P&O Cruises have spent a great deal of time and effort in creating the biggest cruise ship ever built for the UK. Britannia looks wonderful in the new colour scheme with a gleaming white hull and giant Union flag on her bow and with the new look blue painted funnels, we are sure she cannot fail to impress.
As you step on board and into the stunning three tier Atrium the first thing which greets you is the part-sculpture, part-chandelier "Starburst" with ever changing led lighting; a fitting modern centrepiece for an all new look flagship of the fleet.
Colour schemes throughout the ship are understated with clearly defined changes of decor for the individual restaurants, bars and public areas and all carried out to a very high standard of finish to create differing moods appropriate to the specific areas. There are a good range of shops on two levels with a selection of quality merchandise at realistic prices.
The build quality is excellent with lovely comfortable seating areas throughout the ship including one of our favourite spots, the Crows Nest, situated right at the front of the ship with panoramic views forward. As this lovely area is right next to the small but beautifully formed Library, you could spend many an hour curled up with one of the brand new books covering a wide range of tastes and subject matter or just sit and take in the view with a coffee or drink from the bar.
Britannia has a well-designed interior which is easy to navigate with no obvious dead ends to contend with. Everywhere is light and airy and there are all the amenities throughout the ship to ensure every taste and requirement is catered for.
We did discover, whilst exploring the ship along with a number of other guests, that there are no stairs above Deck 7 at the mid- ship position. So it is well worth checking the supplied deck plan, once on board, to save time and frustration of waiting for the lifts at busy times (or just to get some exercise after all of the lovely food you will inevitably consume). Staircases with access to all decks are situated both forward and aft so once this is known it is all fine.
Britannia has over 80% outside cabins, all with balconies - with six grades having varying degrees of obstruction and the remainder with clear views.
Ours was a clear view on Deck15 with a glass fronted balcony with two loungers, a small table and a stool, not large but more than adequate. Passengers wanting to get a tan would be well advised to drop down a deck or three to avoid the overhang we had from the Horizon Restaurant above, and also the noise can be a problem.
Internally the cabin was a lovely boutique style with subdued shades of light green and limed pear wood. There are Sealy beds which are really comfortable (you can even buy one of your own) Hanging space is provided rather than enclosed wardrobes with 28 wooden hangers and an open shelf unit with a safe above. The only other storage consists of two deep drawers on one side of the bed. There is a desk with a mirror above and fridge below and one comfortable chair (there are other balcony cabins available with a sofa).
The entertainment system is a large Samsung TV with good picture quality and a reasonable choice of TV channels, radio and films and TV series episodes. However, there is surprisingly no facility to check your on-board account on the system. Instead passengers need to contact reception, which is not ideal. Maybe an update will come later following feedback from guests?
P&O Cruises have at last consigned the much maligned old shower curtain to the bin and the compact yet functional en-suite facilities now have a new acrylic door and panels and a decent powerful shower with endless hot water. There is a shelf for shampoos, etc. and the toiletries are good quality White Company products. Soft white towels are provided of course together with two pool towels. No bathrobes or slippers were supplied, however, the overall size of the cabin was not huge but the decor made for a very pleasant place to spend time in.
There would be something quite wrong if you were to go hungry on a Cruise ship and there is absolutely no chance of this happening here.
There are 13 Restaurants on board with three main ones, the Peninsular, the Oriental and the Meridian.
Club Dining with two sittings at 6.30pm and 8.30pm is available together with Freedom Dining (any time between 6.30pm and 9.30pm) at all three main restaurants.
Breakfast is also served in the main restaurants as well as the Horizon restaurant which is self- service and situated on Deck 16.
Speciality restaurants with a small cover charge are the Epicurean Restaurant, the Limelight Club, the Glass House and Sindhu. Add into the mix the Market Cafe which has delicious pastries, speciality cheeses, tapas, speciality breads and great Ice Cream.
English afternoon tea with a twist is served in the Epicurean Restaurant and judging by the huge queue whilst we were on the ship this will prove to be very popular.
Up on the pool deck there is the Pizzeria; the Lido Grill for classic burgers and fish and chips; and a new facility called Grab & Go offering pre-packed snacks, sandwiches and salads to take away and enjoy by the pool.
The food is very much geared to British tastes and there is the choice of P&O favourites including their tried and tested tomato soup (which is very nice) together with an a la carte menu changed daily. The wine selection is comprehensive and at sensible prices (£18.50 for a good bottle of Sauvignon Cabernet for example) and no add on taxes.
Service throughout was good as expected but with a few glitches as the staff find their way around their new home.
The ship has 13 Bars all with their own individual character amongst which is the classic yet upmarket interpretation of an English pub, Brodie's which features in particular fifty three British ales, together with six lagers, four ciders and seven British speciality beers.
The Crow's Nest features “The Great British Gin Menu” with 20 different Gins from 20 British counties plus the big brands as well.
Britannia boasts no fewer than nine entertainment venues, including the impressive Headliners Theatre with up to 4 shows from the resident cast of singers and dancers. The theatre features a high-tech LED backdrop which we are told is the most advanced currently at sea. Many other entertainers will feature in other venues throughout the ship on each cruise.
The standard of entertainment was excellent as we have come to expect from previous voyages with P&O Cruises.
The Studio is Britannia's own recording studio, cinema and entertainment venue where you can enjoy recitals, talks, films and more. For something different there is the Limelight Club which combines a great dining experience and entertainment in the style of a Supper Club.
One thing is for certain, there will always be something going on all over the ship and with so many lovely venues to choose to spend time in you will always find something different to enjoy.
Unusually for a cruise ship, the Casino was very small and subtle situated next to Brodie's with a couple of tables and a number of penny slot machines.
Here on Britannia, the wonderful Oasis Spa has a warm relaxing ambience with state of the art facilities including an amazing hydrotherapy suite and pool together with all of the usual Spa treatments you would expect to find. A perfect place to relax and rejuvenate.
Britannia is a wonderful addition as flagship to the P&O Fleet. She is incredibly stylish and it is obvious that a great deal of thought has been put into her overall design and decor.
We would not hesitate in taking a longer voyage after our short taster trip to really enjoy everything she has to offer. To prospective clients we would say "just book it and enjoy!"