Full On Party
Bob Williams | October 16, 2017 | P&O Cruises | Ventura
29th September 2017
We have cruised with P&O many times; this would be our second two night cruise break, it came up to expectations!
The ship was using the Ocean Terminal in Southampton. The terminal works very well at getting people through as quickly as possible. Most people were carrying on the luggage which simplified things. The terminal was particularly noisy, and had a party atmosphere, we even saw a chap dressed as a bride with boots on! The only slight hold up is having to complete the health questionnaire on arrival, why not offer it for download from the Cruise Personaliser. P&O complicate this by giving you a boarding time, ours is 15:30, it is always a late time whatever P&O cruise we take! We decided to aim for 13:30, and only had to wait around until 14:00 before being called to check-in. We arrived at our cabin by 14:15.
Disembarkation is equally efficient. Instructions are dropped off at your cabin on Saturday. We went to the open seating breakfast (served between 07:00 and 09:00), getting in there before the eight o’clock rush. After breakfast, back to the cabin to pick up the bags, then join the queue to get off This moved fairly quickly and we were off 08:20, and joined the queue for a local taxi to the train station.
On the first night we ate in Sindhu, had a really good meal in there, soft shell crab to start and then a selection of curies to follow. The service in there is particularly good.
We had opted for Freedom Dining which gives great flexibility, but it can get busy at peak times, the best strategy is to be prepared to share a table (requesting a table for two will probably result in being given a pager). We ate in the Saffron Restaurant; we also used it for breakfast. On the second night we met up with friends and shared a table for four. The Saffron Restaurant is very big, but the service is good. The breakfast choices in the MDR are comprehensive, but I don’t think the choice has changed in the 10 years we have been sailing with P&O.
Lots of bars as you would expect, some with an emphasis on gin. There is a wide selection of craft gins available in the Red Bar. Most drinks at pub prices, but if you want more than two glasses of wine a bottle of the house (white in our case) is an economical option at £16. Breakers Bar on the Sun Deck was always busy, and on this cruise some of the passengers were shouting at the staff for service. The Glasshouse offers a quieter venue.
Our cabin was port rear on deck 10 (C510), it was a good size; it is described as a superior balcony. The décor and fittings were in reasonable shape. Between the bathroom and main room is a spacious hanging area that really works well. The beds are high enough to take some pretty big suitcases underneath. The balcony is a good size and does have an overhang. Our steward was very cheerful, but we did not have time to get to know her. This cabin was very quiet, nothing rattled. If we had been on a longer cruise we would have asked for the pillows to be changed, they were like paving slabs.
There was plenty going on, but we stuck to the bars!
We went to a reception in Tamarind and the photographers went to great trouble to get a good group photograph which we purchased for £12.
Ports of Call
Zeebrugge – Belgium
Nothing in particular planned for this day. We caught the shuttle bus into Blankenberge, walked to the Marina, then out along the pier and back along the sea front to the top of the main shopping street. Lunch was moules and bread; there was a problem with the fries! Next we bought some chocolate and went back to the ship.
Much as expected these cruises breaks are intense and lively, it helped that we had been on the ship before and knew where everything was. There were lots of groups on board, not just stag and hen parties, but birthdays and anniversaries as well.
We even got to meet Poppy from Bolsover Cruise Club (our TA) at a get together!
We had expected the formal night to be the second night, but it was the first (apparently so the photographers could take and sell more formal prints).
It is nice to be able to carry on and off your bags; it makes embarkation and disembarkation much quicker.
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