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

Embarkation and disembarkation flowed easily and we were pleased with the cleanliness of our cabin. Unfortunately we were not impressed with the size of the cabin which was so small. The balcony was adequate for both of us to sit outside. ... Read More
Embarkation and disembarkation flowed easily and we were pleased with the cleanliness of our cabin. Unfortunately we were not impressed with the size of the cabin which was so small. The balcony was adequate for both of us to sit outside. Most of the public areas looked grubby and the ladies toilets were dreadful. To get away from the crowds at sail away, which resembled 18 - 30/Butlins/Hi De Hi holidays, we went to the Crow's Nest Bar which was lovely, but in need of cleaning too (brass and glass all covered in fingerprints and just generally uncared for). We were pleased with the menu and food on the first night, but most of the menu was repeated on the second night (leftovers?).Our one and only port of call was Guernsey which was lovely but as it was a Sunday most of the shops were closed. Entertainment was good in the theatre and live lounge. In the middle of the second night I was very ill with a stomach upset which must have caused by the ship's food as I did not eat or drink elsewhere. We did not enjoy this short trip and would definitely not travel on this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
I had booked a suite for my mum and I to celebrate her birthday, we were really looking forward to seeing this new flag ship for P & O. I have taken a few other P & O cruises and have not been impressed with the service, food and ... Read More
I had booked a suite for my mum and I to celebrate her birthday, we were really looking forward to seeing this new flag ship for P & O. I have taken a few other P & O cruises and have not been impressed with the service, food and standard of suite. The suite on this, very large ship was very small, the bathroom is quite good but the lovely brown and cream marble surfaces have been ruined by not having soap dishes, both the bathroom and seperate toilet have the same issue. The balcony has no depth whatsoever and was very dirty, looks like it has not been cleaned since it was launched. Other than the bottle of champagne in the suiteand eating breakfast in the Epicurian restaurant ( Food was good, service average), there are other benefits, no soft drinks included. Other shipping lines are far more generous at this level and as thay only have 64 suites, I would think they could over soft drinks. The food in the Horizons self service was typically bad and sloppy and plastic glasses with your drinks! The pool area was deafening, It was like a disco, blaring music fro speakers every few feet. This area is forward and our suite was aft but we could hear this including the cruise directors words at the sail away party in our room - we were also 2 decks down. i dread to think how bad A deck forward must be. Food in Penninsular restaurant was just awful, Ceasar salad cold, watery and dry chicken. Chicken with madeira sauce, too dry to eat. arrived far too quickly before drinks and no sparking water available. Food in restaurants you have to pay for is good in general, service in those is hit and miss. Overall the ship looks quite nice, a little tacky in places, a little Ikea ish, it feels a lot smaller than it is on the inside, There are far too many cabins for the size of the ship, compared to Cunard for instance. The really big problem is the lack of lifts, queueing is the norm and the luck of the drawer if the lift opens next to you as someone else will jump in firts, if there is room, they say they hold 18 but no way is that adults. Never again for me, I am glad I only booed a taster as 2 nights was plenty on there. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Very second rate Compared to Carnival and Royal Caribbean, the staff could barely speak English and were nowhere near as friendly or professional, the food, entertainment, organisation, embarking and disembarking for trips etc was nowhere ... Read More
Very second rate Compared to Carnival and Royal Caribbean, the staff could barely speak English and were nowhere near as friendly or professional, the food, entertainment, organisation, embarking and disembarking for trips etc was nowhere near as good. Next time I am looking to book a cruise it will not be with P&O. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Boarding at Southampton was chaotic. Advanced requests for assistance due to being sight impaired had gone ignored by P&O. A very helpful ABP employee did offer and provide assistance, however, despite his best efforts this was ... Read More
Boarding at Southampton was chaotic. Advanced requests for assistance due to being sight impaired had gone ignored by P&O. A very helpful ABP employee did offer and provide assistance, however, despite his best efforts this was turned into an embarrassing and troublesome experience by other staff in the check-in process. The ship itself and is looking tired, varnish is peeling off the woodwork in all areas, with no apparent ongoing maintenance, which I have always found evident on other cruise lines. This generally faded glory is reflected throughout the Ventura experience. Little touches such as the breakfast menus being filthy dirty and dog-eared, My cabin was HE grade on deck 11, this was a pleasantly sized cabin with balcony. In cabin Tea and coffee making facilities are provided. An in room safe is available to use free of charge. There is an interactive TV which provides updates on your onboard account, two news channels, updates on the ships progress and weather. Films are available on demand, these are charged at £1.99 each. As with most cruise lines, cabins are serviced twice daily by a cabin Steward. I have seen other reviewers write of small showers on other ships, a sentiment my experience has not reflected. I am a slim 68kg (10stone in old money) and I have to admit that the shower aboard Ventura was a very cramped enclosure. The cabin Steward and evening restaurant staff were friendly and offered a polite personal service, even taking the trouble to address passengers by their name. Apart from this service was impersonal and far from effortless, emphasis was very much about maximizing onboard spend. The availability of food throughout the day is excellent The Waterside buffet was very good and well managed, this was one of the few areas where the service excelled Although the food was generally good at the evening formal dining, it is no longer a silver service experience, and in my opinion falls way short of the standard and quality provided by MSC. It also has the has the dubious honor of being the first time I have ever sent food back in a restaurant as being unacceptable. The breakfast service in the formal dining room is abysmal and the in cabin breakfast is not a good option, one day getting the order wrong, and the next not turning up all. I was not the only passenger to remark that it appears that P&O believe toast to be a cold snack, as it is impossible to get a warm piece of toast anywhere on Ventura. The evening entertainment was beyond bad. The main entertainment being a Beattles tribute act and an awful comedian, both pretty second rate on a 4 night cruise this program was repeated twice. All in all a pleasant holiday which would have been most acceptable for a more reasonable price. At a little under £600 for 4 nights, it did not reflect value for money. The P&O experience does not live up to what I know it once was (or that which it currently advertises itself to be) Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
