Written on: 02/11/2012 by AVGreaves
Having travelled on P & O minicruises several times we had raved about them to our friends who came with us on this occasion. It was a real disappointment from beginning to end -though due to organisational flaws rather than poor staff service. There was just too much time wasted. Initially boarding the ferry we were met by very unfriendly staff whose sole purpose seemed to be to stop you taking any alcohol on board to ensure that you have to pay their over inflated prices at the bar. Also they informed my husband that his swiss army knife was an offensive weapon and he wasn't allowed to take it on board!! They relented slightly and put it in the ship's manifest for him to collect later. The result no tweezers, nail scissors, bottle opener (but they hadn't let us take any bottles) pen, toothpick magnifying glass and all the other useful extra items that it was taken for. We got over that hiccup and were determined to enjoy ourselves and I don't mean with an excess of alcohol. We had not booked any meals so am unable to comment on them. As usual the cabins were adequate and the en-suite element is a real bonus. On checking the shower gel container it was empty but on informing reception it was immediately filled though I do feel these details should be checked before passengers are loaded. We awoke early thanks (?) to the constant announcements through the tannoy and prepared to disembark. It had been a rough crossing so we arrived about 30 mins late, no fault of anyone's except the weather but at this point frustration really kicked in. We had to queue to get off the ship as they only allow so many off at a time for safety reasons. It took us about 1/2 an hour simply to get off the ship! Then another 20 mins to get through customs. On a day trip this is too much time taken off the day. The coaches were waiting and set off quickly so that was a bonus. Unfortunately the traffic was horrendous and although the P & O itinerary stated we should be in Amsterdam for 10.30 am we did not arrive until 12.15 pm- nearly 2 hours late and leaving us a little under 5 hours in Amsterdam. As usual Amsterdam was fantastic but we had to rush everything because of the excessive queuing at the port. We were duly back at the bus stop for 5pm and were then informed that the bus stop had moved and this meant that those at the back of the queue ended up at the front at the new bus stop. The first bus didn't arrive until about 5.15 pm and then they came at about 5 minute intervals meaning a long cold wait! On returning to the terminal at Rotterdam we were dealt with quickly and efficiently and were able to board quickly. The cabin had been cleaned and new towels provided which was great. We settled down to enjoy our picnic tea which got several envious looks. Again though we had to pay the over inflated bar prices. On landing in Hull the nightmare of yesterday returned- another 30 mins to get off the ship and 40 mins to get through customs- only 2 on duty. I don't understand the shortage of staff as they know what time the ship docks and the number of passengers on board. Although we had "chip" passports there was no allowance for these to be used as there is in airports. Due to the excessive waiting I needed to go to the toilet before going through passport control and this was the straw that broke the camel's back. They were filthy and had no toilet paper. What a welcome to Britain for our European visitors. I was ashamed and again these should have been checked and cleaned prior to the arrival of the ferry. The mini cruises are still excellent value but could be and were so much better. It is a shame that an excellent concept is being devalued and I will think carefully before booking again. I understand delays caused by weather and traffic but delays caused by inadequate numbers of staff should be addressed. Security is a genuine concern but please have the correct number of staff to avoid such excessive and unnecessary delays.
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