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We are going on Ventura on the 16/08 which will be our first cruise on P&O, and have only done 1 previous cruise on RCCL. We know it will probably be a totally different experience but will be glad of any help and tips 

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27 minutes ago, Stokie33 said:

We are going on Ventura on the 16/08 which will be our first cruise on P&O, and have only done 1 previous cruise on RCCL. We know it will probably be a totally different experience but will be glad of any help and tips 

Sorry, no tips... They were removed in May..😀

 

On boarding, put a towel on your preferred sun lounger and leave it there for the duration of your holiday, no one will mind...

Dont bother washing your hands or using the sanitiser, sharing is caring...

Fill your water bottle that you have been drinking from at the dispenser in the buffet....

Dont bother queuing, nobody else does....

Wear shorts on formal nights, nobody will mind....

Be rude to the crew, they are used to it...

Shout out the answers in the quizzes, they love it...

 

Obviously this is tongue in cheek, but if you listen to some of the negative posters on here, this happens all the time on P&O.

It doesn't, but you will get the odd bad apple like anywhere in life.

Relax, go with the flow and you will have a fantastic time like most of us do.

Andy

 

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2 hours ago, Stokie33 said:

We are going on Ventura on the 16/08 which will be our first cruise on P&O, and have only done 1 previous cruise on RCCL. We know it will probably be a totally different experience but will be glad of any help and tips 

 

Although all meals in the main dining rooms (MDR) and buffet are free, it is well worth trying all the Select Dining Restaurants at least once. They are all very different but are worth the supplements for the overall experience (better food, service and ambiance than the MDR’s). That being said, we find it is best to always eat in the MDR on all formal (black tie) nights as the menus are far better then (often Marco Pierre White). In summary;

 

Epicurean - true fine dining. You would pay £100 per couple for a comparable experience ashore, so it’s excellent value for money. Our firm favourite. 

 

Sindhu - Although Indian food is my favourite, I’m not a great fan of the food here as it’s ‘fusion’ and therefore quite subtle flavours compared to what you would get at home. That being said, I am in the minority as most people (including my wife and daughters) love it. Service is excellent. Used to be run by Michelin star chef Atul Kocher but he is no longer associated with it. Hasn’t changed much though. 

 

Beach House - Informal American style dining. Many dismiss it as being an extension of the buffet. It isn’t. Yes, it uses a cordoned off area (properly screened) from the buffet, but the food is excellent. We like it as it is a completely different experience to the MDR’s and on longer cruises you sometimes want a break from them. The fillet steaks on lava stone are the best steaks you will ever have!

 

Glasshouse - An Olly Smith wine bar that also serves excellent food. We tend to use it at lunchtimes, particularly if we have been ashore in the morning and have missed lunch in the MDR, as it’s always quiet then. We also use it as we board on embarkation day to avoid the scrum in the buffet. 

 

Some other tips;

 

Unless you are borderline alcoholics (or have 2 or more children travelling in the same cabin as you), don’t be tempted by the drinks package. P&O panics people into buying it as they say you have to buy it within the first 24 hours, but it is very expensive and has far too many restrictions. It is my firm belief that over 90% of passengers would be out of pocket by taking it, which is why P&O won’t let you opt out of it when once you have started it and begin to regret it. P&O drink prices are very reasonable and you won’t drink as much as you think, especially on port days when you are ashore. 

 

If you are going somewhere for the first and only time and there is a must-see attraction some way from the port, an organised tour can be a good call. However, they are expensive and you can often do the same thing independently for less. Most places are nice enough to explore independently. 

 

Back to dining, I would always recommend Freedom Dining over Club (Fixed) Dining, especially to first timers. It gives you ultimate flexibility on dining times and whether you wish to dine alone or with others, all of which you can change on a meal by meal basis at will. Departures from ports are always very interesting and you don’t want to be rushing. You are on holiday, so the more freedom the better. Also, use the buffet as a last resort only. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are always far more civilised affairs in the MDR’s. You have paid for full service restaurant meals so why use a canteen? Also, in any restaurant the tap water is fine. No need to waste money on bottled water. 

 

If you can stretch to it, go for a balcony. We don’t sunbathe but would never cruise without one, even in winter, as we love watching the ever changing views from the comfort of our cabin (including when in bed!) and the ability to pop out at will when there is something of interest (which there often is). 

 

I could go on, but I’m even boring myself now, so I hope that helps!

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Summed up superbly, Selbourne. All very sound advice, which I’d wholeheartedly endorse.

 

The Epicurean’s often dismissed because it’s a little dearer and more formal than the other options, but it genuinely is fine dining at an affordable price.

