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

We have cruised with P&O many times; this would be our second two night cruise break, it came up to expectations! Embarkation/Disembarkation The ship was using the Ocean Terminal in Southampton. The terminal works very well at ... Read More
We have cruised with P&O many times; this would be our second two night cruise break, it came up to expectations! Embarkation/Disembarkation The ship was using the Ocean Terminal in Southampton. The terminal works very well at getting people through as quickly as possible. Most people were carrying on the luggage which simplified things. The terminal was particularly noisy, and had a party atmosphere, we even saw a chap dressed as a bride with boots on! The only slight hold up is having to complete the health questionnaire on arrival, why not offer it for download from the Cruise Personaliser. P&O complicate this by giving you a boarding time, ours is 15:30, it is always a late time whatever P&O cruise we take! We decided to aim for 13:30, and only had to wait around until 14:00 before being called to check-in. We arrived at our cabin by 14:15. Disembarkation is equally efficient. Instructions are dropped off at your cabin on Saturday. We went to the open seating breakfast (served between 07:00 and 09:00), getting in there before the eight o’clock rush. After breakfast, back to the cabin to pick up the bags, then join the queue to get off This moved fairly quickly and we were off 08:20, and joined the queue for a local taxi to the train station. Dining On the first night we ate in Sindhu, had a really good meal in there, soft shell crab to start and then a selection of curies to follow. The service in there is particularly good. We had opted for Freedom Dining which gives great flexibility, but it can get busy at peak times, the best strategy is to be prepared to share a table (requesting a table for two will probably result in being given a pager). We ate in the Saffron Restaurant; we also used it for breakfast. On the second night we met up with friends and shared a table for four. The Saffron Restaurant is very big, but the service is good. The breakfast choices in the MDR are comprehensive, but I don’t think the choice has changed in the 10 years we have been sailing with P&O. Bars Lots of bars as you would expect, some with an emphasis on gin. There is a wide selection of craft gins available in the Red Bar. Most drinks at pub prices, but if you want more than two glasses of wine a bottle of the house (white in our case) is an economical option at £16. Breakers Bar on the Sun Deck was always busy, and on this cruise some of the passengers were shouting at the staff for service. The Glasshouse offers a quieter venue. Cabin Our cabin was port rear on deck 10 (C510), it was a good size; it is described as a superior balcony. The décor and fittings were in reasonable shape. Between the bathroom and main room is a spacious hanging area that really works well. The beds are high enough to take some pretty big suitcases underneath. The balcony is a good size and does have an overhang. Our steward was very cheerful, but we did not have time to get to know her. This cabin was very quiet, nothing rattled. If we had been on a longer cruise we would have asked for the pillows to be changed, they were like paving slabs. Entertainment There was plenty going on, but we stuck to the bars! Photography We went to a reception in Tamarind and the photographers went to great trouble to get a good group photograph which we purchased fro £12. Ports of Call Zeebrugge – Belgium Nothing in particular planned for this day. We caught the shuttle bus into Blankenberge, walked to the marina, then out along the pier and back along the sea front to the top of the main shopping street. Lunch was moules and bread; there was a problem with the fries! Next we bought some chocolate and went back to the ship. Anything Else? Much as expected these cruises breaks are intense and lively, it helped that we had been on the ship before and knew where everything was. There were lots of groups on board, not just stag and hen parties, but birthdays and anniversaries as well. We even got to meet Poppy from Bolsover Cruise Club (our TA) at a get together! We had expected the formal night to be the second night, but it was the first (apparently so the photographers could take and sell more formal prints). It is nice to be able to carry on and off your bags; it makes embarkation and disembarkation much quicker. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
From the minute we arrived at Southampton Docks Embarkation we were really looking forward to our five night cruise on the Azura to Amsterdam and Le Havre. Our cabin A401 was comfortable and our Steward ‘Teo’ was polite and efficient ... Read More
From the minute we arrived at Southampton Docks Embarkation we were really looking forward to our five night cruise on the Azura to Amsterdam and Le Havre. Our cabin A401 was comfortable and our Steward ‘Teo’ was polite and efficient so no problems there. Our balcony was a good size with two reclining chairs, a foot stool and a small table for drinks. It was a nice touch by P&O to have tea and coffee making facilities in our cabin and a fridge. The ship is generally superb with bars and restaurants reasonably well organised, although on this particular cruise we found it hard to navigate our way around and we have cruised for quite a few years without this problem. The shows were good and the live band that performed in the main theatre on two nights were exceptional. The ports of call were OK, Amsterdam in parts was very scruffy, lots of rubbish around and generally uncared for, Le Havre is a bit of a concrete jungle, but has a particular charm. We liked the trams, the markets and the sea front, and during our visit the ‘tall ships’ were in port. Bad points: the excursions were ridiculously expensive, an example: £44 each for 1 ½ hour evening canal trip! Some (not all) staff, in particularly the self service restaurants were not at all friendly and the security when coming back on board, although we don’t have a problem, especially in these troubled times with being checked were over the top officious, not a pleasant experience! We think that P&O staff should remind people a lot more than they do about using the hand gel provided; we still find it amazing that many go out of their way to not use it, even to the point of getting quite aggressive when reminded. Generally a great time, great ship, the weather in ports could have been kinder, but hey we’re in the English Channel. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Always cruised with P&O, mainly Azura as we like to do the Caribbean. Decided to take 2 of our children on a small cruise so chose this one. The ship was Lovely and Embarkation/Disembarkation was excellent. One daughter loved the ... Read More
Always cruised with P&O, mainly Azura as we like to do the Caribbean. Decided to take 2 of our children on a small cruise so chose this one. The ship was Lovely and Embarkation/Disembarkation was excellent. One daughter loved the Spa and said how friendly the staff were, feeling so relaxed and looked after. Adam the Pianist was first class. Took part in the Les Mis singing session and he made the sessions so enjoyable and also in the Crows nest when he was playing the Piano. He is a gem...Look after him P&O. The only thing I did not like( our cabin was mid ship deck D ) was that there are no stairs in the middle of the ship and so if you are claustrophobic you have to use the lifts (Which of course were always full and crowded and took so long to come as it went to every level) or walk all the way down to the front or back of the ship to change levels. I will go on the ship again but may change where my cabin is so that I am near some stairs. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Went for our 40th anniversary on a late booking, lucky to get a mini suite and it was so wonderful felt so special as only used to balconies, but the room surpassed all my dreams. Yes due to problems late leaving so no exciting sail away ... Read More
Went for our 40th anniversary on a late booking, lucky to get a mini suite and it was so wonderful felt so special as only used to balconies, but the room surpassed all my dreams. Yes due to problems late leaving so no exciting sail away but as we had a bottle of complimentary champagne to drink on our balcony enjoyed. Weather started good and we enjoyed La rochelle, santander even though the storm was horrendous and lovely La coruna with only a shower, the sea was definitely choppy but known worse from past cruises, think captain should have not been so open about the forth coming conditions as lots of passengars we spoke to were quite frightened and come 10 oclock all venues were very empty, previous cruisers said he should not have said as much as he did. people went back to their cabins early, though the sea did not seem that rough at that stage. Very sad not to get off at Guernsey felt for the passengers who had never visited there, do feel we could have got off lunchtime but the captain seemed like he just wanted to head back to southampton asap so he could get the ship ready for the next big cruise, and feel he let the passengers down and the cost involved losing a port day and the extra so called entertainment he said was laid on was rubbish, even sail away in doors was poor. Really hope this cruise has not put anyone off just so bad luck with the weather which we have never experienced, we have always had great cruises with PO and off soon on lovely Ventura and back on Oriana next year. Had freedom dining but ate in main restuarant every night and met different cruisers for chats. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We selected a short 6 night cruise to fit round my working commitments and chose the P & O Ventura. We chose to drive to Southampton from home in Lancashire and set off nice and early even though it was a Saturday sailing. Traffic ... Read More
