We were so looking forward to this cruise because of the fantastic itinerary. Things started to unravel, unfortunately, as early as the ship’s muster before we left Southampton. The captain, speaking very slowly and with long breaks between sentences, disappeared completely part-way through, leaving a flustered Theatre Company singer, as muster station head in our section of the restaurant, to complete it. First stop was the vibrant city of New York: there weren’t very many immigration officials to cover our ship of just over 2,000 passengers, plus crew, so many of us stood in the queues for over 90 minutes before being immigrated. However, the city that never sleeps didn’t let us down and we had a great day and a half there. Next stop, Newport, Rhode Island …… except the captain wouldn’t go near because it involved a ship’s tender operation and he felt that the likely swell would be outside his ship’s safety parameters. Never mind, onward to Boston, where we docked late evening and so had a full day there. Sadly, it rained heavily all day, so the famous ‘Freedom Trail’ walk had to be abandoned. Next stop, Bar Harbor …… except the captain wouldn’t go near because it involved a ship’s tender operation and he felt that the likely swell would be outside his ship’s safety parameters. Never mind, onward to Halifax. At some point steel rope had become wound round one of the ship’s azipods, so we had a second day here, which was not a problem. It only became a problem when passengers from the Crystal Symphony, which had been alongside us a few days before, disgorged it’s passengers, many of whom were wearing Bar Harbor teeshirts – yes, they said, the day that our captain didn’t try to get in there, they did, successfully and with no obvious swell. Many passengers were somewhere between disappointed and disgusted that our captain had given Bar Harbor a wide berth. Because of the additional day in Halifax the captain announced that he was abandoning our call to Saguenay and so we went straight to Quebec: our ‘two full days’ here had become one late evening plus one full day, but we made the most of what is a beautiful city. As we sailed away from Quebec our captain announced that our next port of call would be Saguenay, as the planned port, Sydney, would involve the ship’s tenders, and the swell may have been outside his ship’s safety parameters.
In all, this cruise was a huge disappointment and certainly not one that I would book again with P&O. On the plus side, the crew were excellent, the entertainment was good and the food was varied and up to standard. In my opinion the captain looked at the average ago of passenger in Southampton and took the decision there and then not to attempt and ports which would involve ship’s tenders. However, if P&O are advertising these ports of call and have little intention of making any real attempt to get to them, serious questions need to be (and in my case, have been) asked.