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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise as it was our first and the destinations were places we wanted to visit. We missed embarkation photos etc. as the bus was late. The ship was very nice but a little tired. Getting around was extremely confusing and ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was our first and the destinations were places we wanted to visit. We missed embarkation photos etc. as the bus was late. The ship was very nice but a little tired. Getting around was extremely confusing and we found our way round with more help from other passengers than the staff. There could have been clearer sign posting. The dining rooms were excellent, the waiting staff were very efficient and friendly (Joseph and Manesh). The buffet food wasn’t particularly great. The breakfasts were nice but the main meals we attended were a little disappointing. We thought the entertainment would be better but it was focused on Strictly Come Dancing which we weren’t that in to. The daytime entertainment consisted mainly of dance classes and yoga etc. It would have been nice to have movies indoors or more actual entertainment and shows. We can’t fault the service. The staff were friendly and attentive. We had particularly good service from our cabin steward (Manoj) and the photographic team. The shore excursions involved more walking than we expected and we were disappointed with them. We would definitely go on another P&O cruise as overall we had a great time. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We went on the Ventura specifically for the Strictly Come Dancing themed cruise from Southampton around the Mediterranean on 2nd June. We thoroughly enjoyed all the Strictly shows and meeting the Strictly dancers including Oti Mabuse, ... Read More
We went on the Ventura specifically for the Strictly Come Dancing themed cruise from Southampton around the Mediterranean on 2nd June. We thoroughly enjoyed all the Strictly shows and meeting the Strictly dancers including Oti Mabuse, Graziano, Alijaz and Janette and head judge Shirley Ballas. The entertainment was very good indeed and if you didn't want to immerse yourself in the Strictly theme there was always something going on in other areas. Our cabin was good for an inside cabin and it felt larger because of the clever positioning of mirrors however I would definitely choose an outside cabin if going again because that way you can sit outside. Our cabin steward Lourdes was so lovely nothing was too much trouble for her even getting me some extra hangers. We mainly ate in the buffet restaurant and there was a good selection of different food every evening but we did get a bit fed up of the same four types of English cheese on offer every night! The main restaurant was nice but we found the waiters abit brusque so we didn't go there very often. There was a varied itinerary of some nice places to visit including Gibraltar Cartagena Barcelona Marseille Monaco Corsica and Cadiz. We took two excursions one in Marseille which unfortunately wasn't very good it was a beach excursion with a quick stop in Marseille. It was a very hot day and the guide kept us on the coach for fifteen minutes in the heat while telling us about the history of Marseille instead of giving us that extra time in Marseille as we only had twenty minutes left. When we got to the beach we had one and a half hours but it was absolutely crowded and wouldn't be suitable for anybody with a walking disabilities to venture on as it was very hard to get in and out of the sea as the shingle dropped down. When I mentioned this to the excursion sales person on the ship he told me that I shouldn't be going on any beach with a walking disability! I was very offended and really think he should have been taught a tactful way of suggesting his paying customer might have been better to perhaps not go on the beach. I only wanted them to note that they should advise of this as no way in the shore excursion guide does it say it isn't suitable for people who have disabilities. The content of this particular excursion was not good and several people complained on return. However the tour of Monaco and Montecarlo was excellent and we were taken to the major attractions with a brilliant French lady who made the tour fun and interesting. Now for the terrifying part! We had been taken ashore on tender boats in the morning so after waiting 45 minutes in the boiling hot sun with no shade and nowhere to sit we eventually got on our tender boat to return to the ship and we we left the port the tender started to roll all over the place as the wind picked up and the sea was going right over the front of the tender, it gradually got worse and worse and one poor man became very seasick he was told to sit down as it was so dangerous on the boat and was passed a lot of bags. By this time people were panicking and one lady nearly passed out while another was being seasick. I was really frightened because the boat was rocking so much I could see even the tender pilot looked worried. We were stuck on the tender for an hour rocking and rolling and when they tried to bring it along side the ship it kept smashing into the platform where you get off. It took three strong men to help each person off by literally hauling them o to the ship incase they fell into the sea. Ours was once of the last tenders to actually make it to the ship after that the Captain halted the rest and left over a thousand guests on the shore in Monaco! Luckily later that evening we were able to put down ancho in Villefranche which had a calmer bay and all the rest of the guests got on tenders after being coached there and finally onto the ship late into the evening. People were exhausted and some had missed their medicine which was on the ship. This has completely put us off of ever going on a tender boat again. I don't often get freighted but that was very scary indeed! The overall view of the ship is that it offered a good variety of bars cafes theatre and restaurants and had good areas on deck to sit out on. The swimming pools were nice and big with one covered if it was cooler like when we left Southampton. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
I have put this review on here rather than send to P.O. as P.O. would take no notice, and it would be filed away as it’s not what they want to hear, but more people will see it on this site. We picked the Jan 2019 cruise to the ... Read More
I have put this review on here rather than send to P.O. as P.O. would take no notice, and it would be filed away as it’s not what they want to hear, but more people will see it on this site. We picked the Jan 2019 cruise to the Caribbean as our first time on the Britannia. Flights were good, getting transferred was good. To finish off the good points, the sun shone and the food was good. First problem we had was having a shave, the electric sockets on ship don’t take UK razors or tooth brushes. Nothing in the brochure or any literature on the ship. We were told by reception to buy an adapter from the shop (sold out, of course) or they would charge it up for you. Not good news if you have a travelling razor that needs to be plugged in all the time. Then we encountered the lifts which, long with the set up of the ship leaves a lot to be desired. Basically there are too many floors of just cabins, and insufficient lifts for the amount of people on board. So if you need a lift, you stand there for ages, and by then the floor is full of others wanting to get aboard the lifts. It became the normal to get into any lift that turned up no matter what direction it was going. We also found there are no quiet corners to hid in, no matter where you go on Britannia you have mind numbing music playing all over the ship. When we asked if it could be turned down, no one knew how to do it. Too many places to charge you extra to use or go to. We went as a group of 6 who love Dancing, and as this is the Flag ship of the company we were expecting an enjoyable time. What a shock we got. We had a dance band that played the music they wanted to play, not music to dance to. One evening they had a night of playing Jazz all night. That emptied the ball room. On their night off we got local band playing again their type of music, that again emptied the ball room. ( I could write war and peace on that subject only) When the instructors came on they were only interested on the group of novice dances they had nurtured on the cruise. So the floor was literally full on novices, no problem with that but anyone who could dance could not get on the floor to dance. They should have played 2 of each, but they didn’t. The male instructor danced with the same passenger nearly every dance for the 2 weeks we were there. Their knowledge of sequence dances seemed minimal, as some requests were met with “we don’t know that one” then they would not play a sequence dance as only 3 or 4 couples knew it. The next minute they would play a Viennese waltz, and only 2 couples would get up for, so double standards there. To us they were more interested in selling private lessons and their dancing week ends away than doing what they should. So to me we had a disappointing time on this ship and I would not recommend to anyone. God help anyone who has booked a cruise on the next overgrown monster being built at the moment. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
I’m a well seasoned cruise traveller with over 25 completed to date ranging from Princess, RCI, Celebrity and P&O. I’ve never felt compelled to write a review until now. Having cruised similar with P&O, my partner and I, ... Read More
I’m a well seasoned cruise traveller with over 25 completed to date ranging from Princess, RCI, Celebrity and P&O. I’ve never felt compelled to write a review until now. Having cruised similar with P&O, my partner and I, along with two other friends booked a weekend cruise on Ventura to Guernsey over August Bank Holiday. We sailed on Ventura previously to Brugges, and as Platinum club members with Princess we know the layout of Ventura and Azura mirror their ships, so we were well aware of the ship and what lay ahead – or so we had thought. Firstly upon arrival at Southampton I have to say this was the worst I have experienced to date. Complete chaos. Guests were called in sequence order A-Z depending on what you are given when you arrive at the top of the stairs of the terminal. Waited for approximately 1.5hours to check in (1pm arrival). Terrible. Once onboard we were impressed with the ship layout and how bright and clean it appeared. We had an inside cabin, which was very clean, and enough room for two adults sharing. The bed was probably one of the most comfortable of all liners we have sailed on. The cleanliness is evident throughout from the bars to the pool area, and restaurants. However, in the evenings the majority of toilets throughout the ship smelt really badly – urine quite evident on the floors of several, and also quite a few blockages with no toilet attendant/cleaners in sight (few and far between). On the first evening in the MDR, we had a lovely table for 4. With no introductions or personal welcomes from the waiting staff, we were presented with the main menu - the waiter returned very promptly (in space of 5 minutes) to take the orders. I ordered a lamb shank for my main course and asked the waiter if it was possible to have some mash potato – to which he said he would ask the chef. No drinks, or wine on offer and within 5 minutes our starters arrived. My partner at this point asked was it possible to see a wine list as we felt it was more appropriate to take a drinks order before going full steam ahead and presenting us with our starters! It did feel like a conveyor belt, they wanted us “fed watered and out” with minimal interaction. The bread rolls were dire. Soft rolls, think tesco value on a small scale with zero choice, and put on the side plate with no second offerings. My lamb shank arrived and the waiter took off. I waited whilst my 3 companions tucked into their mains; I assumed the waiter was going to get my potato for the lamb. Again within 5 minutes he returned to clear the plates at which point I asked him did he get the mash as I hadn’t even started to my main yet. He was quick to inform me “no sir there is no mash”. I wasn't happy and I asked why hadn’t he told me this when he presented the plate to begin with. He said he was sorry he had just checked – this itself was a lie as I could see him directly in front of me fiddling with cutlery and the likes. If mash is offered in the buffet, and various other potatoes offered to top that, I didn't quite understand. I again repeated the question you’re telling me there is no mash available, to which he said “sorry no”. I then asked him to fetch me the Maitre’D. when he arrived I asked him if it was possible to have mash – his reply “anything is possible sir”. I told him I was informed mash wasn't available – he seemed surprised. I went on to explain I wasn't very happy at all nor were the others in my party. The lack of