P&O Cruises P & O Artemis by C.Blaymire Western Mediterranean July 18, 2006
My husband & I just got back from a 17 night cruise on the P&O adult only Artemis, that went from Southampton around the western Mediterranean and back to Southampton. We had a great time and overall the cruise was very good. Here is a review of some aspects of the cruise including a few minor complaints.
Food and service The food was variable, some dishes were average, some good and some were excellent. The menus could have had more imagination and thought, for example: the vegetable and potato selection each day did not always match the main course options; one day most of the desserts had cherries in them; one of the main courses on a formal night was battered fish, chips and mushy peas. The food presentation was varied, sometimes it was excellent and sometimes looked like the food had just been thrown on the plate. The waiter service was very poor (this was our major complaint with the restaurant). Having the same waiters every night, we could not tell if we were the only table having problems. Some of our complaints included: dirty table cloths, napkins and cutlery; the wine waiter kept taking our wine glasses for other tables (without asking if they had been used); the waiters occasionally struggled serving the right dishes to us; plates were cleared away in an ad hoc fashion rather than when everyone had finished a course. All of these complains are rather minor and so we tried not to let it spoil the meals and made jokes about them. In the bars and on the deck, it was sometimes difficult to get a waiter to serve you a drink and many times we went up to the bar and asked for service, which upset the bar tenders (we've had this on several ship we've been on).
Cabin Although at first glance the room's cupboard space seemed too little, the drawers were very deep and we managed to get everything in them. The 2 wardrobes were very well designed with multiple rails. As the Artemis is an older ship, and is due for refurbishment next spring, the décor was a little shabby and the bathroom could do with an update but we found it to be adequate to our needs. The space in the cabin was average and the layout was quite efficient.
Entertainment There seemed to be a reasonable variety of activities during the daytime, especially on sea days but we preferred to read and sleep! The evening entertainment was very good. The singers and dancers put on 7 different shows, all of which were excellent. The variety entertainment included comedy, singing and musicians and was good, even though some of the acts were not to everyone's taste (which is often the case). The 4-piece band that played in the bars were not the highest quality but were good background music before dinner. The pianist, who also played in the bar, was not to out taste but seemed popular with other cruisers. There was also a very talented classical concert pianist, who performed 6 concerts in all.
Shore excursions Although there were several excursions to choose from at each of the 10 ports, we only chose 3. All of them were enjoyable to a greater or lesser extent, although, as usual, they were quite pricey. The best value was the Rome trip, a special one that avoided queuing at St. Peters and the Vatican Museum, which was well worth the extra cost. All the ports were worth going to except St Tropez, which everyone agreed is overrated.
The ship As I mentioned before, we were told the Artemis is going to be refurbished next year, which is why the décor needed work. However the layout of the whole ship is very good. There is quite a lot of deck space that is under cover, which is useful for people who don't want to sunbathe. The bars and public areas are also well laid out. The only negative comment I would have is in the show theatre, where comfy chairs are in rows but sometimes lower chairs are behind higher chairs, so it's difficult to work out where to sit until you get used to it.
Tenders At many of the ports we had to tender to get to the shore. At our first tender port several people were injured as speed boats seemed to take pleasure in trying to make a huge wake, causing the tenders, which like the ship are old, to bob up and down alarmingly. The crew tried to get them to slow down, with little success. This caused problems for the rest of the cruise as many passengers became very nervous about using the tenders. Adding to this was the fact that temperatures were in the high 30s and low 40s, the old tenders are not particularly comfortable and space for people with mobility difficulties is limited and you can understand that most people did not enjoy the tenders.
Overall As usual, there was a lot on complaining on the ship by its passengers but once you start looking at the good points as well as the bad, the Artemis compares favourable with most other cruise ships we've been on. It is marketed as an intimate ship, partly because of its size, and you certainly see people over and over again throughout the cruise. Would I go on the ship again? With a refit and a good cruise itinerary, especially with a different set of menus and if I could guarantee better service at our dinner table, then "yes".