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P&O Ships ref. recent comments


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As someone who has cruised (happily) with P&O for many years, it saddens me to read the increasing number of forum  comments regarding the fall in standards as, unfortunately, I agree with many of them.   Obviously, we all have varying  and differing opinions on what constitutes a high standard, be it of service, personnel, food, décor, entertainment etc. and, yes it's difficult to please all of the people all of the time.   Many a complaint, I'm sure, has been fired off to the 'powers that be' over recent years and, according to many loyal passengers who have taken the trouble to make the complaints/comments, these communications have fallen on deaf ears and, at best, a 'stock reply' from a bored 'minion' in Customer Service has been the only contact.

 

In truth, standards have declined over recent years in many of the above-mentioned categories - plus one other - that of the passenger who lacks good manners and basic social skills i.e. those who walk into the theatre well after the performance has started;  those who fill their trays with food in the self-service areas and then leave much of it untouched;  even worse, those who pick-up food items (and allow their children to do so)  and then replace them (!) and, in the same vein, those who put library books on the tables at lunch-time/afternoon tea time, when those same books have been lingering on the deck or on the seats of chairs!! 

 

Generally, though, the waiters, the bar staff and the cabin stewards remain efficient, pleasant, polite and smartly dressed (unlike some of the passengers)  and it is always a pleasure to see them.   The menus and the food service have changed over the years but, considering that it is a mass catering operation now, the standard is still very high and I thought that I would miss the silver service but I don't.   Now, if I'm sitting on a large table, I don't have to wait for every  item to be served individually and for someone's indecision to have one potato or two, I can start, once everyone has been served and my meal is hot.

 

However, as one person mentioned, curtains not hooked up properly and carpets held together by tape are not acceptable nor is messy décor - these are general maintenance tasks that could be readily attended to.   In days gone by, all these things used to be fixed 'as if by magic' out of the gaze of any of the passengers.   Of course, in the days to which I'm referring, the price of a cruise was probably at least twice as high as it is today and it was a 'considered purchase'.   Nowadays, it is becoming more like a slightly up-market holiday camp, where late bookers can travel at a fraction of the price that most of us have paid.   Coupled with this, the entertainment staff regularly aim to cater for the lowest common denominator of passenger and they do not seem to be the bright switched-on people they used to be.

 

Reasons for all this, I suspect, is the takeover by Carnival and the proliferation of new ships that need to be filled and, along the way, the more traditional ships (with their loyal following) have been allowed to become somewhat run down, in the belief that the followers will remain loyal and accept anything.   When will they realise that this is not necessarily the case and that many will (and have already done so) be voting with their feet.   Despite Aurora's refurbishment, the money did not appear to have been spent wisely.   The new Glass House and the Indian Restaurant remained empty on our cruise - apart from the odd officer.   These innovations  probably work well on the new ships, fitting in with the lifestyle of the more trendy passengers and the modern lines of the vessel but, almost everyone I know, longs for Café Bordeaux to re-instated and the Library to return to its natural site.

 

New younger passengers are very important and I'm sure the new ships will suit them very well but there are still a load of silver surfers about and it these people (and those who will soon gravitate to this status) who are being edged out.   We actually like the more traditional ships and the traditional relaxed cruising experience but we don't want to do it in sub-standard conditions, with the facilities we love being removed and replaced with irrelevant substitutes.   We have scores of  P&O cruises under our belts, as have many of our friends and acquaintances and our aim is to add scores more but will they be with P&O - sadly, it's doubtful.   However, I suspect that competitors for the same market share are much the same.

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Very eloquent, and sadly very accurate. We only have a few cruises under our belts, and have always cruised with P&O, and always child-free ships. The last one we did was to the fjords and was only a short cruise and we were surrounded by very greedy, shell-suit encased passengers who did not know how to behave.

Like you we have found that the crew are all so very willing to help and I am sure that they are equally unhappy about the takeover.

We have another booked for May so will see how it goes.

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Well thought through post.

We do not know to what extent P&O problems are down to being part of Carnival as opposed to just poor UK management, but probably a bit of both. What is difficult to understand is the "half hearted" attempt (in comparison to say RCI) to appeal to younger (poorer) customers, while alienating older (richer) customers.

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Following a very expensive and disappointing cruise in a large suite on Oceana in 2014. . I wrote a detailed personal letter to Rod Etherington ( I think that was his name) who had just joined the senior management at P&O. To my surprise, he telephoned me in response and we had a long conversation about P&O generally and in particular Oceana, it's good and it's bad points. ( I did write a review on this forum)

I made the point that if you cruise in a suite with Cunard or Celebrity, you are made to feel like a valued customer - and I had not found this to be

case at P&O. Interestly, his reply was that he thought it would be 5 years before P&O were likely to be in a position to achieve this with the premium cabins. He admitted that filling the new vessels was proving to be an issue but was optimistic in general.

I did point out that alienating your long term loyal customers was not ideal but as it he said it's now game about volumes and margins - as with so much in our world today!