 

Balconies do indeed make all the difference too if you can run to it. We don’t sunbathe either but it really adds a lot to the holiday.

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1 hour ago, Harry Peterson said:

Summed up superbly, Selbourne. All very sound advice, which I’d wholeheartedly endorse.

 

The Epicurean’s often dismissed because it’s a little dearer and more formal than the other options, but it genuinely is fine dining at an affordable price.

 

Balconies do indeed make all the difference too if you can run to it. We don’t sunbathe either but it really adds a lot to the holiday.

HP, what have you done with my old mate Docco, where are all the downsides to P&O that you love?:classic_rolleyes:

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1 hour ago, Selbourne said:

 

Although all meals in the main dining rooms (MDR) and buffet are free, it is well worth trying all the Select Dining Restaurants at least once. They are all very different but are worth the supplements for the overall experience (better food, service and ambiance than the MDR’s). That being said, we find it is best to always eat in the MDR on all formal (black tie) nights as the menus are far better then (often Marco Pierre White). In summary;

 

Epicurean - true fine dining. You would pay £100 per couple for a comparable experience ashore, so it’s excellent value for money. Our firm favourite. 

 

Sindhu - Although Indian food is my favourite, I’m not a great fan of the food here as it’s ‘fusion’ and therefore quite subtle flavours compared to what you would get at home. That being said, I am in the minority as most people (including my wife and daughters) love it. Service is excellent. Used to be run by Michelin star chef Atul Kocher but he is no longer associated with it. Hasn’t changed much though. 

 

Beach House - Informal American style dining. Many dismiss it as being an extension of the buffet. It isn’t. Yes, it uses a cordoned off area (properly screened) from the buffet, but the food is excellent. We like it as it is a completely different experience to the MDR’s and on longer cruises you sometimes want a break from them. The fillet steaks on lava stone are the best steaks you will ever have!

 

Glasshouse - An Olly Smith wine bar that also serves excellent food. We tend to use it at lunchtimes, particularly if we have been ashore in the morning and have missed lunch in the MDR, as it’s always quiet then. We also use it as we board on embarkation day to avoid the scrum in the buffet. 

 

Some other tips;

 

Unless you are borderline alcoholics (or have 2 or more children travelling in the same cabin as you), don’t be tempted by the drinks package. P&O panics people into buying it as they say you have to buy it within the first 24 hours, but it is very expensive and has far too many restrictions. It is my firm belief that over 90% of passengers would be out of pocket by taking it, which is why P&O won’t let you opt out of it when once you have started it and begin to regret it. P&O drink prices are very reasonable and you won’t drink as much as you think, especially on port days when you are ashore. 

 

If you are going somewhere for the first and only time and there is a must-see attraction some way from the port, an organised tour can be a good call. However, they are expensive and you can often do the same thing independently for less. Most places are nice enough to explore independently. 

 

Back to dining, I would always recommend Freedom Dining over Club (Fixed) Dining, especially to first timers. It gives you ultimate flexibility on dining times and whether you wish to dine alone or with others, all of which you can change on a meal by meal basis at will. Departures from ports are always very interesting and you don’t want to be rushing. You are on holiday, so the more freedom the better. Also, use the buffet as a last resort only. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are always far more civilised affairs in the MDR’s. You have paid for full service restaurant meals so why use a canteen? Also, in any restaurant the tap water is fine. No need to waste money on bottled water. 

 

If you can stretch to it, go for a balcony. We don’t sunbathe but would never cruise without one, even in winter, as we love watching the ever changing views from the comfort of our cabin (including when in bed!) and the ability to pop out at will when there is something of interest (which there often is). 

 

I could go on, but I’m even boring myself now, so I hope that helps!

Perfect summary and great advice for the op.

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20 minutes ago, Pentlands said:

Would argue that Club is better then free dinning, for a first  timer, saves wondering about space etc. Just go to  your place and your table at the booked  time.

 

Having done both Club and Freedom many times I can see the advantages of both and I’m glad that P&O still offers the choice, but I’m curious to know what you mean by ‘wondering about space’ with Freedom dining as it’s never a thought that crosses our mind? We just turn up when we like.

 

We enjoyed Club back in the day when there was no other option until we had a few cruises in a row where we had less than ideal table companions. Conversation was hard work and I began to find dinner a chore rather than a pleasure. Since switching to Freedom we wouldn’t now switch back. At times we choose to dine with others. Mostly it works out fine. but on the odd occasion that it doesn’t at least you know it was a one off and you are not stuck with them all cruise! Other times we choose to dine alone. Never a problem. Occasionally we are given a pager and have a short wait, but at least we have been able to go at a time of our choosing, which varies day by day. We hate being tied to set times at any time, least of all when on holiday. 

