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4 P&O Cruises Trans-Ocean Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise from Sanfransisco to Southampton initially as a relaxing way home after visiting our daughter and her family who live nearby. Our Hotel was excellent and the excursion to Napa Valley Wine Country across the Golden ... Read More
We chose this cruise from Sanfransisco to Southampton initially as a relaxing way home after visiting our daughter and her family who live nearby. Our Hotel was excellent and the excursion to Napa Valley Wine Country across the Golden Gate Bridge was very interesting... The instant we boarded we felt at home, a wonderful atmosphere, everyone very friendly, including the staff, from the entertainment staff to the cabin stewards and restaurant and fellow passengers. The cabin we chose was an inside one which was very spacious, a haven after a very hot day or evenings entertainment. Always clean, fresh linen and a comfortable bed. Embarkation and disembarkation was well organised and went very smoothly. The food was excellent, both in the Alexandria and Horizon restaurants, (there was no need to eat elsewhere) and the entertainment brilliant. We found plenty to occupy us during sea days too, with such a wide variety of interesting talks and classes. We would definately cruise with P and O again, hopefully the beautiful Aurora. I can't understand the negative comments from some, because we found our experience faultless!!!! Thank you Aurora and P and O for a holiday to remember. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We spent 19 nights on the P&O Aurora from Singapore to Sydney as part of her 2017 World Cruise. Overall it was an enjoyable experience with a few problems along the way. The weather proved to be a problem because before we got to ... Read More
We spent 19 nights on the P&O Aurora from Singapore to Sydney as part of her 2017 World Cruise. Overall it was an enjoyable experience with a few problems along the way. The weather proved to be a problem because before we got to Western Australia the outside temperature dropped considerably and as we had five more sea days to go before we got to Sydney only the bravest went out on deck as it was cold. During this period the ship was also cold as there were lots of doors open letting in cold air. It was also noticeable that the air conditioning was on in places where it was already cold. The ship was quite stable so those who were not the best sailors had no problems in that area. Food We dined mainly in the Horizon Buffet as we prefer the more exotic tasting food that is usually served on ships. We tried the restaurant a couple of times but found it concentrated more on looks than taste. Getting a table for two in the restaurant was also difficult. At the start of the voyage the food in the Horizon was quite bland and on asking one of the chefs why this was so he replied that if it was spicy nobody would eat it. However they occasionally excelled in that region and produced some good dishes. They have a different theme each night in the buffet so there were some interesting dishes to be sampled. The layout of the Horizon was quite good with plenty of tables for two. There were occasionally queues but nothing to worry about. The Raffles bar serves Costa coffee and all cakes were complimentary. That was not advertised anywhere. The coffee was not as good as Costa coffee on land. On the subject of coffee I had read in a few places that the coffee on Aurora was not good so I brought my own. I have to say that the coffee on board in the Horizon was quite drinkable and was made from ground coffee so I brought all my own back home. Entertainment On the whole the entertainment was mediocre with a couple of decent shows and several acts that excelled. The other entertainment put on in the small lounges was pretty awful and nothing like you would expect on a British ship. The resident band, called Caravan, were very good. We paid the full tips, they took the lot the first day but the day before we disembarked our cabin steward left an envelope and we put a small amount of money in it. The morning we left the ship he just gave us a cursory nod. We assume it was because of the small amount of money we left him. Was he not aware we had paid our tips? We shall never know. The staff on the shore excursions desk were not as friendly as the rest of the crew. The outside space was quite good with usually lots of free loungers. However, the loungers outside were hard and not very comfortable. Ports Semarang – We opted for the ships tour to the Buddhist Temple at Borobudur and the journey there, over two hours, was good with lots of nice scenery. However, when we got there it started to rain so ruined the visit somewhat. On the journey back the heavens opened for the whole trip. Bali – We booked a private trip and saw some interesting places but it could have been better. Fremantle – We took a ships tour which showed both Fremantle and Perth as well as a boat trip on the Swan river and a journey out to the Swan Valley for