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Anyone been on a P&O cruise?

(11 Posts)
StarryEyedMama Mon 21-Feb-11 19:59:34


DD, I and my two elderly parents are going on a P&O cruise in April. We have yet to choose which cabin and would love some advice on which ones are the nicest and also ideas on what to pack and any other advice really....!


Glubs Tue 22-Feb-11 11:37:17

I went on a P&O Cruise last year although it was on Artemis which is adults only.

This year we are going on P&O Oceana and taking my DD (who will be 6).

DH and I have worked briefly on Cruise Ships and been on a few as customers too so know a little about it.

Which ship are you going on? Depends on the ship as to how you choose your cabin.

P&O is at the top end of the 'cheap' cruises (Thompson etc) and at the lower end of the 'posh' cruises (Celebrity etc). The ships tend to be a little worn but there's still a great sense of grandeur and occasion. You can be as formal or as relaxed as you like.

When you say, ideas on what to pack, do you mean dress code? Let me know and I can help with that.

nannyl Tue 22-Feb-11 20:26:37

Ive been on oceana twice and aurora twice

really really lovely, you wont be disapointed

what do you want to know?

I have been on Artemis (though not cruising on it, ex was a member of staff on it so ive been on with him) i thought aurora and oceana were in a completely different leage to artemis... i was so shocked at how shabby it was....

though i was on Aurora about 2 months after a refit when everything was imaculate and new, (and again a year later)

StarryEyedMama Wed 23-Feb-11 21:22:02

Hi both,

Thanks for your replies. We're going on the Azura on the 8th April for a cruise round the West Med - very excited even though I had a heart attack when we were quoted the price (but thankfully my mother is paying for it, I would never be able to afford it!)

Just curious about it all really, people say that cruising is such a different experience from any other holiday. I guess my thoughts/queries are:

What kind of food does the "buffet" restaurant serve at breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Are there shops on board? and if so what do they sell? We will have £1000 on board spending money between us so quite excited about that!

What is the likelihood of me or DD getting seasick and how much motion do you feel? We're in mid cabin on the Rivera deck.

Do the entertainers provide different shows each night or is it the same each night?

When they say a "day" in port, how many hours is that exactly?

In terms of clothing, do I have to take anything formal even if I'm not planning on dining in any of the 'posh' restaurants? I don't really have anything formal enough really

Wondering what to pack, any tips? I guess that will also depend on what the shops offer on the cruise (i.e if they sell toiletries then I will wait until I'm on the ship to get those)

Any tips/general advice would be much appreciated, I want to be as prepared as possible, plus I'm an awful packer so need to start thinking about it now!


Glubs Wed 23-Feb-11 21:58:59

The Azura eh? should be fabulous on such a new ship, lucky you!!

OK, here answer your questions (using only my experience/opinion)

1) The buffet offers a HUGE range of food pretty much 24/7, if you can't find something for everyone I'd be very surprised. Breakfast has everything from cereal, toast, pastries, full fry up, fish, fruit, yoghurt etc. Other times of the day there's always bread, ham, cheese and the like, also chips and loads of stuff to go with that together with a large range of hot dishes (pasta, meats, stews, veg etc etc etc), salad, basically more choice than you can probably want! You can also order room service any time of day or night (no extra charge - menu in your cabin). There'll be pizza available pretty much all day too.

2) There are shops on board. They sell clothes (not to all tastes), jewellery, gifts, bags and the like. There'll be lots of 'stalls' during the cruise too selling watches and necklaces etc. There is usually a general shop selling toiletries, chocolate, beach towels and the like. I wouldn't rely on these for toiletries, I'd use them for when/if you run out, although there will be good quality complimentary toiletries in your cabins which if you use up are replaced free of charge(I think they're from White Company this year according to website). Shops are generally not cheap but usually sell quite good quality stuff.

You will probably find your on board spend is eaten up with your bar bill and photos or maybe some spa treatments and if there's any left over you can use it to help pay for your tips at the end.

3) I get VERY seasick on ferries but have never felt remotely seasick on a cruise ship. It's so huge, you forget you're on a boat a lot of the time. If DD has a problem with motion, there's lots of remedies in the onboard shops or if really bad, a quick trip to the onboard doc should sort her out.

4) Entertainment - There's a different main show each night which is usually a sing and dance sort of thing. There will also be piano bars across the ship where pianists play things like songs from the shows, there will also be comedians, special guests, singers, films (either in cinema or in your cabin) etc. There's always something to do and there will be info about all that's on offer in the daily ship newspaper which is delivered to your cabin each night. You can do as much or as little as you want.

