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Old 16 Jul 19, 06:54 PM  
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Dinglebert
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Ventura to Norway July 19

Just off a weeks cruise to Norway with P&O.

There were four of us in two inside cabins. The children who came are 19 and 15. Not too sure the 19 year old would like the term child anymore.

First P&O cruise, previous two have been RCI.

Rhapsody of the Seas 2017 Venice to Greek Isles
Navigator of the Seas 2018 Southampton to Portugal, Spain, France.

We loved the size of Rhapsody and its atrium. 2000 passengers. You would bump into the same people quite frequently. 50 nationalities on board. Got us hooked.

Navigator. While we enjoyed the cruise, the ship was not for us. Too many people. It was rammed. Difficult to find seating. Did not enjoy the central area which is a street. Mostly Brits.

Therefore a bit wary that Voyager in theory has the same number of passengers as Navigator. I need not have worried. We were travelling before the English School holidays therefore the cabins were less full. Lots of people last year clearly having their children in the same cabin meaning far more people on board. This time enjoyed the atrium again and met lots of lovely people frequently.

Food

We had Freedom dining which suits us. Must say that we prefer the RCI version of freedom dining where you can book ahead for the week. However it worked for us. We tend to eat early to catch the first show.

What we did find disappointing was the buffet. It was far smaller with less choice than RCI. Difficult to find a seat and they keep closing areas of it meaning people wandering around with trays trying to find seats. We stopped going there after day two.

The food in maining restaurant was excellent. Indeed choices at breakfast and lunch were far better than the buffet.


Staff and Tipping

I know the dreading tipping word. These are my observations. I make them not to have a disagreement with anyone.

On RCI I have prepaid the tips both times. $14 a day x 4. However there was still a pressure to a degree to give more. Staff would leave envelopes in your cabin just in case you wanted to reward them more.

P&O. Tips are included in the price of the cruise. There was absolutely no attempt to ask people to tip more. No envelopes, no suggestion of them

While all staff on all cruises I have sailed with have been uniformly excellent I found that the P&O staff did their jobs quietly and unobtrusively. Always had a smile and welcome.

On RCI they did their job but some seemed to go out of their way to show you just how much they were doing their job.

They all work hard for 7 days a week, 8 months of the years.

Entertainment.

P&O win this hands down. Their singers and dancers put on superb shows. Making each one as if its the most important one ever. RCI had a tendancy to sometimes be a bit half hearted particuarly the dancers.

The "special" guests included two comedians who were both funny but in different ways. There was a singer/musician called Neil Lockwood who in the past has sung backing vocals on numberous records. He was the singer with ELO 2 and the Alan Parsons Project. I thought I knew about music and prog rock but in my ignorance had never heard of Neil Lockwood. He was brilliant. Did two shows twice. Standing ovation on the final night.

The only show which was disappointing was the big P&O show called Ashtonishing. It has been developed by Jonathan Wilkes and Stephen Mulhern. The actual show is done by the ships entertainers with Stephen Mulhern appearing by recorded video.

I won't spoil it but its basically bought in magic tricks were people appear and disappear from boxes and a card trick all the audience do. It took about 5 minutes after the show to work out how the card trick works. The show is on all P&O cruises this year.

Locations

Stravanger - Norway as everyone knows can be expensive. This is a shame as there really wasn't shopping to be done which couldn't be bought far cheaper at home. Stravenger the hop on - hop off bus was £36 per person with only 8 stops none of which appealed. We walked around. They do like their statues in Stravanger.

Olden - Stunning scenery and why we came on this trip. We got the noddy train to the end of the lake which we negotiated a price on. The weather that day was 22c which according to locals it had been cold and raining for three weeks before. Indeed the weather was excellent all week.

Flam - We did the railway. We had heard that if you got off the ship early and go straight to station you can buy tickets there and then. We were about 30th in the queue and got tickets for the 1.30 train. The earlier ones sold out as we were queueing. 30 minutes later they were all sold out for the times the cruise ship was in port.

