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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
I boarded Britannia for its France, Spain and Guernsey highlights. Embarkation was smooth for all guests, luggage attendants extremely helpful. And check in staff to security personal where to the highest standards. On boarding ... Read More
I boarded Britannia for its France, Spain and Guernsey highlights. Embarkation was smooth for all guests, luggage attendants extremely helpful. And check in staff to security personal where to the highest standards. On boarding Britannia I was greeted by friendly onboard social hostesses, who dealt with enquires in a very pleasant manner. The overall appearance is a finely and articulate ship with the grandiose it expels. The room steward kiran was trained to be more of a butler than a steward, one in which I would of expected to see on a Cunard liner. Absolutely excellent service from this young man. However it was not long Until you could hear the grumbles of passengers. From freezer packs not being delivered at appropriate times for medicine to be administered for a guest who had informed p and o re medical conditions. I can confirm the ship dealt with this on day of departure. Hopefully to the guest satisfaction. Then there was an issue with the drinks package!! 96 year old female told to pay the fee even though didn’t drink so her son could get his drinks package. I can confirm this was dealt with and he did receive his drinks package and the elderly lady was not charged and training was given. There was another incident on board on the first formal night when the photographer asked two gentleman, as they set to pose for photographs if they were father and son. One of the gentleman replied “no he is my partner” the photographer then replied who is the man and who is the woman” to many passengers in the queues horror and well as the two upset gentlemen. I can confirm there complaint was dealt with. The received compensation of 100 pounds on board credit alongside a meal in one of the fine dining rooms and the photographer was moved to a different area of the ship. However, they are still seeking more than this as they feel money or restaurants don’t compensate it is more to the fact of training and his attitude towards their sexuality. Now to bilboa this was pretty horrific as to disembarkation and boarding for disabled passengers coming off deck 6 rather than deck 5. It was far to long for passengers to try and walk and if a dla assessment officer was watching he/she would have been shocked as people who struggle to walk was actually beyond any Disablement entitlement. If a photographer took a photo. However because of this many were left physically exhausted and one passenger falling, injuring her ankle. Other passengers complained regarding the heating in rooms either being to cold then to hot in the evening. Then came the niggles and the freedom dining. Personally was pretty horrified at the times you had to wait your buzzer not going off, which I did complain about. Then the finest champagne not being open correctly and spilling out over the table. Which was reported. Now to your personal order of drinks bill being given and asked to sign before you had your dessert. I can confirm that this was reported and everything was taken extremely serious and action was taken.many passengers were disappointed not docking in Guernsey. This was down to storm Hannah and I back the decision as passengers and staff safety should always come first and the captain did although to the frustration of some. Disembarkation was delayed due to highs winds in the morning again adding to further frustration. This was out of both P and o Cruises control and ground staff. Unfortunately an act of god is beyond anyone’s control. Safety always has to be paramount. I understand people’s views and expectations are all different whether dining, dressing to entertainment. So yes this cruise didn’t meet a lot of expectations however, look carefully at itinerary of your cruise, and dress codes etc , every ship is different but at the same time it’s like a box of chocolates full of different varieties with a glossy coating. One thing I will say I think I am Amongst the majority that found the captains announcements came across a little condescending “ladies and gentleman boys and girls “ and tatty bye. Not how I expect a captain to address his public. I can confirm that every complaint is taking extremely seriously, and that Britannia staff will do their upmost to sort the situation out. Don’t wait to get home and complain it’s important to address it whilst on board. I would like like to add the bar team in the live lounge were of the highest standard and worked together extremely well. They served immaculately and presented themselves well a proud team supporting Avalon and his Assistant manager, and P and O Cruises. So yes the company needs to keep on top of training to impress the quality of service and fix things as soon as they arise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Short jaunt around the Bay of Biscay. Bipolar weather and last stop aborted so no guernsey sadly. I love Britannia. She’s a big ship and handles the rough and tumble of the Bay no problem. I met some lovely people on board who made ... Read More
Short jaunt around the Bay of Biscay. Bipolar weather and last stop aborted so no guernsey sadly. I love Britannia. She’s a big ship and handles the rough and tumble of the Bay no problem. I met some lovely people on board who made my holiday very special indeed. Grateful to Pete and Clarke for this. I also met some horrors too. If people can be nasty bigots in a public venue, I’m the antidote. These creatures were summarily dealt with and I moved on. P&O should DNA check some of its passengers. Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze. Very efficient and the staff were amazing. I simply couldn’t fault them. I love P&O for this. The ship is due for a refit this year and, although she’s a lovely vessel, she needs a bit of a makeover as my cabin bathroom stunk of urine! Not good when I’ve complained about the very same thing on Ventura before. I get that a few thousand people all using the bathroom is a monumental thing on a ship, but P&O must sort this out. Soon. In summary, I enjoyed my journey and Britannia is lovely, apart from her toilet habits!! Safe journeys y’all Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
The embarkation process was smooth, arrived and checked in within 30 mins. Our cabin was indoor, c366 and was as expected. Not a huge amount of hanging space/storage but for a short cruise was adequate. It was a port intensive ... Read More
The embarkation process was smooth, arrived and checked in within 30 mins. Our cabin was indoor, c366 and was as expected. Not a huge amount of hanging space/storage but for a short cruise was adequate. It was a port intensive cruise. We visited Gijon, it was meant to be la coruna but due to poor conditions the port was changed. A nice coastal resort worth walking to park and headland opposite old town. Bilbao we didn’t do an excursion we got the shuttle to town. Did an independent walking tour, took the funicular up for views. Took the metro to areeta, walked back via there to ship 3.5 km - nicer than central Bilbao. La Rochelle was lovely. €9 to enter all 3 towers. Loads of eating choices. No need for excursion if forecast is good. Cherbourg we went to mount st Michael. Our guide was rather eccentric and got only an hours free time after excusing ourselves of his company. Journey was 5 hours. Organised ship excursion and the most disappointing Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We chose this cruise this cruise because we liked the itinerary its was my 60th Birthday I have always wanted yo visit St Petersburg .The negative part of P&O Britannia was the bar staff I found some very homophobic bar staff which ... Read More
We chose this cruise this cruise because we liked the itinerary its was my 60th Birthday I have always wanted yo visit St Petersburg .The negative part of P&O Britannia was the bar staff I found some very homophobic bar staff which made very rude gestures to my partner in the bar that as karaoke .I was not told by my partner until we returned to the UK. He never told me because I would have been put off the ship. The cabin we was in was E251 the cabin steward really looked after us it was very clean to be fair the whole ship was very clean . The lifts was a nightmare at peak times . The buffet restaurant the food was ok nothing special . The late night buffet was the food left over from the evening buffet .We really enjoyed the limelight club Claire Sweeney was great what a voice . We went to the Indian restaurant on board ship the food was excellent you try it . Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Chose the cruise due to the ship and destinations. Embarkation and disembarkin went well. Allthough gangway failed on disembark. So we were lead to another. We had cabin D440. Balcony and central. Xavier our steward was brilliant. ... Read More
