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CruisingFox27

Advice for New to P&O Cruiser

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We've previously cruised with other lines, MSC, Costa and Thompson but are looking at a 14 night cruise in the Caribbean on Azura.

 

I'd like any advice, hints and tips on sailing with P&O and also on the ship. Any nuances to consider, anything that you'd recommend to ensure all is well?

 

All thoughts appreciated.

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We had similar feelings when deciding to sail this itinerary with P&O for the first time last year.  By way of saying how we enjoyed the cruise, in a few weeks from now we will be aboard her again. Be prepared for a good cruise with lots of friendly laughter the likes of which we had not seen on other lines.

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Hi CF,

 

See my short review of our recent cruise aboard The Aurora.

Bon Voyage,

 

Ira

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They do tend to be quite strict on formal nights for you to be in formal attire - see the lines guidelines or you will have to eat in the buffet those nights. Not always but be prepared. not been on other lines so cant comment on major differences.

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Have done this cruise twice now, and can’t fault it at all. If you are booked on a charter flight from uk, you will check in your luggage at the airport, and the next time you see it will be in your cabin! The food was very good, and not surprisingly was aimed at the British tastes. The warm scones with strawberry jam and cream each afternoon are a real treat.

Do some homework in advance, as the islands are very easy to visit independently. Each port will have numerous taxis waiting, and this is a very cost effective way to get around. We usually toured each island for 4-5hrs, and the cost was approximately 25-30$us per person, which is a lot less than the ships tours. Have a great cruise, I’m sure you will.

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I don't know about MSC or Costa but the dining situation is different on P&O from Thomson.  Be aware of the different types of fares offered by P&O and the dining arrangements associated with them.  P&O have Club Dining (two sittings and you are allocated to a table of 2,4,6 or 8 which is the same for your holiday) or Freedom Dining when you can eat at a time of your choosing and ask for a table for two or say you are happy to share. 

Select Fares allows you to choose which of these you prefer.  Early Savers can say what they prefer but Select Fare passengers get priority, Saver Fares have next choice and Early Savers are allocated to what's left.  You may well get your preference but you have to weigh up whether you want to be sure of your dining arrangements - or if you don't mind.  (You can also choose your cabin with Select Fare otherwise you are allocated a cabin within the category of cabin type you have booked.)  

On Azura, with two out of three dining rooms offering Freedom Dining, your chances of Freedom should you want it is much better than on the ships which have only one dining room providing Freedom. 

These issues may not matter to you but perhaps not having travelled with P&O before, you might not be familiar with this.

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Great info thank you. We'd always dress formally for formal nights and smart/casual on other evenings, as though we were going out to a nice restaurant of an evening. I assume this would be acceptable? We'd probably need to be more casual on the first night as the flight doesn't land until 5.30pm and we may not have our cases before dinner.

 

We usually mix exploring independently with ship excursions. We've had mixed experiences with ship excursions, some excellent but some over priced and you waste time waiting for everyone to be herded around. How are the P&O excursions, generally?

 

Great to know about the dining. Sounds not dissimilar to MSC, who offer fixed dining where you are assigned a time and shared table with some experiences and MyChoice flexible dining on others.

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Posted (edited)

We saw Azura recently docked alongside Silhouette in St Kitts, she is looking in need of a little care and attention.  Talked to many of their passengers at the beach and their comments were not good. There are many other options for sailing the Caribbean which are worth exploring before you commit.  If P&O is your choice wait until after final payment, Caribbean cruise prices with P&O always fall especially November and December cruises.

Edited by mickey89

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Thanks Micky. We saw her in the Caribbean last year but I didn't note her condition, what areas did the negative comments relate to? Were the passengers all commenting on the same things or lots of different issues?

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6 hours ago, CruisingFox27 said:

Great info thank you. We'd always dress formally for formal nights and smart/casual on other evenings, as though we were going out to a nice restaurant of an evening. I assume this would be acceptable? We'd probably need to be more casual on the first night as the flight doesn't land until 5.30pm and we may not have our cases before dinner....

 

Even though we arrive mid afternoon, we still had not received our luggage until well after dinner.  However, the dining room captain was very accommodating in understanding the situation.

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1 hour ago, CruisingFox27 said:

Thanks Micky. We saw her in the Caribbean last year but I didn't note her condition, what areas did the negative comments relate to? Were the passengers all commenting on the same things or lots of different issues?

When berthed next to Silhouette which is about the same age, the differences were astonishing. Externally much evidence of rust around balconies, balustrades in need of re-staining, maybe superficial but not a good impression.

The negative comments were mostly directed at the food and the fall in service standards to the past. We sailed Britannia a few years ago and found similar poor food quality and it cost us a lot more as we were forced to eat in the specialty restaurants.  Personally we would only cruise P&O if the price was significantly lower than Celebrity which it is not the case. Recent prices are very similar taking account of the included air fare, the only good thing in P&O favour is the ease of getting to/fro the ship with great luggage handling.

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I was on Azura this August and didn't notice any issues with her condition. I'd read similar comments before our trip and was pleasantly surprised by the standard. When we were getting back onboard at one port we saw maintenance men on harnesses cleaning the outside of the ship. 

I was however slightly disappointed with the lunchtime buffets. As this was my first cruise with P&O I didnt know if this was a usual standard but my partner (who has cruised with P&O for years) said that the buffet wasn't as good as previous years. However, there are always options of eating elsewhere at lunchtime rather than the buffet, if it isn't to your taste. Otherwise, the food and service we thought was excellent. Our waiters in the main dining room were wonderful.

Personally I was very impressed with my first P&O cruise and am hopeful to do another this summer. 

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I suspect one of the main differences is the “Britishness” of the experience. Not just in the food served but in the overall experience.

