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99 P&O Cruises Europe Cruise Reviews

This is our seventh cruise having used thompson, celebrity, Holland America, and princess in the past and the first year we have felt the need to contribute to the reviews on cruise critic. We were booked onto a 12 night cruise on the ... Read More
This is our seventh cruise having used thompson, celebrity, Holland America, and princess in the past and the first year we have felt the need to contribute to the reviews on cruise critic. We were booked onto a 12 night cruise on the Britannia departing from Southampton ocean terminal. The cruise would visit Madeira, La Palma, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and Lisbon. We were travelling with two adults and a 19 year old. We travelled down to Southampton and parked in a private driveway we have used before and from yourparkingspace website online where we pay for parking a lot cheaper than the cruise parking and then get a lift to the terminal and back. Check in for us was swift, we joined the queue for the check in and were through security quickly this was because we were given a black fast track card for check in at time of arrival (for a reason unknown to us) however the alternative to this was being given coloured numbered cards where each number was slowly called out as passengers waited to check in. We had six sea days altogether in the cruise. We had no concerns about this before the cruise, such a large ship after all and the company's flagship, we have enjoyed a wide variety of activities in the past and kept very busy on sea days. Each evening when we received our newspaper in the cabins we were quite disappointed, the schedule looked rather full- quite encouraging at first sight however the large majority of activities were paid for. eg. spa treatments advertised as an activity, gym activities paid for. It was a real struggle to find things to do. Yes there were a fair few quizzes in a day. There were two guest speakers on the cruise. These talks were not held in the theatre like on other ships. They were held in the live lounge which did not have enough seats for the amount of people that were in attendance. We did not feel that there were enough enrichment activities or classes. The library was well stocked with new books in. The buffet mainly consisted of Asian food. It was quite hard to find a table to sit down and eat our food at times. A lot of the staff seemed miserable in the restaurants. The cabin staff kept the room clean. Basically I feel that the ship has too many people for the space that is available. I have never been on a cruise where some many staff members have tried to sell our family things such as a pair of insoles for over one hundred pounds, restaurants with cover charges, entertainment for twenty two pounds. We went to an event called the food and beverage show case which we thought would be lots of demonstrations but it was basically a big sales pitch for the paid restaurant. In the restaurants the lights need replacing in various areas. The shore excursions were good particularly the gardens of the valley which consisted of three very good gardens and the national park in Tenerife was good. we also visited the silk museum and a hotel in La palma. this was a very good tour and worth the money. My daughter enjoyed the kids and teens tea which was well stocked. Here she could get free ice cream and jelly. Disembarkation was a long process. we had to be out of the cabin at 8a.m but we could not leave the ship until 10.30 a.m. This cruise is not ideal for a nineteen year old. There is very little to do for this age group. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
we always fly long haul and deciced to try a holiday without flying and driving from kent to southampton and beginning our holiday within 4 hours seemed like a good idea, on arival and seeing the Britania was amazing,(a hotel complex ... Read More
we always fly long haul and deciced to try a holiday without flying and driving from kent to southampton and beginning our holiday within 4 hours seemed like a good idea, on arival and seeing the Britania was amazing,(a hotel complex on water ,wow, the ship was massive , it was clean and decorated very nicely,the staff were very nice and very helpful.the cabin was small but very nice. thats where it ends as a good holiday. 3 days at sea was very tedious and very expensive as all you could do was either drink, drink prices ok the trouble was we didnt want to drink in the day time, and we were coffied out by lunchtime the pool areas were very busy and finding a sun bed was almost impossible the food in the resturants was sub standered , and the buffet was limited ,you couldnt get a freshly cooked fried egg (just a uniformed rubbery excuse for one .no freshly cooked toast (cold /dry and snapped when applying butter. my wife wenyt down with NOROVIRUS BEING OR ATTEMPTING TO BE SICK AROUND 20 PLUS TIMES ,We called the doctor who came and charged us almost £60.00, we were told by the doctor in a very nonchelentl way that this sort of thing was normal and expected on a cruise !!! this was not told to us by Thomas Cook when booking we didnt get our room cleaned properly for three days of asking,so we had to stay in a room that smelled of vomit. my wife was quarinteened to our room for 2 days, over all very dissapointed. speakin to other passengers who said and kept repeatin (dont let this p&o cruise put you off because there is a lot better out thereand the the general consensus was that p&o britania was probably not the best choice to start the cruising experience. It has put us off for life ,. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Our First Cruise. Too many people on board, including lots of children,wheelchairs,scooters and walking frames. This made the daytime dining chaos! The evening meals were waiter served. Slow and average.Embarkation slow, disembarkation ... Read More
Our First Cruise. Too many people on board, including lots of children,wheelchairs,scooters and walking frames. This made the daytime dining chaos! The evening meals were waiter served. Slow and average.Embarkation slow, disembarkation chaos.The cabin was nice, the entertainment limited and you had to be in the theater at least 30 mins b4 the show to get a seat. Daytime facilities limited, Table tennis [which i play] 0/10. Table/net knackered! Table in a windy ,dangerous position. On a ship this size,carnt they provide a better facility? We didnt use the shore excursions,as they were expensive,and we prefer to do our own thing. The service on board was fine, drinks expensive, £2.75 for a small coke. Would definatly not go on this ship again, but may try another cruise, but its a must ti fly!! Too many days at sea, cold/windy crossing the bay of Biscay. Around the pools /Jacuzzi in the daytime were over crowded, and noisy. Think carefully before going on this cruise!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Not sure very tired ship and over worked staff Very tired ship, the entertainment was average, the Headliners singers were appalling had to leave the show as we couldn't stand the racket ( first time ever ) good dancers tho. ... Read More
Not sure very tired ship and over worked staff Very tired ship, the entertainment was average, the Headliners singers were appalling had to leave the show as we couldn't stand the racket ( first time ever ) good dancers tho. The food was excellent so were the cabin staff. All the crew were very polite and helpful. The daytime entertainment was totalling boring. Most of the passengers were very old grumpy and rude....They should rename the company to O P cruises Old People Cruises. Overpriced to say the least, Butlins on the sea, the seating in the entertainments areas all lean forward and are very uncomfortable ( Worn Out ) if you are a smoking you are treated as a 3rd rate passenger, The water in the jacuzzi was tepid and hardly used by people. The casino management didn't like paying out winnings and made you feel like you were on a fiddle our worst casino ever. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
My wife chose this cruise and it has been 6 years since we were last on the Ventura. The Waterside buffet area is badly in need of a refit with dirty seats, split seams on some of the upholstery and badly chipped paint work in many areas. ... Read More
My wife chose this cruise and it has been 6 years since we were last on the Ventura. The Waterside buffet area is badly in need of a refit with dirty seats, split seams on some of the upholstery and badly chipped paint work in many areas. The food throughout the ship could only be rated as OK, smaller portions than previously, barely warm, (breakfast in the Beach House was regularly cold), several of my 'always available' favourites taken off the menu. Vegetables were at one time served separately but now just served on the plate. The cabin and waiting staff were as good as ever. Sun beds were abused as is always the case by people leaving towels on them while they went off for two or three hours, despite warnings that reserved beds reserved would be monitored but this was not enforced, leaving passengers always looking for vacant sun beds. Particularly annoying was moving the evening dancing and dance lessons to the postage stamp sized dance floor in the atrium. This floor was not big enough to accommodate all of those who wanted to take part and we spoke to several people who wanted to attend the dances but didn't bother because of lack of dancing space. Also not enough seating in the atrium for those who did attend the dances. Ironically the Costa Coffee next to the dance floor had vacant seats most of the time but there was a notice advising that you were not allowed to occupy these seats unless you purchased a drink. After going on 9 or 10 P&O cruises I believe that they have become a very penny pinching outfit and I will not be travelling with P&O again for some considerable time. For me the best part of this cruise was the coach journey back home Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
I'm going to try to offer a fair and realistic account of our cruise, always mindful of the fact that cost cutting has resulted in a cruise costing around £60 PPPN. We have cruised 7 times previously, of which one was aboard ... Read More
