern Spain and Western France (La Coruña, Bilbao, La Rochelle, and Brest). This was our 9th cruise but only the second time on P&O and the first ... Read More
Note:- Embarkation was at Southampton, which is not London!!! The cruise was to northern Spain and Western France (La Coruña, Bilbao, La Rochelle, and Brest). This was our 9th cruise but only the second time on P&O and the first time on Ventura.We arrived at Southampton at our allotted time of 2pm, and waited 55 minutes to drop off the car. A further queue of 30 minutes to check in and 15 minutes to get through security meant we didn't get to our cabin until 3:45. This was almost as bad as flying! However, our luggage arrived at the cabin before we did, and things started to look up.Although it doesn't have a cinema or a forward observation lounge, Ventura is a lovely ship. It has a narrow promenade deck (so narrow in places that two people cannot pass in comfort), and in calm weather the promenade continues up a flight of stairs to a wide sheltered deck that goes all the way to the bow. It has very good children's facilities, and absorbs the little darlings well. I preferred Ventura to Queen Victoria! I loved the atrium and the way each bar and public room has its own distinctive style. In fact the whole ship is stylish and elegant. It's a pity the same cannot be said of some of the passengers! The dress code (in the public rooms) was not enforced and was ignored by a sizeable minority. On the first formal night, I saw men wearing football shirts and jeans, one man was wearing a baseball cap, and some young women in ankle boots and skirts that barely covered their backsides looked as if they were dressed for walking round Kings Cross rather than a 4 star cruise ship. This apparel wouldn't even make the grade for smart casual, never mind formal. There were also a large minority of traditionalists who wore jacket and tie on the smart casual nights. I think P&O's experiment of trying to cater for the Ocean Village crowd on Ventura and Oceana is a failure, is devaluing the brand, and damaging the reputation that they have built up over 175 years. They really should reinstate the Ocean Village brand, transfer these ships to it, and maintain the published standards on the true P&O ships. There is clearly a market for informal cruising, that at the moment is only met to a limited extent by NCL.The ship has an irritating vibration which shakes you from side to side about twice a second when you are lying in bed. It didn't stop me falling asleep, but it did wake me up in the wee small hours every day. I can only assume it is the natural resonance of the ship itself rather than an engine vibration, as we were midships on deck 10.The drinks were very reasonably priced, and it was nice to be able to get a good choice of wines by the glass. We enjoyed the wide choice of restaurants, and the food and service in East was superb. I loved the cabin and the large balcony. I like the ability to review our account on the TV. The 5% discount on the final bill (as Portunus club members) was appreciated, as were the free shuttle buses.I started by writing about the long wait to check-in. Getting off at the end was a doddle. We opted for "self help" disembarkation. After a good breakfast in the Waterside buffet, we walked off the ship with our luggage just before 08:30, and were in the car and on the way home 10 minutes later.Some of the staff on Ventura are very good, a handful are excellent, a lot are poor. If I saw a bargain basement price and a good itinerary I might cruise on Ventura again, but it's not what I had hoped for from P&O. The standards are not consistent, and you could have a good or bad cruise on this ship - it's all a matter of luck and which staff you interact with. P&O has slipped well down the list of lines we are likely to use again, which is a pity as I enjoyed my earlier cruise on Aurora very much, and she remains my favourite cruise ship. DININGThe quality of the food and its service varied from poor to excellent depending on the venue.We had asked for either a table for two or freedom dining, but were allocated a table for 10. We had planned to eat several times in the "select dining" venues, so we never actually went to our allocated table.We ate twice in the White Room (on the two formal nights). The food was good basic Italian, but not fine dining and with a £25 cover charge (they increase the charge from £20 to £25 on short cruises) it was not good value for money. The crab linguine starter was nice, but uses quite cheap ingredients. The prawn starter was excellent. The rack of lamb was superb. The lobster spaghetti was OK - the small half lobster that topped the spaghetti was good, but the lobster meat in the spaghetti was tough and the spaghetti was slightly overcooked. The tiramisu, in my opinion, was not as good as Marks & Spencer - very creamy but without much flavour. The service was poor. I kept having to ask for more water, and our wine glasses were not topped up often enough (mine ran dry at one point). The second night we ate there, the aperitif glasses were not cleared until the end of the meal.We ate three times in East. The food and service were both superb. The waiting staff in East are all female and Filipino. Our waitress made a point of addressing us both by name (this was the only place on the ship that this happened). The fillet steak was amazing, and of a different quality to the ones they serve in the Beach House for their Surf & Turf. It was a world apart from anywhere else on the ship. The £20 cover charge was worth it, and the £15 cover charge on the longer cruises would be good value for money.We had planned to eat in Ramblas one evening (or "Ramblers" as the CD insisted on calling it!), but we were told we would have to wait half an hour for a table. We went to wait in the bar area, and were then asked if we would eat there instead. We didn't want to do that, so went up to the Beach House, where again we were told there would be a wait of at least half an hour. By this time it was 8:45, so we went down to Cinnamon, the freedom dining restaurant, and threw ourselves on the mercy of the Maitre d', who allowed us to eat there for one night only. The food and service in Cinnamon were both good, and there were plenty of spare seats. Given that many people don't want to dress for dinner (even to a "smart casual" standard) and that the Beach House, Waterside buffet, and Ramblas were all full, I think Ventura has the capacity to make freedom dining in the main restaurants more accessible . There was a big waiting list for Freedom Dining and with three restaurants I think P&O should work harder to balance supply and demand, and keep their customers happy.We had breakfast three times in our cabin. Although the room service menu is limited, and some quite basic items have to be paid for, the continental breakfast was substantial, and when ordered the day before through the TV turned up on time. However, on our second sea day we intended going to the MDR but overslept and woke up at 9:30. We turned the TV on, and there was still an option to order continental breakfast for 09:30 to 10:00 (and later times), which we did. At 10:15, I called room service to make sure they had the order. They looked for it, found it, and said they would send it. Breakfast came at around 10:55, and the steward who delivered it said we should have ordered it the day before (so why still have it as an option on the morning? Bad organisation, bad service!) We also used room service once for a late lunch on a port day. We had pizza which was free, very good, and piping hot, but it took more than half an hour to arrive.We went to the buffet a couple of times at tea time. The choice was very limited (compared to Celebrity and Princess), and the service area was extremely small and cramped. The buffet closed between 5pm and 6pm. We were not impressed by this. We have dinner late, and if we have missed lunch we often like a light snack at this time.We had lunch in the main dining room three times, but on the first two occasions had trouble getting a table for two. We were told to come back after 10 minutes, and then come back again after half an hour. We did eventually get a table for two, but only after a long wait. We have never had this problem on any of our previous cruises. Normally, if a table for two is not immediately available, the staff will give you exclusive use of a table for four. I think the problem on Ventura is that it is a big ship with three dining rooms, but they only open one of them for lunch. Service at lunch-time in the MDR was usually (2 out of 3 visits) poor, although on one occasion it was very good. We had breakfast three times in the "Bay Tree". This is at the back of the ship, only accessible via the aft staircase and lifts, and was quiet at breakfast-time. The ship serves a good English breakfast, but the coffee and orange juice were both dreadful (the apple juice is drinkable). They don't do special requests. For example, we asked if we could have French Toast, but were told "no". A couple at the next table asked if they could have a pot of tea (instead of having to wait for the waiter to come round and pour), again, they were told "we don't do that".We like good strong coffee, so went to the Costa coffee shop for take away coffees a few times. You have to pay for the coffees, but they serve nice cakes if you buy coffee. The first time we ordered coffee to go, we also asked for some donuts and biscuits and got them without a problem. The second time we asked for this, we were told it's not possible to take food away from the coffee shop. "It's not company policy". "It's against health and safety!" It was hard to get