wanting to serve us, no drinks menu, orders etc”. I actually handed my main course, untouched, back as I was disappointed by the whole episode. I would like to add to this “Yes this might be a weekend cruise, but you should not treat all guests as first timers on a weekend break whom you assume will probably never return”. We were appalled by the lack of interaction and the lack of personal touch from the MDR waiting staff, their behaviour was definitely the lowest I’ve witnessed. It was quite the contrary in the buffet. Food in the buffet area was lovely, plenty of choice this is one area where the company excel. There were a few hen parties on board who were enjoying themselves Port of Call Guernsey: Tender required. What can I say…….. we docked at 8am – all guests required back on ship for 5pm. We had breakfast and went downstairs to the tender around 11am thinking it will be straight forward as we have tendering numerous times before at other locations worldwide. No - how wrong where we. We were told to join a queue for a ticket to join the tenders. The queue for this alone wrapped around the foyer area back to the art gallery – we waited in line for 1 hour and given tickets to tender. We were then moved into the restaurant, where we waited a further 1.5 hours. With 6 tenders operating, we felt this would have been quicker and should have been better managed. We spoke briefly to the lady (I use loosely as she was abrupt) this was taking forever, she replied by saying “no this is normal”. If this is normal for P&O I would be sacking the management in charge of this process. It was awful. We have experienced several tenders over the years with OTHER liners and never waited longer than 15 mins to disembark the ship, and that also involved a ticket and call by number! Perhaps the ship is too big for tendering to the port, but you've definitely got this so wrong P&O. Guernsey is beautiful, a lovely little place full of charm and very walkable. We had an afternoon tea and stroll, however we felt we should return to the ship around 3 (after just 1 hour on land) to avoid a possible mayhem like the disembarkation to tender earlier . Walking downhill towards the port and tendering area at 3pm, we could see a queue as long as anything with people waiting around. It took us 1 hour 10 mins to board and get back on ship. The whole experience is quite exhausting and not one I will repeat with P&O again. In conclusion, I feel P&O should use smaller ships for the weekend breaks and clearly advertise it involve tendering. Also, other cruise critic members do mention tendering by P&O at Guernsey being the worst experiences witnessed – trust me these people are not telling lies. I for one will NEVER return to P&O on a mini cruise again that involves tendering unless they drastically change their ways - not to mention their manner. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
We chose this cruise as keen fans of 'Strictly' and had been on the Britannia last year on a similar cruise. Food was good usual standard for P&O. We had freedom dinning and ate mainly in the Peninsular. Good ... Read More
We chose this cruise as keen fans of 'Strictly' and had been on the Britannia last year on a similar cruise. Food was good usual standard for P&O. We had freedom dinning and ate mainly in the Peninsular. Good service...friendly staff. We ate one night in the Epicurean...well worth the £28pp cover charge. Good for a special evening and we celebrated a birthday. Maitre de was a little grumpy all other staff excellent. Cabin was R708 deck 14..sheltered balcony so not for sun bathers. No noise issues however we heard ppl on the other side had complaints. We heard that sadly a crew member died on board 'no suspicious circumstances' as announced by the captain. However a team flew out from the UK to support the crew. We also had to make a detour on the return journey due to a medical emergency. We've never known a ship with so many issues and kept looking for the albatross. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this cruise for a fun hen party of 30, we had all ages from 20-70 and found the ship and staff catered extremely well to entertain all age groups. We enjoyed the food, hot tubs, pools (i was pleased to find there were separate ... Read More
We chose this cruise for a fun hen party of 30, we had all ages from 20-70 and found the ship and staff catered extremely well to entertain all age groups. We enjoyed the food, hot tubs, pools (i was pleased to find there were separate pools and entertainment areas for children), this allowed a much more serene and relaxed experience when enjoying the leisurely spa. entertainment and brugge itself. I didn't love that the dinner staff wouldn't leave our bottle of wine on the table. Or that you have to be out of the room at 8am following formal night. Generally speaking the cruise and entertainmemt staff were great and i would give them five stars for value of money. Unfortunately in my experience the dinner staff and cabin staff really let doen the ship. I also found the personal hygiene of some of the staff working with food disconcerting. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Hello All, Well I must admit that was one of the quickest embarkations I’ve ever had. Arrived at the Ocean terminal at 12noon and in the arrivals lounge on the ship by 12:15pm sipping on a lovely glass of wine (even better when it’s ... Read More
Hello All, Well I must admit that was one of the quickest embarkations I’ve ever had. Arrived at the Ocean terminal at 12noon and in the arrivals lounge on the ship by 12:15pm sipping on a lovely glass of wine (even better when it’s free haha) and munching on the wonderful buffet. We were staying in cabin L106 (Valetta Suite) right at the front of the ship next to the bridge. We'd only been in the cabin 15 minutes and it was superb, couldn’t fault it (especially for the price we paid - nothing like a good bargain) awesome wrap around balcony, I prefer the aft suites myself but this is certainly much better than I expected as I was told the balcony was rather exposed but the views and size is brilliant. The food, service, entertainment and staff were absolutely outstanding as always. I can honestly say the food in the main dining room in which we dined every night on second sitting 8:30 - ‘Bay tree’ was some of the best I’ve ever tasted. The shows we saw from the headliners theatre company, The Brit Tones, and The Freddie Mercury tribute act were again some of the best I’ve ever seen at sea. We Met some fantastic people throughout the cruise as always, in our section of the restaurant there was 6 tables of two - by the third night of the cruise they had turned into 2 x 6 seated tables - it just goes to show how great friendships are formed on cruises combined with the outstanding service and food provided by the amazing staff on-board. We even had our own little cabin party with our new friends, fantastic. The weather we had (as most of you saw from my previous posts) was unbelievable for the middle/end of November.... an average of 20 degrees throughout!! Very lucky indeed, combine this with the fantastic prices of cruises in Oct/Nov/Dec you really can't fault it. We visited ; Lisbon, Valencia, Alicante, Gibraltar and Cadiz. I must recommend one thing that you must do - we paid £25 for the galley tour! WOW WOW WOW! Unbelievable, the attention to detail, the team work and HARD WORK, that all the staff give every day was shown first hand in this tour. A glass of champagne and a glass of wine, plus a 3 course buffet (all you can eat) of some of the finest food I’ve ever tasted was included. Watching the chefs cooking, the waiters doing the food and taking the orders and how it’s all processed and even down to the cleaning and food wastage was simply outstanding. I have never seen such a clean kitchen in all my life. A must do tour , worth every penny and more! We also participated in wine tasting with Olly Smith which was also fantastic- too much wine of course!! A brilliant chap who really does know a thing or two about wine and makes everyone feel welcome. There has been little changes made to glass house menu, the epicurean and the beach house which is being introduced across all the ships soon. For the first time we are doing a back to back cruise (11 nights followed by 3 nights) only because our cruise on Oceana has been cancelled in December as some of you may have seen my previous post about them offering an extra night for free if we could sail on these specific dates, we were Lucky enough to say yes so in other words we’ve had a 14 night cruise instead of an 11 night one and a free night from turning our cancelled 2 night cruise into a 3 night cruise. Can’t complain about that right?! Turnover Day (passengers in transit as the ships company call it) Well, I literally can’t commend them enough.... that’s all we had to do was pack our valuable personal belongings, leave all the cases and all the clothes (which were on hangers) and in the morning it would all be transferred to our new cabin.... that’s all we had to do was get up, leave the cabin by 8am, lounge around the ship or go off if we wanted to and our new cruise cards were waiting at reception at 8am. Now, how can you fault that hey? I certainly would recommend a back-to-back cruise with P&O for anyone who might be thinking about it, it really couldn't have been any easier.... although if you are lucky enough to be able to stay in the same cabin then it would be even easier.... you wouldn't have to do anything haha. It’s very weird being one of the only few people on this ship currently on turn around day haha. Onto the next cruise and the Christmas markets in Bruges - I think it’s going to be a bit colder than the last two weeks !! Thank you. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We were looking for a 7 day cruise to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary with our family. Having cruised on Britannia twice before, we would have preferred another ship but the dates and costs fitted our budget. It was evident ... Read More
We were looking for a 7 day cruise to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary with our family. Having cruised on Britannia twice before, we would have preferred another ship but the dates and costs fitted our budget. It was evident from the moment we embarked that we would not be disappointed with our choice. The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming and after a quick drink in the atrium we proceeded to our cabin where all our suitcases were awaiting us. We had three consecutive cabins and the steward opened the balconies to share. There were also two other cabins in our party of 12. The meals were of a consistently high standard no matter which restaurant you chose. We were Freedom Dining but had no problems at all in seating the party of 12 at one party. The shows were a good standard, although somewhat repetitive. However, for us, the highlight of the cruise was the ship's musician, Adam Allison. This man was so talented and professional. Not only was he the pianist in the Crow's Nest where he played songs by request to perfection but he orchestrated a choir from the passengers who performed Songs from Les Miserables in the Atrium on the last day. I missed the opportunity to sing with the group but very much enjoyed the performance. The deck entertainment was difficult as it chose to rain at the scheduled times, so the laser light show was cancelled and the final sail away party was moved indoors to the Atrium. However the Sail Away Party was still to the same standard with so much fun and song. We love them! We only purchased one excursion to the Glacier. We very much enjoyed it although it was really only a coach transfer to the foot of the Glacier, where we were given an hour and a half to climb. We had a baby in our party but we did not use the Reef Club. My only criticism of the whole cruise was that there was no where to wash her bottles. I spent an hour with a bag of bottles to try and find somewhere to properly wash them, so I would recommend anyone else in a similar position to bring a little washing up liquid. Disembarkation was a bit chaotic as there were grumbles and complaints on the system used. Great cruise and having said that this would be the last time on Britannia, I could easily book it again next year. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
This was Our first Cruise, it was everything we were told it was going to be ,excellent,from start to finish, apart from the weather, (and i cant hold P&O responsible for that,) the staff on board were absolutely fantastic both on a ... Read More
This was Our first Cruise, it was everything we were told it was going to be ,excellent,from start to finish, apart from the weather, (and i cant hold P&O responsible for that,) the staff on board were absolutely fantastic both on a personal level,and professional level , the ship herself was neat and clean as was the cabin, the house keeping was outstanding, and all aboard went out of their way to help(my wife is disabled) if i could give a 11/10 i would ,from the captain down to the bottle washer ,everyone went out of their way to help, the food was great and plenty of it (i put on half a stone in a week), ease of access to all decks (using the lifts ) was easy We Highly recommend P&O Cruises, and will definitely travel with them again, With Grateful thanks to all aboard the Magnificent ORIANA, Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2017
