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  1. Thankfully we are all different Jean and I suspect that almost everyone who books an inside cabin only uses it for the purposes that you state, as they certainly aren’t places you would want to be in for any other purpose. As I have said previously, there are just so many benefits of a balcony cabin that it makes the cruise for us. We wouldn’t contemplate cruising without one now, however cheap the alternative was. Sometimes the additional price of a balcony cabin over an inside can be relatively small and P&O aren’t daft when they upgrade people to them, as I should imagine that very few people would want to go back to an inside once they’ve had one.
  2. I was about to say exactly the same thing and it’s a major reason why we stopped using the buffet. People using the loo and not washing hands and/or those who lick food spills off their fingers and then pick up communal serving tongs. It’s no wonder that when there is a Norovirus outbreak the ability for passengers to serve themselves in the buffet is withdrawn and staff do the serving. Some people are just absolutely clueless as to how germs (and viruses spread). One classic example I saw on a recent cruise was an old chap who entered the lift and, with a big grin, pressed the button for the floor he wanted to to go with the bottom of his walking stick. That same walking stick had no doubt been in a toilet and used on a floor with urine on it 🤢
  3. We have always found the sailaways to be tacky, but know that many like them and I would defend P&O’s right to continue them. Deliberately provocative (e.g. anti German) songs are unacceptable though and an entertainment host encouraging Nazi salutes should have been dismissed IMHO. If I hear ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’ being sung on a P&O ship one more time I shall throw myself overboard. We fondly remember the streamers on departure from Southampton, with the large brass band on the quayside, on our first cruise in 1996 and were sad to see them go. We wouldn’t do flag waving but surely an environmentally friendly version could be found if that’s what people want? One thing I do feel though is that it is very sad nowadays that being patriotic is seen as being a bad thing. I have always noticed that the Scots and Welsh are always (rightly) very proud to come from their countries, yet if you are English it tends to get lost in the overall ‘British’ banner, for fear of offending those from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. That’s wrong. The problem has been made worse by the English Flag now having unfortunate associations with football hooligans and far right groups. I am English and very proud of it, so I can live with some patriotic music, but it’s a shame that we have the most turgid and dreary national anthem. My favourite is the Italian one. Now that’s a jolly tune!
  4. We don’t work to a budget so I haven’t given it too much thought and we aren’t heavy drinkers (so the drinks package would leave us heavily out of pocket), but we do use the Select a Dining restaurants quite a bit, have pre dinner drinks, wine with dinner and the occasional glass or two in the glasshouse with lunch when we dine there. From memory, our on board spend is usually around £500 a week, but a slug of that has always been offset by on board credit. We have even have cruises where we have had no bill at the end! Sadly, in these days of ‘free gratuities’, the slashing of on board credit (purely coincidental of course 😗) means that we now have to cough up more!
  5. I shall also be very interested to hear how you get on. We are starting to become a little disillusioned as to P&O’s direction of travel (the Saturday night ITV market isn’t us either), but we are going on Iona with a (reasonably) open mind as we love the Select Dining Restaurants and the cabin facilities will be excellent (just as well, as we may spend quite a bit of time in it)! That being said, it’s the Maiden Cruise and we have some first class acts, which offsets P&O’s usual ‘stuck in a time warp’ offerings in that department. We like Aurora, but the lack of Select Dining options (no Epicurean) and ancient cabins (even post refit) are starting to slightly compromise even that ship for us. I have got as far as requesting a Saga brochure but haven’t priced anything yet. We are happy to pay more for a better experience, but as we are only a few hours from Southampton we never need hotels and travel costs are small. Mrs Selbourne thinks we are far too young for Saga but the average age in our last few Aurora cruises has been mid 70’s so I doubt it. Edit - we are nowhere near our 70’s, but you know what I mean!
  6. That’s one of my favourite sail ins. The nice thing about a side balcony is that you get the full view of one side of the approach to a destination on the way in and the full view of the other side on your way back out! That being said, we’ve also had some lovely views from some suites we’ve had at the aft of the ship.
  7. Although we always have a balcony cabin, we spend very little time on the actual balcony! We just love the huge panoramic view of the passing scenery and the ability to pop out when something catches our eye, which it often does. When the ship is busy we spend quite a bit of time in the cabin and enjoy our own private outdoor space (if the weather’s nice) or just to sit and read inside the cabin whilst glancing at the passing scenery. We often don’t close the curtains at night so that we can catch the sail in to ports from bed. Some of our best cruises have been cold weather cruises where it would have been too cold to sit outside, but we had spectacular scenery in the warm without having to fight for position in the panoramic lounges. The sail in to Manhattan, even though it followed 6 sea days, could not be beaten from our balcony. Ditto the fireworks in Monaco. No fighting with the crowds. We have regularly seen dolphins from our cabin and even whales. For all these reasons and more, an inside cabin would be a complete non starter for us. Back to Coronavirus, I had to phone P&O for something today and if you press 9 there is a very long recorded piece about Coronavirus and it’s impact on P&O, which they describe as ‘dynamic’. Well worth a listen.
