Andrew Chatburn | August 17, 2014 | P&O Cruises | Britannia
Norwegian Fjords departing Southampton on 18th July 2015.
There are many positives about P&O and this ship in particular. New ship(!); friendly and courteuous staff; very reasonable prices for drinks, in on-board shops, and for gratuities; excellent itinerary (poor weather is just one of those things); comfortable cabins although one has to say they are not 5* and we’re not sure they will stand the test of time; comfortable public areas with loads of seating.
There are a number of annoying little things though with the prime one being the lack of a staircase mid-ships. This means waiting for lifts becomes a chore and if you’re slightly less mobile or use a wheelchair, the waiting is even longer. Passengers got so frustrated waiting they used the crew staircase instead. P&O need to sort this out pronto.
Second would be ladies toilets. Many in public areas were out of order and those that did work were not kept clean Indeed, even complaining to an officer in a toilet made no difference. Novo-virus lurking in every corner so it’s a good job there are plenty of places to was your hands.
Third, the food is 3.5* at best. Now matter how you dress it up, chicken and chips in the main dining room on a formal night is still chicken and chips. I’ll say no more.
Finally, P&O provide a facility whereby a local company (Global Tax Refund?) comes onboard at the final port to provide tax refunds for purchase made ashore. Apparently, this company is not employed by P&O but is provided through their port agent. I know this because we had cause for complaint on this companies practices, which we put to the on-board reception and who frankly didn’t want to know so I’ll articulate our experience here. We were due a purchase tax refund of 360 Krona; the ships on-board exchange rate was 14.23 Krona to buy ?1. Now we all know on-board rates are pretty poor but at least they are advertised and we make an informed choice. We thought therefore that we might get around ?25. Oh no! This company calculated we were due ?20.75 and then rounded this down to ?20; thus, an eye-watering 17.5 Krona for ?1 (Tesco asked me for 13.85 for ?1 on our return). By the time one realises how little one gets, it’s too late because one has left the counter and the next person is being served. There are 4 things to take from this. (1), the exchange is so poor as to practically constitute extortion; (2) all transactions are rounded down in the companies favour (imagine how much this alone accumulates on a boat with over 3600 passengers); (3) all transactions are in cash, there is no option to have refunds to a credit or debit card; (4) no receipts are given. Now, I don’t know about you dear reader but cash transactions without a receipt…………….! I appreciate most transactions appeared relatively small (?20-50) however, the service was available for 2 hours and we arrived 10 minutes before then and waited in a queue of at least 50 people ahead of us. These small transactions mount up very quickly. When I asked the officer on reception if P&O are content to be associated with such practices, my question was met with a shrug of the shoulders, literally.
All-in-all, we had a very happy holiday in a stunning location. Even poor weather didn’t spoilt it. We wanted a low-cost break and paid a fair and reasonable price for our short holiday; no complaints on this score because we got what we paid for. Think 3.5* overall and you’re near the mark.
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