good coffee, even from Costa. I asked the waitress for strong black coffee, and told her how I wanted it made - double espresso, and let the water run through until the cup is half full. The first time I did this, when I got up to the room I found they had filled the cups and the coffee was weak and tasteless. After this, I made a point of checking the coffee before I would sign for it. On the third day of the cruise, we stopped by for coffee "to go" on the way back on board, specified how we wanted it, and the barista filled the cup about two thirds full. I said to him, "I asked for it half full", and his response was to pour some of the coffee away so the cup was half full! I explained that I had asked for strong black coffee, and throwing some away did not give me that. The waitress intervened and told the barista to put an extra shot in each cup. This would have solved the problem, but the barista added the extra shots and practically threw the cups at us, saying something in his own language while he did so. We went to reception to ask to see the Bars Manager, but were told he was not available. Reception noted our complaint, and said they would pass it on. They also said food could not be taken away from the coffee shop for health and safety reasons. They said if we wanted strong coffee and cake in our cabin, we would have to order the cake from room service, and then buy the coffee from Costa. They also said it is not permitted to take food from the buffet to the cabin! That's a first, and I can't find that written down anywhere! This happened at about 16:00, and the Bars Manager did leave a message on our phone early afternoon the next day, but we did not follow it up with him.ENTERTAINMENTClassical Pianist Simon Callaghan gave an excellent concert on the first sea day. Unfortunately, the Tamarind Club is not a suitable venue. It has a Steinway piano, but it's amplified over a poor sound system. If you sit more than a third of the way back, you hear the terrible amplified sound which is a distortion of the beautiful Steinway. If you sit close to the front, it sounds good. Simon did three concerts, but the second two clashed with sailaways, so I only went to the first one.Comedian Dave Kristian was not funny.Tenor Victor Michael has a good voice, but sadly plays to the chavs - encouraging the audience to join in with "just one cornetto" while he sang O Sole MioSTATEROOMI was very impressed with our balcony cabin on C deck (deck 10). I loved the cabin design. The walk-in wardrobe was large and practical, our clothes were easily accessible and it was nice to have space to store the cases without having to put them under the bed. There was plenty of storage space, and the bathroom was adequate. The balcony was very large - about twice as deep as those on the decks above, half in the shade and half open and overlooked. The semi reclining chairs and footstool were good. I would choose a deck 10 cabin if I ever go on one of the "grand" class of ships again. The cabin was nicely decorated. There was no sofa, but two chairs and a small table gave us enough space to have breakfast. A P&O bonus is the kettle and mugs with tea and coffee, and biscuits replenished daily. The TV was well positioned and could be viewed well from the bed. The interactive channels allowed you to order room service and check your bill. Sky news was available most of the time. A selection of films and classic TV programmes were available. The cabin appeared superficially clean, although there was a sequin on the floor, so the carpet had not been vacuumed thoroughly. The superficial cleaning continued during the cruise. Towels were replaced twice daily and the beds were made, but the cabin steward did not wipe down the bathroom properly. Nothing was moved, and where I had left my wet wooden shaving bowl next to the sink, it left a stain the next day as it was still wet. We didn't use the kettle, but it contained water when we arrived and was never emptied. The ice bucket was never filled. There were some sweets on a small tray, the tray was removed two days before the end of the cruise (presumably, people steal them). The White Company toiletries were nice. SERVICEOn TV one day, there was a video of Carol Marlow talking about the "CRUISE" - customer care - programme, and the "key values" instilled in the staff, which included "Go the extra mile" and "Make it happen". Unfortunately, in our experience, "Make it happen" should be replaced with "we don't do that".Myra, a waitress in East, was excellent and friendly. All the staff in East gave a level of service that was unequalled anywhere else on the ship. In fact, leaving East at the end of the meal and returning to Ventura was a bit of a culture shock!! At the other end of the scale, the barista in the Costa coffee shop was rude. The security staff were unsmiling and unwelcoming, and some never spoke, despite my best efforts to get some sort of reaction by saying "good morning", "thank you", and smiling at them. Some of them didn't even look at the passengers. I'm sure I could have walked off using someone else's cruise card and they would not have noticed. Overall, you don't get the friendly excellent service on Ventura that you take for granted on other cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Parking & Embarkation: P&O parking is managed by a third party who insist on them parking your car for you where they take ownership of your keys and car for the duration of the cruise. Generally this has been a very slow ... Read More
