This was our first Christmas at sea and we were on our favourite cruise ship. .While we did enjoy the cruise it did not live up to expectations. P&O sent us a letter just prior to the cruise telling us they had improved the embarkation procedure. In the event all the passengers we spoke to said it was the worst embarkation they had experienced. The same could be said of disembarkation; we got off the ship more than two hours later than we should have done. Having failed to get on first sitting we were on freedom dining for the first time and we found we liked that. For the two set festive meals however (Christmas day and New Year’s Eve) we were allocated second sitting which was at 21.45 – Far too late! To make matters worse we were allocated a table for two (which we did not ask for or want) on the upper level and were surrounded by empty tables which left us feeling isolated and which destroyed the festive atmosphere. The entertainment was generally very good, although a couple of the speakers were below par.. Unfortunately though we had seen all of the Headliners routines on previous P&O cruises which did not go down well, Service generally was extremely good but much slower that previously. For the fist time in our experience there were no canapes at the Captain’s reception; a miserly economy! We were left with the perception that P&O have made economies, particularly in staffing levels, which have jeopardised their reputation as a first rated cruise company in our eyes.