P&O have let standards slip
Keith Gardner | April 24, 2018 | P&O Cruises | Britannia
I have cruised for more than 30 years and sailed with P&O more than any other cruise line but sadly this will be my last time with P&O as they have been rapidly overtaken by other cruise lines who have seriously upped their game whilst P&O have let their standards slip. Britannia was lovely but in terms of facilities and special attractions it does not compare with the larger Royal Caribbean ships by any stretch of the imagination and the standard of service has dropped so much in recent years … no silver service in the main dining rooms, just pre-plated and rather bland meals and why oh why were drinks waiters conspicuous by their absence around the pools and in particular in the Horizon ‘cafeteria’. The warmth and friendliness that used to be synonymous with P&O staff is no longer the same and the standard of the entertainment team (apart from the dancers and female singers) led by the least effective Cruise Director I have ever seen, was very average indeed. Having just completed a 14 night cruise around the Caribbean, I should be able to recount many memorable nights but sadly there was more talk of the poor nights from fellow passengers. Sindhu was incredible both in terms of quality of food and service and the Glass House was also very good, as was the Beach Cafe but the Oriental main dining room and Horizon ‘cafeteria’ were simply not up to standard at all and not in the same league as RCI, MSC and Cunard so it seems you now have to pay extra to simply enjoy what used to be the ‘norm’ in the past. To give you an idea of how disappointing the dining rooms that provided the food that was inclusive were, it was almost impossible to get in to the speciality restaurants during the second week. The Cookery Club was very good but when you pay an extra ?45 per person for what is less than 3 hours, you don’t expect to have to share both your work station, utensils, food and cooking experience with a complete stranger and therefore only enjoy half of the actual experience. One of the things that first attracted me to cruising was the ability to see top acts every night and yet now, with P&O you have to pay an extra ?28 per person to watch the star performers who are only available in the Limelight Club and to highlight how petty P&O have become, even though we bought an Ice Cream Package, we were not allowed either a sauce or a flake without having to pay an extra 15 pence for each and the Soft Drinks Package, despite costing ?35, only allows you 20 drinks from the soda fountain and even then you are limited to either Pepsi or Lemonade. One photo, in a cheap frame, cost ?35 and as if to highlight how petty P&O have become, when we asked for a minor edit that would take a minute, we were charged an additional ?5 and to rub salt into the wound, they refused to let us have our un-edited copy unless we paid for a second photo. Although a very large ship, they really have crammed too many passengers into it and unless you were on deck between 6.30am – 6.45am each morning, you had no chance of a sunbed in the sun and even then they are not very comfortable as unlike some other cruise lines, they do not come with any form of mattress. Despite packing circa 4,500 passengers into the ship they have in their wisdom only provided a Theatre that seats 800 so again you have to get there very early and fight for a seat or miss out and the same applies to the cinema that sits less than 200. You will wait an eternity for a lift and if you are in the middle of the ship, you have no choice, even if you only want to go up or down one floor as there are incredibly no stairs alternative.
If you are in to copious amounts of ‘nosh’ and your idea of a great night out would be to visit a Weatherspoons, Hungry Horse or Harvester and/or to have boozy nights in the working man’s club whilst playing endless quizzes, then P&O will not disappoint and the highlight of your cruise will most certainly be the incredibly tacky and corny ‘Sail Away’ deck parties that made us rush to our cabins to avoid the embarrassment of being seen as ‘Brits on Tour’ by the passengers on the other cruise ships in port at the same time. There is no doubt that a good percentage of the passengers (many of them ‘first-timers’) had a great time but upon reflection I wonder if they really would have valued the real cost, which including all the extras, would be around ?2,000 per person at the end of 14 nights, as real value for money because trust me, for that kind of spend, you can enjoy and have every right to expect true 5 star luxury and P&O absolutely do not even come close to delivering on 4 star expectations any more. If you are an experienced traveller, or someone with discerning tastes and if you are looking for both luxury as well as value for money, you most certainly have more chance of finding it with RCI, Celebrity, MSC, Cunard and even Princess these days if you particularly want to cruise or at any one of the thousands of 5 star All-Inclusive Resorts that can be found around the world and in Mexico & the Caribbean in abundance. We still love cruising and are very happy with Bolsover Cruise Club but we will not use P&O again whilst we have so much choice and until we hear that they have got their act back together again.
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