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41 P&O Cruises Spain Cruise Reviews

First time back on Aurora since the refit. Although we like the modern, larger ships, Aurora seems to draw us in. We had a fantastic time. We were allocated early dining on a table for eight. The first night we were alone so ... Read More
First time back on Aurora since the refit. Although we like the modern, larger ships, Aurora seems to draw us in. We had a fantastic time. We were allocated early dining on a table for eight. The first night we were alone so bagged the best seats near the window. The following night, 4 others joined us and we couldn't have wished for better table companions. We had some great laughs and good evenings together. Food was great in the mdr, good selection and always well cooked. The buffet had good choices but we only had the odd breakfast and lunch there, but was sneaking up for cheese and biscuits and hot chocolate to take back to the cabin. Service was very good in all areas, although I think their efficiency can sometimes be mistaken for trying to rush you. As soon as you finished, the dirty plate was gone and next course was on its way. Entertainment was great in general, although the house band were very poor and one of the entertainment team just didn't seem interested, reading her kindle in the DJ booth and sighing when anyone requested a song. The headliners were fantastic although not usually my thing but did enjoy their shows. Soul kinda wonderful, the Base Tones and Phil Melbourne had us dancing or laughing every night. In summary, despite her creaking and swaying, we still managed to have a fantastic holiday and can't wait to return. Andy Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose this cruise to coincide with my husbands birthday. From day one we had a fantastic time The cabin with balcony was spacious, the bathroom a bit cramped but adequate and everything cleaned to a high standard every day. Cabin ... Read More
We chose this cruise to coincide with my husbands birthday. From day one we had a fantastic time The cabin with balcony was spacious, the bathroom a bit cramped but adequate and everything cleaned to a high standard every day. Cabin staff ..especially Rona were always cheerful even though it was obvious they were under pressure to complete their work. We found waiting for the lifts a bit challenging but decided on day one that it would be easier to climb the stairs, luckily we are fit and able to do so We decided on freedom dining and it suited us well. The restaurant staff were always helpful . The food was good and we were not rushed. Talk around the dinner table ineviitably turned to 'how many cruises have you been on' this was bit tiresome but if people make cruising a full time hobby its to be expected Entertainmement was as good as some West end shows The drinks are reasonably priced with no surcharges. The daily charges for cabin services reasonable. In all a brilliant trip and will use P&O again Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Overall this was a pleasure with, if I want to be picky, a few grouches. Ship can get a bit overcrowded and shovey if you turn up at peak times for meals in buffet restaurants. Also, to be sniffy, some passengers would seem ... Read More
Overall this was a pleasure with, if I want to be picky, a few grouches. Ship can get a bit overcrowded and shovey if you turn up at peak times for meals in buffet restaurants. Also, to be sniffy, some passengers would seem close chums of portly Onslow and family in that Mrs Bucket comedy series. Or the Royle family on their hols. Brits abroad who let us down. Swilling drinks, shouty, bit whiffy, tattoed, smokers, regular belchers and trumpers, string vests and they care not a jot for other passengers. P&O try hard to maintain good standards but just a few passengers foil them! Not P&O's fault. Food, entertainment, crew and facilities are all good or excellent. Showers are a bit small with no doors, just curtains. Ship looks a bit tired and rusty in places but overall decor etc was good. Very good song and dance team. Theatre is a bit too small so get there about an hour earlier to ensure seats. Best to avoid school holidays. Sometimes have to go up and down stairs or lifts too much to reach restaurants if you're infirm. Conclusion.....Well worth sampling Ventura but some passengers said they also agreed with us that RCI was a bit better. The debate goes on......All depends who you chat to. Edith Evans would not enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
This was my first time with P&O and on the Oriana. At first everything was fine and the crew were very lovely. We had problems with the air conditioning sticking on either too hot or too cold but we could forgive that as it was going ... Read More
This was my first time with P&O and on the Oriana. At first everything was fine and the crew were very lovely. We had problems with the air conditioning sticking on either too hot or too cold but we could forgive that as it was going in for a refit in November. Mid week a the Norovirus broke out and everything changed. The hygiene standards actually worsened and did not improve. They had no idea of infection control and I witnessed on lots of occasions very poor disinfectant techniques. The staff obviously had very little knowledge of how to disinfect adequately. There were many empty soap dispensers on the ship and the only hand sanitation was in the dining room, where we had one squirt as we went in.Very little information was given to passengers. The staff were obviously under pressure from their supervisors and their attitude changed, especially the waiters who were rude and incompetent. They didn't even look at or acknowledge when people thanked them. This was my fourth cruising experience but first with P&O. Thankfully the first three lovely and staff were brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed them but had this been my first ever cruise I would never step board on a ship again. There were so many other things that went wrong or were bad practises that I would have to write a book to include them. Thankfully we didn't contract the virus but I wasn't in the least bit surprised it was a problem on board. I felt so sorry for the passengers boarding the Oriana as we were getting off. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We chose this cruise to sample cruising. A week on board Britannia to see if we like it. All I can say is that it was good in parts. The bad bits first. The main pool area was a zoo. The buffet restaurant was like a service station ... Read More
We chose this cruise to sample cruising. A week on board Britannia to see if we like it. All I can say is that it was good in parts. The bad bits first. The main pool area was a zoo. The buffet restaurant was like a service station canteen. The Serenity zone was separated from the zoo by a glass partition and in no sense of the word could it be called serene. There were hail sized black oily smuts coming from the funnel that covered the deck, sun loungers, passengers and upper handrails. Oh and the widespread outbreak of a gastro-intestinal bug!!! The not so bad: cabins on A deck near the rear suffer from people running on the deck above (Sunset bar) and scraping furniture around until all hours of the morning. Ship layout means you cannot access all parts from all the lifts (cannot get to restaurants from rear lifts). Good bits: service, food quality in the Peninsula restaurant, entertainment, ride quality, cabin size and quality, drink quality (price ok), decor, crew. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Embarkation and Disembarkation Embarkation was good and with a time set for embarkation you know what time to arrive. We arrived early due to us stopping in a hotel the night before and had to sit and wait as did other people who ... Read More
Embarkation and Disembarkation Embarkation was good and with a time set for embarkation you know what time to arrive. We arrived early due to us stopping in a hotel the night before and had to sit and wait as did other people who arrived early but the systems seems to work and we had no complaints. Disembarkation was easy as we were able to leave the ship any time after 8.15am and were on our way home at 9.00am with little hassle. Because of our disability we use a porter to help locate and carry the bags and they help to load the car with the bags, and for a small time we find that very helpful. Dining We had freedom dining because we like to get ready and dine when we want to as first sitting is a bit early and the second sitting is too late for my wife as she has a stomach complaint. We had various sizes of tables from a two to an eight person and we had a mixture of good company to the boring and rude company, but that’s what you have to plan for. The food was at about the same standard as our last cruise in the summer. In the evening it was always hot, well presented and depending on the size of table swiftly served. I cannot say we had a poor meal at any time although we only used two restaurants. We always had breakfast and lunch in the buffet restaurants and because of the wheelchair I was always asked if I needed help. As I want to stay independent this was always declined yet I was asked every time we entered the restaurant. There are plenty of table to sit at, but some are easier to get access to in a wheelchair. Like everyone one has to take your chances and sit at tables that one can get too. Entertainment and activities We saw a lot of shows and except for the fist comedian we were impressed with the standard. The ships troupe was very good and we viewed most of there shows as they were new to us. The troupe we quite young and had some