Chose the cruise due to the ship and destinations. Embarkation and disembarkin went well. Allthough gangway failed on disembark. So we were lead to another. We had cabin D440. Balcony and central. Xavier our steward was brilliant. Nothing too much trouble. We had the select price with freedom dining. Exellent. We ate in the Meriden most evenings. Waiters are exellent We had Philip and Amol. Great guys. A credit to the company. Food was excellent. Plenty of good Fish dishes. Wines reasonably priced. We didn't see any shows. Not really our thing. We did go to a couple of talks and the Crow's nest bar, which was good. Ports were good. I'd been to Bilbao Gijon and Cherbourg before. It was nice seeing them from the sea. I found it particularly heartwarming that there were many disabled people of all ages on board. All obviously enjoying every minute. Booked another cruise whilst on board. That says it all !! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Pool was closed for all but one day of the holiday. Understaffed. Ran out of most drinks on board. So much was broken, lifts, toilets, etc. Activities scheduled on deck, knowing there was bad weather - massive cop out. Staff were so ... Read More
Pool was closed for all but one day of the holiday. Understaffed. Ran out of most drinks on board. So much was broken, lifts, toilets, etc. Activities scheduled on deck, knowing there was bad weather - massive cop out. Staff were so unhappy - you could see it throughout the ship. Numerous staff were criticizing P&O, telling us how tight they are and disgusting how they dont even give customers correct reasons for problems. The captain rarely made any announcements on board about the journey, weather etc. Reception queues for over an hour. and wa sonly way to get a bill. (Just what you want to do on your holiday!). Some entertainment was like watching a school play! Having cruised 10+ times, it is back to RC we go! We have never had problems with the American service. Was offered a part-refund for part of our holiday, to be told one day before we left the ship that it would be given as onboard credit, once again lied to and fobbed off by them. Gym equipment was broke. Computer systems were down for last three days, so we couldn't access our bills. High level management are protected by low level staff. PLEASE NOTE: Not one customer (I spoke to close to 100) was happy with this cruise!!! This cruise was a reflection of where P&O is going, ie, eventually nowhere! STEER CLEAR! SPEND YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY SOMEWHERE ELSE!!! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2018
Love the P&O Caribbean cruises as you fly into the Caribbean rather than having to travel from USA so you get to visit extra islands. First time on Britannia, first impressions were fantastic and the cruise lived up to those first ... Read More
Love the P&O Caribbean cruises as you fly into the Caribbean rather than having to travel from USA so you get to visit extra islands. First time on Britannia, first impressions were fantastic and the cruise lived up to those first impressions. The embarkation was a breeze and we were first on the ship, there were lots of flight issues due to snow back home so we were some of the lucky ones to arrive on time, maybe if more flights had been in at the same time it would have taken longer. Main dining was very good, lovey food and occasionally service not always up to normal expectations. Are at Sindhu, Beach House and Glass House. All very good but the glass house was our favourite and would definitely eat there on next visit, thoroughly worth the few extra pounds per plate. Entertainment was good, House band and group were brilliant and saw lots of their performances. Main theatre was very impressive, the sets and performers were great but the story line on the main show was a bit weak. Would definitely travel to Caribbean on Britannia again but not in the aft balcony cabins. See cabin review. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Booked the trip as my mother in law wanted to celebrate her 50th on a Norwegian Fjords Cruise. P and O was reasonably priced. being in our 20's we were concerned it would be full of 'old' people. However was pleasantly ... Read More
Booked the trip as my mother in law wanted to celebrate her 50th on a Norwegian Fjords Cruise. P and O was reasonably priced. being in our 20's we were concerned it would be full of 'old' people. However was pleasantly surprised as we were not the youngest ones there. The ship itself is lovely, it's 7 years old and still looks quite up to date. easy to get around, not too big as to get lost. The shows in the evening were performed by a group called headliners, they started off good, but then got a bit screechy. not the best shows we've seen, but not the worst. The best nights out were the comedians, John Clegg and Mark Zany, great shows really funny and both had 2 different shows. On sea days, there is plenty to do, the entertainment team put on a hilarious radio show, and the sail aways were great fun. Especially the Olden, was so lovely to see everyone in Olden wave the ship off. With regards to the ports, we visited Stavenger, Flam, Olden and Bergan. Flam and Olden were by far the best ports. I recommend getting up early on the Flam day and going up to the top deck and watching as you sail through the Fjords, An experience i probably wont have again. Food was great, we had fixed dinning at 8.30 in the Oriental, There was something for everyone on there, Veggies may struggle but i'm pretty sure they would cook whatever you wanted. Dinner was 3 courses with a cheese board at the end and at the end of the cruise you get to keep all the menus. I'd avoid the buffet in the evening, food was no where near as good as the restaurants. We did pay extra to eat in the speciality restaurant, the beach house, £7.50 pp. Well worth it, amazing food!!! Drinks were not too expensive either, cocktails £6, Small Wine £4.50, Diet Coke £2.95. Would recommend Planet Bar for drinks, amazing view and lovely to sit and watch the world go by (literally). Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
On reflection to a nice break from the normal grind of everyday life I fell our holiday was simply 'nice'. A Nice ship, nice food, nice people.... what was lacking was a WOW! Which is a shame,as in my head P&O was up there in ... Read More
On reflection to a nice break from the normal grind of everyday life I fell our holiday was simply 'nice'. A Nice ship, nice food, nice people.... what was lacking was a WOW! Which is a shame,as in my head P&O was up there in what i thought was high class service. Instead at times I felt like it was a ship for old people (arts & crafts, how to shift cellulite and Bridge matches were were some of the amazing choice of activity's I could attend during sea days) the entertainment shows with exception to Olly Murrs, Adel and jersey Boys tribute were a little naff and very Butlins and high use of click track (recorded backing tracks) .... even with a live band there was no punch..... they obviously feel the older clientele don't want to hear the orchestra played well with good bass. I also felt the shows were very amateur and made for somebody 60+ who wants to look back at their younger years and reminisce.... for example the one show was based around a 60s bank holiday. The cabin was dated even though the ship was only built in 2010, although kept clean and a very comfy bed. Here they could of created a wow with the towels or something, but they missed a opportunity. The public areas were nicely decorated.... just poor design in ship.... they seem to have wanted more cabins and less guest areas. the dining rooms were each big rooms.... but unlike some other ships who wow you with a 3 floor dining room, i felt like i was simply there to eat and not be entertained. Also disappointed there were no LGBT meet or greet on this cruise. On previous cruises we have been able to meet new friends. A pleasant trip to Amsterdam and a great to meet other people, but the ship itself was a true let down. Read Less
27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We booked this cruise as a last minute getaway with the intention of not getting off and spending the day in the spa and eating. P&O wouldn't normally be my first choice of cruise line and after the cruise, I would actually have ... Read More
We booked this cruise as a last minute getaway with the intention of not getting off and spending the day in the spa and eating. P&O wouldn't normally be my first choice of cruise line and after the cruise, I would actually have to say never again. The ship itself appears to be nice but upon closer inspection, a lot of the materials used felt cheap, as a result the ship, which is only 18 months old is very tatty in certain areas. Our balcony cabin felt small and cramped with low ceilings and an almost impossibly small bathroom. There were stains and marks all over the sheets when we first arrived so I had to ask the cabin steward to change them. The real let downs for me were the food and the service. The food was quite frankly disgusting, the buffet options were limited and the quality nowhere near the standard of P&O's competitors. The food in the dining room was somewhat better but was all either cold or overcooked or tasteless. Not one member of staff even smiled at us throughout our two days on board. The spa is nice, although awkwardly positioned near guest services. I felt that throughout the day they oversubscribed it to the point where it was no longer relaxing. I wonder if it was because it was a two day cruise and possibly wouldn't happen on a longer sailing. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
Myself and partner are in our early 40's and booked the cruise as visiting many destinations appealed to us as oppose to a standard holiday where you visit just 1. This was our very 1st cruise and we were surprised as it seemed 95% of ... Read More