 

The one big advantage of Club dining, getting to know your waiters and them getting to know your preferences, is now less of an issue as if you get to know the senior restaurant staff in the Freedom Dining restaurant and tell them a waiter station that you like they will endeavour to sit you there each night. The only situation that I could foresee where I would revert to Club Dining is if I was travelling as a solo passenger , in order to avoid the awkward questions night after night. They also tend to sit solo passengers together which I think is a great idea to make people feel at ease. 

 

 

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Many thanks for all of the replies, it was a spur of the moment booking as we had to cancel a 2 week cruise on RCCL as we both unfortunately work for Honda in Swindon so couldn't justify paying £6,000. We have a superior deluxe balcony I think it's D510 but are both just looking forward to getting away and chilling. I've looked at the menus for both epicurean and sinhu and will have to see if my hubby wants to try them as he's a funny eater. I'm definitely looking forward to trying the beach house so will show him this thread. I'm going into it expecting it to be different from anything we've done before and after reading these comments feel more confident that we will have a brill time

Once again many thanks

Andrea

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58 minutes ago, Selbourne said:

 

Having done both Club and Freedom many times I can see the advantages of both and I’m glad that P&O still offers the choice, but I’m curious to know what you mean by ‘wondering about space’ with Freedom dining as it’s never a thought that crosses our mind? We just turn up when we like.

 

We enjoyed Club back in the day when there was no other option until we had a few cruises in a row where we had less than ideal table companions. Conversation was hard work and I began to find dinner a chore rather than a pleasure. Since switching to Freedom we wouldn’t now switch back. At times we choose to dine with others. Mostly it works out fine. but on the odd occasion that it doesn’t at least you know it was a one off and you are not stuck with them all cruise! Other times we choose to dine alone. Never a problem. Occasionally we are given a pager and have a short wait, but at least we have been able to go at a time of our choosing, which varies day by day. We hate being tied to set times at any time, least of all when on holiday. 

 

The one big advantage of Club dining, getting to know your waiters and them getting to know your preferences, is now less of an issue as if you get to know the senior restaurant staff in the Freedom Dining restaurant and tell them a waiter station that you like they will endeavour to sit you there each night. The only situation that I could foresee where I would revert to Club Dining is if I was travelling as a solo passenger , in order to avoid the awkward questions night after night. They also tend to sit solo passengers together which I think is a great idea to make people feel at ease. 

 

 

 

We have sailed with P&O a number of times, but not for about 3 years.  We are on Arcadia early August and have chosen freedom dinning as we have since it became available on some P&O ships as we do not want to be stuck with set time dinning.  Can I ask a question about how well freedom works now though.  We have travelled on Oceana for a couple of long cruises and it worked well as we were offered a pager if there were no tables available.  However, on Oriana Solar Eclipse and Northern Lights we often had to stand in a queue for as long as 45 mins before we even got to the door of the MDR!  The pagers were only given to people who refused to sit at anything other than a table for two and they were taken about half an hour or so after the restaurant opened.

 

We wrote about our displeasure with this on a feedback card which was on our table one night and the restaurant manager harangued us when we turned up the next night for mentioning it!!  After that (for the last few nights) we decided to conform and one of us went to the restaurant and asked for a table for two soon after 6.30pm, when we knew there would be none available.  We then swanned into the restaurant, past a big, stationary queue when we were paged about 7.15 or a bit later (as others had done previous nights).  That was easy for us as our cabin was near the MDR and pagers were given out even if only one person turned up (the other one of us was in the shower).

 

This is something we did not want to do and would have been perfectly happy to accept which ever size table was available, but it was the only way we could avoid that 45 mins standing in a queue.  We were of the opinion that the restaurant manager should be told to alter his way of working, but he was clearly getting away with it.  Even if they do decide to give pagers to people doing that, I still maintain they should have enough pagers to give to everyone else as well - we never had that happen on Oceana.

 

Sorry about my rant, but we are still a bit wary of our forthcoming cruise regards that and ask of anyone can reassure us that it does not happen on P&O ships now.  Or are we going to be disappointed, in which case we are resolute on having strong words with the hotel manager about it, but do not really want to have to do that.  

 

 

 

 

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55 minutes ago, tring said:

 

We have sailed with P&O a number of times, but not for about 3 years.  We are on Arcadia early August and have chosen freedom dinning as we have since it became available on some P&O ships as we do not want to be stuck with set time dinning.  Can I ask a question about how well freedom works now though.  We have travelled on Oceana for a couple of long cruises and it worked well as we were offered a pager if there were no tables available.  However, on Oriana Solar Eclipse and Northern Lights we often had to stand in a queue for as long as 45 mins before we even got to the door of the MDR!  The pagers were only given to people who refused to sit at anything other than a table for two and they were taken about half an hour or so after the restaurant opened.