This wa a Strictly themed cruise although the reason we chose this cruise was the destination ports being none we had visited before. We have embarked at Southampton several times before and this was the longest time for getting onto ... Read More
This wa a Strictly themed cruise although the reason we chose this cruise was the destination ports being none we had visited before. We have embarked at Southampton several times before and this was the longest time for getting onto the ship, I suspect because this was the largest ship we have ever been on. From arriving in the port by car to being in our cabin took almost two hours with a lot of that spent sitting in the departure area waiting to be called forward to register. Indeed, our cases arrived at our cabin before we did, a first for us. We were impressed with the ship and its facilities. The fact that the staircases from deck 4 to deck 17 were only forward and aft made no difference to us, I have read reviews where others have complained about there being no stairs midship - walking is good exercise and it always astounds me why perfectly able passengers chose to wait for lifts rather than leave them for those less able. Food on board was good whether that be in the main dining rooms or buffet. I have to say that Britania's buffet was one of the best we've encountered for space, we did not once have to fight to get a seat there even on the busy breakfast days. Entertainment was excellent, even the Strictly stuff which was not a priority for us. We used the Limelight Club on three occasions - excellent for a night's entertainment. We saw the cabaret acts of Cheryl Baker, Dean Andrews and Claire Sweeney. Only complaint about any of the ports would be the disembarking and embarkation at St Petersburg although the long delays were caused by the Russian authorities and their snail like manner in vetting each passenger. Having said how slow embarkation at Southampton was, disembarkation was one of the quickest. We chose to self disembark meaning we kept our suitcases in our cabin and carried them off ourselves. This method also happens between 7 and 8, so before all other passengers, meaning we were back to our car and on the road within 15 minutes of leaving our cabin. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
I have been wanting to see London, and also Norway (The Fiords) for quite awhile. I was going to do a land tour, but since my health is now working against me sometimes, I realize that I need to slow down (74ys), and a widower on top of ... Read More
I have been wanting to see London, and also Norway (The Fiords) for quite awhile. I was going to do a land tour, but since my health is now working against me sometimes, I realize that I need to slow down (74ys), and a widower on top of it. I love the people of Great Britain as they are polite and have a special way to be proud, so I put all of that together and I decided to sail on the newest ship and also visit the Norway coast and Fiords. I arrived early so I could spend 4 days visiting London and having a great time. I had to find a way to get to Southampton, but it is only about 2 to 2 1/2 hours from my hotel near the Victoria Bus Station to the station in Southampton in a comfortable bus. The crew of the ship were polite and efficient and took my luggage and got me on the ship very fast. The ship was beautiful, and my table mates were so nice, as they were from all over England, but did not hesitate to include me in all the festivities. The entertainment was excellent and the music and dancing was just wonderful. The food gave me a chance to sample British style, and I really loved it. We had to cross the North Sea to get to Norway, and the water was calm as a lake and I was glad as it could be rough if there were storms. We stopped at the main locations and had great tours as we headed toward our last stop in Bergen. The country was lovely and the Norwegian people are alos polite and glad to see everyone as we got to explore the views and shops. This was definitely a trip to remember. I was glad I sailed on the P&O line and someday will go back and sample other ships from the line. When we disembarked on the last day, I was amazed how smooth and fast, and how they had people in the large terminal area where you picked up your suitcases who were able to assist you and get you out very fast. I must say Great Ship and Captain and all the crew I met were the best personally and efficiently. Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
About Time We have cruised with P&O many times, it was our first trip on Ventura although we were familiar with the layout having cruised on Azura and some Princess ships. This cruise was mainly to visit Greece and some of the ... Read More
About Time We have cruised with P&O many times, it was our first trip on Ventura although we were familiar with the layout having cruised on Azura and some Princess ships. This cruise was mainly to visit Greece and some of the Greek islands, but also included Ibiza and Gibraltar. The itinerary had changed twice, Turkey was swapped for Rhodes. The order of ports was changed this meant that we had Santorini to ourselves, instead of being with another four ships, good call! Embarkation/Disembarkation The ship was using the Ocean Terminal in Southampton. The terminal works very well at getting people through as quickly as possible. Porters take your luggage from you in the drop off lanes, next time you see it is outside the cabin. The only slight hold up is having to complete the health questionnaire on arrival, why not offer it for download from the Cruise Personaliser. P&O complicate this by giving you a boarding time, ours is 15:00, it always is whatever P&O cruise we take! We decided to aim for 13:30, and only had to wait around until 14:00 before being called to check-in. We arrived at our cabin by 14:30 and our luggage was already waiting for us. Disembarkation is equally efficient. A few days before the end of the cruise there was an announcement on the back of the Horizon newspaper advising that if you were traveling independently to tell Reception what time you would like to disembark. Instructions are then dropped off at your cabin. We selected 09:00, as did another 800. Our meeting place was the Arena theatre; we duly filed in at 08:00 and filled the theatre from the front to the back, following the instructions of one of the entertainment team (she had quite a job on to retain order!). At 09:00 we left the theatre in a line from front to back, surprisingly this is very efficient if everyone does as they are told. The baggage reclaim is a big hall with the luggage located in deck order. There were plenty of trollies and staff to help find the odd misplaced bag. We were ready and waiting outside for our taxi by 09:25. Cruise Critic Roll Call Meet and Greet No M&G was organised beforehand, we knew that we would all be too busy enjoying ourselves! Dining We had opted for Freedom Dining which gives great flexibility, but it can get busy at peak times, the best strategy is to be prepared to share a table (requesting a table for two will probably result in being given a pager). We tended to eat in the Saffron Restaurant, we also used it for breakfast and lunch. The Saffron Restaurant is very big, but the service is very good. The selection of dishes each evening seemed a little limited, some nights we resorted to the always available steak or salmon. The breakfast choices in the MDR are comprehensive, but I don’t think the choice has changed in the 10 years we have been sailing with P&O. Lunch in the MDR is also pleasant, and fairly quiet with a good set of menu choices and usually an interesting curry. Other dining options that we tried were the Waterside (buffet) is a useful alternative for breakfast and lunch (we did not try it for dinner). It became congested at peak times and on sea days. People did tend to spread themselves out and hoard tables. The Poolside Grill provided a quick and hearty service of burgers and hotdogs. This was very handy when returning from trips. The Poolside Pizzeria was very good with pizzas cooked to order taking about 10 minutes. We also tried the Select dining outlets which incur an additional charge. The Epicurean provides top level dining at a modest charge; we had Chateaubriand (which we had always wanted to try). The service is attentive and personal this makes for a very special and memorable evening. Watch out for the Earlybird offers, a free bottle of house wine if you book to dine before 6:30 The Glasshouse is more relaxed, we tried the special wine pairing meal (usually once a week) the food was amazing and paired with wines that were surprising, but worked well. Each course and wine is described; again the service could not be faulted and was probably the best meal of the cruise. We also ate in the Glasshouse on another evening and again the food and service was very good. Be aware the Glasshouse tends to be where people queue to get into the theatre The Beach House is more of an American style diner, great selection of food, but you need to be hungry; once again, personal and attentive service in a relaxed pleasant environment. My Rib Combo was excellent and there was a lot of it! We did eat in Sindhu where we had an Asian lunch which was charged at £7.50 each and we thought was very good value. Beautifully prepared food with individual service. Bars Lots of bars as you would expect, some with an emphasis on gin. There is a wide selection of craft gins available in the Red Bar and Metropolis. Most drinks at pub prices, but if you want more than two glasses of wine a bottle of the house (white in our case) is an economical option at £16. The Tamarind Club could be difficult because it is also an entertainment venue it can become very crowded and difficult to get a seat, and there were people just sitting there for the live music and not having a drink. Cabin Our cabin was port rear on deck 9 (D612), it was a very good size; it is described as an superior deluxe balcony. The décor and fittings were in reasonable shape. Between the bathroom and main room is a spacious hanging area that really works well. The beds are high enough to take some pretty big suitcases underneath. There is a spacious sitting area with a sofa, chair and variable height table. The balcony does not have an overhang and can be overlooked (no topless sun bathing here!), but it is a good size. Our steward Denzil looked after us well, and was always keen to do more. This grade of cabin comes with fluffy bathrobes, binoculars, atlas and on embarkation Champagne and chocolates. This cabin was very quiet, nothing rattled, but when they test the lifeboats which are immediately under the cabin, the noise of machinery is deafening! Lifeboat tests are usually on port days and at fairly sociable times, any other time and I would be very worried! Entertainment I enjoyed the lecture series, David Russell on aspects of the Royal Navy and John Mercer talking about the First and Second World Wars and some of the personalities. Both fairly male orientated, both very good. I took the Behind The Scenes Tour this was excellent and really worth the £75, but be warned it can be as long as five hours. The most impressive area was the navigational bridge, so spacious and an amazing view, a close second was the Engine Control Room the Chief Engineer Neil Collins really knows this ship inside out. The shows in the Arena Theatre, well we saw both shows with tenor Ben Makisi and they were very good, we would have liked to see more but there was a problem with the theatre. If you didn’t have you bum on a seat at least 30mins before curtain up, forget it. Some passengers had cracked the code and were obviously prepared to eat early, queue and wait for the shows, it seemed that their objective was to get good seats in at least two shows a night. Along with the Havana lounge and Tamarind Club these were the three targeted venues. In the end we gave up and enjoyed leisurely evening meals and drinks in selected quieter bars, each to their own. A special mention for Entertainment Manager (didn’t this used to be called Cruise Director?) Leon de ste. Croix, a real trooper! He can sing dance, do stand up and lecture on astronomy. He had to cope with a lot on this cruise, theatre main projector was off line for several days, one performer failed to appear due to BA problems at Gatwick and a critical member of the dance team went sick meaning a new show had to be shelved. He also had to apologise for a misprint in the newspaper which resulted in passengers changing their clocks a day early, late breakfast was busy that day. All this he carried off, Leon did not pay me to