Myself and partner are in our early 40's and booked the cruise as visiting many destinations appealed to us as oppose to a standard holiday where you visit just 1. This was our very 1st cruise and we were surprised as it seemed 95% of all the passengers were 70 years old and older. Our 1st impression of the ship was nice and clean. Our balcony cabin was very clean. They came into the cabin and made the bed and tidied it twice a day. But is must be honest and say the guy that was cleaning our room smelt of body odor, and I could tell he was out and about even before seeing him. Plus the hoover he used to clean our room left a horrid stench like the bag hadn't been changed in years. Everything onboard the ship was shockingly expensive. You'd need to take out a mortgage to buy in the shops. The food was great in the Horizon Restaurant and was self service. It was open 3 times a day for a good few hours at a time. The Lido Grill (snack Bar) was pathetic with a few chips and they only put out 1 hotdog or cheese burger at a time. No good when you have 100's onboard a ship. It was like they didn't want you to take more than one at a time. The other restaurants were pay restaurants and we never used them. The way we seen it, we paid a couple of 1000 for the holiday and weren't gonna pay even more to eat. If you like soft drinks and squash, you have to pay for them. Alcohol is not free either like it is on standard hotel all inclusive hols and it was expensive. The only free drinks are tea, coffee and water. Be careful of the hot plates in the Horizon when taking food. My partner went to take a slice of toast, the ship swayed, her arm rose up, touched the ''hidden'' hot plate and left her with a 4 inch burn. They have a notice the size of a postage stamp to say its hot, but you cant see it. Even if you can read it, its a floating moving structure and you have no control over your body movements when it's rocking and they have nothing in place to stop you badly burning yourself on this. She asked to see the doctor because the burn was quite bad and hurting and they told her she'd have to pay £62 just to see him!! Great, they burn her and charge her to seek medical help!! Needless to say we WILL be seeking legal advice within the next few days over this incident. The gym has all you need, very clean and tidy. The sauna and steam room are very clean, tidy, but are stupidly small for a shipful of passengers. the steam room fits about 5 and the sauna about 10. the out door pool and indoor pool were emptied for the 1st 3 days of our cruise, why I don't know, didn't they know we were comming?? When they did fill the pools they were great, clean. The jacuzzi's were also hot and clean. But I did see one guy actually shaving while sitting in the jacuzzi one time. I did report the matter as it was disgusting and they dealt with it. He was sitting in there, scraping his face with a razor, yuk. The decks were clean and tidy. The staff were 100% polite and very helpful. They go out of their way to say hello, g'morning and g'evening. They are also smiling constantly, which was nice. For the older oap generation there is quite a lot to do. For children there are groups they can join and there's also play centers that look after them for you. But if you're aged 18-50 and like a little bit of life onboard a ship, I'd give this one a miss. We just tried killing time inbetween ports by playing cards in our cabin and walking about the ship and using the gym twice a day as there wasn't really anything else for us to do. everywhere you look people are playing domino's, doing jigsaws and arts and crafts. Not our thing at all. The laundty is good with many machines and dryers all free of charge to use from 8am to 10pm. Oh, and Aurora seem to block all internet access while on the ship, whether it be on your tablet, phone or laptop. You have to purchase it from them at varying costs like £39 for 100 minutes, rip off cost. Our holiday was saved by the stops we made, and not the ship we were on. Disembarking was a nightmare. Everyone was confused and didn't seem to know where to go or what to do. This was the only time the staff were unhelpful and ignorant when approached. They were sending people to all places on the ship and giving them no info while they were waiting to leave. people were missing their buses etc. In the end I said to my partner for ''to hell with this, lets just get off or we'll miss our connection'', so we went back down to reception and walked off the ship. Why didn't the staff tell us we could do this rather than send us to the other end of the ship and wait for nothing?? This is an outdated ship with limited means. There are many many better P&O ships to sail on. Overhaul, did we enjoy? Yes. Would we sail on this ship again? No Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2015
Background We are two guys who decided to take our respective Mums on Britannia to celebrate their 80th Birthdays. We have cruised with P&O, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. We chose this cruise because of the date as it encompassed ... Read More
Background We are two guys who decided to take our respective Mums on Britannia to celebrate their 80th Birthdays. We have cruised with P&O, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. We chose this cruise because of the date as it encompassed one of their birthdays, the itinerary because it was the Canaries and should deliver better weather at this time of year and finally it was a chance to try this new ship with its focus on a British clientele which we thought would suit our Mums better. We had veered away from P&O in recent years due to their two tier fare structures but the lure of double on board credit (£320 pp) incentivised us to try Britannia departing 28th March. There is a lot of detail here but there is a summary at the bottom should you wish to skip my ramblings. Cabins We had two adjoining obstructed view balconies on Deck 8, G510/G512. We knew about the lifeboat obstruction but the price difference for a non obstructed was too much especially when paying for two cabins. The lifeboat roof came up to about a third of the glass balcony screens with a clear view out to sea, so not fully obstructed at all however the cabin next door had two large white mechanisms in front of their balcony and looking to the aft several cabins down the lifeboats where taller and came above the balcony rail so we were very pleased with our choice. The balconies are all the same size and are the smallest we've encountered. Equipped with two reclining chairs, a table and foot stool. The divide between the balconies can be opened but given the limited depth the folded back door then obstructs about a foot of the balcony door of one cabins. We had seen the promotional pics online and knew what to expect. The specific grade of cabin was an IC which we knew had the benefit of a sofa instead of a chair and has two instead of one bedside tables (most standard balcony cabins have a single chair and the vanity unit performs a dual function as a sort of bedside table i.e. 2 less drawers available for storage due to missing a bedside table). The sofa was nice to have but is compact and cannot be used as a sofa bed. The cabin is approx 18" longer than a standard balcony cabin as exhibited by the way these jut out into the corridor more than the other type. The layout worked fine with a large walk in wardrobe, a tall cupboard with shelves and a safe and a vanity unit by the balcony door which has a wide drawer containing the hairdryer but space for much more and a mini fridge and chair. The decor is pretty contemporary and modern. There is a large flat screen tv on the wall with a wide choice of free tv episodes, 6 live TV channels and a good choice of TV and mainly free films. Strangely though you cannot access your onboard account or order room service via the TV. The TV cannot be angled and the HDMI ports are not accessible. There are no individual bedside lights. To read you would need the three overhead lights on over the bed which would affect anyone else in the room. The bathroom is compact. A similar size to Ventura and Azura but with a glass shower screen rather than a shower curtain. Its functional but lacks storage having just three shelves but in particular it lacks colour. Its just a white room. Compared to Celebrity Eclipse the bathroom disappoints. We found the bed very comfortable, firm but very nice with lovely new bedding. The cabin steward was lovely and very efficient. We made a small list of a couple of issues with the TV, a towel rail and wardrobe rail and within hours maintenance fixed them all. All in all a comfortable place to come back to. Food We've done 5 previous P&O cruises. We departed to Celebrity for the last three and thought the food was a lot better on Celebrity. This was a return after 2 years to P&O. We thought the food was excellent. Firstly the buffet is vast. Yes it is busy however its the largest buffet we have seen and is very well laid out. Imagine a H symbol but with two across lines each of which is a buffet section. Each buffet section mirrors itself so there are two of every serving station at each buffet section. You can cross from seating on one side to the other easily. The seating areas are well laid out in rows so its easy to pass between tables. There is a choice of seating, from large booths, tables for four or two and high seat tables and benches. It really is about the best designed. buffet area on a ship Ive seen. We always managed