 

We wrote about our displeasure with this on a feedback card which was on our table one night and the restaurant manager harangued us when we turned up the next night for mentioning it!!  After that (for the last few nights) we decided to conform and one of us went to the restaurant and asked for a table for two soon after 6.30pm, when we knew there would be none available.  We then swanned into the restaurant, past a big, stationary queue when we were paged about 7.15 or a bit later (as others had done previous nights).  That was easy for us as our cabin was near the MDR and pagers were given out even if only one person turned up (the other one of us was in the shower).

 

This is something we did not want to do and would have been perfectly happy to accept which ever size table was available, but it was the only way we could avoid that 45 mins standing in a queue.  We were of the opinion that the restaurant manager should be told to alter his way of working, but he was clearly getting away with it.  Even if they do decide to give pagers to people doing that, I still maintain they should have enough pagers to give to everyone else as well - we never had that happen on Oceana.

 

Sorry about my rant, but we are still a bit wary of our forthcoming cruise regards that and ask of anyone can reassure us that it does not happen on P&O ships now.  Or are we going to be disappointed, in which case we are resolute on having strong words with the hotel manager about it, but do not really want to have to do that.  

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, I can understand your frustration with all of that. With Oriana soon to be no more, I will answer based upon 7 cruises on Aurora in the last few years (very similar) and one on Arcadia - all Freedom Dining. 

 

On Aurora, we have never had to queue. There are, however, stupid queues from around 30 mins before dinner opens from those who presumably wanted first sitting Club and weren’t successful (Freedom Dining is now far more popular than Club, with all age groups, and ‘sells out’ first). A large number of these people are after a table for two by a window, so you will usually have to wait until these people leave if you want a table for two by a window (or, as you did, get a pager and be alerted as soon as one is available). We have never had to take a pager if we are prepared to share. We have always been seated immediately. 9 out of 10 times if we want a table for two we have either been seated immediately or had to stand to the side for 5 minutes or so. Rarely are we asked to take a pager. We usually go to dinner between around 8 and 8.30pm but have also gone later. If you go after 8.30pm (last entry 9.30pm) they will often offer you a table for two even if you say you are happy to share, as flow is so slow by then it can take too long to fill a table. I can honestly say that we have never had any problem whatsoever, but we don’t do queues so Dining a bit later suits us perfectly.

 

Only done one cruise on Arcadia and I’m afraid it wasn’t quite as efficient, but I only recall one problem and that was bizarrely lunch in the MDR (so not Freedom Dining related) where they were giving out pagers. I expressed my displeasure to the restaurant manager, saying that we had never had to take a pager for lunch on any ship with P&O before and miraculously he suddenly found us a table immediately. We didn’t like the MDR on Arcadia so are probably a bit jaundiced about it. We had a lovely aft corner wrap suite, but weren’t enamoured with the ship. Most people on here love her though so I am sure that you will have a lovely cruise.

 

I can recommend the Ocean Grill Restaurant. We went twice and the food and service was excellent. Unfortunately on one of the nights they had live music, which we felt was totally inappropriate as it was completely overpowering. I was irritated that we hadn’t been told when booked as we wouldn’t have chosen that night to dine there. Worth double checking if you make a booking. 

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2 hours ago, Stokie33 said:

Many thanks for all of the replies, it was a spur of the moment booking as we had to cancel a 2 week cruise on RCCL as we both unfortunately work for Honda in Swindon so couldn't justify paying £6,000. We have a superior deluxe balcony I think it's D510 but are both just looking forward to getting away and chilling. I've looked at the menus for both epicurean and sinhu and will have to see if my hubby wants to try them as he's a funny eater. I'm definitely looking forward to trying the beach house so will show him this thread. I'm going into it expecting it to be different from anything we've done before and after reading these comments feel more confident that we will have a brill time

Once again many thanks

Andrea

We like the Superior Deluxe balcony cabins because:-

Free bottle of champagne and box of chocolates.

Bath.

2 TVs and a bigger balcony although the balcony is overlooked from above.

IMG_20180824_132503.jpg

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25 minutes ago, Selbourne said:

 

Yes, I can understand your frustration with all of that. With Oriana soon to be no more, I will answer based upon 7 cruises on Aurora in the last few years (very similar) and one on Arcadia - all Freedom Dining. 