I'm going to try to offer a fair and realistic account of our cruise, always mindful of the fact that cost cutting has resulted in a cruise costing around £60 PPPN. We have cruised 7 times previously, of which one was aboard P&O Arcadia, and this ship, the Oceana exactly two years ago. We were lucky with our parking, as we'd paid in advance for parking and shuttle transfer in Southampton, blissfully unaware that the company had folded, and that the service and booking was to be honored by a new company, so crisis averted there! Embarkation was speedy, polished and professional, as was the baggage arrival to our cabin...deck 10, B512. Our steward was friendly enough to my wife, but totally ignored me throughout the cruise to the point where I felt invisible. Staff targeted the ladies throughout, believing them to be solely responsible for the booking and gratuities. I believe in equality, and this annoyed me no end. The cabin and the ship as a whole was clean, tidy, and as it was the last time we sailed, although the refit next year will be a wise and timely move. Sadly though, standards have dropped dramatically since our last cruise. Gone are the chocolate feasts, end of cruise crew and staff farewell show, and although the Headliners troupe are still a joy to see, three of the shows were the same as the ones we saw two years ago...very disappointed. The rest of the entertainment revolved around one-person acts (pianist, flutist, male vocalist, female vocalist), and two dramatically unfunny comedians, and the usual half-hour quizzes, lectures, endless dance classes, Spanish language basics etc etc. We struggled to entertain ourselves throughout, and the sea days seemed to last an eternity. The food...oh boy, the food. Very good a couple of years ago, but now the portions are tiny, never more than lukewarm or cold, very little variety, and no longer the highlight of the day. We spent 3 nights in Le Jardin, a Marco Pierre White inspired premium dining option, very reasonably priced at £7.50 per person, and truly superb food. Cost cutting continued, with obviously powdered orange juice, canned veg at times, custard made with water, and the buffet breakfast featured poached eggs that would bounce higher than a superball. We met some really nice people onboard, and became good friends with more than a few, but pigheaded, arrogant and bullish people abounded, barging in front of us, pushing in front of queues, and the usual assortment of lower-middle classes with delusions of grandeur! Thankfully no real high pressure up-selling (except photographers determined to make you pose for photos their way. The constantly ramped-up dry heat around lunchtime and evenings in an attempt to get the bar tills ringing was at times unbearable, and the aircon in our cabin was broken, so no real escape apart from a walk on deck. Drinks:- A pint of drought lager starts from £3.90, a bottle of Coke £2.65, and a bottle of Chardonnay (they've discontinued the good value caraffes now) in the main dining room will start from £17.99 + service charge. Ships shops varied from acceptible to excessive (£62 for a polo shirt, £9.75 for a Toblerone) In the disco (Le Club) all drinks carry a 30% surcharge. Why? We visited Cadiz, Lisbon, Casablanca, Tangier and Gibraltar, with a very short stay in dock in Lisbon, and only 4 hours in Gibraltar (more cost-cutting) The old saying of 'you get what you pay for' has never been so apt, and sadly this will be our last P&O cruise, until they step up to the plate and stop relying on goodwill and the company brand reputation of old. Nothing bad or terrible, but I like to remember our holidays as something more than below average Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Just back from Iberian cruise on Ventura. Having had a not very pleasant experience a few years ago with P and O we have been trying other cruise lines with very good result, but we decided to venture back to see how things had changed. ... Read More
Just back from Iberian cruise on Ventura. Having had a not very pleasant experience a few years ago with P and O we have been trying other cruise lines with very good result, but we decided to venture back to see how things had changed. Embarkation went much as normal big queue at Southampton, all a bit late following a deep clean due to Noro. As usual everyone seemed to be ticking the no boxes on the health questionnaire, it seems to be a waste of time as no one will admit to feeling ill and missing the cruise; it would be better to strip us all off and send us through a sheep dip. We were on the ship after about an hour so not too bad, the ship itself looked quite drab and "beige" following experiences on other lines. I was expecting better after the refit. We soon realised once on board that the ship was still under red alert and this does disadvantage you in many ways. The question ever one was asking was if they have done a deep clean why are we still under red alert, we can't go near any food, we can't touch anything in the shops and meal times feels like school dinners when you have to ask the teacher for salt and pepper and they come in paper packets. The cabin was a superior deluxe balcony cabin, again it looked a bit drab with various stains on the carpet and walls and a lot of mould round the bath but in general it was clean and dusted. There was plenty of hanging space so we got busy unpacking. The champagne and chocolates were in the room and made for a good start. The cabin has a bath with shower over it though the shower is no more than a dribble, and you had to move about just to get wet. I will elaborate on cabin issues later. We were greeted with the sight of people with masks and gowns going into the suite next to ours, it was later we found out that they were under isolation; why were we not informed then we could take extra precautions. It was l a few days later that we found out one of the children was sea sick and the medical staff had over reacted. The food in the MDR was good, plenty of choice, well presented and well served. Our waiters were very good. I can't understand why some reports say the staff are surly, they are trained to be distant until you break the ice with them because some people don't want to have anything other than being served. Chat and laugh with them and they will respond. The food in the buffet was very much the same every day, it was served to you by staff up until the last 2 days. The food area is very small compared with other lines, just one side open and this is as i said before very compact. A lot of passengers were trying to avoid the hand gel, making waving movements near the machine and walking away rubbing their hands (why), staff did chase them when you brought it to their attention but then they would still insist they had done it. Most people did all in their power to have a table all to their self even though it becomes quite packed, why will the "beige" people not share? Entertainment was very good, from the shows though these are the same ones we saw 4 years ago, to the individual acts. But the main issue was with the dead spots between acts and vast areas of the ship with nothing going on. During the day on sea days there was the usual quizzes and bingo, come on P and O; Pontins closed years ago because people have moved on. Can we at least have a bit of musical entertainment during the day, other lines have strings and piano's playing in the bars and atrium. We are keen dancers, I don't think P and O have ever seen any one dance; it is impossible if more than 3 couples are on the floor in the joke of a dance floor in the atrium. Judging by the amount of people wanting to dance and the amount of people who wanted to watch it should be in one of the larger venues with a larger floor. Ports of call were Vigo, Lisbon, Porto and Cherbourge. The stop at Vigo went off very well the ship docks in the centre of town so going on foot is not a problem, we didn't do a trip here so nothing much more to report on Vigo. We docked near the centre of the city in Lisbon, that was quite a surprise as in the past we have docked near the bridge, well out of town. We did the trip to Obidos, this is a nice little place and I would recommend anyone trying it if you have never been. Try the Ginja in the chocolate cups, try a few they are very cheap around 1 euro and each one is different. Porto was our next stop, the port is very good and well set up for cruises. They put on free shuttles to the city and to the port gates. The one into town takes about 30 minutes and runs about every 15 minutes. The one to the port gates is just as regular, as you walk out of the gate just turn right and you are on a fantastic clean white beach. Then we get to Cherbourge or not as came to pass. We were greeted the day before on the sea day with a letter telling us about the terrorist activity in France and to keep out of crowded places, this goes a long way to putting you in the holiday mood; it's not as if everyone had not heard about the issues in France; basically tell us what we already know. Then during the evening meal the Captain came over the loud speaker with more doom and gloom saying he had reports that the sea was getting a bit choppy, the rumour then started to go round that we would not go to Cherbourge. So come the morning after a quiet run over the B of B and not much movement during the night, the Captain came on the loud speaker with the expected news that due to the very rough weather and the impending storm we would be spending the day at sea again. He said he did not want to put the safety of his crew at risk, but it seems OK to put us all at risk and leave us at sea during a major storm. I did think the procedure during a major storm was to run for home or find a safe port, we were in reach of Southampton and could have stayed overnight there. As it happened the storm was 2 days away, all seems a bit suspect to me. We were then treated to another sea day so decided to go and watch the film in the morning, we went to the first venue advertised and were told after some time that we would have to go to the theatre; after waiting there we were told to go back to the original venue only to find the majority interest film had been replaced by a minority interest hairdressing event, I can do that waiting to pick my wife up from the hairdressers. They re vamped the programme taking off some of the good things and putt on more quizzes, My view is that if it had been a port day they would have had offers for the spar and hairdressers but if we have a captive audience we can charge the full amount. We went to our cabin to watch a film on the TV , it was quite a calm sunny day and we tried to open the balcony for some air but found it to be jammed shut; I reported it to reception they said someone would fix it; but no one ever came. This was the day that our dressing gowns arrived, I had thought they had stopped using them but they appeared in the cupboard. If you are susceptible to static don't use them as they are made of nylon and give you quite a shock when you come to hang them up. We were invited into the large suite next