to find a table whenever we were there. Yes its busy as there are lots onboard but credit to the designers. The choice is very good. Breakfast has everything you could want, full English, continental, porridge, buns, pastries, omelet station and eggs to order. A nice touch is that mugs are laid on tables and servers circulate to offer tea and coffee if you don't want to help yourself during breakfast and afternoon tea. Lunch has the typical P&O selection of a roast dinner, pies, lots of curry choices and an extended salad selection plus a wide choice of desserts. We didn't eat in the buffet in the evening but each night had a theme, Seafood, Indian. Mediterranean etc which was strongly adhered too and there was a nightly quiz in there. The decor is clean, modern and stylish and the food serving areas very bright and well thought out. Well done P&O. I have to mention hygiene though. There are trough like sinks as you enter the buffet with three taps and they look impressive but are pretty pointless given the high throughput of passengers and after the first day most gave up on them particularly as the sensors for the water and soap were very temperamental. There are Purell dispensers by where the trays are provided however many ignored them and if you walked straight into the buffet food stations and grabbed a plate without a tray you would not encounter a gel machine. Possibly the ship most likely to spread Noro that we have been on particularly as there is not even a hint of enforcement. (edited.........one of our Mums got Norovirus on day 8. She is extremely careful about hygiene and uses gel and hand washes continuously. Our first experience of Noro on 10 cruises and although its impossible to be sure our guess is the buffet was the culprit. We did sit the next day at lunch and looked at one entrance to the serving stations and less than 1 in 10 used the gel machines. Out on deck is the burger/hot dog/fried chicken outlet and offerings are placed like fast food joints on the counter and you help yourself. The burgers for instance are fully loaded with onions tomatoes cheese etc but if you want a specific request then you can ask and its quickly taken care of. The burgers were delicious and our favourite. Think McDonalds but way better. There is a pizza station and again the pizza was always available and you helped yourself to slices. There was an ice cream outlet (chargeable) plus a first as far as we know a Grab n Go section. Here there was a chiller cabinet with a good choice of ready made salads, pre-packed sandwiches and desserts (think M&S take away section) plus opposite were some warm items such as pasties or other warm tasty items pre-wrapped. It was a popular outlet and a really nice touch though whether all its customers really needed more food was questionable. Breakfast take away muffins with egg, bacon, sausage combinations could also be 'grabbed'. I cannot comment on the speciality restaurants as we didn't visit any (we walked past the Epicurean at afternoon tea and only saw 6 tables of customers). The main reason we cannot comment on the paid restaurants.......the main dinning room food was too good! We ate in one of the two freedom dining restaurants, the Meridian. This is below the other freedom dining restaurant the Peninsular just off the atrium. Club dining is in the Oriental restaurant wayback on deck 6 aft. The layout of the Meridian was really nice. Whilst a large area, there was a feel of separation with wine bottle walls, glass walls, and panelling so it felt a lot more intimate and more like a restaurant at home. We did visit the Peninsular (the other freedom dinning restaurant) for breakfast several times and it has a different decor and layout and not quite so much separation. The decor in the restaurants is modern, clean and pleasant with good lighting and space between tables was the best on any ship we have sailed, even the tables for two were well spaced and plentiful. Breakfast in the restaurant was excellent and choices were very nicely cooked. In the evening we turned up at various times and only had to take a buzzer twice for a max of 25 mins. The choice of food was excellent. The right hand menu changed nightly and on the left was the always available menu. My OH is a veggie and was brought a veggie menu each night to select from for the following night that had around 6 starters and mains plus they brought the next nights main menu to view which had at least one veggie starter and main.....to quote someone who is use to compromising...' The best food choice out of 10 cruises'. Public areas The atrium is impressive and is the hub of the ship. Its a pleasant space and the starburst sculpture centrepiece impresses and the mood lighting changes throughout the day. Interestingly the reception has been moved to an offshoot corridor as has the more routine shop selling books, giftware and toiletries. The ground floor has the Market Cafe and the Blue Bar to each side with the Blue Bar servicing the ground floor atrium seating too. We never saw anyone buying a cake from the Market Cafe throughout the cruise despite how nice they looked (do we need to pay £2.95 for cake when its free in the buffet or with a coffee from the Java coffeeshop?) The next floor up has the high end shops and the top level has The Glass House and the Java coffee shop each side with lots of seating. The glass house is a little disappointing compared to Azura as its smaller and open to the atrium so has less of specific character. Even so it was very popular and a good spot to people watch. For those who have been on Azura/Ventura there is some similarity in layout with deck 7 being the main deck for public areas from the Headliners Theatre at the fore and the Live Lounge show bar at the aft. However its so much bigger and the walk from front to rear is lengthy. This feels (and is) a much bigger ship than Azura/Ventura. If you enjoy pre dinner drinks in the crows nest but are on club dining in the oriental, then allow a good 15 minutes to get to your restaurant, The Live Lounge has the house band and visiting acts but its no bigger than its Azura/Ventura counterparts and doesn't rake so much so sightlines are pretty poor and its depressingly dark even when there is no act on. I have to say the house band 'Pulse' was excellent and could take on any style really well. If you wanted to see a visiting act in there then you needed to be in really early, say 45 mins when the Take That tribute were on and even then if you were not sat in the front section your view could be blocked by latecomers standing in front of you. The Crystal Room is a lovely room for dance and very popular amongst traditionalist with ballroom dancing every evening accompanied by a live band and dance instructors. The band were again excellent. The studio is a multipurpose space for demonstrations, talks and cinema. We didn't visit it but it looked well laid out. Brodies is the 'pub' and is a big space, about twice the size of Azura's counterpart and hosts a series of quizzes, musicians and TV sport. Its a very popular venue. The casino is to one side of Brodies and whilst popular is compact. The Limelight club is a dinner & show venue costing £22. On our cruise non of the acts appealed and the menu looked more limited and less appealing than the main dining room, especially for vegetarians. However as we didn't attend I cannot really pass judgement apart from passing during dinner one evening and noting more empty tables than occupied ones. Is there a theme here re chargeable venues? (The Limelight Club space would have made a lovely area for a larger Glass House). The Headliners Theatre is another area that disappoints somewhat. Its fairly bland with only one tier and its pretty small for the size of the ship. Celebrity Eclipse carries 1000 less passengers but its theatre holds 215 more passengers. The Crows Nest is way up high on Deck 16 fore. Its a nice space with great views. The decor departs from the rest of the ship and hints at previous versions on other ships with a more nautical style. It is however very popular and has great views. The Sunset Bar is aft of the buffet and has masses of seating for those wanting to eat their meal outside or sit and have a drink. It really is a very nice area and surprisingly underused. Most of it is covered so a good shelter from the rain. The library is small and is a room tucked away up on Deck 16 next to The Crows Nest. You don't need to visit it to get an internet package as you can do it from your PC and phone/tablet. We bought a wifi package and coverage is shipwide, if rather slow. I cannot talk about this ship without mentioning the lifts. Yes I knew the midship lifts had no accompanying stairs apart from between deck 5, 6 and 7 and yes this is a drawback as it was for with us as we had rooms on deck 8 and may want to go down to deck 7. However there is a lot of pressure on lifts across the ship and if you were planning to get somewhere by a certain time you had to factor in lift waiting time. As people became more unhappy waiting for say a down lift they would get in an up lift and ride it out till it came back down. You could wait for a lift on the top floor of deck 16 midships and when it arrived it could be full of people wanting to go down who had simply acquired any lift. When you caught a lift then it would stop on every floor making journeys lengthy. Also at midship the lifts they are really badly laid out. There is a spread out bank of 4 and two separate ones opposite but you have to press