new members, who we got in conversation with, and they were enthusiastic of the stage as they were on the stage. There was a broad range of show to solo singers to a group of soul sings, two different comedians as well as the singer and pianists situated in several areas around the ship. I would say that there was something for all tastes through out the twelve days. Access to the theatre was easy for those in wheelchairs and scooter and could cater for at least seven wheelchairs at the back of the auditorium on each side with the first four rows at the back reserved for disabled passengers. Port and Shore excursions We had been to all the port except Casablanca and we could get about in most of them with little or no difficulty. Were there was a shuttle bus we used it and was very please with the transport provided. Unfortunately we were told about three day before we were due to go into Casablanca that the disability transport was not going to be available, which meant we could not get into the town but would be stuck at the port area. Although this was a disappointment due to the weather conditions and a very large swell we were unable to get into port. In some of the ports there were some accessible tours but due to lack of take up the one we would have done was cancelled. Overall The ship was very comfortable and with easy access to all areas and although she is sixteen years old and due for a refit next winter, we found her to be well maintained, comfortable, and would go on her again should a cruise arise with port we want to go too. Crew on this ship were very friendly, helpful, and always willing to go the extra mile and even the captain made a special effort to speak to me at the “Peninsula Cub” party to enquire if all was well with us and the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Oriana review x608 Just back from my first cruise aboard the wonderful Oriana. Despite bad weather, this was an excellent cruise, the staff were fantastic, entertainment perfect as was the food. I have no negative points to mention at ... Read More
Oriana review x608 Just back from my first cruise aboard the wonderful Oriana. Despite bad weather, this was an excellent cruise, the staff were fantastic, entertainment perfect as was the food. I have no negative points to mention at all even the rough seas on the bay of Biscay and the torrential rain in la caruna cannot dampen my enthusiasm. We had a 1pm check in time and arrived half an hour later and were fast tracked to the front of the queue. We boarded promptly and went straight to the conservatory for lunch. We had a look round the ship and found our cabin was already ready and our luggage soon arrived. The cabin was quite small with a tiny bathroom but big enough and had a large window. Tip : this cabin had two fold up bunks so do have the single bed configuration or it could be awkward to walk past the folded bunks. We had a 6.30 dining time in the oriental restaurant and a table for 8 which was excellent and our table mates were good company. The waiting staff were very pleasant and efficient and the food was excellent. My only negative comment regarding the Oriental was the very loud vibration coming from below, causing the cutlery and chandeliers to vibrate violently. This was particularly bad the first evening when leaving Southampton. The first port was Guernsey. This was a beautiful place and we came off the ship by tender boats very efficiently. We ate breakfast in the Conservatory buffet every day and found this to be fine and only busy on sea days. The second port was la Rochelle. Very pretty place but very few shops and lots of restaurants. Bilbao, we opted for the San Sebastian on your own trip. This was enjoyable as the place is very pleasant with a lovely beach but I could have done without the 3 hours in total sitting on the coach. La Caruna, it rained all day and there was a shuttle bus but we docked near shops and a harbour so we walked in and found a number of places to look round but the rain sent us back to the ship quite quickly. Entertainment - this was superb with a number of venues all providing different things. The Headliners were a new troup and they did 2 shows which were excellent. We saw a comedian, Jeff Stevenson who was good as was singer Eve Sheratt and a classical guitarist called Nils who was also very good indeed. I loved the staff talent show which was excellent and very entertaining. I used all three swimming pools which were lovely and warm. A fantastic cruise all round. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Indoor cabin which we find fine. Dark and quiet so a good night's sleep. Our second cruise. First was Celebrity, and was probably more luxurious but cost more. We enjoyed time out in the cinema, a different movie daily, 3 or4 time ... Read More
Indoor cabin which we find fine. Dark and quiet so a good night's sleep. Our second cruise. First was Celebrity, and was probably more luxurious but cost more. We enjoyed time out in the cinema, a different movie daily, 3 or4 time slots. We did freedom dining so can turn up whenever you wish. They ask if you are happy to share a table, we were, may have to wait otherwise and they have pagers so you can go off while waiting. So we ate with mainly different couples every evening and met some nice people, and only a couple of strange ones! Embarkation and Disembarkation was very smoothly done. We payed to park car at the port, again very smoothly done. We travelled down the day before from north-east and spent the night in Romsey so easy to arrive next day. Turned out to be a good idea as many were stressed and almost late as the big Harmony ship and another cruise ship was docked as well as ours that day and roads because problematic. We enjoyed the entertainment. All the staff worked very hard and were so courteous, and the food was lovely. I find it difficult to research the ports before travelling and deciding when to book an excursion or just get off and see. We found they leave information sheets in your cabin of each destination to make it easier. I enjoyed 3 excursions. The only time I felt I'd wasted my money was buying red bus tickets in Malaga- 29 euros each and including entry into museums that you had not the time or inclination to visit. That had nothing to do with P&O of course. The Oriana is an older ship and it shows in some areas but no complaints. I was a bit anxious before travelling as our cabin was A151 right underneath the Al fresco restaurant and had seen a review about noise until 2.30 am. Pleased to say it now closes at 6.30 pm so no problem, sometimes a few scraping chairs above to be heard at 6.30 am when they open for breakfast. We enjoyed Spain, Portugal and a day in Tangiers. We were soft and chose a short bus trip tour as we didn't want to walk about and be pestered in Tangiers.Some of our fellow travellers had walked in and were pleasantly surprised and enjoyed it. Oriana is an adult only ship and mostly older passengers so enjoyable without any excessive behaviour. Loved it when the dolphins came alongside in the warm Portuguese waters! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
I really can't understand the negative comments about Britannia. We booked our Iberian cruise in order to celebrate our friends Golden Wedding and a birthday and based upon the very mixed reviews, we retained open minds but wondered ... Read More
I really can't understand the negative comments about Britannia. We booked our Iberian cruise in order to celebrate our friends Golden Wedding and a birthday and based upon the very mixed reviews, we retained open minds but wondered whether we had chosen wisely as the less than positive comments kept on coming. We needn't have worried at all - our party of four thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the eleven night cruise and would gladly re-book this fantastic vessel in future. We took advantage of free parking at Southampton and followed the instructions to arrive in time for our allocated boarding slot at 3.00 pm. At first we were a little perturbed at the length of the queue for the parking facility and doubted whether we would indeed be boarding on-time however, we were soon underway and after registering, the car was taken away and our bags were loaded onto the porter's trolley allowing us to enter the terminal at 3.00 pm. Unfortunately we encountered a 90 minute delay due to a technical problem with the gangway but once we had checked in, boarding was pretty slick. We boarded at deck 5 and arrived into the very impressive atrium with it's rather extravagant centre piece lighting feature and immediately we were struck with the splendour of the ship. We were directed to our cabins D219 and D223 and found them without any problem. Our luggage had arrived and first impressions of the cabin were extremely favourable. The hanging open fronted wardrobe space is a great feature and the 30 wooden coat hangers easily met our needs. The bathroom is cosy but the shower cubicle with glass door was larger than we have experienced on NCL, MSC and Cunard. The bed was nice and firm and the pillows were excellent quality. The wall mounted TV was a good size and created quite a feature within the room. My wife loved the use of mirrors - two long length and one on the dressing table - and the coffee facility and decent sized fridge were a welcome facility. The balcony has two reclining chairs and a small table and although small, there was plenty of room for two. The colours in use throughout Britannia are fairly neutral and they work very well in all areas. We opted for freedom dining and as such had the use of Meridian and Peninsular restaurants for waiter served meals and quite genuinely, all four of us had excellent food and