We selected a short 6 night cruise to fit round my working commitments and chose the P & O Ventura. We chose to drive to Southampton from home in Lancashire and set off nice and early even though it was a Saturday sailing. Traffic and conditions were favourable so we had a great trip and with just slow traffic from about 10 miles out of Southampton but we arrived in the car park at 10.30am. A short walk and into the terminal to await the embarkation process which commenced just before 12 noon. Once on board we made our way to the buffet for a spot of lunch having had no breakfast with our early departure. Whilst in the buffet they announced that cabins were ready early so we made our way to deck 7 and D709, our home for the 6 nights. What an excellent cabin this is, larger than the average with a comfortable bed, sofa and a separate chair, two tv’s and an ample bathroom. We met Frank, our cabin steward who was excellent in the way he took care of everything brilliantly without being noticed at all. Once unpacked we decided to check out the ship and found it most pleasurable and almost a copy of Crown Princess that we had a week on a couple of years ago. The only downside was that as we had booked quite late we were allocated to a table of 8 on late seating in the Bay Tree Restaurant. When will P & O drop this outdated method of allocating restaurants and move to freedom dining for all passengers. We really prefer to be on a table for two but to be fair our table mates were good company on the nights we used the dining room. We had nice meals in the Bay Tree, not special but more than quite adequate but I would prefer the food hotter. We ate in Sindu on the Sunday as a treat for my wife’s birthday and it was excellent. We also had one night in the buffet having arrived back quite late from our day in Bilbao and the Beach House on the last night and all were good. Breakfasts were always taken in the buffet and were of good standard. We sailed later than advertised due to some passengers struggling with traffic on the M3 and I heard later at least one couple might have actually have missed it and only caught us up in La Rochelle. We had a nice sea day on the Sunday and of course as it was one of the hottest days of the year so it was busy on the outer decks with everyone taking advantage. We availed ourselves of most bars over the cruise but as we are not big drinkers so it was more for a change of scenery than anything else. We enjoyed the three production shows that the Headliners cast put on and all were enjoyable, Gareth Oliver was a great act and his comedy and ventriloquism were first class. In other lounges the Up Beats were very good and the Tribute act to Whitney Houston was fantastic. We enjoyed all port stops and also the warm weather. We don’t book ship trips but made our own way without spending silly money. We enjoyed all ports on this trip with La Rochelle being small but interesting and a nice place to walk round. Our second stop was scheduled to be Santander but our excellent captain chose to move the stop to Bilbao about 30 miles away. This was a wonderful exchange with Bilbao being a great city for a day stop. We got off the coach and with the help of the lady tour guide who pointed us to a walking tour around the main sites and we had a great visit. We went back to the ship for something to eat and a rest but as we had a late sail we then ventured out in around the promenade of Getexo to Vizcaya Bridge. This is a great historical site and info as to why, when and how the bridge was constructed. The view from the bridge is spectacular with the sea on one side, Portugalete on the other side and Getxo on another side. The visit to St Peter Port was really good, having never visited to the Channel Islands before. It’s a nice town and we walked round it and then after a bit of local info in a shop we took the lock bus that was just £1 each and took us round the whole island on an hour and a half trip. This just could not be repeated anywhere at that price. You could get off and have a look round or visit any of the great beaches and then get back on a later bus. The night sail back to Southampton was punctuated by a PA message for “flying stations” and then shortly afterwards a helicopter arriving, one assumes to remove a medical emergency, possibly lucky we were so close to Southampton for the unlucky person being airlifted off. Disembarkation was first class, we chose to take our own luggage off and literally had breakfast and walked off the ship, no customs issues or waiting in lounges for times to leave and we were in the car hitting the road back North. We will definitely book with P & O again for another short break cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
chose this as not sailed with p & o before,easy to book had a good deal, free parking and on board spend,went to canary islands, Madeira Lisbon and viga, boarding was smooth and quick,had a balcony cabin on deck 10 would recommend this ... Read More
chose this as not sailed with p & o before,easy to book had a good deal, free parking and on board spend,went to canary islands, Madeira Lisbon and viga, boarding was smooth and quick,had a balcony cabin on deck 10 would recommend this deck as the balcony is much bigger then the other decks, cabin was fine and clean, we only like buffet dining and on this ship was a little disappointing compared to other cruises we have been on,what i mean by that is they have theme nights every night,and if you do not like that type of food there is no alternative, also very little choose for special diets like low sugar,entertainment was fairly good something for everyone found the poolside entertainment was good when there was some but to long with out any even background music, the sea screen was in a poor condition with loads of dead pixels would be nice if it was bigger to. the cruise overall was ok but the ship looked very tired in need of a refit, things kept breaking down or did not work Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Having cruised with P&O on a number of previous occasions and experienced the well document decline in standards and quality I was apprehensive about choosing them again. However their prices are still a bit lower than the composition ... Read More
Having cruised with P&O on a number of previous occasions and experienced the well document decline in standards and quality I was apprehensive about choosing them again. However their prices are still a bit lower than the composition and the itinerary was ideal I decided to give them another go. Compared to my last P&O cruise (a year ago) the difference was like night and day, from the evening entertainment to the evening meals and the levels of service offered. Sure daytime entertainment was the usual affair with plenty of sales pitches and activities aimed at the 'older' passenger but as long as the sun is shinning all is well as you can avoid these. Food in the main dining rooms seems to have improved although the green beans still exist in numbers, It appears to be cooked much much better and tastes a lot fresher as well. Service hasn't been upped however and still lacks way behind on what it once did but it didn't spoil anything. The select dining venues again did not fail to deliver, food was exceptional and so was the service (although you would expect it as your paying extra) I better mention the buffet, it seems to be getting worse especially for a quick lunch as the selection is terrible. Too much curry! They seem to think all we eat during a hot day is curried everything! Very repetitive and very boring indeed. This side needs a shake up. If you fancied a late night snack it wasn't worth it as again it was the same every night (curried pasties and curry and rice again and again and again etc...) The Sea Screen which over looks one of the pools is looking very old these days and did not make a pleasure watching movies outdoors as the quality of picture is dreadful as it has to many faults on it and needs replacing or repairing which is a shame as it's such a great selling piont that P&O are ignoring. It does seem to be true what most are saying on here that regarding dress codes and general attire. Fewer and fewer people take advantage of dressing up as they once did for formal nights and tend to 'hide' away on deck or the buffet area as to avoid such nights, even on non formal nights the general attire of a lot of people has declined making the ship feel a lot more of an informal cruise kind of like what Ocean Village used to be like back in the day. Of course you wear what you want to wear it's up to you but it seems some folk don't even try to make an effort. I always like to think that a cruise ship has that luxury feel to it as it once did, now it;s starting resemble a Benidorm/Costa holiday. The best bits; ship was clean and tidy and well maintained. Ports of call were very good. Met some lovely people on board (as you do) and overall had a great time (even with the shortcomings) Have sailed on Ventura, Azura (2) Oceana and Britannia and can honestly say Azura is my number one P&O ship, it may not be up to quality of other lines I have sailed on eg Disney and RCI etc... but for a P&O ship it stands out above the rest, Total chalk and cheese to the dreadful Britannia (the worst cruise I have ever taken) There is good reason as to why Azura has the highest ratings of a P&O ship and in my opinion is the true flagship for P&O. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We have recently returned from the 3 night Ventura cruise my feedback is both negative and positive. My negative comments mainly refer to our cabin. We were a group of 3. On arrival to our cabin we found only 2 of everything. We asked ... Read More
We have recently returned from the 3 night Ventura cruise my feedback is both negative and positive. My negative comments mainly refer to our cabin. We were a group of 3. On arrival to our cabin we found only 2 of everything. We asked and the 3rd items arrived in dribs and drabs. Also we left our dry cleaning out as instructed but it was not taken and therefore unable to get it done in time for the formal night.Fortunately they have a passenger lundrey room so we were able to do a DIY dress steam. My friends personal hair towel was taken by mistake and unable to be located. Our next observation was the cleanliness of the room. There were previous guest items on shelves and in draws.The carpet had clearly not been hoover and was not hoovered during our stay. I twice visited the public toilets to find no toilet paper and our drinks tables were not cleared of empty glasses or wiped over enough On a positive, embarkation very smooth and quick, we liked the ship, cabin spacious enough for 3, staff friendly , food excellent, mini break is great value.drinks prices very reasonable. As it's so reasonable it was extremely busy with families and groups, mainly hen parties so all areas were very busy. Pool bars packed but waiting staff walking round were great and quicker service. Loved the ' Great British Sail ' l away party. Also enjoyed the englishness.... like music and staff sense of humor. I have done 8 cruises on RCI and fancied trying P&O as a comparison. I feel RCI definitely have the edge regards dining service . I would happily do another P&O short cruise but choose RCI for longer duration's as service is something that is important to my cruise experience Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Decided to have a week away and spend some quality time with Dad. My partner and I in one cabin, My Sister and Brother-in-law in the second cabin and our Dad as a single passenger in the third cabin. Our cabin was tended to efficiently by ... Read More
Decided to have a week away and spend some quality time with Dad. My partner and I in one cabin, My Sister and Brother-in-law in the second cabin and our Dad as a single passenger in the third cabin. Our cabin was tended to efficiently by the room Steward, no complaints there. Food overall was very good especially the fine dining we found was delicious . Entertainment was very enjoyable. Overall not much to complain about except the service in some of the bars by several waiters, There was never a problem getting a drink but experienced a number of errors in the orders which was sent back and amended. very frustrating, Even though the staff write the order down mistakes were made often all through the week. Our bonus of the week was definitely the weather. Sailed from Southampton in the sunshine which continued to shine the rest of the week. There was a day when it seemed quite blustery and the pools were netted off but there are many nooks to take advantage of to find a little sun trap. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Looking for a holiday during the school holidays we noted 3 P&O cruises leaving the same day and chose the Atlantic Islands cruise because we preferred the itinerary. The best other option was themed a Strictly Come Dancing cruise ... Read More
Looking for a holiday during the school holidays we noted 3 P&O cruises leaving the same day and chose the Atlantic Islands cruise because we preferred the itinerary. The best other option was themed a Strictly Come Dancing cruise which did not appeal very much. Embarkation. Our checkin time was 3:30. We drove to Southampton and got there at 2:45 where we were stacked waiting for porters and someone to drive our car away. As a result of that wait we entered the terminal almost exactly on time. We then had to wait about 45 mins before being called to the check-in desks. From then on it was quite efficient and we got through security, onboard and to our cabin by 4:45. Our luggage had already been delivered and placed in the cabin. Cabin Liked it. Check out the separate cabin review. Public Areas Plenty of bars and other public areas which were never very crowded despite the ship being full. Brodie's and the Crows Nest were our usual haunts. We went to the Atrium a few times but it felt more like a shopping centre than the feature point of a ship. Not very impressive. Prices were reasonable - similar to UK prices. Entertainment There was a lot of evening entertainment, mostly very good. There was generally something going on in both the theatre and the live lounge. The theatre though is too small and even with 3 shows some nights not everybody could get the chance to see some. There were plenty of other activities as well. As a quiz lover I often went to 2 a day but I think there were at least 4. I liked the entertainment staff as well. Dining. Oh dear. It was going so well. If you are looking for a ship with great food then you can stop reading now and start researching another ship. This is not for you. Main restaurant menus are unimaginative, food bland and not particularly well cooked. It was very disappointing. Buffet I thought was a bit better but maybe that's because expectations were lower. At least it was not too difficult to find a table most time that we went in. We went to the Limelight club one night. Food was better in there but of course you have to pay for it. If there is an act playing that you think you might like then it's reasonable value. Sindhu was excellent. Very high quality and quite different from your average high street Indian restaurants. Worth the money. Ports. I enjoyed all the ports and the 4 Atlantic islands we went to were quite different in character. We went on 3 ship's excursions which were quite good and I thought reasonable value. Disembarkation We had a time of 8:45 but went to the meeting point about 20mins early. We were called to disembark about 8:40 and within 30 mins had gone ashore, found our bags, reclaimed our car and were on our way. Overall It was good but it was badly let down by the food. We would go again but P&O certainly did not do enough to convert us. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We chose this cruise because we needed an extra day towards our Princess loyalty program status. We were very happy in the main with the whole experience. The cabin could have been a little cleaner, the carpet needed a good vacuum as ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we needed an extra day towards our Princess loyalty program status. We were very happy in the main with the whole experience. The cabin could have been a little cleaner, the carpet needed a good vacuum as there were many bits on it and the bedside tables had liquid marks, soon got rid of wth a wet flannel. We wanted to change our allotted table because my wife is in a wheelchair but the staff were not at all helpful so we had to stay with the allotted one. The food quality was very good however the variety at the Waterside Buffet was not as varied as on Princess. Metropolis, the nightclub was excellent, good atmosphere and service. We liked the island servery, better design than the bar in Skywalkers on the Princess Grand class ships. Overall a very good albeit short experience, we would certainly sail with P&O again.R Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Chose this cruise as the itinerary was great as was the price. Turned out a great destinations cruise and the ship was great too but it was nothing short of a floating Benidorm. Where did so many slovenly ill mannered people come from, ... Read More