5) If you look up your cruise on the P&O website it shows you what time your ship arrives in each port and what time it leaves. You generally get at least 5 hours, usually 8 and sometimes more. DO NOT be late back to ship it WON'T WAIT for you!!

6) It's a shame you're not planning to eat in the main restaurants as it's such a part of the cruising experience and not at all 'stuffy'. Try it at least once, you don't have to eat every course and they have special celebrations sometimes which are fun. One night all the lights were dimmed and the waiters all came in with 'flaming baked alaskas' which was a lovely moment.

As for dress code, you can do as much or as little as you like. Again, on the website it will say how many formal, semi-formal and casual nights there are on your cruise. On formal nights ladies wear anything from a smart dress or trousers to a full blown ball gown and everything in-between. Men wear tuxedos or suits generally but there are always people who don't want to go formal and that's fine, nothing's compulsory but part of the experience for us is dressing up. On semi-formal nights it's shorter cocktaily dresses for the ladies and suit and tie for the men (again, nothing compulsory) and on casual nights you can wear what you like. There are no rules but it's a good excuse to wear posh frocks that are rarely worn at home. I borrow stuff from friends to take with me sometimes, that way, you don't have to fork out for something you won't necessarily wear again.

7) Pack what you'd normally pack for a holiday. If you're flying, you'll have restrictions on weight but if you're going from a UK port (like we are) you can take as much as you like! I can't think of anything specific (other than formal gear if you're doing that) to take on a cruise holiday. We always take a small pair of binoculars but it's not essential. Towels are provided so you won't need them.

Finally, DON'T PANIC, you'll have the time of your life. It's such a great experience, you'll feel pampered, overwhelmed with all the choice of stuff to do and be prepared to put on weight!!

Let me know if there's anything else you need to know or if there's anything I've explained badly. I'm always happy to harp on about cruising!!

nannyl Fri 25-Feb-11 18:18:11

Looks like Glubs has covered everything

agree food fantastic, better then you can even imagine, and there is a HUGE choice. Even the fussiest of fussy eaters is catered for, as well as the really adventurous who want something a bit different special...

i have eaten lobster, wild boar, venison every fish imaginable and some of the most delicouse foods i have ever eaten while on board P&O

As for the posh restaurants... DO GO.... make yourself, they are fab. The food is out of this world. (for the fussy eaters you can have chicken breast / steak / salmon every evening)
also have as many things as you want.. if you want 3 puddings, ask for 3 puddings, you will get them!
They do the most amazing creme brulees, and have fancy ice creams too in wierd and wonderful flavours.

you can have silver service breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner every day.

you WILL need some posh clothes though... (at least i did on my 4 P&O cruises)
They have a dress code each night: smart casual (I think smart jeans with a smart collared shirt (no tie) is ok for men)
informal, no jeans, shirt and tie (but not bow tie) for men, nice summer dresses / skirts and tops etc for the ladies
and formal: Men in full DJ, ladies in really formal dresses.

What ever the dress code, after 7pm, you are expected to wearing it while on promenade deck (where everything happens) and in the restaurant.

On every cruise i have been on we have had black and white night too (formal) so make sure you have black and / or white dress (and shoes / scarf / handbag)

Entertainment is fab. The best shows are done twice (to allow 1st and 2nd sitting to attend) however we used to book an 8pm table and id often see the shows twice.
There will be 2 main shows every week, one in the show lounge and 1 in the theatre, + random singers / piano etc in other bars.
You will get a ships newspaper every day telling you all the things going on. Its action packed from dawn til midnight but u can do as much / little as you like

Get your DD into kids club at least for a bit of it. If under 5 you can put her to bed in the night nursery. Otherwise she can be looked after til 10pm, and have a chilled bit from 8pm ish where they watch a dvd and can fall asleep if they want.

The kids clubs are fab and they do so much fun stuff for kids. They have a theme each day, and really nearly everyday is like a party. Loads to do.

No reason why you cant give DD lunch in the buffet restaurnat, then put her in kids club and go and be serves a seriosuly tastey dinner in restaurant.

The have always done a chocoholic buffet in the afternoon on one of the last days, where you see the kitchen, learn how many tonnes of meat and 1000s of eggs have been used on your cruise, and then into a restaurant for as many chocolate cakes / deserts / puddings that you have ever seen!
all you can eat, as usual!

Im sure they did a similar thing with a seafood special lunch.... if you like that sort of thing, ( do) it really is impressive!

Have fun and make sure you take loose clothes to wear at the end of the cruise as you WILL need them.

