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Bob0208

A general P&O question

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We had a Royal Caribbean cruise to the northern parts of Norway cancelled.  They are not offering a similar itinerary next year.  Found P&O with a similar route next year.  Have no familiarity with this line, but as I read posts on other topics that they have declined.  I’d appreciate examples so I know what’s going on with them and should I consider them.

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I can't help you with to regards to the decline that many long standing cruisers speak of as our first cruise was only in 2016. However I can tell you that we had a great time on each one we have been on. I would say as long as you don't try to compare them to RCI, that you should have a great holiday. 

 

As far as I am aware (never been on one) and I could be wrong in this, but my impression is that the RCI ships are more of a theme park related cruise, all action. I'm not pulling that to bit's it's just not what we want from a cruise at this time. P&O ships don't have slides, flo riders, ice rinks etc on them. I don't know if RCI have parades down the mall, but P&O don't. 

 

A lot of the long standing cruisers prefer to use the mdr and speciality restaurants saying it's more refined. We have used both the mdr and the buffet, but I find a 3 course meal on a night is too much for me. With regards to the buffet, as long as you don't use them at peak times they are fine. Early morning is best for breakfast and if we use it on a night go around 8.30. We have found it to be quiet then, with lots of empty seats. 

 

Personally, I think that if you went on one, with the expectation that it will be different to  your previous cruises, I'm sure you will enjoy it. Others especially Graham and Pete will probably be able to help you out better than me. 

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It all depends on what you want from a cruise,  I've been on both Royal Caribbean & P&O and they are different experiences but both enjoyable in their own right.   P&O I tend to go for when I want to relax and unwind as it's more sedate with less hustle & bustle. 

 

Royal Caribbean cruises I went on were a lot livelier with more activities to join in with etc & seem busier with a lot of activity centred around the promenade which.

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1 hour ago, Bob0208 said:

We had a Royal Caribbean cruise to the northern parts of Norway cancelled.  They are not offering a similar itinerary next year.  Found P&O with a similar route next year.  Have no familiarity with this line, but as I read posts on other topics that they have declined.  I’d appreciate examples so I know what’s going on with them and should I consider them.


I don’t know which ship is going that far north. It is likely to be Arcadia or Aurora, both child free and with 2000 passengers onboard. I like both ships but have never ventured on RC so cannot compare.

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My last ten or eleven cruises have been with P&O and the two cruises I had booked for this year were also with P&O.

 

I can honestly say that I make no criticism, or have any complaints, about the cruises or the booking of the cruises at all and look forward to cruising with P&O in the future.

 

There is a lot of bad feeling about the way customers are being treated by P&O at the moment and I am still waiting for a refund. I doubt, however, that there are significant differences in the way that P&O  and any other cruise lines are behaving.

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Hello there,

 

I cannot offer you a comparison with RCL as I have never travelled with them either.  However, I can offer you a review of recent experiences with P&O to help you make your decision.

 

There is a general consensus that the on board experience now better than shore side.  The resource invested in to shore side operations and customer focus is on the slide.  It used to be a given that if you needed to call that you would come in to contact with someone who was helpful - now it's luck of the drawer.  I won't go on about refunds as there are plenty of comments on other threads for you to look at. 

 

Although subjective, I've also seen more iffy service on the areas on board focussed on information and experience (such as Reception, organised excursions and Loyalty Cruise Sales); definitely photography.

 

What we have also seen is more noticeable cost cutting or "value engineering" in recent years, flowing to reduced on board fares.  Examples include reduced ratios of waiters and wine waiters in the MDR; the difference with speciality dining is more telling now - particularly at a venue like the Epicurean, which charges £30 cover.

 

Other examples include reports given to us around cabin stewards having more areas to look after.  From my experience, they are usually very good, the unsung heroes on board; they have heavier workloads now. 

 

Portion sizes in MDR are being squeezed, but then quality (in my eyes) is one of the selling points for inclusive dining and you can never really go hungry on a cruise ship.

 

Entertainment offerings on board are patchy; there is certainly less tailored to a traditional taste - like classical concerts, interesting guest speakers and such like, however some of the on board shows are good.  The quality of the invited on acts are iffy, particularly the guest artists and comics. 

 

Day time entertainment is usually repetitive and lacks imagination, but as it has been said, the traditional low key theme is part of the brand - they are not (yet) setting up shop as a theme park.  That said, there is certainly more family orientation on board the larger ships ie. a mini "arcade" on Ventura.  Shops are the shops; not a fan, but this isn't part of the decline.  Drink selection / menus very good; pricing competitive and certainly not American style pricing. 

 

Service charges no longer applied; but noticeable pushing of on board spend opportunities - i.e. waiters and waitresses helpfully positioned by pools and lifts to remind you to try the paid for dining experience.

 

Occasionally you see wear and tear on board, particularly the likes of Oceana, but overall the ships are well equipped and comfortable, as are the cabins.

 

Personally, I don't expect a 6 star cruise experience when I go on board, and I don't have 6 star lined pockets to be frank - more of a 4 star experience/expectation from me.

