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doca

P&O have cut back so far now that it's threadbare - is Fred Olsen actually better?

45 posts in this topic

P&O's American owners, Carnival, have now chopped so much out of its operating costs that it's looking very much like a cheapo low cost airline operation.

 

OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but any P&O regular will know exactly what I mean.  Every time you go on another cruise, something else has been cut out, and something else has become chargeable.

 

The once excellent meals are now a shadow of their former selves, with no silver service, fewer courses, fewer frills, poorer quality main courses and pretty dire, boring vegetables - all done for cheapness.

 

Tours of the bridge are chargeable, and so are tours of the kitchens now.  What next?  Walking the Promenade Deck?

 

I see a lot of posts here suggesting Fred Olsen now provides considerable better standards (sorry - that word again!) than P&O, and possibly at lower prices too.

 

Is this really true?

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Having been a lover of the smaller P&O ships for over 20 years, I totally agree with your comments on standards - however we have just returned home from our first trip on F. Olsen's BRAEMAR.Sorry to say that there is little difference between the two cruise lines in most areas.

 

However there are a few things that are better. Ships are smaller, the crew are incredibly friendly, passengers love the cruise line - we had over 70% as frequent travellers! - Floor shows are very good for a small ship. We particularly liked the buffet service at breakfast and lunch in all restaurants as well as the cafe buffet. The cruise had been fully booked up months in advance.

 

However some things are worse! No wine waiters, Menus even smaller than P&O, Dietary problems are not easy to fix, cabins seem smaller and the outside seats are very uncomfortable. Very few seats are available out of the sun as the promenade deck has very limited chairs (no lilos). The show lounge is very overcrowded - its almost impossible to move around when full.

 

We thought that Fred Olsen was marginally more expensive as well.

 

We are going back to P&O next time!

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In my humble opinion P&O don't come near to Fred Olsen when it comes to service, food quality, friendliness of staff or destinations and I say that having cruised with both lines on most of their ships more than once. P&O do have better toiletries but that is about it. No Fred don't have wine waiters but does that matter as long as you get the wine you want and the reservation of sun beds doesn't seem to have reached Fred yet. Try getting a sun bed on a P&O ship at 10am on a sea day. Fred Olsen also have lower gratuities, cheaper wi-fi and an all inclusive drinks packages at £10 p.p per day. Finally I have never seen lobster on a P&O lunch time buffet but I have on Fred several times.

You don't see Fred Olsen spending lots of money on national TV adverts yet they still manage to have repeat figures that other cruise lines can only dream of and personally I think that speaks volumes. As always just my opinion.

Furby, Mayway, seawitch and 2 others like this

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As ships have become bigger there are more cabins to fill to make it cost effective, P&O in their wisdom decided to start selling cabins off cheap earlier and earlier thus causing profits to drop and standards with it.

 

Customers are now holding off booking until the last minute to bargain seek and there are so many cabins left unsold until the last minute that there can no longer be much money in it hence the pay for everything as an extra. This is annoying the people who have booked early at a high cost who then are getting far less for their money in terms of quality and standards and the only thing it will achieve is everyone will hold out for the last minute bargains as lets face it we all know you really do get nothing extra for booking early anymore.

 

As I have been saying P&O needs to decide what sort of company they want to be and stick to it.

Mayway and Tally like this

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I agree with Jaczs' comments that P&O do need to decide on a continuous direction they wish to take the company forward as they have chopped and changed too much in recent years. It's hard to argue against some of the points that have been raised. I can't comment on Fred Olsen as I have never sailed with them but I've heard and read arguments both for and against the cruise line.

 

The only thing I would say is that I have never had a bad cruise with P&O. I've cruised with other lines that I do think are better but I have never stepped foot off a P&O ship having not enjoyed my time aboard. I've always received good service on P&O, decent food and decent accommodation. Personally I think Celebrity are better, I also believe Royal Caribbean have improved significantly. Holland America are a step up in quality in my opinion but it all depends on what you want. P&O to some is still excellent and for the cost, it is actually exceptional value for money. It's all relative.

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As you possibly would expect OWT, I agree completely with your post. As I've said on another thread, I certainly didn't perceive any disadvantages with cruising with Fred - the whole experience was entirely positive. It depends what you're after though.