write this!! Photography We were pleasantly surprised by the ship’s photographers and their low key approach, it worked, and we actually bought some, £8 a print is very reasonable. The photographers were also very skilled and did manage a reasonable picture of us! Gym This has to be one of the best gyms afloat that I’ve tried and I used it 10 times (still put on weight though!). The 15 weights machines give you a complete workout. Plenty of tread-mills, cross trainers, bikes and rowing machines. My only suggestion would be to add a sit-up bench. Medical Centre We did not require the services of the Medical Centre, but I was taken round it on the behind the scenes tour, the facilities are comprehensive. One thing I learned was that they are unable to diagnose and treat a stroke, to do this they would require a CT scanner. Spa My wife had a full back massage which she found to be very beneficial, £75 for nearly an hour. Her therapist Theresa was very friendly and professional, and made a follow up phone call the next day just to make sure there were no problems. Ports of Call Ibiza We had been here before, and just took the shuttle bus into town where we had a good walk around and some lunch. There was a lengthy queue for the return shuttle bus, about half an hour. There was an even longer queue to get back on the ship, not quite sure what went wrong there. Athens (Piraeus) We had booked a trip here “The Acropolis and The Plaka”, everything was going well until we arrived at the car park for the Acropolis. On leaving the car park and taking the steps to the base of the Acropolis we became separated from the guide. Although we could hear the guide on the radio she was unaware that we were no longer with the group until she came to hand out the tickets to enter the Acropolis. For our part we searched the promenade at the base of the Acropolis and asked several people if they had seen our guide with our lollipop. After waiting some time we called the ship’s agent, who was not helpful, and told us to call the ship. Reception was very helpful, and arranged for the Excursion desk to call us back. When Ruth called us back we had returned to the car park and were waiting at the bottom of the steps. Kevin from the Excursion desk also called us with updates on progress. It was two hours before the guide eventually found us, by which time another couple who had become separated from the group at the Acropolis had joined us. After a while we could start to hear the guide again, and could hear someone telling her that they had also become separated. Soon after this the guide found us at the bottom of the steps, we then rejoined the group and discovered that the coach would not be picking us up from the car park. On return to the ship we went to the Excursion desk to discuss our problem and were effectively told that the incident was our fault. After a rather heated and fruitless discussion the agent agreed to request an appointment with her manager. No appointment was received, and we returned to the Excursion Desk two days later, to be told that the matter was in hand. The next day we received a letter from the manager apologizing and advising of compensation. In light of this here are our top tips for an enjoyable tour: 1. Make sure that your guide displays their lollipop prominently. 2. Ask your guide to set up a pre-arranged meeting point. 3. Before getting off a coach ask your guide to describe the flow of the tour and where the coach would be picking up from. 4. Ask your guide to provide an emergency contact number. 5. Take the Horizon Newspaper, port guide, working mobile phone and a debit or credit card. Santorini Once the ship was anchored, shore tenders came alongside to disembark passengers; these are much bigger than the ships tenders and provide a smoother ride. New for us was that everyone had to do a step test this involved stepping across two lines 45cm (18 inches) apart to prove that you were mobile enough to get on and off the tender. In the event there were two large gentlemen on the tender who grabbed you and lifted you on! We took the Best of Santorini tour, a very good tour with an interesting guide. You get to see a lot of the island, but I’m not sure how much value the included lunch provided. The lunch was self-service in a large venue with at least another five tour parties, yes, we’ve all been there, average food and not our first choice of wine! The tour could be shortened allowing more time in Fira, and perhaps a better lunch. Rhodes The ship docks very close to the Old Town, we just walked of and took a long walk around the town and harbour, then enjoyed a leisurely lunch and some shopping. Crete, Heraklion We have already seen most of the sights of Crete and Heraklion, so we took the transfer to Aghios Nikolaos. The host on the coach, Sandra was excellent, and when we arrived at Aghios Nikolaos she walked us around to and got us orientated. We had a pleasant walk around the Voulismeni Lake, and enjoyed a relaxed lunch, so relaxed that we did not have time to go to the beach. Our host positioned herself prominently in the coach park and we had no problems finding the coach. Katakolon for Olympia We took the Olympic Spirit tour, our guide Penny was a star, well informed on the historic aspects and highly organised. She kept the party together even when we lost one member they were soon back with us. It’s a fairly uneven site, but quite compact. The museum is definitely worth a visit, though it can become very busy. Aircraft spotters would have particularly enjoyed this trip because the Greek Airforce was practicing nearby! Gibraltar We have been here many times and our call was fairly short, not enough time for lunch. Like everyone else, we got off walked into town, did some shopping, had a beer then got back on board. As we walked back towards Ventura you could hear a lot of bottles chinking around us! Anything Else? Overall, an enjoyable cruise with the exception of some selfish passengers who were totally focused on what they wanted to do, queuing in the Glasshouse to make sure that you got into the theatre is not good, neither is leaving a show early to get to the next venue. This was also the first cruise where we have had three captains: Simon Terry left us in Ibiza for urgent personal reasons Deputy captain Max Rossi took over. In Athens Marcin Banach took over All this happened totally seamlessly. All that now remains is for me to lose the six pounds that I have gained on this cruise, and plan the next one! Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
10 of us went as a group for a 3 day break , time away from children , grandchildren , nagging partners and husbands :) We arrived at Southampton and was whisked through security and passport control at such a speed, so different from ... Read More
10 of us went as a group for a 3 day break , time away from children , grandchildren , nagging partners and husbands :) We arrived at Southampton and was whisked through security and passport control at such a speed, so different from airports. before we knew it we were onboard ! The staff are lovely and very friendly. Room had window with restricted views ( lifeboat outside ) Very clean and pleasant. Top tip adjust your temp control to suit you ( i froze the first night ! ) warm as toast once i realised. Food is top class in the buffet . The two other places to eat included in the price were fab. Black tie was great we all enjoyed dressing up. We decided to eat at the beach house on the last night , we paid the extra as my sister and i fancied the ribs , they looked fab . Tasted awful :( everything tasted of pine and lemon toilet cleaner ! we couldn't eat them at all ! others meals looked fab . The nightclub was great fun and didnt close till the last person left. We enjoyed the quizes in the afternoon. The drinks are pretty much the same as pub prices . You can go to reception and get a tally of what you have spent at any time.. All in all a great time and a great taster cruise . Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We chose this cruise specifically because it was promoted as just that: a music festival at sea. Not everyone on board knew that. Which did, in the event, cause some grumbles. Embarcation was fine. On this occasion we had booked a ... Read More
We chose this cruise specifically because it was promoted as just that: a music festival at sea. Not everyone on board knew that. Which did, in the event, cause some grumbles. Embarcation was fine. On this occasion we had booked a higher grade which did reduce the waiting. Our cabin was a mini suite which we had chosen because, having travelled on this ship once before, we knew it to be of a good size, design and decoration. If you think that you will use your cabin for more than just sleeping in, then we believe that in this ship the considerable extra expense is worth it. But it is does cost a lot more. On Aurora you can chose between one of two seatings for dinner, or freedom dining. We chose the latter and after a few initial delays by way of queues and non-working bleeper things, it worked out quite well, with little more than a few minutes wait before being assigned to a table. The service and food was on the whole good given the numbers to be catered for. Some people might prefer having the same waiter throughout the cruise. But overall we enjoyed the food and the company, different each evening. Now, for the entertainment. This was one of three Music Festivals at Sea organised by P & O. This comprised of a number of fifty minute presentations in both theater and the smaller show lounge, by a variety of musicians and singers. Hosted by Kevin Whatley of Morse and Lewis. With respect to him Mr Whatley is not a musician. But he is an actor and a consumate one. On one occasion he gave a masterly Shakespeare performance. The events started with short examples of each musician's or singer's talent. Later, each principal gave an individual recital with piano accompanist. The variety was stunning. The talent of these people was outstanding. All of them, without exception. The choice diverse, covering everything from Franck and Poulenc to Elgar to Gershwin and Rogers and Hammerstein, but each of the highest calibre. The very highest After the recital by the brilliant young Slovenian violinist I was shaking. Elgar's Nimrod on the marimbas still runs through my mind. 'Oh what a beautiful morning', sung by the Canadian baritone while walking down the aisle to the theatre stage had real drama. It was prepared and directed magnificently by the lady who has done so, I believe, since the outset of these festivals and this was the 32nd such. Long may she continue to do so. Call this a music festival at sea? It would have been a music festival of class anywhere in the world. This was class. For us, this lifted cruising on a ship to a quite new dimension. But not everyone shared this view. Apart from the festival artists, the standard ship entertainment went on, with a comedian, singers and the ship's dancing troupe. Some passengers complained that there was too much for the festival and not enough for others. And they did have a point: due to some publicity difficulty, many people were unaware that it was a special cruise until receiving an email from P & O ten days before sailing. And some did not receive even that. As to the ports of call, we had never been to the Canaries or Madeira and we loved it all. But our more experienced fellow travellers said that the weather was poor, and no doubt they were right because I got utterly soaked walking through a rain forest in La Gomera. But it was worth it. If you like really high quality performances by top grade musicians and singers, this cruise may be for you. It certianly was for us. We have booked for next year. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Overall enjoyed our cruise but improvement needed on the interior of the Ventura. In our cabin the one chair was all frayed and looked very worn ,electric socket was hanging from the wall ,the sheets were torn in both beds and below the ... Read More
Overall enjoyed our cruise but improvement needed on the interior of the Ventura. In our cabin the one chair was all frayed and looked very worn ,electric socket was hanging from the wall ,the sheets were torn in both beds and below the mirror in toilet the damp had corroded the wall. Wi Fi charges for a day was exorbitant. The staff in the hairdressers at the spa were extremely overpowering with their attempts to sell products. Food on the whole was very good in all the restaurants and the staff were very courteous. The tannoy system was not working in our cabin and we had to open the bedroom door to hear any messages. The majority of staff at reception were helpful with just a couple of exceptions. We previously cruised with Celebrity X and would have to give them the edge when coming to a decision on our next cruise. Finally P and O spend a few pounds on the inside of Ventura to attempt to get return customers. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Hello. Last year I had the pleasure of going on my first ever cruise. This was on P&O Britannia for two weeks sailing around the Mediterranean to and from Southampton. The ports of call were Cadiz, Barcelona, Livorno, Civitavecchia, ... Read More