service throughout our cruise. The menu choices and quality of ingredients certainly appealed to our rather discerning tastes and we were all at a loss to understand the level of criticism aimed at the food in many of the previous reviews. The waiting staff are almost all Indian and although the command of English did vary, we didn't find it to be a problem. The Horizon buffet we found to be equally impressive with plenty of seating and a vast choice of food which changed daily. We always found the food to be hot, well presented and regularly restocked and we rarely had to queue or participate in a bun fight like we have experienced on other cruise lines. I would summarise Horizon as being equal to the very best of buffet restaurants in the UK and far better than the vast majority. A good facility is the serve yourself beer and wine station where you simply swipe your cruise card and help yourself. Tea, coffee and juices facilities are plentiful. We experienced Horizon at breakfast, lunch and dinner although our preference was always Meridian or Peninsular. The Indian food buffet night was particularly good with chicken tikka masala a real star of the show. We planned special nights in Sindhu, The Limelight Club and the Epicurian and we were delighted with the value for money from the extra cover charges. Sindhu provided for a fine dining experience in a quality environment; Limelight delivered live entertainment from Dean Andrews (Singer and Actor) and good quality but limited choice of food in a sophisticated club atmosphere and Epicurian is as good as it gets in a Michelin starred type of experience. In our opinion, all of these venues at worth we very penny of the supplementary charges. Around the pools on deck 16 we also tried the burger, chips and salad "takeaway" and the Grab & Go where we enjoyed a variety of sandwiches, rolls and wraps. Our favourite for pre-dinner drinks was the Crows Nest and we eventually got to watch the opening Rugby World Cup match in Brodies pub - unfortunately we missed the first 30 minutes due to "technical difficulties". The Glasshouse (Olly Smith's creation) was a great venue for quality wine sessions and we enjoyed a well informed wine tasting session for £15 each on one of our sea days. Surprisingly, the Costa Coffee lounge was very well attended and considering there is a charge for the products we could rarely find a seat. The girls also booked the Cookery School for a two hour instruction from James Martin and needless to say, they were both very complementary about his culinary skills - I think that's what they were referring to!! We also bumped into Marco Pierre White on board as well as Jenny Eclair and Greg Rutherford who were involved in filming for the new MPW television programme. The casino is small but adequate. Now, the thing that really puzzles me is the people who say that Britannia is too big and too difficult to get around - to them I say, choose a smaller vessel or read the information and work it out for yourself! We didn't have a problem at all and neither did we experience a problem with the lifts - just accept that if you all pile out of the theatre at the same time, there will be bottle necks! If I have one irritation it is with the prepaid wine packages. We opted for the Captain's selection at £200 for 12 bottles which provided good choice at a reasonable discount but with hindsight, the drinks are pretty reasonable at full price and we experienced some confusion trying to order with the vouchers from anywhere except the Main restaurants. We were almost made to feel like we were inconveniencing the waiters every time we tried to order elsewhere. I think that the wine voucher system needs some tweeking. Overall the drinks are priced at about UK high street range a with draft beers and lagers about £3.95 a pint; decent spirits at about £2.95 a shot and a large glass of wine £6.25. It was refreshing to see the P&O don't add a service charge to the drinks bill unlike other lines. Room service is particularly good on Britannia. We used it several times and on one occasion ordered a litre bottle of Grey Goose vodka for a very competitive £30.00. Mixers were £10.00 for a dozen small cans. We saw Jimmy James in the Headliner theatre for our fix of soul and Motown; we also attended the interviews for MPW and James Martin and again, we planned our arrival to ensure that we got a good seat. If you leave it to the last minute, expect to stand. We loved the Headliner theatre and the acoustics. The Live Lounge provided good "adult entertainment" from a brilliant comedian whose name escapes me. Apart from Vigo, we arranged our own shore trips and would advise anyone that there are almost always options to go it alone by rebooking direct with local agents via the Internet or simply looking at the options in each port when you arrive. It works out much cheaper if you are brave enough to take a chance. The highlight of our trip was the magnificent sail away from Gibraltar - what a stirring and patriotic experience thanks to the very enthusiastic Entertainment team. Well done to all Britannia staff - you made this experience one to remember and we will be back. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was our fourth cruise on this lovely ship. We did not think standards had fallen despite recent reviews we had seen. The only disappointment was the weather and the entertainment - see below. Good quality and variety of food in the ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise on this lovely ship. We did not think standards had fallen despite recent reviews we had seen. The only disappointment was the weather and the entertainment - see below. Good quality and variety of food in the buffet and main restaurants. We had Freedom dining in the Cinnamon and never had a problem getting a table when we wanted (we were happy to share though). We also paid the supplement for the Beach House one evening but did not think there should have been additional surcharges for a lot of choices on the menu. It would have been better to have a higher charge initially and have everything included. Two of the Headliners shows we had seen on previous cruises several years ago. Surely these should be updated on a yearly basis. Also the other entertainment was tired. P&O need to look to the American cruise lines for ideas on updating the entertainment. Pleasant and efficient service in the buffet and main restaurants and Metropolis bar. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Me, my wife and 16 year old daughter have just returned from our first ever cruise.....and we're hooked. We sailed through the Bay of Biscay down to Cadiz and back up, calling in at Portugal on the way back. All the staff on board the ... Read More
Me, my wife and 16 year old daughter have just returned from our first ever cruise.....and we're hooked. We sailed through the Bay of Biscay down to Cadiz and back up, calling in at Portugal on the way back. All the staff on board the Azura were exceptionally friendly and helpful. Particularly the restaurant staff. Food was plentiful in whichever restaurant we chose and very tasty. The specialist Indian restaurant on board was also very good indeed.....as was afternoon tea in the Peninsular. Don't miss it! The entertainment provided was varied and perfectly adequate (Tom O'Connor topped the bill on two nights in the main theatre) while, during the at-sea days there were plenty of Sun lounges available around any of the busy and less busy pools. We were also regular visitors to the Spa and Gym area. Again, very impressive. We'll certainly be booking again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Excellent organisation from valet parking, to luggage loading and embarkation. We were with toddler and grandparents and it all worked out well. Room steward welcomed us and was very pleasant throughout the trip. He attended the cabin ... Read More
Excellent organisation from valet parking, to luggage loading and embarkation. We were with toddler and grandparents and it all worked out well. Room steward welcomed us and was very pleasant throughout the trip. He attended the cabin three times a day and was always on hand to give advice. The cabin itself was with balcony, well appointed, very comfortable bed and compact as you would expect. We chose freedom dining but actually never used it as the buffet suited us better with the needs of our toddler takign over. The food and service was excellent and the waiters and chefs made a fuss over baby. Ports of call were enjoyable (Guernesey, Coruna, Bilbao, La Rocelle). We didn't opt for excursions so mosied around independently. The tender to Guernsey was well organised, we were able to walk off ship into town in Coruna and buses were laid on in Bilbao and La Rochelle. The kids clubs were excellent and again well organised withe excellent staff and facilities. Our child not being two yet meant that we had to stay with her, but over two's can register for the clubs with supervision while parents can go off and leave them. Overall, we enjoyed our experience. The ship was very comfortable, staff were friendly and helpful, organisation was excellent and facilities very good. We would recommend and travel on Brittania again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Just back from 7 days aboard Ventura. The start wasn't too promising. Ventura docked 3 hours late from it's previous trip due to bad weather we were told. We were sent messages asking us to delay our port arrival ! On arrival we ... Read More