And Sammy Sun, I only believe that P&O are 'exceptional' value for money if you either booked on the first day, or you have bought a saver fare. For anyone else booking early, like Jaczs has said, they are getting a far poorer deal for their money.

Oldworldtraveller likes this

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I agree with you on that Mayway, but that is not P&O's fault, that decision is up to the passenger not the company. The only thing they can do is provide clarity to all potential guests, which they have got better at doing. We all now know the situation with booking earlier or later. We know how it works and what we get with each option so therefore we cannot blame them for that issue. I do believe they are exceptional value for money considering some of the prices available at the moment. When you see Oceana for example available at prices like £699 for a week including your flights, it is good value but you get what you pay for so don't expect the best cruise experience imaginable. If you're looking for ultimate luxury then you have to pay for it. If P&O were raising prices as well as on board charges then I would be first to complain but they aren't.

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Up to a point, I'd agree, sammy sun - except that each sailing contains a mixture of passengers.  Some, usually the early bookers, will have paid really quite high prices for a cruise which they will expect to meet certain quality standards (that word again).

 

Others will have got a real bargain.

 

A bit unfair on the early bookers, or others who paid top whack, to downgrade the whole experience for everyone, isn't it?

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I agree with you doca but again, the early bookers will have known that prices will be reduced closer to the time of the cruise, first with early savers and then with savers. All potential passengers are aware of this as it's clearly stated by P&O. It used to be the case that random low prices would pop up without a hint of warning, which would inevitably frustrate many who had booked at a higher price but the new fare system is better and much more transparent. 

 

Again though, it depends on what you mean by "top whack" and "downgrade". I consider top whack a term more suited to the likes of Silversea, Crystal, Seabourne etc, cruise lines that would fit that description well but provide the cruise experience to back it up (or so I'm told). "Top whack" is again all relative.

 

P&O provide every detail you could possibly need for booking a holiday with them to make an informed choice. There's also the internet and the vast amount of reading you can do on the subject both from the cruise lines side and from passenger experiences and reviews. Then there are travel agents who actively advise customers on cruise lines that will suit each persons preferences. 

 

The only thing I would argue with P&O on is the way in which they market themselves. Take the Oriana refit for example. It's good and it's needed but they go for statements like "world class dining". This isn't the case and can be misleading so a review of their marketing approach should be encouraged. Other than that I stand by my original comments. I do think they are good value for what you pay. Of course they are going to put higher prices on first because they'd be mad not to, it's a business at the end of the day isn't it and they need to make money. If they weren't being honest and open about the pricing variations then fair enough but they are.

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Totally agree,every time we board we find something else has been cut and standards are still falling.

 

Last cruise on Azura luggage was very late arriving and when I asked I was told no of luggage handling staff had been reduced to save money.

 

Also on Azura we were served with childrens sized portions at evening dinner and when the waiter served us with one baked potato each,I asked for a second potato and the reply was  NO!  these are for other passengers.This was after being served with starters which were so small that it seemed they barely soiled the plate.

 

The list of cuts is now legion and even the Theatre shows just do not seem to be changed and replaced as they used to be and so we have now tried Princess on occasions and the standards are far superior to P&O and the food is also superior.

 

P&O are now finding it more difficult to fill their ships,they should listen to comments such as these on this forum.

 

 

 

 

Falmouthgirl likes this

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The only thing I would argue with P&O on is the way in which they market themselves. Take the Oriana refit for example. It's good and it's needed but they go for statements like "world class dining". This isn't the case and can be misleading so a review of their marketing approach should be encouraged. Other than that I stand by my original comments. I do think they are good value for what you pay. Of course they are going to put higher prices on first because they'd be mad not to, it's a business at the end of the day isn't it and they need to make money. If they weren't being honest and open about the pricing variations then fair enough but they are.

It's that sort of marketing that bothers me - they're selling a product that doesn't actually exist any more.

 

Here's what they say about one of the Ventura MDRs:

 
"The Bay Tree restaurant offers leisurely breakfasts or lunches and Club Dining in the evening.
 
The largest of Ventura's main dining rooms, situated at the aft of the ship on Deck 6, is a wonderful, sociable way to dine, and is often the way long-lasting friendships are made. A six course menu offers a variety of delicious options. Warm woods, richly coloured fabrics and carpets and etched glass screens create a feeling of intimacy. While a special ambience, soft lighting, crisp white table linen and attentive service combine to create a meal to remember."
 