Parking & Embarkation: P&O parking is managed by a third party who insist on them parking your car for you where they take ownership of your keys and car for the duration of the cruise. Generally this has been a very slow process as you are forced to wait in organised queues while you are finally directed to offload your luggage just outside the terminal. I am not a fan of this procedure as this does tend to add waiting time of approximately up to 1 hour before embarkation plus in the past on returning to my car there was damage to the rear panel. Heads up - parking with P&O means that you sign and agree that any damage cannot be claimed on behalf of the parking company! That's in the T&C!. Contrast this with Royal and Celebrity where you self park your car where you just walk to the ship in a fraction of the time. Embarkation was slow and while there was organisation to boarding we were at the back of the queue for quite some time. Previous cruises with Royal and Celebrity we were directed to the front of the queue. On this occasion we were placed in a waiting area. We arrived on time according to the boarding time of 2pm where we waited over 45 minutes. We eventually got on board but there was quite a rush before we had to attend the muster station drill. Cabin: Nice interior and smart although I was expecting the bathroom to be a alot bigger. I was amazed that on the latest ship that P&O still make use of a plastic moulded bathroom interior including a plastic moulded sink! The bathroom was the smallest I have been in including the most smallest walk in shower I have experienced! It felt more like some kind of cryogenic chamber that han solo fell victim to in Star Wars! In fairness there was good water pressure and plenty of hot water. In contrast Royal and Celebrity had much more lavish large bathrooms especially on the new Celebrity Eclipse with a proper walk in glass shower and wooden vanity units - not exactly plastic! As for the rest of the cabin it was spacious but lacking a sofa. TV was small although was a flat panel but the choice of TV channels were very restricted! The cabin suffered from severe vibration and so did the entire ship during our cruising. One night as I was going to sleep my body was literally vibrating from head to toe! Ship: Nice ship (from the outside!). Interior decor felt dated with over use of wood and brass! and the interior was alot more plastic than other ships such as Celebrity. Layout was interesting and not the best ship Ive been on. Lots of the decks felt cramped and compacted especially the buffet restaurant where the deck height to the ceiling was the same as in my home cottage lounge!! Serving stations in the buffet were alot more compact than other P&O ships where people seemed to be on top of each other. Hot and cold food stations were literally staggered next to each other. The centre of the ship focused around the Atrium and the shops area. I was expecting this to be alot more open and spacious but compared to other ships such as Aurora the amount of open space felt limited in comparison. Contrast this to Celebrity where several decks are open as one massive spaces. The ship also experienced severe vibration at several intervals during the cruise and was consistent making it very uncomfortable. The retreat is a nice touch to this ship but why do passengers have to pay £12 each per day! On Celebrity they offer the same sort of thing and this is FREE! Food: Food was excellent in the restaurant although the amount of food served to you appeared to be alot less than on previous P&O cruises. Clearly P&O has engaged on a cost reduction exercise. Food in the buffet was good but the choice was limited at times. Service: A polite service was offered by waiters but in comparison to previous P&O cruises and other cruise lines such as Celebrity we found the service to be average. Sometimes it was difficult to get served a drink during lunch in the buffet restaurant. We did experience on one night in the main dining room a very rushed meal where the waiter was literally grabbing the unfinished plates from the table. In fairness the overall food was good and the option of freedom dining was a nice touch!! As