door because she was not happy with the state of the cabin, for a suite I would have expected better it was like going into an old caravan, with even more old stains than our cabin. She said the bedding had not been changed all week and on reflection neither had ours but we had presumed that was because of the red alert. I advised her to ask for the house keeper. I also asked our steward if he would change our bedding, he broke down in tears and said they had given him too much to do; my wife spent the next hour trying to console him. Later that day the housekeeper came to our cabin very apologetically, we did ask him to look after the steward as he was close to breakdown. I explained that the balcony door would not open he showed me that you need to kick it in several places and then pull it very hard, I wish I had known that at the start of the cruise; I could have asked reception for a big hammer to facilitate the process. So in summary no storm and no Cherbourge. Disembarking went well, we chose to take off our own bags so were off before 8 o'clock. I would recommend it if you are able enough as you are requested to put your bags out by 8:30 in the evening. This means you either spend the evening in the clothes you are going home in or go home in your evening clothes. Sorry it's a bit long but I do like to say it as it is, I understand others will have different views on it and die hard P and O groupies will lambast me for writing this. Will I be giving it one more try I don't think so, even though we have amassed a lot of peninsular points from the past when P and O were not "affordable cruising" and I guess it is our own fault for looking for a bargain for a short break. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This was just a weekend away with friends, we have been on this ship a couple of times before, which hasn't been any where as good as it should have been, but we thought just for a couple of days, it'll be fine, we were very ... Read More
This was just a weekend away with friends, we have been on this ship a couple of times before, which hasn't been any where as good as it should have been, but we thought just for a couple of days, it'll be fine, we were very disappointed. The balcony room was nice, it was clean and nicely decorated, this is where it started to go wrong, the room steward came into the room and announced himself, giving his name and asked if there was anything we wanted just to let him know, so I said, oh yes please, could you please get some decaffeinated tea bags or caffeine free fruit teas for he room as I was allergic to caffeine, he practically jumped down my throat and said " No, you'll have to get them yourself" I replied, "sorry, I've always asked for decaf tea or fruit tea and it has never been a problem before", " No, you have to get them yourself, the chef has told us we not allowed to get them you have to get them yourself" I was shocked, I know that P&O aren't the best cruise liner for service etc but this was crazy, I was obviously not happy but he just carried on with his explanation of the room and muster station, and then just left, I was really cheesed off. If this had been the only problem we'd had it would have been enough to make me a bit fed up, but it didn't stop there, the service in the dining room was terrible, I wasn't allowed to have the drink I wanted because the drinks waiter would have had to go somewhere else to get it, but the party sharing our table all had their drinks fetched, then being vegetarian (which they were pre-warned about) I got my food after everyone else and it was stone cold, it took over 15 minutes to get anyone to actually come over and sort it out as all the waiters could see there was a problem, but just walked off or pretended they hadn't noticed, and other guests had received just as bad service on other tables. The cruise itself was just as bad, the destination was great, if you wanted to pay extra to get anywhere near the centre which was the whole point of the cruise in the first place, we had to get a tram then bus and train to get to where we were supposed to be visiting, on the whole a very disappointing cruise and I would definitely have to think more than twice about booking with P&O again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
There is a review a little further down (Ferry with a hint of Benidorm) that pretty much summaries our experience, although we were in a balcony cabin rather than a suite. Otherwise, I could have written that. We have always been ... Read More
There is a review a little further down (Ferry with a hint of Benidorm) that pretty much summaries our experience, although we were in a balcony cabin rather than a suite. Otherwise, I could have written that. We have always been doubtful of the larger ships, so have not been on Ventura, Azura or Britannia, but when a cheap 2-day taster came up we thought we would risk it. And the experience has certainly put me off the larger ships, but also makes me reluctant to use the smaller ships again in case the changes are a new policy everywhere rather than just being for those ships. P+O really have moved downmarket with this trip from the many we have taken in the past and if there is one area I would single out it is service. In bars, it took forever to be served, including 15 minutes from ordering a glass of wine to it arriving when there were only around 50 people in the bar. Silver service in the restaurant has disappeared: you get what you are given and that's that. Even simple details like the entertainment staff to greet you as you enter and leave the theatre has gone. And the introduction of self service wines really does not bode well. Surely being served is part of the experience? I also found the ship very noisy, both in ambience (piped music much of the time) and in the passengers, but it was difficult to be certain whether these groups were much noisier than I have experienced before or something about the build of the ship made them seem so. Whatever, listening to one of the musicians was really difficult against the background noise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
After reading the Cruise Critic reviews we were somewhat expecting the worst and apart from a decent standard of food and some good staff (if lacking in numbers) we were NOT pleasantly surprised! Starting from embarkation and ending in ... Read More
After reading the Cruise Critic reviews we were somewhat expecting the worst and apart from a decent standard of food and some good staff (if lacking in numbers) we were NOT pleasantly surprised! Starting from embarkation and ending in disembarkation the holiday was very disappointing throughout. We arrived at the terminal in Southampton to met by technical problems with the 'air-bridge' which meant despite assurances that this would be 'fixed momentarily' we ended up spending almost three hours waiting to board our home for the next eleven nights. Once onboard, we dropped off our hand luggage in our cabin (cases already there +ve) and began exploring this huge vessel. Now don't get me wrong, the ship is not ugly at all, in fact we found the decor pleasing to the eye if lacking a 'wow' factor. The ship design seems quite bizarre, especially when you think it was built as a 'flag ship' for the P&O fleet and is to be 'based' in the UK. The opportunity to create something amazing has been totally lost and in it's stead we found ourselves on a floating 'dime a dozen' floating hotel. The central arboretum is nice enough on first glance, but totally lacks any character which after a couple of days onboard, this seems to be an issue throughout the ship. Dining: We were on Freedom dining and whilst we found this to provide both good choice and good quality there were numerous occasions where dinner would take 2-3 hours with at times 60 minutes between starter and main course. This was mainly due to the fact that the staff/guest ratio seems very low compared to other ships we have sailed. We also ate out in the Select dining locations and would highly recommend Sindhu which had amazing food/quality and service. Talking to numerous other guests onboard this was a common observation and is an inherent oversight on P&O's part. Entertainment: We were extremely disappointed by the onboard entertainment offering but accept perhaps we are a little too low brow and not in the target clientele. Call me what you like but when evening entertainment can be focused on a violinist or one of numerous onboard quizzes I think there is something amiss. The team work very hard, but I suspect that the onboard demographics suggest that P&O are really trying to tap into the octogenarian market. Day time entertainment outside around the pool was very hit or miss, the sailaways were great but most of the time the music was barely audible on the Lido deck despite the fact Britannia has 'serenity' areas for those wanting total peace and quiet. Ports of Call: The weather was very mixed, with early storms subsiding into lovely hot sunshine as we sailed further south. Vigo, whilst nice was very wet and breezy, from there on in, the warmer weather and strong sunshine prevailed. We did notice that P&O have either opted for or been left with port berths that are not 'first choice', perhaps this was a way of keeping port charges down. Pools: The outdoor pools were never fully available, apparently this was due to leaks from the pools to decks below - The workers appeared to be resealing one pool after another which meant we never had access to all pools at any time. Not a huge problem with the demographics of our fellow guests but worrying that something so fundamental was not properly resolved before P&Os acceptance of this vessel in the first place. The biggest and unfathomable omission though was the total lack of any covered outside space in the unlikely event of rain/wind in British and North Atlantic waters. We wondered who made this decision or why they would miss out on something so fundamentally essential in these climes. Disembarkation: Again, this could have been so much smoother and highlighted what many others have already mentioned regarding lifts and floor foibles. What should have been a ten minute process took almost an hour and on finally returning to blighty we asked ourselves why P&O, why spend £500m on perhaps one of the largest white elephants in British maritime history? I could go on and on but what's the point. Lots of others have already pointed out the shortcomings of Britannia and will P&O take heed? I suspect not Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Having heard conflicting reports about P&O, we decided the launch of the new Britannia was the best time to try a P&O Cruise and judge for ourselves. I must say our experience on board the Britannia was practically identical to ... Read More