Hello. Last year I had the pleasure of going on my first ever cruise. This was on P&O Britannia for two weeks sailing around the Mediterranean to and from Southampton. The ports of call were Cadiz, Barcelona, Livorno, Civitavecchia, Cartagena and St. Peter Port in Guernsey. We were originally meant to go to Gibraltar instead of Guernsey but a few months before the cruise this got cancelled and changed to Guernsey by P&O. We were also meant to go to Monte Carlo after Barcelona but due to poor weather conditions we couldn't dock there and it would have been unsafe for the tenders. As compensation we stayed overnight in Barcelona and were allowed to go out in to Barcelona for the evening if we wished (we didn't). Before I give my review I will give a brief background into who I went with and the reason why. I went with my Husband, my Mother-in-Law and Father-in-Law. This cruise was booked by my in-laws for my Husband's 30th Birthday. Both my Husband and myself were 30 last year and my in-laws paid for my Husband for his Birthday and my Husband paid for me for my Birthday. As I previously said this was my first cruise, I didn't really know what to expect. My Husband did a couple of cruises as a child/teenager but nothing else since then, but my in-laws are frequent cruisers and love it. I don't wish to upset people by my next comment, but I wouldn't have particularly chosen to do a cruise if it hadn't have been booked for me. My in-laws went on the Maiden Voyage for Britannia and booked this cruise whilst they were on board. This is not me being ungrateful, quite the opposite, I couldn't be more grateful, but cruising didn't majorly appeal to me. However, I got excited and started planning things for the cruise. For Christmas 2015 I made up a cruise hamper for my in-laws for their Christmas present, which consisted of essentials needed for a cruise such as hand gel, alarm clock, extension cable, note pad, pens, highlighters, travel water bottles, laundry bag, emergency ponchos, and so much more, and draped a Union Jack flag inside it to represent Britannia. I also made up gift bags for the day we left for Southampton (we stayed overnight in a Holiday Inn in Southampton the night before the cruise as my Husband has family who live in Southampton so went to visit them as well), and that consisted of things such as sweets, a bottle of water, tissues, hand gel, a keyring made up about the cruise, and a t-shirt that I had made up for each of us on Vistaprint to wear when embarking on the ship (everyone actually wore them too and we had good comments too, which was good). It was booked 16 months beforehand, and about 2-3 months before the cruise I started to get nervous. I worried more about being ill and getting sickness. I was still excited don't get me wrong but was nervous as well, and I believe the nerves took over somewhat. Anyway, back to the cruise. We arrived in Southampton the day before and checked in to the Holiday Inn on the docks. We took advantage of the cruise and stay package, which included bed, breakfast and parking for the two weeks of the cruise, as well as taxi transfers to and from the cruise terminal. I would recommend this if anyone is thinking of staying overnight the night before their cruise and are driving down to Southampton. It meant as well that we could pack a very small overnight bag purely for the hotel in Southampton and throw all the dirty things in the boot of the car and not take them on board with us. The Holiday Inn was pretty good too, and would stay there again. The room was ok, staff were friendly and the breakfast was buffet but again ok. We checked out of the hotel around 10.30-11.00am on the morning of embarkation. We waited for our taxis to take us to the cruise terminal (I honestly didn't realise how close it was- if I had walked to the end of the hotel I would have seen the ship!). We went completely mad on luggage! For four people for a two week holiday there was a total of around 9 items of luggage, not to mention our carry on bags! This was our fault really as we took so much with us because we weren't really sure what we should take! A lesson we have learnt for future reference! We got in to the departure lounge by around 12.00pm. We sat waiting for a while then my Mother-in-Law requested assistance for boarding, so we got checked in a little quicker and was on board before 1.00pm. Checking in was relatively quick once we were allowed to go to the checking desk. We went to board the ship and as silly as this is going to sound we stepped on board and I didn't realise straight away that we were actually on board! I thought for a minute that we were in a little section between the gangway and the ship! As it was my first cruise my Husband filmed my reaction to stepping on board and I think this was the point that I didn't click on that we had actually stepped foot on to the ship! First impressions of the ship (once I realised that I was on board) were fantastic! What a beautiful ship! Britannia herself Britannia was a beautiful ship. I loved the Atrium and Starburst, the shops were good (there was a Pandora on board so I was happy!), and we loved The Live Lounge, Headliners Theatre, Brodie's, The Limelight Club and The Crow's Nest, and the entertainment that was in them. We used the quiet area on the top deck at the front of the ship for sunbathing on sea days, except for one day when we were on the Lido Deck by the main pools because it was windy and the top decks were closed off. We used the cinema, which was a nice bonus and found reception to be very helpful. Food: For food we were on Club Dining and allocated first sitting for our evening meal (6.30pm) in The Oriental Restaurant. Our waiters and wine waiter were brilliant and very accommodating. We also used The Oriental Restaurant for breakfast, which again was excellent, used the Horizon Restaurant (buffet), which was also good, room service, which was prompt and fresh, The Peninsular Restaurant a couple of lunchtimes, which again was good and went to The Limelight Club for dinner and a show (this cost £22 per person, but was worth the money). We also tried the grab and go/burger bar a couple of times, and had no problems with this, but I wasn't too impressed with the burger as it had mayonnaise on, which I don't like and didn't know until I took it back to my table, but if I knew I would of asked for one without mayonnaise and I think they would do it for me, so I'm not putting them down for this. You wont go hungry on Britannia! All waiting staff were good and the drinks staff were good around the ship. Cost wise drinks were similar to that in some pubs, maybe slightly more expensive, but not by much. Entertainment: For entertainment we used mainly Headliners Theatre, The Live Lounge (night club) and Brodie's (the pub). We loved the venues and their acts. We also used the on board cinema (I saw part of the latest Dad's Army film (I've seen before but didn't find it that good) with all the family, and my Husband and Father-in-Law went back to see (I think) X-Men Apocalypse, which they enjoyed. Pulse, who were the resident band in The Live Lounge were brilliant, as were the Britannia Show Cast who we saw in Headliners Theatre, but the one we weren't so keen on were The High Tides Duo, who were the resident duo in Brodie's. We saw Sam Bailey (X Factor winner) and Jimmy James (soul singer) in Headliners Theatre, who were both brilliant, and we saw Peter Piper (comedian) in Headliners Theatre and The Live Lounge, who I thought was brilliant and so funny. We also saw comedian and impressionist Mark Walker (Roy Walker from Catchphrase's son), who was also funny. We saw Dean Andrews in The Limelight Club who did singing, but is famous for his acting in The Last Tango in Halifax, Being Eileen, Ashes to Ashes and Life on Mars. He is definitely worth seeing, he is brilliant. He needs to make an album! We took part in the big money bingo at the end of the cruise and also went to some talks between us. Me, my Husband and my Mother-in-law went to An Audience with Captain David Pembridge, who was the captain of Britannia whilst we were on there. He was a great captain and was funny too. He made the best decisions on the ship and made us all feel welcomed as well. Whilst waiting for this talk to start there was a talk by a lady who was on Human Planet, so we caught the end of it, which was interesting, and my Husband went to another of these talks the next day and said it was good. Can't fault the entertainment on board really. Me and my Husband went to Marco Pierre White's book signing and got our photographs taken with him by the on board professional photographers. Marco had signed these as well and they were put up on display in the photo gallery for us to purchase, which we did. We went to the Captain's Gala Party on the first formal night, which was good, the first Sail Away Party, which got us in the spirit of the cruise, and the Great British Sail Away Party, which was when we were leaving Cartagena. The Captain held an additional cocktail party as compensation for not going to Monte Carlo, which we popped along to and thought was good too. My in-laws are in the Petunis Club (think that is right but please forgive the spelling!), so went along to a cocktail party for Petunis Club members, which they enjoyed, and got free Gin and Tonics! The Chef's Parade on the final but one evening was a good atmosphere (not a Baked Alaska Parade, which was stopped a few years ago), and I got to try Baked Alaska for the first time too, and enjoyed it, but didn't eat all the meringue. Spa: Me and my Mother-in-Law went to the spa on our second sea day, which happened to be the day of our first formal night. We both booked and paid for this a few months before the cruise. We both had a fire and ice pedicure with our toenails being painted at the end. My Mother-in-Law had a problem as the lady who was meant to do her treatment was sent off the ship in Southampton due to breaking her fingers and they had no replacement for her. They weren't sure whether they were getting a replacement for her, and we didn't find out if she got replaced. They managed to squeeze her in just before my treatment so we were in the room having our treatments together for part of it. The staff were good and we felt for them as they were being pushed to the limit after being one staff member down. They were friendly enough but were a bit cheeky too, which we didn't really mind as we have a laugh and a joke, but some people may not like this. We really enjoyed the treatment though, and loved the colours of our toenails. The Cookery Club: The biggest highlight for me on the cruise, taking away the ports of call/shore days was The Cookery Club. Me and my Husband were booked on to the Masterclass with Marco Pierre White, which was such an amazing experience! Marco was such a nice man, so friendly and polite, and even had a laugh with us. I was sort of dreading this because I am not a big fan of cooking and don't like handling raw meat or fish, but in the end I loved the class (I can't say the same about handling raw meat and fish though!). Everything was all prepared for us and got out at our stations for us. We got to work in pairs, so me and my Husband worked together. We had paper hats and material aprons at our workstations to wear, and as soon as we walked in and gave our names we were instructed to wash our hands first before taking a seat at the table (we were encouraged to wash our hands regularly throughout the class). We had recipe packs with what we were going to do, which Marco signed at the end when having a photograph taken by the professional photographers on board, and could take home with us to try them out at home, which we will do. There were two dishes we did in total, and Marco demonstrated one, we all tasted, then went to make it ourselves and then eat it, then the process was repeated for the second dish. The first dish was Lobster Spaghetti, which was in a tomato sauce. (I did everything until the lobster, which was pre prepared and brought out later, and let my Husband handle it with the lobster!) and the second dish was Parmesan and Saffron Infused Risotto. They both tasted delicious, but I didn't have any lobster. My recommendation with the risotto is that if you are not a massive fan of Parmesan Cheese don't use so much as I found it was too much for me. I love Parmesan Cheese but there was too much of it for me, but that is just personal taste and nothing wrong with the food. We are planning on making these dishes for friends and family (maybe substituting the lobster for king prawns due to the cost of lobster and being able to get it). The on board professional photographers came and took photographs throughout, and we were allowed to take photographs ourselves whenever we liked. The cost of this was £100 per person, but I had mine for free as compensation for P&O cancelling a chocolate class that I