 

On Aurora, we have never had to queue. There are, however, stupid queues from around 30 mins before dinner opens from those who presumably wanted first sitting Club and weren’t successful (Freedom Dining is now far more popular than Club, with all age groups, and ‘sells out’ first). A large number of these people are after a table for two by a window, so you will usually have to wait until these people leave if you want a table for two by a window (or, as you did, get a pager and be alerted as soon as one is available). We have never had to take a pager if we are prepared to share. We have always been seated immediately. 9 out of 10 times if we want a table for two we have either been seated immediately or had to stand to the side for 5 minutes or so. Rarely are we asked to take a pager. We usually go to dinner between around 8 and 8.30pm but have also gone later. If you go after 8.30pm (last entry 9.30pm) they will often offer you a table for two even if you say you are happy to share, as flow is so slow by then it can take too long to fill a table. I can honestly say that we have never had any problem whatsoever, but we don’t do queues so Dining a bit later suits us perfectly.

 

Only done one cruise on Arcadia and I’m afraid it wasn’t quite as efficient, but I only recall one problem and that was bizarrely lunch in the MDR (so not Freedom Dining related) where they were giving out pagers. I expressed my displeasure to the restaurant manager, saying that we had never had to take a pager for lunch on any ship with P&O before and miraculously he suddenly found us a table immediately. We didn’t like the MDR on Arcadia so are probably a bit jaundiced about it. We had a lovely aft corner wrap suite, but weren’t enamoured with the ship. Most people on here love her though so I am sure that you will have a lovely cruise.

 

I can recommend the Ocean Grill Restaurant. We went twice and the food and service was excellent. Unfortunately on one of the nights they had live music, which we felt was totally inappropriate as it was completely overpowering. I was irritated that we hadn’t been told when booked as we wouldn’t have chosen that night to dine there. Worth double checking if you make a booking. 

 

Thank you for that very full reply.  We have realised we are probably better eating earlier or later (and we often are quite late), but sometimes we do not want to rush to getting ready but want to be up early the next day, so can turn  up at the peak time of 7.30pm.  A table for two and/or by a window is nice, but not a priority by any means if we just want to eat.  We do have a lot of on board spend, so may well use some on speciality restaurants, we would also be very annoyed if they had loud music there though - thanks for the warning.  The self service will be open long hours on P&O as well compared to smaller ships, which we normally use now.  It is just that I know my husband has no intention of taking bad service without making himself known firmly and I hope it does not create an atmosphere, but it is surprising how often a quiet word can bring a swift result (as happened with you for lunch on Arcadia).  If people accept bad service it can just cause it to continue though - It does need to be challenged if necessary. 

 

We are on a 16 night cruise to the Baltic, but with 9 ports and no two sea days are together, so I am sure the ship will be fine for us.  We rarely to go to the shows etc. and tend to just go off to an observation lounge or similar in the evening, so we will find a suitable corner somewhere and it will be fairly light nights as well.

 

We have had a pretty stressful winter/spring for family reasons so are looking forward to the chance to just crash out and relax and we are bent on doing that, whatever.

 

Thanks again,

 

Barbara

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3 hours ago, terrierjohn said:

HP, what have you done with my old mate Docco, where are all the downsides to P&O that you love?:classic_rolleyes:

You've missed all the positive comments  - there are actually quite a few.

 

Not been on a cruise since April. You do tend to forget the problems and start to anticipate the next one. I'm banking on that Azura refit!

 

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A lot of good information provided above by posters. Just to add a little re entertainment.

 

There is nothing like the Royal Promenade on P&O. Venues tend to be a bit more self contained with nice quiet corners to sit for a drink and a chat. Where you would have the large parades in the evening on the royal prom, P&O tend to have sail away events on the upper decks and they are much lower key but fun none the less if you are into that sort of thing.

 

You won’t find an ice rink, the “quest” or a crazy golf. What you will get is some really excellent lecturers talking on diverse and interesting subjects, quizzes where the questions are UK based, dance classes etc there are also similar offerings to RCI like wine tasting or a choir.

 

The shows in the theatre are thematic (west end, decades music etc) and they are good. You won’t however get a full stage show like We will Rock You. The shows are normally around 45 minutes on P&O in the main theatre but they then offer floor shows in another venue (Havana) as a second option eg a cover version of Elton John or Queen etc there is also music in other venues like a piano player.

 

 

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12 hours ago, Selbourne said:

 

Although all meals in the main dining rooms (MDR) and buffet are free, it is well worth trying all the Select Dining Restaurants at least once. They are all very different but are worth the supplements for the overall experience (better food, service and ambiance than the MDR’s). That being said, we find it is best to always eat in the MDR on all formal (black tie) nights as the menus are far better then (often Marco Pierre White). In summary;

 

Epicurean - true fine dining. You would pay £100 per couple for a comparable experience ashore, so it’s excellent value for money. Our firm favourite. 