Chose this cruise as the itinerary was great as was the price. Turned out a great destinations cruise and the ship was great too but it was nothing short of a floating Benidorm. Where did so many slovenly ill mannered people come from, first time experiencing this type of fellow passenger. One woman had her shoes and socks off in the bar with her feet up on the seat, others looked as though they had just come in from a hard days gardening. If you wish to call me a snob then I'll happily accept it if this is the kind of people I am expected to cruise with. Must have been down to the cost of the cruise which was indeed cheap. Embarkation was a dream, straight on board and even straight to our cabin where the luggage was already waiting, then for an afternoon snack to keep us going until dinner, plenty of choice too. The café provides a reasonable place to eat but nothing exciting, usual mundane stuff. Ship was decorated with lots of Christmas trees and tinsel but for a festive cruise that was all, no Christmas music anywhere, no theatre productions to embrace the season and not even a Christmas evening meal was provided. At least a cracker on the table on the final evening would have been nice with some festive food. The food in general on P & O is nothing short of boring and bland but I suppose that adheres to the British passengers. Restaurant staff were polite but still couldn't remember our likes and dislikes until the final 5 or so days. There are lots of small public rooms on this ship, the library for instance was minute as was the shops. Prefer larger but fewer public rooms. The heat throughout the ship was unbearable, everyone was coughing and sneezing, a breeding ground for germs and I knew as soon as we boarded that we would go down with a nasty cold and I wasn't wrong, in-fact it was the worse cold we've ever had. So much for the questionnaire you had to fill in before boarding about having a "runny nose", lots of dishonest people here. Drinks are too expensive so didn't bother with them. Theatre was the same old thing, Headliners productions which consisted of lots of "Tiller Girls" type dancing if you are old enough to remember them. Guest acts were also ordinary and boring. New and innovative ideas are desperately needed. Ports of call were great, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Oslo, Amsterdam and Zebrugge (for Bruges). Plenty of time in each port and all within walking distance of the ship with the exception of Hamburg and Zebrugge but for the latter a free shuttle bus was provided to Blankenburg and the station. If you search online you can find the exact place in each port where the ship docks enabling you to decide if you are able to walk to the centre of town or whether you would be better off going on an excursion as the cost of the shuttle bus if you are a saver cruiser is exorbitant at £20 return for 2. We decided on 2 onshore excursions, the Windmills of Edam in Amsterdam and Scenic Villages and Chocolates in Zebrugge. All other ports we did our own thing and walked each destination for many hours in order to see everything. The Windmills of Edam was dreadful, could have been great as the places visited were very interesting but we only had a fleeting visit to each of them, not even enough time to use the loo before the coach left as the queue was so long. Scenic Villages and Chocolates in Zebrugge was quite the opposite, plenty of time and a very interesting commentary from the guide. We were is cabin A263 which was a bit on the small side but acceptable. Trouble is the soundproofing was poor and we could hear what was being said in each cabin either side of us. The guy in cabin A269 next to us snored all night long and kept me awake for many nights until I wrapped my head in a towel each night thereafter to deaden the noise. The TV handset is archaic, no numbers on it so when selecting a channel you have to scroll up and down one by one, hence we always missed the captain's announcements as they were over before we got to the channel. John our cabin steward was nothing more than OK, obviously got fed up with things as by the final day he couldn't even be bothered to speak. The cabin was kept clean around the area we used but look under the bed and chairs and it was filthy. Towels were changed regularly and coffee was kept topped up. Disembarkation was a bit of a shambles, too many people criss-crossing one another to get in and out of the lounges but there were no problems. All in all, enjoyed the cruise but still haven't recovered from the germs lol. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Hi A more relaxed smaller ship. I thought she was a smooth Sailing ship. The only downside was the promenade deck was having some work done on it and was mostly partly shut for the trip. Room was the cheapest on board with one big ... Read More
Hi A more relaxed smaller ship. I thought she was a smooth Sailing ship. The only downside was the promenade deck was having some work done on it and was mostly partly shut for the trip. Room was the cheapest on board with one big surprise I could put my luggage away in the closest in my room. Can't do that on a Cunard ship. The sink in my room was a bit 'worn' but was fine. It also had the easiest working aircon/heating system that I have ever used. Ship had a few scuff marks here and there but that was fine. I will book P&O next time Entry and exit for the ship was fast and painless. The staff on board were friendly the two ladies in the Piccadilly store and library were very helpful and made the trip. My cabin steward was also very helpful and I was only a few doors down from the laundrette. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We just wanted a short break and this fitted the bill for my daughter and I, she is 31 and I am 62. We were in cabin E120.I have been on Venture on a 14 nighter but my daughter had never cruised before. Ship was still nice and kept clean ... Read More
We just wanted a short break and this fitted the bill for my daughter and I, she is 31 and I am 62. We were in cabin E120.I have been on Venture on a 14 nighter but my daughter had never cruised before. Ship was still nice and kept clean and tidy. We only ate in the buffet restaurant and we both said the food was excellent. On the last night there was the most flavorsome indian selection. The roast was good too. We also went for the cream tea's there....very nice. We used room service for breakfast and one night for dinner. We wanted a laid back cruise so did not attend the formal night but enjoyed dinner in the cabin and a couple of films. (Sad I know) The theater show was "Walk like a Man" (jersey boys), Brilliant show. Live singers in the Havana bar were a "Take That" group of 3. BUT...........and a BIG BUT !!!! This was a 3 night Cruise and the same entertainment was on for two of the nights in both of the main entertainment areas. This was NOT a good idea. We felt like we had been taken for granted and robbed of an evenings entertainment after paying for it. We enjoyed it once very much but didnt want to see it again. We went on the" Brugge on your own" coach from the ship which was £35pp and convenient. No messing about. They take you in to Brugge with a courier and leave you in the centre and you meet back up at a certain time. Nice trip. The ques to get back on the ship took 30 minutes. Also when we got on the ship I requested we were removed from the auto gratuities, so we could tip the staff who served us as we did not use the main restaurants. Checked the bill on the last day and they had added the gratuities onto our bill. I wasnt happy but it was a bit late in the day to go to reception and spoil a nice break with an argument, I didnt bother. This was half term and the ship was packed. There was one swimming area that was full to the brim with families and children having a lot of fun, it was exceptionally loud but they were all happy. There were lots other areas you could go that were quieter if you didnt like it. Dress code was very very laid back day and evening. We didnt do the formal night so cant comment. We had a nice dinner by free room service and watched films in the room as we were happy to just chill. The first day was spent at sea.......the engine was off and we were just bobbing around off the coast of England on a sea that was flat and calm. I would recommend this ship for a short cruise up to a week but I dont think I would go on her for any longer, I think the sparkle is missing a little now.. We both enjoyed our little break, very much. I have put on a cabin review for E120. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We booked this 2 night 'taster' cruise for 4 of us in 2 outside cabin's at a cost of £189 per couple which was excellent value for money. As first time cruisers, this was our chance to see what it was like and the ... Read More