had booked and paid for. They called me up a day or so after I booked it to say it was cancelled and as compensation they had refunded my money and gave me the Masterclass with Marco Pierre White for free. I was so glad I did this in the end! On Shore: We did two P&O Shore Excursions each, me and my Husband did Easy Pisa and Panoramic Rome, and my in-laws did a pasta and wine trip in the Tuscan Hills I think, and went to a beach when we were in Civitavecchia. Easy Pisa was good, and involved a coach trip to Pisa, a road train to Miracle Square to see the buildings and The Leaning Tower of Pisa, then the road train again around Pisa to see the buildings before taking us back to the coach to go back to the ship. Very good, and well worth doing, especially if you have not seen The Leaning Tower of Pisa. Panoramic Rome was a coach ride around most of the famous sites (not getting off the coach), but part way through going to the Collouseum and getting off the coach for half an hour to take photographs. This was probably my favourite excursion as we saw so much, but I did enjoy Pisa to see the Leaning Tower. Drinks were expensive in Pisa, but we expected it not to be cheap. This didn't stop us from feeling shocked when a can of coke and a bottle of beer came to 10 Euros! On the rest of the shore days we did our own thing. We did the open top bus around Cadiz and Barcelona, which we enjoyed. We also went in the cathedral and tapas bar in Cadiz, visited a couple of bars and shops in Cartagena as well as popping in a local church, a bar and shops in Guernsey, and also visited the German War Museum in Guernsey too, which was interesting. We have said we would like to have a long weekend in Guernsey as it was beautiful and there were other places we would like to see such as the War Hospital. We would have liked to have spent longer in Cartagena as we had to be back on the ship by 1.30pm so didn't have a lot of time to explore the area, and would definitely like to go back to Rome to see more of places like the Trevi Fountain and The Vatican. Extras: At the end of the cruise, as is normal practice, we were given copies of the menus from the head waiter and second waiter who dealt with us on the cruise, and a copy of the ship's log in our room, which I thought were wonderful touches and the ship's log is fascinating. I loved the professional photographers and the photo gallery. I could have spent a fortune, in fact I did, but could have spent lots more than I did! I think the professional photographs are things that appeal for first time cruisers, and I especially loved it as it was seen as a once in a lifetime cruise for us and for special occasions, or for those on special occasions. I think if we cruised regularly we wouldn't have many photos if any, maybe just some celebrity or formal night ones. We had the Platinum package, which was £124.50 (or there abouts) and included a photo album, 8 event/celebrity/portrait photographs of our choice, 16 ship and location photographs of our choice and a copy of our cruise DVD. We had extra prints too. Its not cheap I know, but we wanted them for the memories, especially formal nights and the Masterclass with Marco Pierre White. If we did another cruise I don't think I'd have so many photographs and maybe not a package. The Britannia shop with the sweets, Britannia branded goodies, toiletries and medicines was not that cheap really, but most places are not cheap. The duty free places were good and I loved the jewellery and hand bag sales! Negatives: The negatives were the dirty knickers situation in my in-laws' room, but this was resolved and all was well afterwards. Mistakes happen, and I always say as much as they are a nuisance its how they rectify and handle it that matters, and they dealt with this promptly and gave them a bottle of wine as compensation, so all was good. However, I think P&O could have a fairer process with certain things. Two things in particular were The Retreat Spa area where you could pay so much for the day or so much for the whole holiday to go in a private area with separate Jacuzzis, comfortable seating, etc. We couldn't book it before going on board so went down to the Oasis Spa to book it after boarding only to be told that it was fully booked for the whole cruise. We said this was unfair as we boarded early and couldn't get in, so those boarding later had no chance. The other issue was one of the Horizon magazines that we were issued had an advertisement for a tour of the ship. This was about a week in to the cruise. My Husband went straight down to reception to enquire and book on to it only to be told again that it was fully booked and costs £77 per person. Apparently it was advertised on the TV screens, which we never saw, and I don't think other passengers did too, and reception said that passengers that cruise regularly know about it and book it as soon as they board the ship. Again, we were disappointed in this. I think for things like this when you can't book until you board the ship should only be opened for booking once all passengers board the ship to give everyone who wants to do them a fair chance to book. Ok, it may be a rush, but at least its first come first served and everyone gets the same chance. Overall: Overall I loved the cruise, and loved dressing up for formal nights too. As a first time cruiser it took a while to get used to the drunken feeling I was getting when walking around the ship (I don't drink and all I had the whole cruise was a sip of Prosecco to try and didn't like it, so can't blame alcohol!). I also found that high heels don't do you many favours in this department either! I don't think I fully got my sea legs! I didn't like the rough sea day as this was facing my biggest fear of the ship and I couldn't help but worry when announcements of rough sea days were made, but this is no fault of P&O or the ship, in fact the ship handles the sea beautifully, it is an act of God and we have no control, but with Kwells and travel bands it can be handled well. One thing that I felt a couple of times, and it kind of contradicts some of the things I said, but I felt sometimes like there was no escape. There's so much to do so you don't go bored, but I could tell we were on a ship and had no way of getting out or off (not that you would want to get out in open sea!) I told my Husband this and he said maybe two weeks was a bit too long for me, but I quite enjoyed having a two week holiday as normally I only have a week. I have done 10 days with my parents when I was younger, and maybe had two weeks once when I was younger but can't be certain, but otherwise this was the longest holiday I had. I was amazed at how many famous people were on board and how much you could do, and it felt glamorous. Would I cruise again? I think I have the bug, but I did say that I needed to recover from my moments of worrying over rough days, and if I didn't cruise it would be purely for how I cope rather than what a cruise has to offer. However, I have agreed to another cruise and last week we booked up with my in-laws again for a week's cruise to the Norwegian Fjords in August 2017, this time on P&O Azura! I'm looking forward to it, but again I'm worried about the sea! I feel happier about being in the Fjords themselves, its the getting to and from the Fjords that worries me. I'm praying for kind seas and kind weather! Thank you to my Husband and in-laws for a wonderful cruise holiday, and thank you to P&O for your excellent service and making our cruise, and also my first cruise so special. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
First time with P&O and on the whole very happy. The entertainment and activities could have been so much better but I do appreciate that you can't please everybody. The cabins and cleanliness of the ship were excellent. The ... Read More
First time with P&O and on the whole very happy. The entertainment and activities could have been so much better but I do appreciate that you can't please everybody. The cabins and cleanliness of the ship were excellent. The food was, in my view, better than a previous cruise company I had been with. The problem I had was understanding why Gibralter was said to be too busy to call into. The bookings of the ports must be made before the brochures go to press so how could this be the case. Friends of mine were on a different P&O cruise in the same period and they went into Gibralter. Instead of Gibralter the ship called into Guernsey. Guernesy was said to be duty free. Not only was it pretty boring but not cheap either. The ship missed out Monte Carlo, the seas were said to be too rough for the tenders. Cartegena time in port was cut short so that the ship could go to Guernsey. Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We chose this as it was available! We thought P and O was a reputable company. The Oceana itself is very tired, and desperately in need of upgrading and modernising. Our first impression on embarking showed it to be dark and old ... Read More
We chose this as it was available! We thought P and O was a reputable company. The Oceana itself is very tired, and desperately in need of upgrading and modernising. Our first impression on embarking showed it to be dark and old fashioned inside. We had chosen a suite , so expected a few perks as we have had on other cruises when paying for a suite. But no Speedy boarding at either the airport ( it was a Fly Cruise) or the ship. The only benefit was breakfast where we had a quieter separate area for breakfast, and occasionally for dinner. Food was good n the whole. Wine list was good too.Staff were friendly and attentiveness on the whole. On other cruises perks had been reserved seating in the theatres too, not so here. However the entertainment was spectacular. We only used the tiny adult pool once. We don't enjoy busy tourist resorts, and the pool areas were just like this. They were heaving with noisy, beer drinking passengers. There should be larger pools, or perhaps one more? It was a bit like an upmarket Ibitha seaside resort i imagine . Our cabin suite was of reasonable size, though again, very tired. Furniture was dark and in need of upgrading. The balcony again, of reasonable size, needed freshening and making a bit more luxurious rather than functional. There wasn't a separate lounge area for Suite guests. We have enjoyed this on previous Cruises, being able to get snacks and drinks at any time of day. Any drinks or snacks on Oceana had to be paid for, after queuing . The lunchtime buffet, whilst looking to be quite good in selection and quality, was again heaving with people, with Butlin style queues. Read Less
26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
we saw Britannia sailing the other way last year in the Med, it looked stunning so we promised ourselves to try it. We booked direct with P&O and pleased we did< Georgina was excellent, no hard sell, just a very knowledgeable and ... Read More
we saw Britannia sailing the other way last year in the Med, it looked stunning so we promised ourselves to try it. We booked direct with P&O and pleased we did< Georgina was excellent, no hard sell, just a very knowledgeable and approachable person. By booking direct we found we had a very acceptable on board spend allowance plus valet parking. The valet parking was smooth & efficient, the check in was a breeze, even better when I asked when our cabin would be ready I was amazed to find that it already was! One of the striking things about this ship is its décor, it's a cross between contemporary and art deco, no bold "n" brash purples and reds, instead mellow fawns, beiges, browns and greens that make for a calming, tranquil mood and that theme follows throughout the ship. The other most noticeable is the amount of thought that's gone into the public areas, in particular the decks and pool areas, instead of an open sprawl that seems to be the trend of many ships there are carefully sited glass screens and planters, gazebo's and different levels that gives passengers the feeling of privacy and seclusion, it's very good, also, no plastic loungers or chairs on this ship, instead it's a mix of Rattan or bespoke steal seats, The Serenity pool area is a good example of this clever design and it really is quite stunning. The main restaurant is the Peninsular which serves a comprehensive menu of very acceptable, nicely prepared and cooked food, there are several other dining options too, all excellent although some have a modest cover charge, there is a good pub serving many real ales and showing live premier league games pretty much non stop, they hold quizzes, bingo and various competitions too. There is a good sized (and well attended) ballroom, casino, the headliners theatre, the lime light cabaret, the live lounge and the crows nest both feature live music. This ship and its staff are a credit to P&O and anyone who says different should be taken very lightly indeed, in fact it was so good we've booked it twice more this year ! . Read Less
Sail Date: December 2015