My friend had never cruised before I had been on Oceania, MSC and Fred Olsen cruises, so we decided to try P & O. We embarked from Southampton having driven down we were satisfied with the arrangements and did not have that long to ... Read More
My friend had never cruised before I had been on Oceania, MSC and Fred Olsen cruises, so we decided to try P & O. We embarked from Southampton having driven down we were satisfied with the arrangements and did not have that long to wait to board, considering the numbers they are dealing with. However first impressions of the ship itself were not particularly impressive, staff were not particularly welcoming and the décor lacks the WOW factor. We went for an inside cabin both for economy and also because I had always had an outside or balcony previously and wanted to see if my paying the extra was really worth it. The cabin was very comfortable and bigger than expected but we did miss not having daylight, so yes the extra to get this either by means of window or balcony is worth it. Dining on board was the biggest disappointment, the food was canteen standard and the service was poor, no smiling welcoming waiters here. The entertainment by way of the shows was also poor to pathetic. The ship had a few families on board with children who seemed to be completely on their own (I guess parents were there but we didn't see them with the kids) they jumped into the pools and played in and out in the Jacuzzi, which meant that we didn't bother to try to use either. The staff completely ignored this behaviour and made no attempt to point out the notices that said no jumping or diving in the pool - how an accident didn't occur is miraculous. The general cleanliness of the ship was just about acceptable but never did you see any staff member wiping down handrails or insisting that passengers use the anti-bacterial spray at entrances to dining areas. Neither of us will be going with P & O again, which is such a disappointment as I really thought they would be so much better than this being such an iconic name within the industry. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
After traveling with Royal Caribbean a few times me and my Auntie decided to give P&O ago, so booked a 2 night trip to Gurnsey. We arrived at the Ocean terminal in Southampton at just gone 11 and we actually got on the ship at about ... Read More
After traveling with Royal Caribbean a few times me and my Auntie decided to give P&O ago, so booked a 2 night trip to Gurnsey. We arrived at the Ocean terminal in Southampton at just gone 11 and we actually got on the ship at about 11:45, which we thought was pretty good but things began to go down hill from there. We went to the plaza for the buffet lunch, the food looked nice but when we got to eating it most of it was cold and a lot of it tasted of salt. The puddings were nice but a lot were very small or really thin, I had a cheese cake that only had then thinnest layer of crumbs on the bottom. I then went to get a drink and found that all there was on offer in the way of free drinks was water, I'm not a massive fan of water, so I spoke to a waiter and asked if there was anything else I could have instead and he just shrugged and said "You'll just have to buy drinks, won't you?" but at nearly £2 for a small cup of coke it would have got expensive as the weather was so hot and that mixed with all the salt in the food was making me very thirsty. in the end I did buy a couple of drinks and then at breakfast the next morning we took some apple and orange juice back to the cabin with us and stored it in the fridge. A lot of the staff in the Plaza were quite rude, none seemed to smile and when you did order drinks they'd just place it in front of you with the receipt and say 'sign this'. they never felt approachable or felt like someone you could have a conversation with. The staff at reception were very similar and when we came to them with a query about gratuity's they were very sharp with us. The cabin itself was nice, although the bed was lumpy and really uncomfortable. The room attendant was lovely but I think she was just a little to quick and maybe didn't check the room properly as we found rubbish in it from previous tenants. Unless you like bars or disco's there was really nothing to do on the ship. The first night we ended up sat in the library playing a board game and the 2nd night was spent in our cabin playing on my tablet. a lot of the time during the day though we found ourselves wondering around aimlessly, there seemed to be no day time activities like quizzes. The disembarkation was good and very straight forward, although when I did get home with my suitcase and tried to unlock it I found that the lock had bucked so it seemed like it had either been squashed or someone had tried to get into it and busted the lock in the process, so in the end my Dad had to cut the lock off so we could get into it. We won't be cruising with P&O again and we very much look forward to are cruise in November on Independence of the seas. . Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We booked our cruise on Azura at the very last minute and was told by the travel agent that we had been lucky and got the very last cabin. This was very interesting as when on board we met a number of other couples who had been told the ... Read More