We booked this 2 night 'taster' cruise for 4 of us in 2 outside cabin's at a cost of £189 per couple which was excellent value for money. As first time cruisers, this was our chance to see what it was like and the experience overall was very good. It would be nice to know about things like the restaurants, where you can and can't have breakfast, they time of your evening meal sitting etc. in advance, but with a health scare on the ship before our cruise I accept things were probably a little more difficult than usual. The Oriental and Peninsular restaurants were excellent, great food and very attentive service. The up top Conservatory restaurant was poor both for service and food quality, more of a canteen in our opinion. The entertainment was great and the overall experience was very enjoyable. Not sure how people can manage without a window at least, and I'd recommend the widow cabin's, not huge but well equipped and comfy bed. Sadly 2 of our party did not take well to the movement on-board and sea-sickness / unbalanced feelings prevailed meaning this is likely to be our first and last time on-board, but that's what this was for so I'd highly recommend a 2 night taster cruise for anyone thinking about a longer time on-board ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
My sister and I had already booked an inside cabin for the 6 nighter that followed this mini-cruise but decided to add this one to make a longer holiday. Managed to get a balcony at good price but would need to change cabins for the ... Read More
My sister and I had already booked an inside cabin for the 6 nighter that followed this mini-cruise but decided to add this one to make a longer holiday. Managed to get a balcony at good price but would need to change cabins for the second cruise. Embarkation was very quick and very well organised. We had booked our train tickets in July but didn't get our embarkation time of 3 pm until late August. Having arrived at Southampton station at 11.45 we decided to drop our luggage at the ship and see how busy it was in the cruise terminal and go back into town if necessary. However we were given a coloured card and had to wait just 20 minutes before we called and we were on board just after 12.30. Very impressed! This was my first P & O cruise and the first time in a balcony but my sister has been on the Ventura several times; always in a balcony. We wandered around the ship for a while so I could get my bearings...never did manage that! I always seemed to end up heading the wrong way or on the wrong deck! Everything was very clean. There were a few signs of wear and tear but given the number of passengers she must have carried since her maiden voyage that is not surprising. Most importantly - all the ladies toilets were working and were always clean. Occasionally one of the lifts would be u/s but the engineers seemed to get them sorted quite quickly. Cabins were available from about 2.30. Our cabin A640 was very good. Clean and spacious. No noise issues. The Air-con worked well. The bed was very comfortable. The fridge didn't seem to get very cold and the shower didn't work properly and the TV was on a go-slow. These were just minor niggles which had we been staying longer than 2 nights we would have reported. Although the weather was not the best it was nice to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air. Muster was about 4 pm and then we were sailing out of a damp Southampton. According to a notice at the reception the ship was full. It did seem busy but not over crowded. There were a lot of hen parties dressed as sailors and several stag parties dressed as women....the ones in the tutus were particularly attractive! The atmosphere was very friendly and lively. The bars were buzzing and the entertainment was very good. The drinks were pub prices and there was a great choice of cocktails for between £5 and £6. We had freedom dining and were given a pager so we could have a drink while waiting for a table. The food in the MDR was all right. Not really special but not bad either. We had breakfast in the MDR on the Sunday morning. Very small portions and the hardest toast I have ever had. The food in the buffet was better than other cruise lines that I have been on. Sometimes not quite as hot as I might like but it all tasted fine. We also used room service one evening which was quite quick. We had booked an excursion to Bruges. Our guide was very informative. Everyone was given a little receiver and earpiece so she could communicate with the whole group not just the few who were standing near to her. I wish all excursion providers used the whisper system. We had an interesting walking tour followed by a little trip on the canal and free time to go shopping. I know Bruges is easy to DIY but as it was our first visit we like the security of organised tours. I think we left several passengers behind in Zeebrugge. Several names were called a few times and we were late departing but I didn't see anyone making a mad dash for the ship. Normally we enjoy the formal night experience but as we had two to look forward to on the second cruise and we were feeling tired we decided to stay in the cabin and order room service. This is where having the balcony cabin was a real bonus. Being able to enjoy the fresh air and look out for other ships etc made a very pleasant change. We had conflicting information regarding our change of cabin procedure. Twice we were told at reception we could stay until 10 am then someone would assist with the move. However our cabin steward informed us we would need to be out by 8 am so he could clean the cabin for the next guests but our new cabin would be available by 10.30. We left everything hanging up and repacked the things that were in drawers etc and went for breakfast. We changed our cruise cards at reception and at 10.30 we went to our new cabin. All our things were there so we just put our valuables in the safe. Very smooth. We disembarked via the crew's exit and walked past a very long queue of people waiting for taxis. According to the taxi marshal this is the norm for the short cruises as there is no staggered disembarkation as most people are carrying their own bags. We spent about an hour ashore and took advantage of P & O's alcohol policy and bought a couple of bottles of wine for drinking in the cabin. I enjoyed this mini cruise. It was good value for money and would certainly cruise on the Ventura again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We chose this cruise to see parts of the British Isles we had not visted before. This objective was achieved, allbeit somewhat briefly.... This was our third trip on Oriana, which, despite getting "tired" in places (refit due ... Read More
We chose this cruise to see parts of the British Isles we had not visted before. This objective was achieved, allbeit somewhat briefly.... This was our third trip on Oriana, which, despite getting "tired" in places (refit due in November) still continues to give excellent service in food, and clean comfortable accomodation.(just hope the refit cures the rattles & creaks). All of the staff that we encountered were friendly and helpful. There were however a few issues that marred our experience this time...... enough to make us seriously question any future cruising..... The least serious of these (which would not in itself deter future trips) was the slightly too high level of audio in both Theater Royal and Pacific Lounge. More seriously ...... Our enjoyment of the decks Aft was continuosly ruined by YOUR POLICY regarding the permission of smoking. It is not possible to find a position free of the POLLUTION of cigarette smoke due to the natural eddy currents of the wind. A serious suggestion to solve this problem (possibly being able to be implemented during the refit ?)........... Provide a purpose built comfortable "smoking shelter" on one of the highest decks, at the base of the funnel, containing an efficient extraction system that routes foul air into the funnel....... Bann smoking entirely in ALL other areas onboard. It is appreciated that certain factors of Shore Excursions are beyond the control of P&O organisers.... e.g. Weather, traffic jams/incidents etc.... however, IN DEPTH EXPERIENCE on the part of the organisers SHOULD indicate where problems are most likely to arise. One of the most obvious is the need, particularly in the elderly, to relieve oneself regularly. If availability of facillities and timings are made crystal clear at the outset, preferably in each tour description before booking, your customers can make a more informed decision. With regard to timings in general.......Some tours seem to leave very little time to explore the destinations, (particularly when circumstances such as late arrival in port, have already delayed the start of the tour....e.g. Dublin !!... reducing its value for money). One part of the opperation that seems to soak up a lot of time (often at the most "critical moment" of the journey) is that of exiting the coach. Most modern coaches are fitted with a side door......... that door is fitted for a purpose!........ If, as suggested by some, "Health & Safety" rules prevent their use, then the onus for their safe use should be placed upon the user, not the opperator. This should be made abundantly clear!........If it is simply not possible to open a side door, then the guide or the driver should direct passengers to exit in an orderly fashion, starting with those seated at the rear. This would also give him more time to assist the disabled seated at the front. Please P&O.... make your Shore Excursions a little more refined experience! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We had read the recent reviews of Oriana as we always do prior to a cruise. We can assure readers that there is no need to worry about a cruise on Oriana. Although older , we loved her .The cabins are a bit small, but the restaurants , ... Read More