The weather out of Southampton was heavy so our first night was early to bed as none of us are good in bad weather We arrived in Zee Bruges had a good breakfast before boarding the shuttle bus to Blankenberge the journey took 10 minutes ... Read More
The weather out of Southampton was heavy so our first night was early to bed as none of us are good in bad weather We arrived in Zee Bruges had a good breakfast before boarding the shuttle bus to Blankenberge the journey took 10 minutes and dropped us at the Rail & Bus terminals convenient for both We had just missed the train 5 euros return on Sundays they leave at 42 minutes to the hour and return journey from Bruges is 5 minutes pass passed the hour so we walked to the sea front of Blankenberge and back Around 60% of the shops were open and the front reminded me of any commercial holiday beach lots of apartments and bars / restaurants but this time of the year very quiet The train journeys were uneventful with the exception that the return train was over full and we were glad that we were early to get a seat Bruges was how we had imagined lots of nice buildings, water ways and gardens plenty to explore and experience The Christmas markets one smaller than the other the main in the central square had the ice rink, were disappointing they resembled the German markets in the UK lines of huts mainly food and drink a small amusement ride area the few huts selling goods did not appeal to us. We enjoyed walking around Bruges and found lots of shops with interesting and different products, we stopped for coffee and cake tried the chocolate and had a pleasant day The canal boat trips were not running and we did not have time to see half of what we would like to see so we will be returning in the summer overall a good experience Back on the ship for return journey entertainment for the evening group Police Attack a good cover band and we enjoyed the performance with a sing along and a drink Evening meal not to the standard expected had to return 2 meals ? We all enjoyed this cruise wish it had been a little longer the time passed so quickly P&O were advertising my Christmas 2 night cruise for £249.00 for an outside cabin with a restricted view. I tried to book for 6 adults over phone and was told that the £249.00 price for outside & inside cabins were for wheelchair user only and so were the cabins at £299.00 and the cheapest available was £349.00. I did not take this very well and asked to speak to a manager who gave the same response I made several complaints to all and sundry. The point I was trying to make to P&O is that they are advertising widely in the press and on their web site cabins at £249.00 but they were not available to the general public how they can justify this is beyond my logic. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2015
Have been on 3 P&O cruises and 2 Celebrity X cruises. Simple summary was that we had a great relaxing holiday but expected more from the new flagship Britannia. Bigger ship with no improved experience for passengers, only more profit ... Read More
Have been on 3 P&O cruises and 2 Celebrity X cruises. Simple summary was that we had a great relaxing holiday but expected more from the new flagship Britannia. Bigger ship with no improved experience for passengers, only more profit for the company I.e. No better cabin space, no increased service in bars and restaurant - automated wine/beer dispensers in buffet area that never seemed to work? Standard restaurant food was very good and with excellent service. Speciality restaurant Ok but on a par with Celeb X including value for money. Ship tour was advertised in paper so I went to reception to book for my wife and told it was £75 p.p!!! Flights are excellent and organisation good for transfers etc. I will cruise again with P&O for the right prices but now Britannia would not be a high priority, Azura is fine. Having said that next 2 cruises are booked with Celeb X. Also steward was excellent but I felt sorry for how busy he was and worst thing about crushing generally is that we pay tips to supplement very poor pay and long hours and these companies charge premium prices. Final moan, Internet is a joke and not usable, how they can charge £0.25 per minute for something that doesn't function I'm not sure. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2015
Friends asked us to try this sampler as we were new to cruising. Since booking we went to the Caribbean with P and O on Ventura which was a good experience so we had a fair idea what to expect. Firstly, we were all impressed with ... Read More
Friends asked us to try this sampler as we were new to cruising. Since booking we went to the Caribbean with P and O on Ventura which was a good experience so we had a fair idea what to expect. Firstly, we were all impressed with Britannia as it is a new ship so all the cabins are clean and fresh. As this was such a short trip it was disappointing that we were unable to board until 3pm on Saturday and had to vacate our cabin at 8am on the Monday and leave the ship by 10am, It felt more like a one day trip. We ate mostly in the Oriental restaurant for breakfast and dinner and the food was generally good, but not the standard we had experienced earlier in the year. The service was always hurried and a few waiters bordered being rude saying they were too busy and we would have to wait. Both evenings we were not offered cheese after our meal. Plates were cleared before all our table had finished. Meals were muddled and we did not always get what we ordered. In the bars we experienced the same poor service. I began to wonder if the wet English weather affected the attitude as it was totally different when we were in the Caribbean in February. I would not recommend a short break with P and O. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
This was our first P&O cruise, and probably our last. The ship has a lovely decor, plenty of different spaces/places to go to, we had an excellent itinerary and to top it all it was a Strictly cruise. However, I cannot help but be ... Read More
This was our first P&O cruise, and probably our last. The ship has a lovely decor, plenty of different spaces/places to go to, we had an excellent itinerary and to top it all it was a Strictly cruise. However, I cannot help but be disappointed with P&O's flagship. Firstly the good bits... The cabin decor was finished to a high standard and in tranquil colours. There was plenty of storage space for our clothes and cases. Yes, it is smaller (in width) compared with the cabins we have had on Royal Caribbean, but during the day it was perfectly formed. There was a large fridge and tea/coffee making facilities and at least 3 easily accessible UK sockets. The TV was flat screen and wall mounted. Although we didn't watch them, there were a number of films and other TV programmes. The shower was massive and the bathroom well planned. The balcony is smaller again than we are used to but enough room for the two of us on the slightly reclining chairs, and the table doubled up as a footstool. The sun deck with the main swimming pools was popular. The grab and go (breakfast snacks, sandwiches, salads, desserts and the odd hot pasty/samosa) was a nice touch if you wanted a break from over eating at lunchtime. The pizza and burger bars situated here were also popular for a quick snack (and they did do salad there too). My son loved the ice cream bar, which was a reasonable price (magnums were £1.80, calippos £1 and ice cream £1.75 for 1 scoop up to £2.25 for 3 scoops). They also did ice cream milkshakes and costa coffee for the parents. As I mentioned above, it was a Strictly cruise and there was a full programme of events from professional demonstration shows to fashion shows, passenger competitions and question and answer sessions. On board, we had Kevin and Karen Clifton, Aljaz Skorjanec and his partner Janette Manrara, then for the second week we had Ian Waite and Camilla Dallerup. We were also joined by Russell Grant and Arlene Phillips. This was in addition to the usual onboard teachers, 4 daily lessons whilst at sea and nightly dancing to a live band. If you love dancing, this was certainly the cruise for you. In fact, the whole entertainment schedule was packed with plenty to do. Unfortunately, you sometimes had to make a hard choice and miss out on something, but c'est la vie. The Beach Hut. If you go on Britannia, do not miss this place! There is a £5 cover charge per person and additional £1.95 or £2.95 for some of the main courses. The food was excellent. The service was up there with the best I have had on any cruise ship with the waiters interacting with all the guests and setting puzzles for the kids with sugar packets between courses. My only negative point - I wish we had discovered this earlier in the cruise. There was a wait every night if you didn't go at the opening time, so get there at 6.30pm (even so, we still had to wait until 6.45pm before we were seated). On to the bad... The cabin at night was a nightmare. We travelled with our son and booked a GB cabin with a sofa bed. Unfortunately, when the sofa bed is out, you cannot access the fridge, hairdryer or the balcony. The sofa bed takes up all the room between the wall and the dressing table, with perhaps an inch or so to spare. To access the fridge or the hairdryer, you have to lift the sofa bed up, and it then gets stuck on the coffee table when lowering it. The tea/coffee making facilities is also in this corner so you have to go without first thing in the morning, which is when you are usually gasping for a cuppa, or lean over the bed and risk scalding yourself or the bed occupant. Poor design P&O. Many people have commented on the lack of a central staircase and this was a big issue, especially on port days as the gangway was inevitably midship when coming back to the ship. Most people also used these lifts to access the freedom dining restaurants, theatre and bars and shops around the atrium. Whilst there are forward and aft lifts/staircases, it was only on deck 7 that you could walk through to the back of the ship, so this really is a poor design feature. It is also quite a big ship with a large 'older' clientele (especially considering this was a school holiday cruise), so I think this should have been thought about more carefully. On the subject of the atrium, this didn't really provide a focal point and lacked in atmosphere. This was a problem in many areas of the ship, whilst it was nice it just lacked a je ne sais quoi. Some of this, I suspect, was related to the indifferent service. On most ships poor customer service is an exception. Unfortunately, on Britannia it was the rule. No-one was rude but they just didn't seem to care. There were exceptions to this - the Beach Hut bring one, a couple of waiters in the dining room and a barman in the Crystal Room - but it really wasn't what I expected. I also visited/spoke to reception about a couple of minor issues. Their response on every occasion was that it wasn't their fault it was someone else's department. Whilst this is true, a better way of dealing with these issues might have been 'Thank you for bringing this to our attention, unfortunately I cannot resolve this but I will pass it on to someone who can' rather than a blame attitude. The ultimate outcome was the same, but I was left feeling that I was being chastised for raising the issue and dissatisfied with my interaction. Food was also not quite up to the standard I would expect. Someone needs to teach the chefs how to cook eggs as they were usually undercooked with unset whites or uncooked centres in the omelettes. The buffet menu choice was limited, although every day there was salad, carvery and themed dishes. There were waiters taking drinks orders and pouring tea/coffee at breakfast and evening meals. However, on many occasions we would be able to eat all our meal and dessert without being asked if we wanted a drink.on the one occasion we did manage to order, my son had finished his meal and dessert before it arrived. It is far easier to get your own. As far as being a family friendly ship, it is certainly less so than Royal Caribbean. The kids club shuts for 1 hour at lunchtime and teatime, and doesn't start until 10am. This can make attending activities without kids in tow difficult as often these would start at 10am or 2pm and you might be queuing up to sign into kids club for 10 minutes or so when it first opens. Kids cannot sign themselves in or out until they are 13. Also, you cannot leave the kids on board in kids club whilst you go ashore. We had a lovely wander around Cadiz, but ended up curtailing it because our son got a bit too hot, tired and bored. It would have been nice to have taken him back to the ship, and then gone back for a couple of hours. Just means we need to plan a long weekend there whilst he stays with the Grandparents... Finally, for a ship that big, the dance floor in the Crystal Room is far too small. In summary, lots of good points but plenty of bad too. The British have a reputation for moaning, and we heard plenty of comments particularly about the lack of central staircase and level of service. The design issues are not major problems and could be overcome with information (and we worked our way around the central staircase issue by going forward or aft). I wouldn't have booked the cabin grade that we had, had I known about the bed issue, and I would have paid more for a higher grade cabin so that we could be. Ore comfortable in the cabin at night. However, it was the general ambience and poor service that let it down for me. There were people who seemed to love it, but also many who didn't (more who seemed to say they would go back to another P&O ship rather than Britannia, but then we do like to moan). It is a bit of a marmite ship. I don't think Britannia was for us. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