Just back from 7 days aboard Ventura. The start wasn't too promising. Ventura docked 3 hours late from it's previous trip due to bad weather we were told. We were sent messages asking us to delay our port arrival ! On arrival we queued for at least an hour before we were allowed to off load our luggage. In the terminal lounge there was at least 3000 people but the 'booking in was controlled'. We were reasonably lucky once we'd received our ship cards we went through reasonably quickly, however moments after we got through the terminal PC's all crashed which delayed things even more. However, once on board all seemed to go well. The weather on the first couple of days was terrible, it caused us to miss stopping at Guernsey but we can't hold anyone accountable for that. The ship was very clean and tidy and kept that way all throughout our cruise. The food on board in the main restaurant was to a very high standard, as was the service. The cabin (we had an inside cabin) was always serviced exceptionally well (Molivoy was the steward). The bars where serviced well by the waiters HOWEVER.... a big criticism of mine is that there are very few draught beers in each bar, and each bar has a different set. So if you wanted to watch a particular show you had to drink whatever that bar had to offer, which I believe in this day and age is unacceptable. The entertainment I felt was acceptable but not outstanding, which was a little disappointing. This is my 3rd P&O cruise and the previous ones all seemed to have a little better in terms of popularity (On Aurora we were entertained by Tom O'Connor). Another disappointing aspect to Ventura is the deck layouts. The size of the vessel dictates the need for lifts BUT they all seemed to have different amounts of deck coverage i.e. the rear lifts went to deck 18 but not 19, the centre lifts only went to deck 15, the front lifts didn't go all the wall down etc. It was sometimes difficult to plan your day/night out as you have to remember to change lifts if you were changing decks..... in some cases but not all. I thought the staff were very attentive and the service was very good in all areas. The ports of call were reduced as said earlier, but we stopped at Lisbon, Oporto, La Corunda. The first two were 'ok', but La Corunda was very disappointing, a lot of the shops were closed due to the economy being in such a state. In future I would consider staying on the ship if we called there. The disembarkation was also a little disappointing as it took over two hours for us to get off, I'm sure it could of been done quicker. Overall I would recommend a cruise on this ship. In future I would recommend choosing a cruise that stopped at some better ports, but I accept we're all different and our needs vary. I do think P&O are a very good cruise line and they serve the UK really well. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Embarkation :- Arrived at Southampton early due to light traffic, at 10.45. Bags unloaded and car taken away, we were directed upstairs at the Ocean Terminal where we were given a boarding card with the letter B on, and were informed that ... Read More
Embarkation :- Arrived at Southampton early due to light traffic, at 10.45. Bags unloaded and car taken away, we were directed upstairs at the Ocean Terminal where we were given a boarding card with the letter B on, and were informed that check-in would not be opening until 12 noon at the earliest, an hour and a quarter away. We hadn't experienced such a delay previously with P&O or any other cruise line, and subsequently there were hundreds of people in the terminal by the time they did open up, which was about 12.10. However when we did check in we were then treated to a security process which involved taking off belts , shoes, watches etc, which caused a further delay...not a great start. Once on board we went to the Horizon restaurant on 16 for a spot of lunch, after which the cabins were ready. Cabins :- We were on E Deck (level 10, cabin 402) with a balcony cabin. Lets get the same old points out of the way....Yes the bathroom is tiny and has a large shower with a very low pressure. I'm not a big bloke but did struggle with drying space after exiting the shower. There is no hand wash dispenser over the sink as on other ships, but there is one in the shower which is NOT a hair and body wash. P & O now supply a separate shampoo bottle for you. There is a large amount of hanging space with sufficient hangers, and plenty of other storage space. Yes there are no bedside cabinets, but the desk area does extend across on one side (be careful you don,t bang your elbows). Yes the lighting is strange....you haven't individual bedside lamps so its all or nothing regarding the lights. Also yes the balconies are small compared to other lines, but are comparable to other P & O ships and the furniture is of much better quality. As I think others have mentioned, the TV does not have a bill checking facility on it, which does mean you have to go to reception if you require an account statement at any time. We did notice that on the balcony the separation screens did bang around in the wind against the chairs and had damaged the screens on both sides. Overall being new the cabin was spotless our luggage arrive quickly. Dining :- We ate breakfast and lunch in Horizon (on 16), and dinner was taken in Meridian on 5, as we were allocated Freedom Dining. The food was generally very good....obviously you always get nights where the menu varies and therefore some are better than others, and the service was good. We thought that the layout in the Horizon buffet was much better than other ships, with none of the one-way system which causes so much congestion. On entry you know have hand washing stations rather than the gel stations, although they do still have these at the food side. The speciality dining venues we didn't use so cant comment on them. Entertainment :- The Headliners shows were excellent and unique to Britannia, featuring 4 very strong singers, and amazing digital scenery.The other acts were very good, with the best being Gareth Oliver who is very funny. You will need to get to the theatre at least 30 minutes before the performance starts to get a good seat, as the venue fills up very quickly. We also went to the live lounge and saw a Phil Collins tribute act who was very good. The main reason we went to the Live Lounge several times, was the resident band Pulse....they are without a doubt the best band I've seen on board any ship. We didn't use the Limelight Club as we thought that at £22 per head, it was a bit steep, plus we had already seen one of the acts ,Jakki Graham, on other ship for free, and the other act, Madeline Bell, wasn't really our cup of tea. However it seemed busy on the nights we walked by. If you want a quieter venue after dinner, then try the Crows nest bar forward on deck 16. Other Facilities :- Yes lets talk Lifts !!! Our cabin was midships and therefore we needed to use the central block of lifts....yes there is no staircase. This can cause some waits at busy times which can be annoying, particularly if you're like us, and tend to use the stairs. For emergency drills they do open a set of doors centrally revealing a central staircase which is normally for crew use. Ports :- Guernsey - Great planning by P & O brought us here on a Sunday when all the shops are shut. However there was the first in a series of crafts markets along the front in St Peter Port for those requiring to shop. Transfer here is by tender which all went very smoothly for us, though I understand there were some delays in getting people ashore. La Coruna :- Very nice city with glass balconied buildings. A walk across the town brings you to a beach where we walked along towards the lighthouse, around the headland and back into town. Its about a 5 mile hike but it does take you past trails taking you to various Celt sculptures (one is a copy of stonehenge), a past some lovely beaches. There's a very attractive typical Spanish square with plenty of restaurants and bars, and good shopping area with excellent prices for goods compared to the UK. Bilbao :- The ship moors about 20-30 minutes from the city and free coach transfers are provided. Bilbao is a very interesting venue with a visit to the Guggenheim museum a must. We also took the Big Red Bus tour which last about an hour and is good value as you get a commentary. La Rochelle :- Again the ship docks about 30 minutes from the town, and a free transfer was provided, but this was by a normal service bus . This had an extremely low number of seats forcing the majority to stand, including the more senior amongst us, with no on board air conditioning. In my view it is dangerous to have 50 people standing on this journey and P & O need to re-think this as its their duty of care to ensure safety. My advice would be that if there's a group of you...take a taxi and share the cost. The town itself is very picturesque and well worth visiting, with cobbled streets and variety of shops, restaurants and bars. There was a street market in progress and also a large fair was setting up which caused some walking restrictions. Debarkation :- Was trouble free and we were let off 30 minutes early. Overall Impression : - Britannia is an excellent ship and being new, is spotless. The entertainment is excellent and obviously P & O has worked hard to get the best acts on board. Yes there are some niggling issues and differences from other ships in the fleet, but we would definitely travel on her again. The itinerary is very good and we chose this one as we hadn't been to the ports visited. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
After toying with other ships leaving Southampton which didn't have enough indoor space for cool climates, our last two cruises have been on sensible P&O ships with indoor pools with space for dining around them (our mistake last ... Read More