a wine tasting and lunch. Overall it was a decent day. Adelaide – We took the shuttle to the city and had a look around on our own. We spent time in the Botanical Gardens and the South Australia Museum. We spent all our time in there in the Aboriginal section as it was amazing with so many exhibits to feast your eyes on. It would take days to go through it all properly. As we came out we spotted an exhibit of animals of the world, called the World Mammals Gallery, set out in continents. I don’t know if the animals were stuffed or were models. Its a beautiful place and worth another visit. Kangaroo Island - The tour on Kangaroo island we wanted had increased from £75 to £95. That’s a 26% increase and that was not acceptable. When we got to Kangaroo Island there were a number of local operators doing tours in minibuses but we were unprepared for this. However, they were willing to charge any tours booked to the ship account as there was a desk there for that purpose. There was never any mention of this on the ship. We went for a long walk and really enjoyed it. It was so peaceful with beautiful fresh air. Melbourne – We took the free shuttle to Federation Square and from there we went to see St Patricks Cathedral, Treasury Gardens and Fitzroy Gardens. We had a look at Captain Cooks House and the Conservatory. We had a look around the shops before going back to the ship by shuttle. Sydney – The ship stayed in port overnight so we took a ships tour to the Blue Mountains. It was a good trip with a heavy rain shower while we were in the coach but otherwise the weather was very good. The one problem was that it took well over two hours to get to the first stop without a break and some people were quite annoyed about this as we then had twenty minutes to see the view from Echo Point but many people spent most of that time trying to get to the toilet. We stayed in a hotel for two nights after the cruise and had a wonderful tour of the Opera House. Unfortunately it rained for most of the two days so several planned trips had to be cancelled. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was our first P&O cruise, and we had high expectations. Our cabin was good and activities, including entertainment and daytime talks, were all good to excellent. I particularly enjoyed the daily cricket matches run by Adam - ... Read More
This was our first P&O cruise, and we had high expectations. Our cabin was good and activities, including entertainment and daytime talks, were all good to excellent. I particularly enjoyed the daily cricket matches run by Adam - excellent. Most staff were polite and helpful, but we found some Reception staff unhelpful and slow to get back to us. My biggest problem was with the food. I am vegetarian, and found the choices limited and often poorly presented. We opted for set dining in the Meridian Restaurant. We have enjoyed this set type if dining on other cruises and as one of our party had mobility issues restaurant service was preferable. Examples of food I was offered included a potato sandwich (not even any butter, and I was told it was a vegetable sandwich) and risotto that was a solid lump of rice with very little else added! I asked for brown bread sandwiches and was told brown bread is only used for fish! The meat eaters in my party were bored with very similar choices day after day, and some of the meat was very tough and unedible. We all found the pseudo language which regularly had to be interpreted for us very tiresome, and strange dishes and combinations of flavours odd and off putting. The lunchtime buffet in the Belvedere Restaurant was much better and had a wide variety of choices. Waiters and restaurant staff were helpful and always polite. It was such a shame they had to serve such poor quality food. One other thing that caused us problems - my husband has severe migraine if there are bright flashes, and he always finds the presence of photographers a challenge, particularly on formal nights. There must be other people who are affected by this? All in all, we enjoyed the cruise, but would have struggled with more than 3 weeks of the food! Labelling of the decks and venues on the ship is poor. Why does each deck have a name, a number and a letter? Simplify this P&O! I was really pleased that the pools had fresh water, as opposed to sea water on some other ships. The gym was well equipped but there were often no wipes or towels. The Palladium Theatre is excellent. The only concern we had was the obsessive use of the smoke machine, regardless of its relevance! One other thing that caused us problems - my husband has severe migraine if there are bright flashes, and he always finds the presence of photographers a challenge, particularly on formal nights. There must be other people who are affected by this? All in all, we enjoyed the cruise, but would have struggled with more than 3 weeks of the food! We expected better from P&O. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