We enjoyed a 40th Wedding Anniversary Cruise to the Baltic that left Southampton on 20th June 15. The ship was spotless, the staff were immaculately turned out and it was obvious that they were “happy bunnies” [ unlike some ... Read More
We enjoyed a 40th Wedding Anniversary Cruise to the Baltic that left Southampton on 20th June 15. The ship was spotless, the staff were immaculately turned out and it was obvious that they were “happy bunnies” [ unlike some recently encountered on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth] We were on a Strictly Come Dancing Theme Cruise and the dance professionals did not disappoint. Ports were excellent, including the small fishing village of Skagen, north Denmark. Best surprise for most was Tallinn in Estonia. On the evenings we enjoyed Freedom Dining in the Meridian Restaurant. The service was excellent. Menu was a bit repetitive and figured too much beef and pork, and no real attempt was made to serve up dishes that reflected the ports we visited [ Beef Stroganoff being an exception] Dress code was disappointing. Formal Code was what one would expect. The only other code was Casual where, unfortunately, jeans and posh tee-shirts were acceptable. Would suggest that two codes, Formal and Smart Casual, are more acceptable. We met many interesting people when we chose to share a table at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Downside is that some fellow passengers are totally unaware that it is manners to wait until the table has been served before “diving” into one’s “grub.” Also knives are for cutting ----- not for eating off, or even worse, licking. Had a special anniversary dinner in the Seventeen Restaurant that was well worth the cover charge. Chateaubriand steak was just right. The Theatre shows were disappointing and we soon opted out. This is where Cunard are hard to beat. Was our first P & O Cruise. Sorry to say that the entertainment and onboard activities reflected what one might find at an English Holiday Camp. P & O needs to be more “British” and if possible an attempt at being Global would be welcome. Finally whoever controls the sound system when we passengers are herded into the Playhouse and other holding areas to get us “debarked” ASAP at Southampton should be forced to listen to the loud, benal music that prevented us from hearing disembarkation announcements. Also would be an advantage if the person making critical announcements had English, as a first language. Repeating them would also be helpful. Our ship was late docking [ no reason offered] and the luggage off-loading was 60 mins behind schedule so we nearly missed our Southampton -> London train connection. Fighting for a space on the train when some 12,000 passengers off 4 large liners are on the move is an interesting experience. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
This was a" Strictly Come Dancing ", themed Cruise. We are not dancers and this was our first ever cruise! Having read the mixed reviews about the Azura and P and O in general I was worried that we had made the wrong choice. Just ... Read More
This was a" Strictly Come Dancing ", themed Cruise. We are not dancers and this was our first ever cruise! Having read the mixed reviews about the Azura and P and O in general I was worried that we had made the wrong choice. Just so that readers may know that our opinions were not biased by the cost of our cruise I will say that we paid select price and chose a cabin C328 because it had a larger balcony. We arrived at port easily Having stayed the night at the Holiday Inn Express just outside Southampton.The car was taken away to be parked and luggage immediately loaded onto a trolley.. We were directed into the embarkation hall given number and told to wait until number was called, this was about 20 mins. and as we had turned up early we were not expecting such a quick embarkation. We were soon on the ship and directed to the self service area for lunch. At 2pm an announcement was made that the cabins were now ready for occupation. We went to our cabin ,were pleased with what we found and then explored the ship, everywhere was spotless and plenty of sun loungers on all appropriate decks , all the staff were immaculately turned out and every single one on the whole cruise always greeted you ,wherever you were.The restaurants were good , a varied selection, we went to the Beach House a few times Zindhu twice and the Glass House once, which was our least favourite , due to the amount and presentation of the food for the extra cover charge. We opted for Freedom Dining and we enjoyed this very much and would probably opt for this every time in the future. we only used the MDR about five times. I found it to be very noisy and we liked to have a table for two and these were so close together that you felt obliged to start a conversation with your close neighbours!!!! Defeated the object of wanting an intimate dining experience! The rest of the time we enjoyed the self service options and had room service on 2 occasions which was very nice and at no extra cost. The quality and portion sizes of the food on the cruise was very good on the whole. Breakfast we always had at Venezia, and the choice was superb. ranging from cereals,to poached dried fruits and berries ,yoghurts ,cheese ,cold meats, omelettes cooked to order and of course the traditional "fry up". Couldn't fault it,and why people moan about the layout I don't understand, it was never unbearably crowded even when it was busy , one thing I found out on this cruise is that some people will moan about anything and mostly its the ones who like the sound of their own voices !! We enjoyed the 4 formal nights that we had and on three of those occasions we ate in the MDR. The food was good, could have been served a little warmer, and the choice of vegetables let it down. ? tinned carrots on the first night we ate there and very undercooked green beans that were frozen, on the other times we ate there. I am a good cook and enjoy my food so for me this was one of the only two complaints of the whole cruise that let it down for me, and such a simple thing that could easily be rectified. The meals we had in the other restaurants were great. Zindhu was fabulous and well worth the extra cover charge for a treat, and the same at the Beach House for a 5 pound cover charge , the dining was quiet and unhurried and we preferred it to the MDR. Entertainment; We so enjoyed the Strictly Come Dancing shows, what fabulous dancers, and the "one to ones" with the dancers as well. A good variety of shows and the Headliners were very good too and the costumes superb. Really enjoyed the Tribute acts and The Cuban magician and his workshop where he showed how some of the tricks were done!! All in all couldn't fault it , but now for my second "complaint". the daily entertainment on the sea days was lacking, unless you were in to Bingo or quizzes!! I was hoping for some good interesting speakers but sadly not to be. Everything seemed to be geared at getting you to buy things, craft, beauty , foot and back therapy etc etc, not for me but I was quite happy on those days to read a book or sit on the balcony. I was hoping to hear the likes of Simon Weston or speakers who could tell you about the history or things of interest of the places we were about to visit as I suspect St Petersburg was top of the list for most passengers. The port talks was mostly aimed at selling the tours but some of the information was useful. The port excursions that we booked with P and O were superb and other than the Bruges one good value for Ports of Call: Skagen . Went ashore and did our own thing, sleepy little place not much going on there but it stretched our legs and as we were only there for half a day was just right Stockholm: Up at 5am to see the approach into Stockholm . What a pretty 3 hours sailing past small islands with log cabins on and it was wonderful, so much to take in and such magnificent scenery. Watched the docking and we took the shuttle bus into town although a few walked it but as it was raining and a good 30 mins walk we gave that a miss .I loved Stockholm and would like to back for a second look! We were dropped right in the middle where it was easy to see the sights and the palace etc, Everywhere so clean . Visited the palace and found a very interesting armoury museum that had costumes , toys of the royal children ,sleighs , golden coaches etc etc and all free! Would never happen at home ! easy shuttle back to ship and no excursion taken! Tallinn: A beautiful old walled city, Picturesque buildings and lovely churches. Easily "do able" on your own and no need to take an expensive excursion. St Petersburg: The main reason for me persuading hubby to even go on a cruise ! It exceeded my /our ! expectations. We pre purchased a 2 day Splendours of St Petersburg tour from P and O on the cruise personaliser ( would recommend as these tours get sold out quickly on board) It seemed expensive at the time but on reflection for what we did and what we saw it was excellent value for a once in a lifetime event! Our tour guide Gallina was superb what she didn't know about the buildings and the history and the items in the palaces was nobodies business and her English language was faultless. It covered everything from the palaces to river cruise to going down and travelling in the Metro and lunch in a restaurant etc , fabulous. Couldn't fault it. Helsinki: Caught the shuttle and did our own thing. Nice clean city , it was Sunday and no shops open so quiet in that respect . Visited the cathedral but after St Petes everything was going to be a let down !!!! Had a nice coffee sitting in the sun and then walked to the harbour where we caught a ferry to the island of Suomenlinna, what a find that was . Lovely,pretty island, 800 inhabitants and a world heritage protected fortress there . We really enjoyed it and all the locals seemed to turning up there for their Sunday picnics. Copenhagen: Got the shuttle into town but you could just as easily walk it as we found on our way back which passed the Little Mermaid and was not far from where the ship was docked! Watched the Changing of the Guard and walked around , all very clean everywhere and ate the most expensive ice cream ever 5 pounds each for a cornet!!!!!!!! Oslo: Having read a bit about Oslo we decided to book a trip as the ship is moored a long way out of town and there is no shuttle bus, glad we did . A very interesting trip which took in the Olympic ski jump, viking ship museum and the Vigeland Sculpture Park, now this I thought hubby will not enjoy, but like with a lot of things on this trip he surprised me by saying that this was one of the highlights for him and an amazing sight it was too . We had an excellent guide too who also spoke perfect English. Bruges: We took an excursion because to get to Bruges you would have to get the shuttle bus and then a train, so we didn't trust that we wouldn't get lost so went on the" Do Bruges on your own" trip which meant that we were taken on a coach to the city , walked by a Guide to the centre and then left until the afternoon whereby he escorted us back to the ship,it worked well but would have been a lot cheaper if we had done it by train!!!Very enjoyable city , lovely cafes and chocolates and a super canal cruise. To sum up all excursions were good and well thought out. Disembarkation: This was a bit of a pigs ear !!! To sum up , ship was late docking , cases were not unloaded on time and people were held up. What can you do about it , nothing I am sure they were not late on purpose so why do so many people moan about things that you can't change !! In the end we all got off and once re united with the luggage ,which was a very easy process ,we were on our way . To sum up : Loved every minute of the Cruise. A Superb ship and wonderfully helpful and polite crew, spotlessly clean, on the whole good entertainment, good food , fabulous ports of call and brilliant Srtictly Come Dancing theme and most enjoyable to hear the Captains thought for the day , usually spoken with tongue in cheek in his report of the day. Husband who only came for me as he said , Why would I want to be on a ship with 3000 other people ,was totally converted ! A first cruise , yes, but a last cruise, definitely NO, and would we go with P and O again , Oh Yes. Read Less
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