Really?
 
 'A feeling of intimacy'?  'Special ambience'?  'Attentive service'?  And is it a 6 course menu still?

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You are right doca, the marketing ploys they use can often be misleading but then again that is true of many companies all over the world. It's the marketeer's job to portray a product in the best light possible in order to attract customers. They're doing this but the company is clearly not backing this up enough to meet the customers expectations.

 

Regarding the section you mention from the P&O website on The Bay Tree Restaurant. I would say that this isn't their worst piece of marketing.The use of the term "world class dining" for Oriana is too far, plain and simple false but this description of Ventura's MDR is open to interpretation. I agree with you that it isn't reflecting the actual setting of Ventura but to many it would. This is more a matter of opinion and personal perception. I hate to keep saying it but it is again all relative.

 

That said, I agree with you. I did not rate Ventura's MDR highly. It was ok and acceptable. I still enjoyed my time on board the ship but I left having preferred others in the fleet.

Captain Kidd II and pennbank like this

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As ships have become bigger there are more cabins to fill to make it cost effective, P&O in their wisdom decided to start selling cabins off cheap earlier and earlier thus causing profits to drop and standards with it.

 

Customers are now holding off booking until the last minute to bargain seek and there are so many cabins left unsold until the last minute that there can no longer be much money in it hence the pay for everything as an extra. This is annoying the people who have booked early at a high cost who then are getting far less for their money in terms of quality and standards and the only thing it will achieve is everyone will hold out for the last minute bargains as lets face it we all know you really do get nothing extra for booking early anymore.

 

As I have been saying P&O needs to decide what sort of company they want to be and stick to it.

I agree with what you say.  As someone who has always booked early and booked suites, I think P&O are fine for those looking for a cheap deal but why should we who have not booked a cheap deal have the same falling standards. Our last cruise with P&O was probably that, our last cruise. Good luck to those who want a cheap deal they’ve got  exactly what they wanted with a now cheap cruise line.

Jaczs and sinbad10 like this

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I agree with what you say.  As someone who has always booked early and booked suites, I think P&O are fine for those looking for a cheap deal but why should we who have not booked a cheap deal have the same falling standards. Our last cruise with P&O was probably that, our last cruise. Good luck to those who want a cheap deal they’ve got  exactly what they wanted with a now cheap cruise line.

I am like you Tally I book very early but I am getting sick of getting nothing for the extra cost in fact really I am getting less in terms of value. I have a cruise booked but if things do not improve I may start thinking about choosing a different company to spend my money with.

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Well looks as though there will be plenty of room o PO for me  I get sick and fed up with the constant whinging   yet the ships are still full!! I have had all sorts of cabins on PO  since the 1990's and yes a few of  the extras have had to go by the wayside such as bridge and engine room tours, but no different  to other ships..

 

I still rate PO for it's service  ,  it  never had silver service [ this for those who think it  did[ it served the meat on a plate and them came along with the veg] the meals are now hot  as they are served plated  what is it you can't get now that you could get I haven't noticed!

 

I am looking forward to my next cruise in a few weeks time  friendly staff good entertainment and good food there is nothing  to moan about  and for .. from one fed up with all the whinging . tis is the 2nd or 3rd whinge in a week/fortnight  go elsewhere and leave the rest of us to enjoy our PO  cruises in peace. by the way, according to my friends Fred isn't  an alternative.CG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MG16 likes this

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Thanks, Falmouthgirl - I'll try not to see it as whingeing about the negativity to P&O.  Sorry it upsets you, but you could of course have just ignored the thread.  Thanks for your comments, though - hope you have a great cruise.  Your view of the food is rather more positive than most.  

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You are welcome ,  what does upset me   in many cases is the is the fact that a lot of  the complainers then go on to book another  PO cruise, I have only ever had  to complain once 400 nights away with PO ,every time I cruise I see the same eager to please staff, wine waiters I can always get one   the meals have something for everyone and  I really can't see  anything to moan about  regarding the prices PO charge.

