Well, we went on our 2 week cruise on Britannia wondering what we had let ourselves in for. Though we had booked in March 2014 for our 14 night Canary Island Cruise, we had read so many bad reviews that we were wondering if we had made the ... Read More
Well, we went on our 2 week cruise on Britannia wondering what we had let ourselves in for. Though we had booked in March 2014 for our 14 night Canary Island Cruise, we had read so many bad reviews that we were wondering if we had made the right decision.
We knew the moment that we boarded that we hadn’t and are now sitting at home, very depressed, wishing we were still onboard!
Prior to booking the cruise we had done our homework on the Princess Cruise sites re the Royal Princess, her sister ship, and had chosen an aft cabin F729. It had a large balcony which we guess was about 5ft by 9ft. We loved the cabin and though we had an hour on one sea day when there was some soot, it was quickly cleaned up by the staff and that was it for the whole 14 days. It was a quiet cabin and we did wonder if there was anyone else on the ship. Fair enough, the cabin above us could look down on to our balcony, but that really didn’t concern us and we never saw anyone above us any way. The cabin was a GD cabin and well designed. Ok, the bathroom was on the small side, but there was plenty of space to do what you needed to do in there! The toiletries provided by the White Company are good quality. There are plenty of sockets and the cabin TV is a big plus, with lots of excellent films, programmes etc. Shame that you are not able to check your bill on-going or order through the TV as on other cruise lines.
We could go on forever, but have added the positives and areas for development in note form as it may not take as long:
The good things about Britannia:
*We loved the design of the ship and were more than happy with the colour scheme – very modern and stylish.
*Though she is a big ship we never felt too crowded. Though this was one of the first cruises of the main school holidays, and was pretty much full we NEVER once failed to find somewhere pleasant to sit at any time of the day or evening. This included the Buffet area, up on deck and in the many bars at night. We were pleasantly surprised.
*The lifts – again, we NEVER had a problem with the lifts. Fair enough, we were lucky as we were close to the aft lifts and used those, but when we used the midsection lifts we never had to wait for too long at all. If we hadn’t read previous reviews we wouldn’t have known that there was a problem. It was also good to see that people were always polite and courteous re the use of the lifts and for those less mobile – everyone waited and used their manners.
*The staff were exceptional (well, apart from 2 who stood out like a sore thumb), very polite, friendly and helpful.
*We ate in the Meridian Freedom Dining restaurant and it was very good. Thanks go to the Restaurant Manager, Jaison, who granted our request for a specific area of the dining room each evening. We did have to wait quite a while as a result as they are not allowed to reserve tables, but it was good to have the same staff each evening. We also had excellent service from Costa, Hyacinth and Jackson – thank you, we miss you!
*There was an excellent range of Select Dining venues. We tried Sindhus and despite one of us not liking Indian Food we both enjoyed the experience. The Beach House was excellent value for money, though the Glass House was disappointing and lacked atmosphere. We went to the Epicurian for Afternoon Tea, but found it too rich – too many cakes - and over facing. It was nice, but we wouldn’t do it again.
*The over whelming majority of passengers were a pleasure to meet and the children on board were a credit to their parents and never caused any problems at all. The 2 main pools were used for families, leaving the Serenity Pool for adults only. We preferred to sit up on deck 19 facing the pool. There are lots of small, hidden areas that are worth finding if you want a quiet sunbed, in a good location!
*The ship’s photographers were very good without being obtrusive and the quality of their products was good
*The formal nights were great events and we only saw one person who had not dressed up for the occasion according to the P&O dress code. Sailing from Southampton does help here as we could take there were no luggage restrictions.
*As with all P&O cruises we were able to take on board a box of wine and any more wine we purchased at the various stops along the way. Drinks were about the same price as at a 4 star hotel at home and a bottle of wine was about the same price as you’d pay at any Brewer’s Fayre type pub at home : e.g. £15. No gratuities as on US cruise lines.
*The ship’s officers were very personable and visible around the ship. We had the pleasure of doing the Behind the Scenes Tour and were impressed with everyone we met. The Captain had a high profile and was a good ‘people’ person. There was an incident late on the first evening – it turned out not to be an engine room fire in the end – and though it was unnerving at the time it was handled quickly and professionally by the crew.
*We don’t tend to go for the entertainment so cannot comment on the quality of the theatre productions etc etc. We did go into the theatre for a look around, however, and found it to be very small, so we could see why people complained. We did enjoy the sailaway from Southampton and loved the Great British Sail away from Madeira – an excellent ‘deck party’.
*The excursions we did were generally of a good quality, all booked via P&O. These were:
Vigo Celtic Heritage and Wine Tasting. An excellent day
Lanzarote: Fire Mountain (it rained!) was ok but we would not go for the one with wine again and wished we had done the Camel Safari with this one.
Tenerife: Mt Teide by Cable Car: An excellent trip – shame we didn’t have much time at the top due to long queues
Gran Canaria: Walking Trails and Wine – a HIKE (NB not a walk at all) into a crater and out again followed by some great wine tasting. This one isn’t for the faint hearted!
Cadiz: We did our own thing and walked around the perimeter of the City and then to the Cathedral. A great stop
Madeira: We took ourselves to the Cable Car and to the Tropical Gardens which was excellent
Madeira: Jeep Safari : A fabulous excursion and well worth the money.
Areas for development noted in our survey for P&O:
*We met a couple who had booked an aft cabin on G deck above the Live Lounge. Sadly, this cabin was affected badly by the noise, not only during the evening but when the group was rehearsing during the afternoon. We could sometimes hear the bass beat from our cabin, but it was hardly noticeable, though we could hear the rehearsals from the balcony some afternoons. Why they needed to rehearse with the music so loud was beyond us and it was annoying when you just wanted to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet.
*Many passengers complained that there was little in the way of entertainment in the atrium at night. We agree with this – there was a beautiful grand piano in the corner, but for some reason it was never used. It would have been good to have someone tinkling away quietly in the corner to give some atmosphere. I suppose the positive side is that there wasn’t loud music so you could hold a conversation!
*We knew that Britannia didn’t have a prom deck, but we did miss not being able to have an evening stroll around the ship after dinner. I suppose there is nothing that can be done about it now, but something for future ship designers to consider.
*The Buffet was much better than on Oceana, but we still felt that the Celebrity Solstice class ships still have the edge here. There seemed to be 4 identical areas and we felt that it became a bit ‘samey’ over the 2 weeks. They would benefit from sending someone to Celebrity to see what an outstanding Buffet looks like.
* As it was a school holiday cruise the small pool at the back and area was reserved for teenagers. This was frustrating as every time we walked past there was no one there and the older teenagers were in the adults only pool ...
*Embarkation was a fiasco! For some reason P&O has changed the way that it boards passengers now so that cabins would be ready when you board. I can see the logic, but they are now restricting boarding times more, expecting everyone to keep to the time on their e-ticket. Without going over the whole debate about the rights and wrongs of this, just to say that the new set up doesn’t work. The embarkation area was full to over flowing with cross passengers and when we were told that “We are only inviting Suite guests to board” it didn’t come across too well. Then the PA system kept breaking up so it sounded like some sort of a comedy act. Not a good start. In the past we have waited about 20 minutes max to board a ship and been happy to wander about waiting for our cabin. On this occasion we sat in a hot, stuffy hall for about 2 hours with thousands of others. P&O need to review this ‘new’ system.
Finally, just to end by saying that we had a fabulous holiday and would not hesitate to go back to Britannia again if the itinerary was good. Rule Britannia! Read Less