It was our second cruise but the first with P&O. We booked it via Gills cruises website last year. Correspondence from them was excellent. Payment was easy with a minimal deposit and final payment due 14 weeks before the cruise. Their emails and telephone conversations were always polite and very helpful. Well done Gills cruises.
Our cruise started on a Sunday and left from Southampton. The drive down was a little eventful due to our choice of route. The M25 around London was nose to tail traffic, very slow moving and frustrating. Once moving past the M25 the traffic cleared and it was a clear run down to Southampton docks.
P&O have a dedicated port at Southampton which was easy to find and get into. We pulled up out front of the terminal and were met by courteous staff who took all our bags from the car and delivered them straight to our cabin on-board. The car was then valet parked for us in a secure car park to wait for us until our return.
The book in was quick and due to my wheelchair we were guided up a dedicated ramp helped by staff onto the ship. The lifts from the entrance deck to our cabin platform was spacious clean and quick. The corridor on the deck of our cabin was a little narrow, which meant if anything such as luggage or cleaners trolley was there then getting passed in my wheelchair was difficult. Fortunately these where kept clear for most of the holiday.
There was a big 'Sail away' party as we pulled away from the dock which included a brass band on the dock to play us off.
Flags were handed out to everyone so we could celebrate our departure which went smoothly and on time. As we sailed out of Southampton we passed P&O's new liner the Azura accompanied by lots of cheering and horn blowing we left Southampton.
We had an inside cabin this cruise. It was spacious but the air conditioning unit was very noisy and took a little getting used to. As we spent very little time in the cabin this was not a problem to spoil the cruise.
Dinner that evening was in the smart Oriental restaurant situated at the rear or stern of the ship. It had huge panoramic windows all the way round giving good views.
Dress was smart casual which meant shirt and trousers for men and smart skirt/trousers and top for the ladies. Food was excellent and service was polite and very prompt.
The evenings big show in the theatre at the bow of the ship was changed due to one of the production companies stars had had to leave the ship for a family emergency. It was replaced by a show by a comedian. The comedian was good but used lots of the usual cruise material and one liners to pad out his repertoire but was still entertaining.
After the show we had a stroll around the Art gallery and library and then went for a drink, a couple of Mocktails non alcoholic cocktails, in the Tiffany bar accompanied by the resident pianist, who was excellent.
All in all it was a great first day. The ship was stunning the staff were polite well dressed and pleasant it looks like it will be a good cruise.
Keep watching for the rest of the review over the next few days.