 

  These  are  entirely my thoughts, I get so fed up with all these negative remarks , PO have   7 ships  6 of which sail from Southampton, child friendly and adult, all these people can't be wrong   they return time and  time again .

 

I personally think the main reason  for the moaning is the late deals , if you want to book early and get the cabin of your choice and money or free parking then that's your choice you have  the benefits you want, however other are not in such a position  and have to pick late deals  and accept what is left, but we all eat the same food [ please don't tell me that you can't have  extra if requested I have never been refused yet]  and we are not paying15% on drinks  as do the other companies either .

 

No I am not easily pleased  but as I said I have yet to be disappointed In PO   it seems to be such an easy target by catering for all .CG

2torts likes this

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You are welcome ,  what does upset me   in many cases is the is the fact that a lot of  the complainers then go on to book another  PO cruise, I have only ever had  to complain once 400 nights away with PO ,every time I cruise I see the same eager to please staff, wine waiters I can always get one   the meals have something for everyone and  I really can't see  anything to moan about  regarding the prices PO charge.

 

  These  are  entirely my thoughts, I get so fed up with all these negative remarks , PO have   7 ships  6 of which sail from Southampton, child friendly and adult, all these people can't be wrong   they return time and  time again .

 

I personally think the main reason  for the moaning is the late deals , if you want to book early and get the cabin of your choice and money or free parking then that's your choice you have  the benefits you want, however other are not in such a position  and have to pick late deals  and accept what is left, but we all eat the same food [ please don't tell me that you can't have  extra if requested I have never been refused yet]  and we are not paying15% on drinks  as do the other companies either .

 

No I am not easily pleased  but as I said I have yet to be disappointed In PO   it seems to be such an easy target by catering for all .CG

I agree with some of your points CG, however in my opinion P&O have deteriorated significantly over the past couple of years based on my own personal experiences.

I'm certainly not moaning and whinging, I accept that with lower prices comes lowering standards and quality, perhaps you've been fortunate enough not to have noticed.

I certainly won't brandish those who complain about P&O as "moaners and whingers" I actually think they should take criticism constructively and use it to put right the wrongs.

HLM.

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I am like you Tally I book very early but I am getting sick of getting nothing for the extra cost in fact really I am getting less in terms of value. I have a cruise booked but if things do not improve I may start thinking about choosing a different company to spend my money with.

We felt the same way and switched to Cunard and Princess.

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Well looks as though there will be plenty of room o PO for me  I get sick and fed up with the constant whinging   yet the ships are still full!! I have had all sorts of cabins on PO  since the 1990's and yes a few of  the extras have had to go by the wayside such as bridge and engine room tours, but no different  to other ships..

 

I still rate PO for it's service  ,  it  never had silver service [ this for those who think it  did[ it served the meat on a plate and them came along with the veg] the meals are now hot  as they are served plated  what is it you can't get now that you could get I haven't noticed!

 

I am looking forward to my next cruise in a few weeks time  friendly staff good entertainment and good food there is nothing  to moan about  and for .. from one fed up with all the whinging . tis is the 2nd or 3rd whinge in a week/fortnight  go elsewhere and leave the rest of us to enjoy our PO  cruises in peace. by the way, according to my friends Fred isn't  an alternative.CG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They will always sail full when majority of people onboard pay not much more per night than the price of a Travelodge.

 

You are welcome ,  what does upset me   in many cases is the is the fact that a lot of  the complainers then go on to book another  PO cruise, I have only ever had  to complain once 400 nights away with PO ,every time I cruise I see the same eager to please staff, wine waiters I can always get one   the meals have something for everyone and  I really can't see  anything to moan about  regarding the prices PO charge.

 

  These  are  entirely my thoughts, I get so fed up with all these negative remarks , PO have   7 ships  6 of which sail from Southampton, child friendly and adult, all these people can't be wrong   they return time and  time again .

 

I personally think the main reason  for the moaning is the late deals , if you want to book early and get the cabin of your choice and money or free parking then that's your choice you have  the benefits you want, however other are not in such a position  and have to pick late deals  and accept what is left, but we all eat the same food [ please don't tell me that you can't have  extra if requested I have never been refused yet]  and we are not paying15% on drinks  as do the other companies either .