the button on the main bank and on the two separate lifts, three buttons, and the two separate ones act independently. Also the lifts are small, the smallest we've seen on any ship. Our Mums are part time wheelchair users and two wheelchairs would fill a lift requiring us to split up more often than not. Its a design floor flagged up when the Royal Princess had its first voyage and should have been fixed while they had the time during the Britannia build. The circulation areas around the lifts is small and leads to congestion. It didn't help that at midships one lift was out of order the whole cruise and then two lifts out of order for part of the cruise. The lifts also had a habit of reaching a floor and the doors would not open requiring you to go to another floor, get out and try and get another lift. If you are claustrophobic then you may not like the lift set up on this ship as people try to squeeze in. The spa area is very nice, not that we had any treatments but we had a 10 minute tour and its very smart. One Mum had her hair styled which was priced at £37 but her bill was almost double due to up selling, an added tip (never mentioned on any price list of Horizon paper promotion) and a pricing error. We complained and they discounted the original price but with no explanation of why we had been told one price and she was charged a higher one. The gym has been separated from the spa and is way up top on deck 17. Its well equipped but somewhat dark. There is art around the ship, all of which is abstract and modern. There is no promenade deck around the main public decks, just platforms that sit outside of the glass house, java and live lounge areas. Deck 18 is called a promenade and has a marked walking track around it though it only occupies around a third of the length of the trip. The feel of the ship and decor is modern but classy. Apart from The Crows Nest its not nautical but more like a classy, contemporary hotel. The furniture is very nice with some lovely seating styles. Pool decks The main pool deck area has two pools, a splash area and is pretty large with nice new loungers. Its has a bar, a burger/hot dog outlet, a pizza outlet and a grab n go area. There are loungers in the open and wide undercover seating areas with plenty of mixed styles of seating and tables. The upper surrounding tier is well laid out with Jacuzzis, plenty of loungers and dozens more stacked up to use. Towards the front there is the serenity pool for adults only. This really is a nice area, very wide with a mix of loungers and lovely seating areas and on our 'during school holiday' cruise was a godsend as the other pools were chock a block with kids. However given we had 600 onboard the lower pool decks were the only place their presence was really noticed. The Retreat area is segregated at the front and takes up very little space, thankfully. Its not visible from anywhere so I have no idea how popular it was on our cruise. The small pool on Deck 17 aft is for teenagers only but has nice seating areas around it. The layout of the main pool decks is interesting. As well as the loungers by the two main pools there is copious seating underneath the overhang with nice chairs and conservatory seating. The upper tier around the pools has Jacuzzis and a nice mix of seating areas and types. If you are happy to sit away from a pool then there are lots of hidden areas with rows of sunbeds but you may have to climb to deck 18 and 19 to access them. P&O have really excelled themselves here in planning to make use of the space so most can find a place to rest and by providing a mass of sunbeds. It may not be in your favourite spot but if you explore there are places to be found and there are spares loungers stacked up if needed. Fellow passengers As Ive said, this was a cruise over the Easter school holidays with Easter itself sitting right on the middle weekend. We were told we had 2,500 previous P&O passengers and 1,200 people new to P&O plus 600 children. Its interesting the number of people new to P&O that may have been lured by this brand new ship. This did lead to a mix of passengers which was more varied in age than our previous P&O trips with less people of retirement age and more people with families although it has to be spread there was a fair spread throughout all ages which was really very pleasant. Whilst there were a lot of kids as said before they only really made their presence known in the main pools in good weather and appeared occupied by the kids clubs and sports arena up on 18. Overall passengers were very pleasant and friendly with hardly any moaning types encountered. This led to a nice atmosphere onboard and generally courteous behaviour. There were a lot of wheelchair users as is expected on a no fly cruise. One point here is that during times when rooms were being serviced by the stewards a wheelchair will not fit down a corridor as the attendants trolleys block access. We had to plan well to avoid our Mums repeatedly having to get out and back into their chairs. Entertainment. The Horizon paper had the usual list of daily entertainment from quizzes, lounge music and deck games. There did seem to be a lot of spa related talks which were aimed at promoting chargeable treatments under the guise of information. The evening brought live bands and visiting acts in various lounges with a nightly piano player in the Crows Next ( not the best piano player we've heard as even when playing gentle numbers he had a tendency to sound a little strident ). The main theatre held shows by the ships resident entertainers. We saw one featuring a mix of music including songs from the musicals which had some great voices and 'Gravity' another music jukebox type show that made great use of floating LED backdrops. We watched 'Adaje', a visiting french mime type act who were excellent physical performers mixing gymnastics with aerial acrobatics....probably the best visiting act we've seen on a ship. As there were only two performances seats were at a premium leaving loads of unhappy passengers who could not get in. The productions shows by the resident performers would have three performances (7.00, 8.30 and 10.30) with visiting acts generally on at 8.30 and 10.30 pm. There was a recent film in the studio two or three times per evening (though always available on your TV). The Live Lounge had a nightly band plus visiting performers. It was sad to see that even though a magician and a comedian were billed as late night adult shows there were families still in there......it made me wince hearing swearing in front of young kids, not the performers fault but the parents. Service I've previously commented on forums about comparisons between service on P&O and that on US cruise lines generally feeling P&O falls short in this area. Well something has changed. We found service to be pretty much excellent all round. Staff would always greet you if passing by and dining room waiter service was very, very good. Bar service was very good, plentiful waiters always ready to take a drinks order. Waiters all used tablets to place drinks orders and this seemed to work smoothly. I'm sure the pleasant atmosphere generated by this friendly attitude rubbed off on passengers and helped produce a relaxed feel across all onboard. We did think that boarding and disembarking at ports would be difficult given the size of the ship but in fact it was extremely smooth at all times and very well organised. Our initial boarding at Southampton started at 12.00 and we were onboard within 15 mins. The allocated arrival times issues by P&O were not checked or enforced. Final disembarkation was terrible due to the lift situation. Allow a good 30 mins to get to your meeting point for disembarkation. Summary I am normally pretty good at getting used to the layout of a ship quickly however this one stumped me often and I had to carry the guide around for the first week. As advertised this is the biggest ship designed for the UK market and it is big. If you don't like big ships this isn't for you. If Azura/Ventura was too big for you then this certainly will not suit you. However if you like a wealth of choice of venues, good food options, a contemporary atmosphere and good service then its a great base to cruise around in. It tries to cover all bases appealing to families with children, ballroom enthusiasts, sun worshippers and those seeking to be entertained or a relaxing corner to read. I cant say we had a wow factor but it is a very pleasant vessel with some nice design touches and a few annoying niggles (lifts, lifts and lifts). Plusses; Clean, modern ship with lots of choices for dining and entertainment. Modern, if compact, cabins Main dining rooms well laid out with lots of space and very good choice of food Big pool decks with lots of seating/loungers and areas to explore. Good service with no additional service charges. A great buffet layout with lots of choice Lots of quizzes Good bands, singers. Good on board shows. Cons: Lifts, lack of lifts, small lifts, lifts not working, wait for lifts, crowded lifts, lifts not opening on a floor. Small venues (theatre, live lounge) for the number of passengers. On the cusp of having too many chargeable restaurants options (The Market Cafe is a waste of space especially with the Java cafe two floors above in the Atrium). Daytime entertainment relies a lot on spa talks leading to possible extra costs. Sinks in public toilets have sensors for soap and water:- soap is produced in minute quantities and the water sensor doesn't sense your