We had read the recent reviews of Oriana as we always do prior to a cruise. We can assure readers that there is no need to worry about a cruise on Oriana. Although older , we loved her .The cabins are a bit small, but the restaurants , bars and facilities are well designed and welcoming. All the staff are lovely and the food was exceptional in all the venues. We particularly liked Al Fresco and Sindhu, but there was really no need to leave the main dining room which was excellent. . We ae not big fans of the Headliner style show and the one or two shows we saw were very dated . However the guest entertainers have really improved, including Bernie Flint who was excellent along with Ukebox, and the guest speaker Diane Simpson was good.. This would have been a five star review but for the debacle that was the "overnight " visit to Dublin. We, and many others we spoke to understood this to mean an afternoon arrival in Dublin, followed by a full day or at least a half day the next day. We had planned to go to Phoenix Park this time, as we had an overnight visit with Fred Olsen in May and had done the sights. It was only on board that we found out that we were docking at 2.30 pm, which actually became three o'clock by the time the ship was set up for disembarkation. Those on tours were allowed off first and so general passengers did not leave until at least 3.30, pm if they had bothered to queue from about 2 o'clock in the restaurant. We watched the shuttle buses fill up slowly, as, even though there was a late arrival P&O insisted on scanning people's cruise cards to charge them £5 each way to travel in to Dublin which held up the process. By 4 o'clock we decided to try our luck and went to the restaurant to obtain a ticket , knowing that the eight shuttle buses had now left there were no more buses. There were at least 150 people still waiting. We gave up at this point. The ship left at 1 o'clock in the morning , the next day being a day at sea. We believe this to be very misleading. Beware any trip advertised as overnight I would suggest. ! ' Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This was an around Britain no fly cruise with local pick-up and drop-offs. The coach taking us to the port was on time and we went straight on board with very little delay.The cabin had plenty of storage space and was adequate.The meals ... Read More
This was an around Britain no fly cruise with local pick-up and drop-offs. The coach taking us to the port was on time and we went straight on board with very little delay.The cabin had plenty of storage space and was adequate.The meals were of the usual high standard and service was friendly and efficient. Bar prices were about the same as in a pub but some of the prices in the shops were quite high. The day trips seemed a bit pricey, and although you got a 5% discount if you booked more than 5 days in advance this wasn't very clear on the receipt. On the day we went to Dublin we did not moor up until after 2pm and by the time we had got to the city centre it was 4pm. Traffic was terrible due to road works and the buses being on strike. All in all a pleasant trip Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This was a wonderfully exciting itinerary taking in Belfast, Stornoway in the Western Isles of Scotland, 3 ports in Iceland, Shetland and Orkney. A rare chance to turn right out of Southampton and head for the Celtic Sea, lovely views of ... Read More
This was a wonderfully exciting itinerary taking in Belfast, Stornoway in the Western Isles of Scotland, 3 ports in Iceland, Shetland and Orkney. A rare chance to turn right out of Southampton and head for the Celtic Sea, lovely views of the Cornish coast bathed in sunlight. Embarkation was amazing we arrived at our allotted time (please see your e ticket and take careful note) we went straight to check in , from there to security and we were onboard within 30 mins with our cases outside our rooms. P and O prioritises those who arrive at the time on their ticket - so no waiting around. We left our car with the capable and friendly staff at CPS. Our Cabin C10 was an inside double on Canada deck, ample storage space etc - perfectly adequate for the price paid, the extra added advantage is the forward balcony accessed 10 steps away at the end of the corridor - down side is excessive movement in heavy seas being at the front of the vessel, if prone to seasickness bring Kwells or reception have prescription strength sea sickness pills. Arcadia is an Adults only ship - there was a good mix of ages - we are under 40 and this was our 15th cruise. Our dinner table was amazing - we were a table of 6 - we had requested a 2 but I am so happy we had our dinner companions and new friends -two of whom were solo travellers ( how P and O successfully match table companions is amazing) . We were allocated a window table at the aft end of the Meridian restaurant lower and we as usual requested first sitting - we prefer to eat at 6.30 its usually around 8pm when we leave the restaurant. KK and Chris our waiters were as ever amazing ! I am a difficult eater and KK selected great choices when I couldn't make up my mind. Most days there were three "P and O Favourites" on the menu most evenings - prawn cocktail, sirloin steak with béarnaise sauce and bread and butter pudding. Food is modern british classics generally geared for the UK market. The weather was not the greatest but this was northern Europe at the end of the season - still long days but choppy seas and fairly inclement weather - tender operations had to be stopped at the call at Stornoway. Iceland is an amazing destination - my advice would be use Grayline Iceland for your Golden Circle tours or similar - so be aware Iceland is VERY expensive - pre book all your activities to make your budget and your time ashore go further. Eat well at the ship before going ashore- a Panini and water at one of the waterfalls was over £12.00 - the Icelandic knitted jumpers etc were over £100.00 Whales are in abundance to watch from the ship on the Fjord leading toe Akeuri, we saw over 14 whales on the approach in the early morning - make the effort to hit the open decks. The Myvatn Mineral baths is a great alternative to the Blue Lagoon - we went on and P and O excursion - we didn't really have enough time to enjoy it long enough but it was the only way to get there - being about 2 hours from the Berth. Shetland was beautiful - the sun shone for us and we went on an excursion to see Carole's Ponies (as seen on the Island Parish) then ate fish and chips in the sun - again it was a tender port but p and o laid on hot drinks etc on the quayside (was this because the Noble Caledonian Vessel was tied up alongside??? ) Do make an effort and get out on an excursion on these Scottish islands its well worth it and the local guides are amazing - our guide at Kirkwall on Orkney had been asleep in her bed when HMS Royal Oak was torpedoed in world war 2! The ladies craft stalls in the terminal building at Kirkwall are a great place to do your gift shopping. Highland Park Distillery worth a visit. we were also treated to a pipe band as we sailed away from Orkney. P and O's own entertainment is becoming somewhat samey for regular customers - we had Roy Walker of catchphrase fame, The Opera Boys and Electra - some of the Headiners singing left pitch to be desired!! Guest speakers were not really relevant to the cruise - well I suppose one of the royal yachtsman talking about royal yacht brittania was a tenuous connection as the royal family took an annual western isles cruise. Arcadia cough was audible in the crows nest on the last see day but on the whole a good standard of health and hygiene was maintained. The buffet was not too inspiring but neptunes grill made a great lunch alternative. our last sea day was so rough that the headliners show had to be cancelled. The Screeening Room showed a great range of up to date movies. On the whole a great cruise on Arcadia which all ran to plan. Many many repeat customers who are loyal to P and O and the Arcadia. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Had a lovely cruise on Brittania. Had been a little worried after reading reviews but can't see what people get to complain about. Cabin was lovely - balcony was, as reported, small but we easily got 4 people on for pre dinner drinks. ... Read More