We booked our cruise on Azura at the very last minute and was told by the travel agent that we had been lucky and got the very last cabin. This was very interesting as when on board we met a number of other couples who had been told the same thing. This seems to be a marketing ploy by P and O to pressurise you in to making a booking. When we got on the ship we found the cabin was of a good size and the balcony although obstructed was very large and still very pleasurable to sit out on. The majority of the ship looks old before its time with lots of dark would and poor lighting, it is also very obvious that the ship is the same design as used by princess as some areas are almost identical in layout. The only true exception being the Glass house bar which is far more contemporary in colour and design. Food on the ship is very inconsistent and the organisation of the top floor buffet restaurant being a complete nightmare, tables where left uncleared and cups not being available at the beverage stations. The thing that really was disappointing was P and O's portion control on food and drink. If you order duck breast for dinner you would expect a whole breast but P and O give you two thin slices. This was the same for all portions at lunch and dinner. Drinks where another joke. We have never been on any other ship where they are measured to the point where a martini is served in what could be described as not much more than a thimble. The beds and pillows are so old and knackered that did not allow us to get a good night's sleep and desperately need replacing. Staff on the ship are also with few exceptions disinterested and not particularly helpful. This was our first cruise on P and O and as you may have guessed we won't be going back. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
On the P&O website one of their fliers state "P & O Discover a Different World " after a 2 day "taster cruise " this statement is very acurate. We are seasoned cruisers mostly sailing with Cunard ,Holland ... Read More
On the P&O website one of their fliers state "P & O Discover a Different World " after a 2 day "taster cruise " this statement is very acurate. We are seasoned cruisers mostly sailing with Cunard ,Holland America,Celebrity and RCI having done 10+ cruises in 6 years we thought we would sample what P&O had to offer on this 2 day mini cruise to Bruges . We travelled down from Cheshire to Southampton on the day before our cruise and stayed in Ennious Boutique Hotel near to Ocean dock we did,nt know at the time but this overnight stay was the highlight of this short break (this was a loverly small hotel with nice rooms good service and a excellant italian restaurant which has just been voted 7th best in the uk ) The cruise terminal was very busy and was not the normal cliental you expect to see on a cruise mostly "hen parties and stag nights" very loud and starting to get merry even before they had boarded this was the norm for our time on the Azura.. However the embarkment was very orgainsed and after roughly 1 hour we were in our cabin. The cabin was very nice and we had a nice size balcony the room steward introduced himself and was very pleasent and cleaned the room to a very high standard . The layout of this ship is very confusing and this being so everywhere had the feel of everywhere being overcrowded leading to queues for most things on board. We assembled in the "breakers bar on deck " for the Sailaway at 4 as instructed where champagne was being sold at £6.75 for half a glass then after watching the hen parties and stagnights enjoying thereselves the Captain annouced routine maintinance had put back sailaway till later .(we actually left at 9 oclock this also added to the confusion .I.ll now give you a quick list of pros of this short cruise PROS Shindu (specialty dining ) very high standard although £25 suppliment in most ive ever paid Drinks very reasonable with wine at good price Tips on drinks Main restaurant (food good standard ) but service a bit fast cabin and cabin staff Entertainment in the bars Cons Confusion ruled on the ship first nights program left in the stateroom said the clocks were going forward ! hour at 2 pm this didnt happen and ship stayed on uk time this was annouced late morning by the captain after people were turning up 1 hour early to get off and to dining areas . There seemed to be a lack of staff no one cleaning stairways toilets had a smell of urine and were not up to normal standards Was there a Cruise Director >??? most annoucements where made by the Captain Unfriendly staff who looked demotivated Ships officers who only looked happy when they were partying with the Hen nights in the Manhatton bar till the early hours Disenbarkation was a joke given time to leave but it was a free for all passengers leaving when the felt like this again leading to large queues there was one officer trying to control this to no help from any other staff STANDARDS I Saw things on this cruise ive never experenced before gangs of young ladies the worst for drink in fancy dress outfits carring blow up dolls having water fights with  water pistols etc etc etc Most alarming was the dress code even on formal nights around the ship .i could go on and on but i,d be writing all day needless to say P&O NEVER AGAIN   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Instead of our usual 7 night mediterranean cruise with Royal Caribbean, this year we elected to book a 4 night P&O cruise to France and Guernsey. I assumed that whilst it was a shorter cruise we would still have the same level of ... Read More
Instead of our usual 7 night mediterranean cruise with Royal Caribbean, this year we elected to book a 4 night P&O cruise to France and Guernsey. I assumed that whilst it was a shorter cruise we would still have the same level of service and facilities that we had experienced on other P&O cruises. Sadly this was not the case and since P&O changed their gratuity system the staff don't seem to have the same attitude to service. As there is no longer an incentive to 'go that extra mile' they don't! We found that any request outside of the normal menu was met with a resounding "No". There was no offer to find alternatives, and in the main restaurant it was even too much trouble to find a milkshake or a non-alcoholic cocktail for my son as he doesn't drink fizzy soft drinks. The food in the restaurants was incredibly poor on two nights, and very good on the other two nights. Each time I chose seafood it was overcooked and lacking any flavour. The potatoes, in any form, were always full of grey bits and the vegetables were tired and flavourless. The coffee was so strong and stewed I couldn't drink it. Entertainment on the ship seemed to be geared to the older generation, and adults only. There were no family activities such as a quiz or bingo, as they were all adults only. There were tournaments of deck quoits, shuffleboard, table tennis etc but again adults only. I would have preferred to have family tournaments that my 12 year old could participate in, but instead if he wanted to do any activities he had to go off to the Kids Club. The evening entertainment was, quite frankly, not worth bothering with. There was no 'show' as such, just a load of 1980's hits with groups of dancers performing to them. Not my idea of entertainment. I thought this was a cruise ship, not a cheap version of Butlins. Other reviewers have commented on here that the entertainment in general all day was no great shakes and they would be correct. The shops constantly advertised