for the cabin our stateroom was clean and maintained well by our cabin steward although it would have been nice to have had a formal introduction by him! 1st time with P&O where the cabin steward failed to knock on our door to make himself known on the day of sailing. Excursions: We enjoyed the excursions offered and was good value for money compared to other cruise lines which seemed to be of a similar price. Entertainment: What entertainment?? We were shocked and very disappointed by the entertainment which was offered on board Azura during our cruise. This is the flagship vessel and during Easter bank holiday weekend and the highlight of the entertainment was a guy from Tizzwazz! Not exactly the entertainment we came to expect from P&O. No guest speakers nor anything special for the Easter weekend. We had better entertainment in Butlins! Other: I really don't like the formality of P&O on formal nights. While I do respect and appreciate the need to dress up and pretend to be something I'm not. P&O does tend to take this way too seriously. While on these nights I do tend to take my suit, but on this cruise being soo short I decided to leave my suit at home and to take some smart clothes instead. The only formal night on our cruise we decided to stay up in the top open buffet restaurant which was fine but later that night I popped up to the Planet bar for a casual drink. I walked in wearing a smart black shirt, tie and black trousers and shoes and I was acknowledged by two waiters. I sat at the bar and ordered a drink and the person who served me did not mention that I was lacking a jacket! So I took the drink and sat in a different part of the bar. The same waiter approached me and asked me to sign for my drink. 15 minutes later the same waiter came back and said "oh I'm sorry Sir. You don't have a jacket so please leave!" I was shocked! I said to him that he saw me walking in and he served me! and now he wants me to leave? I was disgusted by his attitude and the formality nonsense of P&O. I can understand if I walked into the bar in t-shirt and jeans! In annoyance I refused to leave and continued to sip my cocktail. I am amazed that P&O take this attitude when this is not the case on a 5 star cruise such as Celebrity on their formal nights! Disembarkation: This has always made me chuckle with P&O. Basically your cruise is over and you cant but help feel or made feel by P&O that they have had your money and now its time to go! Got up early on disembarkation day and they wanted you out of your cabin by 8am! We were running a bit late and the cabin steward was jumping in the cabin as we were wrapping up packing. P&O also insist on you leaving the ship by group colour unless you take the self disembarkation option at something stupid at 7am in the morning! Other cruise lines such as Celebrity offer a much more relaxed and casual disembarkation service. Value for money: Well I used to think that P&O offered good value for money but after sailing with Celebrity and Royal I can no longer stake the same claim. This time last year we took our first trip on Celebrity Eclipse and the cost was the same as P&O on this trip! Bearing in mind that celebrity is 5 star! but in fairness to Celebrity you don't get the 5 star pom pus nonsense! There are ordinary folk on board as found on P&O without the bull associated with it. Conclusion: We have been devoted P&O cruise passengers for a good number of years where we have travelled on a number of their ships. We have had some good holidays with P&O but as of last year we decided to try a different cruise company - Celebrity Cruises. It is a little unfair to start comparing these two cruise companies as Celebrity is 5 star and well... P&O isn't! We are not snobs but come from a hard working class family however as someone said to us on a former P&O cruise 2 years ago. They said to us "You go with Celebrity and you wont want to go back with P&O!" Sadly this was true! In every detail Celebrity cruises out strips P&O in every detail from service, food, entertainment to the ship and the features within it. We weren't expecting celebrity status on P&O but since Azura is the flagship we felt very disappointed by the overall experience. Sorry P&O but that was the last cruise with your company as we will be sticking with Celebrity. They have far nicer ships, more luxurious cabins and decor and the quality of service is simply faultless! They certainly wouldn't have spoken to me in the same manner as that waiter did during that night in the Planet bar. P&O needs to get their act together. If you haven't tried Celebrity yet then give this fantastic cruise company a go! You wont be dis-apointed and you will be glad you did! Well why not? because you are paying the same money! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We embarked at Southampton and the chaos started. Our cabins weren't ready and everyone was directed to the orangery The self service orangery was chaos as everyone searched for the cutlery. We waited for the queue to die down a ... Read More