Had a lovely cruise on Brittania. Had been a little worried after reading reviews but can't see what people get to complain about. Cabin was lovely - balcony was, as reported, small but we easily got 4 people on for pre dinner drinks. P&O one of the few companies that allow you to bring on your own drinks. Quite handy to pick up the local wines in the various ports. Cabin steward was very attentive but unobtrusive which was great. Didn't go to any of the select restaurants as we found the food in the main dining room very good. Buffet for breakfast and lunch was also nice. We enjoyed the entertainment too - a good variety to suit everyone. We always got seats at the shows apart from one night in the Live Lounge when we arrived around 20 minutes after the show had started. Service was excellent and efficient although when dining at tables for 6-8 it could occasionally be a little slow but as we were on holiday and relaxing this was not really a big issue. Never had to wait long to be served drinks at any of the venues either by day or night. At one of the ports (La Rochelle) the queue for the free shuttle into town was a bit excessive. The tender process, although efficient, was annoying as we had to wait a while as we weren't on one of the organised trips. However our friends said it was much quicker than a previous tender they had used. Generally a great cruise and we never felt as if we were on a cruise with over 3500 others ( apart from aforementioned queue at La Rocehlle). Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
After 25 or so cruises mainly on RCI , NCL and Celebrity. This was our first P & O cruise. We chose the cruise because we were taking our 8 year old grandson on holiday and the dates fitted with other family commitments. I ... Read More
After 25 or so cruises mainly on RCI , NCL and Celebrity. This was our first P & O cruise. We chose the cruise because we were taking our 8 year old grandson on holiday and the dates fitted with other family commitments. I initially wasn't best pleased to find that we would be allocated a check in time and was unable to arrived at a time to suit our commitments and on departures day. However we were allocated 1300 and arrived at 1210 and were processed almost immediately, so that gripe was soon over and forgotten. I'm not sure I would have been so forgiving if we had been allocated 1500 and found ourselves with 3 hours to kill after having to check out of the Premier Inn Southampton at 1200. Ventura is a very nice ship, well kept and cared for, with some very pleasant public areas to suit all tastes ,we particularly like a quiet drink in the evening and are not big on entertainment so were very happy to find some nice quiet bars with background music. Our cabin was an outside cabin on deck 5 and I have to praise P & O and on its unique design with a large walk in wardrobe area cleverly separated from the main sleeping area . It was kept spotless by our cabin attendant, who each night lowered the overhead bunk to accommodate our Grandson. The food was, in the main very good and plentiful. Every evenings we ate early in the main dining room which allowed us to have a drink after dinner, whilst our grandson was entertained at the Children's Club. Our waiters in the MDR were excellent, probably some of the best we have experienced , they catered for our grandson from the children's menu, always finding him an extra treat at the end of each meal . The Children's Club and its staff just surpassed all expectations there were events and activities for all ages and our grandson just loved it. There are just a couple of adverse comments I have to make, firstly, apart from our waiters in the MDR and our cabin attendant who dealt with us personally, other staff just didn't seem happy, bar waiters just waited and if you passed housekeeping staff in corridors there was no smile or good morning, afternoon or whatever , however they all did their job and we were certainly not looking for friends for life but a little more interaction would do wonders from a customer service point of view , possibly we've just been used to better interaction on other cruise lines. Secondly there seemed to be times, especially during the daytime where there was little of no staff, especially in outdoor public areas, again not a huge problem as I'm not adverse to going to the bar to buy a drink but even then there was quite a wait to get served. Maybe these two points are relative to each other and P & O need to rethink their staffing strategies. One thing I don't normally relish are Formal Evenings, after 25 cruises they just seem to have lost their magic, which is one reason we particularly like NCL. However I bit the bullet took my black suit and actually enjoyed the Formal Evenings and it was good to see that P & O did their best to enforce the dress code where applicable, two formal nights on a 7 Night cruise was however quite enough for me. We didn't use any of the speciality restaurants, we very rarely bother with them unless they are so desperate for custom and offer discounts to get you through the door. We don't buy photographs as we have a perfectly good camera of our own , the nice thing about P & O was that staff weren't constantly in you face trying to sell speciality restaurants and a polite, "no" to the photographers and they went away. Prices on board were , we felt acceptable and certainly comparable to most four star European hotel or resort on land and 18% was not automatically added for a tip. We are not at all adverse to paying gratuities and prefer them to added our final cruise bill thereby prepaying before departure. However this facility is not available on P & O so a very reasonable £37.50 pp gratuity was added to our on board account and we certainly didn't feel the need to remove it and the good thing on P & O is that this was only payable by adult passenger One event that impressed us was the Sail Away parties held on departure from every port, these were amazing the entertainment staff worked hard to ensure their success and it certainly worked, well done P & O on that score. Overall a very nice cruise and we will certainly consider using P & O again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This was my first time with P&O, chosen because of a great last minute deal. I have cruised many times with my favourites being Cunard and Celebrity, so I was nervous about this cruise. It depends what you are looking for and if ... Read More
This was my first time with P&O, chosen because of a great last minute deal. I have cruised many times with my favourites being Cunard and Celebrity, so I was nervous about this cruise. It depends what you are looking for and if it's value for money then you can't go wrong We had a superior delulxe balcony cabin, same size as Cunard Princess suite on Victoria, we were greeted with a bottle of genuine Champagne and chocolates, and a very good sized cabin. The food was very good, but as we had such a good deal we booked Epicurean one evening and the food was amazing, giving Cunard and Celebrity select dining a run for thier money. I enjoy the casinos on board ships, and have never been so well looked after by the casino staff as I was on this cruise, they were first class, as were all the bar staff. The wine and all other drinks were very fairly priced and I never felt I was being over charged. I have booked another cruise with P&O as I was very impressed with most things, I was not sure about being on an all Brits cruise but most of the passengers I met were so friendly. The only negatives I could say are long check in times, and you only get bathrobes in superior balcony state rooms or suites. I am very much looking forward to my next cruise on Azura, not so much a real luxury cruise, but a good deal with everything you could need........ and dare I say the most handsome captain at sea! We always felt safe and well looked after, what more could you want ? Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
My and my husband loved this cruise, we sailed to Vigo, Lisbon, Oporto and Cherbourg. The only down point I had of this cruise was the size of the ship but that it personal choice nothing else, the food was amazing, couldn't fault the ... Read More
My and my husband loved this cruise, we sailed to Vigo, Lisbon, Oporto and Cherbourg. The only down point I had of this cruise was the size of the ship but that it personal choice nothing else, the food was amazing, couldn't fault the service of any of the crew. Embarkation was nice and smooth so was disembarkation, we had an inside cabin which was spacious, the restaurants never got busy always had somewhere to sit and eat, the entertainment was very good, we never actually got to Cherbourg as there was a storm and the Captain didn't want to risk taking the ship into port so unfortunately on the last day we spent it on the English Channel. Overall I would book with P&O again but maybe on one of their smaller ships, I did miss the personal touch, like not having the same waiter of the same bar person, Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This was my first cruise and I was travelling alone, I wanted to try cruising without committing to a) too much time on board or b) a really expensive, lengthy cruise just in case cruising wasn't for me. Admittedly my expectations ... Read More