via the tannoy that their prices could not be beaten, so I was amused to note that when I visited the Swarovski shop in Guernsey their prices were notably lower than those on the ship. They did have a selection of items each night such as handbags and jewellery, but I was disappointed to find that when I did purchase a pair of earrings the stone fell out of them the day that I got them home, and at £29.99 I did not expect that to happen. The mini-suite was comfortable and spacious, and had adequate storage space. There was nothing lacking which we needed and everything had been thought of, even down to hairdryer, iron and ironing board, binoculars, mineral water, etc. The White Company toiletries were a nice touch. The bathroom was an odd layout as it had a separate WC which also included the washbasin in there, whereas the shower cubicle and bath were in a separate room. This made it awkward to use as you couldn't move in the space where the toilet and washbasin were. It would have been better served to have the washbasin in with the shower cubicle and bath. The pool areas were clean and there were plenty of sunbeds. The Costa Coffee bar was very popular and my son was quite taken with Sundaes Ice Cream bar. The Plaza self-service buffet wasn't worth bothering with unless you wanted to jostle everyone else for food that had been left out for a while and was either bordering on stale, dry or tasteless. They regularly ran out of items and if you asked for more you really did feel as though you were being a nuisance. The disembarkation process was sadly lacking. Rooms had to be vacated by 8am but the restaurant only served breakfast until 8 am which is not long enough to cater for everyone. The Plaza buffet was open until 8.30 am but after going round the entire restaurant area three times to try and find a seat - and failing - we gave up. Surely it would make more sense to have breakfast available in BOTH the restaurant and the Plaza self-service area until 9 am which is when disembarkation commenced? We ended up stopping at a service station on the way home to get some breakfast. So, in summary, I was disappointed. We have cruised with P&O before and it was fabulous. This time we were completely unimpressed and I would not sail on the Oceana again. The ship does not compare well in terms of facilities for families when pitched again its larger versions such as the Ventura. Also, Royal Caribbean do the whole entertainment and Kids Club thing so much better. P&O really could take a leaf out of their book. Next year it's Royal Caribbean for us all the way. Sorry P&O but you really need to up your game. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We returned from our mini cruise on the Azura a few days ago. It was our first cruise with P&O, having sailed with Royal Caribbean, NCL and Princess previously, we couldn't help but compare. Embarkation -- We arrived at the ... Read More
We returned from our mini cruise on the Azura a few days ago. It was our first cruise with P&O, having sailed with Royal Caribbean, NCL and Princess previously, we couldn't help but compare. Embarkation -- We arrived at the Ocean Terminal just before noon, picked up our letter card and waited about an hour before we were called to check in. Actual check in took about 5 minutes and back in the queue we went for the scanners. Food -- Knowing the cabins would not be ready so early we headed to the buffet restaurant. Having been on the Crown Princess before we knew the layout of the ship well and the buffet looks exactly the same with the same decor. However, what was different was that each section of the buffet serving area was split in half with the food repeat on either side. This made the already limited selection even smaller. The actual food was fine, very nice lamb curry. But the service in the buffet has to be the worst I have experienced so far. As soon as we sat down we were asked what we would like to drink. I asked for a glass of water and was told to get it myself because they only take paid orders! This has never happened before on other ships! And the speed at which they whisk the trays and plates away before you have even finished is just too efficient! Similarly the service in the Peninsular dining room was the worst we have encountered. The waiters never introduced themselves or the menus, not even on the first evening. Instead they hand you the menu and hover behind you until you place your order, you don't have time to read the menu properly as you feel pressured to order quickly. The quality of the food was also not great. Much of it was overcooked and not presented well. On the last evening we were presented with "all the menus", this did not include the menu for that evening. We were told we couldn't have it because they had to use them for 2nd sitting guests. Such environmentally friendliness should be applauded, I guess... On the pool deck we tried the pizza and that was fine. But the ice cream section remained closed every time we passed it. Room -- We had an aft balcony on E deck and it is a fine cabin. Although it is directly above the Manhattan lounge, there was never any noise. We had a very big balcony, about twice normal size. We had expected an obstructed view as we had read about there being a pillar in the aft balconies, but there was none. Our cabin steward was ok, kept our room clean and tidy. On debarkation morning we went up to the buffet to have breakfast and on returning to our cabin found that the bed had already been made. Again, a bit too efficient! We had to be careful not to mess up the bed while we packed the remainder of our belongings! Enetertainment -- This has to be the first cruise where I have no idea who the cruise director was. We saw him briefly at the beginning of a show one evening and that was it. The shows are not up to standard with other cruise lines. There are too many tribute acts and the comedian on the last night was absolutely awful. Making fun of the Indian staff onboard was particularly bad. Ports of call -- We visited Zeebrugge and St Peter Port and we did both ports on our own. Return train fare to Brugge for Eur3.80 and £1 round island bus fare on Guernsey were both incredible value for money! Debarkation -- Since our bed was already made, it sure helped to get us out of our cabin quickly! We were off the ship before 8. Having our key cards taken away at the end of a cruise was also a first. Summary -- This was a 3 night mini cruise, so maybe it is not a good representation of a normal length cruise on a P&O ship. However, we have experienced better on all the 8 ships we have cruised on so far and therefore it is most unlikely we would book another cruise with P&O. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
