Author: S Favell
This was a first cruise. Just a taster to see if we would become converts . On arrival at Southampton port our luggage was taken swiftly by the attendants and we were ushered to the main departure lounge. It was well organised and plenty of P & O staff ready to help. Our time slot was 1pm for embarkment but we arrived early , gaining us time for a quick coffee before we boarded. The whole process from being checked in having our photos taken and being issued with a ships pass card was far simpler then flying and ran so smoothly and we felt no stress or pressure. We were so surprised with the lay of the ship. It was managable and sign posted so clearly and again the staff were so helpful. We were advised that our cabins would be ready from around 3pm and shown to the lunch prepared in the Horizone resturant which is buffet style. Fabulous selection and so clean. The seating areas were clean and well maintained by the resturant staff. This gave us time to get our bearings and study the ships map, which is a must for first timers. On arrival to our cabin we were met by Donald our cabin attendant for the trip and given our dining option which was Freedom dining. Our room was well equipped with beach,bath,hand and face towels as well as beautifully soft robes and complimentary slippers, very nice. The bed was a queen and a good size and very comfortable. We had a small sofa, mini fridge with complimentary water on arrival . The room overall was very well decorated and a free safe to use was an added bonus. The wardrobes are spacious for two people. We later took a tour of the ship and we were so taken back by the various resturant and bars and the library was a relaxing place next to the Crows nest , where the view really is amazing. The cinema is of a good size to sit back and enjoy a movie in the very comfortable seats. We did visit the gym which had new and up today's equipment and an instructor on hand. We used the outdoor running track a first for us to run on a ship, fab. We didn't use the pool as weather to cold for us but families made good use of them and the jacuzzi's. In the evening the shows were brilliant, was worried as Butlins did come to mind! They were colourful, great music and the audiences were up and clapping , fantastic. From start to finish we had a famous time and not forgetting the food morning, brunch,afternoon and evening was of a high standard. ( take care as its easy to easy to over eat! Well I suppose that's what holidays are all about. ) Sadly our only down side was not getting into port at Brugge. The weather was deemed to be unsafe and the Captiain said a day at sea instead was unfortunate but necessary . Our itinerary had been changed four times in the run up to our holiday date again weather was the problem. I would have preferred to have done Brugge first and not missed out on that but sadly not only did we miss out on Brugge we also missed out on Guernseys Independence day ! However, we did not allow this to dampen our trip and YES we will be booking another trip. This time with some sun to enjoy the outside decks a little more next time.