This was my first cruise and I was travelling alone, I wanted to try cruising without committing to a) too much time on board or b) a really expensive, lengthy cruise just in case cruising wasn't for me. Admittedly my expectations were mixed having heard good and bad reports about both P&O and Arcadia herself. I now think that some reviews were maybe a little harsh, or some people got very unlucky! I took the Intercruises/Cruise Connect coach service advised by P&O from Nottingham to Southampton on embarkation day. The bonus of using this service meant that embarkation cards were given to us on the coach. By the time I had perched on a seat and filled in my health declaration our embarkation card colour and letter was being called. I felt a bit bad for the people who had clearly watched me walk in, sit down and almost immediately get called up for check-in! Check-in was fast and efficient. The lady at the desk was friendly but got the job done quickly and I progressed through security with no issues and straight on the ship. Having managed to avoid the photographer I found my way to my cabin. It would be helpful to have a sign as you embark telling you which deck you are embarking onto but this was a minor niggle, and would really only be necessary at the start of the cruise as the ship is easy to navigate once you have got your orientation. The cabin was larger than I expected, and within minutes of my arrival my cabin steward came to introduce himself with a card confirming my dining arrangements. I will agree with previous reviews at this point that my cabin was very tired. There were some historic marks on the sheets (looked like ink), the sofa/sofa bed sank a little when I sat on it, and the bathroom was very tired with cracks in the floor and towels that had lost their fluffiness. I looked past this as much as possible, after all I was really only sleeping in there. It was an inside cabin, so there was no need to spend time in there to look at the view! There was a sailaway party on the first evening, but with it being a Winter cruise it lacked some of the care free sunshine qualities that I imagine would be a real excitement on summer cruises. The roof was over the pool which would be open in better conditions and the warmth of the people had condensated the windows so it wasn't really possible to see that we were moving! The entertainment team did their best to extract some enthusiasm, as did the photographers, but I think these parties work better on longer, sunnier cruises! After a wander around the ship, a quick shower and a change of clothes I headed to dinner at the Meridian Restaurant. I was on freedom dining and had heard horror stories of people waiting for hours to be seated, so I went a little earlier than I would normally eat. I was seated immediately, completing a table of 8 that was a mix of couples and other solo travellers who were all very friendly. As I was the last to be seated the food order was promptly taken and although I wasn't blown away by the choice of food, it was very tasty and very nicely presented. The wait staff were attentive but not instrusive and it never took long to get 8 plates for each course to the table. Day 1 was a sea day so I took the opportunity of walking the three laps of the prom deck to get a mile under my belt, and got to witness some lovely rainbows disappearing into the sea. After this it was time to warm up with a coffee in the crows nest while perusing the daily Horizon and planning the rest of the day. After heading up to the Belvedere for a small salad for lunch I attended a session in the Casino where one of the casino staff talked us through all of the tables as an introduction to the games on board. I particularly enjoyed a taster of the 3 card poker. Then I sat in the Piano Bar with a drink and a book for a couple of hours. As I had planned excursions for all three port days I decided that today would be my best opportunity for afternoon tea. While I was impressed with the quality of what I was served, the staff seemed underprepared for the numbers of people that turned up. Some tables were already set with cakes while others weren't, some tables got sandwiches and tea first while we started with crumpets and teacakes, which seemed a little out of sequence, but I was sharing a table with people who were light hearted and we laughed about it all eventually. A little disappointing though. Another lovely dinner for black tie night, and I made it to the show tonight too. Enjoyable, but nothing to write home about. Day 2 and I was up early for a buffet breakfast after watching the ship dock in Amsterdam. In the morning I walked into Amsterdam centre which was a mere ten minutes from the ship, after blasting around the main sites of interest I headed back to the ship for a quick bite to eat before my afternoon excursion to see some windmills and cheesemaking in the Dutch countryside. It was nice to be away from the hustle and bustle for a few hours, and the tour guide was really knowledgeable and informative. Tonight I decided to dine alone for a bit of peace and quiet after a busy day and was touched that the drinks waitress took a few minutes to chat to me during a busy shift. The show tonight was a comedian, and after hearing a fellow passenger complaining most of the afternoon about cruise comedians, I was impressed by him (all of the 'usual' cruise jokes that the grumpy lady predicted were none existent!). Day 3 and I woke to watch us docking in Zeebrugge. I made the most of a dry morning by looking at the view from the sun deck and had a leisurely breakfast in the Meridian before taking another trip to Damme, a small but pretty village, a bus trip around the edge of Bruges taking in the windmills and a chocolate shop, and Loppem castle, a small but beautiful castle on the outskirts of Bruges. Back to the ship for a chill, shower and change before dinner and by far the best show of the cruise, a four piece male harmony group called Troubadour. They were so good in fact that I went to both shows, and was duly impressed both times. At the second show I met a group of fun-loving girls who found out that I was cruising alone and kindly asked if I wanted to join them for the rest of the evening, however I politely declined as I needed a good nights sleep before... Day 4 and again another early dock into Le Havre. Today I had to be off the ship as soon as possible to take a full day trip to Paris. It was a long coach trip but this allowed most of us to sleep! The tour guide was friendly again and pointed out some local sights as we left Le Havre and then left us to sleep! On arriving in Paris, our amazing coach driver negotiated his way around the sights for us, including driving through the very narrow arches at the Louvre. Around 1.30 we stopped at Notre Dame and we had a couple of hours of time to wander round and get something to eat. I don't think I made the most of the time in Paris, but that is entirely my fault! After boarding the coach again we made a quick stop at the Eiffel Tower for some last minute pictures as the light began to fade. On the way out of Paris we again passed some more impressive sights, and a smooth, speedy coach trip back to the ship. Due to the nature of the excursion I knew we would be some of the last on board but in fact our coach was THE last one to return, so almost as soon as we got back on board it was time to set sail again. As I had had a long day and it was getting late, I decided to eat in the Belvedere for the first time in the evening. It was an Asian themed night which I was looking forward to but the queue seemed to move slowly so even though the food looked good and tasted good, by the time I got to it, most of the food was cold. I decided to skip the show tonight and pack so that I was ready for disembarkation in the morning. Overnight there was a smooth crossing back to Southampton, and disembarkation went without a hitch. I would recommend to anyone to get to your disembarkation lounge early. My lounge time was 9am but I was there from around 8.15 as I had an early breakfast and couldn't return to my cabin after 8am. By 8.30 the officer in charge of our lounge was disembarking me and the other early birds. By 9am I had found my luggage and was on my coach. The coach trip back was smooth and fast as I was the second stop. I would highly recommend the coach connections if you don't fancy driving to Southampton. It was convenient, the drivers were friendly, and everything ran to time. All of the staff that I came across in passing were very friendly, the bar staff in particular. I would cruise with P&O again, but maybe on a bigger, newer ship. My parents have always spoken highly of their Caribbean cruise on Azura a couple of years ago. If P&O want to keep Arcadia in commission, I would highly recommend spending money renovating the cabins, and it would be nice to have a more impressive atrium area - this was a little underwhelming. I'm already booked to cruise again next Summer on the Celebrity Reflection, so it will be interesting to compare the two - even though I know Reflection is a much newer ship. On the whole this was a good introduction to cruising, but I don't think I could have survived more than 7 nights on this ship, there just wasn't enough to do. Maybe in Summer when the weather is good and the outdoor pool and sun decks are more useable it would be more bearable, but in Winter there just isn't enough to do on this 'mid-sized' ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
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