I and the wife have just returned from a cruise on the Oceana. Unfortunately there are a number of points which were just not acceptable . Firstly the food in both the premium restaurants. We had a meal in the Horizon on the first ... Read More
I and the wife have just returned from a cruise on the Oceana. Unfortunately there are a number of points which were just not acceptable . Firstly the food in both the premium restaurants. We had a meal in the Horizon on the first Saturday of the cruise. I decided to have the lamb which was served with chips, beef steak and burgers with chips I can understand but lamb? I asked if I could have another type of potatoes e.g. new potatoes and the waiter said he would ask. When he returned he stated the chef had said no. Considering the number of restaurants on the ship I am sure another form of potatoes could have be sourced. This spoilt the dining experience. The next meal was in the Jardin during the week and I had the Rack of Lamb with Rosemary Jus, it was very disappointing, you could not taste the Rosemary at all, it tasted just like normal gravy. I spoke to the Assistant Restaurant Manager about this and pointed out that though I am not a chef I could do better at home. We were on Freedom dinning and the food was very good in the Ligurian, however the attitude of Head Waiter was atrocious. We like to dine by ourselves and understood that this could mean waiting for a table. When asking for a table for two the head waiters comment was 'we do not have one' and he did not offer a bleep, I replied 'can I have a bleep' and he begrudgingly handed one out. When the bleep went off and we returned to the restaurant and I joked that it did not take long for a table to be available, to which he replied in a very condescending manner 'we created one for you'. I was very shocked with his manner and to be honest felt very angry; if he worked for me he would be sacked. Finally regarding the restaurants, the Plaza. At breakfast providing very hot cereal bowls for cold milk, along with very hot glasses for cold juices is just stupid. This was not just a one off but every day, which seems to me down to bad planning. With regards to other issues. We had a small problem with the shower head and reported it to reception one evening and said there was no rush as it still worked and could be dealt with the next day. To our surprise a maintenance man turned up at 22.15 that night to fix it, we had retired to bed by then. Is common sense in short supply in the maintenance department? We also had a problem on two occasions with the toilet. On the first occasion the water over flowed onto the bathroom floor. Services came and moped the water up and someone from maintenance looked at the toilet. However we were never told that the problem had been resolved. A few days later the problem returned, and again it was reported. It was approx. 4/5 hours before someone came to have a look and in fact it was our steward who chased it up. Again no one had the courtesy to say that the issued had been resolved. P&O have excellent, what we would call rank and file staff e.g. stewards, waiters. They are helpful and cannot do enough for you. The problem seems to be management who are not concentrating on the detail. We feel that other cruise lines have addressed the issue of attention to detail, but P&O needs to do more to retain customers. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
The Cruise This 2 night "taster" cruise from Southampton serves as an introduction for people new to cruising but is also called a "booze cruise" by groups of party lovers seeking a weekend's entertainment. The ... Read More
The Cruise This 2 night "taster" cruise from Southampton serves as an introduction for people new to cruising but is also called a "booze cruise" by groups of party lovers seeking a weekend's entertainment. The September2011 trip catered for all ages and seemed very popular with "hen party" groups. The food and service were, frankly, mediocre and possibly even worse than our previous P&O experience through the Panama Canal several years ago. Accordingly, I wrote to Ms Carol Marlow (MD of P&O) listing the specific problems we encountered but the response received indicates that they believe they are doing a good job, in spite of our observations. Oceana Oceana is rather dated (launched in 2000) and, by modern standards, the cabins are small but adequate. That said, it is a comfortable size and has a good layout providing good choice of dining options, several bars and entertainment in two theatres. With capacity for about 2,000 passengers we feel that it is an ideal size, having cruised on sister ships like Dawn Princess and Sea Princess several times. P&O Hospitality and Service Cruising should be a treat and customers like to be made to feel welcome and looked after. Unfortunately, P&O have overdone their cost cutting and you are left feeling that they have skimped on everything, particularly food and drink. Their Champagne Sail Away was a pretty dull experience, as they provided no drinks and passengers were reluctant to buy flat bubbly at nearly £4 per glass. The staff, who are mostly from India, are hard working but seemed miserable and lacked motivation. They are no doubt poorly paid and rely on tips to supplement their income, only to find that P&O cannot get this right either. Food and Drink All cruise ships have a massive catering task and other cruise lines consistently demonstrate that high quality, well presented dishes can be served very efficiently. P&O seem so far behind competitors using exactly the same facilities, with menus that are not tempting, poor presentation and food often served cold. Even on the formal Gala Night the meal was nothing special. Whilst we prefer fixed dining with a table of 4 or 6 fellow travellers, others like the flexibility of "anytime" dining and can select from the same menu. A "self service" buffet is also available on the upper deck but P&O don't bother to lay the tables and even paper serviettes are hard to find. We tried it on arrival and once later because P&O did not serve afternoon tea but it was very poor. Getting pre- dinner drinks or wine with a meal can take ages. Orders are taken reasonably quickly but the waiters have no incentive to hurry back with anything. Don't expect and nuts or nibbles either, as P&O even charge for these. Wine and drinks were reasonably priced but there was no happy hour. Entertainment The resident song and dance group on Oceana had immense energy and put on a couple of good shows. The main theatre seats around 500 people, so can be a busy place. Gareth Gates gave three performances to capacity audiences on the last night and was well received, in spite of appearing very nervous. There were several music quizzes (but none of the ever popular trivia quizzes) in the bar but participants were expected to compete individually rather than in groups. This destroyed the social nature of such gatherings but, nevertheless, many were keen to compete for one miserable prize of key ring. Excursions P&O offered various excursions ranging from transport to Bruges (£28), Brussels (£35), Ypres and Ghent. Bruges in a Day included a guided walk and canal boat ride (£45). With a free shuttle to Blankenberge station every 10 minutes, many passengers, ourselves included, simply took the short train ride to Bruges (costing 3.60 euros return at weekends). Specific Problems 1. Embarkation took 55 minutes, as passengers were queuing around the terminal at 2 pm. We observed the quoted check in time only to find that passengers boarded as early as 11:00. Hence we missed lunch and endured avoidable delays. 