Having read most of the reviews of the Britannia, we were a little concerned about what would be in store for us, have spent over £3K just on the booking. This would be our fourth cruise, having previously sailed with; Cunard/QE2, ... Read More
Having read most of the reviews of the Britannia, we were a little concerned about what would be in store for us, have spent over £3K just on the booking. This would be our fourth cruise, having previously sailed with; Cunard/QE2, Thomson/Celebration, and Celebrity/Solstice.
What we found was plenty of good, and a little bit of not-so-good.
I've used P&O ferries fairly frequently, especially those from Hull, and you could be either cruel or kind by likening the Britannia to an upmarket ferry. I mean this as a compliment, in that they processed and dealt with the 3,600 passengers in a very effective way, and I think many of those who have written poorer reviews maybe haven't appreciated how well they did this, in comparison to other cruise lines. The embarkation was amazingly smooth as quick, as were all the shore excursion admin and logistics. OK, so they blotted their copy book a little with the disembarkation in Southampton where they could have staggered the departure times better, but in truth we only water half an hour longer than expected.
The ship never felt too busy, other than when trying to get in to see the prime entertainment events, but we soon found that getting in there half an hour early ensured a seat. We did take advantage of a full cruise pass for 'The Retreat' which in hind sight was very poor value at £400 per couple, considering that it was only really usable for the first 3 sea days, due to the weather cooling rapidly as we approached the Azores. Other costs were better value, certainly the bar prices were very reasonable, and the shore excursions not the usual rip-off.
Some of the entertainment was excellent; Cheryl Baker in the Limelight, Gareth Oliver the ventriloquist for example. Some not so good (The Beatles Experience was dire, and the in-house groups not so hot).
Some of the food was great. Sindu for us was the best, for all reasons, quality of the food, service, ambiance, value. The food in the Limelight was also very good.
The general look of the Britannia is fine. It does again seem to honor its P&O Ferry roots, rather than the glitz of the American ships, or the elegance of the Cunard etc. More function over form perhaps, but still quite stylish. Our cabin, a superior deluxe on A Deck was indeed superb, with its full bath, and separate lounge area. We were well attended to by the steward.
Not so good:-
Probably the general standard of food, and the service of such, was the biggest disappointment, and felt of a lower standard than all other cruises we'd been on. It wasn't bad by any means, but even the 'Pride of Hull' P&O ferry can deliver better food. They make a big play on food on the Britannia, what with all the James Martin promo stuff and cooking sessions, but we found it average, apart from Sindu and The Limelight.
The worst meal we had during the 13 day cruise was actually in their prime Epicurian restaurant. This was all style and no substance for us, plus the service was shambolic.
The overall 'vibe' on the cruise was quite low key, and seemed to lack the fun of their competitors. The pinnacle of this was the Captain's Reception Party, where his speech sounded like an apology for some obvious criticisms he'd been made aware of, and a self-indulgent intro to his 'senior management team' (you could even pay for group photos with them!).
We agree with others that the general level of service in most restaurants (esp. Peninsula) was poor, the reception desk staff were chocolate fireguard material, and a distinct lack of Wow about the place.
The Britannia provides a sound base for your holiday. If you like to keep yourself to yourself and prefer a 'low key' style of cruise, but appreciate good organisation, little queuing, and plenty of choice of bars/restaurants, and reasonable prices for drinks and excursions, then this ship is fine.
If however you like a little glitz, better food/service, but can cope with the 'hard-sell' in your face American style of cruise, then I'm sure you'd be much happier with Celebrity or Royal Caribbean etc.
ps. Can't understand the complaints regarding lack of stairs at midships, all you need to do is walk a little along the corridor in either direction!! Read Less