Having heard conflicting reports about P&O, we decided the launch of the new Britannia was the best time to try a P&O Cruise and judge for ourselves. I must say our experience on board the Britannia was practically identical to our previous reviewer, Cragglerock. P&O had one opportunity to make a good impression on us, and they blew it with a chaotic embarkation. This was our 19th cruise with 6 other cruise lines, but our first with P&O. We have never had to wait more than 30 mins to get on board and enjoy lunch in the buffet restaurant. This time we waited 2 hours, missed our lunch and finally embarked at 4.15, followed by a lifeboat drill at 5.15, not a good start. The cabin, as well as the ship's decor in general was beautiful, but the bathroom was miniscule, the smallest we have ever seen. It was a challenge to have a shower in it, and we are slim people. The balcony too was tiny in comparison to other ships, you couldn't stretch out your legs on the deck chairs. One plus point that we really did think was excellent was the walkin wardrobe area without doors. Excellent idea. One other bugbear where we believe they have messed up is the fact that midships there are no stairs beyond the 7th deck, so if you are on the 10th as we were, it meant waiting for the lifts every time. They took ages and when they arrived they were invariably full of disabled people in wheelchairs. We ended up having to take the lifts going up to ensure we could go down, crazy. Either that or walk forward or aft to access the other set of lifts. After a week of this we were glad we had only booked a 7 day cruise. As to the service, we would describe this as lacklustre, the guests are clearly not King. The only one who was up to standard was our cabin steward who really stood out from the rest. The choice and quality of food too was not up to the standard we have been used to. One morning I asked for smoked salmon with my omelette and the waiter asked twice: "where is it". What he meant was: where was it on the menu. It wasn't, you only get smoked salmon on certain days, like eggs Benedict, you only get them on Mondays, and as I had missed it, I never got them all week. Small things, nothing major to spoil the holiday, but they just haven't got it. I think P&O must either depend on first time cruisers or else on those who have only tried P&O and have nothing else to compare with. As for us, we will stick with Celebrity, they are miles better. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
If you have been with P&O since the start of 1970 as I have, over 20 cruises, you will notice how things have changed. More and more things have be dropped. Menu's have been cut down as have wine lists. Food not up to old ... Read More
If you have been with P&O since the start of 1970 as I have, over 20 cruises, you will notice how things have changed. More and more things have be dropped. Menu's have been cut down as have wine lists. Food not up to old standards. Service not to bad. Year ago you would have people from television or films for entertainment, but not now. Shows still the same old thing. The sail away is terrible. Same old records same old flag waving. I feel they treat you like little children. Doctor charges, drinks and shopping on board is very expensive . Could see really no duty free. When there is a sale all the old junk is brought out. Once you could go to the Bridge for nothing. Now you are charged. Trips on shore again are expensive. A trip in a taxi to a place can be less than half of what P&O Charge. One trip I did with four other people cost with tip 85 pounds and we saw more than the trip P&O were advertising. If we had gone with the P&O trip the cost would have been 250.00 pounds. After 20 trips over the years with the company, we will not be going with them again. Wake up P&O. Other companies are more advance. On this last cruise we heard nothing but complaints about Britannia. Only one couple said they liked it. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This was my first ever cruise and I was looking forward to it so much. My son also married on board. There were some positive points I.e. Loved my cabin and balcony, the housekeeper kept this very well but having said that as a solo ... Read More
This was my first ever cruise and I was looking forward to it so much. My son also married on board. There were some positive points I.e. Loved my cabin and balcony, the housekeeper kept this very well but having said that as a solo occupant I was also v tidy. My five year old grandson loved the kids club but we were a little concerned when told that they were registered for 100 in a relatively small area. Fortunately, on the times he attended this number did not materialise. Sindhu was a lovely restaurant as was the glasshouse - at a supplementary charge .... The main at the Epicurean was delicious but service very poor and seemingly lacking leadership. The weather was poor and as a result the planned stop at Guernsey was cancelled and we set off for Lisbon. crossing the Bay of biscay was rocky but not unexpected as this is a renowned area of inclement weather. Neither can P & O be held accountable for poor weather. However, with three thousand plus passengers crammed on board the whole ship was overcrowded and it did feel like Butlins on a boat. With tots in our party the swimming pools were unsafe due to overcrowding (way over the recommended number and no checks made) and it was impossible to use jacuzzis as these were both monopolised , and overcrowded, with young teens. The retreat for adults is available - at an additional cost ... We waited patiently to use the single netted area on deck 19 to vacate so we could play with a five year old. Unfortunately, within minutes of entering there, a group of young teens also decided they would go in - result was people and balls flying everywhere. No system or checking therefore older children again monopolising the area. With cricket bats and balls it is an accident waiting to happen. A safer, and fairer, syestem would be allocated time slots and supervised by staff to ensure safety. For three thousand plus passengers to have one netted area, one golf area, one set for quoits and one giant set of chess - it's a bit lacking !! The captain was an affable gentleman and the wedding went well, canapés were laid on whilst we awaited the couple having photos taken. The GF canapes were delicious but no drinks had been provided - not even water - these were extra and had to be purchased. One small bowl of crisps for four young children seems a bit stingy and others, were requested and provided at additional cost - (spice flavoured). The wedding meal was held in the Epicurean. Staff here seemed ineffective, over loaded and confused. My son, daughter in law and her parents sat on one table and the rest of us round the corner, up against a wall, on another table. Staff had lists which had been meticulously sorted by my well organised daughter in law but seemed unable to refer to them and mixed up many of the meals - which arrived at various intervals. One child waited A long time for a dessert - by which time we had all finished ours although three of us left them as they were raw pastry. Some three hours later, with tired and bored children we left before coffee was served as everything seemed to take an age. Food in the buffet was a case of attempting to find a table first - quite a feat as everywhere packed. It did not cater at all well for coeliac individuals and staff seemed poorly informed. No labels on any food stating GF or veggie so had to ask which was suitable - much to the annoyance of other passengers waiting behind. Given conflicting information resulting in one very upset stomach and a sleepless night. food was canteen style and quality. Spoke to other people with similar probs and they were terribly disappointed. Almost in tears one day when told the only sauce I could eat on my steak was tomato ketchup. I paid the same price as everyone else but had very, very limited options. I had one of the worst GF pizzas I had ever eaten whilst on board - burnt on the outside and cold in the middle. Apart from restaurants where we paid extra the food was a massive disappointment to me. To summarise, there were some highlights and good points I.e. Embarking and disembarking was very slick, cabin and balcony, the glasshouse, Sindu and the main at the Epicurean but I think P &O should look to either selling purely family cruises or other as they seem to want to capture all groups of clientele and, in my opinion, this is not working. They also seem The experience for me was one of 'pack them in and get them to spend'. Staff work very hard and are mostly polite and helpful but way overloaded in restaurants especially. Maybe another carrier would offer a better experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This was to be family reunion cruise, and I could not decicide whether to go on Britannia or Oceania Mariner. A suite and 4 balcony cabins cost more per day than Oceania, but in the end Britannia won. As we were in a suite, boarding was ... Read More
This was to be family reunion cruise, and I could not decicide whether to go on Britannia or Oceania Mariner. A suite and 4 balcony cabins cost more per day than Oceania, but in the end Britannia won. As we were in a suite, boarding was not a problem, but for security not opening until the priority cabins were "ready". I was quite impressed with the decore, especially the dinning rooms, but far too large a ship for going to A & B. This was a first for us on P&O Freedom dining, and with 9 of us, turned out to be OK, in the Peninsular. We had the same table and waiters, which allowed some rapport between staff and guests. The pre-booking of 9 in the speciality restaurants was not a success. The system only recognises 6 persons maximum. In the Epicurian we had to sit at 2 seperate tables. The previous reviews were justified in complaining about the lifts. There were so many people using wheel chairs/buggies that the whole system at certain times collapsed. Not helped by one lift out of use for several days. Walking tours were spoilt by allowing disabled to go on fairly strenous walking tours. The ports were not new to use except La Rochelle, pretty but overcrowded. The family enjoyed the cruise, but I came away with a chest infection from, I suppose the air conditioning. [which I still have 6 days later] Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
1st time crusing with p&o. will not be booking with them in near future. Embarkation - going back in time, before computerisation. Ship looks great from the outside but the interior for this class of ship doesn't match, at ... Read More