We embarked at Southampton and the chaos started. Our cabins weren't ready and everyone was directed to the orangery The self service orangery was chaos as everyone searched for the cutlery. We waited for the queue to die down a little at the indoor Bar-b-Que only to see them pack it away. This was a bit of a surprise for me as virtually all the food disappeared with the exception of sandwiches (which I can't eat) The place was far too chaotic to ask someone so I went for my self sufficiency supplies. We sailed around 5pm and went down to discover our cabin. Having booked the most basic inside cabin it was a good standard, well designed, sensible, everything worked, the shower was fairly good, the waterworks were quiet and we could not hear the cabin next door. there was enough room to unpack and loose our cases. there was only one uk mains socket and no US sockets. there was a fridge , hair drier and quiet kettle. The main restaurant was OK and I was given the menu the night before by the head waiter. I selected foods that should be easier to make gluten free. The next night they would appear with 1/2 of the food removed. Each night I got a gluten free roll, they had Gluten free crackers for the cheese., however the cheese was bland and they were stingy. The general standard of the food was disappointing. We went on QM" last year and almost every plate deserved a photograph. This was not the case on P&O. The Orangery was very hard work, noisy , it didn't flow. The food lacked taste, roast potatoes were cooked but weren't crisp. bacon was cooked but not in a pan. The curries were super mild, much of the fruit was tinned. The puddings were the same each day and the cutlery kept running out. Fruit juce was poorly diluted from concentrate and was taken away at 12 noon. Waiters would pounce on you as soon as your plate hit the table to sell you drinks. as a gluten free person all I could eat out of the puddings was fruit and green jelly.... for 18 days! breakfast bacon eggs, mushrooms. Tinned fruit and nuts. cheese (no gluten free crackers up here, or bread no one had time to assist) QM2 has pre labeled diabetic and gluten free food , bread + fresh orange juice all day/night. To compare this with QM2 the self service are was far more efficient, much better food. more choice Fruit tea, caffeine free teas , specialty teas were removed outside meal times. There was no fresh milk. I went to the formal breakfast in the Medina restaurant and it was quite good. the English breakfast and the omelets with salmon was nice. My other half had to ask three times for fruit juice rather than tea/coffee The afternoon tea was the same. as everyone tucked into their second scone or tea cake I was sat there like a lemon waiting for a choice of 3 gluten free cakes and a biscuit to come my way. The chocolate tea event was amazing and I did have a choice of gluten free or diabetic chocolate temptations. I could only try one gluten free sample or my sugar levels would have gone through the ceiling. some people had 4 choc cakes and a puddle of chocolate plus fruit kebabs dipped in chocolate. It was a great show. The Sidewalk cafe served sandwiches, pizza, chips and baked potatoes. the baked spuds and chips were very nice. The Bordeaux cafe was very nice but the menu is a little limited once you take the bread and pastries out of the menu. This was the only eatery open at night and the waiters took you to the seats. It was better on QM2, thee was an insomniacs club that gathered in the self service area at night and just chatted. There was more of a buzz. The Ship its self was well designed with one exception. there was only one set of doors from the sun deck & pool to the orangery restaurant. on our north Atlantic cruise it caused huge problems with gales racing through the eatery. One hilarious moment was watching people reverse through the sliding doors with all clothing flapping like they were doing a parachute jump and their salad blowing down the walkway. We his force 9 winds with 5m seas and the ship was very stable. possibly more stable than the larger QM2. The cruise itself was good with an interesting itinerary. the entertainment was mixed. We had excellent classical musicians and some theater and very weak magician who has apparently been doing the same act for 10 years. This cruise was going somewhere I wanted to go. We got a last minute deal. however if I had paid full price I would have been angry. It was not fine dining. QM2 was a whole lot better Tony Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
As we live near Southampton, we wanted to try out cruising as a new way to holiday. We were a bit nervous about being trapped on a ship for sometime if we didnt like it, so opted for a mini party cruise on the P&O ship AURORA. The ... Read More