2. Our tiny cabin was really cold because the air conditioning control was faulty. We had to report this twice before it was partly fixed the following day. Reception offered my wife a blanket as a solution when the engineer failed to materialise. 3. We dined at the 8:45 sitting but were well into our second course before the wine we ordered arrived. Maybe table waiters should take orders for drinks as with other cruise lines. 4. It took 20 minutes to get a pre-dinner drink each night. Orders were taken fairly quickly but the waiters then disappear with cruise cards for ages. They didn't bother with coasters, so icy drinks tended to drip on evening clothing. Being charged for any nibbles is so petty. 5. We have seen the kitchens in full action (with the Head Chef on the equivalent Sea Princess), so understand the challenge. If Princess can serve hot, well presented quality food, why is P&O unable to do so? 6. It proved impossible to deviate from the printed menu to suit dietary needs or preferences. There was no chance of starting breakfast with mixed berries and yogurt (as on Princess) and even getting some bacon with an omelette proved difficult. 7. When passengers dress for a Gala dinner they expect the menu to be a bit special. Ours was little better than the evening before. 8. Most Brits enjoy formal afternoon tea, which P&O failed to offer on this cruise. Surely even the tabloid reading passengers that they appear to attract would expect this. 9. Breakfast on the last day was served in two sittings (at 6:45 and 7:45), forcing passengers to queue all around the atrium. When the floods of people were seated, the waiters could simply not cope, orders were misplaced and most of the food arrived cold. The orange juice had been watered down and even toast failed to arrive. It was 10. Passengers were left in doubt as to whether tips would be added to their bill, like most other cruise lines, or should be given directly to deserving members. Our attentive cabin attendant had the foresight to leave an envelope in each cabin as a gentle reminder. Nothing was added to our bills and P&O provided no envelopes for gratuities. Conclusion P&O doubtless has many loyal British clients but we cannot understand why. We can only assume that they have never experienced Princess or Celebrity cruises or that they like to travel from Southampton. These alternative cruise lines are part of the same parent group but do the job so much better at a very similar price. We gave P&O a second try but found it to be even worse than NCL. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We had often wondered would we enjoy a large cruise ship after the ultimate experience of Azamara could anything be better than that.,so when I saw a 2 night cruise to Zeebruger to visit Bruges and try all that chocolate and special price ... Read More
We had often wondered would we enjoy a large cruise ship after the ultimate experience of Azamara could anything be better than that.,so when I saw a 2 night cruise to Zeebruger to visit Bruges and try all that chocolate and special price balcony cabin same as inside i booked it.What a mistake from the moment of check in at Southampton to the chaos of disembarkation nothing lived up to expectation,Too many people, nowhere quiet to relax,queues for everything from breakfast to lifts, buses,everywhere you went people pushing and so much noise.The cabin clean and bed very comfortable ,best of all cruises we,ve had,plenty of hot water and good shower.No water in the room to drink and 2 sachets of coffee a day!!!Food ok could be better, buffet breakfast lacked imagination and fresh fruit could have been fresher.Staff fairly indifferent but polite chatted a lot to each other.Would recommend that P and O .staff do an Azamara cruise they could learn a lotWill never chance P and O again Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Day 1 Southampton Paid for the trip down from Yorkshire on EAVESWAY coaches which is a winner, cheaper than driving down and parking fees, then into the new ocean terminal to book in this seemed to take longer than the last time in ... Read More
Day 1 Southampton Paid for the trip down from Yorkshire on EAVESWAY coaches which is a winner, cheaper than driving down and parking fees, then into the new ocean terminal to book in this seemed to take longer than the last time in Southampton on Arcadia but we were still in our cabin by 2 pm and at lunch in the Venezia restaurant shortly afterwards, a very nice buffet on deck 15 aft Later we took a guided tour around the very expansive spa complex which include the new concept on AZURA the Retreat We were impressed enough to book the retreat for the full 7 days We had the usual sing-along as we departed but it was poor compared to when we were on Ventura, just drab rod Stewart music That evening we had dinner in the meridian restaurant which is for those who have chosen freedom dinning its exactly the same as the 2 club dining restaurants peninsula and oriental, accept you can have dinner any time between 6pm and 9pm, rather than the fixed 6.30pm or 8.30 pm on the ship you can always get something to eat as there is always one of the other grills or dinners open, for example, the Venezia and Verona between them serve a full English breakfast from 0700 to 1200 and then remains open until 930 pm with a buffet and later Verona as an Italian restaurant and late snacks until breakfast The Venezia has a breakfast from06.30 to10.30 lunch from 12 to 3 then afternoon tea at 6 to 930 there is always a speciality buffet ie Indian Chinese Italian etc There are also as I mentioned the 3 main restaurants aft that must seat between 300 to 500 each and the 2 speciality pay extra 'cover charge' restaurants plus the glass house a wine specialty restaurant which does food but at a price later we did not go to the main show just wandered around the many bar's and live entertainment available Day 2 At sea Breakfast in our cabin as usual, this is a long tradition, and therefore stops the 'full English' syndrome I went to a cookery demonstration would you believe, but this was somewhat different, it was Atul Kocchar famed Michelin star'ed Indian chef