At least he took the time to listen to me -

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A good post Sundancer that details your views and that of many others of the present situation with P&O. The complaints are well documented. I am not trying to be derogatory when I ask, do you literally mean scores of cruises i.e 40,60,80 etc.? The reason I enquire is simply that if you like myself have done a high number of cruises I ask with the fall of standards that you yourself acknowledge why you haven't moved to other cruise lines. I too have noticed a fall in the quality of food on P&O and in particular since they have gone from semi-plated to plated. To my knowledge they never have done full Silver Service and indeed very few ships ever have in the MDR with the exception of the original Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary on which my cousins were both waiters and who still relate entertaining stories. I still maintain the 'American' ships that home port on our shores during the summer, Celebrity, RCI and Princess offer better all round service and food simply because the 'Americans' are not prepared to put up with anything less than good food and service. I know many passengers are very protective of P&O, I have friends who are and won't have a bad word said about them. However they have not sailed with anyone else in the last 20 years and state allowing you to take your own drink on board and the 10% discount they receive (after spending even more money)  makes it all worth while. When I point out that if they had sailed with certain other lines that many times they would receive free drinks, wi-fi, cabin upgrades, their own lounges etc. they don't have an answer but still continue with P&O. 

Once again, thank you for such a well written piece and as usual 'Just my opinion' wink.png

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Following a very expensive and disappointing cruise in a large suite on Oceana in 2014. . I wrote a detailed personal letter to Rod Etherington ( I think that was his name) who had just joined the senior management at P&O. To my surprise, he telephoned me in response and we had a long conversation about P&O generally and in particular Oceana, it's good and it's bad points. ( I did write a review on this forum)

I made the point that if you cruise in a suite with Cunard or Celebrity, you are made to feel like a valued customer - and I had not found this to be

case at P&O. Interestly, his reply was that he thought it would be 5 years before P&O were likely to be in a position to achieve this with the premium cabins. He admitted that filling the new vessels was proving to be an issue but was optimistic in general.

I did point out that alienating your long term loyal customers was not ideal but as it he said it's now game about volumes and margins - as with so much in our world today!

At least he took the time to listen to me -

Surely the five years comment generates the reply "why so long"?

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We too found the  the Glasshouse and Sindhu not well patronised on the Aurora on this year's world cruise. While I agree with some of the OP's remarks about falling standards, I wonder who is actually at fault. We are fairly new cruisers and not only book suites but spend quite a bit onboard. I'm afraid the same could not be said of a lot of people who moaned about falling standards. I think most people on our cruise moaned about the Cafe Bordeaux being closed because lunch used to be free. It's amazing but it was always packed at breakfast time. Oh that's right breakfast was free just not lunch. It's been said many times cruising is much cheaper now, if people aren't prepared to pay a little extra for lunch instead of expecting a 'free' one then they can't expect the standards to remain the same. People seem to want a much cheaper cruise but expect everything to remain the same. I'm afraid it won't and it can't. I'm not sure P&O are totally to blame.

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Sundancer, your post is excellent and I agree with your comments. I have only sailed on Aurora 5 times but have been on her both pre and post refit. Unlike some we have dined in Sindhu and found it excellent. We wanted to book a second time on our last cruise, in August, only to find it fully booked for the remainder of th cruise. It was very well patronised. The Glasshouse, on the other hand, had very few passengers dining.

We found Cafe Bordeaux to be a popular venue for lunch and breakfast (both free and why not?) but the staff in there were some of the most unhelpful and unfriendly I have ever come across on any cruise ship I have been on and I can only say, that in my opinion, it shoukd have been revamped but not as the Glasshouse.

Companies need to change but there are times when it actualy pays to revert to traditional British values even though P&O is now owned by Carnival to regain reputation and customer satisfaction. I talk to many younger people who enjoy and expect excellent food and service when the are out and could be put off by some of the dumbing down in quality and service seen over the last 6 years. It cannot be argued that the changes are to meet the needs of younger passengers but are to increase profit margins and dividends for shareholders many of whom are us.

Perhaps if we wish to see change those who are shareholders should make representation as investors and passengers rather tham just moaning on sites like these.

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Excellent post and I agree with most of what you have said, but some passengers want to have a two week cruise and pay no more than £700 for it. Cruise companies do not make a profit from these passengers and therefore I feel they are cutting corners for us all.

Having said that I have got 2 P & O cruises booked for this year. We have tried other cruise lines but feel "comfortable" with P & O but if things continue to decline we will have to have another rethink.

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A good post Sundancer and one I fully agree with. My wife and I have always chosen P&O, basically because of our very 1st Cruise with them was a wonderful experience, with great service, food and entertainment. We were hooked and have traveled with P&O ever since. Whilst we still love cruising and generally feel that each of our cruises has been a good experience, I have to admit that there is a feeling that standards have dropped over the years in order to meet the demands of lower pricing strategies in order to fill the larger ships to capacity. I also get so annoyed when I hear those who brag that they have paid so little for their cabins as a last minute booking while we have always planned in advance and paid premium prices. While a lower price is generally good, it is only good when you get value for money rather than lowering standards to match the lower prices.