After toying with other ships leaving Southampton which didn't have enough indoor space for cool climates, our last two cruises have been on sensible P&O ships with indoor pools with space for dining around them (our mistake last year was to choose the massive Indy OTS for a short trip to Norway....this ship depends on Caribbean weather to make use of the splendid outdoor pools area, but it was virtually empty outside for the 8 days, and utterly crowded inside). Ventura is an old favourite of ours, and we came upon an absolute last minute booking, giving us a week to prepare...and an upgrade from inside to an obstructed outside. This cabin, E410, is one of the most obstructed on the ship, having the machinery for the life raft covering most of the window- but there was a view, and above all, there was daylight! The cabin was lovely- we've only found this beautiful welcome of a tea tray, a flower and a silver dish of sweets on P&O, and, yes, it does add to the experience! Sometimes we sail in a more luxurious cabin on other lines, and enjoy perks provided, but really we know we pay for them; the tea tray/sweeties is for all levels of cabins, along with the chocolate at the turn down service! For once, there were no new ports for us on this cruise; in fact, we did an almost similar cruise in November on Aurora, mainly hoping for a little warm weather. In Lisbon we took the tour to Estoril, having known many who holidayed there, and looking out for the railway station to take us there another time; bad weather meant missing Cadiz, which is a favourite with everyone, but we made up for that with a full day in Gibraltar, a most fascinating port....we used the local buses, which took us to the cable car for 75 pence, senior fare. Malaga is glorious, and Cartagena is another favourite; Casablanca less so, but at least you can take the shuttle bus to the big square and wander around - I found "Sorry, no money!" n helpful, and hoped that "Pas d'argent!" was the right French....it seemed to work, and I wasn't hassled. We love Madeira, and this time took a tour because we've not been into the island itself, only along the coast and into Funchal, before. A delightful trip. The ship feeling was, as ever, relaxed and friendly; super staff; excellent speakers; the Headliners tremendously well-rehearsed and polished. A lovely, happy, laid-back and interesting fortnight; next time on her will be the full 28 days to the Caribbean and back, in January. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
My wife and I booked this cruise primarily due to the price being so good, as well as a good itinerary. Boarding was fine no problems, The cabin, due to it being an older ship was smaller than we have been used to, but once we were used ... Read More
My wife and I booked this cruise primarily due to the price being so good, as well as a good itinerary. Boarding was fine no problems, The cabin, due to it being an older ship was smaller than we have been used to, but once we were used to it it wasn't a problem. Due to bad weather the ship was unable to depart on time and we spent the first night in Southampton, which had a number of knock on effects on the planned itinerary, we sailed directly to Gibraltar rather than stopping at Lisbon which we stopped at on the way back, and the port of La Coruna was removed from the itinerary. The entertainment was first class and of particular note were the classical recitals by Mikhail Shilyaev and Byron Johnston. The food in the main restaurant and the speciality restaurants was excellent and the cover charges were very reasonable. The buffet could be very crowded but the food was generally good. The staff on the ship were all friendly and very helpful, as an example our room steward removed the table from our room to give us more space, provided extra hangers and bedding and was generally very attentive to our needs. All the ports we interesting with lots to do without needing to book excursions. Overall the ship was starting to show its age, but this gave it a certain amount of character and did not impact our enjoyment of the cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
I think Oriana is feeling her age, at 20. OK we had some bad weather, but quite a lot of vibration from the engines/screws at anything over about 15Kts. Food- OK in the restaurant, but not as good as we had had before. I guess it is next ... Read More
I think Oriana is feeling her age, at 20. OK we had some bad weather, but quite a lot of vibration from the engines/screws at anything over about 15Kts. Food- OK in the restaurant, but not as good as we had had before. I guess it is next to impossible to prepare and deliver truly hot food to several hundred people in a restaurant. In the upstairs "cafe" areas it was also OK, but there just wasn't enough seating; clearly designed with the idea that people would be sitting outside some of the time, but in bad weather it was hopelessly crowded. Good breakfast selection but it never seemed to vary much, if at all. Staff all seemed to do their best. Had a balcony cabin- rust clearly visible on the door/window frame to the outside and a tendency to not be very airtight. Nice to have an old-fashioned bath in the cabin as well as a shower. Disembarkation was chaotic in that we were told that if we wished to take our own luggage, we could leave at 0715. In fact the gangway wasn't open till 0745- again, chaotic over-crowding. Entertainment, other than a couple of really class acts, was the standard fare in the evening. During the day, other than clearly promotional things, it was very limited. Bar prices are fair/good by the standards of most cruise lines. One dreadful RIP-OFF to beware of; they offer a "behind the scenes" tour for a "nominal fee". That "nominal fee" is £75 per person!!!!!!! We refused. So, would we use P&O again? Yes. But Oriana? No. All in all, when you consider the price as being less than staying in a 3-4*hotel, despite my negative comments, it is, strangely, good value on the whole. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
There was no doubt this time – a January cruise on the Oriana is a great way to get rid of those winter blues. So, twelve days cruise on Oriana from Southampton with six ports of call in Portugal, Spain and Morocco. Check in was ... Read More
There was no doubt this time – a January cruise on the Oriana is a great way to get rid of those winter blues. So, twelve days cruise on Oriana from Southampton with six ports of call in Portugal, Spain and Morocco. Check in was faultless and we were in our cabin before our daughter had got home – and she only lives 12 miles away. Freedom dining was the major change and very much applauded. Apart from a short queue for those wanting to dine at 6pm, we much enjoyed the opportunity of meeting different people each night. Crossing the Bay of Biscay both ways was in rough seas and F9 to 10 seas. The ship manages it beautifully although fair to say not for the feint hearted as it does crash and bang. The weather for the entire cruise was poor but, as a compliment to P&O, it made no difference – we could enjoy the facilities on board to the full including the outdoor, warm pools. The choice of films could be better: whilst varied, they tended to be American. The Theatre Royal shows were, without exception, all excellent and the Headliners amazing. Oriana beginning to look tired in some areas but I gather she is due for a refit. Would we go again? Yes, without doubt and on Oriana if we can.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Embarkation was much better than the Christmas Cunard cruise and boarded speedily standard of food still good, we went on freedom dining as we were late bookers. Hutch a bit noisy at night and early morning from persons walking on lido ... Read More
Embarkation was much better than the Christmas Cunard cruise and boarded speedily standard of food still good, we went on freedom dining as we were late bookers. Hutch a bit noisy at night and early morning from persons walking on lido deck above. Furnishing a little tired, varnish surfaces of wardrobes were bare in places. staff were their usual pleasant selves in cabins and dining rooms. Couple of good films in cinema , some had to be shown in the theatre during the day. Headliners shows usual standard, a very good comedian, Gerry Graham, and Beverley Davison a concert violinist who has amusing patter as well. I can not say much about the 'entertainment' which was not organised during the day. We had visited all the previously except for Casablanca, glad we took the trip out to Rabat as Casablanca has little to recommend it.. quite a few showers during all trips except for fine weather in Oporto. Malaga was a very wet Sunday, we took a taxi to the car museum which is quite a way out to the edge of town at an old tobacco factory and good for a 90 minutes or more walk round. There is also vintage haute couture to relieve boredom for the ladies. Cadiz was dry but there was a biting cold wind as we wandered round. the sea swell was rough a lot of the time, especially up the Portuguese coast coming home in a force 9-10, worse than Biscay both ways. filled in P&O questionnaire re recent oriana cruise x508. forgot to mention my disappointment re relaxation of dress code in the last year. appalled to see black tie nights code applies only in two bars and restaurants, and not throughout the public areas of the ship as it used to be. people are now allowed to enter the theatre in polo shirts on black tie nights, not even expected to wear lounge suit and tie now. at least Cunard apply the standard still. will P&O be downgrading the dress code to the level of the rest of Carnival US ships or Thompson? Spoke to one of the officers at a party, apparently P&O need to not put off customers by demanding high standards of dress. I know the ship is getting scruffy after 20 years but that’s not an excuse for lax standards. P&O need to put more effort into the mid size ships rather than the big Azura,Ventura Britannia or the adult cruisers will be deserting to other cruise lines.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