accompanied by wine expert Olly Smith very interesting and informative Atul was funny too Chilled out in the Retreat then it was the 'Gala Reception' which we gave a miss too but did accept the wine, decide on dinner in the meridian restaurant as it was the first 'Formal 'night, we did not want to share tonight and so we had to wait for 15 minutes on a table for 2 but they give you one of those 'bleeper' things that scares the hell out of you when it goes off to inform you that your table is available. We had an excellent 6 course meal with exceptional service from our waiter of the evening, I had the lobster Again gave the main show a miss and wandered around the many bar's and live entertainment available a bit disappointed because I am not a big fan of ballroom dancing(in 2 locations), karaoke in the British bar, pianist in 2 or a rubbish magician, nor do I wish to throw money away in the casino Day3 Dublin Dublin late arriving no gangway open until midday, large crowds milling about in the Atrium, maybe if we had made more than 10knots getting here we may have been on time Sat on the balcony and watched as we 'rotated 'about in her own length within the confines of the harbour and berthed stern too, quite a feat considering Azura's length and size but having seen Venture and Constellation carry out similar it doesn't impress us any more The weather looks dodgy so we had lunch first before catching the free shuttle bus into town, getting into town at 3pm was easy but queuing up to get back with several hundred others, on the cities crowded pavement, another thing entirely, it was total chaos. Any way back to the ship and it rained Note; - from my experience of holidays here the republic of Ireland has always expensive but the drop in the euro has made Dublin very expensive indeed Evening checked the menus on the interactive television and decided to go to the Verona restaurant which turns into an Italian restaurant in the evening, this was a good choice as we had an excellent meal with the usual exceptional service from our waiter of the evening, note if you decide on this option go early it was very popular and they were giving out the dreaded bleepers after 7 pm Next stop the Malabar for 8.30 to listen to Lynda Radford singing she was pretty good then along to the Manhattan to listen to a tribute to Phil Collins by rob Lewis again if you want a seat get in 30 minutes early, it was packed out by the start with standing room only in the entrance it was 6 deep but what a good show he put on very very good sounded just like the real thing A good evening, on the down side tonight the dress code after 6.00 was semi formal and some men idea of 'smart shirt and trouser with a jacket' left a lot to be desired, jeans and a tee shirt hardly fitted the concept of smart, particularly when their partner had obviously made an effort, then may be its me Day 4 The town of Cobh for cork Azure berthed at the cruise terminal adjacent to the little train station that operate a service to cork, Cobh is a nice little town with an imposing cathedral and many shops and bars, it trades on the fact that both the titanic and Lusitania left here to be sunk and that a little Irish girl left here to be the first immigrant through Elis island, all told its cheaper and nicer than Dublin We did not do any trips as the trips are expensive and I had no wish to kiss the blarney stone any way So back to the ship and up to the Retreat for a few hours it was a pity that it was quite chilly or I could spend all day up there During the morning they had a 'man overboard' exercise me being a cynic, thinks it's a doddle in harbour with the ship stationary and a flat calm sea, 'when I was a lad' we did the exercise doing 25 knots in a rough sea and after the "figure of eight turns" to get back to the dummy that had been thrown over we had to launch the sea boat and collect the 'survivor 'then recover the sea boat, sorry I digress, back to Azura Checked out the daily ships paper 'horizon' looks like tonight is a repeat of the second evening ie ballroom dancing(in 2 locations), karaoke , motown memories and its back to the good old days of the 60 and 70, I was there in the 60s it wasn't that great I also notice that the sailaway starts at 5.15pm yet the gangway does not shut until 5.30pm, it wasn't a bad sailaway accept that it finished before we sailed away, they could take lessons from Ventura's entertainments team on how it's done We had a very good Indian buffet in the Venezia restaurant a large selection well presented and nice table layout, I must say that the foods throughout all the restaurants on Azura are of a very high standard As I suspected the evening was a total wash out the entertainment is very poor catering for a minority this is not up to P&O's usual standard Day 5 At sea In order to getter a full picture on dinning on Azura I decide to forego breakfast in our cabin (a martyr to the course) and checked out breakfast in the Venezia and Verona restaurants, again spoilt for choices and with the 6 buffets split up into about 24 separate segments so there little or no queuing, open for full English or continental until noon There is also the choice of going to the 2 club dining restaurants peninsular and oriental for breakfast but they close at 09.30 We gave the Retreat a miss today as we are doing 16 knots and its very windy and the Retreat is very exposed, it's alright out in the Caribbean but not the bay of Biscay Again checked out the daily ships paper 'horizon' looks like tonight is a repeat of yesterdays evening i.e. ballroom dancing, a ballroom dancing demonstration, 2 karaoke , a classical concert, 2 pub quiz's and a Simply Red tribute, Still I went to the British bar called Brodie's and listened to attempts to get passengers up to sing, no takers, so finally the entertainment guys got up to sing and I left Day 6 Bilbao checked out breakfast in the Venezia and Verona restaurants, again only there was an exercise on for the ships crew and they had closed the larger Venezia which created queues in Verona still it wasn't to bad you had to shunt around abit to get what you wanted because they kept on running out of items, not quite as bad as my daughter's experienced last week on Arcadia but close and it should not happen with P&O and on a ship of this size. They also closed the kids club which upset some of the passengers The same thing happened at lunch time but they closed Verona this time, Maybe they thought everyone would be ashore, wrong We stayed on board because we knew from previous experience, that in Spain, on a Sunday, everything would be closed and the reports coming back supported this, why we could not be at sea on a Sunday is beyond me. Had dinner in Venezia which was an oriental theme and it was excellent then down to the British bar called Brodie's and listened to quite a good group singing