Arrived at Southampton for 1pm check in as instructed (Baltic) but nobody seemed to know where to stand. There were no seats available so in the end we queued up just outside the barrier. No-one was being checked in although the check in desks were fully manned (very strange).
Once on-board we went to a dining room for snacks & drinks. The choice of snacks was very limited – everything seemed to be encased in pastry.
Our cabin on C deck 12 was spacious with a huge TV and lots of TV shows & films on demand which was fantastic – good job too as the lack of a bedside light curtailed my night time reading. That really needs to be sorted out. I had a set of drawers my side of the bed but my husband didn’t on his side so be warned (he moaned the whole cruise about not having any drawers). There was a single long drawer under the mirror where the hairdryer was but it wasn’t enough.
The balcony was on the skinny side depth wise but fine. There was open hanging for your clothes directly as you exit the bathroom. Plenty of coathangers. Shower was fine but the water pressure was poor. They could be doing with a soap dish at the sink as the soap used to slide around so in the end we sat it on a facecloth – small detail but very annoying.
We encountered the tail end of storm Katie the first night which was pretty rocky but after that it was plain sailing.
We had no problem getting a seat in the theatre any night but we did go to the 7pm show. There were some good movies on in The Studio which unfortunately they started to repeat 2 or 3 days from the end of the cruise. We didn’t use the Crystal Room or Live Lounge but never heard any complaints. The atrium seating always looked busy. We only went to the Library once as it wasn’t in a very convenient location. It would be better located near one of the coffee outlets.
There was the age old problem of people reserving seats, “they’ve just gone to the toilet” – still not turned up 25 mins later. This happened in The Studio, Brodie’s and yes, the sunbeds. P&O really need to get on top of this problem as it is so annoying. They should enforce “the only way to reserve a seat is to sit in it” mantra.
We were Freedom Dining and always managed to get a table for 2 whatever time we showed up. The service was SLOWWWWWW. One night we had only had our starter and we’d been there for 45 mins. The waiter said it was because he had to queue in the galley. I think the waiters just had too many tables to look after. They were run off their feet. A couple of times the food was only lukewarm so somethings not quite right there.
This was the Ant & Dec cruise so there was quite a bit of upheaval on-board – the Arena deck area was out of use as ITV were storing their containers full of equipment there. They reckon it cost £3 million to put the show on from Britannia with £2 million being paid by Carnival. I hope they recoup their money in new bookings.
The Friday before the show Ant & Dec turned up in the Atrium to say a quick “hello” but it was so busy you could hardly see anything. They didn’t stay on-board as I think they were holed up in Barcelona with the ITV crew. On the Saturday night we were lucky enough to be on deck 17 and got a great view of the show. We forgot to tape it but have since watched it back and you could only see the backs of our heads (some would say my best side). It was great fun. They are such a genuine pair. When the chap got the question wrong on Win the Ads and they went to a commercial break you could see Ant shaking his head, he was gutted for the guy. We were there from 7pm till about 9.30pm and it was just starting the get chilly. Thank God it wasn’t the day before (Fri) cos it poured with rain. We caught the shuttle bus (free for the 2 days) into Barcelona, walked about 20 steps, then got back on the bus. It was lashing it down. On the Sat we caught the shuttle bus to the Monument at the bottom of Las Ramblas then caught the metro to Glories where there was a massive market. The last time we had been to the market (maybe 7 yrs ago) it was on waste ground but it has now been moved slightly and was mostly undercover and easier to get around. Lots of bargains to be had.
The Kids Clubs were all full on this Easter cruise but we hardly noticed any children (maybe they didn’t go to the same places we did) so they didn’t impact on our cruise enjoyment at all.
We were late leaving Civitavecchia as a party of 6 were missing – the Captain decided to wait for them as 2 other MSC ships were able to leave before us. They were lucky.
We were only in Gibraltar till 1.30pm but that’s enough time to do a shore excursion or a bit of duty free shopping. The cigarettes were about the same price as they were on the ship but the alcohol was cheaper – 1 ltr of Bombay Sapphire for £8.45. The cheapest place to buy cigs was Cadiz.
Breakfast in the restaurants on disembarkation day was open sitting which was much better than our last P&O cruise where you had to turn up at 2 set times and was manic. This was more relaxed.
We did enquire about booking a future cruise whilst on-board but the prices quoted were astronomical (even with the on-board credit) so gave that a miss.
Still, another good cruise under the belt. Would definitely go on Britannia again.