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Lost at sea - n00b question.


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Background, first time potential cruiser, treating wife who's 'ideal' hol is a cruise. Budget £4k for 2 for approx 14 nights.


Which? recommended this site for cruises and it seems full of info, however I'm getting lost.


We are no jet setters, and due to numerous reasons only started going abroad seriously in the last few years (mainly Spain!).


For our first cruise I was thinking of starting somewhere in Italy and 'doing' the Adriatic.


Looking around "P&O Italy, Greece & Corsica - 14 nights, full board" seems ideal, including the price of a balcony cabin, airfares & transfers sub £2k PP peak season.


Alas the reviews are less than glowing. We're both over 40, and don't want (sorry for the language) chavy behaviour either.


Is the P&O cruise the best I can expect for our budget?

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Check also about the gratuity situation. Do not know how P&O operates but other cruiselines operate as in the USA with gratuities paid ofr my the consumer not added into the fare. Sometimes the agents will add this in for you.

Many cruiselines add a gratuity/tip/service charge of approx $12 per person per day. This is the pay for almost everyone who will serve you--room stewards, food waiters and some other behind the scene people. Also usually 15% is added to the price of anything paid for at the bars.


Ask on the P&O board for specific answers. Reviews are interesting. I've read reviews of the same sailing I've cruised and the review is the complete opposite of what I experienced.


Also look at Holland America and Princess.




Check when the flight will come in. Many suggest flying in at least the day before, even if the flight is only 3 hours.

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P&O is probably as good as you get for your budget. But it's probably 4-star, and if you're not really jetsetters, is 5-star plus butler service what you really expect from a cruise?


Not all the reviews are "less than glowing". And I don't know who would think the behaviour level is chavvy, I certainly haven't seen any such behaviour (well perhaps once), but if you want an older group of people, try the adult-only ships.


Tips, btw, are £3.50 per day, and while not compulsory, are an essential part of the waiters' and cabin stewards' wages and you would be exceptionally mean if you took them off. Treat them as compulsory unless you have rotten service (which we never have). There aren't any other hidden extras that I remember. Tips don't cover behind-the-scenes people, they're on a straight salary, and bar prices include service so no tips needed there. Bar prices are about the same as pub prices. Free tea and coffee available all day in the buffet and in your cabin.

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You may have been reading the wrong reviews - see Sadie's post, & go by averages rather than the more extreme good or bad views.

You're not going to get "chav" behaviour on a P&O ship. Kids on the larger ships Azura or especially Ventura in school holidays, but no chavs.

Chav behaviour is restricted mainly to stags, hens & such on mini-cruises - and that's on pretty-well any cruise line which offers mini-cruises.

In fact you risk the other end of the scale, a lot of elderly folk on P & O's three adult-only ships Arcadia, Adonia & Arthritis (sorry, Artemis).

P & O ships have perhaps the most bland & neutral décor of the major lines. They'd also be the easiest for a Brit's first cruise & without unwelcome & expensive surprises.


Princess are in the same league, theoretically a subsidiary of P & O & they fly the red ensign but very American & usually with a more-cosmopolitan clientele - P & O are mainly Brit. They too have a varied fleet & I wouldn't pretend to know most of their ships. But I agree with Sadie that they may be a good choice.

Celebrity are generally considered top of the mainstream pile & you may well squeeze into their price-range for two weeks in the Med.

Royal Caribbean & NCL tend to be a bit more lively. Royal Caribbean's entertainments include belly-flop competitions & "Quest" (don't ask :D) & you can't get much chavier than that - but you can very easily avoid such things & there'll be plenty else that's more to your taste.

Carnival (that's ships of the Carnival line, not the whole Carnival Corp.) are at the budget end of mainstream & you might find some degree of America's equivalent of chavs. Carnival regulars on this website excluded of course ;).

Thomson are probably the cheapest Brit-orientated line and an old fleet. I love their little old ships, very homely & friendly, but you may feel you want a little better.

If the Italian way is to your taste, Costa or MSC might suit. If it isn't, don't book a first cruise with them.

Azamara would suit, but their prices may mean an adjustment to the budget or length of cruise.

Holland America's average client age may not suit, ditto Fred Olsen, though I've not cruised either. They're on my back-burner for a few years' time. And Adonia a few years after that.;)


Be aware than on-board costs are higher on the US & Italian ships. Cabin & dining "gratuities" are double those of P & O. The inverted commas are there for a reason.:rolleyes:

And higher drinks prices plus drinks service charges, whereas P & O prices are about the same as my local. And you're a captive audience every evening, so even at P&O prices you're down at the pub every night & it all adds up.


Eastern Med is a great itinerary for spring & autumn, but if the ancient sights like Olympia, Athens, Ephesus, Pompeii appeal then summer will be too hot.


You'll probably have little chance to see your embarkation or disembarkation port other than the ribbon of tarmac from the airport, so try to include in your budget at least a couple of days at your embarkation port.


Fixing your own flights is likely to be cheaper & more convenient unless it's a cruise which uses chartered aircraft.


Talk to cruise-specialist travel agents - their inside knowledge will help not only with choosing a cruise but also with cabin location, dining choices & stacks more.


Have fun choosin', have fun cruisin'


JB :)

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Thanks for the advice ladies and gents. I think I'll try a specialist cruise agency for starters as suggested and validate their info here.


Good thinkin'.

Talk to a few, you'll figure which is going to give you good on-going advice.

Then find the best price you can (negotiable in the UK, I don't think it's the same in the USA), then try for better terms - free parking (UK departures), upgrade to a different cabin grade, some on-board credit, etc.

When you've found the best deal, ask your preferred travel agent to match it.


BTW, a few thoughts on itinerary & "out of season"


For the Med, the Greek islands is a good cruise itinerary, but from the UK the major cities or areas like Barcelona or around Naples are cheap & easy for a 3 or 4 day hotel-based break. And are likely to disappoint on a cruise because of the limited time ashore, typically 8.30 to 4.30 and in places like Rome you also have to include travel from the port.


For spring or summer or autumn, consider a Baltic cruise - an itinerary you can't replicate sensibly in any other way.


Or in winter, the Caribbean - unless you like lazing on the beach most islands are too small & limited to be worth more than a day or so, but are ideal for cruising. Great weather, cheap & easy ashore, very easy fly-cruise options direct to ships stationed in the Caribbean. And think of the weather you leave behind. ;)


JB :)

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I think that you're perhaps looking at P&O's latest venture- a package of a fly/cruise to Ventura in the Med? We're looking at it, too.

We've been on this ship 3 times, and have yet to see "chav" behaviour....the passengers are the same mix of people you see walking round the centre of any town. There was an instance of a youth getting drunk and creating, once...no, I think that was sister ship Azura...and he was heading down the gangway with his suitcase at the next port.:rolleyes:

The law on taking children out of school became VERY strict, with fines, this Sept, so I doubt you'll see many outside of school holidays.

A bit bland, yes; VERY British, such as the Great British Sailaway at the last port; the food can often be what you'd get in a pub- but there are alternatives. Good service; low drink prices and no greed over gratuities...I'd say it's a good starter cruise, but not quite top of the range...

Suits us, though! :D

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