ballads Day 7 Brest Arrived along Starboard side too for a change [our side] adjacent to a dry dock and warehouses the cruise terminal here is very poorly positioned, stuck out in the middle of nowhere, it's a feature of this cruise that all the ports of call except Cobh were 20 to 40 minutes from civilisation We took no organised trips because they were all too expensive so it was back to the shuttle but appears that a lot of others had the same idea, so we had to wait until the horrendous long queues for the shuttle got manageable and then we took one into the town centre ,we were not impressed with what we saw in the town and so stayed on the bus and returning to the ship Again queues to get off the ship and queues to get back on board seem to be a feature of this ship not enough gangways being provided, there were only 2 for the 3000 odd passengers, to get on and off the ship, this is not good enough, you do not expect this kind of sloppy unprofessionalism when you have paid a lot of money to a supposedly top end cruise company plus there were no proper dedicated gang way for the disabled Had lunch on deck with a burger from one of the 2 fast food outlets on the pool deck had a glass of pimms and watched the sailaway which by this time the entertainment team were getting pretty good , they must have been practicing, We are giving the meridian restaurant a miss tonight because the buffet in the Venezia appears to have a better menu [you can check out all the menus on board on the flat screen TV in your cabin] In comparing Like For Like her sister ship Ventura is better organised, slicker at passenger comfort and welfare, is far friendlier in her crew to passenger relationship, better entertainment, better shops, better library, freedom dinning is slicker whereas Azura probably wins on quality in the food stakes but has a lot to learn, elsewhere The entertainment on azura is very much a cross between, East Enders and Strictly Come Dancing with quiz's,and bingo thrown in And so back to Southampton and a pretty slick debarkation and to our EAVESWAY coach and a good trip home Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We are seasoned cruisers and have cruised many times before most recently with Royal Carribean, NCL and Princess so this was our first P&O cruise and we must say were not impressed in comparrison! Embarkation/Disembarkation This was ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers and have cruised many times before most recently with Royal Carribean, NCL and Princess so this was our first P&O cruise and we must say were not impressed in comparrison! Embarkation/Disembarkation This was very efficient we arrived at Southampton around 11.45 and we were on board the ship within half an hour very organised lots of desks open to check you in. Great start to our holiday or so we thought! Disembarkation was very organised you are given coloured cards and get off once your colour has been called however don't try and get off before your colour is called as you will be sent back. Cabin The smallest cabin we've had especially the bathroom which was very petite. We had an inside cabin on deck 12 which was fine despite being a bit smaller than what we are used to. Our steward did a good job throughout although we did miss the small finishing touches that we ve always had like towel animals being left on your bed at night. Other than that it was fine. Food & Drink The food was the highlight probably some of the best food we've had on any cruise I am wheat and gluten free and they were great at accomadating me with this. If there was something I didn't like on the menu the chef would make it especially if he could, as I pre-ordered my meals the night before the same with afternoon tea as long as I pre ordered they would accomadate me. The White Room was FANTASTIC well worth the £25 per head extra charge. Drinks were very reasonable around £2.25 for a can of beer £4.20 for a cocktail. The downside to this was the waterside buffet on deck 15 it was a NIGHTMARE! The restaurants closed at 9am for breakfast so if you wanted a lie in you had to go to Waterside, we have never ever had to queue for breakfast or for a seat before on this cruise we constantly had to queue it was awful. We chose freedom dining which was ok but if you want a table for 2 be prepared to wait up to an hour most nights as we had to wait, a bit annoying that you cant book a table like we could last year on Royal Carribean. Entertainment The only word for it is RUBBISH! Very poor throughout the cruise a long way off the standards of the american cruise lines and not enough activities during the day.We felt like we were on a floating butlins or a package holiday at sea not what we are used to at all. Ports Of Call Lisbon, Vigo, La Rochelle and Brest. The ports of call were ok but we much prefer the med if you are going to cruise Europe we did a tour in Lisbon and La Rochelle which again were o.k but over priced like most excursions. What they don't tell you is there are free shuttle buses at every port which is useful but we had already booked our tours so were unable to make use of these in Lisbon and La Rochelle. In vigo we got off and walked into town which we thought was a bit of a dump and Brest we didn't get of the ship so cant comment on that. Service The service was ok not the most friendly service we've had but we didn't have any problems either the staff were pleasant but didn t go out of there way where service is concerned. Ventura "ROLL" We were told this at breakfast yesterday by a lady sitting on our table that she was told by someone at P&O the Ventura is known as The VENTURA Roll and boy did she rock. We have cruised out of New York in winter we have cruised Alaska and never experienced movement like this before it was VERY VERY ROCKY. Alot of people were suffering from sea sickness that we spoke to. She is not a very stable ship at all the swells and sea conditions we were told by the captain were fine. If the Ventura rocks like that in ok weather I dread to think what she would be like in bad weather. Summary The demogarphic on this ship was vast I have never seen so many tattoo's in one space before, there were alot of babies and alot of diabled and wheelchair passengers on board. We feel this cruise was aimed at the more cheaper end of the market which is why it gave us the feel of a floating butlins or package holiday at sea. The ship was full 3,500 passengers and this is the first time we've felt it was crowded, we have often been on large ships but have never felt crowded before. The food was great however not much else was as i've said above and in future we will pay a bit more and stick with Celebrity and Royal Carribean and will certainly never cruise with P&O again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
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