1st time crusing with p&o. will not be booking with them in near future. Embarkation - going back in time, before computerisation. Ship looks great from the outside but the interior for this class of ship doesn't match, at best described as nice, just doesn't have any wow factor anywhere. Designed without main stairs in the central section why?? Lifts need reprogramming, and made more reliable they kept breaking down. The ship felt cluttered, and parts of the ship like the gym looked out of place. A bit like they forgot about it in design stage? Access to parts of ship meant you had to go up to get down, to where you needed to go (vice versa) and only one deck7 allow access to aft and forward. The most important aspect that needs improving is customer service! We have cruised twice before with royal caribbean and celebrity, even though both cruises had pros and cons the service received was 100% better the p&o could offer. The only service which stood out was the cabin attendant service which was excellent. Peninsular restaurant - waiters stood around chatting to each other, very slow table clearing. Meridian restaurant - waiters not working together, having to try to get attention, tables not cleared promptly, so you wonder why no tables are available to eat. Food was good but not as good as previous cruises. Bars - rude staff. P&o stupid system for ordering and receiving drinks. Eg.. Go to bar ask for drink, waiting for drink at bar but gives drink to a waiter to bring to me, he is stood next to me!! Unbelievable! This is meant to be green ship, paperless, you would think? But they love giving paper out everywhere. Port & shore staff - unhelpful and sometimes non existent. Disembarkation - very slow it equipment. The only plus side of this cruise was the entertainment. This was outstanding and the only plus point for this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Bad: the ship in a lot of areas is beginning to look really tired even after the partial refit Bad: entertainment is geared towards their older clientele which is 75+ on average, very quiet with lounge playing piano players as the ... Read More
Bad: the ship in a lot of areas is beginning to look really tired even after the partial refit Bad: entertainment is geared towards their older clientele which is 75+ on average, very quiet with lounge playing piano players as the majority of entertainment Bad: the worst Headliners show team I have ever seen on P&O, very poor show standard, it was embarrassing most nights. Bad: the laziest Entertainment Crew that I have ever experienced so don’t look to them to fill your sea days, too busy sunbathing with the passengers! Good - Cabin, bar /service and waiting staff Good - Food standard and presentation compared to my experience of other P&O ships To be considered Not for young Adults or most folks under 60, but primarily aimed at an elderly market and Arcadia will cater for them as their bulk audience first in what they deliver Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Arrived at Ocean Terminal, seemed well organised and despite many arriving early things were kept moving. Water dispensers had no cups so I asked staff at kiosk who said I'd have to pay for empty cups - not a good start! Entered ... Read More
Arrived at Ocean Terminal, seemed well organised and despite many arriving early things were kept moving. Water dispensers had no cups so I asked staff at kiosk who said I'd have to pay for empty cups - not a good start! Entered Ventura to be directed to deck 15 buffet, no welcome or welcome drink. Buffet crowded but we found a table eventually, shortage of cups which happened often thru cruise. No free drink for children except water (unless your child liked tea/coffee), this I thought bad as it was school holiday family cruise. Went to cabins at 2pm, very clean and tidy. Introduced to stewards. Ours named Sunil, lovely chap. Cabin kept well stocked, welcome balloon and sweets for daughter (was her birthday on board). Entertainment in theatre very good, especially 'Badness' with music and humour. Even my 13 YO liked them! Other lounge entertainers were average to good if you could get a seat with a view of them. Havana poorly laid out for view of stage from many seating areas and screens too small to appreciate the acts. As we were on second dinner sitting we were often ready around 7pm but little to no entertainment before our dinner at these times. We were offered bingo instead, not for my 13 YO as not her style lol. Were one or two other acts would have liked to see but due to our dinner sitting and theatre time the acts coincided so could not be in 2 places at once. First night in Bay Tree 2nd sitting (8:30pm), huge queue and late going in. No escort to table so grabbed a waiter and asked where table was. No introduction or friendly welcome by our waiter. Children's mains arrived a good 20 minutes before adult mains so they had finished and sat twiddling thumbs while we ate. Poor selection on children's menu and of deserts in general all menus. Our mains, pork and chicken dishes were so bland, weak gravy/sauces. Addressed future meal arrival times with waiter so one plus point! Another night did not get approached by drinks waiter at all, eventually asked waiter as kids had no drinks, he gave a puzzled look but we got drinks eventually. Just no friendly atmosphere at all! Did not feel like attending last night but we did, I'd have preferred the buffet which had a good although small selection of foods and tasty. Buffet as above, sometimes slow table clearing and tables not wiped properly. Often had to clean food off seats myself. Arrival in Zeebrugge and shuttle buses efficient, used train to Bruges very cheap. Bruges is a lovely town, great for chocolate shops and photo opportunities on bridges. Good boat ride along canals although they pack you in, many places to catch a boat so if queue too long at one place check out another. Prices not bad either for approx. 30 minute ride. Ship did not depart till close to midnight and proceeded at only 10 knots to Guernsey, would have been nice to arrive earlier at Guernsey as limited time due to tender use and departing at 5:30pm. Guernsey is a beautiful island, huge queues for the 91/92 round island buses (£1 each). Recommend a family day bus pass £9 if want to hop on/off buses regularly. We visited Underground Hospital, Little Chapel, Candie Gardens then bus to L'Ancresse, nice beach. Only just made it back for last 2 tenders before 5:30pm. Disembarkation by tender went smooth except for poor announcements and info, required a ticket so rather than kids fidgeting in queue I went alone only to be told when I eventually got to desk that unless rest of my party with me 'no ticket'. Had to go get them and 10 mins later we all queued but this time was half way round the ship so took a while. Sea day, always room to move around and find a spot indoors or out but my youngest is not confident in the pool but wanted to swim. However many youngsters were constantly jumping in/bombing which spoilt her experience. Staff just looked on, this was regular occurrence despite signs. Hot tubs usually full of children, no adults. We just squeezed in otherwise wouldn't have got a look in. Kids clubs/staff did a great job, my 9/10 YO loved it but my 13 YO not so keen. Her choice, wished she'd have given it another go but she was happy sticking with us. Was not the experience I was expecting, especially as it was my daughters first cruise. Ship was relatively clean although I noted rubbish in corridor near our cabins that was there 2/3 days before being removed. Did not seem a happy friendly ship and not as we expected following a ships tour on Azura previously but then they were looking for fresh business I suppose. Sailaway party, where? Very poor, just a band playing! Unlikely to cruise P&O again as prefer tasty food, good smiley friendly service in restaurants and other venues. Sorry this may annoy regular P&O cruisers but having cruised other lines I do have experience to compare and it takes a lot before I'm negative or complain. Hope others on same cruise had better experience! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
On-board activities: The TV in our cabin was the only real entertainment on sea days apart from a film, reading or walking – we don’t sunbathe/swim. We were expecting seminars / talks but there was almost nothing available and never ... Read More
On-board activities: The TV in our cabin was the only real entertainment on sea days apart from a film, reading or walking – we don’t sunbathe/swim. We were expecting seminars / talks but there was almost nothing available and never any choice, unless it was to be given product marketing / sales talks. For example, on our first morning, we sat through a 40 minute talk on P&O’s shore excursions only to find when we went to book those that were of interest, they were already fully booked and hence unavailable. What a waste of our time! There was a definite lack of facilities for the large number of passengers on board. And where was the art lecture(s) and ‘sale’ that everyone told us would be available, as they are on all the ships? Shore excursions: Guernsey - Transfer ashore was by tender which went very smoothly for us, as we were booked on a tour, though we understand there were some delays in getting others ashore. We thought there could have been a more efficient transfer methodology, if tenders were available on both sides of the ship. Entertainment:- Theatre- this was too small to cater for the numbers on board even with up to three shows in an evening. The only way to get a seat was to arrive at least 30 mins before a show and this was almost impossible, if you are at a second sitting dinner!! Also, the seating was not sufficiently tiered meaning that where we had the fortune (or misfortune) to sit, the person immediately in front restricted our view of the stage, unless they were very short! All, but one, of the Headliners shows were excellent, featuring very strong singers, great dancers and amazing digital scenery. The ‘Once upon a time’ fantasy show was the disappointment; it had great performances but a very weak script. The other acts were very good, with the best being Gareth Oliver who was extremely funny and the worst being Jonathan Wilkes, who greatly disappointed us. Cinema- Tier arrangement was badly designed as the person in front of you always blocked part of the screen, unless you were sitting in the front row. Lifts: There were inadequate lifts available at busy periods. The problem was compounded by having three different sets of lifts which were not linked to each other or the demand. The four