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About DamianG

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

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    Sport, travel
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    P & O Cruises
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Spain & Norway

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  1. Sorry to hear about both these cabin issues, glad they were resolved and thanks for sharing. For research (research, research) purposes which cabin Andy? Our one and only late deal booking was for a Christmas Markets cruise on Arcadia in 2010 where we paid £1100 for the 2 of us (10 nights). It was an unplanned holiday that we were thrilled to take with everything luckily falling into place (price, able to get the time off work etc.). We were then even more delighted to be visited by the upgrade fairy and were moved to G32 which was great for us, just off the atrium down a quiet corridor. What we didn't realise is that this is either above or very near the service hatch so we were rudely woken at around 4:30am on the day we returned to Southampton by never ending bangs and crashes. It was a long drive home North that day!
  2. Mentioning Café Bordeaux you've just reminded me how much we used to love Al Fresco on Oriana for breakfast and lunch.
  3. Coming back to "Why do Brits like P&O" we took our first cruise with Carnival back in 2001. We enjoyed it but it didn't inspire us to immediately book the next cruise. Then we tried NCL in 2003 with the same result. We went on Adonia (the original version, sister ship to Oceana) in 2004 and were hooked. We learnt so much on that cruise from our fabulous table companions Phil & Gill (from Stoke, not sure if they read these pages?) and really embraced the on-board experience. We enjoyed the dining arrangements, the friendliness of passengers and crew and whilst the onboard entertainment is not critical to us there were plenty of offerings that we tried and enjoyed. We followed that up with 2 cruises in 2005 and never looked back. Since 2013 we are seeing cruises through different eyes (our son's) and though many things have changed (often for the worse for our tastes) P&O still offer a value for money product. Every year I look at other cruise lines for an August cruise and we simply cannot afford it. People may have different opinions on the loyalty perks but we appreciate them, especially priority embarkation and the upper tier lunch. Our son has never used the kid's club but without exception staff have always been fantastic with him. It's a shame the OP found so many things upsetting but that doesn't mean every cruise throughout the fleet will be the same. Honestly, call me odd if you like, but if I'd walked past that tissue on the floor next to the bin I'd have carefully picked it up and binned it (then thoroughly washed my hands of course)!
  4. We've only asked to move table once, club dining on Ventura in 2012 on a table for 8 where the only other couple to turn up were very young and new to cruising. Straight away they asked if we did "all that dressing up" (the chap was dressed in a t-shirt so I don't know how he got into the MDR if the first place) and we did our best to be friendly and share our experience without being pushy or overbearing. Conversation was difficult but we hoped that the table would fill up on the other nights and things would get easier. 2nd night it was formal dress code and the chap turned up in a shirt and tie (that he had bought on board) so when he told us the tale we said "Good for you." That was pretty much the last conversation we had as he spent the rest of dinner either on his phone or leaving his seat to "get a better signal." After that the restaurant manager kindly switched us to freedom dining. Funny enough on that same cruise we shared a breakfast table with a former miner from South Yorkshire and it was by far the worst dining experience ever. He lectured the whole table about Thatcherism and the miners strike (1984-5) and criticized the waiters and ship staff saying things like they'd never done a hard day's work in their life etc etc. He just never stopped throughout the breakfast service and no-one was spared from his criticism. At the time I worked for a retail bank but when he asked what I did I daren't tell him!
  5. In Civitavecchia there is a lovely pizzeria http://www.mastrotittapizza.com/home-811.html just round the corner from the train station. It is frequented by crew members (which says a lot) and you can sit outdoors with a sea view. From there it is a short walk to a water polo club where you can pay a small admission and use the outdoor pools. First time we went there was an outdoor bar next to one pool and a separate cafe, last time just the cafe was open. Family friendly and not too busy even on a weekend.