 

Eg

 

-They fly union jacks and hand out Union Jack flags for passengers to wave at sailaways

 

-When leaving the final port they have the “Great British Sailaway” and  blare out Rule Brittania and Land of Hope and Glory etc in the final port sailaway. They love it if there’s a German ship in port so they can play it extra loud, for instance. 

 

-They tend to have a “British” themed show at some point in the theatre eg World War 2/Vera Lynn stuff or even just when having night dedicated to “Queen” songs they came on waving Union Jacks and the dancers were wearing Union Jack dresses etc. 

 

-Everything on board is in £s

 

-They’ve done away with gratuities (or rolled them into the price, depending on your perspective)

 

-They have a free “newspaper” which collates all the main headlines from good old Blighty/British Papers

 

-The sports they show on the tv’s tend to be British or events popular in Britain

 

So youll probably notice that a fair bit. Some love it. Some not so much. 

 

 

And so on....

 

So that will prob be different to MSC/Costa (I don’t know if Thomson follow a similar format in terms of drumming home the Britishness). 

 

 

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On 1/9/2019 at 6:36 PM, claudiniusmaximus said:

I suspect one of the main differences is the “Britishness” of the experience. Not just in the food served but in the overall experience.

 

Eg

 

-They fly union jacks and hand out Union Jack flags for passengers to wave at sailaways

 

-When leaving the final port they have the “Great British Sailaway” and  blare out Rule Brittania and Land of Hope and Glory etc in the final port sailaway. They love it if there’s a German ship in port so they can play it extra loud, for instance. 

 

-They tend to have a “British” themed show at some point in the theatre eg World War 2/Vera Lynn stuff or even just when having night dedicated to “Queen” songs they came on waving Union Jacks and the dancers were wearing Union Jack dresses etc. 

...

 

The "Great British Sailaway" was spectacular.  We we transformed into another world, another time. We usually bypass the theatre on cruises due to the deja vu of it all.  But we were unaware of the "British" themed shows and this sounds novel and interesting so we will make it a point to catch that show on our upcoming cruise.  Thanks for that.

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On 1/9/2019 at 11:36 PM, claudiniusmaximus said:

I suspect one of the main differences is the “Britishness” of the experience. Not just in the food served but in the overall experience.

 

Eg

 

-They fly union jacks and hand out Union Jack flags for passengers to wave at sailaways

 

-When leaving the final port they have the “Great British Sailaway” and  blare out Rule Brittania and Land of Hope and Glory etc in the final port sailaway. They love it if there’s a German ship in port so they can play it extra loud, for instance. 

 

-They tend to have a “British” themed show at some point in the theatre eg World War 2/Vera Lynn stuff or even just when having night dedicated to “Queen” songs they came on waving Union Jacks and the dancers were wearing Union Jack dresses etc. 

 

-Everything on board is in £s

 

-They’ve done away with gratuities (or rolled them into the price, depending on your perspective)

 

-They have a free “newspaper” which collates all the main headlines from good old Blighty/British Papers

 

-The sports they show on the tv’s tend to be British or events popular in Britain

 

So youll probably notice that a fair bit. Some love it. Some not so much. 

 

 

And so on....

 

So that will prob be different to MSC/Costa (I don’t know if Thomson follow a similar format in terms of drumming home the Britishness). 

 

 

 

Do they show live sports i.e. Premier League football? 

 

How is the onboard WiFi? I've noticed it's expensive compared to packages we've had previously, is it very reliable? 

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8 hours ago, CruisingFox27 said:

 

Do they show live sports i.e. Premier League football? 

 

How is the onboard WiFi? I've noticed it's expensive compared to packages we've had previously, is it very reliable? 

Yes Premier games are shown on the TV's in the pub or on your cabin TV.

 

Internet access on the ship is very slow and expensive. Best to wait until you go ashore if you can.

Brian

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On ‎1‎/‎9‎/‎2019 at 11:36 PM, claudiniusmaximus said:

I suspect one of the main differences is the “Britishness” of the experience. Not just in the food served but in the overall experience.

 

Eg

 

-They fly union jacks and hand out Union Jack flags for passengers to wave at sailaways

 

-When leaving the final port they have the “Great British Sailaway” and  blare out Rule Brittania and Land of Hope and Glory etc in the final port sailaway. They love it if there’s a German ship in port so they can play it extra loud, for instance. 

 

-They tend to have a “British” themed show at some point in the theatre eg World War 2/Vera Lynn stuff or even just when having night dedicated to “Queen” songs they came on waving Union Jacks and the dancers were wearing Union Jack dresses etc. 

 

-Everything on board is in £s

 

-They’ve done away with gratuities (or rolled them into the price, depending on your perspective)

 

-They have a free “newspaper” which collates all the main headlines from good old Blighty/British Papers

 

-The sports they show on the tv’s tend to be British or events popular in Britain

 

So youll probably notice that a fair bit. Some love it. Some not so much. 

 

 

And so on....

 

So that will prob be different to MSC/Costa (I don’t know if Thomson follow a similar format in terms of drumming home the Britishness). 

 

 

I can confirm that Marella (Thomson) do not drum home 'britishness' as they cater for the UK/Irish market.

 

For the OP I would say there are more similarities than differences between cruise lines but what is good about the P&O flights (and Marella) is after you check in your cases at the UK airport you next see them outside your cabin. No immigration at Barbados either, straight on the coach and away to the ship.

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On 1/20/2019 at 9:43 AM, davecttr said:

No immigration at Barbados either, straight on the coach and away to the ship.

Barbados immigration strange as it may be do the immigration in reverse, on your arrival back to Barbados at the end of the cruise. You are required to line up early morning in a long queue to get your passport stamped.

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