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  1. Yes, it does. The vast majority of our cruising has been done on 700 - 1800 passenger capacity ships and, for us, it has been and continues to be ideal. Like many other contributors, we enjoy the ambience of the mid size ships and the fact that we have come to know so many of the staff over the years, not to mention a number of our fellow passengers, makes us feel very comfortable. The larger ships offer a wider range of facilities and choices, which I can see might appeal to families, younger adults and new cruisers and that's fine and how it should be. However, I share the opinion of the contributor who made the point that the larger ships are swamping the ports when they disgorge their passengers. In Antigua, in March this year, there were five of these leviathans in port at the same time as Oriana and it was chaos. One quayside shop we went in looked as if a hurricane had passed through it and swept the shelves clean! We instantly returned to the sanctuary of our ship, pondering on the fact that there must have been around 20,000 'instant ' visitors shoulder to shoulder in scorching temperatures. Sadly, I imagine, they wouldn't have formed the best impression of the lovely island. We are fortunate that P&O has four ships of the right size sailing out of Southampton and Oceana based out in Dubai. We sincerely hope that all of the vessels will undergo frequent re-fits so that they will keep going for a good few years as I can't see that new ones, of a similar size, will be built in the near future- more's the pity.
  2. sundancer

    Black and white night on p&o

    We were on Oriana in March/April & there was a Black & White night. Hope that's helpful.
  3. sundancer

    “Shorts” Story long tail

    No, we don't have to accept it. Surely a totally casual look (ref restaurant dining) could be advertised as being acceptable on some named ships & let those who wish to wear shorts, wear them in the appropriate environment & let those of us who abide by the published dress code carry on doing just that. We 'established cruisers ' tend to cruise more regularly &, I guess, for the most part enjoy following the dress codes & don't take too kindly to 'newbies ' trying to re-write those codes.
  4. Yes, it's nice to read a positive review and I'm delighted to hear how much you enjoyed your holiday. However, despite your complimentary comments, I could not be persuaded to give it a try as I prefer the smaller ships but, of course, it's 'horses for courses' & that's how it should be. We're all different and obviously enjoy/prefer different things. It's good to have such a wide choice. One thing I should like to see is a full and accurate description of each ship, complete with dress codes, styles of entertainment etc. so that passengers can be sure that they have made the right choice I.e. that all/most of their preferences/requirements are met. This might help prevent complaints re dress codes from both sides of 'the Great Divide' and keep us all happy.
  5. As someone who has cruised (happily) with P&O for many years, it saddens me to read the increasing number of forum comments regarding the fall in standards as, unfortunately, I agree with many of them. Obviously, we all have varying and differing opinions on what constitutes a high standard, be it of service, personnel, food, décor, entertainment etc. and, yes it's difficult to please all of the people all of the time. Many a complaint, I'm sure, has been fired off to the 'powers that be' over recent years and, according to many loyal passengers who have taken the trouble to make the complaints/comments, these communications have fallen on deaf ears and, at best, a 'stock reply' from a bored 'minion' in Customer Service has been the only contact. In truth, standards have declined over recent years in many of the above-mentioned categories - plus one other - that of the passenger who lacks good manners and basic social skills i.e. those who walk into the theatre well after the performance has started; those who fill their trays with food in the self-service areas and then leave much of it untouched; even worse, those who pick-up food items (and allow their children to do so) and then replace them (!) and, in the same vein, those who put library books on the tables at lunch-time/afternoon tea time, when those same books have been lingering on the deck or on the seats of chairs!! Generally, though, the waiters, the bar staff and the cabin stewards remain efficient, pleasant, polite and smartly dressed (unlike some of the passengers) and it is always a pleasure to see them. The menus and the food service have changed over the years but, considering that it is a mass catering operation now, the standard is still very high and I thought that I would miss the silver service but I don't. Now, if I'm sitting on a large table, I don't have to wait for every item to be served individually and for someone's indecision to have one potato or two, I can start, once everyone has been served and my meal is hot. However, as one person mentioned, curtains not hooked up properly and carpets held together by tape are not acceptable nor is messy décor - these are general maintenance tasks that could be readily attended to. In days gone by, all these things used to be fixed 'as if by magic' out of the gaze of any of the passengers. Of course, in the days to which I'm referring, the price of a cruise was probably at least twice as high as it is today and it was a 'considered purchase'. Nowadays, it is becoming more like a slightly up-market holiday camp, where late bookers can travel at a fraction of the price that most of us have paid. Coupled with this, the entertainment staff regularly aim to cater for the lowest common denominator of passenger and they do not seem to be the bright switched-on people they used to be. Reasons for all this, I suspect, is the takeover by Carnival and the proliferation of new ships that need to be filled and, along the way, the more traditional ships (with their loyal following) have been allowed to become somewhat run down, in the belief that the followers will remain loyal and accept anything. When will they realise that this is not necessarily the case and that many will (and have already done so) be voting with their feet. Despite Aurora's refurbishment, the money did not appear to have been spent wisely. The new Glass House and the Indian Restaurant remained empty on our cruise - apart from the odd officer. These innovations probably work well on the new ships, fitting in with the lifestyle of the more trendy passengers and the modern lines of the vessel but, almost everyone I know, longs for Café Bordeaux to re-instated and the Library to return to its natural site. New younger passengers are very important and I'm sure the new ships will suit them very well but there are still a load of silver surfers about and it these people (and those who will soon gravitate to this status) who are being edged out. We actually like the more traditional ships and the traditional relaxed cruising experience but we don't want to do it in sub-standard conditions, with the facilities we love being removed and replaced with irrelevant substitutes. We have scores of P&O cruises under our belts, as have many of our friends and acquaintances and our aim is to add scores more but will they be with P&O - sadly, it's doubtful. However, I suspect that competitors for the same market share are much the same.
  6. sundancer

    2017 World Cruises

    Of course, everyone is different but my experience has been that I have never been bored and my husband and I have done 3 world cruises. We don't always do or enjoy the same activities so we sometimes do our own thing, during the day, and meet up for meals and classes or talks that appeal to both of us. The Port Lecturers on the World Cruises tend to make their presentations particularly interesting, with a genuine depth of knowledge and advice. Taking part in different activities also allows the making of new & friends so the social circle tends to increase and become more interesting. Personally, I think the Grand Voyages have now become too long - not because it is difficult to fill in the time, but because the 'club' atmosphere that used to generate amongst the 'all the way' voyagers is not so prevalent now, as an increased number new and different passengers join for particular sectors & it's just not the same. The 80 day trips were just about right. Another feature of these extended itineraries is the difficulty in getting travel insurance at a reasonable price when one is getting a little older! Regardless, it is a lovely way to see the world - the good and (sometimes) the not so good. If you can, give it a try.
  7. sundancer

    In My Gondola

    Enjoyed this report - beautifully illustrated, with sound advice. The 'municipale' gondolas tend to leave from St. Mark's Square and seat 6 people. The ride is interesting, particularly when there is a bit of traffic jam when the gondoliers have the opportunity to show just how good they are, but sharing with 5 other people takes the edge off the experience. When booking a tour from the ship, St. Mark's tends to be the departure point and the journey is a shared experience. The fun of bargaining with a 'resting gondolier' & being prepared to pay more for a more relaxed romantic ride, complete with 'comfy cushions' is worth the trouble.