 

Sindhu - Although Indian food is my favourite, I’m not a great fan of the food here as it’s ‘fusion’ and therefore quite subtle flavours compared to what you would get at home. That being said, I am in the minority as most people (including my wife and daughters) love it. Service is excellent. Used to be run by Michelin star chef Atul Kocher but he is no longer associated with it. Hasn’t changed much though. 

 

Beach House - Informal American style dining. Many dismiss it as being an extension of the buffet. It isn’t. Yes, it uses a cordoned off area (properly screened) from the buffet, but the food is excellent. We like it as it is a completely different experience to the MDR’s and on longer cruises you sometimes want a break from them. The fillet steaks on lava stone are the best steaks you will ever have!

 

Glasshouse - An Olly Smith wine bar that also serves excellent food. We tend to use it at lunchtimes, particularly if we have been ashore in the morning and have missed lunch in the MDR, as it’s always quiet then. We also use it as we board on embarkation day to avoid the scrum in the buffet. 

 

Some other tips;

 

Unless you are borderline alcoholics (or have 2 or more children travelling in the same cabin as you), don’t be tempted by the drinks package. P&O panics people into buying it as they say you have to buy it within the first 24 hours, but it is very expensive and has far too many restrictions. It is my firm belief that over 90% of passengers would be out of pocket by taking it, which is why P&O won’t let you opt out of it when once you have started it and begin to regret it. P&O drink prices are very reasonable and you won’t drink as much as you think, especially on port days when you are ashore. 

 

If you are going somewhere for the first and only time and there is a must-see attraction some way from the port, an organised tour can be a good call. However, they are expensive and you can often do the same thing independently for less. Most places are nice enough to explore independently. 

 

Back to dining, I would always recommend Freedom Dining over Club (Fixed) Dining, especially to first timers. It gives you ultimate flexibility on dining times and whether you wish to dine alone or with others, all of which you can change on a meal by meal basis at will. Departures from ports are always very interesting and you don’t want to be rushing. You are on holiday, so the more freedom the better. Also, use the buffet as a last resort only. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are always far more civilised affairs in the MDR’s. You have paid for full service restaurant meals so why use a canteen? Also, in any restaurant the tap water is fine. No need to waste money on bottled water. 

 

If you can stretch to it, go for a balcony. We don’t sunbathe but would never cruise without one, even in winter, as we love watching the ever changing views from the comfort of our cabin (including when in bed!) and the ability to pop out at will when there is something of interest (which there often is). 

 

I could go on, but I’m even boring myself now, so I hope that helps!

 

12 hours ago, Selbourne said:

 

Although all meals in the main dining rooms (MDR) and buffet are free, it is well worth trying all the Select Dining Restaurants at least once. They are all very different but are worth the supplements for the overall experience (better food, service and ambiance than the MDR’s). That being said, we find it is best to always eat in the MDR on all formal (black tie) nights as the menus are far better then (often Marco Pierre White). In summary;

 

Epicurean - true fine dining. You would pay £100 per couple for a comparable experience ashore, so it’s excellent value for money. Our firm favourite. 

 

Sindhu - Although Indian food is my favourite, I’m not a great fan of the food here as it’s ‘fusion’ and therefore quite subtle flavours compared to what you would get at home. That being said, I am in the minority as most people (including my wife and daughters) love it. Service is excellent. Used to be run by Michelin star chef Atul Kocher but he is no longer associated with it. Hasn’t changed much though. 

 

Beach House - Informal American style dining. Many dismiss it as being an extension of the buffet. It isn’t. Yes, it uses a cordoned off area (properly screened) from the buffet, but the food is excellent. We like it as it is a completely different experience to the MDR’s and on longer cruises you sometimes want a break from them. The fillet steaks on lava stone are the best steaks you will ever have!

 

Glasshouse - An Olly Smith wine bar that also serves excellent food. We tend to use it at lunchtimes, particularly if we have been ashore in the morning and have missed lunch in the MDR, as it’s always quiet then. We also use it as we board on embarkation day to avoid the scrum in the buffet. 

 

Some other tips;

 

Unless you are borderline alcoholics (or have 2 or more children travelling in the same cabin as you), don’t be tempted by the drinks package. P&O panics people into buying it as they say you have to buy it within the first 24 hours, but it is very expensive and has far too many restrictions. It is my firm belief that over 90% of passengers would be out of pocket by taking it, which is why P&O won’t let you opt out of it when once you have started it and begin to regret it. P&O drink prices are very reasonable and you won’t drink as much as you think, especially on port days when you are ashore. 