Doing this cost us £200 for the four. It would have been £390 if we did the ships excursion which gets you nothing extra. You can book online as well but it was sold out according to the website when I checked the day before. The problem with buying well before is that the weather can close in and the clouds can get low making the entire point of the train well pointless. While I enjoyed the journey it was overpriced at £200 and would not be repeating the experience. Glad I did it.

Bergen - Interesting and not enough time. The ship left at 2.15.

Overall really enjoyed the cruise. Although the 8 hour drive there and back I could do without. There is no decent flights or trains to Southampton from Edinburgh.

We will cruise again in 2021. We now need to wait until the youngest can be left on his own at home. While they both enjoyed it they don't want to cruise again in the near future. Equally they don't want to go back to Florida. I may have to do our first beach holiday for 11 years next year.
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Old 16 Jul 19, 07:17 PM  
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mmahon1974
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Just so you know Flybe do fairly decent flights from Edinburgh and you can get them at a reasonable price if you book them early enough.
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Old 16 Jul 19, 07:21 PM  
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Dinglebert
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Originally Posted by mmahon1974 View Post
Just so you know Flybe do fairly decent flights from Edinburgh and you can get them at a reasonable price if you book them early enough.
Trouble is you have to pay extra for the luggage. With the four of us that made it just too expensive. We took the free parking from P&O instead.
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Old 17 Jul 19, 12:51 PM  
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Great report thank you!

My sister sailed P&O and really enjoyed it - she prefers Celebrity though (could be for the free drinks packages!)

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Old 18 Jul 19, 07:27 AM  
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Loopylooloo
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Just putting my hand up to say Fred Olsen depart from Rosyth regularly so maybe give them a try? They have recently upgraded the ships with modern coffee shops, rib boat experiences, al fresco dining etc, of course much smaller ship, but I do think the food and staff are the best (have been on Celebrity and RCL too) here is link if you would like to see photos of our fjord trip on Black Watch - mybigfatcruise/post/1466...abulous-fjords

Edited at 07:29 AM.
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Old 18 Jul 19, 10:48 AM  
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Dinglebert
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Originally Posted by Loopylooloo View Post
Just putting my hand up to say Fred Olsen depart from Rosyth regularly so maybe give them a try? They have recently upgraded the ships with modern coffee shops, rib boat experiences, al fresco dining etc, of course much smaller ship, but I do think the food and staff are the best (have been on Celebrity and RCL too) here is link if you would like to see photos of our fjord trip on Black Watch - mybigfatcruise/post/1466...abulous-fjords
My in-laws cruise with FO. In fact they are on now in the Balticís. Next cruise is likely to be Med based for us
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Old 22 Jul 19, 01:17 PM  
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catherinesian
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We did almost an identical cruise in May on Ventura, with the only exception being we stopped at Alesund instead of Flam.

We loved the no-pressure of tipping on P&O. Our cruise was the first time the 'no tipping' came in and we think it's much better to have the tips bundled into the cruise price rather than the nasty added extra you dread being added to the bill.

We are lucky in that we live 10 mins from Southampton docks so cruising is very easy for us, that drive does sound horrendous especially at the end of the cruise.

It's interesting reading your report as I really want to try RCI, and was set on going with them for our Caribbean cruise next year, however we just couldn't find an itinerary that we liked with them so ended up going with P&O again at least we don't have to worry about tips, I suppose!
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Old 22 Jul 19, 03:36 PM  
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My one and only (so far) cruise was on the Ventura from Southampton and I thought it was very well done.

My nephew and his girlfriend are cruising with RCL at the mo, be interesting to get their views.
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Old 18 Aug 19, 11:08 AM  
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disney owl
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Thanks, enjoyed reading your review. We cruise most years but only started after our kids grew up. Alsmost always P&O too. Have booked next years cruise too
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