Shambles at Southampton
It really pains me to write anything negative relating to P&O cruises but the issues at Southampton require to be addressed. We have noticed on our last few cruises that things have not been going smoothly at Southampton and this time was the worst yet. When the Ventura docked on the day of our departure, passengers were unable to disembark for a considerable time due to problems with an air bridge. We heard they were eventually let off the ship via a gangway. By the time they came off, the new passengers were arriving which caused severe traffic issues in and around the berth area. When we eventually go into the departure terminal, the usual coloured cards were issued, presumably based on peninsular points and or cabin grade booked. I don't have an issue with P&O rewarding loyalty but they proceeded to spend two hours allowing only those with 'blue' cards to check in. During this period of time the check-in desk were extremely quiet with most of the staff twiddling their thumbs. After two hours they then proceeded with the remaining coloured cards which now resulted in the check-in desk being mobbed and the staff were unable to find our cruise cards, resulting in a further wait whilst new ones were printed. Moving onto the disembarkation, this wasn't an enjoyable experience either. Originally we were given a self disembarkation time of 0715 - 0800. The time was then moved to 0800 due to isues at Southampton. When we arrived at deck 6 on the morning of disembarkation, we were advised by a crew memeber to go to deck 7. After moving to deck 7 we were advised to go to deck 5. Eventually we discovered that our original choice of deck was the correct one and on arriving there another crew memeber tried to encourage us to go back to where we had came from. It turned out the crew were trying to get people to wait in the deck above or the one below as deck 6 was now a total shambles. Being well past 0800 still nobody was moving of the ship. The queue now had a mix of people that were both with and without their luggage as there seemed to be no attempt by staff to segregate them. Eventually at 0900 we left the ship only to be faced with lots of people looking for their luggage which had still not been unloaded. Clearly these people should not have got off at this stage. The week before I heard several people missed their flights and connections due to the delayed disembarkation. P&O needs to improve the experience at this part of the cruise! Now onto the good stuff. As always the food choice and quality was outstanding. The ship and cabins were spotlessly clean. There was plently of good entertainment to enjoy in addition to lots of places around the ship where you could just relax. Unlike the Southampton experience, the Captain and crew show great professionalism in delivering a safe and smooth journey throughout the voyage. As a result, the Captain made a decision not to go to Porto due to safety concerns with very high swells. Due to this we stayed overnight in Lisbon with an additional morning to enjoy in this superb city. Several guests were unhappy about this, but surely they should accept that the Captain is doing this for a good reason. When it comes to value for money, nothing can match the cruise experience and we will happily travel with P&O again, but please, please sort out the issues at Southampton!
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