hands unless you wave them directly in front of them i.e. behind the actual sink. Its impossible to manage to get a steady stream to get hot water flowing and these sensors are in every public WC. Would we cruise on her again? This is a hard one. For the ships second ever outing there were no teething problems to be sorted out which surprised us. If it wasn't for the lift issue I would say yes if the price and itinerary were good. However I know it may sound like I'm banging on about one issue but it really does affect most aspects of the cruise. Our Mums missed the start of the passenger choir performance despite leaving our cabin 25 minutes before it started as we could not get in a lift. Its an issue pretty much everyone was talking about. Perhaps on a term time cruise with fewer passengers the issue may not be quote so much of a major issue but I can only comment on our experience. When we finally got a lift on disembarkation day someone in it said 'thank god this is our final lift journey on this ship' and everyone laughed. Its something they cannot resolve apart from helping by ensuring the lifts are all working and unfortunately it is caused by trying to replace public space with cabins and on this occasion they have tipped the balance too far. So we are unlikely to be rushing back unless there is a bargain deal to be had. There is a lot of info here and its hard to ensure everything is covered. If you have any specific questions feel free to ask plus I have hundreds of pics to get round to sorting out that may help others. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Arcadia cruise 9-20 December 2014 cruise J421 Our first impression was a good one as we arrived at the new Mayflower Teminal. It is very well designed and set out, much improved on the "shed" we were in in 2008. We had to wait ... Read More
Arcadia cruise 9-20 December 2014 cruise J421 Our first impression was a good one as we arrived at the new Mayflower Teminal. It is very well designed and set out, much improved on the "shed" we were in in 2008. We had to wait two hours for a friend who was joining us but had lost his passport. We were guided to comfortable seats in a roped off area complete with brass stands, brass knobs and royal blue rope. There were refreshments and a ringside view of everyone coming and going. We booked this cruise at future cruise sales when we were on Aurora in June. I use a mobility scooter and need to book an adapted cabin so it was agreed at the time of booking that cabin C2 would be suitable to my needs. I had the scooter with me when we booked. Despite this and filling in all the forms in advance, when we checked in P&O reckoned we were not in a cabin suited to a scooter so another 40 mins while they sorted that one out. Eventually we got on board and after checking the cabin made our way to the Belvedere Buffet for a very tasty lunch. Good first impression on the food, even for my partner who is vegetarian, something very few caterers understand. Muster drill was a bit of a comedy. They kept announcing to keep the lifts for for the lame and lazy but they were full of the fit.  I eventually got into a lift with a woman in her nineties but the lift would not go where we wanted and took us up and down ad nauseam. We were in there so long her father was waiting for us when we got out to demand I make an honest woman of her. You might be surprised at the number of people complaining about what a farce having a muster drill was, you would think that after the Costa Concordia disaster they would see it in a different light. We were on Freedom Dining and it felt like they were operating a smart wheeze at dinner. When you arrive you are given a pager and told there is a half hour wait so "you might be more comfortable waiting in one of the bars". We had just bought a drink when the pager went off. Less than ten minutes, they must have really upped the drinks revenue. We were all pleased with dinner but that awful refined diesel oil that they try to pass for butter had followed us from the last cruise. Thankfully the buffet had little pats of Irish butter so we smuggled some out. We came back after lunch to a letter for each of us accusing us how not having registered a credit card and threatening to stop our credit. This has happened every time we have sailed with P&O despite all the rigmarole of them swiping cards and taking signatures at check in. It turns out that the P&O computer system could not cope with my partner's name which starts O'R...... They do not do apostrophes and said he would need to change the spelling to Or..... I presume he cannot be the only traveller with an apostrophe and as it has been causing problems for us since 2008 I am sure it could have been sorted. The cabin was fine and the steward kept on top of it but it really needed a good deep clean as there was a lot of fluff going back a long time under the bed and settee. There were a couple of inexcusable problems in the bathroom. A very badly scored toilet seat, the scores yellow with urine and a mouldy bathmat. We complained and they were replaced. The food onboard ship has been excellent. Every morsel tasty, good quality and well cooked. A hundred times better than our first Arcadia Christmas 2008. Then we paid £5700 for a balcony cabin for the two of us and parted with the money as we believed they would really push the boat out (if you will pardon the pun) but apart from a wallet "from Santa" tossed unwrapped onto the bed there was nothing extra. On that cruise there was a standing joke about being served potato croquettes and carrot medallions at every meal and by the end of the cruise it was not a joke, it was a recurring horror story. That was the one where at afternoon tea, William, the vegetarian got two slices of bread with just a rocket leaf! He asked if he could not at least have a cheese sandwich and was told he should have given 24 hours notice for that.  So well done Arcadia, you have redeemed yourselves. One of the highlights in the Palladium theatre was a great male singing quartet. Former West End Musical singers who have formed a group. Their performance was amazing on the first night hence the reason we headed off early and camped out in the front row for their next show.  Check our fourtunes.com Ports Our first port was Vigo. A tip for disabled visitors. Ask any taxi driver on the rank to call you an accessible cab and they phone "Eurocabs" for you. I was able to drive my scooter right into the cab. There is a €5 cover charge but it was only an extra €4 to take us to the top of the town. Porto was next. Another tip for disabled visitors. It is very hilly you might make it down to the railway station with its magnificent tile murals and the cathedral, great views of the river from there and the port producers on the opposite bank. If you go further down be prepared to get a taxi back to the coach drop off. We have been to Cadiz many times and we were hoping for good weather to walk along the shore then make our way back into the city via the Roman Amphitheatre but the rain was torrential and relentless so we gave up and returned to the ship. At which tme the sun came out and we got an hour sitting out but it was short lived then back to rain. Malaga was a gem, What a lovely city. A great central shopping street, very stylish with all the top brands. A well developed port with an attractive marina, more shops cafes, bars and well kept beaches. At each corner an attractive square with beautiful historic buildings all very sympathetically preserved.  We took the accessible mini bus shuttle into the city but walked back through the marina and along the promendade. Do not be afraid to stop for refreshments in the marina, it is all very reasonable priced and they have the cutest, tamest sparrows that will eat out of your hand. We were told in the booking info that we would spend the morning in Gibraltar. Once the daily paper has been circulated we learned we dock at 7 and leave at 11.30. People tend to save their shopping for Gib as it is so British but as shops open at 10 there was just an hour before one needed to head back to port. My companions went up the Rock on the cable car but it was not accessible for me, too many steps. So I stayed in the car park below. I tried the Almeda Botanical  Gardens but same again, steps!. I guess that was to be expected from a settlement built for mountain goats.  They found the cable car quick and the top of the rock unusually quiet. The monkeys (Macaques) were there but much better behaved. There are signs up threatening. £4,000 fine for feeding them. There were babies, very cute, we have pictures. Protective adults, not very cute with threatening grimaces and great pictures of the view all around is it was such a clear morning. I was reading that the Macaque population had got out of control so they have introduced a system of modern birth control (Marie Stopes eat your heart out) and exported a few families to a park in Scotland. We had a wonderful day in Lisbon, 7 hours. My companions hired Segways from Red Tour Segways in Rua Dos Fanquieros, a man we have patronised for years.  I was impressed by the performance of my scooter but Lisbon being so flat the load was reduced a little despite carrying half the P&O buffet round my midriff. I set off with such good intention but the food is all so good!!!!! Measuring it out later the scooter did about 7 miles so just made it back to the cabin before the battery died. It is the one question people ask me all the time. "How many miles do you get out of it?" But there are so many variables it is almost impossible to answer.  