 

Overall, with the exception of the poor customer service (which you come to accept) and their over-zealous value engineering, which makes it feel like a 3 star at times - they meet that standard, but less comfortably than when we first travelled some years ago.  This is as I say without mentioning the refund debacle - no stars there!

 

Hope that this helps, matched alongside the views of others.  I imagine a diverse range of opinions here.

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1 hour ago, Bob0208 said:

We had a Royal Caribbean cruise to the northern parts of Norway cancelled.  They are not offering a similar itinerary next year.  Found P&O with a similar route next year.  Have no familiarity with this line, but as I read posts on other topics that they have declined.  I’d appreciate examples so I know what’s going on with them and should I consider them.

Our last cruise was on Indy last July/ Aug, and we have had many on P&O as well.  The main difference IMO, is that I think we would only want to go on RCI with friends or family, whereas we are be happy to cruise on P&O, and indeed Celebrity, on our own. Standards of food, cleanliness and entertainment are similar on both lines, but RCIs customer service is much better than P&O. 

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I have never tried RCI as I travel with my 79 year old dad and the ships are too busy for him as he has dementia. I have never had a bad experience on P&O and I say the having recently returned from Arcadia’s World Cruise.


Sent from my iPad using Forums

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I have not sailed with RCI either but I feel you maybe need to think about what you want out of the cruise. If you have sailed previously on the large RCI ships, I think you could (but may not of course) find Arcadia and/or Aurora a very different product. Service on P&O generally is pretty non-intrusive and some experience this as the staff being 'cold' - it is very different to American-style 'upbeat' service.  Menus on P&O are very geared to British tastes and the buffet in particular can be a shock to the system if you are used to expansive USA lines buffets.  As has been said, Arcadia and Aurora are adult-only ships and as such the passenger demographics are skewed to the higher side.

If you want a laid-back cruise on a smaller ship with, by today's standards relatively few eating and entertainment options, then it could work for you. If you want a large-ship buzz and a plethora of choice for eating and entertainment, then maybe not.

Hope you find that helpful.

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My primary objective is the destinations and the activities in the ports.  Definitely not into the rock climbing, etc.  Entertainment is not necessary, but sunrise and sunsets are what we like.  I’m hearing P&O would be good based on our tastes.  As an American, would I be welcome and I’m curious as the comment about “British food.”  We’re 67 years old and this was supposed to be the year we traveled extensively.  We’re not foodies.  I need my vodka and her the Chardonnay.  I’m thinking this would work.  Am I wrong?

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6 hours ago, Bob0208 said:

My primary objective is the destinations and the activities in the ports.  Definitely not into the rock climbing, etc.  Entertainment is not necessary, but sunrise and sunsets are what we like.  I’m hearing P&O would be good based on our tastes.  As an American, would I be welcome and I’m curious as the comment about “British food.”  We’re 67 years old and this was supposed to be the year we traveled extensively.  We’re not foodies.  I need my vodka and her the Chardonnay.  I’m thinking this would work.  Am I wrong?


Never having visited USA, I am not sure about the difference between each nation’s foods. The food on P&O is good, very good if you consider the difficulties feeding a couple of thousand or more people within 3 hours. Hamburgers, southern fried chicken and other items of stereotypical American food are hard to come by on P&O, but I suspect you don’t fit that stereotype anyway. I guess that few actually do. 
 

Vodka and Chardonnay are both readily available at reasonable prices and I am sure you would be made to feel very welcome. Norway is beautiful and we are booked on Aurora at the beginning of August 2021 to replace the maiden cruise on Iona that should be in Stavanger this morning (but isn’t of course!)

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8 hours ago, Bob0208 said:

My primary objective is the destinations and the activities in the ports.  Definitely not into the rock climbing, etc.  Entertainment is not necessary, but sunrise and sunsets are what we like.  I’m hearing P&O would be good based on our tastes.  As an American, would I be welcome and I’m curious as the comment about “British food.”  We’re 67 years old and this was supposed to be the year we traveled extensively.  We’re not foodies.  I need my vodka and her the Chardonnay.  I’m thinking this would work.  Am I wrong?


I think you’ll be fine, but don’t expect American levels of customer service.
On a cruise last may we had no working toilet in our cabin for about 18 hours, we had to chase the staff for updates,  not them updating us.

 

similarly in the mdr, there are few waiters and service is not quick.

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1 minute ago, amfc_lenny said:

similarly in the mdr, there are few waiters and service is not quick.

Which, as far as I am concerned, is a plus as I don't want to be hurried during a meal.

 

I have never had an issue with the speed of service and, on the odd occasion I needed to be out quickly, a word with the waiters was all that was needed.

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37 minutes ago, amfc_lenny said:


I think you’ll be fine, but don’t expect American levels of customer service.
On a cruise last may we had no working toilet in our cabin for about 18 hours, we had to chase the staff for updates,  not them updating us.

 

similarly in the mdr, there are few waiters and service is not quick.


To provide balance, I have never had a non working toilet in around 20 P&O cruises and waiter speed has been OK. Waiter speed can be affected by the size of table group and whether, for example, one of them wants soup as well as a starter. This can delay main courses. I agree that customer service is not always good but it is not always bad either. 