 

If you are going somewhere for the first and only time and there is a must-see attraction some way from the port, an organised tour can be a good call. However, they are expensive and you can often do the same thing independently for less. Most places are nice enough to explore independently. 

 

Back to dining, I would always recommend Freedom Dining over Club (Fixed) Dining, especially to first timers. It gives you ultimate flexibility on dining times and whether you wish to dine alone or with others, all of which you can change on a meal by meal basis at will. Departures from ports are always very interesting and you don’t want to be rushing. You are on holiday, so the more freedom the better. Also, use the buffet as a last resort only. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are always far more civilised affairs in the MDR’s. You have paid for full service restaurant meals so why use a canteen? Also, in any restaurant the tap water is fine. No need to waste money on bottled water. 

 

If you can stretch to it, go for a balcony. We don’t sunbathe but would never cruise without one, even in winter, as we love watching the ever changing views from the comfort of our cabin (including when in bed!) and the ability to pop out at will when there is something of interest (which there often is). 

 

I could go on, but I’m even boring myself now, so I hope that helps!

Sorry but this reply has just made me see red. How many more times do we have to read this sort of defamatory comment. The drinks package is not and I repeat not just economic for borderline alcoholics and I really resent this sort of post, especially as a retired health care professional who has bought it and found it cost saving. I drink and pay for at least 5-6 large costa coffees a day so lets start the package there. Mocktails, juices, smoothies and soft drinks through the day.. and oh yes wine and spirits but borderline alcoholic ????????????? please!!!!!!!!!!!!.  Alcoholism is a very pernicious and nasty disease let us not for goodness sake start bringing it into to discussions of availability of drinks packages on cruise ships. Alcoholism is so much more than that. 

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11 minutes ago, ccpm said:

 

Sorry but this reply has just made me see red. How many more times do we have to read this sort of defamatory comment. The drinks package is not and I repeat not just economic for borderline alcoholics and I really resent this sort of post, especially as a retired health care professional who has bought it and found it cost saving. I drink and pay for at least 5-6 large costa coffees a day so lets start the package there. Mocktails, juices, smoothies and soft drinks through the day.. and oh yes wine and spirits but borderline alcoholic ????????????? please!!!!!!!!!!!!.  Alcoholism is a very pernicious and nasty disease let us not for goodness sake start bringing it into to discussions of availability of drinks packages on cruise ships. Alcoholism is so much more than that. 

The choice of buying or not buying a beverage package is entirely personal, depending on what people prefer to drink.

 

Personally I would find 5-6 large coffees way above my personal tolerance for drinking caffeine  (and above the safe level for caffeine for adults of 400mg a day which as a health professional you will be aware of). I would make use of the juices etc but not enough to buy a package.

 

I think Selbourne was just trying to give helpful advice, not trying to offend anyone.

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4 minutes ago, Eglesbrech said:

The choice of buying or not buying a beverage package is entirely personal, depending on what people prefer to drink.

 

Personally I would find 5-6 large coffees way above my personal tolerance for drinking caffeine  (and above the safe level for caffeine for adults of 400mg a day which as a health professional you will be aware of). I would make use of the juices etc but not enough to buy a package.

 

I think Selbourne was just trying to give helpful advice, not trying to offend anyone.

I agree with you,Selbourne is a very helpful poster and not one to offend anyone.

The prices of drinks are very cheap  on P&O compared to the likes of RCCL where lots of people either buy or get a free Deluxe Drinks Package included in the cruise price so in my opinion it's not worth being tied to paying a daily drinks package fee.

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42 minutes ago, ccpm said:

 

Sorry but this reply has just made me see red. How many more times do we have to read this sort of defamatory comment. The drinks package is not and I repeat not just economic for borderline alcoholics and I really resent this sort of post, especially as a retired health care professional who has bought it and found it cost saving. I drink and pay for at least 5-6 large costa coffees a day so lets start the package there. Mocktails, juices, smoothies and soft drinks through the day.. and oh yes wine and spirits but borderline alcoholic ????????????? please!!!!!!!!!!!!.  Alcoholism is a very pernicious and nasty disease let us not for goodness sake start bringing it into to discussions of availability of drinks packages on cruise ships. Alcoholism is so much more than that. 