I found a lovely local deli in a back street selling smelly fish and cheese and got some good wines for the couple who are looking after the car. We had Coffee and Nata, the Portugese custard tart, a Christmas speciality, at the St Nicholas cafe in the main pedestrian street that runs off Black Horse Square.  We had been warned about thieves and pickpockets but the biggest surprise was the number of men who sidled past muttering "cocaine? hashish? Marihuana?" I bet they shopped any tourists who bought drugs to the police for a cut of the profit as there were lots of Polis around who must have known what they were doing. I tried sidling up to people muttering "Sennacot? Omeprazole? Rennies?". Once the rush hour traffic was clear the streets were fairly quiet as there is a two day rail and metro strike on. To those of us who have been coming to Lisbon for many years you can see how badly it has suffered under the recession. Many empty shops and abandoned premises with older shopkeepers presiding over out of date stock that was once their livelihood. Many more beggars, local people and not addled with drink or drugs just abandoned by the state. They have made a good start with dropped pavements and are half way to full accessibility. Half way, in the you drive off the pavement and get to the other side of the crossing to be met by a 6inch kerb.  Then back to the ship and the two day cruise back to Southampton. All in all it was a good cruise. So we would definitely do Arcadia again after this one. Well done P&O .   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We flew out to Ventura on the 31st Dec in time for New Years Eve. We were on her previously last Christmas and also in May 2011. We had yet another very enjoyable cruise. We were a couple of 45 and 50 with my sister of 50 and my Mum of 76. ... Read More
We flew out to Ventura on the 31st Dec in time for New Years Eve. We were on her previously last Christmas and also in May 2011. We had yet another very enjoyable cruise. We were a couple of 45 and 50 with my sister of 50 and my Mum of 76. Overall we had a superb cruise. Ventura does most things well. Its a reliable cruise experience and is relatively good value. We booked at only 1 months notice and got a great deal. The ports were mostly great. We didnt take any excursions as Mum need a wheelchair where walking distances is required but still enojoyed our jaunts ashore. Our favourites were St Maartin and Grenada. Having been on here three times in 13 months we did notice some differences. None of these spoilt the cruise but for regular passengers on her it may be worth nothing the following: Showtimes On previous trips on Ventura and Azura, the evening show in the main theatre usually had three performances at approx 7pm, 8.30pm and 10.30pm. This allowed a choice of performance for any club sitting passengers. Those on first sitting could choose the 8.30 or 10.30 show and those on second sitting could choose the 7 or 10.30 show. You could also coordinate it to fit in the a performance in Havanna or Tamerind. However, things had changed on this trip. The theatre only had two performances, 8.30 and 10.30. This doesnt affect those on first sitting so much but if you are on second sitting you only have the option of the last showtime. It also means you cannot get to fit in a performance in Havanna as well as the start times clash with those in the main theatre. Its a bit of a double whammy for second sitters and also meant those on freedom dining may have needed to be more selective in their choice of dining times in order to fit in performances. Also as there was one less theatre show per evening the others were much busier. One one evening, we finished our second sitting meal at 9.50, went straight to Havanna for a 10.30 act and there were no seats left. We walked though to the theatre and again could not get in so no entertainment for us that night. We chose second sitting based on our previous experiences so we could see an early show, have dinner and then take in an act in Havanna or Tamerind alas this was not possible on this trip. As we had seen many of the shows and acts previously this did not impact on us as greatly as it may impact on others but it is a major change to the way in which the evening entertainment is scheduled and I overheard others complaining. I did get to speak to one of the entertainment team about this and they advised that as this 2 week cruise included a lot of people who had opted to take the 1 month cruise they decided they would not need three shows per night for our 2 weeks. I pointed out how it affected us and others particularly those on 2nd sitting and she advised she had just come off Azura and had found the 7 o'clock show to be quiet and therefore it was better to concentrate people into two shows per evening. I hope this is not permanent change they implement. The theatre holds 700 for a ship of 3000+ passengers and therefore only two performances isnt good enough. Feedback from the forum seems to suggest P&O have done this before on Azura which is a little worrying. Drinks prices Some prices have risen. For example in Dec 2010 a pint of Stella was $2.95. It is now $3.50, a rise of 18%. You could previously buy a litre caraffe of house wine in the MDR for $11.95. This has now gone and house wine is in 75cl bottles at $12.95. Thats a rise of 50%. Other drink prices have also risen incl some cocktails but these are the prices I noticed as they are the ones we have previously partaken of. Bottled water too has risen in price. Now P&O still have good value drink prices however such sharp price rises appear to be more than simply reflecting inflation and may hint at a subtle change in direction for P&O onboard pricing. Menus This was the first time we have experienced the new menus in the MDR. The changes are not enourmous. As has already been reported the 'always available' Chicken, Salmon and Steak options have gone. As has the prawn cocktail, unpublished, but always available starter. We found the choice of starters a little more difficult than previously. Many were simply trying to be too fancy and we did find we were trying them but leaving our choices more than previously.The soups however were extremely good and better than before. There is extra choice in the mains sections which now usually features a from the grill section and/or local produce option dependant on your port of call. Also the veg served seperately has been reduced from three to two options but this is still plenty. Fish appears much more frequently, in fact on one evening fish formed 3 of the 7 options. Two of our party love fish so this pleased them however it has to be said the fish portions were very small but nicely cooked. For those who dont like fish their choices have been reduced. We did crave a simple steak or piece of salmon from the always available section on occassion and it is a shame this has been dropped (we did find out half way through that the chicken option remains always available but I am unsure why given that its not mentioned anywhere and only offered when we enquired). This was the first time we had moved from freedom dining to club dining and our views of the service we had previously received in freedom dining have been reinforced. The service in club was far better: much more personable, friendly and attentive and at the end of the two weeks we definately thought they had earned their tips. We had a great rapport with our waiters and they got to know our preferences. Our previous views of the service in freedom dining have been that it was mostly functional but hardly warm and friendly and had been occassionally disorganised with widely varying meal durations. We had tried it on Azura once and twice on Ventura and had the same experience each time and having now had the comparison of the service levels in club dining it is clear that the waiters in club work for their tips. It will be interesting to see if standards in club slip once the tips start being automatically added to passengers onboard accounts this year. Our waiter in Club had actually been our waiter in Freedom dining twice in May last year and the difference in his level of service was so visible. I have to mention that for the second time in a year we experienced Huey Taylor as Cruise Director. I hate to pick someone out personally but this role has a huge impact on passenger enjoyment and on how they view the connection between the cruise company and themselves and unfortunately Huey just doesnt suit Ventura at all. He was uttely invisiable apart from daily lacklustre announcements reading out the contents of Horizon. He appears to delegate everything to his team (who are excellent) and I really cannot understand why he is in this role on this size of vessel. A CD needs to inject enthusiasm but he lacks any connection with passengers. What is it with P&O and cruise director role? Surely there are better in the ranks who would jump at the chance to bring some enthusiasm to this job? Anyway, despite the differences noticed between this and previous cruises, we loved out New Year cruise and would not hesitate to chose Ventura again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2011
Western Mediterranean Cruise, E116.  June 18th - July 02nd 2011.  Our first impression upon boarding this ship was one of shabbiness. The carpets are all fraying, with holes and dirt all over them. The wall panels along the corridors are ... Read More