  8. That’s very interesting. That’s £143 and £154 per night (for a couple) which is pretty good for a balcony cabin. Aurora is a more expensive ship than Azura and Ventura and we have managed £177 a night on her for a balcony. I remain concerned about the whole Coronavirus situation (I think it’s naive to think that if it’s not a Far East Cruise then there is no risk), but I could be tempted if prices continue to head south. As I have said before, it irritates me that I have to book 2 or 3 years out to get the best price, so if that’s changing I could see us booking more cruises at short notice. That being said, we are already booked for May and July/August, so by the autumn I very much suspect that normal service will be resumed!
  9. Is that for an inside cabin Andy? If so, that still wouldn’t tempt me I’m afraid. It’s down to personal choice I know, but we would prefer not to cruise at all than have an inside cabin. Even prison cells have windows 😂. I am told that lots of people who have booked inside cabins are cancelling (for fear of a nightmare quarantine scenario), but I can’t believe that at least some in balcony cabins or suites aren’t doing so. Has anyone heard of any bargains on those as, unless I am mistaken, most of the examples being quoted are for insides.
  10. Good point. I’d forgotten about that and we have done the same previously. My lovely contact at P&O has even waived amendment fees for us!
  11. Agreed, but for many of us we would only ever book a Select fare, for a multitude of reasons. In our case, we would only want Freedom Dining (which is usually first to ‘sell out’ and we have seen signs on the first night saying that it is full and requests to move from Club to Freedom cannot be accommodated) and we are extremely particular about cabin location. We would never want to be directly above or below a public venue or open deck area. In fact, on one cruise we were blighted with noise from the Live Lounge yet we were two decks above it! Friends of ours were woken very early every morning by the crew dragging deck chairs around overhead for cleaning. Both of these examples were suites, so even the top level of accommodation can be problematic. I know that lots of people regularly book savers and have no problems (or are less sensitive to noise disturbance than we are), but we go to bed earlier than most and like peace and quiet. One bad experience would be one too many for us. For these, and several other reasons (not least that we now need an accessible cabin) we have booked our last 10 or so cruises at launch and the Select prices have never been lower between then and sail date. All that being said, I very much resent having to book our cruises 2 or 3 years in advance in order to get the best accommodation and lowest price, especially as my wife’s medical condition now means that we do not know what we are going to be dealing with. It is very telling that, for the first time in many years, we only have two future cruises booked with P&O and both are this summer. Whilst I understand the commercial logic of ‘fluid pricing’, in our case we would cruise a lot more often (and, now that we are retired, at short notice) if we knew that we were getting a good deal, but as we will only book Select (for the reasons given) I refuse to pay over the odds. I like the model used by some travel companies (non cruise) that the price never changes from release date to departure. If P&O adopted that model (which I know they won’t) then they would get a lot more business from us.
  12. You are spot on Andy. I was told by my contact at P&O that inside and outside (no balcony) cabins are being cancelled for that exact reason. Although we have a balcony cabin we tried to upgrade to a suite for the same reason (more walls to climb in a quarantine!) but no cancellations there either (mind you, we need an accessible cabin and there’s only one accessible suite on Iona). Our daughters decided to come a week after we booked but by then all that was left was insides, which none of us have ever had before, but faced with the choice of not coming they agreed. That being said, I think if there was a quarantine situation, to steal your line from another thread, only one would come out alive!
  13. That’s interesting Andy and well done you for getting such a great deal. I was hoping to upgrade our daughters from an inside to a balcony on the Iona Maiden cruise (which sold out within a week or so of going on sale) as the balance due date was last week, but although there have been cancellations they have been inside and outside (no balcony) cabins only.
  14. You are quite correct. That has been the policy for years and I am not aware that P&O has changed it. However, with all the cancellations at the moment following Cornovirus concerns about potential quarantine scenarios or missed ports, normal rules may not apply. We always book at launch, partly because the Select prices haven’t been beaten between release and departure for some years now, but also because we need an accessible cabin. Our experience is quite different from those above. Our 21 night cruise on Aurora this year is significantly more expensive per night than last years 19 night cruise on Aurora. Both booked at launch and for the same cabin. The difference? The 2019 cruise was booked whilst Aurora was still a family ship and the service charge was still in existence. Neither the adult only conversion or tips included policy were on the cards. Some months before the 2019 cruise departed (when adult only and tips included were announced), the fare had jumped to almost double the price we paid at launch. When 2020 cruises were launched, and both factors were known and factored into the price, the difference was very noticeable. Aurora has been our favourite ship for some years, even though we find the cabins ancient and the choice of Select Dining restaurants poor, but we feel that she is becoming over priced. We are trying Iona this year and, if we like her, can probably get a suite on her for a similar price of a balcony cabin on Aurora. That will be a dilemma, especially as we can cruise in term time and avoid school holidays.
  15. Andy - Like you we had been to Bruges so fancied a change on our last stop at Zeebrugge. We took a cab to Ghent, which we found to be even nicer than Bruges. Lovely to walk around and plenty of nice places to have a drink or bite to eat. On the return journey we asked the cab driver to drop us in Blankenberg and I would echo the comments above. When we finished there we got the shuttle bus back to the ship. We thoroughly enjoyed the day.
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