 

No I am not easily pleased  but as I said I have yet to be disappointed In PO   it seems to be such an easy target by catering for all .CG

 I asked for more roast lamb one night in MDR on Oriana and was told by the waiter I can have more vegetables no problem but if I wanted more meat he would have to ask the Restaurant Manager for permission. Told him not too bother it wasnt worth the hassle to the embarrassment of the waiter. To justify my actions I am not a greedy over eating pig but the size of the lamb was not much bigger than a 50p piece and I had one slice.

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Whilst I agree with some of the negative comments towards P&O on here, I've never hidden my overall positive views towards P&O. 

 

One comment above particularly intrigued me. We're talking about service that has deteriorated and standards that have fallen and whilst I agree with some of this, the comment I am talking about was sinbad10's referral to the cost of P&O per night being equivalent to that of a Travelodge stay. The comment is correct, P&O do often charge a fare per night equivalent to that of a Travelodge but what Travelodge do you know where you get the level of service P&O provide, the food they provide, the comfort they provide and the crew that despite many comments suggesting otherwise, always do their best to look after the passengers?

 

The late booking prices are low but they are also extremely attractive and for the product you receive at that price, it is quite remarkable. You are not paying Silversea prices so don't expect comparable standards. P&O are what they are, which is a strong, leading cruise line that continue to be loved by the majority of people who sail aboard them.

 

Like I've said, this is not me telling people they are wrong. We're all entitled to our opinion and this is mine. I do agree that certain things have slipped with P&O but what else can we expect given today's incredibly competitive market? In an industry where your every move is scrutinised, I don't think they do too bad at all.

Falmouthgirl likes this

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That sounds more like a portion on a taster menu Sinbad, it's a shame you didnt highlight it to the restaurant manager as for most people this wouldnt have been an acceptable portion

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We had our last cruises on P&O in December 2014 and fell into the 'paid more, but got an awful lot less for our money' camp - we will not cruise P&O again - even if we were desperate - despite the discount we receive on spends. So no Falmouthgirl - for us at least we won't complain and book them again - never in a zillion years - frankly, I'd rather have a couple of weeks in Benidorm (no disrespect to Benidorm) but given the cost difference, and the clientele, I got that anyway, despite paying a much higher cost.

I enjoy the whole ambience of a ship and try not to get too wrapped up in a bubble of just enjoying what I do and ignoring the rest - IMO the whole package matters, and that is where it starts to crumble.

Tally likes this

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Hi  I haven't sailed with P&O for over five years ago, the type of cruise they offered no longer appealed to me but as we expect different things I have no objections to those passengers who prefer the change in direction the company has taken.  I never complain if a company choses a different marketing stratergy to that I expect I just find a different cruise line which meets my expectations.  Fred Olsen and Azamara have gained from my disenchantment with P&O.  I can't understand why some on this forum keep saying every time they sail with P&O the standards have fallen further, if you precieve that the cruise line is no longer offering the ambience you are seeking just book with another cruise line, there's plenty of choice..

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We have just returned from a two week cruise to Iceland on Arcardia. Having sailed on her several times, we did see a few tiny cuts - chocoholics afternoon was smaller, cost of photography greater and the cabin tv channels didn't show the lectures after the first few days. Yes £75 charge for a three hour ships "behind the scenes" tour was prohibited for us but it was full anyway.

Apart from that it was as brilliant as ever.

Food in MDR was good, plenty of choice and yes still has two off menu choices if the main menu didn't suit.

Crab and lobster, plenty of beautiful steaks, lovely fish dishes all served with a smile and efficiency by friendly waiters. Buffet restaurant was also good, tons of choice both hot and cold, never a problem finding a table and again efficient service. Speciality restaurants were fantastic and well worth the extra.

Organised tours were conducted swiftly and maybe a tiny bit costly but worth it to see what we wanted to see.

Embarking was easy - we had a 2.30 slot, arrived at 1.30 and were on board and in our cabin by 2 pm (if we had arrived at 2.30 we would have gone straight through with fast track tickets).

Speaking to our cabin steward it does appear that staff now have lots more to do - more cabins to look after, more tables to serve etc. However that certainly did not deter from the service we received.

We are quite fussy and will complain when necessary, but apart from the poor photography offered, we really couldn't find anything to moan about.

Roll on September 2017 when we go again to USA/Canada on her.

Furby likes this

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