As we live near Southampton, we wanted to try out cruising as a new way to holiday. We were a bit nervous about being trapped on a ship for sometime if we didnt like it, so opted for a mini party cruise on the P&O ship AURORA. The queueing for embarkation was a lot longer than we had anticipated with the queues reaching outside the terminal, but were pleased to see that the average age of those around us was much younger than we had anticipated. Once on the ship it took us an age to find our room, as there didnt seem to be anybody to greet us or point us in the right direction, which would have only took one crew member to do. We bumped into lots of other people, also in the same predicament. However once we reached our cabin we were pleasently suprised at the size of the room, considering it was a bottom of the range state room. By the time we found the orangery the food was being packed away, leaving a lot of passengers a little annoyed and hungry. We chose to eat in Cafe Rouge in the evenings. The food, wine and service were excellent and good value for the small supplement charged. The ship felt roomy and you could always get away from people, so we decided not to go ashore but enjoy the ship for the full trip. The spa was superb. I am now completely hooked on cruising, although I will not be travelling with P&O again, mainly because of the disorganised cruise, unfriendly staff as well as being charged for drinks we had not purchased. We were eventually refunded, however being told by a young receptionist that she would 'let us off', rather than believing that we do not do casinos at 2 in the morning nor drink vodka and redbull ruined 2 lovely days. Despite this I can not wait to try another cruise for a longer period of time, preferably with another cruise line! Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
As a regular P & O cruiser I have just returned from a 12 day cruise on P & O's new ship the Ventura and before I relate to the ship I must confess that this new style of cruising that the company has introduced is not to my ... Read More
As a regular P & O cruiser I have just returned from a 12 day cruise on P & O's new ship the Ventura and before I relate to the ship I must confess that this new style of cruising that the company has introduced is not to my taste and expectations. I travelled on the ship with my husband, daughter, son-in law and two grandchildren (under school age)which gave me a wide experience of the ship's facilities. I had a balcony cabin which was spacious and well designed, with the only problem being the disgusting smell of smoke infiltrating our cabin from other passenger's balconies, it resulted in our cabin doors being closed for the majority of our cruise. The standard of service and the attitude of the crew and staff was excellent and comparable to other P & O ships, but unfortunately the quality and choice of food particularly in the restaurant at evening meals was slightly inferior. Although there are many choices of bars,entertainment venues and open lounges, they seemed to be cramped and over-subscribed. In general the whole ship seemed to be restricted in space particularly in passageways, staircases and the promenade. There are 3 restaurants separate from the club dining facilities which have a cover charge and I can recommend Marco Pierre White's, White Room which is excellent (although a little expensive). The buffet's available 24 hours, pizza and grills do resemble a bun fight site at times. The ship has plenty of outside deck area and also a covered swimming pool, but the sun beds are crammed together and it results in them being very noisy and finding quiet areas is nigh on impossible. Some passengers also found difficulty in locating specific areas and passageways seemed to come to dead ends! On a ship that is as large as the Ventura with 3,500 passengers it is expected that there will be a clash of passengers personalities which may not be the norm for P & O cruises. As far as my daughter and grandchildren were concerned, the ship's childrens facilities were excellent with the kiddies clubs being very well organized and supervised. There was constant daily activities for the children of all ages and in respect of my 18 month old grand-daughter the night nursery was a boon. Finally, I would like to say that this new ship does change the perspective of P & O cruising and probably is geared for the family market at the expense of cruisers who are looking for more traditional cruising with a more relaxed and refined atmosphere. In general our family enjoyed the cruise and the younger element of the family had the main benefit. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
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