  6. You've quoted 3 ports that we love! La Coruna - science museum https://www.coruna.gal/cultura/es/espacios/detalle-para-entidad/casa-de-las-ciencias/entidad/1167801888277?argIdioma=es Vigo - Samil beach https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g187509-d2035120-Reviews-Playa_Samil-Vigo_Province_of_Pontevedra_Galicia.html (also a fabulous toy shop in the port area) La Palma - Bajamar beach I agree it is a totally different experience cruising with kids and we too have to plan our days ashore very carefully since becoming parents. You wouldn't think Civitavecchia has much to offer but our son loves it there and is gutted that we won't be visiting in the next 2 years. We are currently making plans for our cruise this August: Cadiz, Malaga, Ajaccio, Cannes, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Gibraltar with Cannes and Gibraltar in particular proving a bit of a challenge! We're thinking beach in Cannes but have no previous experience of it whilst we've all been to Gibraltar that much it's lost a bit of interest for us (but we will still get off the ship to stretch our legs).
  7. For Cadiz the beach near the port is okay but if you fancy an 8 minute bus ride catch the number 1 opposite the port from Plaza de España to Residencia (near the hospital) as the beach there is much nicer. There is a fixed fare of €1.10 per person per journey. It is also near La Marea restaurant https://www.lamarea.es which featured on Rick Stein’s Long Weekends TV programme but get there early for lunch as it gets really busy.
  8. The aquarium in Lisbon is very good https://www.oceanario.pt/en We got stung taking a taxi there straight from the port but it is very near a large shopping mall Centro Vasco de Gama and a taxi back from there to the ship was just €6.85 (in 2015). If we went again I would catch the shuttle the try pick up a black and green city cab from there (€0.47 per km). We've also been to the zoo a couple of times https://www.zoo.pt/en/ using the Metro which was fairly straightforward. The blue line goes from Santa Apolonia (sometimes the ship docks near here but you'd need to check) direct to the zoo with no changes required.
  9. The black sand beach is in La Palma. You can get to the beach Playa del Reducto in Arrecife (Lanzarote) by catching the shuttle bus then strolling down the promenade. However when we were there in 2016 there were no changing facilities, outdoor showers, sun loungers etc with only a couple of portaloos. It may have improved but not many shops were open and it was a little run down in places (but someone may have been more recently and can give an update). We did have a lovely lunch in La Tabla where the staff were very friendly and very good with our son.
  10. I'd ask the waiters for a carton of milk in the MDR or the Waterside (buffet).
  11. Another vote here for the "lido" (Parque Maritimo Cesar Manrique) but it's a good 20-25 minutes walk from the shuttle bus drop-off (at kid's pace) so both ways may be a lot of walking for your girls. Instead I'd suggest a taxi there then stroll back via the Plaza de Espana where you can promise them a Turby (slushy) and a paddle in the lake. Back in 2015 a taxi cost us €6.80 and admission for 2 adults, a 5 year old, 2 sunbeds and 1 umbrella was €14.50. You can pick up a taxi near the shuttle bus drop-off and if the driver doesn't understand where you want to go ask for the "piscina" (swimming pool). With food and drinks I'd estimate you'll be looking at around €45 in total for a good day out!
  12. I completely sympathize, last few years we've stayed overnight halfway down but this year it may not be possible and I am already dreading the drive with myself, wife, son and in-laws crammed in the car. You have a much longer journey than us so I suppose I should be grateful for small mercies!
  13. Thanks Stephen, we're with Nationwide too and it hadn't occurred to me to upgrade but I will now. Cheers Damian
  14. Agree P&O have been "trying to be all things to all people" and I would even say they've been like that for years (not just at the moment). To be fair they've done a pretty good job in the past but perhaps they are now leaning too far towards less formal cruising? Disappointing as that is for me and many others it's not really surprising, you could easily find posts 10 years ago on this site where people are grumbling about "having to dress up" so with ever bigger ships to fill P&O are just trying to take advantage of that market. As others have said we may not be far off a P&O cruise/ship which has a completely informal dress code and even then some will push the boundaries of what meets an acceptable "casual smart" dress code in the evenings.
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