You can pick your friends but not your fellow cruisers and their was some miserable people on board her this time, thank goodness for freedom dining as if I had to sit with some of these people for the whole cruise I would have swam back ... Read More
You can pick your friends but not your fellow cruisers and their was some miserable people on board her this time, thank goodness for freedom dining as if I had to sit with some of these people for the whole cruise I would have swam back to Southampton, I would also say that at least 30% of the people on board did not join in the "Formal Nights" but of course that is their choice as for us it is a big part of the whole cruise experience and at the formal nights we did meet some lovely people who had cruised before.. The Captain on this cruise was a very boring character and I could not wait for his lunchtime speeches to end as all he dribbled on about was Knots & litres of fuel per hour (it was like being back at school) he needs to take a lesson off Captain Robert Canby who is captivating and has a good sense of humour, with him you saw him a few times a day walking round the ship talking to fellow cruisers but with this guy you saw him when he gave his welcome speech at the welcome drinks party and never again after that.. The entertainment team were also lacking personality and wow factor and seemed to huddle in clusters amongst themselves chatting instead of interacting with fellow cruisers but like they say "You are only as good as your leader", what a travesty that Elaine the last Cruise Director has moved on to pastures new as she was a great asset to this ship as was her team.. We travelled to and from Southampton with Eavesway travel which is always a nice start to your holiday and the check in process was a speedy affair with our cases being placed outside our cabin within thirty minutes, our steward Victor was amazing and provided us with a spotlessly clean cabin, extra coat hangers and feather pillows (which would ensure a good nights sleep).. Because we booked only three weeks before travelling we were given an inside cabin on the starboard side of "D" deck, we could not have wished for more as it was spacious with abundant amounts of storage and the biggest shower cubical we have ever had and I would not hesitate to stay there again.. It was just above the Yacht & Compass Bar and the Footlights Theatre but it was so quiet you would never have known this, my partner uses a walking stick but everything was on our doorstep : Café Jardin, Atrium, Lifts, Launderette - perfect.. It was lovely to discover that Protocol & Power Supply were on board as they have performed on Oceana when we have sailed in the past so we knew we were going to enjoy some of the entertainment, we didn't bother with many of the Headliner shows as we found them pretty hit and miss but the coloured singer one night was outstanding as were the four guy singers who performed.. Food in every venue on board was fresh, plentiful and enjoyable even the Plaza has vastly improved since we last cruised on her.. Café Jardin was our place of choice for either a hearty breakfast or light lunch and the food is outstanding and a very civilised way to start the day with attentive staff & exquisite service.. Being on freedom dining we ate our evening meal in the Ligorian Restaurant (special thanks to Dallon for looking after and remembering us from previous cruises) Food was always hot, delicious and well presented and on some occasions completely outshined the dinner guest we had been sat with.. The new menu in the Ligorian is a great idea and we loved having a daily menu on one side as well as all the P&O classics opposite, service on occasions was a little strange as they cleared a table before everyone had finished and others on your table were still eating.. All in all we enjoyed our twelve days away with more pluses than minuses and I'm sure that we will return to Oceana some time next year even if only to celebrate our Anniversary again with Protocol (Glenn & Jean) who made it truly a night to remember.. We enjoy cruising with P&O and for the fantastic deal we got when booking you really cannot knock it too much Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
The embarkation process was great, efficient and trouble free. We chose freedom dining as this suits us but found the food in the Plaza (which we had used on Oceana) really disappointing. Plates were always hot but the food at best was ... Read More
The embarkation process was great, efficient and trouble free. We chose freedom dining as this suits us but found the food in the Plaza (which we had used on Oceana) really disappointing. Plates were always hot but the food at best was lukewarm and the menus for evening meal had constant themes ie: thai, indian, meditteranean, Spanish to name but a few. The alternative was a roast but the veg was limited to carrots most nights. Of course there was always salad!!!!!! Breakfast was brilliant with loads of choice from cereals, fresh fruit and traditional breakfast to croissants and pancakes. The horizon grill - open during the day was awful - frozen chips and burgers which weren't much better. Bar staff especially in Winners Bar were brilliant and the duo Protocol (glen & jean) were first class. Because the weather wasn't too good quizzes etc were held indoors which was abit disappointing as they are usually more fun on deck. Evening entertainment was on the whole really good with comedians, a pianist and jazz trio and the on board entertainment team who put on shows. Disembarkation was also stress free. We booked to go off early and having had breakfast had to sit in one of the restaurants till called but the whole process was efficiently done - beats sitting in an airport !!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Arcadia cruise 9-20 December 2014 cruise J421 Our first impression was a good one as we arrived at the new Mayflower Teminal. It is very well designed and set out, much improved on the "shed" we were in in 2008. We had to wait ... Read More
Arcadia cruise 9-20 December 2014 cruise J421 Our first impression was a good one as we arrived at the new Mayflower Teminal. It is very well designed and set out, much improved on the "shed" we were in in 2008. We had to wait two hours for a friend who was joining us but had lost his passport. We were guided to comfortable seats in a roped off area complete with brass stands, brass knobs and royal blue rope. There were refreshments and a ringside view of everyone coming and going. We booked this cruise at future cruise sales when we were on Aurora in June. I use a mobility scooter and need to book an adapted cabin so it was agreed at the time of booking that cabin C2 would be suitable to my needs. I had the scooter with me when we booked. Despite this and filling in all the forms in advance, when we checked in P&O reckoned we were not in a cabin suited to a scooter so another 40 mins while they sorted that one out. Eventually we got on board and after checking the cabin made our way to the Belvedere Buffet for a very tasty lunch. Good first impression on the food, even for my partner who is vegetarian, something very few caterers understand. Muster drill was a bit of a comedy. They kept announcing to keep the lifts for for the lame and lazy but they were full of the fit.  I eventually got into a lift with a woman in her nineties but the lift would not go where we wanted and took us up and down ad nauseam. We were in there so long her father was waiting for us when we got out to demand I make an honest woman of her. You might be surprised at the number of people complaining about what a farce having a muster drill was, you would think that after the Costa Concordia disaster they would see it in a different light. We were on Freedom Dining and it felt like they were operating a smart wheeze at dinner. When you arrive you are given a pager and told there is a half hour wait so "you might be more comfortable waiting in one of the bars". We had just bought a drink when the pager went off. Less than ten minutes, they must have really upped the drinks revenue. We were all pleased with dinner but that awful refined diesel oil that they try to pass for butter had followed us from the last cruise. Thankfully the buffet had little pats of Irish butter so we smuggled some out. We came back after lunch to a letter for each of us accusing us how not having registered a credit card and threatening to stop our credit. This has happened every time we have sailed with P&O despite all the rigmarole of them swiping cards and taking signatures at check in. It turns out that the P&O computer system could not cope with my partner's name which starts O'R...... They do not do apostrophes and said he would need to change the spelling to Or..... I presume he cannot be the only traveller with an apostrophe and as it has been causing problems for us since 2008 I am sure it could have been sorted. The cabin was fine and the steward kept on top of it but it really needed a good deep clean as there was a lot of fluff going back a long time under the bed and settee. There were a couple of inexcusable problems in the bathroom. A very badly scored toilet seat, the scores yellow with urine and a mouldy bathmat. We complained and they were replaced. The food onboard ship has been excellent. Every morsel tasty, good quality and well cooked. A hundred times better than our first Arcadia Christmas 2008. Then we paid £5700 for a balcony cabin for the two of us and parted with the money as we believed they would really push the boat out (if you will pardon the pun) but apart from a wallet "from Santa" tossed unwrapped onto the bed there was nothing extra. On that cruise there was a standing joke about being served potato croquettes and carrot medallions at every meal and by the end of the cruise it was not a joke, it was a recurring horror story. That was the one where at afternoon tea, William, the vegetarian got two slices of bread with just a rocket leaf! He asked if he could not at least have a cheese sandwich and was told he should have given 24 hours notice for that.  