Our First Post Covid Cruise – Oh Dear how standards have slipped!
Mike Kitchen | June 22, 2022 | P&O Cruises | Ventura
To put this critique into context, this was not our first cruise.
We have been avid cruisers since 2007 mostly with P&O although we have cruised with Princess and Celebrity.
From 2007 through to around 2012 cruising was a great way of being pampered for two weeks whilst enjoying good food, great service and seeing some of the world.
Since then we have witnessed a slow and gradual decline in the service and content of the overall product (does anyone remember there used to be a silver service at dinner for instance – long since gone).
Now it’s all about cost cutting and penny pinching which has now got completely out of hand.
New cruisers will not of course notice which I guess is what P and O will reply on going forward and therefore see no need to aspire to improve the overall holiday experience.
We retirees with disposable incomes to spend on holidays do not appear to be the demographic P and O are targeting at the moment.
Pros and Cons
Headliners (brilliant as always. We drilled and rehearsed with a good variety of shows)
No pestering photographers. I hear the Photographic Company went out of business during lockdown.
Cabin boy works hard. Staff in general were good (with a few exceptions)
Senior staff were seen very briefly.
The Captain was heard but never seen (unless you booked him to marry you)
Cabin – Looking tired and in need of a refit.
No evening turndown anymore. They now redeploy the cabin steward in the evenings to turning down the suites and other Covid/Infection cleaning duties.
No chocolate on the pillow – Why not?
No bowl of sweets – Why not?
No flower – they are still on the dinner tables but not the cabins.
No toiletries – why not?
Port check in and registration in Southampton.
This was total chaos.
It took approx 90 mins from arrival at the port to getting to our cabin. Baggage drop off was not signposted (you had to ask or guess)
Then we joined the first of three queues.
I lost count of how many time we were checked for Covid medical clearance, identity, check in and then x ray scanning. It was not an auspicious start. Ridiculous.
Much smaller portions in the main dining rooms.
Just about enough for a child! Over cooked vegetables and one potato is not an evening meal! If you go to the Self Service dinner option you can have as much or as little as you want.
The sweets/deserts were good.
We dined in Sindhu, The Beach House and The Glass House.
Sindhu was excellent food and very attentive service. No complains.
The Beach House was good with an interesting twist with OK service. If these venues can do it why not everywhere else.
Normal Evening Dining Staff
Waiting staff inconsistent and lacking in refinement and training.
Some do not even understand the serve and collect etiquette.
Some even serve across.
Spillages are not cleaned up, crumbs not removed between courses etc
Generally more training is needed.
No wine waiters any more.
Cheese boards now plated not served at the table.
Port and Shore excursions
No port talks during the early cruise days down to Maderia (why)
No port guides (why). How are visitors supposed to get the
best of each port without some guidance?
Shore excursions ridiculous prices.
Headliners were as good as always.
Where was The entertainment team. Was there one? If so they were conspicuous by their absence.
Cruise Director was never seen during three day.
The sail away parties with dancing and drinks on deck did not happen.
Other evening entertainment was patchy.
The group Pulse were awful. The songs they performed were for their benefit not their audience (totally the wrong songs especially the 70,S night). Their sound levels were all wrong which no one corrected throughout the whole cruise. Generally very poor indeed.
The three lectures on famous murder cases given by a bullistics expert (sorry missed his name) were interesting but spoilt by an inconsistent and an unpracticed delivery style. This made the interesting subjects very difficult to follow. Does anyone ever audition these people and critique them before awarding contracts?
Why are there no ‘named’ entertainers anymore? People or faces we can relate to and who could guarantee to fill the theatre.
What has changed pre and post Covid that’s means you are now required to book to go to a show in the theatre?
Same question for evening meals. We decided not to book for meals and walked straight in every time we dined there. No problem.
Generally its looking scruffy and worn in several places and badly needed a refit.
Our toilet stopped working six times during the second week. We got a bottle of cheap Spanish wine in compensation!
The new sunloungers are good.
The dining area furniture is good.
The atrium is an attractive feature.
Reception staff are good and helpful.
Cleaner and infection control procedures seemed satisfactory.
All these (and numerous other) penny pinching cost cuttings have gone a long way to partial spoil what should have been a good cruise. You cannot blame Covid, Brexit or any other external expense. The successful companies that will continue and thrive after the shutdown are those that continue to invest in their staff and infrastructure, not those that have been penny pinching and cutting back the content and quality of their products for short term cash and bottom line profits.
We are very much still avid and committed cruisers but this experience has made us fall out of love with P and O in favour of others such as Celebrity and MSC.
Thank you for some great cruises but the time has come to say goodbye and move on.
Should anyone at P and O read this and care to comment I would be pleased to expand on some of the issues if asked.
Be prepared to manage your expectations.
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