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37 minutes ago, Pine Man said:

Which, as far as I am concerned, is a plus as I don't want to be hurried during a meal.

 

I have never had an issue with the speed of service and, on the odd occasion I needed to be out quickly, a word with the waiters was all that was needed.

I agree we hate to be rushed through a meal. We have always found the waiters in MDR very good and anxious to please.

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21 hours ago, Bob0208 said:

We had a Royal Caribbean cruise to the northern parts of Norway cancelled.  They are not offering a similar itinerary next year.  Found P&O with a similar route next year.  Have no familiarity with this line, but as I read posts on other topics that they have declined.  I’d appreciate examples so I know what’s going on with them and should I consider them.

I apologise for saying this on the P&O board, but there are a number of other cruise lines that offer cruises from UK to Norway, including Celebrity (a sister cruise line of Royal Caribbean). I don't know the exact itinerary you are looking for, but if Celebrity offer something similar it might be worth asking the same question on the Celebrity board. I for one would offer my thoughts having cruised to Norway on both P&O and Celebrity from Southampton, UK. 

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10 hours ago, Bob0208 said:

My primary objective is the destinations and the activities in the ports.  Definitely not into the rock climbing, etc.  Entertainment is not necessary, but sunrise and sunsets are what we like.  I’m hearing P&O would be good based on our tastes.  As an American, would I be welcome and I’m curious as the comment about “British food.”  We’re 67 years old and this was supposed to be the year we traveled extensively.  We’re not foodies.  I need my vodka and her the Chardonnay.  I’m thinking this would work.  Am I wrong?

We too mainly choose a cruise for destination which is why we have cruised with several cruise companies including Royal Caribbean.We cruise mainly with P and O because I don t like flying and they tend to have longer cruises which include places we haven t previously visited.For families with teenagers I think Royal Caribbean is more suitable but we are a similar age to you and enjoy P and O.I think most people are friendly and the drink prices are more reasonable than most other cruise lines plus tips are included.

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22 hours ago, No pager thank you said:

What we have also seen is more noticeable cost cutting or "value engineering" in recent years, flowing to reduced on board fares.  Examples include reduced ratios of waiters and wine waiters in the MDR; the difference with speciality dining is more telling now - particularly at a venue like the Epicurean, which charges £30 cover.

 

 

I would agree with this but I would say that the paid for venues still offer good value for money imo. Particularly for Americans if the current exchange rate lasts...

 

If this is likely to be your only P&O cruise I would highly recommend a visit to the Epicurean for a special evening. Sindhu would also be worth a visit to try Indian food.

 

More casual options at Glass House and Beach House...

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True, I hadn't considered it from an American exchange rate perspective!

 

Of the specialty dining options you outline, personally I enjoy the Beach House, which I do feel represents good (and best) value at £7.50-£10 cover value.

 

The standard of food in the Epicurean is very good and the friendliness and attentiveness of waiting staff excellent - yes a good recommendation as a treat, what you probably notice however, should you do this, is the difference in service standard at a restaurant such as the Epicurean and the MDR. 

 

It has mixed reviews sometimes, but the Afternoon Tea in the Epicurean is also excellent in my opinion.

 

On the flip side, if you like Indian food then try Sindhu, bit hit and miss for me, but unless you are an big fan of strong flavours and weird dishes, swerve anything to do with Marco Pierre White - whether that's the gala dinner menu (usually on night two), the Ocean Grill on Arcadia (which for me is not good value for money), and definitely Cafe Jardin if it's Oceana.  Oceana tends to go from Malta now though so not the route you describe in your opening post. 

 

With the Glass House, and if I'm honest, Olly Smith generally, I don't get the concept and the service that I have had has been iffy in the past.  Each to their own of course.  Broadening out slightly and on the topic of Iona, which could be the ship, I'm quite intrigued by their Keel and Cow offer of a gastro breakfast, won't be American style but would be more appealing than the breakfast buffet I'm sure.

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14 hours ago, Bob0208 said:

My primary objective is the destinations and the activities in the ports.  Definitely not into the rock climbing, etc.  Entertainment is not necessary, but sunrise and sunsets are what we like.  I’m hearing P&O would be good based on our tastes.  As an American, would I be welcome and I’m curious as the comment about “British food.”  We’re 67 years old and this was supposed to be the year we traveled extensively.  We’re not foodies.  I need my vodka and her the Chardonnay.  I’m thinking this would work.  Am I wrong?

I've cruised many times on both lines.  P&O are not glitzy, there's a distinctly British vibe on board.  There's no 20% gratuity on everything you buy, most of the select restaurants are cheaper and portions (mostly) smaller that the enormous American ones.  The casino will be way smaller than any on an American ship.  Many of the one-off entertainers will be be on both RCI and P&O out of the UK.  Of course Americans are welcome, I've met a few on P&O.  Give it a bash and I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised.  If you go on Aurora, try Andersons, it's like an old English gentlemans club.  Have fun!

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