General: I took the cruise on the Arcadia 1-17 March 2016, Sydney-Brisbane-Yorkey’s Knob (Cairns)-Alotau (Papua New Guinea)-Manila-Hong Kong. The Arcadia caters largely for the over-65s, mainly British clientele, some of whom seem ... Read More
General: I took the cruise on the Arcadia 1-17 March 2016, Sydney-Brisbane-Yorkey’s Knob (Cairns)-Alotau (Papua New Guinea)-Manila-Hong Kong. The Arcadia caters largely for the over-65s, mainly British clientele, some of whom seem to spend most if not all the year cruising. Pricewise, the cruise is good value. Perhaps because of that, the ports of call were not particularly interesting and nor was the entertainment on board but if you want a relaxing time at sea, this ship will satisfy. Incidentally, I found Alotau one of the more interesting stops but I didn’t take any of the package shore excursions – I booked my own in advance through the local travel agent, Villink, located in the Alotau International Hotel. It was less touristy, the car was air-conditioned and I believe I learned more; and it was at a lower cost that the similar on-board shore excursion on offer. Don’t expect decent WiFi even if you are willing to pay the extortionate price charged for WiFi use on board – speeds are very slow, so at 50p a minute, best to wait to the next port of call to log-in. There were two safety alerts (a fire in an elevator; smoke from the incinerator) during the cruise. They were efficiently dealt with though I don’t understand why passengers were woken at 3.00 AM to tell them of the first alert (without further instructions or directions being given). Unless passengers are instructed to do something or to act in a particular manner (even it is only to stay in the cabin), I can’t see the purpose of ruining their sleep, causing panic (some passengers commented that they were concerned), or create unnecessary interest that might obstruct the crew (some passengers wanted to see what was happening). If this is an established safety procedure, it is a bad one and needs to be rethought. There is Sunday Christian worship and regular Christian Fellowship meetings take place. No other faiths are generally catered for though Jews do get to meet for the Jewish Sabbath. Observant Jews and Muslims need not apply (see ‘food’ below). The ship is generally well run, though I did get a sense of complacency, especially as regards the kitchens/restaurants. Overall, the ship is of the quality of a 3-star hotel but occasionally rises a notch higher. It needs to be said that most passengers were happy with the ship. Pros Friendly, efficient cabin stewards. Most staff are friendly and helpful. Dining options are adequate and cuisine quality acceptable, though not exceptional. Complaints do get actioned and rectified. P&O has been in the business a long time so knows what to expect – embarkation and disembarkation at ports of call are generally efficiently handled.. Good value for money overall (though some shore excursions are over-priced). Self-service laundry facilities are available on board (though cramped and insufficient for overall demand – be ready for some frayed tempers if you have not cleared your machine immediately after it has completed its cycle). There some nice, comfortable places to sit and while away the time looking out to sea, in particular the Crow’s Nest at the front of the ship. Cons Entertainment is basic and not generally high quality though there were some acts that were so good (e.g. Fogwell Flax) that the Palladium Theatre could not accommodate all demand. The films screened are basically DVDs (not in HD) and start times do not always accord with the printed schedule. The programme of talks is adequate and one or two even interesting but overall, worthy rather than stimulating. The scheduling was also not ideal as the talks frequently clashed with teatime etc. (see below). The talks had no relationship to the places being visited –e.g. on the history of Australia, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, Hong Kong etc.. Of course, there is a Port Talk before each port of call but that is more about sights, shopping and shore excursions, with modest historic background. The food is generally unexceptional. The ship does not cater well (at all?) for people with special dietary needs For example, it was not uncommon for 50% of the eight main course dishes on offer to contain pig products in some form (of the 4 main course choices during one lunchtime, 3 had pig products in them); and no effort was made to keep such products separate either in preparation or presentation from other dishes. There was usually one vegetarian option (out of 8) for dinner in the Meridian dining room. It is easy enough to keep pig products separate from others, to use a different griddle for grilling pork from other meats etc. but no such effort is made. Although most of the clientele might be reliving the 1960s and 70s, there is no reason for P&O not to make an effort to accommodate the 21st century (see also comments on electrical sockets and wifi). Also there doesn’t seem to be any great effort to give a taste of the cuisine of the ports to be/just visited (other than Australia). For instance, Papua