 

Well, we are with P&O in February for our next Caribbean cruise, and I will judge whether standards have fallen and whether we remain a loyal P&O customer. If if doesn't meet our expectations then perhaps our future cruising will be with a competitor.

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A thoughtful and delicately written post!

 

I cannot comment on the decline in standards, as my first cruise was only 5 years ago, and on a recent cruise I didn't notice a dramatic decline in standards.

 

I do agree with OWT's comment about the American lines - RCI and Celebrity are far superior in terms of the food and service in my opinion!

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A very good and well though out post sundancer which I agree 100%. We started cruising in 1997, not P&O, and after 5 cruises felt it was time for a change and our first cruise with P&O was Aurora in 2000. We thoroughly enjoyed that and many later cruises with P&O but began to see a decline in the whole aspect of cruising with P&O after nearly 30 cruises with them. We now cruise from Southampton with Princess and find them superior and a far better cruise experience. The main argument for staying with P&O is price of gratuities and drinks but like everything in life you get what you pay for and we think that for the small amount of extra cost on a Princess cruise  to be well worth paying. We recently sailed on QM2 the first time in many years with Cunard and had an excellent cruise far higher in quality, food and service than you get with P&O.

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Sundancer,

 

I totally agree with all your comments, after a terrible cruise on Britannia's maiden Caribbean cruise I wrote to Christopher Edgington concerning what I felt was no better than a glorified Butlins Holiday Camp, we first cruised with P & O in 2010 and really enjoyed the experience. Standards have definitely fallen to such an extent that we will probably never cruise with P & O again, we paid premium prices to ensure that we got a suitable cabin which was ok, however the clientele on our cruise left a lot to be desired primarily I think due to P & O selling off cabins at rock bottom prices to fill the ship. Suffice to say that a number of people were removed from the ship on a couple of occasions  due to unruly behaviour which was caused by too much drink and feral families. Hygiene standards throughout the ship left a lot to be desired and in my opinion the idea of having hand basins at the entrance to the Horizon Buffet was a dismal failure as firstly they couldn't cope with the sheer number of people using the buffet and half the time they were not working properly. There were no staff enforcing the hand washing rule and even the staff where you collect the trays and cutlery didn't always make people use the sanitising gel provided. Having cruised with Celebrity in 2013 and 2014 the hygiene rule was strictly enforced and you couldn't get past the smiling staff who made it very personable but were very pleasant about it.

 

 

 

 

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With cheap prices and huge ships to fill, standards are bound to fall. Regardless of how much you pay for your cabin or spend on board, we are all treated to the same falling standards. I’m afraid that’s the problem I have with P&O. We have a cruise next month which we booked in 2014, and for the first time in 4 years I haven’t booked another since our cruise last year. Like Sandpiper I’m going to see if I’m happy with things on the next cruise and if not will be trying another company. 

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Sundancer,

 

I totally agree with all your comments, after a terrible cruise on Britannia's maiden Caribbean cruise I wrote to Christopher Edgington concerning what I felt was no better than a glorified Butlins Holiday Camp, we first cruised with P & O in 2010 and really enjoyed the experience. Standards have definitely fallen to such an extent that we will probably never cruise with P & O again, we paid premium prices to ensure that we got a suitable cabin which was ok, however the clientele on our cruise left a lot to be desired primarily I think due to P & O selling off cabins at rock bottom prices to fill the ship. Suffice to say that a number of people were removed from the ship on a couple of occasions  due to unruly behaviour which was caused by too much drink and feral families. Hygiene standards throughout the ship left a lot to be desired and in my opinion the idea of having hand basins at the entrance to the Horizon Buffet was a dismal failure as firstly they couldn't cope with the sheer number of people using the buffet and half the time they were not working properly. There were no staff enforcing the hand washing rule and even the staff where you collect the trays and cutlery didn't always make people use the sanitising gel provided. Having cruised with Celebrity in 2013 and 2014 the hygiene rule was strictly enforced and you couldn't get past the smiling staff who made it very personable but were very pleasant about it.

Any cruise line courting the family market will be risking an increase in unruly behaviour, thereby alienating the older (richer) customer. A policy that has never made sense to me.
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Maybe its time as you put it Wheels that the older( i will be kind with more well off!) passengers who are used to high standards jump ship for the sake of a different line that still offer the same levels of service that they have been used to before. I would however add that they must also be willing to pay the little bit extra for the level of service they aspire to

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Its about time they started to build the more traditional ship of around 1500-2000 passengers similar to Artemis instead of the huge ones that they will not fill unless they charge pence for the holidays.

Nice thought PP but it won't happen. Large resort ships are the future for the 3*/3*+ cruise lines. Quantity is what keeps the shareholders happy not quality. Just my opinion as always. 

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Its about time they started to build the more traditional ship of around 1500-2000 passengers similar to Artemis instead of the huge ones that they will not fill unless they charge pence for the holidays.

I do not know about pence, but the current prices quoted for the "Ant and Dec" cruise will be stressing the P&O "bean counters".

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