So well done Arcadia, you have redeemed yourselves. One of the highlights in the Palladium theatre was a great male singing quartet. Former West End Musical singers who have formed a group. Their performance was amazing on the first night hence the reason we headed off early and camped out in the front row for their next show.  Check our fourtunes.com Ports Our first port was Vigo. A tip for disabled visitors. Ask any taxi driver on the rank to call you an accessible cab and they phone "Eurocabs" for you. I was able to drive my scooter right into the cab. There is a €5 cover charge but it was only an extra €4 to take us to the top of the town. Porto was next. Another tip for disabled visitors. It is very hilly you might make it down to the railway station with its magnificent tile murals and the cathedral, great views of the river from there and the port producers on the opposite bank. If you go further down be prepared to get a taxi back to the coach drop off. We have been to Cadiz many times and we were hoping for good weather to walk along the shore then make our way back into the city via the Roman Amphitheatre but the rain was torrential and relentless so we gave up and returned to the ship. At which tme the sun came out and we got an hour sitting out but it was short lived then back to rain. Malaga was a gem, What a lovely city. A great central shopping street, very stylish with all the top brands. A well developed port with an attractive marina, more shops cafes, bars and well kept beaches. At each corner an attractive square with beautiful historic buildings all very sympathetically preserved.  We took the accessible mini bus shuttle into the city but walked back through the marina and along the promendade. Do not be afraid to stop for refreshments in the marina, it is all very reasonable priced and they have the cutest, tamest sparrows that will eat out of your hand. We were told in the booking info that we would spend the morning in Gibraltar. Once the daily paper has been circulated we learned we dock at 7 and leave at 11.30. People tend to save their shopping for Gib as it is so British but as shops open at 10 there was just an hour before one needed to head back to port. My companions went up the Rock on the cable car but it was not accessible for me, too many steps. So I stayed in the car park below. I tried the Almeda Botanical  Gardens but same again, steps!. I guess that was to be expected from a settlement built for mountain goats.  They found the cable car quick and the top of the rock unusually quiet. The monkeys (Macaques) were there but much better behaved. There are signs up threatening. £4,000 fine for feeding them. There were babies, very cute, we have pictures. Protective adults, not very cute with threatening grimaces and great pictures of the view all around is it was such a clear morning. I was reading that the Macaque population had got out of control so they have introduced a system of modern birth control (Marie Stopes eat your heart out) and exported a few families to a park in Scotland. We had a wonderful day in Lisbon, 7 hours. My companions hired Segways from Red Tour Segways in Rua Dos Fanquieros, a man we have patronised for years.  I was impressed by the performance of my scooter but Lisbon being so flat the load was reduced a little despite carrying half the P&O buffet round my midriff. I set off with such good intention but the food is all so good!!!!! Measuring it out later the scooter did about 7 miles so just made it back to the cabin before the battery died. It is the one question people ask me all the time. "How many miles do you get out of it?" But there are so many variables it is almost impossible to answer.  I found a lovely local deli in a back street selling smelly fish and cheese and got some good wines for the couple who are looking after the car. We had Coffee and Nata, the Portugese custard tart, a Christmas speciality, at the St Nicholas cafe in the main pedestrian street that runs off Black Horse Square.  We had been warned about thieves and pickpockets but the biggest surprise was the number of men who sidled past muttering "cocaine? hashish? Marihuana?" I bet they shopped any tourists who bought drugs to the police for a cut of the profit as there were lots of Polis around who must have known what they were doing. I tried sidling up to people muttering "Sennacot? Omeprazole? Rennies?". Once the rush hour traffic was clear the streets were fairly quiet as there is a two day rail and metro strike on. To those of us who have been coming to Lisbon for many years you can see how badly it has suffered under the recession. Many empty shops and abandoned premises with older shopkeepers presiding over out of date stock that was once their livelihood. Many more beggars, local people and not addled with drink or drugs just abandoned by the state. They have made a good start with dropped pavements and are half way to full accessibility. Half way, in the you drive off the pavement and get to the other side of the crossing to be met by a 6inch kerb.  Then back to the ship and the two day cruise back to Southampton. All in all it was a good cruise. So we would definitely do Arcadia again after this one. Well done P&O .   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
It was a shame as we had upgraded to a Mini-Suite and we were expecting a better standard than we experienced. The food was disappointing and nowhere nearer others that we have experienced on other lines. The entertainment generally was ... Read More
It was a shame as we had upgraded to a Mini-Suite and we were expecting a better standard than we experienced. The food was disappointing and nowhere nearer others that we have experienced on other lines. The entertainment generally was not of a high standard when we managed to get a seat. The organisation was very poor when we had any trips. It often took time to find the correct coach without guidance. I did try to complain on the Cruise but no one bothered to contact me; when we get back we wrote to P & O and again no response. It is the last and only time we will be travelling with P&O.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
As this was the last scheduled cruise by the Aurora before its well-publicised re-fit, we did wonder if standards might be expected to slip, but our fears were groundless. This was our third cruise but we have never been with P&O ... Read More
As this was the last scheduled cruise by the Aurora before its well-publicised re-fit, we did wonder if standards might be expected to slip, but our fears were groundless. This was our third cruise but we have never been with P&O before, and the convenience of boarding at Southampton meant no flights and therefore no weight restrictions on baggage. Paying the cheap rate for P&O cabins means you don't get a guaranteed car parking slot on the dockside, so we did the next best thing and booked with Alternative Cruise Parking (ACP). That was also a good move, since mini-bus transfers to and from the ship are included in the price, and the staff there were extremely friendly and helpful. Both embarkation and disembarkation procedures at the Ocean Terminal in Southampton worked flawlessly and we had virtually no delay for queues either getting on or off the ship. That was another big plus for us, having previously suffered chaos and long delays with MSC at Genoa. We booked a balcony cabin on deck 12 (Lido deck) which is on the same level as the bridge, and by chance were allocated a cabin on the port side just two windows behind the bridge itself. It was clean and tidy, and everything that we had expected. The bed in particular was much bigger than the one we have at home, and has set my wife off on another shopping hunt for a new one, but that's another story. The balcony was the type with a framed opening rather than floor-to-ceiling view, which was quite good on some days for minimising the spray from the Bay of Biscay! Even so, the two wooden chairs and little coffee table out there did tend to get wet overnight, and we got into the habit of stashing the seat cushions vertically against the forward wall so they didn't get splashed. We booked excursions at each of the five ports of call: La Coruna, Casablanca, Malaga, Cadiz and Lisbon. On reflection this was probably a bit on the "manic" side for us, and another time we'd probably set aside at least some of the ports to do our own thing. However: La Coruna: we booked a tour called "Discover the Way of St James" which involved a 90 minute bus trip, then a 3km walk through verdant green rolling countryside, followed by a further short trip into Santiago de Compostela where we had free time to wander around the shops and admire the architecture. The weather was initially very wet but we had taken the precaution of wearing walking boots and carrying waterproofs. Our guide was Jutta, who was enthusiastic at describing the local culture as it differed from national Spanish culture. Exploring Santiago was fascinating and we found a good tapas bar for lunch (Taberna do Bispo) and