main lifts were connected to one call button and the two other lifts were quite independent of the four. Once passengers identified this, they pressed all three call buttons resulting in all three lifts arriving together at the floor. This seriously affected the movement of passengers. One evening we decided to walk up the stairs from Level 6 to Level 15 beating it to the top by a few seconds. Dining: We had the second sitting at the Oriental restaurant and the meals were delicious and varied. Our waiter and all the staff were very helpful. Our special dietary requirements were dealt with efficiently and in a caring manner. Full marks to the staff who were fully aware of our needs from the beginning. Embarkation: We chose to use P&O’s own coach transfer to Southampton. Unfortunately, our driver forgot one passenger on the way to our pick up and had to return for her. Then on arrival at South Mimms services 15 minutes late, promptly announced he was required to have a 45 minute break. This meant we departed 1 hour after the scheduled time. There was such slow traffic on the M25 that we arrived just before 4pm – well over 2 hours late, causing the ship’s departure to be delayed. However, our check-in and security went very smoothly, as we must have been among the last passengers to board. Disembarkation: - This went very smoothly and we were off the ship 30 minutes early. However, we cannot understand why we had to leave our suitcases outside our cabin by 8:30pm and before dinner the previous night. If we had been advised beforehand, we could have brought an overnight case, instead of trying to stuff our overnight things into a small rucksack!! Ship: Although a brand new ship, this ship lacked the ‘wow’ factor we had assumed Britannia would have, being P&O's flagship cruise liner. The décor was bland, grey and plastic, accurately described by the captain as, ’50 shades of grey’!! The ship gave us the impression that P&O had decided to cram in as many passengers as possible, to maximise profit at minimum cost to the company. This was our first cruise and we were really looking forward to it, as we had heard so many good stories from all our friends about the pleasures of cruising. Before booking (11 months before departure) we asked P&O a lot of relevant questions, as anyone embarking on their first cruise would. The answers were generally that the information we wanted e.g. on-board activities (especially during sea days), who was performing at the various venues, would be given to us in Horizons (the daily news letter) once we were on board. We assumed it would be similar to other cruises but it wasn’t and anyway, once booked it was too late to change our minds. All the hype over this new, state-of-the-art, technologically superior flag ship of the P&O fleet was never anything but a lot of hot air. We would have liked to share this review with P&O but they were somehow unable to deliver their post-cruise satisfaction questionnaire to us. It is done automatically and arrived as two blank emails. Customer support advised that if that fails, tough!!! Or maybe it was a deliberate ploy to avoid being criticised, yet they are quite capable of subsequently sending marketing info without problems! We will probably try another cruise but won’t be returning to the Britannia or P&O. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This my own personal view of this cruise ship having cruised mainly with P&O but also with Princess, Fred Olsen, Celebrity and M.S.C over the past 20 years. We decided on this ship specifically to see the Fjords and to celebrate my ... Read More
This my own personal view of this cruise ship having cruised mainly with P&O but also with Princess, Fred Olsen, Celebrity and M.S.C over the past 20 years. We decided on this ship specifically to see the Fjords and to celebrate my Birthday, what a waste of time. Check in at Southampton was efficient and we were on board within 45 minutes of arriving. First impression was very good with a beautiful atrium and warm but not overpowering colour scheme, however over time it did become a bit boring. The good Points were : 1 Theatre company and on board and artists were of a high standard, with generally good other entertainers. Sindhu restaurant was excellent, with high quality food and service. Now the Bad points : 1 No central staircase from deck 17 down to 7, with the constant waiting around for, or being in a lift trying to get were you wanted to be. 2 Theatre too small to accommodate everyone, even though 3 shows per night were put on. You had to arrive at least 20 minutes before the show started in order to try and get a seat. 3 Show lounge too small. Cinema small and badly designed unless you were sitting on the first few rows. 4 Crows nest too small with the inevitable problem of finding a seat, but it was a beautiful place with an excellent pianist. 5 MDR The food was of a poor quality, often luke warm, and staff didn't appear to want to be there. No interaction from them with passengers. The menu was also uninspiring. 6 Breakfast and lunch was spent in the Horizon and again quality of food was poor with little taste and quality. After the first two days I stuck to trusted Conflakes and toast. The items from the bakery, Buns, cakes, puddings etc were also of poor quality, Having spent time as a baker I know quality when I see and eat it. 7 As the ship is marketed as a family ship there is little other than the children's clubs for children or teenagers compared with other large ships from other companies. No outdoor facilities other than 2 pools, Golf nets and a sports court. 8 General staff, Entertainment staff always smiling but little reaction from the rest and I only saw two officers about the ship other than on Captains gala night. I could go on but I won't I feel P&O have missed a great opportunity with this brand new ship, its poorly designed and gives the impression that they are trying to get as much money out of you once on board Would I go back on this ship Not Very Likely. It may have been just this ship or a one off but I have come to expect rather better from P&O Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Friends/family had continually mentioned about my sister and I going on a cruise, both of us are divorced and travel regularly on holiday so we took the plunge and booked a mini cruise to see Bruges in Belgium as well as Guernsey, as a ... Read More
Friends/family had continually mentioned about my sister and I going on a cruise, both of us are divorced and travel regularly on holiday so we took the plunge and booked a mini cruise to see Bruges in Belgium as well as Guernsey, as a taster cruise. We were texted/emailed re a change in itinerary a couple of days beforehand. It was quite a long time actually boarding Aurora. We decided against waiting for the queues in the buffet as not enough time before our muster meeting. Our muster point in the Cinema was changed from 16.00 to 16.30 (we would have had time for a late lunch in the end) after we had left the cabin with the lifejackets and waiting for 10 mins, so by the time we had had the rescheduled muster meeting at 16.30 and returned to the cabin, we noticed the ship moving, we had no time to get to a top deck with our bottle of Prosecco to wave goodbye to Southampton so made do with a glass of wine on one of lower covered-in decks - not what we had planned. The itinerary was reversed because of the poor weather so Guernsey was first due to the tender boats, one of which was directly underneath our cabin so we were woken at a very early hour by the noise of the tender mechanism being swung out to lower the tender boat. We spent a stormy night at sea and on arrival at Zebrugge (having put our watches forward an hour) were informed that we could not berth so the trip was OFF. We spent a day at sea going up and down the English Channel in a Force 8 gale, most decks were out of bounds (obviously) and when we saw the White Cliffs of Dover, we put our watches back not realising that the ship was staying on Belgium time so we were an hour late for dinner and missed the first show. (We were not the only ones onboard that did this). The toilets blocked. We asked our waiter to ask the wine waiter to order more wine for us and he never returned. There was a very long wait for cocktails in the bar. The bed linen did not smell very fresh. Now I know you cannot help the weather but perhaps we should have stayed with the itinerary and gone to Bruges first - the whole point of my booking this cruise as a cruise to Zebrugge to visit Bruges seemed to be a better option than flying/coach/train - how wrong was I? Plus points, nice cabin and balcony, good food, good entertainment. It was unfortunate that this happened on our first cruise as I was planning a Caribbean cruise for January 2016 but am not sure I want to take the risk regarding ports not accessible because of the weather - as bad weather follows me around the world! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Having previously had 15 cruises we were very much looking forward to sailing on a new ship but what a let down the balcony on the ship was dirty (salt water spray all over rail,windows and chairs) not touched the entire week away and room ... Read More
Having previously had 15 cruises we were very much looking forward to sailing on a new ship but what a let down the balcony on the ship was dirty (salt water spray all over rail,windows and chairs) not touched the entire week away and room creaking around patio door area when ship was doing 16 knots or more kept us awake at night. Apart from the theatre a couple of nights the entertainment was very limited unless you wanted to stand in a packed area (never saw the cruise director or who he or she was) also the casino was tiny for the size of the ship, the food available was first class both in the meridian restaurant and on top deck, The lifts were an absolute joke, when they were working, and not having stairs in the middle of the ship did not help, I have been on P & O cruises before and enjoyed them, it seems to me that they are trying to get you to pay for more restaurants, relaxing and entertainment areas on top of your original payment all I can say I wish I could have read the many poor reviews before I booked. New Ship no WOW !!!! Factor Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We are a couple in our late 20’s travelling on the Norwegian Fjords cruise. We have cruised on other Carnival lines but this was our first experience of P&O. All I can say is never again. We booked Britannia as we thought a modern, ... Read More