 

Sincere apologies if what was meant to be a tongue in cheek comment has offended you. As others have kindly said, that would never have been my intention. I do however maintain that the drinks package would be poor value for the vast majority of people, especially given the restrictions (which alone would be a show stopper for us). I can see however that drinking that amount of coffee per day would put you in the small percentage who may find it of value. My concern for the OP was that they didn’t fall for the ploy of committing within the first 24 hours and then regretting it. I know a family that drink a lot more than us who were adamant that they were going to buy the package on their first P&O cruise. It took me quite a bit of persuasion to convince them that it might be an expensive mistake. Returning from their cruise they told me that they didn’t go for the package and had been very grateful to me for the advice. They felt that they had drank more than enough during the fortnight but had worked out that they would have been several hundred pounds worse off had they bought the package. My point about the drinks package was a small part of a long post with lots of info that I hope has been of benefit to the OP. 

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13 hours ago, Eglesbrech said:

The choice of buying or not buying a beverage package is entirely personal, depending on what people prefer to drink.

 

Personally I would find 5-6 large coffees way above my personal tolerance for drinking caffeine  (and above the safe level for caffeine for adults of 400mg a day which as a health professional you will be aware of). I would make use of the juices etc but not enough to buy a package.

 

I think Selbourne was just trying to give helpful advice, not trying to offend anyone.

Fully aware and they are decaff coffee

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With the drinks package I also think it’s not worth the money. 

For us I only occasionally drink maybe once in a while so to be forced buy the alcohol one cos hubby is make me cross. 

 

Also the package is £40 a day for the full one. If we drank wine at £4.75 then I would need 9 that day. 

Most expensive drink I had was g&t at £5.60 or cocktail at £6.25. Still I would have to have 7 cocktails for this to be cheaper. 

 

Latte from costa was £2.95. I’ve read 5/6 coffees per day on one post. So that’s £17.60. On the non alcoholic version you’d still need either one more coffee, mock tail or two cokes to make that worth it. If you had the full alcohol one then it’s still 4 full cocktails over the coffees. 

 

For people looking at the drinks package they need to look at what drinks they will buy and do the maths on what they normally drink. 

 

We spent £260 as a family of 4 (kids are both under 5) including twice at sindu and once at beach house. So definitely wasn’t worth it for us at all and we didn’t go ashore much. The weather is what would have made us spend more. 

Edited by Vampiress88
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I think the non-alcohol package would work for me as I drink a lot of cola. However, OH would get anything like good value from his so, as we both have to take the same package, it would not be worth it for us. Our next cruise will be our longest thus far, at 24 days, so it will be interesting to see whether our alcohol consumption declines after the first couple of weeks (I suspect not!) . . .

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23 minutes ago, Slugsta said:

I think the non-alcohol package would work for me as I drink a lot of cola. However, OH would get anything like good value from his so, as we both have to take the same package, it would not be worth it for us. Our next cruise will be our longest thus far, at 24 days, so it will be interesting to see whether our alcohol consumption declines after the first couple of weeks (I suspect not!) . . .

 

I always thought I drunk lots of coke. It’s annoys my hubby no end but I’d have had to have 10 cokes to make the £20. I definitely don’t drink that many. 

 

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21 hours ago, Selbourne said:

 

Sincere apologies if what was meant to be a tongue in cheek comment has offended you. As others have kindly said, that would never have been my intention. I do however maintain that the drinks package would be poor value for the vast majority of people, especially given the restrictions (which alone would be a show stopper for us). I can see however that drinking that amount of coffee per day would put you in the small percentage who may find it of value. My concern for the OP was that they didn’t fall for the ploy of committing within the first 24 hours and then regretting it. I know a family that drink a lot more than us who were adamant that they were going to buy the package on their first P&O cruise. It took me quite a bit of persuasion to convince them that it might be an expensive mistake. Returning from their cruise they told me that they didn’t go for the package and had been very grateful to me for the advice. They felt that they had drank more than enough during the fortnight but had worked out that they would have been several hundred pounds worse off had they bought the package. My point about the drinks package was a small part of a long post with lots of info that I hope has been of benefit to the OP. 

Selbourne - I am not not sure how one would determine this as a tongue in cheek comment. It was equally very telling that after my response others posted in your defence that you post helpful comments that were much respected and useful. I never questioned that, I have a great deal of respect for your input to the forum. I also had a response that pointed out the WHO  guidance on caffeine intake and questioned my comment re buying 4-6 coffees on the package given my statement that I am a retired healthcare professional. It really is no good at all trying to engage on this board. As I responded to the poster of that remark I drink decaff only but equally could have said get over it the NHS is made up of a wide church of health care professionals, many of whom would know nothing of WHO guidelines. However this has been the hair that broke the camels back. I will continue to spend my money with P&O as their product can be tailored to fit my needs. What I will not do is try to engage in this forum because honestly why would you. 

Edited by ccpm
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