bought various gifts at other shops nearby. The Spanish bagpipe player in the town square, wearing a sort of jester outfit, was memorable. Casablanca: the quayside was covered with a slick layer of filth that looked like a mixture of tar, molasses and camel poo. We had no option but to walk across it in the morning, although by our return in the afternoon it had to some extent been covered up by sawdust or sand. Everybody complained about it, not least those operating wheelchairs. The Captain later apologised and said that a complaint would be made. We had booked a tour covering the Hassan II mosque, the olive market and some free shopping time. The mosque was certainly impressive and we learned a lot about it from our friendly guide (Radwan) who had a good sense of humour. The olive market was colourful and noisy, but in the end we didn't have enough time to explore the bazaar area for ourselves, although we bought various craft items such as a leather belt and some coloured scarves, very cheaply. Malaga: after another day at sea, during which our very helpful cabin steward (Floyd) had managed to clean the Casablanca stuff from my shoes, we docked at Malaga in the evening for a 24-hr stay. The contrast with Casablanca could not have been greater. Very modern cruise terminal building with automated walkways adjusting to the height of the ship. In the evening we decided to stay on board for the excellent dinner in the Medina restaurant, but many others went ashore to find dinner there. Next day our excurson guide was called Sergio, although he pronounced it Serchio with the ch as in the Scottish loch. The first part of the tour took us around the narrow streets of Malaga to visit the statue of Picasso seated on a bench, then the unfinished "one-armed lady of Malaga" which is an unfinished medieval cathedral that should have had twin towers but they ran out of money when only one had been built. The best part of the trip was a visit to the hilltop Castillo de Catalina. This started life as a castle, became a private residence maybe 100 years ago and more recently converted to a hotel. Impressive tiered gardens with good views of the city below. In one of the rooms adjacent to the rear courtyard we were treated to a wonderful flamenco music and dance display by four performers in national costume, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Cadiz: another clean and tidy quayside, and docking was a bit like reversing up the high street. Some of the quayside buildings were taller than the ship. Our vivacious tour guide (Antonia) accompanied us on a 45 minute bus ride to Jerez, where we passed huge sherry warehouses adorned with familiar names such as Harvey's Bristol Cream. The initial stop was at the Williams Humbert winery, where another clear-voiced guide called Christina explained the process of sherry blending, which involves siphoning a portion of each year's production into the barrels on the layer below. We were then seated around large tables and invited to taste three different sherries. I always thought I didn't like sherry and now I'm quite certain, so the less said about that the better. The final stop on the excursion was to the Equestrian centre in Jerez where we saw a terrific performance by the Royal Horses. With rousing Spanish orchestral music and interesting coloured lighting, up to eight riders at a time were demonstrating absolute control of their horses including sideways, diagonal and reverse steps, airborne kicks, threading between poles and each other, etc. There was a carriage driving section as well. Very impressive, and something that my wife has always wanted to see. Lisbon: the weather had sadly deteriorated to some extent, but the arrival up the Tagus river was nevertheless impressive. Underneath the suspension bridge buzzing with road and rail traffic, then another dockside with two other cruise ships already in place. Steeply sloping terrain rises behind the waterfront, covered with white-walled and red-tiled buildings. Must be one of Europe's most beautiful capital cities, and despite the rain we were able to appreciate it. Our afternoon excursion, in the company of our multi-lingual guide Isabel, took us to the charming medieval village of Obidos, some 70km north of Lisbon via the A8 motorway. The weather was still wet but it didn't detract from the quaint cobbled streets, the archways and viaduct, the blue tiled wall decorations something like delft pottery, and the inevitable souvenir shops. We bought superb cotton bedspeads here (after I had learned the Portugese word for cotton) and found some late lunch in a very good little restaurant called the Petrarum Domus bar (review on Trip Advisor). The bus driver did well to get us back to the ship on time despite continuous torrential rain on the motorway. Dining: we were given table 74 in the Medina Restaurant and ate there every evening with two other couples, with whom we struck up an instant friendship. Our waiters (Noel and Monico) were attentive and soon learned our preferences. Sadly this is apparently the last Aurora cruise to feature silver service by waiters at tables, since the forthcoming re-fit will change the manner in which food will be plated and served. We wondered what will happen to the waiters then? Apart from the Medina we sampled the Café Bordeaux which was particularly nice for both breakfast and lunch, which is another shame since it is as I write in the process of being ripped out and replaced with something completely different. The Orangery buffet was also very convenient for quick breakfast when we were short of time, or afternoon tea with naughty cakes, particularly as it was a quick walk along the same deck from our cabin. The Crow's Nest bar featured wonderful sea views, discreet piano playing, and sadly repetitive background music when the pianist wasn't there. How many times did we hear two half-strangled girls singing about how easily they bruised, or begging for mercy? I would definitely have bought more drinks in the Crow's Nest if it hadn't been for them. Entertainment: theatre and shows are not really our thing, although we did support the crew talent show one evening. We saw at least two very good films at the Playhouse cinema ~ "Lucy" and "Saving Mr Banks." The TV in the cabin had one film channel with a somewhat limited repertoire, but I did get to see one or two memorable films there too. There were very few children on the ship during this cruise but there are clearly facilities for them. Activities: about the only on-board activity we sampled was swimming. The Jacuzzi pools were very warm and lovely, the Riviera open-air pool was also slightly warmed and quite invigorating. The Crystal pool has a roll-over roof something like the one at Wimbledon, but that was firmly closed at this time of year. The table tennis tables around the upper balcony overlooking the pool appeared to be popular with other guests. Days at sea: a welcome break from excursions, really! And we saw dolphins on at least three occasions, and one sighting of a whale spouting not 50 yards from the ship, just below the bridge. After consulting a number of books in the ship library I came to the conclusion this could have been a female or juvenile sperm whale. It had the right nose shape, with the blowhole right at the front, the dorsal fin was not noticeable as with many other types, and the size was at least three times that of the dolphins we had seen. Not one of the world's commonest whales, that's for sure. We saw this on the approaches to the Gibraltar straits between Casablanca and Malaga. Summary: we loved every minute of this cruise and are already thinking of a Caribbean trip next, probably one starting and finishing in Southampton. Although we live in the Scottish highlands we have family and friends in Oxfordshire, and we can combine visiting them with the drive to Southampton.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
We have just returned from a 6 night cruise on the Azura . The ship itself was very nice , well presented and cleaned to perfection what seemed to be 24 hours a day . Prior to travelling I read previous reviews regarding this ship and was ... Read More
We have just returned from a 6 night cruise on the Azura . The ship itself was very nice , well presented and cleaned to perfection what seemed to be 24 hours a day . Prior to travelling I read previous reviews regarding this ship and was of the opinion people only criticise if they have had a bad experience , so excepted there reviews with a pinch of salt , how wrong could I have been !! The food in the evening in the restuerent was very poor standard , not what I would have expected on a cruise liner at all . The dining experience was like a butlins food hall , noisey , packed liked sardines . Why advertise a black tie evening to dine in such a poor atmosphere. We attended one evening and decided the effort was not worth the experience, so much so we dined for the rest of the cruise in the buffet restuerent which was far more relaxing without the school hall dining experience. The only saving grace of this holiday was the entertainment in the evening by the headline acts in the playhouse theatre . The stage shows , comedians , George Michael and Gary Barlow tribute acts being very entertaining . Our last night we dined in the restuerent Seventeen , this was a fantastic evening and worth the cover charge , the food and service was excellent ,its a shame the rest of the dining on board could not be the same standard Would I travel P&O again , certainly not ! royal caribbean or Cunnard for us , you work all year for a holiday , make sure it's a good one   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
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