New Guinea produces cocoa, coffee, bananas, fish, sago, cassava, yams – none of these appeared on the menu. Of the two main restaurants, the Meridian provides a silver service dining experience. The food can be good but too often is below par (e.g. sometimes microwaved and, consequently, dry and unappetising dishes often served lukewarm). There is also an element of complacency evident in the preparation – e.g. a mass-produced tart base is used for too many dishes. One particularly egregious example was a ‘macaroon tart’ which was the offending tart base filled with something that tasted like ‘Angel Delight’ with half a macaroon biscuit shell on top. The same tart base (a typical mass-produced casing used for quiches, tarts and anything else that comes to mind) was used two days later for a rhubarb and apple crumble ‘tart’. Cooking for large throughput is not easy and complacency has to be guarded against. One thing about the Meridian – it opens very late for breakfast (07.30 when in port, 08.00 on other days). Bearing in mind the age of the ship’s clientele, elderly folk who have difficulty sleeping, this is far too late. Also, on port days one wants to disembark as early as possible. A start one hour earlier would be better. The Belvedere is self-service and gives too much the impression of a staff canteen, in choice of dishes, layout and even smell. The quality varies from mediocre to passable. Access to the food is also not always easy – try pouring the soup without spilling it! A few design and style changes could easily make it a lot more appealing. The smoothies on offer are far too sweet (like most things on board, at least for my taste) – not really smoothies as I know them. With so many elderly passengers, diabetes might be a problem that needs to be more widely addressed (it’s not just sufficient to offer the occasional diabetic pastry). The specialty restaurants (Ocean Grill, Sindhu) are both good but the menus are fixed for the duration of the voyage so a couple of visits will mean you’ve exhausted the dishes you want to eat (or that don’t appear elsewhere on the ship). I was a little surprised to find that the Sindhu did not use tablecloths. Tea time was very short, lasting 45 min so if you arrive late, expect to be rushed out. Scones were usually acceptable, though sometimes stale. Clotted cream was served, so full marks (in the Meridian only) for this. It was impossible to find a decent cup of coffee on board. There were 3 establishments claiming to serve Costa Coffee (admittedly, not the best of the international chains) but if they were representative of Costa Coffee generally, then it’s time for a change. Why can one not get a decent espresso or cappuccino elsewhere? The attempts at cappuccino in the main restaurant were more like coffee dregs soaked in warm water and then swamped with milk. The baristas need some proper training. I also object to the misleading WiFi sign appearing at these 3 establishments – there is no free WiFi on board and the WiFi in the Costa Coffee places is the same as that for the ship as a whole (and available only at great cost). Drinks – the price of on-board drinks is comparable to what can be found in the UK (outside central London). The duty and tax savings are, therefore, not passed on to the passengers. Although good hygiene is important, the anti-bacterial gel that was not only offered at the door but almost forced on diners entering the restaurants, made one feel rather like being at school or hospital ward (doubly unwelcome when one takes into account the average age of the passengers). More effective would be issuing facemasks to people with coughs and sneezes! It was all a bit too much. And the injunction to wipe down machines after use in the gym was usually obeyed by the passengers but often ignored by the staff themselves. The gym is an adequate size/ well-equipped considering the age of the passengers, but might become inadequate if the average age fell by say 10 years. Incidentally, the gym is open between 08.00-20.00 only. As there is little or no supervision in the gym, I don’t understand why opening hours are not extended (to, say, 07.00-21.00). The Library has a reasonable stock of classic and modern fiction but not much in the way of good non-fiction (a lot of books on birds and a big collection on, often outdated, travel guides. In some ways this is understandable in view of the cost of books these days). There is comfortable seating in the library itself but there could be more of it. Although the Arcadia’s ‘Helpful Information’ claims that cabins are equipped with British style electrical sockets, in fact there is only one such socket in the cabin and generally the ship has US-style sockets throughout. Adapters were supplied by Reception (after the deficiency was raised as a concern). The ship lacks also an adequate number of power points in public areas to meet the needs of the modern age, for charging phones, computers, tablets, cameras etc.. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
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