We are a couple in our late 20’s travelling on the Norwegian Fjords cruise. We have cruised on other Carnival lines but this was our first experience of P&O. All I can say is never again. We booked Britannia as we thought a modern, brand new ship would appeal to us as a younger generation of cruisers. However, never have I been so disappointed. I would also like to point out that I am not a serial complainer – I have never written a review before as I have never felt the need! For others who say “You get what you pay for” – well we paid more on a per night basis for this cruise than we have paid on other lines such as Cunard. All other cruise lines have infinitely higher standards than those experienced on this P&O cruise. For those who don’t want to read my rather lengthily review I have summarised first the reasons for giving this cruise a 2 star rating: Positives The cookery club –At £45 p.p for a 3 hour fish course I thought this was great value and a fab way to spend a sea day. Make sure you book in advance of the cruise to ensure you get a place. Glass shower door in bathroom Reasonably priced drinks – no 15% gratuity on top either Stunning scenery and great weather – but this was nothing to do with P&O! Negatives Incessant creaking in the cabin all night long which kept us awake for 3 nights out of 7. This was not isolated to our cabin. Could not see through the “clear” balcony due to thick layer of salt that was never cleaned. Don’t bother paying extra for a balcony. Embarkation was a shambles at Ocean Terminal. Nearly 3 hours from arrival to boarding the ship due to the vast number of people trying to board Disembarkation at each port was equally shambolic – ticketing system at Bergen meant we finally disembarked at 12.30pm. There are just too many people on this ship! Never managed to get a seat in the theatre. It is too small for the size of the ship. Impossible to get a seat in the Crows Nest bar or Live Lounge. Food was bland. Not up to the standards of other cruise lines. Décor was dull. Service was poor. Surly, slow waiters in the Meridien restaurant. Rude reception staff. Service diabolical in Sindhu. Do not pay the £20p.p to eat here. Complete disregard for hygiene throughout the ship Public loos were always out of order The lifts. In summary, there are serious flaws with this ship. There are just far too many people for the size of the public rooms. P&O have been greedy by vastly increasing the passenger capacity with no thought for what the passengers are meant to do with themselves. Often forced to return to the cabin as there was no space to watch the entertainment in the theatre/live lounge or even get a seat in the bar. Good luck getting back to the cabin though as the lift service was beyond a joke. Unfortunately I do not know how this will be rectified. This serious flaw could have been in some way remedied if the staff were friendly and helpful but we often experienced slow service from disinterested waiters. For a company that markets themselves as being all about the food, this was also seriously lacking. Embarkation One of the things I love about cruising is the ease of driving down to Southampton, dropping off the car at Ocean Terminal and being on the ship half an hour later. There is no stress of airports which often puts a damp start to the holiday. We have always had a seamless embarkation at Ocean Terminal. Not this time. We arrived at the terminal at our allotted time and were then put into a holding pen with hundreds of other cars for 1.5 hours. When we were finally allowed to drop our car off at the entrance, we entered the terminal to be told that there was a ticketing system for check in. Over an hour later we were able to check in. Almost 3 hours after arriving at Ocean Terminal we finally boarded the ship. The whole experience was much worse than going to an airport!!! Cabin Cabin was adequate – smallest cabin we have had but it was decorated in a nice “boutique” style. Large TV with good selection of on demand films and TV programmes. Plenty of hanging space in the open wardrobe area. The bathroom was one of the best things about the ship – clean white lines and the glass shower door was a bonus. The balcony was disappointing. I could deal with the fact that it was miniscule however the real let down was the “clear glass” balcony was actually opaque due to a thick coating of salt that was present from embarkation. I enjoy sitting out on the balcony looking out at the beautiful scenery – however this was not possible on this cruise as you couldn’t see through the balcony. We might as well have booked a cheaper inside cabin. I am also not sure what P&O were thinking when they purchased the balcony furniture. There are bulky reclining chairs, however it is not possible to actually recline the chairs due to the small size of the balcony. Then there is also a table and a footstool. We weren’t able to access the balcony without moving the footstool into the cabin. The other fundamental issue with this ship is the incessant loud creaking around the balcony door area of the cabin that went on all night long for the first two nights and final night of the cruise. It seems that whenever the ship picks up a little pace loud creaking ensues. This was not just an issue with our cabin (Deck 10 mid ships) but was also felt by other passengers we spoke to throughout the cruise. The creaking was so loud that it kept us awake all night long for 3 nights out of our 7 night cruise. P&O is going for a boutique hotel look with the cabins however they were definitely missing the boutique touches. The White Company toiletries in the bathroom were never replenished throughout the cruise. There were no bathrobes (provided as standard on all other cruise ships I have been on) and when I requested one I was told by a rude receptionist that these were only available for suite passengers. Dining Our cruise fare allowed us to submit a preference for dining in advance. We had requested the fixed seating dining (available in the Oriental restaurant). However, once on board we were given freedom dining in the Meridian restaurant. This was my first experience of Freedom dining. I thought I would enjoy the flexibility of Freedom dining but it just meant we ate earlier and earlier to avoid getting a bleeper. The food did not live up to expectations. There was nothing particularly wrong with it - it was just bland, bland, bland. There was no refinement to the food – it was very much just meat and two veg. With no seasoning. The fish option was always a roulade. Do they not know how to present fish in a different way? The lobster on the gala dinner night was insipid, tasteless and swimming in water. We were so underwhelmed with the food on the first night that on the morning of day 2 we tried to book the fine dining restaurant (The Epicurean) which comes with a £28pp surcharge. Unfortunately we were told it was fully booked for the duration of the cruise. If you want to eat here make sure you book in advance of the cruise. We decided to try the Beach House which comes with a £5pp surcharge in an attempt to find some better food. The food was certainly better than the Meridian restaurant however to create the Beach House they simply close off an area of the buffet so it did lack some atmosphere. I had booked a table at Sindhu in advance of the cruise. This comes with a £20pp surcharge on a week long cruise (£15pp if on a 2 week cruise). What a waste of money. The service was diabolical and the food was tasteless. We actually ate better Indian dishes in the main dining rooms without the £20 surcharge. DO NOT BOOK THIS RESTAURANT! The waiting staff were all extremely surly and SO SLOW. Often dinner would take 2.5+ hours to complete so we would miss the evening entertainment. We were getting through more than a bottle of wine per night at dinner because we were sat waiting for our food for so long. Maybe that is P&O’s business plan – make them wait so long at the table that they will drink more? Hygiene Or lack of it. This is a disaster waiting to happen. There was no-one enforcing passengers to sanitise their hands when entering the restaurants/buffet or when getting back on board the ship. I was very surprised by this as this is something that is usually strictly enforced. There are some sinks by the entrance to the buffet for people to wash their hands but most people breezed past these without a second look. There were free standing hand sanitisers at the entrance to the restaurants but no-one to enforce their use. There was also never any soap in the dispensers in the public loos. Entertainment I can’t really comment on the entertainment in the theatre as we never managed to get a seat. We watched the first half of a show from the Britannia singers and dancers whilst standing up in the aisles. Graphics were impressive. We got fed up of standing though and left. Live lounge was a good idea in principal but again if you wanted to get a seat you needed to go an hour before a performance. We arrived 45 minutes before The Beatles tribute band and the only available seats were behind a pillar. Impossible to get a seat in the crows nest bar which had lovely décor and great views. We enjoyed the daily quizzes in the pub – this was the one area of the ship which was actually big enough. Drinks prices throughout the ship were also very reasonable. We ended up spending a lot of time in the sunset bar – often the only bar you could get a seat – probably because it was outside and the temperatures in Norway during April are not the highest! Décor and general ambience The general décor is dull and muted throughout the ship. The atrium was soulless – usually the heart of the ship. I thought it resembled the inside of a shopping mall. The Market café which has a central location in the atrium shuts at 7pm which further deadens the atmosphere. The artwork throughout the ship was very corporate office building. The artwork on the forward staircase was in fact by the same artist that decorates my office walls. I felt like I was back at work every time I used this staircase – which was often due to the abominable lift situation. I think enough has been said about the lift situation in previous reviews. All I can say is that they were worse than I could ever have imagined. I hope to go on many more cruises and really thought P&O would suit us as a young couple. Unfortunately we were seriously let down and will not be booking with them again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was our first and last experience of P&O. I had read the negative reviews before we left but was determined to go with an open mind. How bad can the lifts really be I thought? I was going to go on this cruise and walk everywhere! ... Read More