Western Mediterranean Cruise, E116.  June 18th - July 02nd 2011.  Our first impression upon boarding this ship was one of shabbiness. The carpets are all fraying, with holes and dirt all over them. The wall panels along the corridors are full of dirty marks and dents.  One evening as we walked along the corridor, we saw water pouring from an overhead light.  When we reported this to reception, we were told they were aware of this matter and not to worry.  Water and electric combined, but not to worry? A couple of hours later, we noticed that the water was still pouring from the light, but the crew had placed a bucket on the floor underneath, so that the carpet didn't get wet !!! All the woodwork around the decks is in dire need of a coat of varnish. The sun-loungers are desperate for a good jet-wash, if not in need of replacement. As we boarded the ship in Southampton, we were informed that our cabins had yet to be released and we should make our way up to the "Plaza" restaurant and help ourselves to a drink and a meal. After a few days of being on this cruise, some people started to refer to "The Plaza" as "The Canteen", "The Cattle Market", or even "The Piggeries"..... If those titles don't give you an idea of the state of the place, then I don't know what will !!! To be perfectly honest, I have eaten far better food in a works canteen !!! When we eventually got to our inside cabin, we entered a box that was anything but "Tardis" like. It was all of 10ft X 11ft, contained a double bed, a double wardrobe, a dressing table - with mirror, a bedside cabinet and another tall cupboard containing a fridge and T.V. The shower-room was off this area and measured approximately 5ft X 3ft. Now this may all seem quite functional, but when one of you is stood up getting dressed, the other has to lie on the bed, as there is no floor space left for anyone else !!! There are far too many passengers allowed onto this ship for comfort, leaving very little open space for anyone, at anytime, even in the so-called better restaurants. When we booked this cruise, we stated that we didn't want anything too formal. We like to get dressed up, but in a more casual way - shirt and trousers, as opposed to suit and tie. Our Travel Agent assured us that the formal theme was only an option and so long as we where smartly dressed, then everything would be fine. We did take our formal wear, as once in a while isn't too bad, but when we are on holiday, we wish to be relaxed; we don't particularly wish to be formal. The ship set sail on the Saturday. On the Sunday, we received two newsletters, both contradictory, stating that evening's dress code. Needless to say, everyone on ship was confused and later that afternoon, it was announced over the tannoy system that it would be a formal evening. Better late than never, I suppose !!! The following day, the same thing happened again. We did not wish to have two formal evenings together, so we dressed smart-casual. As promised by our Travel Agent, this wasn't a problem, not in the restaurant or theatre later. However, after we had been to the theatre, we decided to go to one of the bars (Magnums) for a last drink. Imagine our horror and embarrassment when the bar attendant told us quite loudly, in front of other people: "I'm sorry Sir, this is a formal evening and you are not suitably dressed. Could you please leave the bar". This particular evening just so happened to be our tenth anniversary, so made the situation even worse !!! Nobody books a P&O Cruise to be humiliated. We complained about this matter four times, twice verbally and twice in written form, but not once, did we receive any form of acknowledgment or apology. We now realise that P&O stands for Pretentious & Obnoxious !!! The trips ashore are on the expensive side and not very well organised. We did the Florence and Pisa excursions. In Florence, our guide was Italian. When we arrived, she gave us all a transmitter with ear pieces to place around our necks, for the guided tour. Not one of the transmitters worked, all that we could hear was crackling, everyone complained, but the guide took no notice. Consequently, we walked all around Florence, not knowing where in the City that we where, or what we were looking at. We then went onto Pisa, which was to be for one hour only, as time was tight. However, we hadn't been told that within this one hour, we had to do a ten minute walk from the coach and a ten minute walk back. As we arrived at approximately 3.0pm, we were informed that in order to climb the leaning tower, we would need to purchase tickets and book in for the next available tour. The next available tour was at 5.50pm. A three hour queue to climb the leaning tower is the norm, so why only take us there for one hour? This trip cost £74 per person, £148 in total, for a shambolic day out and again, no apologies !!! The so-called "entertainment" was something else, apart from one turn (Steve Larkins as Mercury Rising - a Freddy Mercury tribute) they were dreadful. Steve Larkins as Mercury Rising was on for four nights on the run though, a bit much, even if he was good. The rest of the turns were so bad, they wouldn't have stood a chance of getting through to boot camp on the X Factor. They would have been paid off and told to leave the stage in any working mens club. One particular night, there was a so-called Magician appearing, I've never actually seen anyone die on stage before, but not even his "magic" could make him survive that night, people were actually walking out mid-performance !!! The award for the worst act throughout the whole holiday though, has got o go to "The Headliners Theatre Company". This group couldn't have carried a tune in a bucket. I've seen better turns in an eye. From the screeching that was supposed to pass for singing, to the crashing about that was supposed to pass for dancing, to the annoying girl screaming "WOO" and kicking her leg up every ten seconds, it was all too much !!! One night, the comedian was so bad, even the "entertainment" staff kicked him off stage and cancelled his show for the following evening. To "compensate" for this "loss", a film was shown in the cinema - The Kings Speech - a film that had been repeated over and over on the ships TV, all that day !!! The whole experience was on a par with Butlins or Hi-De-Hi being at sea. The only difference being, Hi-De-Hi was extremely entertaining !!! All in all, a very bad experience aboard a so-called flagship company, one that we shall never be repeating !!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2011
Having read some of the negative reviews that i saw once i had booked to go on this ship i was a little worried but came with an open mind. The flight with Thomas Cook out from Gatwick was well organised but the check in was very ... Read More
Having read some of the negative reviews that i saw once i had booked to go on this ship i was a little worried but came with an open mind. The flight with Thomas Cook out from Gatwick was well organised but the check in was very hard on anyone who seemed to have an ounce over in thier luggage. However leaving the airport at the other end was super; bypassing border control and straight to the ship. Priority embarkation to the ship for the suite passengers was a joke ie you just got your cruise card a bit quicker and then just joined the queue with everyone else. Once on the ship friendly staff greeted us and basically just told us the way to the stateroom. Perhaps my expectation of priority boarding for the large sum of money i had paid for this cruise was wrong. On getting to my stateroom i was quite pleased with the size of it and the layout but the much mooted butler service just did not happen -no champagne on ice waiting -no unpacking of the luggage for you as promised, no pamper pack, just stuff left in the fridge and a guy who introduced himself as the butler once he was well sure we had unpacked ourselves and told us "the room stuard does the toilet, i do the cups" the room steward was much better and more hardworking however. The light of day came the next day and all was revealed: dirty walls ,the remnants of the last couples sporting activities on the bed valance,the shabby balcony with the old weather worn furniture the stink of smoke in the room. After having the customer service manager in for a conference and laying down what i expected of service from the staff things got better but the impression was already there. The staff generally on this ship were very friendly and polite and i would have to say had more class that the ramshackle bunch that made up most of the passengers -all over tattoos-compare the beer belly competitions in the sun very bad fake designer bags - get the drift this was the real letdown of this cruise- if your idea of a good time is a working men's club or the British Legion on a Saturday night - then this is the place for you. Food on board was surprisingly good with the bay tree,white room ,east and ramblas putting on some really good food the exception however was waterside where i would eat with great caution esp poultry. Bar prices were very fair with most things at pub levels and i found my on board credit went a long way. would i cruise p and o again -yes- would i go on ventura again-not if you paid me. As a foot note my partner came down with a really bad case of food poisoning at the end of this cruise and the only time we ate off this ship was on an organised tour as i said caution is the word. Read Less
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