I too get very sea sick but cruise ships are fitted with stabelisers... its so flat you would never no you not on land.... even drinks in glasses dont ripple or anything, though they did ripple slightly when it was really rough and decks were closed.... but still the smallest amount, conseidering

nannyl Fri 25-Feb-11 18:19:41

i wrote 2 main shows every week, i meant every night smile

StarryEyedMama Fri 25-Feb-11 22:21:58

Thank you both for your advice - it's very helpful. So how formal is formal? If I was to say, buy either of these dresses, here or or here would they be formal enough? I'm guessing not....

Also, I'm wondering how "much" to pack, can either (or both) of you suggest a quantity of clothes? I'm awful at packing and want to make sure I get it right (plus I have to do my parents packing as well as mine and my daughters!)


nannyl Fri 25-Feb-11 22:31:13

Id say the 1st one would be fine

can dress it up a bit with a bright coloured scarf / pashmina type thing (oh yes on all my cruises they have had really nice pashminas in the shop, and have bought loads as Xmas presents!)

no one will notice or care if you wear the same formal dress each time smile

there is LOADS of clothes storage.... most of the cruise ships do world cruises for 3months, and they really do provide enough space for people to take their whole entire wardrobe

I did 2 cruises from southampton.... i took 3 cases (55kg) of stuff. (just for me)

had to be more selective when i flew to the carribean though!

I always take far too much anyway.... i think i took 5 or 6 formal outfits, 5 or 6 informal, and loads of other

didnt wear even half of it but wanted to choose what i wanted when there.

the self serve laundrys are free of charge so you can always wash and dry a load (if u really want to spend time in their?) pretty sure the powder was free to, or it might have been 50p ir something? if you have a free sample sachet then take it

they have a mini extendable washing line in the shower and swim suits seem to dry really fast

HugoandSam Tue 01-Mar-11 15:41:12

We've been on serveral cruises with P&O over the years including Azura - and I love her! She is a very big ship, make no mistake, but fitted out very well and lovely lounges. I agree with others - part of the cruise is the dining experience - go and enjoy it, it isn't stuffy and the waiters are very friendly and chat. 95% of the people you meet are just ordinary people who saved for a cruise. And the others have been on every cruise known to mankind and either got a bargain every time (three weeks for 50p, really!) or they use their returement years to have the lives I wish for!

We go as a gang ( of 4 ladies and my sister only ever buys from M&S even for the glad rag nights, put on a pair of sparkly earrings and your fine. If you have the means dress up to the nines, its all part of what can make it special.

We also had a cabin on Riviera deck, very nice position to be in, when we've saved enough to go again we'll be booking the same cabin on the same ship.

Most of our on board credit was spent on trips as we dont tend to drink much alocohol. The shops are lovely for browsing but dont expect M&S! You'll have a jewellery shop, a clothes shop, a general sweets/sun/cream/toys shop. Each day there will be a sale or special offer going on, and often a small event showing you things like tanzanites etc. If you intend to buy duty free order it as the beginning of the cruise, you cant get it at the end. There is also a nice library with internet connection and a decent choice of books (even in large print which is what I need)

Make friends with your cabin steward, they'll introduce themselves, tips play a very large part of their income so dont mind paying it, but they will do all they can to help you and work incredibly hard. We alsways start the week with a bottle of water in the cabin, but tend to buy our own after that.

The buffet on Azura can get very busy, especially at breakfast. If you can I recommend you go to the dining room for breakfast, its free seating and you can order whatever you want to eat, its calmer and less crowded. Each day there are special in the buffet, and the afternoon tea is not to be missed (at least one visit!!)

Packing wise - a pack of cards never goes amiss and comfortable shoes are essential, there's often a lot of walking to and from events on board. Toileteries are sold on board - and we've always been fine with the selection but I take my own favourite conditioner.

Have a wonderful time, and accept you're on a cruise and relax and enjoy! (do go to dinner in the restaurant!)

geordieminx Fri 04-Mar-11 17:06:28

I wouldn't worry about being too formal, we went on a royal carribean cruise last year, and even on the formal nights, there were people in cocktail dresses, but also women in sun dresses, maxi dresses etc. No one stood out and you certainly wouldn't feel underdressed in either of the dresses you linked to.

It's really relaxed, and people will go out of their way to make you feel welcome. We didn't think we would do formic dining either but went on the 3rd night and loved it. Ds (3) was better behaved in the dining room than he was in the buffet, and the waiters made such a fuss of him. They tend to seat families in groups, so you will be amongst company, the food was fab also, not too "posh"

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