This was our first and last experience of P&O. I had read the negative reviews before we left but was determined to go with an open mind. How bad can the lifts really be I thought? I was going to go on this cruise and walk everywhere! Not until you actually board the ship do you realise that this is IMPOSSIBLE. And the lifts really are THAT BAD! Embarkation – horrific. Anyone who had signed up for car parking was forced to wait in a car park for over an hour before being allowed access to the terminal. Drop offs were allowed to go straight into the terminal. Get dropped if you can. It took 3 hours from arrival before we boarded the ship. Not a very relaxing start to the holiday! Food – disappointing. Poor service in the Meridian (freedom dining) restaurant. Uninspiring menu. Uninspiring food when it eventually arrived. Sindhu was a particular low point. The slowest service. Had to ask for menus after we had been seated for 20 minutes! Food resembled and tasted like a microwaved ready meal. At £20 each, don’t waste your money eating here. We tried to get into the Limelight club/Epicurean restaurant but they were fully booked from early on in the cruise. Cabin – on the small side. Cabin creaked all night long when the ship was going above 15 knots. Balcony glass was filthy. Entertainment – can’t comment. We couldn’t get a seat in any of the venues so that says it all really. Disembarkation – a joke. We were allocated a time of 10:30 to get off the ship whereas the other members of our party (whose car we were travelling in) were given a time of 9:20 to disembark. We therefore chose self-service disembarkation where you can take your own bags off the ship before 7:45. This seemed like a good idea in principle however we waited for 25 minutes in order to get in a lift with our bags. Overall I am terribly disappointed with this ship and the service offered by P&O. It would take a lot for me to ever consider booking with them again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This did not start well as a couple of weeks before the cruise we got an email saying we had been upgraded. I was not happy as we had specifically asked to be removed from an automaic upgrade when the cruise was booked. We had been moved ... Read More
This did not start well as a couple of weeks before the cruise we got an email saying we had been upgraded. I was not happy as we had specifically asked to be removed from an automaic upgrade when the cruise was booked. We had been moved to another inside cabin just under pool deck, that is actually the same grade this year and is certainly not a location we wanted, due to potential noise. A rather strained conversation with P&O got our chosen cabin back, although I was originally told they may not be able to do that. It seems our 'no upgrade' request had got lost somewhere along the line. We set sail late, having had a text the previous day saying Oriana would be late back from the previous cruise so to turn up 2 hours later than original time. Investigation of forums identified the delay as being due to engine problems. Engine and thruster problems were mentioned about 3 times during the cruise by the captain so iI suspect the problems persisted. The air in the cabin was ridiculously dry, whcih made my asthma problematic from the outset and must have contributed to the severity of my illness, although mosy people were coughing by the end of the cruise. The captain did not make regular broadcasts as we normally get on cruises and was never seen around the ship. He did not even attend our welcome party on he first formal night! Dining - We were on freedom dining and freedom is the last word I would have used for that as there were regularly queues to get into the restaurant. The second day we went down at about 7.45pm and had to wait 45 minutes to get in!! We filled a comment form in about that and when we turned up the next day, we were admonished for filling the form in by the restaurant manager, who was really quite irrate! It took some time for us to get him to let us into the restaurant - other people were queueing at this time of course!! The food in the main restaurant was not good either, varying from OK to extremely salty, tasteless or just totally inedible. Everything seemed to come with sweet sickly things, rich sauces or a lot of grease - and that was just the savoury courses. A small piece of stale bread was available and two or three malteser sized pieces of potato were fairly usual. We are not fussy eaters - the food really was bad. I lost 4 lb over the course of that cruise, which was a first on any cruise ship. The self service restaurant was open in the evenings but on a 'themed menu' basis and had some very strage and extrememly poor quality food, so that was not really an alternative in the evenings. Also the 'hot' food there was regularly quite cool and I had taken some meatballs one late night snack time, (well used on this cruise as many people were on deck), and the blood could be clearly seen inside as I cut into them. I am not in the slightest surprised that there was an increase in people with stomach bugs by the end of the cruise, but I do have a suspicion that it was not norvirus, which had been blamed by the staff of course. Water supply - At one stage there was a notice in the daily sheet that water would be off on decks 8.9.and ten, from 10.00am - 2pm one day. I was told by someone who had a cabin on one of those decks that it was off on another occasion as well. Again, I wonder what caused the stomach problems! Staff - Our Philipino cabin stewardess was excellent, but many of the restaurant staff and some bar staff caused us much surprise. We have never had cause to criticise crew on any ship before, but a good number of the restaurant staff in particular were not pleasant people and some where downright rude on a number of occasions. It was not even that they were busy as they seemed to have plenty of time to stand round and chat with each other, even after norovirus had been declared. Table clearing in the self service was very slow, if it happened at all before you left. Some bar staff were good, but others were very variable and one even snatched a receipt away at one stage. We had done nothing whatsoever to annoy him. It was obvious though, that all Philipino staff were excellent. Reception staff, (as well as our cabin stewardess), were the exception and they were always excellent. We do not attend much in the way of entertainments, so I cannot comment on most, but there was an extrememly good speaker on astromomy, (solar eclipse, northern lights etc), called Robin Scagell and he was one of the best speakers we have seen on any cruise. Torshavn - Luckily we were not able to dock due to wind, but we did in fact see the solar eclipse, which we would not have done from the dock in Torshavn. We had a short afternon in Torshavn that day following the eclipse. We took a very pleasant walk uphill, through a park beyond the town and visited an art gallery there. Tromso - we were in a crowded crow's nest as we sailed towards the port surrounded by dirty tables which had been used for an art class. There were only two bar staff available for the whole bar, but we did manage to buy two coffees by waiting a considerable time at the bar. The scenery was lovely, but great shame the ship was not organized for scenic cruising. They could easily have cleared the dirty tables (or better still held the cless elsewhere) and deployed more staff to the bar - lots of cash could have been made by bar sales, so that was just bad management. We again had a late arrival in Tromso, reducing the planned afternoon and evening visit to an arrival only about 2.5 hours before the museums closed. By rushing, we did manage to go to Polaria, which was very good. Alta - First day we went on a 'Sami Village and Reindeer Sleding' trip. This trip was good and even the drive there was very pleasant as it was a scenic journey. The weather was cold, as expected, but dry so it was good weather for the trip from our point of view. The next day my husband went into the town independently and then on a northern lights trip that night. I had to cancel my northern lights trip due to a very bad chest infection, but as I had visited the doctor onboard, he had signed the back of my ticket, so I could be refunded the £135 paid. I was thankful for that. The lights were seen that evening, but my husband could not see the colour by eye. This was only seen on time lapse photos. We had been warned previously that the colour(s) are often not visible by eye and that any movement is usually only seen with time lapse photography. That all seemed a bit of a swizz really and is not what is usually advertised as viewing the northern lights. Sea Day After Alta - I went up to the deck to the rear of the self service restaurant late this day as we were sailing south, not far from Tromso to see if the lights had been sighted. I was told they had, but had subsided at that time. So I went back to the cabin and put all my warm clothes on and went back up hoping to get my first sighting. After waiting about half an hour (mainly sitting down near the the restaurant entrance for warmth and rest), I was richly rewarded by a very bright green band of light, which spread around the sky, like a rainbow. I was standing next to one of the passengers with a camera and tripod. He said that was the best he had seen and he had been on the same cruise the previous year, so I was very lucky to see that and it was actually better than my husband had seen. Bergen - My husband had been diagnosed with Flu by then and prescibed Tammyflu as well as the same anti biotics I had. I went for a short walk and got a couple of postcards of the northern lights - which, surprisingly, were not on sale in the ship. Stavanger - We were both quite ill that day, but I managed to go out to post the cards which I had bought the previous day. Overall The ship was showing its age, with many windows in the crow's nest and elsewhere with condensation between the double glazed pains of glass and one was even filled with water to three quarter's of the window height. The bottom of many of the big posts between the front windows were also quite badly rotted. Also, there were obviously mechanical and plumbing problems on the ship. The above was not a major fact in our feelings about the ship, which otherwise looked reasonable. However, the extremely dry air and the food/restaurant situation and the poor quality of many staff was totally unforgivable. Thinking back over our cruises, more than half have been with P&O, but we have no intention whatsoever to travel on one of their ships ever again. There are far better cruise companies out there, and not necessarily at a higher price. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
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