Written on: 12/12/2009
We went on a mini-cruise with P&O from Portsmouth to Bilbao, which turned out to be a complete nightmare.
The problems started off in our rooms, one of the beds had a blood-stained duvet, which is extremely disgusting and unhygienic, secondly on the P&O website it stated that Heinz baby food would be supplied free of charge, when we were onboard there was only Spanish baby food available, which my 8 month old baby did not like so she basically had to starve while we were onboard!! and on one occasion we were told that we couldn't have any baby food as there wasn't any - even though we got some the previous day at the same place.
We were informed that the weather conditions were getting bad so we may be delayed for a few days in Spain, which we were ok with as we thought we would be able to at least stay in the rooms onboard which we had booked
When we arrived in Spain we were told to stay onboard until 8am (we were supposed to get off the ferry at 7am to explore Bilbao, so we lost one hour of that) I was ill with flu by this time and all our party were suffering from diarrhoea and we were informed that we would have to travel all the way home by coach so through Spain, then France to Calais, a ferry to Dover, then another coach to Portsmouth and that there were no other options unless we wanted to pay for our own flights home! We explained to a member of staff that this was extremely inconvenient as we have an 8 month old baby, who wouldn't be comfortable travelling for 17 hours but no one seemed to want to help us.
When we were checking off the ferry in Bilbao, we were speaking with some people in the queue and it turned out that they were booked on the return journey starting off in Bilbao and they were all told that they were allowed to stay onboard until it is safe for them to depart or they can make their own way to Calais and receive 200 Euros for travel expenses.
This annoyed us even more as we weren't given any option except to travel on this long journey home by coach.
I asked if we could be provided a baby seat for the journey but they didn't have any so we had to travel the whole way with our daughter on our laps, which was extremely uncomfortable for us and her. Also the toilet that was on the coach had been stuffed with luggage so we had no toilet facilities. We were provided only a packet of crisps, an apple, a muffin and shortbread as food for this long journey!! We left at 12pm on 13th November
The journey to Calais was longer and a lot more uncomfortable than expected and when we arrived at the ferry port for the 5:40am ferry, they weren't expecting us as no one had told them we were coming!!! We then had to all write our names down so they could sort something out and by this time the ferry we were getting on had left without us, it was about 6am now and we were told then that the ferry terminal was not open until 8am and we would have to wait until the 8:30am ferry as they said they don't accept foot passengers on night ferries, so we would either have to wait in the rain or in a toilet block until then as the coach drivers shifts were over and had to leave to get back to Spain. Our luggage was now left out in the rain in cages.
We were very angry, annoyed and upset by this time and I broke down in tears and had a panic attack from the stress of the journey as my daughter had been restless the whole way and me and my husband couldn't sleep as we were scared we may drop our baby if we were to fall asleep. My mother, who was travelling with us suffers from back pains and DVT, had chronic back pain by this time and her ankles had swollen to twice their normal size by now, which caused more extreme pain causing her to break down in tears on more than one occasion.
My husband was so angry that after a heated argument with the P&O staff he made a baggage handler go and get a supervisor, who eventually came down and arranged for us to board a freight ferry back to Dover even though five minutes before there was nothing else available.
We got to Dover at 10am, loaded all our baggage onto the coach, took it all off again for customs, loaded it back on and through the journey the drivers heating system wasn't working so the front window steamed up so badly that no one could see through it, despite this he did not stop driving, he got someone to wipe the window while he drove, which was very dangerous making us scared as passengers.
We eventually arrived in Portsmouth at 1pm on 14th November, so the whole journey took 25 hours!!!
We were supposed to arrive in Portsmouth at around 8am on 14/11 so it took 5 hours longer than expected!!! It would have taken even longer if we were forced to wait for the 8:30am passenger ferry.
I am very upset about the way P&O dealt with us as customers; I feel we were treated extremely unfairly, if we wanted to travel across Europe on a coach we would have booked this in the first place!!!
Everyone who travelled was caused stress and pain that was unnecessary, it could have been handled in a much better way.